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October 2009

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Holy Cow!!

Written by , Posted in Reviews

The World Series starts tonight. The games will be telecast on FOX. While I have nothing personal against the announcing team of Tim McCarver and Joe Buck, it was Harry Carry who observed that some announcers are more interesting than others. Here’s a shout out to Harry.

Harry Caray’s autobiography titled “Holy Cow”, published in 1989, and written with Bob Verdi, is the subject of this review.

In opening we are treated to a first person account of Harry’s stroke (“cerebrovascular accident”) which occurred at a Palm Springs, CA, Country Club.

He discusses getting fired by Anheuser-Busch after broadcasting Cardinals games for 25 years.

The details of his life and career in St. Louis, Oakland, and Chicago are presented, with names and dates.

Here are a couple of my favorite excerpts:

– “Anyway, every time I went to the ballpark – whether the Cardinals won or lost, whether the game was well played or not – I felt that excitement, I experienced that thrill. But when I stayed home and listened to the radio broadcasts, what I heard was as dull and boring as the morning crop reports.”

– “That’s why I say there’s not a bad announcer in baseball. Some are just more interesting than others. To me, you can tell an uninteresting announcer – when he throws a million statistics at you. Who cares whether a player’s got 120 singles or 140 singles? Or who cares if he’s had two hits in his last twenty times at bat? I’d rather know that he’s never had a hit off a particular pitcher – something that is actually relevant to what’s happening on the field.”

This is a very easy reading book. Although it was published 20 years ago, it feels current because the writing is good. I have heard the rough outlines of some of the stories included here before, but now I have all the details.

I recommend this book highly to anyone with an interest in Major League baseball from the 1940s through the 1980s, or with an interest in Harry Caray: the man, the myth, the legend. Or, I might add, with any interest in major league baseball announcers.

  • Interesting that Harry would mention wanting to hear about something relevant to what is happening on the field despite the fame he gained for pronouncing names backward. Sorry, but this 50-year Cub fan would have kept Jack Brickhouse for life and would never have employed the Beer Man. He spent a quarter-century with the Cardinals and a decade with the White Sox. Good Lord, he should have put in a couple of years with the Mets. Sure he was a fan. So am I and so are all of us reading this blog. But Jack Quinlan was a fan, so was Vince Lloyd and so is Pat Hughes. And all of them were better than Harry every inning, every day. Especially with regard to what is happening on the field!

  • CubbieDude

    Rick,

    Thanks for reading and thanks for commenting. I’m gonna have to take your word for it, because I never, to this day, heard Harry call a game. So I’m trying to reconstruct the “Harry Caray phenomenon” for myself, retroactively.

    I agree with you: I grew up with Jack Brickhouse doing the games. And Lou Boudreau was pretty good, too.

    There’s no denying that lots of fans identify with Harry and remember him fondly. My dad is one of those. If you’re at odds with that opinion, I guess that makes you a “purist”. Nothing wrong with that.

  • Kris

    Another reason I will pay minimal attention to the World Series this year…Joe Morgan and Jon Anderson on ESPN. It was about 3 seconds in the car before I wanted to gouge my ear drums out.

  • Doc Raker

    “How does a guy, who grew up on one of those Islands in the Carribean where the sun shines 365 days a year lose a ball in the sun? I just don’t understand.” Harry Caray

    That type of fan response can only be heard from Harry. He was a fan of the game and told it like he saw it. That made him different than the typical announcer, like it or not.

    I remember when a high priced closer blew a game to the Cubs. Harry’s call on the game winning hit was, “There’s your $2 million dollar closer, Cubs Win!

    Harry and Stoner had a great mix of fan reaction and baseball knowledge as an announcing team. Stoner gave us the best baseball analysis and Harry gave us the raw emotion of the fan, or the drunken fan at times. I have enjoyed them the most in my lifetime.

    A far cry from the vanilla we are served with Len and Bob.

    Pat Hughes sells documentary CD’s about announcers and I have his CD of Harry. It’s pretty good but could of used more actual cuts of Harry.

    Cubbiedude- Does the book mention the Bush family ran Harry out of town because he was fooling around with one of the Bush women?

    Did Harry suspect the Bush family behind his accident when he got ran over by a car and broke his legs?

  • CubbieDude

    Kris and Doc, Thanks for reading and thanks for commenting.

    Kris, As has been observed elsewhere: “You can’t fix stupid, but you can delete it.” So you just turn off the sound and listen to something you like.

    If you didn’t see (notice I didn’t say “listen to”) the game last night, you missed some truly world class pitching. Two former Cy Young Award winners. Sweet.

