Whether Player or Broadcaster, Tim McCarver Made Lasting Connections

McCarver died at the age of 81

Tim McCarver
Tim McCarver spent most of his life immersed in baseball.
Andrew Savulich/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Thursday brought with it the news that former major league baseball player-turned-broadcaster Tim McCarver had died at the age of 81. McCarver’s professional career began in 1959 when the St. Louis Cardinals signed him at the age of 17 and lasted until the 1979 season — and then continued a year later, when he briefly returned to the game. He’d already made inroads as a broadcaster at that point, and continued to do so until the pandemic caused him to withdraw from the booth over concerns for his health. He announced his retirement last year.

McCarver was honored for both of his careers; he was an All-Star on multiple occasions, and received the Ford C. Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012. But what stands out arguably the most from his long career are the individual relationships he had with his teammates and colleagues.

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His work with pitcher Steve Carlton is probably the most famous of these; the two were the subject of a dual biography, Lefty and Tim: How Steve Carlton and Tim McCarver Became Baseball’s Best Battery, published last year. In an interview last year with WIBX, the book’s author, William C. Kashatus, stated that the two were “the best battery in baseball” between 1976 and 1979. McCarver and Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson also formed a formidable battery during their days playing for the St. Louis Cardinals.

That same quality manifested itself in his work as a broadcaster. In a moving remembrance for The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal recalled his time working with McCarver. “Tim cared as deeply as a broadcaster as he did as a player,” wrote Rosenthal. “And in both professions, he was an ideal teammate.”

One of the best qualities a broadcaster can have — whether they’re covering sports or something else — is a sense of making listeners feel included in something. That many of McCarver’s professional relationships were long-lasting speaks volumes — and helps explain why he had attentive listeners and viewers for as long as he was covering the game.

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