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Monday, June 02, 2014

Steinberg: 288 consecutive nights in bars - Harry Caray in 1972

Grant DePorter, CEO of the Harry Caray’s chain, opens a drunk diary.

I should say right away that this is not a Dear Kitty, pour-out-your-heart, frank-assessment-of-my-friends kind of diary. Old Harry was not big on introspection, as he was the first to admit.

“I’m a convivial sort of guy. I like to drink and dance,” he told an interviewer once. ...

In 1972, he had just begun his tenure with the Sox. A savvy businessman, Caray cut a deal pegged to ballpark attendance, which doubled, largely thanks to his flamboyant presence. It would make him very wealthy, though in 1972 he was still tallying each bar tab. 

“Remember, you used to be able to deduct a three-martini lunch,” DePorter said.

Saturday, Jan. 1, lists four bars: the Back Room, still on Rush Street, plus three long-ago joints: 20 E. Delaware, Sully’s and Peppy’s, with expenses for each $10.30, $9.97, $10, and $8.95. This in a year when a six-pack of Old Style set you back $1.29.

You needed to cite who you entertained to get the write-off, so on New Year’s Day he lists Dave Condon, the Tribune sports columnist; Billy Sullivan, who owned Sully’s; and Joe Pepitone, the former Yankees first baseman who had been traded to the Cubs.

And so it begins.

Greg Franklin Posted: June 02, 2014 at 02:13 PM | 44 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: alcohol, announcers, harry caray, history, white sox

Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: June 02, 2014 at 04:01 PM (#4717565)
The Cal Ripkin of bar going?
   2. asinwreck Posted: June 02, 2014 at 05:47 PM (#4717667)
To be at a bar with Tim Weigel and Harry Caray in the 70s would be a riot (if you didn't have a seizure from gaping at the plaid jackets).
   3. cardsfanboy Posted: June 02, 2014 at 05:47 PM (#4717668)
Jan. 16 something unusual happens. Caray is in Miami, yet there are no expenses, just one enigmatic word, “Super.”


Really? Jan 16th 1972 and the word Super is enigmatic? Yes the superbowl was in New Orleans that year, but Miami was playing.
   4. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 02, 2014 at 06:08 PM (#4717682)
I saw Harry Caray once at P.J. Clarke's in Manhattan at lunchtime; the Cubs-Mets game scheduled for that afternoon had been rained out. He was already drinking.
   5. cardsfanboy Posted: June 02, 2014 at 06:13 PM (#4717685)
I saw Harry Caray once at P.J. Clarke's in Manhattan at lunchtime; the Cubs-Mets game scheduled for that afternoon had been rained out. He was already drinking.


Funny timing for these articles. Vin Scully has an article in which Red Barber said "never drink before going on air" (note: it left it open whether you can drink during the game) and then you have Caray here, who it's obvious was drinking before, during and after the game.

   6. Willie Mayspedester Posted: June 02, 2014 at 06:18 PM (#4717689)
Take me out to the balllllgaaaaammmmme!
Take me out with the **hiccup** crooooowwwdd!
   7. Batman Posted: June 02, 2014 at 08:04 PM (#4717736)
Now we need an article about how Hawk Harrelson steals children's bicycles and harasses puppies on his way to the game.
   8. bjhanke Posted: June 02, 2014 at 09:45 PM (#4717791)
Batman - Naw, if you want urban legends that are possibly slanderous, here's one: After Harry left the Cardinals, there was a rumor for a while that the reason he had left was that Gussie Busch had fired him after he got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time with Gussie's wife. Now, THERE"S a slanderous urban legend. True? No idea. - Brock Hanke
   9. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: June 02, 2014 at 11:02 PM (#4717843)
Just yesterday, during the 5th or 6th, Uecker was reading a card for Miller Lite or something, it was promotion for two 18 packs of bottles or something. After he finished reading the promo, very casually interjected, 'yep, get yourself, those two 18 packs and you should have no problem finishing those babies off,' implying you must drink them upon delivery. continues: 'the only problem is that big case of Miller 64 afterwards, that's the problem, that extra 8 gallons of beer, you need a friend to help you with that.'
   10. Perry Posted: June 02, 2014 at 11:08 PM (#4717846)
Not Gussie's wife, his son Augie III's wife.

