Remembering Rory Markas
If it seemed Rory Markas was a natural behind the microphone, whether he was broadcasting an Angels baseball game or a USC men's basketball game, it's because, well, he was.
So says Terry Smith, who joined Markas in the Angels' radio booth in 2002 and spoke fondly today of his friend and colleague, who died in his Palmdale home at age 54 Monday night.
"The one unique talent he had was the ability to wing it," Smith said. "I've never seen anybody do that as good as him. I have to jot down stuff, keep notes ... but this guy could show up just before the first pitch or opening tip-off, and he could do it.
"There aren't too many people who have that talent. He mastered it. He could have been at the park four hours or four minutes before the game, and you would have known no difference in the way he did his broadcast."
Markas seemed to have a simple philosophy when it came to broadcasting: Treat every game you cover as the most important game of the season. How else could he have survived three years (1994-97) as the lead radio announcer for the Clippers, a period in which the team went 82-164?
"I knew not many people were listening," Markas said after the Clippers let him go in 1997. "But I treated every game as if it were a playoff game."
The Clippers issued the following statement regarding the passing of Markas:
"Rory lent a special style to Clipper broadcasts when he was with our organization. We are shocked and saddened to hear of his passing, and our heart-felt condolences go to his family and loved ones."
Jose Mota, who, like Markas and Smith, joined the Angels' broadcast team in 2002, said he would always remember Markas' sense of humor.
"He could throw out a name of a musician, a comedian, an artist, a D.J, a musical group, and he'd find a way to connect it to baseball," Mota said. "His sense of humor was great."
I've known Markas for six years, since I returned to the Angels beat in 2004, and what struck me most, as I thought of the many conversations we had in dugouts, press dining rooms and broadcast booths around the country, is that I never saw him in a bad mood. He was a man who truly and genuinely loved his job, the games he followed and the people he worked with.
"That's right on the money," Smith said. "Rory was a very private person, but once he gained your trust, he became more public. We talked a lot on a personal level, a professional level, and we both really respected each other.
"He told me point-blank that I was one of his best friends. I was kind of taken aback at first, but I was glad to hear it, and I told him, 'Right back at you, the feeling is mutual.' "
-- Mike DiGiovanna
Photo: Rory Markas. Credit: The Anaheim Angels.