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Jim Henneman: Orioles Lose An Angel -- Say It Ain't So, Joe!

February 20, 2019
We're only a couple of days away from the start of preseason games and the biggest news to come out of the Orioles' spring training camp is that the rebuild has extended into the radio broadcast booth.

Joe Angel's announcement that he's retiring after calling major league games for 41 years, including 19 with the O's, surely elicited a few cries of, "Say It Ain't So, Joe." It also served as a reminder that some pretty good people are unceremoniously leaving the Baltimore sports scene without a proper goodbye, a situation that hopefully might be rectified in this case.

Longtime Orioles outfielder Adam Jones did get to enjoy something of a farewell weekend at the end of the 2018 season, but the guy in the near corner of the dugout, Buck Showalter, was sort of lost in the shuffle at the end of that disastrous season.

Neither the Ravens nor their fan base seem to be shedding any tears regarding the impending departure of quarterback Joe Flacco, who has been a solid presence in the community for more than a decade and never quite got the appreciation you would think he deserved. 

It's a foregone conclusion that Jones and Showalter at one point will return to be inducted in the Orioles Hall of Fame, and the same with Flacco, whose place on the Ravens Ring of Honor is already reserved.

Angel, though, is in a different category. He's not a guy who entertained us on the playing field. Rather, he was the guy whose voice was instantly recognizable on the car radio -- or maybe even the radio on the nightstand. He painted word pictures of the game with an unforced style, smoothly working with partners Jon Miller, Fred Manfra and Jim Hunter -- while at the same time mentoring former players like Dave Johnson, Ben McDonald, Gregg Olson and Brian Roberts, all of whom transitioned from the playing field to the booth under his watch. 

Even though it started with a 21-game losing streak and culminated with a 115-loss season, it was a legendary run that produced its own brand of Orioles Magic.

Not since Chuck Thompson manned the microphone has Baltimore had a voice so easily identified with one team as Angel has with the Orioles. To borrow his signature phrase -- the experience has definitely been in the win column.

"The Orioles were great -- they gave me options, but this was the best move for me. Forty-one years of major league broadcasting is plenty," Angel said while reflecting on his career this week.  "And Baltimore has been great to me ... the city and the people made it my baseball home."

Personally, I think it's only be a matter of time before Angel joins Thompson, with whom he got to work briefly early in his career, Manfra and Rex Barney in the Orioles Hall of Fame. 

But in the meantime, while waiting for the time when Jones, Showalter and Flacco get their deserved salute, here's hoping the Orioles find a way to bring Angel back for a final cameo appearance sometime this year for a proper farewell. Maybe a weekend series for old times' sake.

They could even use the occasion to resurrect Barney's signature sign-off with a resounding "Thank Youuuu!"

Jim Henneman can be reached at JimH@pressboxonline.com

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles