Originally created 08/16/97

Late Orioles announcer eulogized



BALTIMORE - It was a final opportunity to say "Thank Youuuu" to Rex Barney for making life a bit more pleasurable.

Family members and hundreds of close friends gathered Friday morning at a funeral service for the Orioles announcer who was found dead in his home Tuesday. He was 72.

Barney played six seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers and later gained popularity as the Baltimore Orioles' public address announcer for more than 20 years. His trademark lines behind the mike were "Thank Youuuu" and "Give that fan a contract!" when someone caught a ball in the stands.

"Another one of the Boys of Summer has left us," Rev. Robert J. Braunreuther said in his homily.

"Rex will always be part of the Baltimore community and a part of the Baltimore Orioles," said Orioles bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks, one of the pallbearers. "It's a sad day, but I know Rex is at peace. He wouldn't have it any other way."

Mourners at Saint Ignatius Church included former Orioles manager Johnny Oates and Hall of Fame members Brooks Robinson and Jim Palmer, both of whom played for Baltimore.

"We lost a wonderful guy," Robinson said. "I'll always remember the great times and the smiles he brought to my face. You can see by everyone here that he will be greatly missed."

The eulogy was delivered by Hall of Fame broadcaster Chuck Thompson, who became friends with Barney in 1947. Thompson quoted a passage from a book by the late sportswriter Grantland Rice, whom Barney often quoted himself.

The excerpt referred to the loss of close friends as time goes on.

"I've lost a great friend," concluded Thompson, gesturing to the coffin containing Barney's body and adorned with an Orioles' cap. "I can't think of anyone in the city of Baltimore and the state Maryland that doesn't recognize Rex's vast contributions."

No current Orioles' players were in attendance because they had an afternoon game, but Hendricks, pitching coach Ray Miller, general manager Pat Gillick and assistant general manager Kevin Malone all attended.

Braunreuther, 63, grew up in Brooklyn and saw Barney pitch at Ebbets Field. The highlight of Barney's career occurred at that cozy ballpark on Sept. 9, 1948, when the right-hander no-hit the New York Giants 2-0.

Barney retired at age 25 after fighting for years to find the strike zone with his wandering fastball. He finished with 410 walks and 336 strikeouts.

"Rex was a blessed man because he had not only one, but three Fields of Dreams," the priest told the congregation. "He had Ebbets Field, where he pitched that no-hitter, and his voice filled both Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards."

Barney had a 35-31 record in the majors. His career spanned 155 games, but he had thousands of stories to tell and just as many friends to share them with.

"To have him as a friend is indescribable," Palmer said. "Somebody asked me how long Rex had been here, and I said, `Forever."'