Saturday, February 18, 2023

Tim McCarver, Voice Of Baseball For Mets & Yanks, Plus Nationally, Passes Away At 81


Photo by Jason Schott.

Tim McCarver, known as the catcher of the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies during a successful playing career, and as a distinguished announcer for the Mets and Yankees in New York, in addition to his national work for outlets including Fox, passed away on Thursday at 81 in Memphis.

McCarver played 21 seasons in the Major Leagues, mostly with St. Louis, whom he won two World Series with, in 1964 and 1967, and a National League pennant in 1968. In Cardinals World Series play, he ranks second in hits (23), third in RBI (11), and walks (10), first in triples (3), fifth in batting average (.311), and is the only catcher in Cardinals history to have caught two title-winning World Series Game 7s.

In 1967, McCarver finished in second place in the National League MVP voting, behind Hall of Fame teammate Orlando Cepeda. McCarver his .295 with 14 home runs and 69 RBI that season. The year before, McCarver led the league in triples with 13, defying the idea that catchers can't run.

One thing McCarver is remembered for is how he was the personal catcher for ace Bob Gibson in St. Louis, and they rank second among Cardinals battery-mates in games started together with 197. He then serving the same role in Philadelphia for Steve Carlton from 1975 to 1979. He also played in Philadelphia from 1970-72, and the Phils brought back in 1980 to play six games to assure he played in four decades, since his debut with St. Louis was as a 17-year-old in 1959. The Phillies won the World Series that season, giving McCarver his third championship ring. He also had brief stints in Montreal and Boston between his time with St. Louis and Philadelphia.

The Cardinals released this statement on Thursday, "The St. Louis Cardinals organization and the entire baseball community were saddened to learn of the passing of Hall of Fame broadcaster and former Cardinals catcher James Timothy 'Tim' McCarver at the age of 81. McCarver, who is survived by his daughters Kathy and Kelly, and grandchildren Leigh and Beau, was a member of three Cardinals World Series teams in 1964, 1967, and 1968, and was associated for over 60 years with Major League Baseball.

"'We were saddened to learn today of the passing of Tim McCarver,' said Cardinals' Principal Owner & Chief Executive Officer Bill DeWitt, Jr. 'Tim was a very popular player with the Cardinals and a key member of our World Series Championship teams in 1964 and 1967. He remained a fixture in the game following his playing career, earning Hall of Fame recognition as a national broadcaster, and in later years as a Cardinals television analyst and a member of the Cardinals Hall of Fame. On behalf of the entire Cardinals organization, I would like to express our deepest condolences to the McCarver family.'"

When he retired, he began his broadcasting career with the Phillies in 1980, and found his way to the Mets in 1983. While in Queens, he teamed with Ralph Kiner and Gary Thorne on Channel 9, among other announcers, for 16 seasons, through some of the best seasons in their history, including the 1986 championship campaign, until he was shockingly fired after the 1998 season. That mostly was because the Mets Manager at the time, Bobby Valentine, felt McCarver was too critical of the team, which was part of Tim's appeal. He wasn't the shill that most home-team announcers are now, which is certainly not true of the Mets' current announcing team of Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling.

The Mets said in a statement on Thursday, "We are saddened to learn of the passing today of Tim McCarver, who for 16 years in the television booth gave Mets fans an insightful, humorous, and knowledgeable behind the scenes look into the game of baseball. Tim drew on his 21-year career as a catcher to give viewers a unique opinion on what went on between the lines. We send our condolences to his daughters, Kathy and Kelley, and the rest of the McCarver family."

Heading into the 1999 season, there was a major change to the Mets' and Yankees' broadcasting arrangements, as the Mets went to Channel 11, the longtime home of the Yankees, and the Bronx Bombers went to Channel 5. With that, the Yankees brought in McCarver and paired him with Bobby Murcer. They worked incredibly well together, and they were on the call for David Cone's perfect game on June 18, 1999. 

McCarver would spend three seasons with the Yankees before they changed their broadcasts with the advent of the YES Network, and he was on the move to work games locally for the San Francisco Giants and, eventually, back to the Cardinals, from 2014 to 2019.

All the while, McCarver was a fixture on national baseball broadcasts, and he has the distinction of being the only MLB analyst to have worked for all four major broadcast networks. He started with ABC, where he would call his first World Series in 1985; then with CBS starting in 1990, and eventually FOX, where he partnered with Joe Buck for 17 seasons. They covered 15 World Series and 14 All-Star Games together, a record for a baseball broadcasting pairing. The last World Series they would call would be 2013, when the Boston Red Sox beat the Cardinals, which was fitting since that was the matchup in 1967 when St. Louis won their second title with McCarver.

Overall, McCarver worked 28 consecutive postseasons on network television, starting in 1984, as he called a record 23 World Series and 20 All-Star Games. He earned three straight Emmy Awards for "Outstanding Sports Event Analyst" from 2000 to 2002, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's 2012 Ford C. Frick Award.

Phillies Principal Owner John Middleton said in a statement released by the team, "The Phillies are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Tim McCarver and extend our most heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, former teammates, and colleagues. Tim joined the Phillies at the height of his career and returned for his final six seasons as a veteran leader, helping the club to three straight NLCS appearances and, ultimately, their first-ever World Series title. Following his playing career, fans throughout the world, including here in Philadelphia, listened to him describe their favorite team's most iconic moments with professionalism and class. For Tim's leadership, friendship, and voice, the Phillies are forever grateful."

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement, "Tim McCarver was an All-Star, World Series Champion, a respected teammate, and one of the most influential voices our game has known. As a player, Tim was a key part of great Cardinals and Phillies teams in his 21-year career. In the booth, his analysis and attention to detail brought fans closer to our game and how it is played and managed. Tim's approach enhanced the fan experience on our biggest stages and on the broadcasts of the Mets, the Yankees, and the Cardinals.

"All of us at Major League Baseball are grateful for Tim's impact on sports broadcasting and his distinguished career in our National Pastime. I extend my deepest condolences to Tim's family, friends, and the generations of fans who learned about our great game from him."

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