According to this "He never denied the allegation, and chortled in an Inside Sports interview in May of 1984, ``Hell, at 47 I preferred to have people believe the rumor than keep my job. I mean, think of it. I was so irresistable that a beautiful young starlet-type would go for me over the 25-year-old billionaire heir to the crown. At the time, all I said was I never raped anyone in my life."
   11. TerpNats Posted: June 02, 2014 at 11:14 PM (#4717850)
If not for Caray and Dick Allen, the Sox would have become Seattle's replacement for the Pilots. They saved the franchise when it was moribund at the start of the '70s. Harry's best known for his work with the Cards and Cubs, but his most important tenure was his 11 seasons on the South Side.
   12. just plain joe Posted: June 03, 2014 at 08:29 AM (#4717892)
Batman - Naw, if you want urban legends that are possibly slanderous, here's one: After Harry left the Cardinals, there was a rumor for a while that the reason he had left was that Gussie Busch had fired him after he got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time with Gussie's wife. Now, THERE"S a slanderous urban legend. True? No idea. - Brock Hanke


Brock, you're from St. Louis so you may know something about this; there is another urban legend dealing with why Caray disliked Ken Boyer so much. Supposedly, in the mid-fifties, they were both chasing after the same young woman and she chose to go out with Boyer, not having anything to do with Caray. From that time on Caray disliked Boyer intensely. I don't know if that was true or not but I can still remember listening to Cardinals games in the late fifties and you could hear the sneer in Caray's voice, "two-one pitch to Boyer...popppedd it up, Cardinals lose".
   13. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: June 03, 2014 at 09:55 AM (#4717911)
"He never denied the allegation, and chortled in an Inside Sports interview in May of 1984...'all I said was I never raped anyone in my life.'"

When Harry Caray is inevitable...
   14. Batman Posted: June 03, 2014 at 10:05 AM (#4717919)
Dates with Harry Caray start out good but go too far.
   15. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 03, 2014 at 11:09 AM (#4717957)
Sosa spelled backwards is "Asos."
   16. Batman Posted: June 03, 2014 at 11:36 AM (#4717994)
Harry thought John Kruk's last name was "Krux" for a long time. He had a lot more fun trying to say "Xurk" than he would have with "Kurk."
   17. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 03, 2014 at 11:39 AM (#4717997)

Harry thought John Kruk's last name was "Krux" for a long time.


And he thought Mark Grudzielanek's last name was "Gerdzelank".
   18. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 03, 2014 at 11:45 AM (#4718005)
the definitive harry 'name pronunciation' was hector villanueva, the chubby catcher/first baseman

i lost track of the iterations of how harry said his name.

villanova and valenzuela were the two most common.

but i think he may have hit double digits
   19. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 03, 2014 at 11:46 AM (#4718006)
anyone who ever tells you they had 'a' beer with harry is a fibber.

you did not have 'a' beer with harry. did not happen.

   20. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 03, 2014 at 11:53 AM (#4718012)
There was a 1984 Cubs-Reds game on YouTube at one point (I can't find it now) where the start was delayed for 10 or 15 minutes because the crowd was much bigger than expected, and they wanted to let everyone into the park. So Harry just sits there and riffs, all by himself, for 10 minutes before the game, and he is just great. (He mentions a couple of times how handsome Dennis Eckersley is.) Mostly what comes across is how happy he is to be there, how he'd rather be at Wrigley Field than anywhere else in the world and what a lucky man he is to get paid to watch baseball. He just radiates joy.

