Willard Scott and the Lexington Market renewed an old friendship on national television yesterday.
"The history is in your nose. You come in here and you just start smelling the crab cakes and Polish sausages," proclaimed the popular weatherman of NBC's "Today" show, during a live segment of the morning program shortly before 8 a.m.
He wore a red baseball hat in the shape of a crab, and draped his arms around Bill Devine and Nancy Faidley Devine, proprietors of the venerable Faidley Seafood operation. About 25 people crowded around for his on-air spots.
"Today" co-hosts Bryant Gumble and Katie Couric, along with newsman Matt Lauer, presented yesterday's show from Rash Field. The program came to town to support network relations with WBAL (Channel 11), which became an NBC affiliate in January.
But Mr. Scott said he left no doubt where he wanted to be with his contributions.
"I've been coming here all my life," he said. Mr. Scott grew up in Alexandria, Va., and regularly visited grandparents who ran a dairy farm in Freeland, in northern Baltimore County.
"We'd always stop at the [Lexington] market for lunch -- I just love it," he said. He visited the market and other Baltimore haunts while a student at American University in Washington, and in the mid-1950s worked as a part-time radio disc jockey at Baltimore stations WITH-AM (1230) and WCBM-AM (680).
"I think he wants to eat his way through the market," joked Tony Pann, the WBAL weatherman who produced his local forecast spots in the market yesterday, and appeared in one segment with his network colleague.
At Faidley's, an employee captured Mr. Scott on videotape as he chowed down on bulging crab cakes. Mrs. Devine, whose grandfather founded the seafood vending company, said she and the weatherman talked about crab cake recipes.
Mr. Scott also admired a tray of homemade candies in a segment featuring Nick Konstant and Gary Schreck of the Konstant Candies stall. Also in that segment, he greeted 15 eighth-graders from Notre Dame Prep School, members of Channel 11's Insta-Weather School Net.
In his last live segment, Mr. Scott visited the Polock Johnny's stand, a legendary sausage and hot dog place -- making the day of proprietor Margie Kafka Vinroe.
"He looks so good in person. I thought I would have to wait till I was 103 to meet him," she said, referring to Mr. Scott's daily birthday greetings to people 100 and older.