Cumberland Times-News

Mike Burke - Sports

August 6, 2008

The right guy for the right team and the right time

It was a sad day for baseball fans all over the country on Sunday when we learned of the death of Skip Caray, the longtime broadcaster for the Atlanta Braves.

Caray, of course, came into the households of a nation of fans in 1976 when Ted Turner's cable Superstation WTBS broadcast all of the games played by Ted Turner's baseball team, the Braves. What was cool about that was TBS would rebroadcast the games then at 1:35 a.m. so the working man getting off the late shift could watch them, and it ended up being a stroke of genius as you'll never convince me that didn't help build the Braves' national following to the point that they became known as "America's Team."

The beauty of it was you could watch your favorite team live and then stay up until the wee hours of the morning to catch another baseball game when the Braves' broadcasts re-aired. That was a novelty in those days, and in those days, you saw a bad Braves team build itself into a winning team as they were introducing the world to the likes of young, upcoming players such as Dale Murphy, Bob Horner, Bruce Benedict and Glenn Hubbard. And, of course, every fourth game or so, you were treated to seeing the future Hall of Famer Phil Neikro pitch.

The real treat of it all, though, particularly before the Braves were very good, was listening to Caray, who, just as Jon Miller and Joe Angel were during the Orioles' horrid 1988 season, seemed to be more entertaining during a bad ballgame than he was during a good one. And in those days, there were plenty of bad ones.

Many of us were drawn to Caray's sarcasm and the way he could make fun of the game, some of the rules of the game (he hated the infield-fly rule, for instance) and of himself, including his love of drink.

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Mike Burke - Sports
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