Vin Scully is great, but he never expresses as much love for the game as Harry did - he's too professional for that. As a companion to watch a ballgame with, there's never been anyone better than Harry Caray.
   21. Batman Posted: June 03, 2014 at 12:01 PM (#4718013)
Harry used to refer to Howard Johnson both by his full name and by his pronunciation of "HoJo," so he was usually "Howard HoHo Johnson," which is basically Howard Howard Howard Johnson.
   22. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 03, 2014 at 12:07 PM (#4718016)
nobody seems to remember now but when harry did white sox games with eric soderholm on the team he would every so often refer to him as sodomhole

as always, it was later in games and except for i guess 1977 who was listening to sox games in the 8th inning but if you were you might get that chuckle
   23. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: June 03, 2014 at 12:23 PM (#4718030)
I loved listening to Harry in his later years. I'll admit that most of the Harry that I heard was the post-stroke, Bud Man and Cubs fan era Harry.

His saying the last name backwards was always one of my favorite gags. Especially when it was a guy like Andres Gallaraga.
   24. Jeff R., P***y Mainlander Posted: June 03, 2014 at 12:29 PM (#4718036)
Now we need an article about how Hawk Harrelson steals children's bicycles and harasses puppies on his way to the game.


In fairness, those puppies were being total jerks.
   25. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 03, 2014 at 12:39 PM (#4718043)
harry caray in 1984 was one of the best announcer seasons of recent times. the team was good, the crowds were great, it was a great summer weatherwise, harry was still pretty much at the top of his game and the booze was under control.

   26. Greg K Posted: June 03, 2014 at 12:40 PM (#4718045)
I remember in high school some friends had a running competition to see how many consecutive days they could have a pint at the local. I think best anyone ever got was a month tops.
   27. dr. scott Posted: June 03, 2014 at 01:00 PM (#4718063)
Unfortunately my streak of pints at my next door local ended on memorial day... coincidentally the same day Joe Nathan, Justin Verlander, and Kate Upton show up after the A's/Detroit game.
   28. just plain joe Posted: June 03, 2014 at 01:29 PM (#4718098)
the definitive harry 'name pronunciation' was hector villanueva, the chubby catcher/first baseman


Harry would sometimes refer to the Cardinals' second baseman as "Joolian Javver", but other times he would approximate the correct pronunciation. It is just too bad that Harry wasn't still around for Kosuke Fukudome and Jeff Samardzija.
   29. bjhanke Posted: June 03, 2014 at 01:38 PM (#4718105)
Perry - Thanks for the correction. The legend was something that I just did not want to look into, for fear I might actually find something out.

joe - I can't tell you anything about Boyer and Caray - I never heard it. Ken came along just as I was getting into baseball, about 1953-54. I was a little kid. I CAN tell you that, while Haray did bring joy and excitement to watching baseball games, even those involving bad home teams, part of my education in baseball was learning to fact-check Harry. In the late 1950s, for example, Solly Hemus, possibly trying to find a way to avoid putting Curt Flood in the lineup, had Joe Cunningham AND Bill White in the outfield and Stan Musial at first base. This was silly. White could run, but just wasn't an outfielder; he was a Gold Glove first baseman. Cunningham could not play the outfield either, because he was too slow. But he was willing to try. So he dove for everything, like Bill James says about Carney Lansford in the New Historical. Harry's opinion of this was that Cunningham was the best outfielder around, because he was willing to dive and sacrifice his body. The idea that Joe was doing this because he had no range never occurred to Harry. Harry also had players he just didn't like, including Flood, Boyer, and Bill White. He didn't come across as a racist. It was more like he didn't like players with talent, or at least, those who ran fast. Most of the guys he did not like could really run, including the three above.

One of the small joys of listening to Cards' games at the time was listening to Jack Buck, who was fluent in Spanish, correct Harry's idea of Latin player names. Spanish is EXTREMELY easy to pronounce. The pronunciation rules are few and there are no exceptions, although a man should always be allowed to have his name pronounced the way he wants. Still, if you see a word in Spanish, you may not know what it means, but you can pronounce it. The only exceptions in baseball at the time were that they didn't print tildes or accent marks. But, simple though Spanish is to pronounce, Harry just could not do it. And every once in a while, in the process of walking Harry through a name, Jack would let everyone know, just by tone of voice, just how absurd it was that Harry could not do better. And every VERY once in a while, he would get exasperated at Harry's unwillingness to even try. - Brock Hanke
   30. AROM Posted: June 03, 2014 at 01:42 PM (#4718112)
Harry's first year with the Cubs was 1982 - also the first year I watched baseball on a daily basis. I didn't realize it then, just assumed he was a Cub forever because I thought the only people who could act like Harry are the guys who have been there forever.

