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August 3, 2008

In which a legend passes

It's been a tough year for my Atlanta Braves. Our pitchers have been hurt, my boy Jeff Francoeur has been in a horrific slump, and they've sunk towards the bottom of the standings. Now, to make things even worse, Skip Caray has passed away.

Skip has been announcing Braves games as long as I have lived in Atlanta. To me, Skip, Pete Van Wieren, and Ernie Johnson will always be the voices of the Braves. They were there when the incredible run began in 1991, but they were also there in the dark days of the late 1970's and late 1980's. Skip's wry humor and Pete's uncanny ability to play the straight man have made Braves broadcasts entertaining for as long as I can remember.

Skip Caray on TBS, after Chicago took a 15-5 lead over Atlanta in the 8th inning, 7/22/2003:

"The fans are now departing en masse. That means a whole bunch of 'em at once."

He was famous for telling us we could walk our dogs before the end of blowout losses if we promised to patronize the sponsors of the broadcast. He was famous for assigning hometowns to fans who caught foul balls in the bleachers ("That one was caught by a fan from Gainesville!"), and he was famous for supporting his team with unabashed pride. I know people who put him down as a homer, but to me, that's what made him worth listening to. He would criticize the team if it was needed, but he always gave the fans a positive side to any bad situation through his love for the team. He was just as big a fan as we were, only he got paid to describe the games.

He called what I consider to be the greatest moment in Atlanta Braves history, even greater than their World Series win in 1995: Francisco Cabrera's hit to drive in Sid Bream with the winning run in the 1992 NL Championship. Even now, 16 years later, hearing him screaming "BRAVES WIN! BRAVES WIN! BRAVES WIN!" still gives me chills.

A lotta room in right-center, if he hits one there we can dance in the streets. The 2-1. Swung, line drive left field! One run is in! Here comes Bream! Here’s the throw to the plate! He is.............SAFE! BRAVES WIN! BRAVES WIN! BRAVES WIN! BRAVES WIN!...BRAVES WIN!

To the Caray family, our sincere condolences and prayers for your loss. To Skip: I speak on behalf of all the true Braves fans out there. You will be missed. Thanks for all the years you gave us and all the memories you preserved for us.

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