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Harry Caray's Life And Times, Presented On MLB Network

An excellent documentary on the life of the longtime broadcaster will be shown this week.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Last week, I wrote about Cubs broadcaster Jack Brickhouse on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

In that article, I noted the strong influence of Jack and WGN-TV on creating several generations of Cubs fans.

It can be argued that Harry Caray, who spent many years broadcasting for the Cubs' biggest rivals, the Cardinals and White Sox, had an even bigger influence on Cubs fans during his 16 seasons as WGN-TV's Cubs play-by-play man.

Caray was already 67 -- two years older than Brickhouse, though he claimed to be younger -- when he took over from Jack after Brickhouse retired following the 1981 season. Changes in ownership on both sides of town had new White Sox ownership wanting to move on from Caray, and Tribune Company wanting to inject some excitement into the broadcasts.

All this and more is covered in a one-hour documentary on Caray's life, "Holy Cow! The Story of Harry Caray," which will premiere tomorrow, February 2, on MLB Network at 8 p.m. CT. The network folks graciously sent me an advance copy of this show so I could review it for you.

It's narrated by Bob Costas and includes remembrances of Harry from Joe Buck, Bob Costas, Pat Hughes, Tim McCarver, Steve Stone and Rick Sutcliffe, as well as former Cubs president John McDonough and Chicago columnist Rick Kogan and Chicago natives Tom Dreesen and Jeff Garlin, along with Harry's widow Dutchie.

This hour-long show is exceptionally well done. There's video and audio from Harry from his Cardinals and White Sox days that I had never seen before, along with the story of how he grew up an orphan in St. Louis and basically talked his way into doing Cardinals games on the radio in 1945 by simply telling station management that he could do a better job by being enthusiastic and helping sell fans listening on the idea of coming to the games.

It's exactly that salesmanship that Harry brought to the Cubs in the early 1980s when they were in the early years of being a national cable phenomenon on WGN, which had been a cable superstation only since 1978. What Brickhouse did locally for promoting the Cubs on WGN, Harry did nationally, helping to create generations of Cubs fans who have never lived in Chicago -- and I know that includes many of you here.

You'll enjoy this documentary, filled with images of Harry calling games and the fun times he helped generate at Wrigley Field from 1982 through 1997. There's also a brief passage showing one of the times the Cubs used Harry video during 2015 on the new video boards to lead the seventh-inning stretch. Seems to me they ought to do more of that going forward -- after all, it's Harry's bad singing that gave Bill Veeck the idea of stating this tradition in the first place back in the mid-1970s at the old Comiskey Park.

Here's a clip from the show regarding the stretch singing:

This show is well-produced and well worth your time. There are also a few clips from an interview with Harry that was done in the late 1990s. Again, it airs tomorrow, Tuesday, February 2, at 8 p.m. CT on MLB Network.