McCarver was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He began his playing career after being signed by the St. Louis Cardinals from Christian Brothers High School in Memphis in 1959. He hit .359 that year while splitting time between the Cardinals' minor league teams in Keokuk and Rochester and, though just 17 years old, was briefly called up to the Cardinals.
He spent the 1960, 1961, and 1962 seasons shuttling between St. Louis and the minor leagues in places like Memphis, Charleston, West Virginia and Atlanta. In 1963, he was called up to the majors for good.
St. Louis CardinalsEdit
In 1964, his tiebreaking home run in the 10th inning won Game 5 of the World Series. In 1966, McCarver was named to the All-Star Team, and became the first catcher to lead the National League in triples, with 13. In 1967, he finished second to teammate Orlando Cepeda for the National League Most Valuable Player award. McCarver was a member of two World Series championships during his time in St. Louis. He was the favorite catcher of the notoriously temperamental Bob Gibson, and fostered a relationship with young pitcher Steve Carlton that would keep him in the major leagues later in his career.
After a trade to Philadelphia involving, among others, his teammate Curt Flood (which led to Flood's dramatic lawsuit challenging baseball's reserve clause) before the 1970 season, McCarver played for the Phillies, Expos, Red Sox, and another brief stint with the Cardinals (he was replaced on the roster by the then-rookie Keith Hernandez). McCarver's late playing and broadcasting career might have taken a different turn in 1975, when, according to Peter Gammons, McCarver (then 33 and Boston's third-string catcher) was rumored as a potential replacement for struggling Red Sox manager Darrell Johnson. But McCarver was released (to return to the Phillies), and Johnson went on to lead the Red Sox to the '75 AL pennant. McCarver wanted to return to the Phillies as a broadcaster - they asked him, instead, to become, a back-up catcher to Bob Boone.
On July 4, 1976, McCarver hit what is known as a "Grand Slam Single" when after hitting a game-winning home run he passed his teammate Garry Maddox in the basepath. As host of "The Not-so-Great Moments in Sports" special which aired on HBO, he supposedly said to the umpire, "I didn't pass him, he lapped me." Asked later how he could have done that, McCarver replied "sheer speed". The event was honored in "The Baseball Hall of SHAME 3" book as "Tim McCarver's Grand Sob."
McCarver finished his career as the personal catcher for Steve Carlton for the Phillies in the late 1970s. Carlton preferred McCarver to Phillies regular Bob Boone. It was quipped that when Carlton and McCarver eventually died, they would be buried 60 feet, 6 inches apart. Bob Boone was the Phillies regular catcher during this period.
McCarver caught Rick Wise's no-hitter in 1971; at the end of the season, the Phillies traded Wise to the Cardinals for Carlton, the deal reuniting McCarver with Carlton. During the 1972 season, the Phillies traded McCarver to the Montreal Expos, where he would catch the second of Bill Stoneman's two career no-hitters.
He retired after the 1979 season to begin a broadcasting career. McCarver briefly returned to duty in September 1980 thus becoming one of the few players in baseball history to play in four different decades (1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s). McCarver played 6 games in September, 1980, 4 as a pinch-hitter and 2 as a first-baseman (initially pinch-running for Pete Rose in one of those 2 games).
Tim McCarver StadiumEdit
He began his broadcasting career at WPHL-TV (Channel 17) where he was paired with Richie Ashburn and Harry Kalas, before co-hosting HBO's Race for the Pennant in 1978 and working as a backup Game of the Week commentator for NBC in 1980.
McCarver has called baseball for all four major U.S. television networks. His work at NBC was followed by stints with ABC (where he teamed with Don Drysdale on backup Monday Night Baseball games in 1984 and Al Michaels and Jim Palmer from 1985-1989 and again from 1994-1995 under the "Baseball Network" umbrella) and CBS (where he teamed with Jack Buck from 1990-1991 and Sean McDonough from 1992-1993). McCarver is currently paired with Joe Buck on the FOX network's MLB telecasts, a role he has held since 1996.
