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 kid."

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 two reasons.

"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

Age: 72.

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 grandchildren.

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.