Another Angel has been given his halo far too soon.
Rory Markas passed away at his home in Palmdale. He was 54.
Markas spent the last eight years as the primary radio and television play-by-play man for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He also called games for USC's men's basketball team and served as a reporter for FOX 11 KTTV in Los Angeles.
From 1994-97, Markas lead the radio broadcast team for the Los Angeles Clippers. Certainly, he was a true broadcasting veteran and lent his voice to several different sporting realms.
But to listen to him, you always knew baseball held a special place in his heart. Markas called Angels games with the barely contained enthusiasm of a child.
He brought a unique sense of excitement and, perhaps more memorably, humor to the game.
Whether on television with Mark Gubicza or on the radio with longtime broadcast partner Terry Smith, Markas loved to poke fun at his sidekicks, his dry wit permeating nearly every inning.
During one summer's day game against the Texas Rangers, Smith relentlessly commented on the visiting pitcher's size. “He's just gigantic,” he'd say. A pitch later, “Boy, he's huge.”
He refused to let up. After a few more remarks, Smith prompted his radio partner, “Doesn't he look big to you?”
“Gigantic,” Markas quipped. You could almost hear his wry smirk.
Markas particularly loved to needle his television partner, Gubicza, especially when he could do it while ad-libbing some goofy promotion at the ballpark.
Often, while reading the script for the latest video player on MLB.com, Markas would slip in a verbal barb that would leave Gooby red-faced with laughter.
“Now you can pause, rewind, fast-forward, and edit out Gooby's comments!”
Markas also enjoyed mocking the odd stadium giveaways he'd have to promote on air.
“I just can't believe it, folks. Floppy hat night is almost here.”
However, humor always only spoke to his broadcasting abilities, never for them. Above all, Markas was great at creating drama and capturing the moment for all who listened.
During the Angels' incredible World Series run in 2002, he spent the playoffs in the radio booth. And though Tim McCarver and Joe Buck led the broadcast on FOX, it is Markas's call of the final out of Game 7 that will live in the hearts of Angels fans forever.
“Fly ball, center field. Erstad says he's got it. Erstaaaad...makes the catch! And the Anaheim Angels are the CHAMPIONS of baseball!”
Gives me chills just typing it.
Markas was also the comforting voice many Angels fans turned to after the tragic death of Nick Adenhart. His touching tribute before the team's next game against the Boston Red Sox, as well as his heartfelt send off after the Angels' cathartic victory, connected the team to its fans.
We all knew we shared the same pain inside because Markas shared his on the air.
This offseason, Markas and Gubicza were made the lone broadcast team for FOX Sports West's coverage of Angel baseball. What happens now remains to be seen.
The likely candidate to step in might be Steve Physioc, the longtime voice of the Angels, who along with his partner Rex Hudler, were let go during the offseason.
Whoever takes the reigns, there will never be a replacement. Given the chance, Markas would have been as beloved in Anaheim as Brickhouse in Chicago or Harwell in Detroit.
Now though, as was the case for the last eight seasons, every Angel win will forever be “just another Halo victory.”