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Harry Caray Photo Gallery
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Salute to Hall-of-Famer Harry Caray!
Now that the 2017 World Series is over (and congrats to all the Astro fans!), it’s time to take care of some unfinished business.
For the longest time I’ve been wanting to turn the spotlight on the many wonderful baseball broadcasters who, over the years, have done so much to make the game fun and exciting. And, as we all know, there’s been some great ones.
If you’re like me, you may prefer the old days when “homers” weren’t so polished, politically correct, and weren’t afraid to actually have a good time at the game. It’s baseball, it’s supposed to be fun!
They also weren’t afraid to inject a large dose of their own personality into their calls. Most would outwardly root for their team. They would get emotionally “worked up” when good things happened on the field; and visibly upset when the team played poorly or lost a close lost. The best ones always knew how to pass this excitement along to their audience…and the game was always fun listening either on the radio or watching on TV.
On the one hand we have old-school announcers like Russ Hodges with his memorable call in 1951 (no matter how many times I’ve heard it, I still get goose bumps!): “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!” We also have Harry Caray slobbering out: “Cubs win! Cubs win! Cubs win! after every Cub victory. Or Ken Harrelson with his signature home run call: “You can put it on the board…Yes!!”
On the other hand, we have announcers who prefer to let the camera pan the stands and let the “crowd paint the picture” after an exciting finish to a close game.
It’s just personal preference. You’re certainly free to disagree. But for my money, I’ll take the “homers” any old day…
And what better example is there than Harry Caray!
I chose to start this series on broadcaster with a tribute to Harry, because today is the anniversary of the day back in 1968 when Harry almost “met his maker” a bit prematurely. On November 3, 1968, 49 years ago, Harry was struck by a car at 1:15 A.M, trying to cross the Kings Highway near the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis. Let’s not ask what Harry was doing out at that hour, trying to cross a busy highway!
It was a rainy Sunday morning and Harry was lucky to survive. He was reportedly knocked 40 feet in the air and suffered two broken legs, a broken nose, and a dislocated shoulder. I wasn’t surprised to read that his hospital room became “party central.” He somehow recovered from all this to make it to the Cardinals’ Opening Day! Always the showman, Harry dramatically threw aside his two canes and walked to the broadcast booth under his own power after a pre-game tribute.
Harry spent 55 years in the broadcast booth (1942-1997) calling games for the Cardinals (1945-1969), Browns (1945-’46), Athletics (1970), White Sox (1971-’81), and Cubs (1982-’97). Harry had many broadcast partners over the years. His first was Gabby Street, who old-time baseball fans will recognize at the Cardinals’ manager in the pennant years of 1930 and ’31. Other notable partners include Joe Garagiola, Jack Buck, Jimmy Piersall, and Steve Stone.
The fun-loving Harry Caray may be most remembered for his “rendition” of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” sung during the seventh inning stretch. It began while he was with the White Sox. It was show-boat owner Bill Veeck who came up with the idea. He noticed Harry liked to hum the song along with organist Nancy Faust. Harry initially wanted no part of it; but Veeck could be persuasive, and Harry reluctantly agreed. The rest, as they say, is history: the shtick become famous and continued after Harry joined the Cubs in 1982. Thanks to WGN, it gathered a much larger audience and became Harry’s trademark. The tradition is still continued today under the (obnoxious) “guest-conductor” at Cub home games, 20 years after Harry’s death.
Over his career, Harry Caray added a lot to the baseball lexicon. Here’s just a small sampling off the top of my head of some great “Harryism”:
“Ah…you can’t beat fun at the old ball park!” (Usually said after the camera panned on some pretty young thing).
“Honestly compels me to say…” (Usually said after some egregious Cub error).
Steve, why don’t you say on the air what you tell me between innings…” (Said to partner Steve Stone
“It might be! It could be! It is! (Harry’s signature home run call)
“On the run! On the run! On the run! Sensational catch…!”
“All right! Lemme hear ya! Ah-One! Ah-Two! Ah-Three…!” (Harry’s intro to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”).
Harry Caray was the Ford Frick Award winner in 1989, and was inducted to the broadcast wing of the Hall of Fame.
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Information: Excerpts edited from the Harry Caray Wikipedia page.