Chip Caray named Cardinals' new lead TV voice

January 30th, 2023

Through the years, when Chip Caray would return to his hometown of St. Louis as a visiting broadcaster, he would hit his favorite haunts for toasted ravioli and frozen ice cream. He’d visit his mother who still lives west of the city, and he’d honor as many ticket requests as possible for his many cousins in the area.

There was one monument, in particular, that would resonate with Caray and make him feel deep pangs only one’s hometown can and remind him that St. Louis was still a special spot for him and his famous family.

“Every time I’d walk in the ballpark as a visiting broadcaster, I’d see the black-and-white photos of my grandfather,” Chip said of the pictures of Hall of Famer Harry Caray outside of the broadcast booths at Busch Stadium. “I didn’t know him, and I wish I had. I wish I had known him like Jack [Buck] did.

“It’s such an incredible compliment for both my grandfather and my dad [fellow late announcer, Skip] that wherever I go, everybody has a funny story. That’s how you stay immortal -- the same with Jack Buck and the others who have done great work in that [Cardinals] booth. I want to do their legacies proud.”

Caray, 57, will get to see the photo tributes to his late grandfather daily during the baseball season after being announced as Bally Sports Midwest's lead play-by-play announcer for the Cardinals on Monday, per the club and network. Caray will take over much of the same duties that Harry held while serving as the radio/TV voice of the Cards from 1945-69. Caray’s late father, Skip, was also a broadcasting icon in St. Louis, serving as play-by-play voice of the NBA’s Hawks before the franchise relocated to Atlanta.

The third generation of Caray broadcasters didn’t pause on Monday when asked what his grandfather and father would say about his new appointment with the Cardinals.

“Hopefully, they’re looking down and not up,” Chip said with a laugh. “I hope they’re happy and proud. [Fellow sports announcer] Joe [Buck], I’m sure has talked about this: I don’t want to say there’s pressure, but you want to make your parents proud, and you want to do the name proud. You just want to not have the torch extinguished on your watch.

“All of us who sit in these chairs stand on the shoulders of giants. I think they would be happy, surprised and pleased. I hope they are because I know I am.”

Caray takes over for Dan McLaughlin, TV voice of the Cardinals for the previous 24 years prior to his December resignation following a third arrest for suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Caray called McLaughlin “a dear friend” and someone who is “like a brother to me.” The two spoke often in recent months and Caray said he knows now McLaughlin is on the road to recovery.

While millions of Americans felt they knew Harry on a personal level because of his everyman broadcasting style, Chip did not have such a relationship and they didn’t develop a bond until years later. When Chip took the job to call Cubs games in 1998, plans were in place for him to work with his grandfather, but Harry’s death dashed those dreams. After graduating high school in suburban St. Louis, Chip went to college at the University of Georgia to be closer to his father in Atlanta. When Chip left Chicago for Atlanta in 2005, he did so for the sole purpose of working alongside his father on Braves telecasts.

“[Building those relationships] was everything to me,” said Chip, who called Braves games for the past 20 years. “I didn’t know Harry well and he didn’t know me hardly at all. There was a lot of healing that took place later for him, me and our family. The tragedy of me going to the Cubs was that we were going to work together and that didn’t happen.

“When the opportunity came for me to go to Atlanta, I got a chance to be [Skip’s] son,” Caray added. “Those relationships are what matter. It’s not calling the World Series; it’s, ‘Do you know the people who made you?’ That’s why, in large part, I went to Atlanta. I could have stayed in Chicago the rest of my life, I think, but I had to go be my dad’s son. I don’t regret that for an instant. I’m proud that over the 14-15 years, I forged my own place with the Braves and hopefully left the place in better shape than when I sat down.”