Why I love Jim Palmer, Part 1

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I’m sitting home watching the Orioles game in glorious Comcast HD on Channel 226 tonight and I wasn’t going to blog. I wasn’t going to write about Wrigley Field, or my many memories there or anything about the Orioles. I wasn’t even going to post my video of my trip to Comiskey Park last year (but I still might do that!)

Somehow, Orioles pitcher Chris Ray wound up on WNST today (I honestly don’t even have an explanation about how it happened…stay tuned for that!) so I am ever-so-grateful that they’ve finally, mostly ended their VERY one-sided “feud” with WNST. People somehow think I’m at war with THEM? Not true. They’ve been at war with virtually EVERYONE in the community. Clearly, they’ve come to their senses about one more of the many stupid things they’ve been doing to wreck their franchise over the past decade.

I love the Orioles. I’ve always loved the Orioles.

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For the gifts of the summer of 2008, I’m grateful. I’m happy they’re marketing the team, selling a few tickets the past few weeks, getting people downtown to stimulate the city (even in the midst of a few murders three blocks from my home this week), winning some games and making their hardcore fans happy. I’m grateful that they’ve made it an interesting season for all of us.

But even more so, I’m grateful for Jim Palmer.

On a night when I’ve watched Jerry Remy being honored (yes, my wife had NESN on tonight for the Red Sox-Diamondbacks game and I SWEAR TO GOD, It’s “Jerry Remy Night” celebrating his 20 years with the Red Sox. It’s an “homage” to all things Jerry Remy. For three hours! It’s insane!).

I’m thankful that there’s still one thing about MASN that’s not all screwed up and corporate.

And that’s ‘Cakes!

I will openly politic for him to be the Toyota Live Web “King of Baltimore Sports” over the next few weeks because, quite frankly, he should win. Just go look at the numbers!

And some FORTY THREE YEARS after arriving here in Baltimore as a 19-year old kid from far away, Jim Palmer still lives, works, breathes and bleeds Baltimore. And even though he’s always been a little too educated, erudite and “cute” for the blue-collar public here, he’s always been here trying to make the Orioles better. And educate the fans about the game. And he’s been as honest as he can be without selling out to the whims of “Mr. Angelos.”

(And even on the backside of “Free The Birds,” he was the one guy with the stones to speak the truth and defend the fans’ backlash. Jim Palmer defended the walkout! I heard it! He KNOWS I was right and all 2,500 of us were right!)

And I want to make it clear: I have virtually ZERO relationship with Jim Palmer even though I’ve always enjoyed the time I’ve spent with him. He’s one guy I’ve always left alone and he doesn’t know me at all. We had one long chat in a Toronto hotel in 1994, but that’s about it. He didn’t want to be bothered and I didn’t want to bother him. But I respect him immensely. I’ve never interviewed or spoken with Jim Palmer publicly. I’ve been doing radio for 16 1/2 years and I’ve NEVER had Jim Palmer on my show that I can remember.

So, I have no “dog in the hunt” with him the contest. The more “shallow” readers and listeners would say I have every reason to hate Jim Palmer (because he’s never come on my show) but that’s far from the reality of the situation or who I am as a person.

Having him in my living room for three hours whenever Angelos feels like paying him is good enough for me.

He makes watching Orioles baseball SO MUCH better. And even more so when he’s paired with Gary Thorne, who is as good as they’re going to get now that it’s been 12 years since Jon Miller  was wrongfully shown the gate in a cloud of lies by the ownership.

I was driving through Upper Fells Point (like Pratt and Broadway) last Thursday en route to Santoni’s new super market opening in Highlandtown, and there was Palmer standing in an Under Armour golf shirt crossing the street on a summer day.

And I honestly thought to myself: “There goes the greatest Baltimore athlete of them all who will never get the credit he probably deserves.”

And probably because his vocabulary is too big and his knowledge is too deep for most of us to even understand his greatness or mastery of baseball.

But, I digress…

Jim Hunter was telling a story on MASN tonight (right after he had a big “love in” with Andy McPhail…only Andy’s employees get to interview Andy, ala Fidel) about being in Gibsons Restaurant on Rush Street in Chicago last night with his family and was doing the usual “kiss Jim Palmer’s ass” routine.

Hunter told as humorous story as he could tell and in the best delivery he could find, saying that he saw the Pope’s picture on the wall and Palmer’s photo was actually ABOVE IT autographed to the folks at Gibsons. He said that THAT’S how big of a deal Palmer is!

And Palmer’s punchline was actually SO FREAKING GOOD, it was LOST on Hunter.

Too funny!

Palmer’s response:

“REALLY?,” he said, clearly being taken by surprise by the story for his picture on the wall.

“Was I dressed?”

Hunter just moved on and kissed Palmer’s butt some more. No drumroll, no mention, no guffaw or “awkward” moment.

So, I thought I’d provide the punchline that Hunter missed above in the photo that caught your attention and got you reading.

But then, again, I’m a real Orioles fan.

Jim Hunter is a Yankees fan who gets paid to be an Orioles fan.

Kinda like all of those dorky actors in those lame “This is Birdland” commercials.

I swear I’d almost FORGOTTEN about those crazy Jockey ads from my youth. I even remember the Dundalk neighborhood joke and punchline: “Jim Palmer used to be famous for his strikes, now he’s famous for his balls!”

Tell me you HAVEN’T HEARD that one?!

I wonder if Hunter has?

Palmer was the greatest athlete in Baltimore’s rich history and he stripped damned-near bare naked in his prime in the 1970’s and got away with it! He looks like Sam Malone!

Literally, it took some MAJOR “balls” to do that ad, right?

If Nick Markakis or Brian Roberts did that now, I think people would flip out, right?

Maybe we’ll put together a WNST swimsuit calender with our hosts and bloggers?

I wonder who would be on the cover?

For more laughter, click here! Just trust me! It’s worth your click!

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Baltimore Positive is the vision and the creative extension of four decades of sharing the love of local sports for this Dundalk native and University of Baltimore grad, who began his career as a sportswriter and music critic at The News American and The Baltimore Sun in the mid-1980s. Launched radio career in December 1991 with Kenny Albert after covering the AHL Skipjacks. Bought WNST-AM 1570 in July 1998, created WNST.net in 2007 and began diversifying conversations on radio, podcast and social media as Baltimore Positive in 2016. nes@baltimorepositive.com