Oct 22, 2014

Former Mets Broadcater & His Amazing Career: Tim McCarver

James Timothy McCarver was born on October 16, 1941 in Memphis, Tennessee. The six foot left handed hitting catcher was signed out of the Christian Brothers High School in Memphis in 1959.

That year he flew through the minor leagues all the way up to AAA Rochester batting .359 overall. At 17 years old he was briefly called up to the Cardinals, debuting on September 10th, 1959 in a game against the Milwaukee Braves. He appeared in nine games that season.


In the next two years he shuttled between St. Louis and the minor leagues, developing his skills. By 1963 he was up for good at age 21 becoming the Red Birds main catcher taking over the position from Jimmy Schaffer. McCarver established himself as one of the top defensive catchers of the 1960s and early 1970s, throwing out over 40% of would be base stealers five times & leading all backstops in fielding percentage twice.

He became the personal catcher for Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson, helping develop him into one of the games most dominant pitchers. He was Gibson's battery mate for his 1968 Cy Young Award season, where he posted a 1.12 ERA. He also caught Gibson in four twenty win seasons & two World Series, including his dominant 1967 performance where he won three games.

McCarver also would be personal catcher to another Hall of Famer; Steve Carlton. In 1965 he got into an argument with the stubborn rookie pitcher over pitch selections. The two would form a friendship & have a great working relationship as well. He would catch Carlton in his early years with the Cardinals, then move on with him to the Philadelphia Phillies. McCarver was Carlton's personal catcher over Bob Boone, handling the plate in two of Carlton's Cy Young seasons (1972 & 1977).

As he was developing his skills he led the league in passed balls twice & errors committed once. But by the late sixties he was on top of his game. Besides his outstanding defense and abilities to call a good game, he was a good hitting catcher especially for his time. In his first two full seasons (1963 & 1964) he batted .288 with over 50 RBIs both seasons. He hit double figures in HRs from 1965-1967, with seventeen plus doubles six times in his career.

In the 1964 Cardinals championship season, he hit .288 with a .343 on base %, 9 HRs 19 doubles 52 RBIs & 15 intentional walks (5th most in the league). That season McCarver handeled not only Gibson (19 wins) but future Met Ray Sadecki who won twenty & Curt Simmons who won 18 games.

Post Season: In the 1964 World Series McCarver opened up the Series with two hits in Game #1. He had a big Game #5 putting the Cards ahead in the Series, as he broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the 10th inning, with a three run HR off New York's Pete Mikkelsen.

In the Cards Game #7 win he drove in the first run of the game with a sac groundout off Mel Stottlemyre.

In that Game#7 Gibson pitched a complete game win for his second win of the series, clinching the title. McCarver was the World Series' leading hitter with a .478 average, getting 11 hits with one HR, one double, one triple, five RBIs & five walks.

In 1966 he became the first catcher in the modern era, to lead the N.L. in triples with 13. That year he even stole nine bases with 12 HRs 68 RBIs & 19 doubles. In the Cardinals dominant NL years he hit .275 or better each season, batting a career high .295 with 54 walks in 1967.

That year he made his second straight All Star team, & was leading in league in hitting (.355) at the All Star break. That season he posted a .369 on base percentage with 14 HRs 26 doubles & 69 RBIs playing in 138 games. He finished second in the N.L. MVP voting, losing out to team mate Orlando Cepeda.

During the season he contributed with many key hits, especially in tight games. In the last week of July he drove in eight runs & from August 19th to September 1st he drove in ten runs. On August 30th he hit a two run HR at Shea Stadium off Danny Frisella scoring the only two runs of the game.

Post Season: In the late sixties the Cardinals were riding high with a strong team playing in their new Bush Stadium. They would win two World Series in four years, & playing in three Series in a five year span. In the 1967 World Series, the Cards beat the “Impossible Dream” Boston Red Sox in seven games.

Tim only hit .127 in this Series driving in two runs overall. But it was in this series Bob Gibson won three games, extending his streak to five straight World Series wins. In Game #1 he struck out ten Red Sox matching that total in Game #7 as well.

In 1968 St. Louis returned to win another NL pennant, by nine games over the San Francisco Giants. McCraver hit .253 with 5 HRs 15 doubles & 48 RBIs in 128 games played. He threw out 37% of would be base stealers that season.

