Monday, August 04, 2008

Saying goodbye

I was somewhere between Barley's and home last night when I got the news.

Skip Caray, the acerbic, nasal-voiced prankster that was such a highlight of many many years of Atlanta Braves baseball broadcasts, is dead. Died in his sleep, they say. Skip was 68.

Skip was practically a member of the family. For roughly 3 1/2 hours, virtually every night from April to September during the last 20 or more years, Skip and/or his partner Pete Van Wieren would keep me company. We made it through the lean years of the mid-to-late 1980s together, and celebrated together through all those division titles and the 1995 World Series.

His father, the legendary Harry Caray, was better known nationally, but to a couple of generations of Braves fans, Skip was as much a part of a Southern summer night as Harry had been for Cardinals and Cubs fans.

He was witty, he was cantankerous, he was irreverent ("And, like lambs to the slaughter, the Braves take the field..."). I can't believe he's gone.

Got home last night and just sat in the dark for a few minutes. Maybe only baseball fans will understand this, but I feel like I've lost an old friend.

Skip and Pete not only kept me company on countless summer nights, they both got me through a bad case of depression a few years ago. I met Skip last summer, but couldn't seem to put what I wanted to say into words. I sometimes have that kind of trouble when talking to people I admire.

He hadn't been around too much these last couple of years. TBS kept cutting back Braves broadcasts, ceasing them altogether at the end of last season. Skip was on the radio a bunch and worked several TV games this year on Peachtree TV.

I can't imagine not ever hearing that nasal voice again or laughing at his wit ("The bases are loaded and I wish I was..."). His talent was such that he could make an otherwise worthless ballgame into a great broadcast.

So long, Skip. I wish I had more writing talent so I could give you the goodbye you deserve.

You were the best, pal. It won't ever be the same. We'll never forget you.

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