Tim McCarver, big league catcher and broadcaster, dies at 81 Michael Wacha finalizes deal with Padres
NEW YORK – Tim McCarver, All-Star and Hall of Famer broadcaster who won two World Series titles with the St. Louis Cardinals in 60 years in baseball and has long been one of the most recognizable, poignant and outspoken in the country. television commentators died on Thursday. He was 81 years old.
McCarver’s death was reported by the Baseball Hall of Fame, who said he died Thursday morning in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was with his family.
Among the few players to appear in major league games in four different decades, McCarver was a two-time All-Star who worked closely with two future Hall of Famers: the short-tempered Bob Gibson, whom McCarver caught for St. Louis in the 1960s, and reclusive Steve Carlton, McCarver’s cardinal colleague in the 60s and Philadelphia Phillies teammate in the 1970s. He switched to television shortly after his retirement in 1980 and became best known to national audiences through his 18-year partnership on Fox with actor Joe Buck.
“I think there’s a natural bridge from being the catcher to discussing the views of the game and the views of other players,” McCarver told Hall in 2012 when he and Buck received the Ford Frick Award for Best Game. excellence in broadcasting. “This is a translation for the audience. One of the hardest things about television is staying modern and making it simple for viewers.”
At six feet tall and heavily built, McCarver was the son of a Memphis cop who got into a lot of fights as a kid but otherwise played baseball and football and imitated popular TV hosts, notably Harry Carey of the Cards. The Cardinals signed him to a contract while he was still in high school for $75,000, a generous offer for the time; he was only 17 when he made his debut for them in 1959 and was in his early 20s when he became the starting catcher.
McCarver attended segregated schools in Memphis and often talked about the education he received as a freshman in St. Louis. His teammates included Gibson and outfielder Kurt Flood, black players who did not hesitate to confront or tease McCarver. When McCarver used racist language against a black kid who tried to jump over a fence during spring training, Gibson recalled “hitting McCarver right in the face”. McCarver liked to tell the story of how on a hot spring training day he was drinking orange soda and Gibson would ask him for some and then laugh when McCarver flinched.
“Probably more than any other black man, Gibby helped me overcome any hidden prejudices I might have,” McCarver wrote in his 1987 memoir Oh Baby, I Love It!
Few catchers were power hitters in the 60s, but McCarver hit .270 or higher for five straight seasons and was quick enough to be first in position to lead the league in threes. He had his best year in 1967 when he hit .295 with 14 home runs, finishing as the second most valuable player behind teammate Orlando Cepeda as the Cards won their second World Series in four years.
McCarver met Carlton when the left-hander was a rookie in 1965, “with an independent strip wider than the Grand Canyon,” McCarver later wrote. The two clashed at first, even arguing on the hill during games, but bonded and reunited in the 1970s after both were traded to Philadelphia. McCarver became Carlton’s designated catcher, although he admittedly had a below-average throwing arm and was generally no match for the Phillies’ regular catcher, Golden Glover Bob Boone on defense.
“Behind every successful pitcher there needs to be a very smart catcher, and Tim McCarver is that man,” Carlton said during his 1994 Hall of Fame induction speech. “Timmy made me file inside. At the beginning of my career, I didn’t want to pitch inside. Timmy had a way to fix it. It was installed behind the attacker. There was only a judge; I couldn’t see him (McCarver) so I had to go inside.”
McCarver liked to joke that he and Carlton were so in sync in the field that when both were dead, they would be buried 60 feet, six inches apart, the distance between the rubber on the pitching mound and the home plate.
In a 21-year career that also briefly played for the Montreal Expos and Boston Red Sox, McCarver hit .271 and only hit twice over 40 in a single season. He batted .273 in the postseason, and his best hit was in the 1964 series, when the Cards defeated the New York Yankees in seven games. McCarver finished 11 of 23 with five walks, and his three-run homer at Yankee Stadium in the 10th inning of Game 5 gave his team a 5-2 win.
Young baseball fans first came to know him from his broadcast booth work, whether it was local games for the New York Mets and New York Yankees, partnering with Jack Buck on CBS, or with son Joe Buck for Fox from 1996 to 2013. McCarver won six Emmy awards and became a well-known enough brand to become a Family Guy highlight; write a few books, star in The Naked Gun, Love Hurts, and other films, and even record the album Tim McCarver Sings Songs from the Great American Songbook.
Knowledge was his trademark. In his spare time, he visited art museums, read books, and could recite poems from memory. At work, he was like a one-man scouting team, understanding the smallest details and preparing for hours before each game. At times, he seemed to have psychic powers. In Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, the score was tied at 2 between the Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Yankees tied in their bases-loaded infield and one came out at the end of 9th. Bold ace Mariano Rivera took on Luis Rodriquez of Arizona.
“Rivera throws lefties inside,” McCarver remarked. “Lefties get hit a lot with a broken bat in the shallow part of the field, in the shallow part of the field. That’s the danger of an infield with a guy like Rivera on the mound.”
Moments later, Gonzalez’s shot into center field led to a winning streak.
“If you take into account the pressure of the moment,” Keith Olbermann of ESPN told The New York Times in 2002, “the timing he had to say and the accuracy, his call was the sporting equivalent of a Bill Matherosky home run in the seventh inning to beat the Yankees in 1960″.
Many found McCarver informative and entertaining. Others considered him infuriating. McCarver didn’t interrupt himself, explaining baseball strategy or evaluating someone’s game on the field. “When you ask him what time it is, (he) will tell you how the clock works,” Norm Chad of Sports Illustrated wrote about him in 1992. That same year, his criticism of Deion Sanders for playing two sports on the same day led to outfielder Brave/Defender of the Atlanta Falcons pouring a bucket of water over his head. In 1999, he was fired from the Mets after 16 seasons on the air.
“Some broadcasters think they are accountable to the team and the team only,” McCarver told The New York Times shortly after the Mets let him go. “I never thought so. My #1 duty is to the people who watch the game. And it always seemed to me that praise without objective criticism ceases to be praise. I think any reasonable person can understand that.”
McCarver and his wife Ann McDaniel had homes in Sarasota, Florida and Napa, California. In recent years, McCarver announced a part-time job at Fox Sports Midwest and worked on the card game sporadically before sitting out the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. In addition to the Frick Award, he was inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2017.
“By the time I was 26, I had played in three World Series and I was like, ‘Dude, that’s great, almost a World Series every year,’” he said during his acceptance speech. “Yes. The game has a way of keeping you honest. I have never played in any other World Series.”
PEORIA, Arizona – right-handed Michael Wacha and the San Diego Padres have completed a contract that guarantees $26 million over four seasons and could be worth $39 million over three years.
Vacha is receiving a $3.5 million signing bonus and a $4 million salary this year. San Diego must decide after this year’s World Series whether to exercise $16 million in options for both 2024 and 2025.
If the Padres waives his options, Vacha will decide whether to exercise $6.5 million in player options for 2024 and $6 million in each of the next two years.
This year, Vacha can earn $2 million in starter and performance bonuses in any season of the player options: $500,000 each for 20 and 25 players, and $1 million for 30.
The 31-year-old was 11-2 with a 3.32 ERA in 23 starts for the Boston Red Sox last year. The Padres will be his fifth team. He spent his first seven seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals and was selected as a rookie MVP in the 2013 NL Championship Series. He also played for the New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays.
The Padres wanted to add a starter and seemed to be leaning towards starting the season with a six-man rotation. Vacha will join the rotation, which includes Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, Blake Snell, Nick Martinez And Seth Lugo.