When I think of Braves baseball a couple of things come to my mind; the recent tough times the team is having, the dominance the showed in the 90’s and early 2000’s, the horrible years from the team’s inception to 1990, and of course the voice of the Braves, Skip Caray. On Sunday, Skip passed away in his sleep. He was battling diabetes, congestive heart failure, an irregular heartbeat and reduced kidney and liver functions. Apparently he was in quite a good deal of pain in his last couple of months and I am sure he is in a better place right now. Hopefully he is enjoying a drink with his famous father, Harry Caray, who passed away in 1998.
Skip Caray was the voice of America’s team and the voice of summer to me. Skip has made some of the most memorable calls in Braves history and he will always be associated with those famous calls. Several great calls from the 95 World Series and of course, the Sid Bream slide. Who can forget that one! He came to the south to broadcast sports and to get out of the shadow of his father who was the well known announcer of sports in the Midwest. Skip’s first gig in Atlanta was for the minor-league baseball team, Atlanta Crackers in 1964. Then in 1968 he started broadcasting the Atlanta Hawks games. In 1976, he started broadcasting Braves games on radio and TV never officially retired. In 2004 Skip and Pete Van Wieren were inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame. He was always quick with a comment, even if it wasn’t complimentary to the Braves. One time Ted Turner asked Skip to tone down some of the comments he was making about his team, Skip replied with the Braves last place standing and Ted said he was right and he could say what ever he wanted. In the lean years, Skip would often say that the game was over (even though there were still a few innings left to be played) and if the audience agreed to patronize the sponsors, they could go to bed now. He was always honest and said it the way it is.
Skip had a unique; nasally voice with a witty delivery and his sarcasm was something that I looked forward to hearing every time I tuned in on TV or radio. He often said he would think of truck drivers as he called a game doing his best to paint the picture, keep them entertained and awake as they traveled across the South. Earlier in his career, he was known as a hard drinking partier like his Dad. In 2000, Skip swore off alcohol when he realized his heath was declining. But seven years later, during another meltdown by the Braves bullpen, he made this comment, “The bases are loaded again, and I wish I was, too.” It was those types of comments that most people loved and expected out of Skip. Also, the comments he would make during the pre-game call in shows where someone would always ask him to explain the infield fly rule or ask what a walk off homerun was, were classic.
The Braves have suffered a lot of loses this year to players on the roster, but none that are as big as this! Skip was the voice of the Braves for my generation and he will be severely missed. His two sons, Chip and Josh, will continue with the Caray family tradition of calling baseball games. Josh is an announcer for the Rome Braves and Chip does Braves games as well as TBS National games. Chip often referred to his father as “My Dad and my Hero”. The younger Caray’s have extremely large shoes to fill and I am not just saying this because Skip was a large man, he was a broadcasting icon. I consider myself lucky to have been able to hear Skip call all of the games I have heard and watched over the years. Part of the reason I love the Braves as much as I do is because of Skip. He is truly going to be missed by me and all of the Braves fans around the world. Thanks Skip, it has been a pleasure!