He's broadcast 24 World Series. In all, he's been broadcasting baseball games since 1981. Before that, he was a player for 21 years, debuting as a 17-year-old in 1959.
And now, Tim McCarver is saying goodbye to baseball and retiring as a broadcaster, at least for the moment. It's been a long and illustrious career for the former catcher.
And it's one his broadcasting partner, Joe Buck, honored on Wednesday night at the end of the broadcast after the Boston Red Sox won the World Series.
Here's the moment:
We've gotten pretty snarky about sports media personalities and broadcasters—and McCarver most certainly had his detractors; I'll admit to not always being a fan—but Wednesday night's moment between Buck and McCarver was really cool.
Hearing Buck reveal his fears from the pair's first World Series together in 1996 about being exposed as a young broadcaster who didn't know what he was doing and who only got the gig because of his father, the legendary Jack Buck, was poignant, especially when he revealed how easy McCarver made it to push past those fears and focus on the game.
It was a genuine moment between two men who clearly respect each other greatly. We don't always get genuine in an age of scathing and instant reaction on social media—and one when public figures often act like brands, not humans—so it's nice to step back and just enjoy a genuine moment for what is.
And even if you don't particularly like McCarver as a broadcaster, you certainly have to respect his overall career, both in the game and then calling it.
As a player, he was steady but rarely spectacular, making two All-Star teams and finishing second in the National League MVP voting in 1967. He never hit more than 14 home runs or 69 RBI, but he was a solid fielder and his longevity was impressive.
As a broadcaster, he brought passion, work ethic and plenty of experience to the gig. Not surprisingly, he's being honored all over the place on Thursday.
Here's Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports shedding light on what it's like to work with him:
What astonished me about him in his later years — when I worked with him — is that he lost none of his passion, none of his curiosity, none of his love for the game or even its language. I can’t tell you how many times I heard him tell a player or manager before a game, “I have never heard that term before.” And then he would use that term on the broadcast, drawing sheer delight out of what he had learned.
I don’t see Joe and Tim often — really, only at the games we work together. But I would relish the stories Tim would tell, stories about Bob Gibson, about Tom Seaver, about how the Red Sox’s Carl Yastrzemski stunned the Cardinals by taking extra hitting after the Sox lost Game 1 of the 1967 World Series. So many media companies lack institutional memory. Not FOX for the past 18 years. Not with Tim McCarver.
None of his great calls, presaging something startling about to transpire on the base paths or around the outer pastures of the game in progress, have been more hair-raising or remain more widely recalled and cited than what he said in the final moments of the seventh game of the 2001 World Series.
It’s the Call of Calls. Mariano Rivera, working against the Arizona Diamondbacks, with the bases loaded and the infielders drawn in, needed just two outs to seal another Yankees World Championship, and McCarver, watching the left–hand-batting Luis Gonzalez about to step into the batter’s box, said, “Rivera throws inside to left-handers, and left-handers get a lot of broken-bat hits to left, into the shallow parts of the outfield.”
Rivera pitched inside, Gonzalez swung, breaking his bat, and knocked the ball past the drawn-in Yankee infielders and into short left field, for the game and the Series and the champagne.
It was a great call. One of many.
And there were plenty of questionable calls in there too. But hey, that's baseball, a game of many failures but, if you stick at it long enough, plenty of triumphs too.
Hats off to McCarver for a long and distinguished career with far more memorable triumphs than failures, and hats off to Buck who took a moment to share that sentiment with viewers.