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Born to the Booth
Steve Wulf
November 02, 1992
Holy cow! The example set by the Carays and—yes!—the Alberts is being followed by other gabby clans as sports broadcasting becomes, more and more, a family business
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November 02, 1992

Born To The Booth

Holy cow! The example set by the Carays and—yes!—the Alberts is being followed by other gabby clans as sports broadcasting becomes, more and more, a family business

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In some cases the second generation has found an Oedipus Rx. Says Thorn Brennaman, "Now that my father and I are in the same business, our relationship has never been better." His father concurs. "We talk on the phone all of the time now," says Marty. "It's a great compliment to a father when his son takes up the same profession. But proud as I am of Thorn as a broadcaster, I'm even prouder of him as a person.

"All the kids in the business now—Thorn, Todd Kalas, Chip Caray—have their heads on straight even though their home lives might not have been ideal. Their mothers deserve a lot of credit. Being around the game helped, too."

The game, whether it be baseball or basketball or hockey, is a powerful and positive attraction. "I grew up hanging out with Stan Musial and Marty Marion," says Skip Caray, "and Chip grew up around Hank Aaron and Phil Niekro. What kid wouldn't want to prolong a life like that?" The fifth and final reason, then, is simple: It's a wonderful life.

I look at all these kids, and do you know what I see?" asks Ernie Johnson Sr. "I see the love of the game drifting down to the next generation."

And, no doubt, this won't be the last generation. Says Costas, "I'm not sure I would want six-year-old Keith Costas to become a sportscaster, but something frightening just happened. Keith looked up from his Nintendo baseball game and said, 'Dad, I'm going with a weak-hitting lineup. But it's slick-fielding.' "

The Carays

"If only they had named me Flip."

Harry Caray, 73, is standing by the batting cage at Shea Stadium before a late-September Met-Cub game, talking about Skip and Chip. He is also showing Cub catcher Rick Wilkins his Nicole Miller baseball tie, the pattern of which carries Harry's unmistakable face.

"You'd think they'd ask a man's permission before they put his face on neckwear," Harry says.

Harry didn't know his parents very well. His father, Cristoforo Carabina, died when he was an infant, and his mother when he was 10. Passed from foster home to foster home in St. Louis, Harry didn't have a happy childhood, but he did love baseball. The weak-hitting but slick-fielding young Carabina didn't amount to much as a ballplayer, but he called a good game from the bleachers of Sportsman's Park, so when he was 23, he applied for a job at radio station KMOX. Even though Harry had no experience, the manager referred him to a station in Joliet, Ill. From there he went to Kalamazoo, Mich., and in 1944 KMOX brought him back. Soon he was doing Cardinal games, and the rest, as they say, is history.

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