Monday, August 04, 2008

R.I.P. Skip Caray

By now you've probably heard the sad news that longtime Atlanta Braves radio/TV announcer Skip Caray died Sunday at age 68.

Unfortunately, I can't say I was too surprised when I heard the news. Caray had been ill for a while, and I could definitely tell listening to him this year that he wasn't his old self; the vibrance in his voice was gone.

Much like his dad, the late Harry Caray, Skip was oft-imitated and much beloved by the hometown fans. Skip often brought his wry, unique wit to telecasts and made the games fun to watch even when the Braves weren't very good.

I think my fondest moment with Skip came one night in the late 1980s when the Braves, in the midst of another terrible season, were getting pounded in Pittsburgh. Coming back from a commercial break, Skip said, "Well, the bases are loaded, and right now, I wish I was, too." He'd use that line a few more times.

Most Braves fans will likely remember his call of Sid Bream's mad dash in the 1992 NLCS to beat the Pirates and win the pennant.

I was lucky enough to meet Skip a few times back when I covered the Braves, and he was always a decent guy.

The Caray legacy lives on with Skip's son, Chip, a broadcaster with TBS. His younger son, Josh, broadcasts the games for the Class A Rome Braves.

A lot of non-Braves fans would often classify Skip as a "homer," but I think it's a bit of an unfair generalization. (And I'm a non-Braves fan). Skip recognized that he was a Braves employee, so he broadcast the games from their perspective, something pretty much all broadcasters do for the teams' flagship stations.

But he was hardly John Sterling when it came to homer-ism. Caray would often criticize the Braves if they made a bad play or Bobby Cox made a questionable managerial decision. When the Braves were a last-place team in the '80s, Caray's good-natured poking fun at them was often what made the games tolerable to watch.

Caray represents a dying breed of baseball broadcaster. Today's guys are a bit too homogenized for the most part, lacking the distinctiveness that made broadcasters like Caray so memorable. He will be missed.

GET WELL, KELLY BUNDY: TVGuide.com is reporting actress Christina Applegate, nominated for an Emmy for "Samantha Who?" has been detected with an early form of breast cancer. The report says it's been caught early and the prognosis is very good, but hopefully, it will serve as a reminder to women out there that early detection is the key and to get yourselves checked.

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: OK, enough with the sad news. On a happier note, the scrappy bunch of Little Leaguers from Warner Robins continue their march back to Williamsport, Pa. with another regional game tonight in Florida. You can listen to the broadcast of the game via Macon.com. (See, there are other good things on the site besides this blog.)

The force of nature known as Miley Cyrus hosts the "Teen Choice Awards" (Fox, 8 p.m.), so odds are, you'll know where your 11-15 year old daughter is tonight.

"The Mole" (ABC, 10 p.m.) is revealed tonight. If they show it to be Mark the teacher, well, he was a terrible mole because he won the team more money than anyone. But he's also the least suspicious.

The TNT duo of "The Closer" and "Saving Grace" air new episodes, beginning tonight at 9 p.m.

"The Middleman" (ABC Family, 10 p.m.) is also new, as are "Weeds" and "Secret Diary of a Call Girl," beginning on Showtime at 10 p.m.

2 comments:

zodin2008 said...

Thank you for talking about Skip.

Growing up in Georgia and growing up a Braves fan, there's probably no personality that makes me think of my formative/childhood years more than Skip Caray. And he was a homer. Much the way Larry Munson is for Georgia - but these gentlemen are MY homers. :-)

I also had the distinct pleasure of meeting Skip on a few occassions and a nice genial guy, with a healthy amount of sarcastic wit (my kind of people). My favorite time and perhaps the most amount of time I spent with him, was when I was a Junior at Georgia covering Men's Basketball as a stringer for A.P., I went into the press dining room at Stegeman Coliseum one rand Tuesday or Wednesday game night, and low and behold, Skip was on hand.

I immeditaly grabbed at spot at his table and myself and a few other similar age young journalists sat around eating our BBQ chicken and listening to Skip tells some funny, wry stories. It was a nice memory. But wanting to appear a relatively serious journalist, I never did get to turn to Skip and say how important his voice was - on Radio and Television - during my childhood.

And Phillip, you're right. As much fun as the successful 1990's were (and the top 2 Skip calls was the Sid Bream '92 slide in the NLCS and the final pitch by Wohler for our only championship in 1995), some of the most fun I had listening to Skip was during the 1980's doldrums, when the team performed, sadly, much like the 2008 Braves are performing.

I am just pleased the Braves won the game yesterday against Milwaukee - it was like we sent him off to heaven with a win. :-)
And everyone who knew Skip, would have guessed that's probably what he'd want most if his time was up - a Braves win.

Rest in Peace, Skip.

As for the Christina Applegate news - incredibly distressing. Someone young and healthy and vibrant like that who's in the midst of a pretty successful TV career. One can only hope they caught the cancer early enough.

Phillip Ramati said...

Yep, a lot of sad news from yesterday.

It's tough to see a lot of that era of broadcasters pass on.