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Relive Markas' most memorable calls
Relive Markas' most memorable calls
By Lyle Spencer
ANAHEIM -- Once again, the Angels' family mourns.
In the wake of the losses last year of young pitcher Nick Adenhart and venerable club executive Preston Gomez, Rory Markas, the team's personable play-by-play voice for eight years, died at his home in Palmdale, Calif., on Monday night.
The information was released by the Angels on Tuesday morning. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Markas, 54, was highly regarded as one of the most versatile and hardest-working broadcasters in the industry.
"He was born to be a broadcaster," Terry Smith, Markas' longtime partner in the booth, said by phone. "Broadcasting became his life. He was fortunate no one took that away from him. He passed away still doing what he loved to do."
Smith sensed a personality change come over Markas after he survived a blood clot in his brain in November 2008, recovering in time to return to his passion: calling Angels games with the excitement and energy of a kid.
"I noticed after his big health scare November of a year ago that he changed," Smith said. "I think he realized he cheated death. He was very candid about how fortunate he was to come through his aneurysm. He had what I saw as a spiritual change.
"He left us as a better man."
Smith, who joined the Angels in their 2002 World Series championship season, said he learned of Markas' death around 1 a.m. PT on Tuesday and spoke by phone with family members and Markas' girlfriend.
"I lost a really good friend," Smith said. "When you are together with someone that long -- eight seasons -- it's a time-consuming job during the season. You either get to really like someone or dislike someone. We really got to like each other.
"The thing I'll miss most about him is his humor, his wit. He wasn't really a joke-teller, but he had an incredibly quick wit, and it came through in his broadcasts. He was a very caring guy, someone you wanted to have as a friend -- someone you could share personal things with, and vice versa."
While focusing on his radio and television work for the Angels, Markas also handled play-by-play for the University of Southern California men's basketball team and was a reporter for FOX 11 KTTV in Los Angeles.
Prior to joining the Angels, Markas handled play-by-play duties for the USC baseball team on the Trojan Radio Network, as well as pregame reporting for Trojans football. From 1994-97, he was the lead radio announcer for the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers.
Markas also served as play-by-play announcer for the Brewers' television network from 1992-94 and as a substitute radio play-by-play man on the Brewers' radio network from 1984-94. He had launched his play-by-play career in the Pacific Coast League in 1981, spending six seasons, three each, with the Salt Lake City Gulls and Vancouver Canadians.
With the Angels, Markas' signature call was his "Just another Halo victory!" in the immediate aftermath of a winning performance.
He would refer to his call of the final out of the 2002 World Series against the Giants at Angel Stadium as one of his biggest thrills as an announcer. Center fielder Darin Erstad made the play, touching off the biggest celebration in franchise history.
Here it was, through his clear, ever-enthusiastic delivery: "Fly ball, center field. Erstad says he's got it! Erstad makes the catch! The Anaheim Angels are the champions of baseball!"
"He was destined to make that call," Angels spokesman Tim Mead said on KNX 1070. "If we were down 10-1 or up 10-1, he'd make the game entertaining."
Mead referred to Markas as a "glass half-full optimist who took a great deal of satisfaction and pleasure in making other poeple happy, not just doing his job but truly making other people happy."
With changes in the booth made during the offseason, Markas was going to be paired primarily with former Major League players Mark Gubicza and Jose Mota in 2010.
"From a recent conversation just before the holidays," Smith said, "we had talked about the changes that were going to take place and we weren't going to be working together for 2010.
"He told me he was really going to miss that, and I said the same thing to him. We might not have been in the same booth together, but we were traveling together the same amount of time and still spending time together. I'll really miss the guy.
"In the last six months, I've lost two dear friends: my dad and Rory. You start wondering and questioning why all this is happening. There's been some soul searching."
Markas was honored four times with Golden Mike Awards for radio reporting along with two Associated Press Sportscasting Awards. He was presented the 2008 Radio Play-by-Play Award by the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association.
A San Fernando Valley, Calif., native, Markas played baseball at Chatsworth High School and attended Los Angeles Valley College and Cal State Northridge. He is survived by his mother, Billie, and his brothers, Gary and Troy.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.