McCarver Savors Cooperstown

By Connor O’Gara

Tim McCarver is no stranger to being among baseball’s greats.

As a player, McCarver won two World Series titles and was a two-time All-Star in his 21-year career in the big leagues. As an analyst, McCarver spent the last 32 years broadcasting baseball’s biggest games for a variety of national networks and teams.

On Wednesday afternoon, McCarver didn’t have to wear either of the hats he wore in his 53 years in Major League Baseball. McCarver received a private tour of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum prior to Saturday’s Awards Presentation as part of Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown. The longtime color commentator is the recipient of the 2012 Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually for excellence in broadcasting by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Tim McCarver looking in the case that holds the glove he used when he caught Steve Carlton’s 19-strikeout game on Sept. 15, 1969. (Milo Stewart, Jr./NBHOF Library)

“It’s daunting to be honored in the same room as guys like (fellow Frick Awards winners) Vin Scully, Joe Garagiola and Ernie Harwell,” McCarver said. “It’s just an honor and a privilege.”

McCarver, who was joined by his family and former big league teammate Larry Christenson, said he’s doing all he can to capture the Hall of Fame experience.

“That’s why I arrived two days early and I’m leaving two days late,” McCarver said. “I just want to soak it all in.”

McCarver took a trip down memory lane when he was shown a glove he donated to the Museum he used when he caught Steve Carlton’s 19-strikeout game on Sept. 15, 1969, which set a then-record for Ks in a nine inning game. It was the first time McCarver had seen the glove since a visit to the Museum in 1994.

Besides his own artificacts, McCarver and company got a tour of the Museum’s library, photo archive and collections archive departments. The former backstop was shown photos of himself from his big league career that brought him back to the Cardinals winning ways of the 1960s.

McCarver admitted he thought he’d play forever. Catching for Hall of Famers like Carlton and Bob Gibson, the thought of trading in his catchers mask for a microphone wasn’t ever something McCarver imagined he’d do until the Phillies offered him an announcing job out of retirement.

Did McCarver ever think that his post-playing days would lead him to Cooperstown?

“I didn’t have a clue,” McCarver said. “That was not my intentention.”

While unpredicted, that’s what lies ahead. McCarver joins a fraternity of now 36 men to have won the Ford C. Frick Award. It’s an exclusive club that McCarver said reminds him of a familiar bond.

“I always looked at myself as a team player,” McCarver said. “As broadcasters, we’re all part of a team. I feel honored to be part of this team.”

McCarver is a six-time Emmy Award winner for excellence in sports broadcasting. His resume includes 22 World Series that he’s broadcast. He’s made a career off of analyzing a game and giving his unscripted take on it.

But McCarver isn’t about to wing his speech on Saturday.

“I’ve got it all written out,” McCarver said. “I’ve only practiced it about 900 times. I hope it goes well.”

Connor O’Gara is the 2012 public relations intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development

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