It was by accident in 1946 that Thompson first broadcast a big-league game. He was working the booth while Saam was taking part in "Radio Appreciation Day" ceremonies on the field between games of a doubleheader.
"The only way to the booth was by elevator and the operator wasn't there
when the activity on the field was over," Thompson said. "The next thing I
knew, Whitey Lockman was coming to the plate to start the second game and I
just started talking."
Les Quailey, a broadcast executive, was in the booth with Thompson at the
time. When Saam finally got back to the booth, instead of shuffling the rookie
out, Quailey instructed the veteran announcer to "sit down and work with the
Thus began a career that has spanned 47 years -- all but those first three
in Baltimore. After calling home games for both the Phillies and Athletics the
next two years -- "the best job in baseball, no travel," he said -- Thompson
found himself stymied by a blossoming legend.
"Les had been advising me on money matters and told me there was nowhere
else for me to go unless Byrum took another job," Thompson said. "He was the
one who arranged for me to audition in Baltimore."
The rest is history. Thompson and his first wife, Rose, who died in 1985,
settled in and raised their three children in Baltimore.
Craig, whose wife, Donna, presented Thompson with his seventh grandchild
Tuesday, is a Maryland State Trooper living in Baltimore. Sandy Kuckler now
resides in Nashville, Tenn., and Susan Perkins lives in Westfield, N.J.
Thompson is now remarried to Betty Cupp, who has a daughter, Darlene Allen of
Pocomoke, and a granddaughter.
It was his desire to spend more time with the children and grandchildren
that prompted Thompson to "retire" after the 1987 season. It didn't last for
"First of all, WBAL asked me if I'd do a schedule of games," Thompson
said. "And second, when I retired it looked like I was going to be set to live
the way I wanted, but it wasn't working out that way."
Now that he's "unretired," Thompson, 72, has no immediate plans to alter
his schedule. "WBAL has asked me to do some games again next year, and as long
as they ask I guess I'll keep on going."
Backed by generations
When he steps to the podium this afternoon, Thompson will be flooded with
thoughts and emotions. One will stand out.
"In the movie 'A League Of Their Own,' the manager tells one of the
players, 'There's no crying in baseball,' " Thompson said. "Well that's not
true -- people cry in Baltimore.
"They cried when the last game was played at Memorial Stadium LTC and I
cried right along with them."
Today there's a good chance that Chuck Thompson will shed a tear again. He
won't have to feel alone. A few generations of Baltimoreans will cry right
along with him.
THE THOMPSON FILE
Family: Married to Betty Cupp, his second wife. His first wife, Rose died in
1985. Thompson has three children: Craig, who lives in Baltimore; Sandy
Kuckler of Nashville, Tenn.; and Susan Perkins of Westfield, N.J. He has seven
Started in broadcasting: 1939 at WRAW in Reading, Pa.
Came to Baltimore: 1949.
What he's broadcast: Temple University football, Philadelphia Phillies,
Philadelphia Athletics, Philadelphia Eagles, Philadelphia Warriors (NBA),
Philadelphia Rockets (hockey), Baltimore Orioles (International League and
American League), Baltimore Colts (All-America Conference, NFL), Washington
Senators, Baltimore Bullets, Navy football, NBC's baseball Game of the Week.
TWO FOR THE HALL: CHUCK Thompson joins broadcast legends after having a ball for many ears
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
The Baltimore Sun encourages civil dialogue related to our stories; you must register and log-in to our site in order to participate. We reserve the right to remove any user and to delete comments that violate our Terms of Service. By commenting, you agree to these terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.