OK, finally a few minutes to address the item I posted on the Journal last week, and then put in my notebook in the actual Washington Post print edition newspaper (which I actually still write for, I think, though I haven't seen the actual print edition of the paper in two weeks and I hate it when it's not on my doorstep in the morning and reading it on-line just isn't the same I don't care how many times people tell me that that's all my kids will read and plus I don't even have kids and it's only $.35 anyway and if you read even one thing that you find informative it's probably worth $.35, right?).
Jim Clarke, the Nationals public address announcer at RFK Stadium the first two seasons the club was in Washington, is apparently out for the upcoming season. I was told this by several people within the organization last week. However, it appears Clarke wasn't told as early as I was.
According to Tom Ward, the Nationals' senior vice president and chief marketing officer, "This is all premature." But make no mistake, Clarke will not be back. My mistake was this: I wrote that he was included in a tryout the club had that involved three candidates. Not so, said Ward. He was considered for the job, and among the group of candidates, but did not audition.
"He did not need to audition," Ward said. "Everybody knows what he can do. He's been doing it for two years. But we're looking at everything. Jim knows that. He was told that. And we still haven't made a decision."
Last week, after the note appeared in the paper, I received a call from Jim Clarke's wife, Jody, who was so upset about the move that she took the newspaper, walked across Connecticut Ave. NW to the Nationals' downtown offices at Washington Square (which she said is across from where she works), and threw the paper in Ward's face, along with a stream of obscenities. Ward did not tell me this. Jody Clarke did.
"I told him what I thought of the whole thing," she said. "I told him how classless I thought it was."
Anyway, this has clearly become a bigger deal than I would have ever guessed. How do I know? Well, not only did the ex-P.A. announcer's wife throw something at his former boss, but Clarke himself has gone on-line to defend his body of work. Here's what he posted on the fan forum on nationals.com. (And if Steinberg has dealt with all this, my apologies.) (And this is a direct cut-and-paste job below.)
"First of all, I'd like to thank each and every one of you for the kind comments. I'm sorry you found me so offensive. I want you to know that I did my very best. I was always well prepared, was obsessive about name pronunciations, never missed a game and busted my rear to please the fans with proper information. Did I make mistakes? Yes I did but I corrected those mistakes and moved on. I'm sorry I talked so much between inning's but that's what I was asked to do by my bosses. If I missed a player change, it was because they had me reading so much copy between inning's I was unable to see or hear the changes. We brought in a spotter and that problem was corrected. Another thing to remember is that I beat out over a hundred applicants for this job and there were some very good anouncers. Some from as far away as San Francisco. The Nationals chose me. If your angry with anyone, you should have taken it up with management.
I can however, always say, I was the first. You mentioned Charlie Brotman, The Nationals treated him very poorly on opening day 2005 and didn't let him introduce the President. I was appauled at his treatment. I hope you'll now be able to enjoy the games without my annoying voice in your ear. I hope the new person meet's with your approval. It's been a pleasure the past two seasons and I hope you'll accept my appolgy. Good luck and God bless!
ex-PA Announcer for the Washington Nationals"
He went on to quell suspicions that he wasn't the real Jim Clarke, said he was treated poorly by the organization, etc., in subsequent posts. It has caused quite a firestorm on the message board, and it's clearly unsettled Clarke himself.
Anyway, Ward said that he is not prepared to make an announcement on the situation. "I don't have it today," he said. "The whole thing is a bit premature."
And, hopefully, this is the last we hear of it until there is a new P.A. guy (which could very well be the fellow who backed up Clarke last season). Of course, I'll probably put a small item in my as-yet-to-be-written notebook that will run in tomorrow's print edition of The Washington Post (only $.35!).
And that would be it from Viera, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking and all the children are above average. (G. Keillor, again.)
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