Maine Guys Are Main Men In O's TV Booth This Year
By Dave Hughes,DCRTV.com
Mike Bordick, the Orioles' new color analyst, has a common, non-sports bond with his MASN TV booth partner, play-by-play man Gary Thorne.
They both have their roots in that Northeast state known for its rugged bays and lobsters.
"Yeah, Gary and I have a lot of connections to the state," Bordick said. "We're both 'Maine-iacs.' We're both a little on the edge."
No, they don't go as far as vacationing together in the Pine Tree State, but they do share a lot of experiences about their home territory.
Born in Marquette, Mich., in 1965, Bordick spent parts of his early childhood in Maine, where his mom's family is from, and in upstate New York before the family settled in Winterport, Maine. He attended high school in Hampden, Maine, and went on to the University of Maine.
Bordick played shortstop for the Oakland A's for seven years, from 1990-96, and then was with the Orioles from 1997-2002, except for a quick 56-game stop in 2000 with the Mets. He played his final season with Toronto, in 2003. He was a member of the '97 Orioles team that lost in the American League Championship Series to the Cleveland Indians.
His Orioles booth partner, Thorne, also sports Maine roots. Thorne was born in 1948 in Bangor, attended the University of Maine and the University of Maine School of Law.
Thorne rose to prominence in broadcasting when he began calling play-by-play for the University of Maine's hockey games for a Bangor radio station.
Thorne began his MLB play-by-play career on the radio with the New York Mets in 1985. He has been with the Orioles for five years, in addition to duties with ESPN.
"Gary has a classic voice," Bordick said. "He is a legend in his own time. I still feel out of place with him."
Bordick, who now lives in Ruxton with wife Monica and their six children, is a member of the Orioles' Hall of Fame.
Following the end of his baseball career, Bordick rejoined the Orioles organization in 2010 as the minor league offensive coordinator. In 2011, he was the Orioles' temporary bullpen coach.
He then contacted Orioles play-by-play man Jim Hunter about the possibility of reporting on prospects in the Orioles minor league system. Instead, he got an offer to join the Orioles gameday TV crew as a color commentator, replacing the late Mike Flanagan.
Bordick said both Hunter and Jim Palmer had helped him during his debut year in the Orioles' TV booth. This season, Bordick will do color for 81 games, with Palmer doing the other 81.
"It's a lot harder talking for three hours than actually playing for three hours," Bordick said. "I really feel drained after a broadcast."
Bordick also said he felt an excitement and a buzz about the Orioles early this season.
"You could feel it in spring training," he said. "There's a process -- with the younger players preparing for the season. You can feel the buzz, the energy, all over town. Yeah, we're in a good position now, but there's still a long way to go this season."
Bordick said he didn't pay attention to the MASN TV ratings, instead focusing on his job.
"I do as much as I can do to give people the information about the team, the game," he said.
Some longtime viewers of Orioles games have said Bordick is a bit quiet for a booth announcer.
"I agree with that," Bordick said. "I don't want to say anything stupid. There are [commentators] who do a lot of talking and they're OK. I'm just trying to develop a style of my own."
Bordick said he's in a learning mode, studying Thorne, Hunter, Palmer and studio analyst Rick Dempsey.
"You have to be aware of the different subtleties of the game," Bordick said. "You want to use that knowledge to keep the fans interested. I want to absorb as much as I can."
Thorne said Bordick had all the necessary tools to become a good analyst.
"All he really needs to do is watch the game and tell the fans what he sees," Thorne said. "His depth of knowledge of the game is that good. The real positive is he works at his new craft. He studies, prepares and talks with coaches, players and fellow broadcasters. The same prep he put into playing, he brings to the booth."
Issue 174: June 2012