    Doc, I seem to remember reading something about that somewhere; something to do with Auggie Busch’s wife maybe? But it probably wasn’t in Harry’s own autobiography. At least I don’t remember seeing it there. I guess some guys can’t take a joke.

    I have no idea what Harry might have suspected about anything. I’ll have to google that to get more juicy info. I suggest you do the same.

  • MJ

    A far cry from the vanilla we are served with Len and Bob.

    I’ll take that vanilla.

    I started watching Sox games (I know *gasp*) towards the end of the year, and Stone has turned into a self obsessed dweeb. Yes he was good way back when, but he’s become a pompous a$$, and an annoyance to listen too. I’ll take Brenly’s insight now. It’s still far superior to most color guys out there, which is a sad state of affairs if you ask me.

  • CubbieDude

    Google to the rescue:

    “(Peter) Golenbock and other Cardinal historians have suggested the cause was a purported affair Caray had with the daughter-in-law of Cardinals owner August A. Busch, Jr…. Caray first called it a business grudge while never necessarily denying or affirming the rumors.”

  • Seymour Butts

    I will also admit to Cub Heresy… I did not like Harry.
    It is because he seemed to be following a different game than the one I was watching. Low outside curve balls were described as chin music on a routine basis. Not knowing the count, not knowing the inning or outs, mangling the players names. I found him to be very similar to W in that he was embarrasing to me that he represented my team (or country).
    So, Cub nation gives him love, but the best part for me was listening to Stone’s obvious disgust in trying to cover Harry’s tracks. Great guy to party with, lousy announcer.

  • I agree with Seymour in Harry’s later years or maybe later innings after a few. He was not a corporate yes man for sure which I found refreshing.

    I did find it amusing that he was the Cubs number one hater as the White Sox announcer and a Falstaff shill until the Cubs came calling. He then dumped the Cubs hate, dumped Falstaff and started drinking Budwieser.

    I’ll take Brenly’s insight now. It’s still far superior to most color guys out there, which is a sad state of affairs if you ask me.

    Brenly is fair to good as a color guy which you are right, is better than most now a days which is sad. Len is just boring and plain. I doubt he is really even a fan, just kind of an announcing robot.

    I will vote Mike Krukow (Giants) , Don Sutton ( Braves ) and Burt Blyleven ( Twins ) for best color analysis since they think along with the cat and mouse game between the pitcher and hitter so well. Mark Grace ( Diamondbacks ) is also good for entertainment sake, not so much in analysis like the 3 formerly mentioned.

    Maybe if Brenly moves onto managing the Cubs will get Grace or a former pitcher in the lines of Krukow, Sutton or Blyleven.

  • BuckeyeCub

    I like the Mets color man. He’s pretty good too. Stupid UIC doesn’t have CSN, a couple times when I was at school and the Cubs were playing the Mets on CSN, a Mets friend of mine helped get me the Mets feed, their guys are pretty good, I like them

  • CubbieDude

    UIC?? My Alma Mater! Woo-woo. Course back then, it was UICC.

  • BuckeyeCub

    When did you go to that shithole and what did you study there?

  • CubbieDude

    Gee BuckeyeCub, they always say nice things about you. Nevertheless, thanks for asking.

    I went there during the height of the Vietnam War. If you connect the dots, you’ll realize that there were worse places to be back then. And there are a lot of worse places where you could be right now. I’ve been to a few of ’em.

    My major was Biological Sciences with a split minor of Chemistry and Mathematics. I was following the pre-Med track.

    Thinking back on it, I didn’t appreciate how nice UICC was until I got to Loyola University’s Medical Center.

  • BuckeyeCub

    I meant to call the school a shithole because the school is so stupid. They don’t plan for anything, and they waste so much money.

  • cubbiedude

    BuckeyeCub,

    How stupid could they be? They let YOU in. They do plan for a few things. And wasting money is as American as apple pie. It’s just too bad they didn’t waste more money on me. I could have used some additional support back then.

  • BuckeyeCub

    The problem is they don’t waste the money on the students and then they cry poor when they cut stuff that hurts the students

  • cubbiedude

    That’s right BuckeyeCub, that’s what they do.

    Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to adapt and overcome the daunting educational challenge before you.

    Complaining is not the same as solving the problem.

    I have every confidence that you will be successful in this endeavor.

  • BuckeyeCub

    Oh, I’m not complaining. I’m graduating this year, so it’s not going to hurt me

  • cubbiedude

    OK! Good! Great!! I’m glad you’re not complaining.

    Let me be the first to congratulate you on your upcoming graduation.

  • Doc Raker

    BuckeyeCub,
    Congrats on your upcoming graduation and congratulations on recognizing bureaucratic waiste of tax payers dollars. Keep that in mind when you vote.