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Opportunity to call baseball pulls Lewin west from WBAL


Add one more vacancy to the list of open slots at WBAL (1090 AM), with word that sports director Josh Lewin is heading west.

Lewin, who has been the host ofthe nightly "SportsLine," and occasionally filled in on Orioles play-by-play, has two standing offers to do baseball television play-by-play for major-league clubs, but neither of them is from the Orioles.

According to industry sources, one of Lewin's offers comes from the San Diego Padres to be their lead voice on television broadcasts, but it appears likely that he will join the Chicago Cubs' television team.

"All these situations are attractive. This is what I've always burned to do: play-by-play for a major-league team," Lewin said yesterday.

Lewin, 28, who called games this season for Fox, would almost certainly have been a candidate for one of the Orioles' radio announcing slots, including the one left by the departure of Jon Miller for San Francisco.

On the surface, however, there don't appear to be any parallels ** between the two announcers' departures. While Miller left last month with a flurry of harsh words traded between the two sides, Lewin's leaving seems to be more a case of the right offer at a bad time.

The Orioles and WBAL just signed a new three-year broadcast deal two weeks ago, leaving the two sides little time to sift through resumes and audition tapes and make a decision.

Meanwhile, Lewin had received inquiries from clubs and needed to know where he would be working. Lewin said he had requested a meeting with Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who will likely have some say in who the new announcers will be, but didn't get one.

"I really did want to get in front of Peter personally and see where things stood, but it didn't happen and I understand. He's a busy guy and it's not like you can force a timetable on him," Lewin said. "It sounds like my timetable and their timetable didn't mesh. I needed to know specifics a lot sooner than they were ready."

Michael Lehr, the Orioles' executive director of marketing and broadcasting, and WBAL station manager Jeff Beauchamp, said yesterday that they don't expect to decide who will call games until early January.

"We were well-aware of the interest that was out there for Josh. He had a chance to go from the No. 4 position here to a No. 1 position in a big market and he had to go. We've just begun the process here and there's no way we could have speeded it up that much," Lehr said.

Beauchamp said: "Josh has been holding them [other teams] at bay, and he wanted to see how things developed here. He had some deadlines and who can blame him for not wanting to wait three-four weeks for us to do a thorough review of all the options."

And while Miller's tendency to criticize the club on the air and to avoid being a "homer" were cited by Orioles officials at his departure, Lehr said Lewin's role as host of "SportsLine," which frequently called for him to criticize the Orioles and their moves, was not a factor in the process.

"I get an equal amount of e-mail from people saying, 'You're sucking up to the Orioles because you want Jon Miller's job,' and from people saying, 'How come you blast Angelos all the time?' " Lewin said. "You can't have it both ways. That's the nature of the medium."

Lewin, who said he will probably leave WBAL near the end of the year, will reportedly join Hall of Fame announcer Harry Caray and former Orioles pitcher Steve Stone on WGN-TV, calling the middle three innings of Cubs home games, and all of Chicago's road contests.

In the two years Lewin was in Baltimore, he brought a sense of intelligence and wit to a format that often cries for it, as well as introducing "Countdown to Baseball," an enterprising Orioles pre-game show that took the listener across the baseball spectrum.

His hustle and talent and decency will be missed.

Meanwhile, Lewin's departure, along with that of former morning sports anchor Pam Ward, who left the station last month for ESPNEWS, leaves WBAL, the leading sports station in the market, with two gaping holes to fill.

Beauchamp said he has received nearly 200 tapes for Ward's slot, and will get probably about that many for Lewin's.

"There are a couple of different ways we can go. We can go with a young individual who needs molding and training, which is a gamble, or we could go with a more seasoned veteran. We want to make sure that whomever we hire for both slots doesn't just recite stats and scores, but has a personality, as both Josh and Pam have," Beauchamp said, adding he hopes to have both positions filled by the end of the year.

Pub Date: 12/05/96

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