I’m not a big fan of rain delays, for obvious reasons. But in this 50th anniversary of the St. Louis Cardinals’ 1967 World Series championship, there’s been some awfully interesting programming on the air while the players wait for skies to clear.
KMOX has been playing excerpts from the broadcasts of the Redbirds’ second Fall Classic win over the Boston Red Sox five decades ago. While most people these days seem to remember broadcaster Harry Caray as the cartoonish character he became during his twilight years with the Chicago Cubs, it’s nice to have the reminder that he was a truly great announcer during his days in the press box at Sportsmans Park and the ballpark that later became known as Busch Stadium II.
During the rain delay Saturday night, they played a recording of the broadcast of Game 1 of the 1967 World Series with Caray and Pee Wee Reese on the microphone. Not only was the product crisp and easy to follow, the announcers in those days really sold the game. There was a lot of good information about the players and they stuck to talking about baseball instead of wandering all over the place like the broadcasters of today sometimes do.
Harry was especially guilty of all sorts of inane chatter in his later years. But he wasn’t always like that. He used to be the gold standard of baseball broadcasting — and it was really neat to hear him in his prime.
The other thing that was really cool about the rain delay programming was hearing about the exploits of legends like Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Curt Flood and Orlando Cepeda as they unfolded. It’s one thing to hear and see highlight reel snippets of their greatest plays. We’ve seen them time and time again. But it’s more interesting to hear about the players in the context of a game situation.
Gibson pitched the Cardinals to victory in the World Series game played during the extra inning stoppage due to bad weather Saturday night. Then, once the drama was over, a youngish Jack Buck broke down the particulars during the post-game show, another interesting thing to be reminded about.
What an all-star team of broadcasters to have the late, great Buck doing mop-up duty for an in-his-prime Caray!
Of course, the Cardinals have benefited the last couple of seasons from having one of the stars of that 1967 team, catcher Tim McCarver, in the broadcast booth for some St. Louis games. McCarver, who is even better speaking to a Cardinals audience instead of trying to shoot for the mass appeal needed when he was doing the national game of the week, seems to always come up with a new story about the great Redbirds teams of the 1960s.
It was an extra special treat when the Birds played the Red Sox last week and McCarver hosted his former battery mate Gibson for a couple of innings of storytelling. A particular favorite was when Gibson talked about walking into the opposing team’s dugout in a game in the 1970s against the Cincinnati Reds, with absolutely no regard for his own personal safety, to try to pick a fight after an opposing player showed him up. Personally, I wouldn’t bet against Gibson even if he was fighting 20 guys at one time.
People can criticize announcers all they want. But it’s pretty difficult to pick nits with hearing a couple of Hall of Famers talk about some of the brightest moments in the history or the greatest franchise in National League history.