It was my first year in the majors, with Baltimore. Now that I was in the “bigs” I figured I needed a signature home run call. So I came up “Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building!” I did it a couple of times the first week and it seemed to go well. Week two we were in Milwaukee. Late in the game. An Oriole swings and this is my home run call:
“Long drive to deep right. Yount goes back and ladies and gentlemen, Elvis is…off the top of the wall.”
My partner, the great Jon Miller, just put his head down on the console. I’m sure he was wondering “how did they ever hire THIS idiot?”
I wrote a book about my year in Baltimore and called it “It’s Gone!…No, wait a minute!” which unfortunately was my signature home run call in the minors. Often times in those bandbox ballparks with triple deck signage (most of it white and touting such prestigious concerns as “Rent-a-Wreck and Melman’s Mortuary) and bad lighting it was next to impossible to accurately call home runs. If the ball cleared the first level it was gone, below it was still in play. Even the players and umpires didn’t know half the time. I started playing it safe by saying “there’s a long drive to deep left field, it’s high, it’s deep, it’s time for station identification!” Fifteen seconds later when I was back I knew the outcome…usually.
One time doing a game in Rochester, there was a long drive to the wall. The outfielder leaped for it. I said, “He makes the catch!” My partner shook his head no and started twirling his finger. That’s the home run signal, but he didn’t know that. He thought he was signaling that the ball was still in the play and the runners were circling. So this was my call: “He makes the catch. No, wait, it’s a home run. No, wait, it’s a double.” This time I banged my head on the console.
Happy to say I did much better in the majors although to play it safe my home run call was and still remains “It’s Gone, I hope to God!”