Post Season: In the World Series the Cards faced off against the Detroit Tigers. In this series, Detroit pitcher Mickey Lolich won three World Series games.

In Game #1 two of the game's best went at it, Gibson vs. Denny McLain at Busch Stadium. Gibson was incredible pitching a five hit shut out striking out a World Series record 17 batters.

In Game #3 at Tiger Stadium, McCarver hit a three run HR off Earl Wilson in the 7-3 St. Louis win. Gibson returned for his seventh straight World Series win in Game #4, as McCarver had three hits in the 10-1 victory. In Game #7 it was Lolich & the Tigers coming out on top.

McCarver had another good Series, hitting .333 (9- 27) with a HR, two triples, four RBIs and three walks. McCarver’s played in three Fall Classics, batting .311 playing in 21 games.

In 1970 McCarver was traded along with Curt Flood, Joe Hoerner, & Byron Browne, to the Philadelphia Phillies for Dick Allen, Cookie Rojas& Jerry Johnson.

This was the famous trade where Curt Flood refused to report to his new team deal, challenging the reserve clause. Instead a young Willie Montanez went to the Phillies in his place.

McCarver missed a lot of action in 1970 batting .287 in just 44 games as injuries got the best of him. The next season he batted .278 but committed 11 errors with 18 passed ball behind the plate, leading the league in those categories.

On June 23rd 1971, he was behind the plate catching Rick Wise no hitter at Riverfront Stadium, against the reigning NL Champion Cincinatti Reds. In 1972 McCarver began the year in Philadelphia, catching Steve Carltons 27 win season 310 strike out Cy Young season. But he was traded to the Montreal Expos for John Bateman on June 14th.

On October 2nd 1972, at Jary Park in Montreal in the final series of the regular season, McCarver he caught no hitter number two.
That day Bill Stoneman threw a no hitter against the New York Mets, striking out just two & walking seven.

The next year McCarver was back to St. Louis (1973-1974) then to the the Boston Red Sox (1974-1975) behind Carlton Fisk. In mid-1975, Steve Carlton now one of the league's best pitchers was pitching in Philadelphia.

He requested the Phillies get McCarver back to be his full time personal catcher. Carlton preferred McCarver over Phillies regular back stop Bob Boone. The Phillies granted his request & it was there he would spend the rest of his career through 1980. McCarver used to joke that when he and Carlton pass away, they'll be buried 60 feet six inches apart from each other.

On Americas 200th birthday, July 4, 1976, McCarver hit what is known as a "Grand Slam Single". That day after hitting a game-winning home run with the bases loaded, he passed teammate Garry Maddox on the base path. He supposedly said to the umpire, "I didn't pass him; he lapped me due to sheer speed".

Post Season: In the mid to late 1970’s McCarver got to play in three consecutive NLCS with the Phillies from 1976-1978. All three times they were eliminated, once by the Big Red Machine & twice by the L.A. Dodgers.

McCarver went 3 for 14 with three walks in seven games catching Carlton, in those years. McCarver briefly returned to play in September 1980 becoming one of the few players in history to play in four different decades.

He finished his 21 season playing career with a .271 batting average, 1501 hits 97 HRs 242 doubles 57 triples 548 walks & 645 RBIs with a .337 on base %. He is 41st all time in games behind the plate with 1387. He has 8206 put outs (24th all time) a .990 fielding percentage (96th all time) 132 passed balls (84th all time) while throwing out 34% of base runners.

Broadcasting Career: In 1980, he began his broadcasting career at WPHL Philadelphia, where he was paired with Richie Ashburn and Harry Kalas calling games for the Phillies.

He moved on to the New York Mets booth in 1983 and would remain there for 15 years. McCarver worked with the Mets mainly alongside Ralph Kiner through those years through 1998.

He also worked with Rusty Staub, Steve Zabriske, Howie Rose, Matt Laughlin, Bud Harrelson & Fran Healy on television with channel 9 as well as the cable outlets. In his time he worked on Sports Channel, Fox Sports Net & the MSG network. McCarver went on to call the Mets 1986 NLCS games for the ABC network alongside veteran broadcaster Keith Jackson.

This included the 16-inning Game #6 clincher in Houston, where Tim got to interview the NL champion Mets. He also worked the 1988 NLCS disappointing Met loss to Los Angeles Dodgers for the network.

