Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Just what I needed...

Ol' Skip is still making me laugh, even though he's passed on into the hereafter.

I've taken Skip Caray's death pretty hard, partially because he's been such a part of my summers, partially because it happened in the midst of a few other disappointments. Last night, I alternated between TV and radio to hear what the Atlanta Braves family had to say about this special guy. It was just what I needed.

Joe Simpson told several hilarious tales on TV. I laughed for about 10 minutes over an incident with Vanilla Coke.

Apparently, the Coke people wanted Joe and Skip to drink Vanilla Coke on the air and talk about it. Skip hated that kind of thing. He balked. But the powers-that-be told them they had to.

So, they brought up a couple of Vanilla Cokes. Joe started guzzling his, despite the fact it was burning his eyes and all those things that happen when you chug a carbonated beverage. When he finished, he let out an "ahh", turned to Skip and said, "That was great. How did you like yours?"

Skip's classic reply?

"I didn't, the 2-1 pitch..."

Pete Van Wieren was his usual professional self, but you could tell his heart wasn't in the broadcast last night. I went to sleep to the cadence of his voice, holding on to what's left of the familiar, though in my heart I know that what made the Braves special is gone forever.

An Atlanta columnist said it much better than I can:

"Skip and Pete were simply the best — Van Wieren would give us the numbers, and Skip would supply the attitude. Whether the year was 1982 or 2008, hearing those two voices made us feel a part of something that transcended beginnings and endings, something that always was and always would be."

I know what he means. You couldn't count on girlfriends, you couldn't count on the weather, you couldn't count on much of anything really, but you could always count on the fact that Skip and Pete would be there every spring, right on schedule, to brighten your evenings for the next six months.

It's gone now, maybe right when I needed it most. But, it's hard to complain, because Skip provided so many memories, countless moments of pure joy.

Laughing at his quips last night, I realized just how special Skip was, and, too, how much less I would have enjoyed this ride without him.

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