City Desk

Leonard Shapiro’s Career Revived By Lists! But Where’s Jon Miller?


Big week for Ron Weber.

First, the Hockey Hall of Fame announced that Weber, the original Washington Capitals play-by-play man, had been given something called the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award "for outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster."

And, then Weber makes Leonard "Saved By Lists!" Shapiro's roster of the Top 10 sportsradio personalities in this market.

Shapiro's list is pretty good: Johnny Holliday, Shapiro's No. 1, is such a fixture and so beloved he's a bulletproof selection. (Awesome trivia about Johnny Holliday: He introduced the Beatles at their last live gig, in August 1966 in San Francisco, then a couple years later moved to D.C. to be the announcer for the Washington Capitols of the ABA, a team that played in Uline Arena, the same venue where the Beatles had played their FIRST live gig in the USA in February 1964. Awesomer trivia about Holliday: While announcing the ABA games, Holliday's roommates in a Connecticut Ave. apartment were Rick Barry and future vagabond coach Larry Brown.)

But, like any good list, Shapiro gives everybody something to quibble about. His inclusion of the Sports Junkies shows he's just going for Web hits, considering he's made slamming the WJFK morning hosts a personal crusade for a decade. And, by God, he should have included Jon Miller, who before he became an ESPN superstar was the longtime announcer of DC's baseball team, the Baltimore Orioles.

There's never been an announcer here or anywhere who could match Miller's brilliance. Take this, from Sports Illustrated's 1991 account of the game he called at Memorial Stadium with Queen Elizabeth attending:

No one offered Queen Elizabeth a plug of Red Man or even a chunk of Bazooka when she attended her first major league game this May at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium. Some O's fans, ignoring her royal presence, shouted barnyard epithets at the umpire. Others, Irish Republican Army sympathizers, displayed their awareness of her presence on hand-lettered placards in the bleachers—reading, among other things, BRITS OUT OF IRELAND. So it was left to Jon Miller, the Orioles' radio announcer, to celebrate Her Majesty's attendance by invoking Shakespeare. "The queen of England  is at the game today," he told his listeners. "But that doesn't mean we're going to call it any differently."

Then, copping a couple of lines from Romeo and Juliet, he added, "It's just two baseball teams, both alike in dignity, in fair Baltimore, where we lay our scene."

When Oakland A's leadoff man Rickey Henderson let a pitch go by for a called strike, Miller paraphrased Lady Macbeth: "It was the umpire that shrieked, the fatal bellman, which gives the sternest goodnight."

When Henderson had an opportunity to steal a base, Miller quoted Malcolm in Macbeth: "Let us not be dainty of leave-taking, but shift away. There's warrant in that theft which steals itself when there's no mercy left."

The queen occasionally looked perplexed, though not because of these and other "British Monarchy Moments" Miller inserted into his play-by-play. "I was just trying to get her to come on the air with me," says Miller. "I was hoping she'd come up and read the Esskay Meats out-of-town scoreboard."

And any list that includes Sonny, Sam and Frank and Weber has to have Miller. He was huge in this market from 1983 to 1996, when Angelos dumped him the way Dan Snyder dumped Frank Herzog. Neither team has recovered from those moves.

But back to Weber: Awesome trivia about him: He's not only the original Caps announcer, but he's also the ONLY former Caps announcer. The franchise has had only two play-by-play men in their 36 seasons: Weber went from Day One in 1973 to 1997; Steve Kolbe's been there ever since. Kolbe didn't make Shapiro's list.

But how 'bout Shapiro?

The veteran Washington Post writer, who was banished to a digital-only existence by the paper a while ago, hadn't been heard from since he blamed Sean Taylor's lifestyle for getting him murdered. (Shapiro's column inspired former Washington Times basketball writer John Mitchell to go on WOL to call Shapiro both a “racist, conniving skunk” and a “racist, conniving dog of a skunk." Mitchell was suspended for the Shapiro rant.)

But now, two weeks in a row, Shapiro's inspired water-cooler conversation and made waves with his media column. Last week he went over history's Top 10 TV sportscasters in this market.

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  • Ward 1

    Wait. "DC's baseball team, the Baltimore Orioles"? The Orioles are Baltimore's team. Like most Washingtonians, I don't give a fig about Baltimore anything.

  • Dave McKenna

    Ward 1: welcome to DC from wherever you're from, W1! guessing you never went to Orioles FanFest at the Official Orioles Store at Farragut Square...but thanks for Playing the Feud™!

  • Davina

    Oh how great are lists. We've developed which is a realtime collaborative list creation tool. It allows you to create, share and edit lists in realtime. We're still in beta but we are sending out invites. Anybody can sign up at :)

  • Falls Church

    That's NOT DC's baseball team, the Baltimore Orioles. It's Baltimore's baseball team that the DC wine-and-cheese crowd and their head honcho Edward Bennett Williams attempted semi-successfully to co-opt as its own for a couple of decades until ultimately defeated by Baltimore's hatred of all things Washington, the massive specter of Beltway and I-95 traffic, and the arrival of the Nationals in 2005 (not necessarily in that order).

