Harry Caray (born Harry Carabina), dies in Rancho Mirage, Calif., at age 83. It was four days after he suffered a stroke during his Valentine’s Day dinner, and two weeks short of his birthday and the beginning of his 54th season in the majors.
Caray was born on The Hill in St. Louis, about a decade before future stars Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola put The Hill on the MLB map. Harry was a terrific prep ballplayer, and while playing semipro baseball in the city he wrote to KMOX, insisting he could do a better job broadcasting than the current analysts. After brief stops in Peoria and Kalamazoo covering sports, he hooked on broadcasting the St. Louis Cardinals and Browns in 1945. He also worked St. Louis Hawks games in the NBA.
A hallmark of Harry’s style was his sprightly rapport with fans, as he often was broadcasting solo, with no color man. And often to his detriment with ownership, Caray was willing to criticize the play on the field, including that of his own team. After his long tenure in St. Louis and one year in Oakland, the White Sox hired Caray for TV and radio. He worked for the team from 1971-81 before skipping the South Side for the Cubs, with whom he’d finish his career. Sadly, Caray would finish his time in baseball on a lesser note, becoming a lovable caricature of a once-biting and colorful play-by-play man.