7: THE VOICE OF THE BRAVES
written by CARL DANBURY, JR.
Former Braves broadcaster Skip Caray died in August 2008. I had once met Caray on a Delta flight to Philadelphia, barged into his broadcast booth at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego when I had a summer internship with the Padres, and said hello on numerous other occasions in the early years of Points North Atlanta. Cynics congregate, and I often felt in some ways we would have gotten along famously.
When Caray began broadcasting games for Ted Turner’s SuperStation in 1976, baseball was my foremost passion. At the time, I was still playing, and thirsted to watch, learn and enjoy. When I attended the University of Alabama, replays of Braves games came on during the wee hours of the morning, and if Caray was handling the play-by-play chores at the time, I’d stay up as long as my eyelids would last. He was irreverent, and people from Jonesboro to Juneau, Alaska knew it. He was playful, and listeners from Duluth to Des Moines, Iowa, appreciated it. He knew the game, but more often let the action speak for itself rather than interject his knowledge into the event. Fans everywhere gratefully recognized it.
I tried to interview Caray on a few occasions, but I always got the sense that the interviewer was uncomfortable being the interviewee, even though millions of people watched and listened to him. I should have insisted! He was the son of Chicago Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray, and was the father of broadcasters Josh and Chip. Caray really didn’t want to be known in the broadcast booth as Harry’s son, but never seemed to mind being saluted on air as the boys’ father.
Caray endured some of the worst baseball ever witnessed in Atlanta, including four straight seasons of last-place finishes to begin his career and the miserable 1988 campaign in which his Bravos lost 106 of 162 games. He also enjoyed the Braves only championship season, 1995, and the team’s long run of division titles and playoff appearances. He was our witness to the action for more than 30 years, and we were the beneficiaries.