Braves broadcaster Chip Caray leaving for Cardinals: Assets

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After a months-long search, longtime Atlanta Braves television play-by-play broadcaster Chip Caray is leaving his position with Bally Sports South and will join the Bally Sports Midwest broadcasting team as the lead play-by-play announcer for the St. Louis Cardinals, multiple industry sources told The Athletic on Monday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Caray, grandson legendary former Cardinals broadcaster Harry Caray, will replace Dan McLaughlin, who was set to begin his 25th season as the lead television voice with the Cardinals this season.
  • McLaughlin was arrested on suspicion driving while intoxicated in early December. He was eventually charged with a felony persistent DWI.
  • McLaughlin opted to leave his position with Bally Sports Midwest under a “mutual decision” later in the month.
  • Caray will be paired with Brad Thompson and Jim Edmonds, who will alternate between the analyst role and hosting in-studio. Thompson will be the lead analyst for the majority the 2023 broadcasts and sideline reporters Jim Hayes and Alexa Datt will return to the broadcast as well.

Backstory

Caray is leaving the Braves position entirely by his choice, a source said, adding that the pull going “home” to St. Louis was strong. He was raised in St. Louis, and Chip’s parents were divorced. He told The Athletic he rarely saw his father, legendary broadcaster Skip Caray, after he went to Atlanta to work as a Braves broadcaster in 1976.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

Why the Cardinals went with Caray

There have been a few changes over the last few seasons within the Cardinals broadcasting team, with the most notable being Mike Shannon’s retirement in 2021 after 50 seasons as the team’s radio broadcaster. But up until December, both Bally Sports and the Cardinals believed McLaughlin to be a staple in the booth for the foreseeable future. When McLaughlin departed, the focus turned to hiring a household name.

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During the Cardinals’ annual Winter Warm-up charity event last week, CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. noted there were several external candidates under consideration. Ties to St. Louis were not necessarily a requirement, but would be considered.

“I think that’s a positive aspect someone’s resume,” DeWitt said. “I would say that’s part of the mix.”

With Caray, the Cardinals gain a legacy in sports broadcasting and a St. Louis native. Caray, who was born in 1965, spent the majority his childhood in the greater St. Louis area. — Woo

What this means for Braves

Caray, 57, is a University Georgia graduate who returned to Atlanta in 2005 when he was hired to work on the alongside his father, legendary Braves broadcaster Skip Caray. The two relished their time together before Skip died in his sleep in August 2008, after his health had declined in the previous year.
Skip had worked as a Braves broadcaster since 1976 and was as famous across North America as most the Braves’ star players, so wide was the reach of the Braves’ broadcasts for many years on the TBS SuperStation.

With Chip Caray leaving, it will end a run 46 years with at least one Caray in the Braves’ broadcast booth. It’s not known whom the Braves will hire to replace him, and a source said it could be difficult to find an experienced replacement from outside the Braves network, since spring training is only a month away.

Before joining the Braves, Chip Caray spent seven seasons as a Cubs broadcaster, following in the footsteps his grandfather, an iconic broadcaster with both the Cardinals and later the Cubs. On May 13, 1991, the three Carays shared a broadcast booth for a Cubs-Braves game.

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Before his long stint with the Cubs, Caray spent the 1991 and 1992 seasons in the Braves’ booth and three seasons broadcasting Seattle Mariners games.— O’Brien

Caray’s first exit from Braves was short-lived

Chip Caray was not pleased when his own job description changed not long after he returned to Atlanta, when the Braves were sold by Time Warner and the number of Braves games on TBS/Peachtree was slashed from 150 to 75, and then to 45. His duties morphed from voice of the Braves into a combination Braves/TBS national position that required him to be away from the Braves to do Sunday TBS games, and he wasn’t comfortable with the split.

After the 2009 season Caray and Turner mutually agreed to part ways. However, just three weeks later, Caray was hired as Braves play-by-play man on Fox Sports South and SportSouth to replace Jon Sciambi, who left for a position with ESPN. At the time, Braves’ games were split between networks, but later were consolidated again under Fox Sports South and Southeast regional networks, later rebranded as Bally Sports South and Bally Sports Southeast. — O’Brien

Required reading

(Photo: Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images)