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Harry Caray Used To Just Make Shit Up While Calling Away Games

Illustration for article titled Harry Caray Used To Just Make Shit Up While Calling Away Games

Yesterday on the The Stacks, we republished Myron Cope's great old profile of Harry Caray, written back when he was still calling games for the Cardinals and was known as a bit of a rebel in baseball circles. Even then, he was already considered the best play-by-play man in the game, in no small part because of his ability to mix some fiction into his calls.


To wit:

The next year, 1946, Caray made his big breakthrough. That season the Cardinals forged into the thick of the pennant race, whipping public interest to a fever pitch. Accordingly, the radio stations decided that on days when the Cardinals were playing on the road and the Browns were idle or rained out, the Cardinals game would be broadcast in "recreated" form—that is, the announcers would broadcast from their St. Louis studios, giving the play-by-play as it came in on a Western Union ticker. The chief flaw in this arrangement was that the ticker frequently broke down, sometimes for as long as five minutes, leaving the listening audience with deadly stretches of silence or meaningless helpings of trivia from the announcers. Caray, however, put his wits to work.

"I developed a helluva flair," he says. "When the ticker slowed up or broke down, I'd create an argument on the ball field. Or I'd have a sandstorm blowing up and the ballplayers calling time to wipe their eyes. Hell, all the ticker tape carried was the bare essentials—B1, S1, B2, B3. So I used the license of imagination, without destroying the basic facts, you understand. A foul ball was a high foul back to the rail, the catcher is racing back, he can't get it—a pretty blonde in a red dress, amply endowed, has herself a souvenir!' " It sold Griesedieck beer.

Now be sure to scroll down and read the rest excellent profile.