On Opening Day, Remembering Harry Caray, Whose Career Began in Kalamazoo
Harry Caray was an original. He was an unabashed fan of baseball. He rooted for the home team. But he was also one of the few baseball announcers who told you how it was, even with something as simple as a batter not getting a timely hit when one was really needed. "He...popped it up", Caray would bellow with disappointment. Caray called a lot of baseball game, and eventually was inducted into the broadcast wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
That Hall of Fame career had an early stop in Kalamazoo where Caray worked for broadcast pioneer and future Detroit Tigers owner John Fetzer at WKZO. Caray, when calling the 1968 World Series (local announcers joined the NBC crew back then, so America got to hear Caray, the Cardinals announcer, and Baseball Hall of Famer (as a player) George Kell, the television voice of the Tigers.) even mentioned working for Fetzer "an old boss of mine, when I worked in Kalamazoo".
According to wikipedia, it's in Kalamazoo that Caray perfected his signature homerun call:
Caray also avoided any risk of mis-calling a home run, using what became a trademark home run call: "It might be ... it could be ... it IS! A home run! Holy cow!" He first used the "It might be ..." part of that expression on the air while covering a college baseball tournament in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in the early 1940s - wikipedia
If you go to the Vanished Kalamazoo Facebook page, there are a few memories of Caray's time in Kalamazoo, with people even remembering he lived on Portage Road near Miller Road. Caray's time in Kalamazoo wasn't long. His poor eyesight kept him out of World War II, but that may have also been his stepping stone into the big leagues, as he began calling St. Louis Cardinals games in 1945. Caray spent almost a quarter-century in his hometown, before moving on for a season in Oakland, then a decade with the White Sox made him a Chicago legend, before moving across town to the Cubs, where being on "superstation" WGN across the country made him more popular than ever.
As we start another baseball season, time to raise a glass and say "Holy Cow".