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At the bottom of the fourth inning of the MLB All-Star Game at Nationals Park, Charlie Brotman takes a swig of his 25-ounce can of Bud Light and munches on chicken tenders and fries as Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper steps up to the plate.
“He’ll strike out,” the 90-year-old Brotman says. Harper, the 25-year-old All-Star who had just won the Home Run Derby a night earlier is facing lefty Blake Snell of the Tampa Bay Rays. A few pitches later, Harper is walking back to the dugout. It’s the second of his two strikeouts of the night.
Brotman knows baseball. Besides his well known work as the voice of every presidential inauguration since President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s second term in 1957 until being unceremoniously replaced by Donald Trump’s Presidential Inaugural Committee a year ago, he served as the announcer for the Washington Senators.
The D.C. native was the announcer the last time the Midsummer Classic was in the District in 1969, and had the same role in 1962 and 1956, the year he started working for the Senators.
For many who grew up with Brotman’s soothing voice, and trademark, “Thank you,” he’s D.C’s “Mr. Baseball.”
“I was there when, and I feel good enough to be here now,” he says, wearing a Nationals jersey with “Brotman” etched on the back and a 2018 All-Star Game hat he recently bought. “I enjoyed the experience 60 years ago and I’m enjoying it just as much right now.”
Michael Akin called Brotman about three weeks ago to invite him to be his “date” to the All-Star Game. Akin is the president and founder of communications firm, LINK Strategic Partners, whose clients include the Citi Open tennis tournament. Four years ago, Brotman, the long-time announcer for the tournament, joined Akin’s team as a senior advisor.
“Emphasis on senior,” Akin jokes.
Brotman was quick to accept Akin’s invitation and then casually mentioned that the last time he was at an MLB All-Star Game in D.C., he was the announcer.
“I was like, ‘Wait, what? Hold on a minute. Let’s talk about that,’” Akin says.
Back in 1956, Calvin Griffith, then the new owner of the Senators, hired Brotman to be in charge of the team’s announcing and promotions. One day during the season, Brotman walked up to the Griffith and asked, “This is my first year. I’m a rookie and I know that the All-Star Game is coming to Washington. Who are you going to have be the announcer?”
Griffith took one look at Brotman and replied, “You, Charlie.”
At the 1956 game, played at Griffith Stadium, Brotman got to meet his baseball idols, including starting center fielder Mickey Mantle. He has albums full of candid photos of himself talking with players at the All-Star Game.
“I am that fan in the stand who is now on the microphone and what I think turns me on is, if I enjoy movies, I would enjoy meeting the movies stars. If I am a football fan, I would love to meet Sammy Baugh,” he says. “Was it a thrilling experience for me? It was an awesome experience.”
So on this Tuesday night at Nationals Park, Brotman is back. He enjoys watching the best baseball players in the world competing on the same field, and offers a sharp analysis of the current stars.
“I thought as a home run hitter, he is remarkable and he had the town cheering and laughing and smiling for what he did,” Brotman says of Harper’s Home Run Derby victory. “I’m a fan and I think he’s a tremendous ball player. Left handers pitching to him gives him trouble and he’s striking out more than he should and more than he would like to. As far as someone offering to pay $400 million, I think that’s a little far-fetched.”
“I’d love to see him back,” he adds. “The owners would love to see him back, but not for $400 million. If I were Bryce, I’d want $400 million too!”
But his focus this moment is on his late-night meal. Brotman says that the secret to his longevity is his diet of meat and potatoes. It’s unclear whether or not he is joking. The can of Bud Light is his second of the evening and he orders ice cream before leaving for his home in Leisure World, located in Montgomery County.
“Charlie is the mayor of Leisure World,” Akin says. “I went there once and like three waitresses got into a fight over who was going to serve him. It was incredible.”
At the end of the night, Akin drops off Brotman, who heads home with hats, T-shirts, and programs in his hands. Some are gifts and others are memorabilia to add to his vast collection of baseball memories. By the time Brotman reaches the door, it’s 1:37 a.m.
“It’s been a good life for me,” he says.