Two of baseball’s oldest franchises will bring plenty of history to the field when Game 1 of the World Series begins tonight in Boston, but this series also promises history of another sort. Fox analyst Tim McCarver, who made his Major League debut as a 17-year-old catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals 54 years ago, will begin his 24th and almost certainly his last World Series in the broadcast booth.
McCarver made a name for himself over a 21-year Major League career — he batted .271, made two All-Star Games, and was a part of the infamous Curt Flood trade that ultimately brought free agency to baseball — and he followed up his days on the field with an all-star career in the broadcasting booth for ABC, CBS, and, for the last 17 seasons, Fox. Major League Baseball gave him the Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting in 2011, and McCarver brought analysis to the booth that once didn’t exist.
But McCarver, especially in his later years, has made a bigger name for himself as a guy who can make fans laugh, cringe, or simply drop their jaws in amazement. So as we approach our final days with Tim McCarver, here are five of his funniest moments in the broadcast booth:
1. What?: The last time the Red Sox and Cardinals met in the World Series, Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield pitched an anything-but-brilliant Game 1. That led to the most amazing McCarver quote ever uttered:
“I think Tim Wakefield would even say tonight that Tim Wakefield got to Tim Wakefield tonight,” he said, and still no one is quite sure what he meant.
2. But that’s six: “It’s a five-letter word: S-T-R-I-K-E.”
3. “Barry Manilow?”: McCarver, referring to Giants pitcher Barry Zito: “That’s a sound he has not heard in this park too often, the sound of ‘Bar-ry, Bar-ry.’” Joe Buck: “They used to say it for somebody else around here.” McCarver: “When Barry Manilow was playing, for a concert.” Buck: “Or Barry Bonds.”
4. “It has not been proven”: During an early-season game in 2011, McCarver speculated that climate change was making home runs easier to hit: “It has not been proven, but I think ultimately it will be proven that the air is thinner now, there have been climactic changes over the last 50 years in the world, and I think that’s one of the reasons balls are carrying much better now than I remember,” he said. At least, I guess, he made Rush Limbaugh angry:
5. McCarver does Metallica: After Yankees closer Mariano Rivera entered the 2013 All-Star Game, his last, to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” McCarver read back the lyrics of the song’s chorus in dramatic fashion. “Exit light. Enter night. Take my hand. We’re off to never never land.”
“Not bad,” he concluded.
All that said, McCarver has provided moments of brilliance too, like during the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. With the Diamondbacks threatening to score the run that would win the World Series, the Yankees brought their infield in. McCarver noted that Yankee closer Mariano Rivera loved to bust left-handed hitters inside, which led to a lot of bloop singles just beyond the infield. That’s exactly what happened on the very next pitch:
There’s little doubt McCarver will provide another moment like this during his final World Series. And despite the calls to get rid of him, it’s hard to imagine that baseball fans won’t miss him a little bit when he’s gone.