He has broadcast from the centerfield bleachers with a cooler full of beer. He sweeps foul balls from the backstop with a long fishing net. And he leads the most raucous choruses of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” ever heard at the ballgame. Harry Caray is broadcasting’s premier showman, as much an attraction at the ballpark as the teams for which he works.
He made his ML debut with the Cardinals in 1945, and by the mid-50s was heard across the Midwest on flagship station KMOX and baseball’s largest radio network. Caray was fired in 1969 amid rumors of personal difficulties with the Busch family, then spent one season in Oakland before returning to the Midwest as the voice of the White Sox. From 1971 to 1981 his antics helped resurrect that nearly comatose franchise, but in 1982 he jumped to the Cubs. His fame reached new peaks with a national TV audience through superstation WGN and the natural affinity Wrigley Field has for his grandstanding antics.
At each stop, Caray has been an unapologetic homer, loudly cheering the locals while freely using “we” and “they” to describe the participants. But even his beloved hometown players are not exempt from the often caustic criticism he calls objectivity. As he put it, “If they’re horseshit, there’s nothing I can do about it.” Caray fought off a stroke to continue in the Cubs’ booth as the 80s drew to a close, still barking his home run call, “It might be…It could be… It is!”, and capping each victory with the simple and joyous exultation “Cubs win!”