Wednesday, September 13, 2017

#139 -- Tim McCarver

Tim McCarver

Tim McCarver is mostly known to this generation as a national baseball TV color analyst.  For about 20 years he was on all of the big games, usually working with Joe Buck. Let's just say that McCarver's reputation as a national broadcaster is......bad.

But it wasn't always that way. McCarver had rave reviews on the WWOR New York Mets crew in the 1980s.  When I was in law school at Duke, for some reason the local cable system in Durham, NC carried WOR, so I watched a fair amount of Mets games from 1986-1989.  As a Cardinal partisan, I didn't like seeing the Mets do good, but I realized McCarver did a great job of bringing and dissecting the game.  That earned him the shot on Fox when they bought up the rights in the 1990s.  I'm not sure what happened. Was it the confrontation with Deion Sanders?  Was it trying to appear too important? Was it that he tried to simplify the game for the national audience, which then made it sound condescending to the national audience?  I don't know.  I usually don't let the announcers mess up watching the game, so I didn't notice any problems.

Tim's back home with the Cardinals, doing a handful of TV games/year.  And he's good. He explains what's going to happen and what did happen in an enjoyable way. Maybe McCarver is better with a team where he can get to know the nuances and get deep into baseball than as a national broadcaster where you just can't get that deep.  I don't know.  I just enjoy the baseball.

Hey, Tim McCarver played baseball.  Hey, he was pretty dang good.  He's from Memphis and had a local baseball stadium there named after him.  It was demolished in 2005 to make room for AutoZone Park.  Baseball stadiums aren't named after people anymore.

McCarver debuted in 1959 with the Cardinals and stayed with them through the 1969 season. After the season, when the Cards finished 4th in the East after being in the World Series the last 2 years, they sent him, Curt Flood and lefty reliever Joe Hoerner to the Phillies for Dick Allen, Cookie Rojas and Jerry Johnson. The Cardinals figured they had to make some moves. It would have been a good move if they hadn't flipped Allen for Ted Sizemore a year later. Oh well.

McCarver was a 2-time All-Star in the 60s. He's the last catcher to lead the NL in triples (1966) and he stole home in the World Series in 1964.  For his career, he had more walks (548) than strikeouts (422).  He bounced around some with the Expos, Red Sox and Cardinals again before landing back in Philadelphia again in 1975 as Steve Carlton's personal catcher. They had worked together when Lefty came up with the Cardinals and he just felt more comfortable with McCarver.  That had to have added years to the end of McCarver's career.  He's one of just a handful of 4 decade men, as he hung on until 1980 and was part of the World Championship Phillies, although for just 7 at bats.

When I think of Tim McCarver, I think of how he's tied to Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton, 2 of the most dominant pitchers of the 60s-70s era.  And he's been getting to talk about baseball for the last 35+ years.  Not a bad life in baseball.