IT'S GONE!...NO, WAIT A MINUTE... by Ken Levine


Talking My Way into the Big Leagues at Forty
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 Unmemorable memoir by a former Hollywood writer and producer (M*A*S*H; Cheers) who chucks it all in middle age to become a baseball announcer. Levine revels in his job, calling it a ``fantasy--a boyhood dream.'' Why him, when so many fans would give their pitching arm to sit in the broadcast booth? ``I dunno, maybe in a past life I let Gandhi use my place for a weekend.'' And maybe because of his tenacity once inspiration struck, calling Dodger games into a tape recorder every day for months to hone his technique. Soon he snared a job in the minor leagues and then, in 1991, became a play-by-play announcer for the Baltimore Orioles. The ``Birds'' aren't the most thrilling team--which becomes apparent as Levine's diary of his first year in the booth proceeds--but a few quirky moments arise: Hall-of-Famer Jim Palmer trying a comeback at age 45 (``a reeeeeaaaaaaallll long shot''); a no-hitter tossed by four Oriole pitchers in tandem. Still, apart from the stellar play of Cal Ripken, Jr., it's dullsville for Oriole fans and, inevitably, for Levine's readers. Levine schmoozes on about his initial nervousness (``I could be the biggest bomb since Howard the Duck'') and about his new-found fame. He comes across as a nice guy, with kind words for almost everyone (``Thank God for Rick Dempsey!'' is typical). Is it his fault there's little worth talking about? (One wonders, though, what Roger Angell would have done with the Orioles' season.) Levine's best moments are assessments of ballparks: The Seattle Kingdome is like ``baseball in a nuclear reactor''; at slum-bound Yankee Stadium, ``catching the team bus is literally a matter of life and death.'' At season's end, Levine heads for Seattle, where he's now the number-two announcer. Fun at the outset, but most seats will be empty by the seventh-inning stretch.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-42093-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1993