Voices of Angels

Smith and Markas describe the action as the Anaheim Angels head toward baseball heaven

All that work has never left much time for a personal life, and Markas is still single. "Being single makes the traveling a little easier, I think," he allows, "but it's hard, too. You have no social life in baseball. You work every night, every weekend, every holiday, all summer. I'm just hoping that, you know, I'm looking down out of the booth some night, and Miss Right is sitting right there in the seats and looks up, and there's that lightning bolt that goes from here to there. Other than that, if somebody wants to go on a date Tuesday morning at 10, you know, I'll be there."

But it can't be for much more than lunch. Markas meets Smith at Anaheim Stadium by 2 or 3 p.m. so they can begin the research and interviews and all-around preparation crucial to a daily broadcast performed live and without a script.

"Unfortunately, it isn't just showing up at the game and saying, 'Ball one, strike one.' It's work," says Markas. "Unfortunately, there's not some instant-expert type of drink you can take. It's just work. Fortunately, Terry and I love the work. And even more fortunately, we like working with each other. That's a nice surprise."

"Not knowing each other until we began," says Smith, "that's a nice surprise."

So is the team they cover.

The Angels got off to their worst start ever—six wins in their first 20 games—which is saying something, considering the club's frustrating history. And Markas and Smith said it, although not always on the air.

"We were kind of looking at each other, saying, 'Oh, man! We didn't expect this!'" Markas recalls, laughing.

"I hadn't been involved with too many bad teams," says Smith. "That's part of being with the Yankees, even at the minor-league level. They strive to win. And when we got off to that, kind of—well, I remember calling Rex Hudler after a tough series in Seattle and saying, 'Man,' I said, 'I'm not used to this!' So Rex reminded me of the Angels '94 season—or was it the '95 season?—when the Angels lost almost 100 games, and he was a member of that team. He goes, 'Smitty,' he goes, 'Sometimes it happens, and you've gotta hang in there.' And I appreciated it."

From that ominous beginning, however, the Angels have battled back into contention for a playoff spot. The season is shaping up as one of the most inspirational in their history.

"For us to turn this thing around so quickly, it's just, like, mind-boggling," says Smith. "As tough and as difficult as it was during the first three weeks, this is like a dream come true right now, the way we're winning games. It's just amazing."

"But on the other hand," interjects Markas, "that's not so much of an issue as baseball's relentless schedule. There's a game almost every day, and sometimes you look at the schedule and plead for a break. But what I love about this job is that you never know what is going to happen when you get to work. No matter how relentless the schedule or how monotonous a game has become—even if you are way out of a pennant race in August—it's still better than anything else I can think of doing."

And so it is that a little after 7 p.m. you might be driving down the freeway somewhere and take a few pokes at the preset buttons on your car radio. At one of the stops, a mystically hypnotic sound—something like a seashell held to the ear—will come through the speakers. It's the hollow, happy echo of a medium-sized crowd sitting in a large stadium on a cooling summer night, considering a baseball game. And you'll decide to join that crowd, consider that game with them, maybe for a little while on the drive home—and maybe, if the game is good and you're in the mood, in the house when you get there. You'll hear the Voices of the Angels. And sometimes, you'll feel like you've died and gone to heaven.

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