Fox goes to youth movement for baseball crew


The message has gone out to the Lords of Baseball that the game needs to broaden its appeal and take in more youth. Apparently, Fox, the sport's new telecaster, took that message to heart and applied it to its announcing crew.

The network announced yesterday that it has hired Joe Buck, Thom Brennaman and Chip Caray as three of its play-by-play announcers for its package of weekly Saturday afternoon games, which launches June 1.

All three of the new hires are relative pups in the broadcasting industry, and each man is the next generation in a family with an impressive history in sports announcing.

Brennaman, 31, is the son of Cincinnati Reds announcer Marty Brennaman and has done football for Fox for two years. He worked Reds games for two years before joining the Chicago Cubs broadcast team in 1990. When the Cubs demanded that he devote his time entirely to their broadcasts, Brennaman bolted and will take over announcing duties for the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks when they begin play in 1998.

Like Brennaman, Buck, 26, has done football for Fox the past two years. He joined his father, Hall of Famer Jack Buck, as a radio and television announcer for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1991, and is not only the youngest broadcaster to do a regular NFL slate on network television, but is also the youngest full-time baseball announcer.

Caray, 31, is a third-generation baseball announcer, following his grandfather, Harry, the Hall of Fame voice of the Cubs, and his father, Skip, who does Atlanta Braves games. Chip Caray has done Seattle Mariners games for the past three years and has been the television voice of the Orlando Magic.

Fox still is looking for one more play-by-play announcer and four analysts, one of which should be John Lowenstein, recently deposed by Home Team Sports. Lowenstein's brand of off-beat humor would fit in perfectly with the Fox approach.

Profile in courage

Loretta Claiborne, a York, Pa., native, has been named winner of this year's Arthur Ashe Award for Courage by ESPN.

Claiborne, 42, was born with mental retardation, legally blind and unable to walk, but regained her sight through an operation, has graduated from high school and has competed in 25 marathons, winning the gold medal in the half-marathon in the 1991 Special Olympics World Games.

She was named the Special Olympics International Athlete of the Year. In receiving the Ashe award, Claiborne succeeds such notables as the late Jim Valvano, former umpire Steve Palermo and last year's recipient, the late Howard Cosell. She will receive her designation at the ESPY award ceremonies Feb. 12 in New York.

Local Super numbers

We promise that this will be the last Super Bowl mention before, well, the next one, but we know how breathlessly you've been awaiting the local ratings.

Yeah, right. Anyway, Sunday's game posted a 39.4 rating and a 59 share of the Baltimore audience, according to a gleeful Emerson Coleman, programming chief at Channel 11, which just happened to carry this year's Super Bowl.

That number is slightly higher than the 37/53 that Channel 2 got when it carried last year's Super Bowl. Baltimore's ratings were higher than football cities such as Kansas City (38.5/57), Miami (38.2/67) and Boston (36.5/51), but below such locales as Tampa (45.8/62), Hartford (40.1/59) and, yes, Cleveland (45.6/64).

Programming firsts

* Tonight's N.C. State-Wake Forest men's basketball game (7 o'clock) is a page out of history for HTS, marking the first time the channel has carried a Atlantic Coast Conference men's game, a byproduct of a new deal the regional sports channel reached with the ACC.

* John Moag, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, chats with Stan "The Fan" Charles on the "Sports Exchange" at 10 tonight on WCBM (680 AM). That Moag is appearing on a talk show is not news, but it is his first appearance with Charles.

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