    I've lived here since 1960, and I know that. Why don't you?

  • Dave McKenna

    Falls Church! My people! been here since 1960, eh? i heard all the smart folks left. is that true? did you hit your head at some point in the late-1970s and early 1980s? had you not, you'd remember when the O's became Washington's own, and when there was a much bigger buzz about that squad among this town's sports fans, and Falls Church's sports fans, than there's yet been about the Nats. perhaps that'll change beginning next week. but, again, how do you dismiss the O's Official Team Store in Farragut? Jon Miller should be on the list! but, in any case, it's an honor to Play the Feud™ with a Falls Churcher™!

  • Falls Church

    Talk to someone, anyone in Baltimore and see if THEY ever considered THEIR team to belong EVEN IN PART to Washington. They gladly accepted the DC interlopers' money while under their breath they cursed the influx of Washington "fans", who arrived by the third inning, departed by the seventh to beat the traffic, and paid more attention to who else was in the stands than they ever did to who was playing on the field. Just because you and thousands of other front-runners in DC never figured out that the Farragut O's store and all that jazz was all just an Angelos joke doesn't mean that the joke wasn't on you the whole time. Here's a hint: they weren't laughing with you, they were laughing AT you.

    So, by your logic American Idol is DC's own show, steak is DC's own dish, and the Cowboys and Steelers are DC's own teams - all because those things have tens of thousands of fans in this area. Right? And I guess because DC doesn't own the Orioles any more, they must now belong to Boston and New York. I mean, have you seen who's sitting in the stands up there now?

  • Fingerman

    Shocked, Dave, that you didn't comment on Kornheiser finishing ahead of Beatrice. That's a far bigger injustice that leaving Jon Miller off.

  • Dave McKenna

    FC: so you pooh pooh this town's rooting interest as a way to gauge whether we can call a team ours. and all that matters is geography....OK. so let me get this straight, FC: the Redskins play in maryland and are based in virginia, and it takes me longer by car to get to either the redskins corporate offices or their stadium from my DC home than to the Orioles offices or stadium, and the Orioles from 1979 through 1988 were owned by a guy who lived in DC proper while the Redskins owner lives in Maryland, and as we've said the Orioles had an official team store in DC proper, but the Redskins never did, so...the O's were more DC's team then than the Redskins are now? is that what you're saying, FC?

    you DID hit your head, FC, didn't you? this town's rooting for the Orioles had nothing to do with any evil plan from Peter Angelos. The Orioles store was opened at Farragut Square in 1983, FC, long before Angelos had enough asbestos money to buy the team. late arrivals? wine and cheese crowd? what the hell are you talking about, FC? while you were out with your headwound, everybody i knew from Falls Church was riding the beer buses up to memorial stadium to see their team. young folks around here don't give a rip about the nationals the way kids around the Beltway used to back the O's. and you had thousands of people of all ages showing up every year for FanFest, at the park next to the downtown DC store. go read up on the years you've blacked out, FC, and get back to me. bottom line: i want you to know i appreciate your effort, flawed as it was, to take the Feud™ into the bonus round.

  • Falls Church

    Dave, it's not about what city's fans claim a team, it's about what team claims the city. I'm not denying that thousands of DC folks went up to O's games in the '80s and early '90s. Hell, I was one of them. But even though the occupying owner EBW did not put 'Baltimore' on the team jerseys, he never did manage to get 'Washington' on there, did he? And he owned the team! (There's a word for that: carpetbagger.)They were and still are the BALTIMORE Orioles. The city of Baltimore would never let them be anything else. If the DC fans thought Baltimore was so great, why were the Orioles the only aspect of Baltimore they ever embraced? The Orioles weren't DC's baseball team in the '70s, '80s and '90s, they were just the closest baseball team to DC at that time. So when baseball became chic, the wannabe fans in DC had to march on Baltimore much the same way that Germany marched on Poland in 1939, lest they not be able to participate in all the fun. A DC-centric person like yourself basking in the nostalgia of the Orioles is not unlike a modern-day German who's enthralled by all things Polish. You really have to wonder about someone like that.

  •'s_law JHopper

    Five comments before Godwin's Law was invoked!

    Just thought I'd point that out.

  • Dave McKenna

    FC: i owned up to my role in the invasion of Poland years ago. like mark mcgwire, i prefer to not look back...butt seriously: while making no sense, FC, you have just reminded me of the famous "Rudolph Hitler" story, my fave Playing the Feud™ tale of all time. google it and get back to me, FC! won't you? and make some sense next time around!

  • Johnny Holliday

    Hey Dave

    Thanks for the nice shoutout....Bulletproof!!!! I've been caled a lot of things but never Bulletproof..How in the heck did you remember the Beatles gig..along with me being roommates with Rick and Larry. Hope all is well, you're still one of my all time favorite may even be Bulletproof yourself!!