His Cub career spanned the exact same years as Ryne Sandberg. We knew it was Ryne's last game in fall of 1997, didn't know it was also Harry's last.

That he survived 83 years drinking like he did is a bit amazing.
   31. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 03, 2014 at 02:19 PM (#4718170)
That he survived 83 years drinking like he did is a bit amazing.

Piker. My Grandad lived to 98, and his usual regimen was 3-4 double scotches before dinner.
   32. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 03, 2014 at 03:57 PM (#4718285)
Spanish is EXTREMELY easy to pronounce

i am only good at speaking having learned it from the migrant workers at the canning compnay in the 50's/60's but i don't know too many gringos who would meet expectations on pronunciation. sure they can be understood but only because most native spanish speakers are very tolerant unlike say their french or german counterparts.

and this doesn't even take into account the differences between someone from mexico or venezuela which are two very different areas for this language. even within venezuela it's different.

not looking for a fight. and not trying to be picky. and not saying harry couldn't have done 1000 times better.

just that it isn't the walk in the park you suggest. not from what i have heard/experienced.
   33. SOLockwood Posted: June 03, 2014 at 04:16 PM (#4718297)
Caray cut a deal pegged to ballpark attendance, which doubled, largely thanks to his flamboyant presence.


Well, it increased by 50%, not 100%. (10K/game vs 15K/game) I bet the increase also had a lot more to do with the acquisition of Dick Allen and correlated rise to contender status than Harry's voice on the radio. It was a shrewd move by Harry however, to put that into his contract.
   34. Moeball Posted: June 03, 2014 at 05:25 PM (#4718348)
I'd always thought that no man is an island until I heard Harry pronounce Erubiel Durazo's name as "Aruba".

They used to sell great T shirts at Wrigley Field with "Harry's top 10 pickup lines" - wish I still had one of those; they also had the "Top 10 lies told at Wrigley Field" shirts; I think lie #1 was "Harry's not drunk".
   35. Howie Menckel Posted: June 03, 2014 at 06:03 PM (#4718366)
yes, the Sox were coming off four straight losing seasons in 1972, and manager Chuck Tanner sold the hell out of that team. always talking up "the new" Dick Allen (Richie who?) the MVP (199 OPS+!). Their OFs led by Carlos May were good, and Wilbur Wood was a wonder to behold - 49 starts, 376 IP (2nd yr of avging 45 starts per season), and Stan Bahnsen, the ex-Yank, joined him in the 20-win circle.

Wood, Bahnsen, and Tom Bradley starting a combined 130 games was badass. They didn't have a part-time 5th starter - they had a part-time 4th starter (Dave Lemonds, decent in 18 starts). Plus a couple of 20-yr-old kids in the bullpen, one was a star and the other went 7-1 in spite of struggles.

I wonder whatever happened to Terry Forster and Goose Gossage?


   36. Rob_Wood Posted: June 03, 2014 at 06:31 PM (#4718381)
harry absolutely hated bill melton too (not to mention jim kaat)
   37. Chicken Stanley Has Smallpox Posted: June 03, 2014 at 10:28 PM (#4718489)
There's a great Harry Caray drinking story that starts around 2:14 of this Artie Lange clip on Letterman:

http://awfulannouncing.blogspot.com/2009/03/artie-lange-tells-great-stories-about.html

The Bob Uecker story before it is no slouch either...
   38. Howie Menckel Posted: June 03, 2014 at 10:38 PM (#4718496)

I want it duly noted that my wedding rehearsal dinner was held at Harry Caray's original joint

   39. OCF Posted: June 04, 2014 at 12:06 AM (#4718518)
and this doesn't even take into account the differences between someone from mexico or venezuela which are two very different areas for this language. even within venezuela it's different.

