August 4th, 2008
11:07 AM ET

The voice of the team

Atlanta Braves announcer Skip Caray did not suffer fools gladly, though he had to deal with plenty of them.

There was the postgame caller who couldn’t understand how a player could receive an RBI for a solo home run. After a few attempted explanations, an exasperated Skip finally said, “I’ve told you thrice, sir,” and abruptly hung up.

There were the idiocies of the late-‘80s Braves, such as an attempt to play one-season wonder Omar Moreno long after his one good season, or the eruptions of gopher balls given up by the patchwork pitching staff. Skip never sugarcoated the dismal play.

And then there was the usual foolishness involved in broadcasting sports events, the side details and odd plays of Braves baseball and Atlanta Hawks basketball and even the strange sport of motoball (essentially soccer on motorcycles) at the 1986 Ted Turner-created Goodwill Games. Skip - he was always "Skip" - called it as he saw it.

We loved him for it. (iReport: Send us your memories of Skip Caray)

Skip Caray died Sunday. He was 68.

There’s something about a longtime local sports announcer - particularly one who works radio, particularly one who works baseball’s lazy summer nights and Sunday afternoons - that gets into the soul of his listener. He talks directly to you, even when you can hear that voice out of every car radio and apartment window in town. The Dodgers’ Vin Scully, the Cardinals’ Jack Buck, the Tigers’ Ernie Harwell, Bob Prince and Red Barber and Skip’s dad Harry Caray - it’s a rare breed.

The best of today’s announcers - the Giants’ Jon Miller and the Dodgers’ Charley Steiner and the Indians’ Tom Hamilton - have that same character, describing the game as if it and you are the only things that matter.

For Braves fans, it was Skip (and I mean no disrespect to Joe Simpson, Pete Van Wieren and Ernie Johnson). It was Skip who had the last word on Sid Bream’s pennant-winning slide in the 1992 National League playoffs. It was Skip who told Atlanta fans the 1995 team had just won the World Series. It was Skip who announced the hometowns of foul ball-catching fans, Skip who encouraged listeners to walk their dogs if the home team was being crushed, Skip who reveled in the occasional off-color joke.

He sounded like broadcasting baseball games was the best job in the world, and he was having the time of his life doing it. Because of his enthusiasm, so did his listeners.

Thanks, Skip.

- Todd Leopold, Entertainment Producer

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