August 04, 2008
Everyone has a Harry Caray impression.
But not everyone has a finely-tuned mimic routine of his son, Skip Caray, the Atlanta Braves announcer.
So when I heard the sad news that Skip died at age 68 on Sunday, I paid him tribute in my own special way: "Braves win, Braves win, Maddux goes 7 1/3 with three strikeouts for win No. 14," I nasally intoned. "Chipper 3-for-4, a homer and three RBI, Braves win, Braves win."
Excerpts from other tributes to the great announcer — who did a better job of separating himself from his broadcasting legacy than anyone who ever benefited from pops being the biz — follow below:
Mark Bradley, Atlanta Journal Constitution: "Skip Caray was to Atlanta professional sports what Larry Munson is to the Georgia Bulldogs — the voice and the conscience, the history and the hilarity. Skip told us what was happening, yes, but Skip also told us what Skip made of what was happening, and over the course of four decades Skip’s prism became ours.
"He came here with the Hawks, and he became part of our extended family — a crusty uncle, if you will — through his work with the Braves. The SuperStation beamed his imperfect voice from sea to shining sea, and though there were always others alongside — the Professor and Ernie at the beginning, Don and Joe later on — Skip was the one we thought we knew best. He was the funny one, the snarky one. He was Harry Caray’s son and Chip Caray’s dad, but somehow he was always just Skip."
Mark Bowman, MLB.com: "Caray, who began broadcasting Braves games in 1976, battled multiple ailments over the past year that he linked to diabetes. When he wasn't available to broadcast this past weekend's series against the Brewers, it was revealed that he was suffering from bronchitis ... Although he was visibly weaker, Caray still brought his smile and humor to the ballpark on a consistent basis this season."
Charlie Hatton, Bugs & Cranks: "Not nearly as ebullient as his father, nor as button-down professional as his sons in the business, Skip was just the right mix of sarcasm, respect, and honest fun for several generations of Braves fans. And one kid three hours outside Cincy who was just learning to love baseball. R.I.P. Skip. You will be missed."
Evan Grant, Dallas Morning News: "I grew up listening to Skip Caray do basketball. Still remember the time I gave my whole family the creeping crud when I was about six or seven and we all were in bed with nothing to do but listen to the Atlanta Hawks. When Caray described a shot thusly: "Lou Hudson, 20-footer; shot it 19," I thought he was a genius. And that never changed. He could made bad baseball and basketball (which we had a lot of in Atlanta in the 1970s and 80s) entertaining with a great sense of humor that could occasionally border on caustic. And when the Braves eventually turned great, Caray could deliver the most dramatic descriptions without seeming over-the-top or phony.
"When I actually got to be a sportswriter working in the same press box with Caray, that was when I thought I'd really reached the big time. Caray didn't have to give a small-timer like me a second of his time, but he was generous, friendly and funny."
Will Schaffer, Chop-n-Change: "Caray was the voice of the Braves through some of the best and worst times in the team’s history. He will always be remembered for his humor and at times, very strong opinions about the team."
Mark Townsend, Bugs & Cranks: "Rest In Peace Skip Caray. For the last 10-12 years I have not been able to utter the words: Atlanta, Chipper Jones, Superstation or Turner Field, without saying them in your unique voice."