Diamond Showcase : CBS’ TIM MCCARVER IS A NATURAL TO ANALYZE ALL-STAR GAME
When baseball’s best players take the field Tuesday night for the 64th All-Star Game in Baltimore, they won’t be the only stars coming out along Chesapeake Bay.
Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., Darren Daulton, Cal Ripken and Matt Williams will have to share the national television spotlight with Baltimore’s new palace of baseball, Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Orioles fans have been waiting 35 years for the All-Star Game to return to their city, and not only do they finally have the game but also the most talked-about ballpark in the major leagues.
“It’s spectacular,” says CBS baseball analyst Tim McCarver, who will join play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough for the network’s telecast. “We did a Texas (Rangers) game there last year and they’ve maintained the look of the older parks.”
McCarver, 51, a two-time All-Star himself with the St. Louis Cardinals, is the only catcher in major league history to play through four decades (1959-1980). And when the first pitch is thrown at Orioles Park at Camden Yards, McCarver will be behind the plate for a fourth consecutive All-Star appearance for CBS.
A lifetime .271 hitter, McCarver spent 12 seasons with the Cardinals, 8 1/2 with the Philadelphia Phillies, a half season with the Montreal Expos and two with the Boston Red Sox. He also played in three World Series.
His baseball broadcasting experience includes 11 years with the New York Mets on cable’s WWOR-TV in New York and numerous playoff and World Series games for ABC and CBS. He also served as prime-time co-host with Paula Zahn for CBS’ coverage of the 1992 Winter Olympics at Albertville, France.
McCarver has been described by TV sports critics as intelligent, knowledgeable and articulate, blessed with a quick wit, always prepared and not one to shy away from giving his opinion.
In fact, expressing his opinion got him in cold water during last year’s National League Championship Series when the Braves’ Deion Sanders repeatedly doused him with buckets of ice water after a game. He had been critical of Sanders’ attempt to play both football for the Atlanta Falcons and baseball for the Braves on the same day.
“I come to the ballpark and try to do a slow, even-handed job,” McCarver says. “My fortunes don’t rise or fall on a single game or what happens during the game.”
McCarver believes that baseball has the best all-star game because it’s played during the middle of the season. “The NBA realized this and now its game is during the season. But (the NFL’s) Pro Bowl doesn’t have the appeal because it’s at the end of the season,” he says.
“It’s a tough game to do,” McCarver continues, “because there’s very little analysis. The players try to do well individually, but they really don’t try to win the game for their leagues. The league presidents might say otherwise, but the game is really a showcase for the fans.”
But, he also believes certain aspects of baseball’s Summer Classic need adjusting:
“The rosters must be expanded. In 1969, they went to 28 players, but with two new teams in each league, they should go to 30. This is Nolan Ryan’s last season and he should be on the (American League) team. We won’t be able to see him.
“I also think the voting procedure should be changed to where it includes the fans, but not only the fans. I think the managers and players should have a say, and possibly the media. Maybe a third and a third and a third.”
McCarver’s two All-Star games as a player came in 1966 and 1967. He scored the winning run for the National League in the bottom of the 10th inning in 1966.
Another memory of that game comes from a scene in the clubhouse. “The game was played in St. Louis and it was about 112 degrees,” McCarver recalls. “Sandy Koufax was in the trainers room with his shirt off. Now there’s an ointment that players use that’s like fire on the skin. It’s called Capsaicin. It’s so strong that it can cause blistering if used full strength, so guys usually mix it with a cold cream of some kind. Sandy hand it on full strength from his left wrist, all the way up his arm and down his back. I thought, ‘Boy he must me in pain.’ And sure enough, he retired after that season at the age of 30.”
The following season, McCarver played in his second All-Star Game, which was at a brand-new Anaheim Stadium. Then he and the Cardinals went on to win the National League pennant and the World Series against the Boston Red Sox.
That St. Louis team included Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson, Ken Boyer, Julian Javier, Orlando Cepeda and Bill White. “To show you how things have changed, the payroll for that team was about $660,000,” he says. The team payroll for the expansion Colorado Rockies is a reported $8 million.
McCarver, who makes his home in Philadelphia, who has been offered jobs as major league manager and general manager, but prefers to stay in the broadcast booth.
“The Olympics with Paula (Zahn) was wonderful, but I really have no goals. I get asked that question a lot, but I’m very happy with what I’m doing.”
The 64th All-Star Game air Tuesday at 5 p.m. on CBS.