Siberian Baseball

Monday, February 18, 2008

Ten long years

It was 10 years ago today that Harry Caray passed away after becoming ill following a Valentine's Day dinner with his wife. It seems like much longer for his thousands upon thousands of fans.

Known for his goofy television delivery and his glasses more than anything else, I miss Harry and his perspective on the sport - mainly that it's supposed to be fun and everything else could go to hell.

Whether he was salivating over the women in the bleachers or butchering names of the visiting (and sometimes the home team's) players, Harry embodied Cubs baseball in my formative years. My parents would have been just as well off sending the checks meant for our babysitter to Caray, seeing as he was the one who kept me out of trouble and in one spot for at least a few hours during the summertime.

I remember watching his funeral on WGN from my dorm room and trying unsuccessfully to keep my emotions in check. Logically, it made no sense to be driven to tears over the death of a man I'd never met, but I can't imagine I'm alone on that count.

After an exhausting off season marred by scandal and speculation, I'll especially miss him this spring. I don't necessarily think he'd have any profound insight into the whole mess, but I suspect he wouldn't spend more than a few minutes throughout the course of the season dwelling on Congress or any of the knuckleheads who spend a king's ransom in legal fees to defend or attack former players.

While it's oversimplified to put Harry on a pedestal and deem him the protector of all that's right and quaint about the game, he comes as close as you can get in my mind.

While the 80's and 90's were certainly not free from big salaries and internal politics, Harry made you forget about all of that taking place on the outskirts of the game. He did, however draw the attention back to the field, the joy of a lazy summer afternoon and always seemed to be enjoying himself in the sunshine at Wrigley.

Oversimplified, yes. I'm OK with that.

* Check out this link to Home Run Derby, where he remembers a phone call with Harry years ago. This is exactly why I read Home Run Derby and not just to borrow photos from their posts.

* As another bonus, here are excerpts from Harry's last print interview that were re-posted today.

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  • Nice post. I'm a tried and true White Sox fan but I can appreciate Harry Carey. Also really appreciated the link to HRD - that's a good story, and nice writing.

    By Blogger nad, At Monday, February 18, 2008 7:10:00 PM  

  • I don't know if I can remember a single thing that Hector Villaneuva had ever done on the field, but I'll never forget Harry Caray trying to call his name. Seriously though, even as a Sox fan, the Harry Caray-Steve Stone booth was one of the great pairings in baseball broadcasting history - they were just perfect complements for each. Announcers these days are all groomed to sound like they are from Anyplace, USA - we're lucky to have been able to grow up watching and listening to an American original.

    By Anonymous Frank the Tank, At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 12:20:00 AM  

  • Funny you say that, considering Harry thought the best times of his life were spent on the South Side and broadcasting with Jimmy Piersall.

    I have the "Hello Again, Everybody" documentary on the way from Netflix, as I missed it on Comcast Sports during Monday's Harry Caray sports spamming. I'll let you know how that goes.

    There were some funny moments in another special they ran, but my favorite was from his best friend, who said that in order to be Harry's pal, you needed, "Endless energy, an iron stomach, a bag packed and a divorce lawyer on retainer.

    He's also the one who brought down the house at the funeral, so I'm inclined to trust him.

    By Blogger Minneapolis Red Sox, At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 3:42:00 PM  

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