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Chuck Thompson, Hall of Fame broadcaster

BALTIMORE -- Hall of Fame broadcaster Chuck Thompson, whose deep voice and enthusiasm for the job entertained Baltimore sports fans for more than 50 years, died yesterday. He was 83.

The broadcaster, who had a massive stroke on Saturday, died at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Towson, said his son, Craig.

Mr. Thompson called Baltimore Orioles games for the better part of five decades and served 30 years as the play-by-play announcer of the Baltimore Colts. He took pride in his professional approach but never apologized for an obvious bias toward the home team.

''Chuck Thompson was as much a part of the fabric and history of Orioles baseball as the players on the field," Orioles owner Peter Angelos said yesterday. ''His warm and friendly voice and gentle play-by-play style made it feel like he was part of your family, and everyone who met Chuck Thompson realized he was like that in person: a true gentleman, extremely friendly and very approachable."

When the Orioles got a clutch home run or the Colts scored a pivotal touchdown, Mr. Thompson would often exclaim on the air, ''Ain't the beer cold!" That phrase became the title of his autobiography, published in 1996.

''Like everyone who grew up in Baltimore, my memories of Chuck are too many to count," said former Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr., who called Mr. Thompson ''a broadcasting legend."

Mr. Thompson was the 1993 recipient of the Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting, but the ceremony in Cooperstown did not mark his retirement. He continued to call up to 25 Orioles games per season through the end of the decade.

Mr. Thompson called the 500th home run of Hall of Famer Frank Robinson's career. Robinson, who played for the Orioles and now manages the Washington Nationals, called Mr. Thompson ''one of a kind."

''He didn't copy anybody's style or anything like that," Robinson said after Washington's 9-4 spring training victory over Houston in Viera, Fla. ''People sitting at home really enjoyed listening to him because he made them feel like they were at the ballpark, and that's not easy to do on radio."

Mr. Thompson started his career in 1939 at the radio station WEEU in Reading, Pa., and later moved to Philadelphia, where he did baseball, football, basketball and hockey games.

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