Saturday, July 21, 2012

Hall of Fame Mets Broadcaster

I feel somewhat obligated to write about former Mets broadcaster Tim McCarver being inducted into the broadcaster's wing in the Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend. So congratulations to Tim McCarver.

As a broadcaster, currently, I think he's past his prime, and has been for at least a few years. But it's hard for me to judge because I can't remember the last time I listened to an MLB on FOX broadcast that wasn't on mute, and that's the only place to hear him these days. But as a younger broadcaster (being earlier in his career, which started over 30 years ago), he was a good listen.

His broadcasting career started in Philadelphia where his playing career ended in 1980 (I'm trying to figure this one out because Wikipedia says he both played and broadcasted in 1980, including playing in early October). He moved to the Mets where he was a fixture on Mets broadcasts for 16 seasons on Channel 9 and SportsChannel. He moved to the Yankees for 3 seasons and the Giants for a final season in local broadcasting in 2002. He's been a network broadcaster for almost his entire broadcasting career, staring with NBC's b-games in 1980, then re-joining the network TV landscape in 1984 as part of ABC's b-games before moving to their top crew for the 1985 World Series (working with Jim Palmer and Al Michaels, and with Keith Jackson in the 1986 NLCS), continuing until 1989. He became the top baseball analyst at CBS with the new TV contract in 1990, moved back to ABC with the 2 year Baseball Network contract in 1994, and then became FOX's top baseball analyst with the next new contract in 1996. He's been paired with Joe Buck on FOX's top team ever since. With all that, he's been part of post-season TV coverage since 1984.

He also appeared on ABC's coverage of the 1988 Winter Olympics (Calgary) and was even a prime-time co-host for CBS's 1992 Winter Olympics (Albertville) coverage.

But back to his days with the Mets (the connection to this blog). He worked with Fran Healy, Steve Zabriskie, Rusty Staub, Gary Thorne, Bob Carpenter, and of course, Ralph Kiner. The days of Kiner and McCarver on Channel 9 were a fun time for Mets broadcasts, and I actually thought the trio of Gary Thorne, Ralph Kiner, and Tim McCarver (from 1994 through 1998) was the best TV team the Mets had (at least until 2006). We have to remember the younger, more vibrant Tim McCarver, along with a younger (and still calling play-by-play) Ralph Kiner and a more tolerable Gary Thorne. They were a good trio, even though their broadcasts were becoming more and more limited by the gradual shift from Channel 9 to SportsChannel on cable.

McCarver was a good broadcaster back in his day, and this weekend's induction is certainly well deserved, and maybe a few years overdue. I also don't think this will be the last time we celebrate a Mets broadcaster being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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