Jim Simpson has been named to replace retiring Chuck Thompson as play-by-play announcer on WMAR-TV-2's Baltimore Orioles telecasts.

Simpson, who did the TV pregame show with Bob Wolff for the original Washington Senators in the 1950s and then did major league baseball for NBC for 15 years, signed a one-year contract to join analyst Brooks Robinson.

"The three important things in my life, besides my family, are the Orioles, steamed crabs and crab cakes," said Simpson, a long-time Bethesda resident. "This is coming home for me and it's a sport I just adore. I'm thrilled."

Simpson was ESPN's top play-by-play announcer from 1978 until his contract was not renewed in 1986. He does a syndicated Big Ten package of football and basketball games (many of which are seen on WFTY-TV-50 here) and this past season, he hosted "Redskins Saturday Night" on WDCA-TV-20 . . .

Outfielder Kirk Gibson angrily left Holman Stadium in Vero Beach, Fla., and didn't play in the Los Angeles Dodgers' exhibition game against the Chunichi Dragons after he was apparently the victim of a practical joke. It would have been his first game in a Dodger uniform.

Someone apparently put eye-black in Gibson's hat. When he discovered the black substance on his forehead while he was on the field, he got angry, went to the clubhouse, got dressed and left . . .

Detroit Tigers reliever Willie Hernandez apologized to Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom for dumping a bucket of water on him in the clubhouse in Lakeland, Fla.

Wednesday's incident was spurred by a column Albom wrote last April and by comments Hernandez was told Albom made on a cable television program this winter. Hernandez said he felt the writer turned Detroit fans against him.