By the time you read this, baseball season will have gotten into gear, but it just
won't be the same without hearing Harry Carey butcher the names of every
National Leaguer who comes to the plate.
He was the only reason to watch Cubs games - period. "Take Me Out to the
Ballgame" in the seventh inning, saying names backwards and, of course, the
"Holy Cow" of a Cub home-run made baseball actually fun to watch. Otherwise,
baseball is like watching the grass grow.
When my friends and I first heard Harry was in the hospital, and it looked like he
might not pull through, most of them said, "Poor Harry." Well I say, "poor Harry
nothing!" This guy had one hell of a life. It seemed like it was one big shin-dig to
Harry. You had to admire his attitude.
How can you feel sorry for a guy who spent everyday of his professional life at the
ball park catching ball games, eating hot dogs and drinking Budweiser? He got to
see his son and his grandson go on to be broadcasters. He was going to do some
games with his grandson, Skip, this season. He was like the great-grandfather of
Vin Scully, Dick Enberg, Pete Van Wearren ain't got nuthin'
on Harry. How can you say "Poor Harry" when the guy was the best out there?
And you know what? The guy said good-bye to us all while dancing and having a
good time with his wife on Valentine's Day. No tears, no heartbreak, no "I wish I
could have done it a different way," no "I'm sorry for hitting my wife and ignoring my
kids." In my own humble opinion, Harry Carey went out with a dignity and class few
of us will ever know. Wrigley field will be a lonelier place without him.
This season will be the first Cub season without Harry since my folks got cable back
in 1981. Chip Carey, the third generation of Careys to call baseball, will step up to
the microphone this spring and summer and will do a great job, but we all know it's
going to be emotional for him for the first few weeks, as it will be for baseball fans
Baseball has gone through some crazy changes in the half-century Harry saw
behind the mike. Indoor stadiums, Astro-Turf, the designated hitter, free agency,
strikes and now inter-league play. However, I don't think baseball has gone
through a change like this. He had become an icon, the personification of the
actual game of baseball. I'm picking the Cubs to win the National League Central
Division and maybe to even beat the Braves and, what the hell, even to beat the
Indians in the fall classic. And I hope the Cubs celebrate in the locker room with
cigars the size of telephone poles and spray each other with Budweiser.