As if facing the prospect of at least one, if not several, more 100-plus loss seasons wasn’t enough here in Birdland, we’ve recently received the devastating news that we won’t even have our favorite radio voice on the call to help soothe any of the misery.
Orioles radio voice Joe Angel announced his retirement yesterday via his Twitter account:
Last week, Baltimore Baseball’s Rich Dubroff posted that this announcement was imminent, but having heard nothing official, we Birds fans held out hope that Dubruff’s information would be proven false. Alas, that hope was instead – as is so often the case for we Orioles fans – misguided.
As far as we know, this was a bit of a sudden decision. Perhaps Joe had been considering retirement for a few months or even years, and the prospect of calling games for what’s likely to be one of the worst teams in baseball again was too much for him. Or, perhaps he was jolted into it by the passing of his good friend, Frank Robinson.
Been down all day. Will be for awhile. My friend has passed. My daughter called him “Dad” He treated her like a daughter whenever he saw her. My son would always get a hug. He made my wife laugh. He made me a better broadcaster. He is now with better ANGELS. I will miss #20. You?
— Joe Angel (@WaveItByeBye) February 8, 2019
Regardless, at 71 years old, Angel certainly doesn’t owe anyone an explanation. From a fan’s perspective, it’s a bit of a gut punch because we don’t get the chance to have a farewell tour for Joe, as say, Dodgers fans did with Vin Scully a few years back. The final game of the disastrous 115-loss 2018 season was it for Joe, and we had no idea at the time.
I’ve only recently rediscovered the joy of listening to baseball over the radio airwaves, and that’s been in large part to Joe Angel. I use my MLB At-Bat app to check in on games all over the league when the Birds aren’t on (or when one of the other guys – ugh – was doing radio play-by-play for the O’s), and while there are some great baseball voices and personalities around, very few compare favorably with Mr. Angel.
When paired with some of his less talented on-air broadcast partners (who shall remain nameless – you know who they are), Joe was able to lift the performance of the entire booth with just a quip here and a one-liner there. How many times were you listening to some more bland play-by-play while Angel was taking a break, only to burst out in laughter when he cut in with a joke?
In more recent seasons, as the O’s brought in former players like Ben McDonald, Gregg Olson, and Brian Roberts to do color commentary, Joe’s professionalism and mastery over the microphone kept things smooth as silk, while allowing the “amateurs” to offer just the right amount of inside baseball based on their MLB experience. There was never any awkwardness or overlap between the play-by-play and the commentary. Joe knew just when to do the voice version of jumping up and down, and when to let the crowd speak for itself, as the clips below will demonstrate.
There was very little to get me motivated to go out and mow the lawn on Sunday afternoons, and now that I can’t listen to Joe Angel call Oriole games while pushing the mower, I see a lot of long grass in my future.
Let’s listen to just a couple of Joe’s best calls, for old time’s sake…
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) September 17, 2016
“Open up the door, grandma…I’m gettin’ outta here!”
Chris Dickerson walk-off home run, June 1, 2013.
The Delmon Double.
So long, Joe. We weren’t ready to wave you bye bye.