baseball from Baltimore over six states long before cable television and Home Team Sports arrived. It was the soul of baseball. It sold the game.
Jon Miller was so good that in 1990 the national television executives at ESPN wanted him to be their national voice for Sunday Night Baseball in America and he joined Hall of Famer Joe Morgan as the voice of the sport for premium, prime time games that was a showcase for Major League Baseball around the globe. Miller was a treasure trove of baseball and trivial knowledge and as entertaining as he was iconoclastic.
Peter Angelos never cared for Jon Miller. Angelos thought Miller was too critical of the team. But mostly, his old world sensibilities didn’t like the style of Jon Miller as the voice of his Orioles.
Angelos didn’t like Miller’s trademark Hawaiian shirts, shorts and flip-flops. He didn’t appreciate Miller’s whimsical nature, which was almost a running evening of stand up comedy and impersonations that came with the play-by-play of the game. And he didn’t think Miller should be doing the national games on ESPN, leaving the Orioles every weekend of the season to serve another master. Angelos was of an era of men who would consider that “moonlighting.”
In August 1996, Kevin Cowherd of The Sun profiled Jon Miller and spoke of his contract coming to an end and portrayed a murky future for the broadcaster under Angelos’ tight reins. In the piece Cowherd wrote:
Miller is regarded as a civic treasure, up there with humidity and steamed crabs, the fan who doesn’t love Jon Miller pretty much keeps it to himself.
Miller is also not afraid to criticize the Orioles — even to rip them if things get really ugly. During one memorable game two years ago, things got ugly — mule-ugly, if you want to know the truth. The Orioles had the bases loaded. No outs. Mike Devereaux at the plate. Devereaux singled. Somehow, in the next split-second, three men in Oriole uniforms lost their minds at exactly the same time.
Because when you looked up, three Orioles were standing on third base. Exactly zero runs had scored. And the O’s would go on to lose the game by a run. Up in the booth, they practically had to wrestle an enraged Miller to the floor and start an IV line of Valium. “When I heard the tape,” he recalls now, “I thought: ‘This is just like a fan being outraged.’ And that’s just not my role, you know? . . . I over-stepped the line there.”
When the season ended, Miller had his representative Ron Shapiro, who served Cal Ripken Jr. in the same capacity, contact the Orioles about a new deal. Angelos balked and never offered Miller a contract of any kind.
When Angelos made it clear that he didn’t want Miller, Shapiro orchestrated a deal to get his client a job in his original Bay Area home. Miller signed a 5-year, $2.1 million deal to become the voice of the San Francisco Giants. He went on to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 2010 as the Ford Frick Award winner. Jon Miller never looked back and simply took advantage of the next opportunity. Not everyone who was fired by Angelos over the years had it so good.
Miller was never given any reason why he was not retained. Angelos publicly said Miller “didn’t bleed enough black and orange” on behalf of the Orioles.
At the time, Miller was shell-shocked but the fallout of the separation was an earth-shattering news story in Baltimore. Sports fans and the local media were outraged. It was literally the biggest news story in the city for months as the Ravens wilted in their first campaign on 33rd Street under Ted Marchibroda.
By November 1996, it had been two years since Peter Angelos fired off a two-page fax missive to the world regarding sports columnist Ken Rosenthal at The Sun. And by now, the Orioles owner had made himself a piñata for the pundits during the waning days of the significance of local newspapers and scribes to speak to the