But his favorite people to hang with weren’t celebrities.
They were baseball fans.
That is the message of “Holy Cow,” the documentary on Caray that ran Tuesday on the MLB Network.
Caray entertained by calling it as he saw it. When his team won, his voice soared. When it lost, his heart sank.
He was one of us.
An orphan from St. Louis, Caray began his baseball broadcasting career as voice of the Cardinals, where he stayed for 25 years. He announced a handful of World Series and the 3,000th hit of Hall of Famer Stan Musial.
When team owner August Busch Jr. fired him in 1969, Caray fired back at the beer mogul by drinking a Schlitz while talking to television reporters.
After a year with the Oakland A’s, Caray spent 10 years with the Chicago White Sox, where he first stood and sang to the crowd what would become his signature during the seventh-inning stretch: Take Me Out To The Ballgame.
It was with the Chicago Cubs, however, that Caray became an institution.
His arrival in Wrigleyville coincided with a resurgence of the Cubs — they won the NL’s Eastern Division in 1984 –and the popularity of cable superstation WGN, which broadcast the Cubs’ games to a national television audience.
Caray was like a bottomless beer in Chicago — people couldn’t get enough of him.
He broadcast games during the day and bar-hopped at night.
“We called it the Harry Caray flu,” former Cubs’ pitcher Rick Sutcliffe said. “If you went out with him the night before, you knew you were going to wake up feeling like crap.”
The documentary captures Caray’s unbridled enthusiasm and chronicles his return to the broadcast booth in 1987 following a stroke. None other than President Reagan celebrated Caray’s comeback with an unforgettable, on-air phone call.
The Hall of Fame announcer died in February 1998, just shortly before he was scheduled to partner with his grandson Chip on the Cubs’ broadcast team.
Many announcers spoke more clearly. Some painted a better picture. But no one exuded the charisma of Harry Caray.