Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Farewell Skip

By: Harvey

Sunday evening was a rough one for me as I learned late in the evening that one of my favorite baseball announcers, Skip Caray, passed away at his home.

I'm not going to bore you by rehashing all the nice things that have been said and the anecdotes told about a guy I consider one of the best (maybe even better than his old man). Instead, I just want to share how Skip Caray became a part of my life.

I've been a Braves fan since I've been old enough to remember, surviving family pressure from overbearing Cubs and Cardinals fans and landing with the Atlanta team thanks to a Braves lunch box, ball cap and backpack sent to me as a gift by a much more thoughtful family member.

Becoming a Braves fan, especially back in the early 90s, meant hearing the voice of Skip Caray on TBS along with Pete Van Wieren, Don Sutton and Joe Simpson. Remember when TBS was cool and showed almost every Braves game? Now they're a bunch of bastards and sold out on the Braves...but back then they were America's Team because no other team was as readily available on a nightly basis.

People I knew always poked fun at the style of the TBS crews, especially mocking Caray's laid back voice and writing off his dry sense of humor as "dorkiness" or "lameness". I always defended it. It was always a treat for me to get to go to grandma's house or my aunt and uncle's house so I could see a game on TV. Maybe that's why it didn't bother me, because just the chance to hear his voice was a special thing back in those days.

One summer, I even discovered I could somehow pick up night games on the radio — I never did figure out if it was just a freak AM wave that occassionally made its way up here to the Midwest or if some more local station was relaying the broadcast. All I knew was if I couldn't have the Braves on TV, then hearing the same bunch of guys on the radio was good enough.

Finally, my folks ditched the Amish cable and got a dish, and I was in hog heaven. There were countless discussions throughout the summers during which I was chastised for having a Braves game on every night...but it never got me to change the channel.

Even when TBS began to pare down its Braves coverage for other more profitable programming, I still caught Skip and the gang when they were on. Once the decision was made to drop the Braves all together, I loved to hear Skip openly bitch on-air about the turn the Superstation had taken.

Just a few days ago, I tuned in my XM radio during a long car ride home to listen to Skip and Pete do the game, only to hear Mark Lemke working with Van Wieren in Caray's place. Didn't think much of it; little did I know I'd already missed my last chance to hear Skip do a game the way only he could do it.

Now, the voice of the Braves for over 30 years is gone. I realize it isn't ground-shaking news for most baseball fans, but I know it is tough news to take for my fellow Braves fans. The guy did what any broadcaster worth his salt is supposed to do, he worked his way into the hearts of his fans....and like it or not, they are all missing something now that he isn't around anymore.

I always used to wonder what the big deal was when Cubs fans talked so reverently about Harry Caray. Same with Cardinals fans and their great Jack Buck (whose son is still an asshole).

Now I know.

Rest in peace, Skip.


Sports Jerks said...

As a Cubs fan I never really had that same kind of connection with Harry as Braves fans did with Skip. When Harry died I was like, "OK then. So what does that mean". I was more worked up over the firings of Chip Caray and Steve Stone. Actually not so much Chip. Steve was such a intelligent and "tell it like it is" kind of guy. It was complete horseshit shit that he was fired.


eccentric said...

Yeah Chip is a huge douche. It just goes to show you that you can make a name for yourself just because of the people that spawned you.

I wonder what it was like growing up for Skip. Think his old man used to get really drunked up on Budweiser and make him dodge empty beer cans while daddy fucked around with Mrs. Busch? Its a wonder that a guy can do something respectable when you are raised by such a name-botching degenerate.