Tag Archives: D.C. Sports History

Old-timey Washington professional sports.

Bye now! RIP Ken Beatrice

Another voice from Washington’s broadcast past went silent on Sunday with the death of Ken Beatrice. From the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, Beatrice’s SportsCall was heard on WMAL-AM (then a real local radio station and not partisan ramblings) when it wasn’t pre-empted by Ron Weber calling the Washington Capitals or some other game. I listened to Beatrice many times coming back from football or basketball practice — I can see the old AM radio in my dad’s Chevy Nova with the orange line on the left side of the dial. I would also listen to Beatrice on my clock radio, despite that I’d wind up having Harden & Weaver wake me up the next morning.

Somebody uploaded a call to Beatrice about the Phoenix Cardinals on youtube:

FROM 2011: What Ken Beatrice has been up to

Beatrice had guests on occasion, but as he frequently reminded us “SportsCall is your show!” with discussions with listeners being the primary content. He was patient with all callers, including children. I called in a few times and so did my brother. Most calls began with “YOUR NEXT!” and ended with “BYE NOW” in Beatrice’s thick Boston accent. He had other sayings that inspired much affectionate parody, (especially by Mike O’Meara of the Don & Mike Show):

“If it’s and buts were candy and nuts, oh what a party we’d have”

“God love you, you keep those phones lit up every night…”

“FOOOOOUUUUURRRR THREE-TWO, DOUBLE-U EM A EL – don’t forget to be a TWO OH TWO in front of it to keep the phone company happy”

“The people who are to hockey games for the fights are the same people who go to auto races for the crashes”

“I simply don’t have the resources to scout high school sports”

Some of Beatrice’s other sayings were tied to his testimonial advertising for local Arby’s franchiser Bernie Streeter (CityPaper) perhaps one of the more successful examples local advertising in DC radio history.

“I love Arby’s milkshakes but on account of a heart attack, I had to limit myself to one or two a month.”

“My favorite is Jamocha!”

and of course…

“curly fries, now I don’t eat the curly fries, but I’m told they are very good.”

SportsCall was decidedly unpretentious with simple production values and the only “music” I recall being the sound touch-tone telephone buttons forming notes that sounded like W M A L.

Not content with just having a 3 or 4 hour show, Beatrice reminded viewers that they could “CALL ME IN MY OFFICE” during the afternoon if they had a question, giving out his office number regularly.

Beatrice had his critics though, notably Tony Kornheiser (CityPaper), then a reporter at The Post, who uncovered some exaggerations by Beatrice in a hatchet job. Beatrice went off the air until public support convinced him to accept WMAL’s offer to come back.

In 1995, WMAL let Beatrice go, but he was picked up by sports station WTEM, lasting another five years. He retired to the Warrenton area and served as a lector in Catholic churches – Beatrice was profiled by the Arlington Catholic Herald in 2011

Here are videos of him discussing his career in 2012 with Lee Shephard and Chuck Langdon:

Beatrice also did pre & post-game coverage of the Redskins when they were broadcast on WMAL. Once the team bolted for WTEM, WMAL began it’s decline from an important DC radio station to it’s current situation.

Once the DC media gets around to posting obits about Beatrice, I’ll add them here.

MORE

Steve Repsher wrote a tribute on DC Sports Bog

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Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four” was turned into a TV series featuring a Washington baseball team

New to me — through Mark Hornbaker’s Washington D.C. Baseball History Facebook group, I learned that Jim Bouton starred in a sitcom based on his book, Ball Four. Unlike the book that detailed his time on the Seattle Pilots, the team here is called the Washington Americans. The opening features a shot of RFK Stadium:

It apparently lasted five episodes, though the whole season was filmed. Harry Chapin sang the opening song and former Oakland Raiders great Ben Davidson made his triumphant return to Washington (he played for the 1962-1963 Redskins), so it couldn’t have been all bad. I’ll admit, it’d be fun to have an Americans replica jersey.

Has anybody milked a book for as long as often as Bouton did with Ball Four?

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Remembering the 2005 Washington Nationals

Nostalgia is a form of depression. The cliche has its roots in truth, but in this case, it’s a reminder of joy. The 2005 Washington Nationals were an exciting team that brought the national game back to the nation’s capital after an unconscionable 34 year absence. It didn’t seem real back then — when my then fiancee went to the first exhibition game in RFK Stadium or on Opening Day in Philadelphia a few days later when two friends and I went practically on a whim. When they started the season 50-31, it was so incredible that a 31-50 finish couldn’t dim the appreciation for a magical first season.

I blogged about the new Nats almost daily; something I would continue for several years. Now, it’s more sporadic. However, in celebration of a decade of D.C. baseball and that incredible 2005 season, I have been sharing those original blog posts in three places:

my twitter account:

this blog’s Facebook page

Washington, D.C. Baseball History Facebook page

I’ll be linking to blog posts ten years after the events described in them happened which means 10 years minus 1 day in most cases.

Since these blog posts are 10 years old, there is going to be a lot of dead links being pointed at and that cannot be helped. Also, some of the blog posts got lost through migrations over the years and have been rebuilt. The good news is these new blog posts and really, all of them, are cleaned up a little bit and tagged better.

Oh and that’s not your imagination, that’s really the voice of John Chancellor reading them back to you in your head, just like he did for Ken Burns’ Baseball.

It took several years for me to get past the “I can’t believe we finally have a team” and think of all of this as normal. I think being able to share the Nats with my oldest son helped make it seem real in some respects. I’m so glad he and his younger brother get to grow up having a baseball team just a Metro ride (or eventually a bike ride) away.

Let’s hope that 2015 is a wonderful season for the Nats. I hope you’ll join me in remembering the 2005 one that was so unexpected.

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