When McCarver called his first World Series in 1985 for ABC, he was actually a last minute replacement for Howard Cosell. Cosell had been removed from the broadcasts altogether after excerpts from his controversial book, I Never Played the Game (which was critical of Cosell's co-workers at ABC Sports), appeared in TV Guide. Perhaps, McCarver's most notable assignment for ABC prior to the 1985 World Series, was as a field reporter for the 1984 National League Championship Series. McCarver's regular season broadcast partner, Don Drysdale was instead, paired with Reggie Jackson and Earl Weaver.
He has also called games locally for the Phillies from 1980 to 1982, Mets from 1983 to 1998, Yankees from 1999 to 2001, and Giants in 2002. McCarver is one of three sportscasters (the others being Fran Healy and Tom Seaver) to have covered the Mets and Yankees on a regular basis.
McCarver's nationally syndicated sports interview program, The Tim McCarver Show, is in its seventh season and has recently been signed for five additional seasons.
McCarver has courted criticism throughout his career.
During the 1992 National League Championship Series, he criticized Deion Sanders for playing both football and baseball on the same day. For his criticism, Sanders dumped a bucket of water on McCarver three times while he was covering the National League pennant winning Atlanta Braves' clubhouse celebration for CBS. Regardless of the criticism he delivered, some also feel that McCarver's restraint after 3 cold water dumps was exemplary.
Also during the 1992 post-season (when McCarver worked for CBS), Norman Chad criticized McCarver in Sports Illustrated by saying that he's someone who "when you ask him the time, will tell you how a watch works," a reference to McCarver's supposed habit of over-analyzing.
In Game 4 of the 1997 American League Championship Series, on a wild pitch with runners dashing around the bases, when umpire Durwood Merrill gestured to where the ball was, McCarver sarcastically commented that "maybe he was trying to tell himself where the ball is!" Merrill heard about that, took offense to it, and fired back in his autobiography that he was letting the other umpires know that the situation was under control.
McCarver has also been criticized over the last ten years for seeming to openly root for the New York Yankees during playoff broadcasts, especially during the 2003 and 2004 American League Championship Series, both versus the Boston Red Sox.
When rule questions come up during a broadcast, McCarver frequently will explain the rule, sometimes incorrectly. For example, after a St. Louis Cardinals balk in Game 4 of the 2006 NLCS, McCarver explained, "You have to have 'one thousand one' when coming to a stop, and you have to stop your glove in the same place every time in front of your body," when the rules state that there must be merely a complete discernible stop anywhere in front of the pitcher's body; no certain duration or location is necessary.
McCarver has been known to make verbal gaffes, particularly with player's names. In 2006, Family Guy lampooned McCarver's broadcasting ability with the quip, "...well, at least he couldn't be any worse than Tim McCarver is at sportscasting".
In October 2008, just before the 2008 NLCS, McCarver made public his feelings about Manny Ramirez, calling him "Despicable" and criticizing Ramirez for his sloppy, lazy play in Boston and how he had suddenly turned it around in Los Angeles. Ramirez declined comment.
McCarver has been on hand for some of baseball's most memorable and exciting moments in the later part of the 20th century and even beyond that. Noteworthy moments that Tim McCarver was present for while broadcasting include:
- San Diego Padre Steve Garvey's game winning home run off Lee Smith of the Chicago Cubs in Game 4 of the 1984 National League Championship Series. The Padres, who came back from a 2-0 deficit in the best of five NLCS, went on the win their first ever pennant the following day.
- The sixth game of the 1985 World Series between the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals. That particular World Series was most notable for first base umpire Don Denkinger's blown call (which helped elevate the Royals' dramatic come from behind victory) in Game 6.
- The 16-inning long, sixth game of the 1986 National League Championship Series (for which McCarver called with Keith Jackson for ABC) between the New York Mets and Houston Astros.
- The 1987 Minnesota Twins, who went 85-77 in the regular season (they only won 29 games on the road) beating the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games (all of them won by the home team) in the World Series.
- The Los Angeles Dodgers beating the New York Mets, who went 10-1 against the Dodgers in the regular season, in seven games in the 1988 NLCS.
- The 1991 World Series between the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves (both went from "worst to first" in a one year span), which is considered by many to be the greatest World Series of all time.
- Atlanta Braves player Francisco Cabrera's game-winning base hit off Pittsburgh Pirate Stan Belinda in the bottom of the ninth of the seventh game of the 1992 NLCS.
