What is something that is yours, but everyone else uses it more than you? Your name. For this man, his name is memorable, but he made his own mark despite the history of his family. This is Chip Caray, son of Skip Caray, grandson of Harry Caray, voice of the Atlanta Braves, and broadcasting legend. Although his busy schedule demands constant work, Chip took time out of his day to speak with me, not only on subjects desirable to the readers of Bulldawg Illustrated, but to give me personal advice in the crazy profession of sports broadcasting. So thank you Chip for an amazing interview!
Why this profession?
It was an acquired taste. Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, I was a massive Cardinals fan, and just like every other kid had the dreams of one day putting on a Cardinals uniform. I quickly learned I was not good enough to do that. During my summers in high school, I spent time with my dad and interned at TBS. I came to realize, the next best thing to playing baseball was broadcasting it. You get to go to every game and talk about something you love, a sport that you have a lot of passion for. I was fortunate enough to be around it as a youngster, and the bug for sports broadcasting bit me.
My parents were divorced as a kid. A common misconception with my family was I sat around the dinner table with my dad and grandad and talked baseball. The truth is I didn’t see much of my dad, and home life in Missouri was challenging, so I needed a change. It was a culture shock when I got here. I knew nothing about SEC football, how beautiful southern women were, or what grits were like My Cousin Vinny. From meat and potatoes Midwest to Antebellum South, it was a huge change and just the one I needed. However, my main goal for coming to school in Georgia was to be closer with my dad, physically and geographically. I wanted to know my dad as my dad, and Georgia did just that for me.
Why is Athens special to you?
It welcomed me with open arms. A kid from the midwest with a difficult family life, you could say I was a lost soul. I got here, this city, this school, and these people welcomed me, not for my name but for what I brought to the party. The friends I made, the professors I had changed the trajectory of my life, and I am forever grateful.
Favorite class and professor
Dr. Bill Lee and his journalism law class. People were scared to take his class because of how challenging it was, and yes, it was challenging, but that’s what I loved about it. In my core curriculum it was my only B, and I am prouder of that B than all the other As. It was a psychological game. He wanted to see how far he could push, test your limits. If you weren’t ten minutes early he would lock the door and make you come into class at 6 a.m. on a Saturday. He pushed us, and more than anyone else I wanted his approval, so I worked harder in that class than any other. The world is a better place because of people like him ‘filling young skulls with mush’ as he used to say.”
Wrigley Field will always be something special to me for obvious reasons. I do not mean this to sound cynical, but truly, I like any ballpark where I earn a paycheck. As I have gotten older, I have come to appreciate the old things more, but if there is one thing to learn in this business, it is to adapt. If you don’t adapt, you die. The old stadiums like Fenway, Wrigley, and Dodger Stadium are fantastic, but the new ones are just as good, and they are making new memories for kids now. In 20-30 years when someone is sitting in my seat, hopefully, my crew and I will have made memories for those newcomers in those stadiums as long as those stadiums live on.
How to manage your busy schedule?
In the 90s, I was newly married, broadcasting Seattle Mariners baseball, Orlando Magic basketball, and FOX Weekend Pregame Show. So here is a week of work: we’d play in Orlando on a Monday, fly to Dallas after the game, play in Dallas Tuesday, be off for the Magic Tuesday-Friday, fly to Seattle and do two games for the Mariners, fly to San Antonio on Friday, either after the game or Saturday morning on a red, I would fly to LA to host the weekend show, fly back to Seattle for a game Sunday night, then another red eye back to Orlando on Monday. That’s just one week on the job.
The help you’ve received
We stand on the shoulders of giants. I might be the voice you hear or the face you see, but behind the scenes, that’s who keeps us on air, that’s who gets the advertisements to make sure we still have a show. Those are the most important people. I learned quickly in high school when I was interning that the set up crews, the production managers, the camera men, those are the people that get the job done, and those internships taught me to appreciate those people’s hard work, and I cannot thank each and everyone of those people enough.
Favorite game you’ve called
The Kerry Woods 20-strikeout game. It was my first season with the Cubs, and I was trying to fill unfillable shoes, the ones worn by my grandfather. I was sitting in his booth, with his partner, his staff, his team, his stadium, his town, and we had the same legal name. It was a lot to live up to. We got there on an early day in May; it was cold and drizzly the day before, and we heard the Cubs were bringing up this kid from Texas. He came out of nowhere and threw, according to GameScore, the most dominant pitching performance in history. It just happened to be my 15th or so game calling the Cubs.
Most memorable player you’ve covered
Shaquille O’Neal. He was a 7-foot-2, 300-pound five year old, and he literally dominated the game of basketball. I was just fortunate enough to be the guy behind the mic in Orlando at that time.
“To thine ownself, be true.”
Predictions for Dawgs and the Braves
Well, Georgia may not lose a game this year, and I say that with caution, but this football team is unbelievable. Being from Florida, I care about one game more than any other, and that’s the Gator game. With what Kirby Smart is doing in Athens, molding good men and not just good players, I find that to be way more important than wins and losses, with exception of the Florida game. If we win that and that alone, it’ll be a good year for me. For the Braves, they control their own destiny. We win, no one can catch us. We are in the home stretch as the regular season comes to a close, and everything is on the table in front of us.