Who was Harry Caray?
Harry Caray was a well known American baseball broadcaster on radio and television. His tenure as the sports editor and news director for WKZO in Kalamazoo helped him to enrich his knowledge on the field of broadcasting. While working as a broadcaster for the St. Louis Cardinals on KMOX –TV and Radio, his commentary of baseball match earned him wide recognition for his innovative style of speaking. He developed his distinctive style of broadcasting by openly expressing his praise or disappointment for the performance of the players. During his stint as announcer with the Chicago Cubs, the cubs own television channel WGN became one of the top TV channels in the U.S. Harry was the recipient of Ford Frick Award for his contribution in the arena of broadcasting. He played a vital role in popularizing the song ‘Take me out to the Ball Game’ during seventh-inning stretch while working for the White Sox. During the 1950s and 1960s, he also worked as the announcer for Missouri Tigers football team, St. Louis Billikens basketball team and St. Louis Hawks basketball team. Apart from that, he also broadcast eight Cotton Bowl Classic games on radio. Besides broadcasting jobs, he owned a restaurant, Harry Caray’s.
Childhood & Early Life
Born as Harry Christopher Carabina, Harry Caray was the son of Italian father and Romanian mother. He lost his father when he was barely two years old and his mother when he was eight. After the death of her mother, he started living with his aunt.
For a brief period, he played baseball at the semi-pro level. As a baseball player, his remarkable performance earned him an athletic scholarship from the University of Alabama. But he did not accept this scholarship.
Instead, he was planning to join the St. Louis Cardinals, a baseball team in St. Louis, Missouri. Unfortunately, he failed to fulfil his plan to become a professional baseball player.
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For a short time, he worked as a sales correspondent, which brought him the opportunity to watch baseball matches. While listening to baseball match commentary on the radio, he felt about the lack of liveliness of radio broadcasting.
He wrote a letter to Merle Jones, the general manager of KMOX, a radio station in St. Louis. Through this letter, he expressed his personal opinion about baseball broadcast.
With the recommendation of Merle, he started working as an announcer at WJOL in Joliet, Illinois. Later, he joined WKZO in Kalamazoo, Michigan as a sports editor and news director in association with Paul Harvey, a well known radio broadcaster.
In 1945, he took the responsibility of a broadcaster for the St. Louis Cardinals on KMOX-TV and Radio. It was during this time that he changed his surname to Caray . As a broadcaster of St. Louis Cardinals, he broadcast the World Series of 1964, 1967 and 1968 on NBC.
After serving for twenty five years for the St. Louis Cardinals, he was dismissed from his job in 1969. After that, he worked as the broadcaster for the Oakland Athletics for one season.
In 1971, he joined WFLD in Chicago as the broadcaster for the Chicago White Sox. For eleven seasons, he worked at Comiskey Park, Chicago, Illinois where the Chicago White Sox played from 1910 to 1990.
During this time, he used to sing ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’, a popular song which has become synonymous to the game of baseball. In 1977, he started broadcasting with the first female announcer of baseball, Mary Shane.
Though he received critical acclaim for his work as a broadcaster of Chicago White Sox, yet the team’s owner wanted to fire him for his criticism of the players. But ownership of the team changed hands but eventually Harry left the team because of his differences with the new team owners.
After leaving Chicago White Sox in 1982, he joined WGN-TV to broadcast for the Chicago Cubs, Chicago, Illinois. While working for them, he received nationwide recognition for his broadcasting style.
Personal Life & Legacy
It has been known that, he was sacked from the announcer’s job for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1969, due to his affair with the daughter-in-law of August A. Busch, Jr, the owner of Cardinals.
He married Dorothy with whom he had three children. Later, he tied the nuptial knot with Marian with whom he had two children. On May 19, 1975, he married Delores “Dutchie”.
On February 14, 1998, while dining with his family, he suffered a heart attack that damaged his brain. After several days, he breathed his last.
This successful baseball broadcaster took great pride in working with his son Skip Caray and grandson Chip Caray in the same broadcast booth during a baseball match on May 13, 1991.