By Bob Ibach
The seventh inning was REALLY a stretch when Harry Caray and Milo Hamilton shared the broadcast booth of the Chicago Cubs in the ‘80s.
Remember that song Harry used to sing? Here's a little bit of history on how it all got started:
During his last round as White Sox owner in the late 1970s, Sox owner Bill Veeck decided to have Caray, a team broadcaster, sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh inning stretch.
Veeck asked Caray to sing for the entire park, but he refused. Veeck replied that he already had a recording, so Caray would be heard either way.
Harry was now sort of trapped, so he reluctantly agreed to sing it live, accompanied by White Sox organist Nancy Faust.
So that's how it all began. With reluctance by Harry.
When he shifted over to the Cubs for the 1982 season, Harry went on to become famous for singing the tune, continuing to do so at Wrigley Field after becoming the Cubs lead broadcaster -- much to the chagrin of Milo Hamilton, whose autobiography I helped write many years later with baseball author Dan Schlossberg.
It was entitled Making Airwaves and Harry and Milo DID make WAVES for sure.
That press box wasn't large enough to hold both of them, as Milo only referred to Harry as "that Canary."
One of my first PR assignments was to get Harry and Milo together for a little lunch along Michigan Ave. We chose the Drake Hotel for this get-together.
As we all sat down, not 30 seconds into our "mending-a-fence meeting" Harry looked over at Milo and said, "Ya know, Milo, this booth ain't gonna be large enough for both of us."
I could feel Milo bristle. He looked right at Harry and replied, "Harry, I ain't going nowhere. I've got a four-year contract."
And so it was Game On.
Being the PR director for the Cubs in those days, I needed to wear a referee's shirt on some days to keep them apart. On some days, you could cut the tension in that TV or radio booth with a knife.
Somehow it all worked out.
Milo eventually left and went to Houston, where his work earned him entrance into the broadcaster's wing of Cooperstown's Hall of Fame. Caray also wound up in that New York quaint village museum.
On my next trip up there, I'm gonna check to see how far apart the two of them are positioned in that special wing of the Hall.
Bob Ibach served as publicity and publications director for the Chicago Cubs when Milo and Harry were there. He still lives in Illinois. E.mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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