On the passing of a local sports legend and other notes

It was sad to learn that Baltimore sportscasting legend Vince Bagli died yesterday at 93. He certainly lived a full and wonderful life and touched so many people along the way.

Seeing the tributes pour in, it seemed like every reporter/writer/broadcaster knew him well and at one time got mentorship and/or words of wisdom from Vince. Usually, it started with him asking you questions: Were you doing OK? How was your family? They treating you well at work?

There was a simple charm about Vince as he anchored the sports on WBAL-TV for decades. At times he was winging it a bit, but that was Vince being real and it came through the screen. “That lefty is pitching for the Clevelands tonight,” he would say. We could figure it out, and we did.

For the teenage me, it wasn’t a Baltimore Colts Sunday until I heard him and Chuck Thompson calling the game on WCBM. When Tony Linhart made the field goal in the fog to beat Miami in 1975, before Chuck could get the words out, Vince yelled “He did it!” If a receiver got open downfield, sometimes before Chuck could say “completed pass,” Vince would groan or say “oh, no” and we knew that play would not end well.

That was part of his charm. He felt the ups and downs as much as any fan. It was almost like he was one of the fans but just had a better seat and a press pass.

It seemed yesterday everyone had a personal story about Vince, and that is because he treated all of us in the Baltimore media sports market as family. When I began to work at WBAL Radio in 1998, I was honored to work in the building where he had years earlier. He was always encouraging me and providing me confidence, and that meant so much.

I would arrive hours before game time when covering the Ravens back then. It was for a reason that had nothing to do with covering the game. One Sunday I wound up sitting with Vince and John Steadman in the meal room. I loved hearing their stories of Baltimore sports past and present. That day they said, “You come sit with us each Sunday from now on.”

I did. I was honored. I said to them once “I might jump in to ask a question from time to time, but mainly I just want to sit here and listen to you guys tell stories.”

It was pretty awesome.

I want to send my condolences today to his family. And thank them for sharing this wonderful man with us for all those years.

Palmer-Powell-BRobinson-sidebar.jpgThe ‘66 O’s were noted: When the Atlanta Braves shut out Miami 2-0 in the playoffs yesterday, they were linked to the 1966 World Series champion Orioles. The Braves became the third team in major league history to toss shutouts in three of their first four games to begin a postseason. The other two teams were the 1905 Giants and 1966 Orioles.

Those Orioles only played in four games in that postseason: their four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. They won by scores of 5-2, 6-0, 1-0 and 1-0. Yep, three straight shutouts to end it.

The Orioles held the Dodgers to two runs in four games and shut out Los Angeles over the last three games and over the last 33 innings. Stunning pitching. The O’s scored three runs in the first inning of Game 1, one more than the Dodgers put up all series.

In Game 2, a 20-year-old year Jim Palmer squared off against Sandy Koufax, who, as it turned out, was pitching the last game of his career. That year, Koufax won 27 games, fanned 317, pitched five shutouts and posted a 1.73 ERA. But the O’s won 6-0. Moe Drabowsky was a hero in the opener in relief of Dave McNally, who would later pitch a shutout in Game 4. Drabowsky fanned 11 over 6 2/3 innings out of the ‘pen. The O’s team ERA was 0.50 and they allowed just 17 hits in the four games while making no errors.

They used four pitchers the entire series, and three of them - McNally, Palmer and Wally Bunker - pitched complete games.

Rays get closer to advancing: The New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 9-3 Monday night to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-five American League Division Series. To that point, New York had scored 31 runs in three playoff games.

But Tampa Bay beat the Yankees 7-5 Tuesday and by an 8-4 margin last night. They are now a win away from advancing to the AL Championship Series. In typical Rays fashion, they got a combined six RBIs from the last two hitters in their lineup in Kevin Kiermaier and Michael Pérez. They just always seem to find a way.

Here is an interesting playoffs note: Teams that out-homer their opponent in a game are 19-0 this postseason.

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