'Cheers' pals welcome Levine at O's game


Ken Levine looked out over the green field of Anaheim Stadium on a brilliant Southern California summer night and said of his second career, "What's not to enjoy?"

"They send you all over the country to go to baseball games."

Levine, the Orioles' rookie radio announcer, followed the team back to his California hometown. About 50 members of the staff of "Cheers" welcomed him this week during the two-game series with the Angels.

Levine and his partner, David Issacs, were original staff writers for "Cheers" and still consult with the show one day a week and write occasional scripts.

"I guess it's good for me," Isaacs said of "sitting down and facing the page all alone" while Levine pursues his second career.

The two are still a team, but instead of sitting together and dictating to a secretary, they send scripts and revisions and suggestions back and forth between their offices at Paramount Studios and whatever baseball venue is occupying Levine's attention.

Levine and Isaacs have just finished an episode of NBC's "Wings" and are working on a "Cheers" script.

With his 8-year-old son, Matthew, in the back of the broadcasting booth, Levine shared the air for one inning Monday with George Wendt, who plays Norm on the hit NBC show. Wendt was the only cast member in the group that went to Anaheim.

It was Wendt who asked Levine how he was enjoying the announcing work as the pair traded quips and show biz talk. The Baltimore radio audience learned during the conversation that the new announcer had a unique home run call during his three years in the minors.

"I used to say, 'Elvis has left the building,' " Levine told Wendt. "Until one day it was 'Elvis is off the top of the wall.' "

And as Wendt listened to Levine smoothly interrupt their conversation to keep listeners posted on the game, he asked the question so many baseball fans have wondered about.

"Can you really tell what type of pitch they are throwing? I mean, I can see the dif

ference between a fastball and an off-speed pitch, but can you see a slider?" he asked.

"Sometimes," Levine replied. Levine did say that the "Cheers" script he and Isaacs are working on is designed around Norm and will include the return appearance of Boston Celtics basketball player Kevin McHale. It has something to do with a missing bolt in the Boston Garden's floor.

"I just heard about that script this morning and was really glad to hear you guys were writing it," Wendt said.

And Levine, after telling his guest that he should catch one of the final 42 games in Memorial Stadium, came up with another entry in the new stadium name sweepstakes.

"What about George Wendt Stadium?" he asked and heard no protests.

Later in the game, when Chuck Thompson had taken over the announcing chores, Levine said hello to the "Cheers" contingent sitting upstairs. But he had returned to the booth for the ninth when Chito Martinez sent Elvis out of the building for Monday's come-from-behind victory.

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