When Vic Davalillo had a very good year as a pinch hitter in 1970 for the Cardinals, I was hearing his name consistently pronounced as "dahv uh LIZH oh" with a "zh" sound for the double ll. Apparently, that how he wanted it pronounced (he's Venezuelan).

Of course, come to think of it - Harry was gone in 1970. That was Jack Buck pronouncing it that way.
   40. ursus arctos Posted: June 04, 2014 at 12:25 AM (#4718521)
That's a Rio Platense pronunciation of a double l. Standard in Buenos Aires, but I don't recall ever hearing it in Caracas.
   41. Greg Franklin Posted: June 04, 2014 at 02:21 AM (#4718530)
Vin Scully is great, but he never expresses as much love for the game as Harry did - he's too professional for that. As a companion to watch a ballgame with, there's never been anyone better than Harry Caray.


A great observation, Tom. I'm reminded of Bill James' comment in his last (1988) Baseball Abstract, wherein he labeled Scully a "hack in love with the sound of his own drone" as compared to Harry, who called Cubs games with passion and anger and keen observation in the moment.

Nowadays Scully is still alive and just as much an icon as he was then, while Harry has been dead for a decade and a half. As much as I enjoy Scully calling a game, I can't escape the image of Harry who built a drunken (and expensed!) lifestyle out of his love of the game, and was a true day-to-day companion. We have lost something.
   42. Bunny Vincennes Posted: June 04, 2014 at 08:48 AM (#4718561)
25. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 03, 2014 at 12:39 PM (#4718043)
harry caray in 1984 was one of the best announcer seasons of recent times. the team was good, the crowds were great, it was a great summer weatherwise, harry was still pretty much at the top of his game and the booze was under control.


1984 was a seminal year in my life. I learned everything I needed to every know about the Chicago Cubs National League Ballclub. I've never been a huge Caray fan, but he and Stoney were the sound of that summer. The play I remember so much was a ground ball induced by Lee Smith that hit the rubber, bounced to Bowa, I think for the out and throw to first, and Caray exclaimed, "Even god wants the Cubs to win." That was a hell of a game. And its funny, I attended the Sandberg Game. So when I rewatch it, and its the Costas "Game of the Week" call it all seems so foreign and in lots of ways my memory of being there is perhaps shaped more by watching the NBC broadcast than actually having been there. And, I have my grandfather's scorecard from that day. There is a note in the margin next to Sandberg's spot in the lineup, where he noted, "Watch this kid, he's going to be somebody."
   43. bjhanke Posted: June 04, 2014 at 09:36 PM (#4719307)
Harverys - When I was talking about pronouncing Spanish, I wasn't talking about regional dialects. I was talking about how easy it is to figure out what the basic sound for a letter is. Dialects are dialects. I have trouble, on occasion, with Bostonians. Doesn't mean they can't pronounce English.

When I graduated from high school,in 1965, with 6 years of Spanish under my belt, I got 2 weeks in Mexico as a present. I quickly found out that the four most important words I knew were, "Mas despacio, por favor." That means "slower, please." Mexicans, and I would assume, other Spanish speakers, speak VERY fast, partially because Spanish is so easy to pronounce. They just run away from anyone who isn't conversation-fluent, not just schoolbook fluent. They were really tolerant of this with me, possibly because they were not used to U. S. people making any effort to learn Spanish at all. They were used to Ugly Americans, who just expected that all Mexicans would learn English. But, then, these are memories from 1965, plus a good friend whose family is from Cuba, and who is from-birth bilingual. - Brock
   44. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 04, 2014 at 09:55 PM (#4719320)
brock

well, if you actually read my post you would realize i am pretty aware of the language having spoken it for several decades and being good friends with teh community dating back to the days of the canning company.

glad you enjoyed your time in mexico. good people

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