As a broadcaster, McCarver became a star. His knowledge of the game is outstanding. He has won three Emmy Awards for Sports Event Analyst. McCarver has revolutionized the color analyst job, with his tremendous baseball intelligence & ability to break down a situation affecting all aspects of the play.

He tells the viewer things that we had never heard before from a broadcaster. He explains the importance of the positioning of fielders, as well as the upcoming circumstances that may occur with future hitters coming up in the line up. He foresees pitching matchups, base running possibilities and certain points that may result in the out game of the game like no one had done before. He is never afraid to tell it like he sees it & can be critical at times as well. When rule questions come up during a broadcast, McCarver will explain the rule in detail. He goes by the book with hunches & like to play percentages.

Some people have criticized his style all throughout his career, saying he over analyzes . McCarver will outspokenly second guess a managerial move if he doesn’t agree with it. No matter what anyone says, he knows the game better than anybody, as well as any situation which occurs.

He is author to two books, Tim McCarver's Diamond Gems. & his Tim McCarver's Baseball for Brain Surgeons and Other Fans: Understanding and Interpreting the Game So You Can Watch It Like a Pro. That book is an incredible breakdown of the game explaining baseball situations on every level.

On a broadcasting network level he began with ABC, where he was originally teamed with Don Drysdale on Monday Night Baseball games in 1984. Next he worked with Al Michaels and Jim Palmer from 1985-1989 and again from 1994-1995. He worked at CBS teamed with Jack Buck in 1990-1991 and then Sean McDonough from 1992-1993.

Since 1995 he has been working on the FOX Network, paired with Joe Buck for Saturday afternoon games of the week and the post season. McCarver has been on hand for some of baseball's most memorable and exciting moments since 1984.

In 2003, McCarver set a record by broadcasting his 13th World Series on national television passing the legendary Curt Gowdy. He has covered every post season in the last 28 years. The first World Series that McCarver worked on was in 1985 for ABC, replacing the legendary Howard Cosell. Tim served as a field reporter during the 1984 NLCS between the San Diego Padres and Chicago Cubs & never missed commentating on the League Championship Series since.

While covering the Mets, McCarver criticized Darryl Strawberry for staying in the same place in the outfield regardless of the hitter at bat. He often said Strawberry would make more outs if he made some adjustments. Then-Mets manager, Davey Johnson responded, saying that Darryl sees the ball come off the bat best in that spot . Anywhere else, he cannot read the ball well, and any advantage will be lost because he will misplays it.

During the 1992 NLCS, he criticized Deion Sanders for playing both football and baseball on the same day. Sanders dumped a bucket of water on McCarver three times while he was covering the clubhouse celebration for CBS.

McCarvers's showed who the real mature man was, holding back any verbal abuse. Being the true professional, all he did was say sarcastically to Sanders “You’re a real man Deion”.

On October 17, 1989 before Game 3 of the World Series in San Francisco, McCarver was talking about the Giants slim chances to win when the earthquake hit California. Some game footage of the Oakland Athletics was being shown, when, the ground began to shake. The broadcast picture became full of static, and a distracted McCarver, did a verbal double-take. Al Michaels broke in and said, "I'll tell you what; we're having an earthqu-" just as power went out.

In 2008 he publicly called Manny Ramirez despicable for his lazy play in Boston & then turning it up when he arrived in Los Angeles with the Dodgers.

In 2010, he compared how the AL New York teams ownership treated former manager Joe Torre to Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia treated its generals, a position he was later forced to apologize for .

McCarver is one of three sportscasters (the others being Fran Healy and Tom Seaver) to have covered both New York teams on a regular basis. He also covered the A.L. New York team (1999-2001) & then did one season with the San Francisco Giants in 2002.

The Tim McCarver television Show, had been syndicated for over a decade. He has also hosted the HBO series Race for the Pennant & the 1992 Winter Olympics with Paula Zahn for CBS.

In 2009 he released a CD of Jazz standards where he sang the lead vocals. McCarver has recently lived in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

Honors: In 2012 he was honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame with the Ford Frick Award. The minor league stadium in Memphis was christened Tim McCarver Stadium in 1978. .


Originally 2013 was suppose to be Tim McCarver's last year behind the mic at as he decided to retire. He did leave the Fox broadcast booth but chose to work about a quarter of the St. Louis Cardinals games on Midwest Sports network.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The first catcher to lead the NL in triples was Jack Rowe in 1881. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/roweja01.shtml