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Harry Caray and his “tell-it-like-it-is” style of broadcasting had become as synonymous with Chicago baseball fans as the ivy that covers the center field wall at Wrigley Field.
This veteran play-by-play announcer was perhaps best recognized for his tradition of singing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” during the 7th inning stretch and for his famous exclamations: “It might be, it could be, it is! A home run!” and “Holy cow!”
Caray reached a major career milestone on July 23, 1989, when he was honored as the winner of the Ford Frick Award by the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. During his five-minute acceptance speech, Caray said, “The more I think of all the history which surrounds me, the more inadequate I feel.”
It was in St. Louis, covering the Cardinals from 1945 to 1969, where Caray gained national fame. He was named “Baseball Announcer of the Year” for seven years in a row by The Sporting News for his work with the Cardinals. Caray was also inducted into the American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame located in New York in 1989.
After a quarter of a century in St. Louis, Caray moved to California to announce the Oakland A’s games on television and radio during the 1970 season. The following year, Caray came to Chicago to become the radio/television voice of the cross-town Chicago White Sox, a position he held until 1981. He was the voice of the Chicago Cubs from 1982 until he passed away on February 18, 1998.
Caray was born Harry Christopher Carabina of French-Rumanian and Italian parentage in one of the poorest sections of St. Louis. He was an infant when his father died; at ten, he was taken in by his aunt upon the death of his mother. As a young man, Caray played baseball at the semi-pro level for a short time before auditioning for a radio job at the age of 19. He then spent a few years learning the trade at radio stations in Joliet, Illinois and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Caray did play-by-play for the St. Louis Hawks professional basketball team (now the Atlanta Hawks), the University of Missouri football team and he announced three Cotton Bowl games.
After having never missed an opening-day pitch in 41 years, Caray was absent from the booth for the pre-season and more than a month of the regular season after suffering a stroke in February 1987. Caray overcame paralysis and speech difficulty to resume his play-by-play work in the Wrigley Field broadcast booth on May 19, 1987.
Caray’s son, Skip, who described his father as “…a mediocre singer but a hell of a broadcaster,” followed in the Caray broadcasting tradition. Skip Caray was the long-time voice of the Atlanta Braves and the National Basketball Association. In 1989, Skip’s son Chip was hired as the play-by-play voice of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, marking the first time three generations had broadcast major sports at the same time. After Harry’s passing in 1998, Chip took over for his grandfather as the Cubs announcer alongside Harry’s long time broadcasting partner Steve Stone. He served as the play-by-play announcer for the Cubs until 2004 when he joined his father in Atlanta until Skip’s death in 2008. Josh Caray, grandson of Harry and son of Skip, also currently broadcasts for the Atlanta Braves.
Caray and his wife “Dutchie,” maintained two residences; one in Palm Springs, California, and legal residence in Chicago during the baseball season. When asked his plans for retirement, Caray summed up his plans in one word: “Never.”
When Harry Met Dutchie
The same kind of persistence Harry Caray employed breaking into the broadcasting business was used to snare the woman who shared the roller-coaster ride of the last 23 years of his life, Dutchie Caray. Now, Dutchie Caray has 5 children, 5 step-children, 4 grandchildren and 13 step-grandchildren. Dutchie can often be found dining at one of her late husband's namesake restaurants, Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse in Chicago, Lombard and Rosemont, Harry Caray's Tavern Navy Pier, Holy Mackerel! Seafood and Harry Caray's Seventh Inning Stretch at Midway Airport. She’s an ambassador for the restaurants, talking to fans and often appearing on radio and television to talk about Harry's many promotions and events. She spends much of her free time honing her exceptional cooking skills, working on needlepoint and knitting, baking cupcakes for Holy Name Cathedral's Thursday Night Suppers and, of course, cheering on the Cubbies.
Born in St. Louis, Dolores Goldmann, nicknamed “Dutchie” partly for her ethnic background, originally had no intention of becoming the third and last Mrs. Harry Caray.
"I didn't want to get married," Dutchie says of fending off a determined Harry starting in 1969. In fact, almost up until the day the two were married in Chicago, a life with the "Mayor of Rush Street" was not something she was planning.
"I was divorced, working as a waitress and trying to raise five kids,' she says. "I didn’t have a hell of a lot of time to do anything else other than cook, clean, iron, wash and get the kids ready for school."
Trying to get her mind off domesticity as her 40th birthday approached, Dutchie's friends took her out to Brennan's, a restaurant in the St. Louis suburbs. Here she met, for the very first time, Harry Caray, then in his 25th season as Cardinals announcer. After their initial introduction, Harry would regularly ask Dutchie to dinner, and eventually, after plenty of denials, she gave in. This began Harry's long and very determined courtship.
Even after moving to Oakland, Calif. and later Chicago, he continued to pursue Dutchie, flying back to St. Louis on his days off. According to Dutchie, "He began asking me to marry him. That went on for four years. I kept saying no." Eventually, persistence and charm got the best of Dutchie, and at 4 p.m. on May 19, 1975 at the Ambassador East Hotel, vows were exchanged.
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