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Milo Hamilton still not liking Harry Caray
2006-02-10 10:03
by Bob Timmermann

Ron Rapoport in the Chicago Sun-Times interviews Milo Hamilton and his "problematic" relationship with Harry Caray. Hamilton has a book out now titled Making Airwaves: 60 Years at Milo's Microphone ($24.95, Sports Publishing L.L.C.).

From my perspective, and I'm certain that many will disagree, is that both Hamilton and Caray were horrible broadcasters. They talked too much. They weren't particularly bright. They thought far too highly of themselves. The cult-like reverence of Harry Caray in Chicago and the statue in front of Wrigley Field sometimes reminds me of the Israelites worshipping the Golden Calf while Moses was on Mount Sinai.

Then again I recall being told as early as 1972 by my mother that Harry Caray was a bad person.

2006-02-10 10:19:28
1.   D4P
I used to spend the summers at my grandparents' house in the early to mid 80s. They got WGN back then, and I used to watch the Cubs everyday. Harry Caray was among the more charasmatic announcers I've listened to, but he was also among the most erroneous. He constantly mispronounced names and called players by the wrong name. I always envisioned Steve Stone secretly shaking his head and grinding his teeth next to Harry in the booth. Looking back, I now suspect that Harry's "Bud man" identification may have contributed to his speech problems...
2006-02-10 11:36:00
2.   DougS
I'm glad to know it's not just me. :-) I grew up in LA, but spent six years in grad school in Chicago from '86-92, and Caray used to make me cringe, like an bufoonishly unpleasant relative at a family gathering. I suspect D4P may be right in his last point, because we're talking about the time before he had his stroke. I always figured it was just because I was catching him in the waning days of his career, but I don't know.... I mean, Bill James and all of his other fans couldn't have been completely nuts... right?

Bob, I'm sure the fact that you and I are both longtime Dodgers guys has something to do with it, too. One of the things that struck me about Caray was how opposite he was to Vin Scully — Vin's understated grace and dignity, his ability to maximize a moment by milking it subtly — were concepts that seemed utterly alien to Caray.

It also puzzled me that Chicago embraced him so warmly and so easily because he was, in fact, a former Cardinals announcer right before he came to the Cubs. As one of my schoolmates (a Chicago native) pointed out, Jack Brickhouse was much more of a local institution than Caray ever was.

2006-02-10 11:43:13
3.   Bob Timmermann
My mother's complaint about him went back to the 1940s when he was starting out with the Cardinals. At the end of every broadcast, Caray would sign off by saying "Goodnight, Skip" (or something to that nature). At first she thought that Caray was just being a good father. Then she found out Caray had daughters older than his son Skip. But he never acknowledged them on the air.

As a girl who grew up as a big baseball fan, she took this as an affront. She felt that Caray didn't want women listening. This must have really bothered her because my mother told me this story multiple times.

2006-02-10 11:49:53
4.   D4P
All that being said, there was nothing quite like hearing one of Harry's "Thar's a drive, way back, it might be, it could be, IIIIITTTT IIISSSS, a home run, Hoooo-ly Cow."

What was great was that he would say the same thing whether the ball was hit by a Cub or by an opposing team's player, but his level of enthusiasm was dramatically lower in the latter case than in the former.

2006-02-10 12:29:37
5.   Ken Arneson
When Caray spent a year with the A's, he ended up making an enemy of then-A's announcer Monte Moore, too. So Mr. Hamilton wasn't alone in his distaste for Caray.
2006-02-10 12:44:40
6.   Bob Timmermann
I have a recording of Milo Hamilton calling Aaron's 715th home run and it's not overly memorable. Hamilton talks a lot. I was watching it on TV though with Curt Gowdy calling it. I was checking to see why there was no call from Vin Scully around. But Aaron hit his home run in the fourth inning and at that time, Jerry Doggett should have been doing the call.
2006-02-10 14:09:32
7.   grandcosmo
I'll have to check my "Best of Jerry Doggett" LP for that call.
2006-02-10 14:28:57
8.   Bob Timmermann
I think that was released as a 45 RPM single. The "B" side is "It's a Beautiful Day for a Ballgame".
2006-02-12 11:45:45
9.   popup
Bob, Vin made the call on radio. The game was recorded by someone off of Armed Forces radio and it is available for purchase from a few different vendors. I have a copy. Should you want to listen to it, I would be willing to send it to you. I could send it to Jon, he could listen to it if he wants, then get it to you, and then you could send it back to me. If you would like to contact me, Jon can supply my email address

Stan from Tacoma

2006-02-12 11:54:51
10.   popup
By the way, Harry was a terrific broadcaster when he was in St. Louis. He was the polar opposite of Vin, but still it was a pleasure to listen to him. Vin is my all time favorite broadcaster, Mel Allen is number two, and I would put Red Barber or Harry at number three. Harry and Jack Buck in St Louis formed the best play by play broadcast team I have ever heard. Luckily, I don't have cable so I did not listen to Harry with the Cubs. I have heard many comments that he was awful, which is sad considering his work with the Cardinals.

Stan from Tacoma

2006-02-23 06:55:43
11.   formercubpr
As the co-author of Making Airwaves, and as the former Cubs PR director during the 1980s, I personally saw some of the stunts that Harry Caray pulled, not only on Milo Hamilton, but on others. He could be a bully at times, and a wonderful guy at others, to be fair. But it had to be "Harry's way or no way." And the way he treated a class act like Milo Hamilton is a perfect example of the "bad" side of Caray, or as Milo called him, "The Canary."

Imagine, for a moment (and this is in the book), that you have leukemia, have just been flown back to a Chicago hospital, and as you lay in bed watching the broadcast of the Cubs game, here's the voice of Harry Caray, your broadcast "partner" ripping you for being absent. Nice, huh.

Or, when Tribune Company in their classless and careless way (this happens often with those folks), calls a press conference to announce Caray at the lead Cubs announcer in 1981, a month or so after Jack Brickhouse had ordained Milo on camera as "my successor" and newspaper stories back that up...imagine how surprised you would be coming to a press conference to introduce Caray as the new lead guy...and Tribune told Milo NOTHING about what the conference was being held for, just "we need you there, it's important." Nice, huh.

And you wonder why this man might be a bit bitter about all of this? Yet, Milo, to his credit, tried to mend fences with Caray and Jim Dowdle of the Tribune, and make things work, only to hear at a lunch shortly after the press conference a shot from Caray such as "well, Milo, I'd thought you'd have left the city by now." Nice.

Because Milo was writing his autobiography, and because it is HIS story, this chapter of his life had to be told. It's how Milo wound up in Houston for the past 22 years, how he eventually found his way into the Hall of Fame of broadcasting, etc. It is part of the overall story. As Milo points out, there are 252 pages in the book--the stuff on Caray that everyone is upset about is about 5-6 pages!

I only say this because I SAW the whole ordeal, lived through it (sometimes as the ref between these two men) and wanted to go on record as saying that Milo truly did have a bitch, and was subjected to a lot of crap from Harry. And that just because Harry came across as that smiling "Cub Man, Bud Man" persona to many fans, well, sometimes there is another side the story.

Which is all that Milo was saying.....

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