- Joe Carter's game winning home run off Philadelphia Phillie Mitch Williams in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series that clinched the Toronto Blue Jays second consecutive World Title.
- The beginning of the New York Yankees' return to power as they came back from a 2-0 deficit against the defending World Champion Atlanta Braves to win the 1996 World Series (the Yankees' first since 1978).
- The Arizona Diamondbacks' come from behind victory against the three time defending World Champion New York Yankees in the bottom of the ninth of the 2001 World Series. Ironically (and somewhat eerily), McCarver correctly predicted what would be the game-winning hit: an opposite-field bloop single by Arizona's Luis Gonzalez. When Yankees manager Joe Torre opted to bring the infield in with the bases loaded and one out, and with closer Mariano Rivera on the mound, McCarver opined: "The problem with bringing the infield in against a guy like Rivera is that left-handed hitters tend to get a lot of broken-bat hits to...the shallow part of the outfield." Indeed, on the very next pitch, Gonzalez lifted a broken-bat single over the reach of Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter, scoring the winning run.
- The Anaheim Angels finally winning the World Series after defeating the San Francisco Giants in seven games in 2002.
- The 2003 American League Championship Series between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Game 7 ended with Aaron Boone winning the pennant for the Yankees with an extra inning home run.
- The Florida Marlins beating the New York Yankees in six games in the World Series. The Marlins won the World Series for the second time (their first being in 1997) despite making their Major League debut just ten years earlier.
- The Boston Red Sox avenging their 2003 playoff loss against the New York Yankees by coming back from a 3-0 series deficit (first time in Major League Baseball, third in American professional sports) to win the pennant. The Red Sox proceeded to finally put the so-called Curse of the Bambino to an end by sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals 4 games to 0 in the 2004 World Series.
- The Chicago White Sox breaking their 88-year World Series Championship drought by sweeping the Houston Astros in the 2005 World Series. McCarver's commentary before and after Scott Podsednik's walk-off homer in Game 2 still lives in infamy on the South Side of Chicago. Responding to Joe Buck's question about Brad Lidge still having a "bad taste in his mouth" after giving up a walk-off homer to Albert Pujols in the 2005 National League Championship Series, McCarver said, "I don't think that taste is there." Almost instantaneously, Podsednik swings and drives Lidge's pitch out of the park to win the game. The walk-off homer puts the White Sox up 2-0 in the series, sends U.S. Cellular Field into a frenzy and leaves McCarver scrambling to cover-up his call.
In 2003, McCarver set a record by broadcasting his 13th World Series on national television (surpassing Curt Gowdy). Also, since 1984 (when he served as a field reporter for ABC's National League Championship Series coverage), McCarver has to date, never missed commentating on the League Championship Series.
1989 World SeriesEdit
Perhaps Tim McCarver's most memorable broadcast occurred on October 17, 1989 before Game 3 of the World Series at San Francisco's Candlestick Park, when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit during ABC's TV pre-game introductory segment. Some game footage of Oakland Athletics slugger Dave Parker hitting a double to the wall in right field to drive in José Canseco from Game 2 was being shown, when, unbeknownst to the viewing audience, the ground began to shake at 5:04 p.m local time. The broadcast picture became full of static, and a distracted McCarver, who was assessing the San Francisco Giants' chances for victory in the game, did a verbal double-take. Then McCarver's colleague Al Michaels broke in and said, "I'll tell you what; we're having an earthqu-" just as power went out. Soon, a green ABC Sports graphic replaced the normal picture and over a telephone line, Al Michaels tried to make light of the confusing and chaotic situation by jokingly saying "Well folks, that's the greatest open in the history of television - bar none!" ABC was able to restore the proper audio and video with a backup generator while McCarver, Michaels, and Jim Palmer remained calm.
Book Authored ByEdit
- Tim McCarver (2008) Tim McCarver's Diamond Gems, McGraw-Hill Professional. ISBN 978-0-07-154594-5
- Baseball-Reference.com - statistics and analysis
- TimMcCarver.com - the former player and sports analyst's website
- ShutupTimMcCarver.com - Home for Tim McCarver haters around the world.
|American television prime time anchor, Winter Olympic Games (with Paula Zahn)|