Editor’s note: Please welcome the latest from Doug Bird.
As many baseball fans may be aware, Tim McCarver received the Ford C. Frick Award for his broadcasting, Saturday in a ceremony at the Hall of Fame. I have heard much criticism of McCarver’s broadcasting skills over his 20-plus years behind the microphone. His many critics lament him for explaining the painfully obvious far too often and for the fact he can’t seem to stop talking about catching for Bob Gibson on those great St. Louis Cardinal teams. I’ve always enjoyed his easy southern style and his obvious love of the game. All I can say is that it can’t be easy trying to find a spot to sit in the broadcast booth beside the massive ego of fellow announcer Joe Buck. Anyone who can accomplish that Saturday after Saturday and during the World Series deserves any baseball award he might receive.
Putting all of his broadcasting accomplishments aside, I believe that Tim McCarver should be in the Hall of Fame for his playing career. His accomplishments as one of the best catchers of his era and as he has stated many times, his catching of the legendary Gibson and Steve Carlton show something of the winning character and ability of McCarver on the baseball field.
McCarver played briefly in the majors from 1959 and returned to the minors until making the Show for good in 1963. He played his last full season in 1979 and briefly came out of retirement in September 1980 making him one of only 29 players to have played in four different decades.
McCarver, along with Detroit Tiger star Bill Freehan, was considered one of the best catchers in baseball during the 1960s. Their statistics rank among the best at that position for that era, an era when offense was considered merely an afterthought for a catcher in the big leagues. McCarver’s stats don’t jump out at you, certainly not by some of today’s standards. His stats were solid and consistent giving him a career batting average of .271 and 97 home runs. To maintain such an average over so many seasons and so many games behind the plate in my opinion, elevates such statistics to higher heights than merely raw numbers.
He was considered a team leader by teammates and a fierce competitor by those who played against him. Often intangibles are used as justification for those players elected into the Hall of Fame when those type of debates are bantered back and forth as to the merits of this player or that. I myself have been guilty of claiming that this player or that simply doesn’t have the numbers which should be required to get the necessary votes. But on occasion I believe such an argument is valid and goes beyond mere numbers.
McCarver had, and has, a deep understanding and appreciation of what it takes to play many seasons in the major leagues. McCarver has the championship rings to prove he was a winning player and a player who represented all that we hold dear in a professional baseball player. I feel his playing career has been sorely overlooked and forgotten.