I grew up during a time when major league baseball was played completely in the North. The closest team (and the only one I could listen to on a semi-regular basis) was the St. Louis Cardinals (with announcer Harry Carey). I listened over KMOX and grew to love Harry and his wheezy play-by-play. But the Cardinals were not my team. My team was the Milwaukee Braves. Why? I never got to see them on TV. I never got to listen to their games (until they came to St. Louis to play). But they were my team because I lived in Mobile, Alabama, and that was the home of Hank Aaron, Tommy Aaron, and Frank Bolling (all Mobilians) and for that reason (and their incredibly beautiful uniforms), the Braves were my team.
In 1965, my team miraculously moved to Atlanta, Georgia. I couldn’t believe it. Not only a real major league team was playing in the South, but MY TEAM was playing in the South! Dad took me over to see a game in the first season and it was unbelievable (I have a copy of the 8mm film of our visit to Fulton County Stadium and still get the chills when I watch it).
Now, with the Braves in Atlanta, I got to listen to MY TEAM every night. Glorious. And, of course, we had the greatest announcers ever. I loved Milo Hamilton but when Milo left, my favorite announcer of all time became the Braves’ announcer, Skip Carey (Harry’s son). Skip was incredible. A truly great announcer and hilariously funny (which was very important during the late 60s and 70s when the Braves were so terrible — Skip’s quips were about the only reason to listen, since we usually lost). But Skip always kept us hopeful and entertained.
Then finally, after one of their worst seasons ever (1990), the Braves began an incredible run. They won the divisional title for 14 straight years and Skip Carey was in top form and Braves’ fans enjoyed every minute of it. Perhaps no game exemplified these years more than the 7th game of the 1992 divisional playoff series against Pittsburgh.
The Braves were behind 2-0 to the Pirates in the bottom of the 9th. The Pirates brought in their closer Doug Drabek. Drabek gave up a double (to Terry Pendleton), then second baseman, Jose Lind, made an error allowing David Justice to reach. Then Sid Bream walked. Drabek was replaced by the other Pirate ace, Stan Belinda. Belinda gave up a sac fly (to make the score 2-1). There were 2 outs and men on 2nd and 3rd (Bream at second Justice on 3rd) when Francisco Cabrera (the Braves’ 3rd string catcher/utility man came up).
Every Braves’ fan can tell you what happened next. It was unforgetable. Listen to “the call” made by Skip Carey. Listen to it and tell me if it’s not one of the greatest calls ever made. Most of us never heard it live . . . we were screaming and going nuts over what we were watching on the TV screen as Sid Bream (one of the slowest players in baseball) came huffing and puffing around third with the throw from Barry Bonds coming in. It was an incredible moment and probably the happiest of my “baseball fan life.”
Now, what brought all this on???
This morning I heard the news that Skip Carey died in his sleep yesterday afternoon in his home in Atlanta. I never got to meet him but still, he was one of my ole friends and I’m going to miss him.