Tigers announcer Paul Carey dies at 88

Paul Carey was Tigers baseball to me. I discovered the magic of baseball in general, and the Tigers in specific, in the early 1980's. Not to go full-on "back in my day," but back in my day, the Tigers weren't available to watch on TV every day. You could catch them on WDIV Channel 4 out of Detroit once or maybe twice a week, and you could hope that every now and then they'd be featured on NBC's nationally televised Game of the Week on Saturdays, but a solid 70 percent of the games were available only via radio.

And that meant the dynamic duo of Ernie Harwell and Paul Carey.

Paul Carey handled the play by play from the fourth through the sixth innings on most nights, did minimal color commentary the rest of the time, and provided the game recap at the end. That's the part that comes to mind first when I think of Paul Carey. I instantly flash back to summer nights in my childhood, lying in bed in the darkness of my second-floor bedroom with my radio tuned to WJR on the AM band, listening to Ernie and Paul paint pictures with their words. What would often happen is that I would fall asleep before the game was over, and wake up just in time to hear Paul winding things up with his game recap.

That big, bass voice ... "then in the bottom of the 6th, with two outs, Lou Whitaker hit a double to left field -- that scored another run and made it five-to-three, Tigers."

That was summer. That was my childhood. That was the Tigers of the 1980's.

One of my favorite Paul Carey anecdotes comes from the book Ernie Harwell: My 60 Years in Baseball, where the story is recounted how Paul picked the 1984 Tigers to finish in third place in his preseason, spring training predictions. This information made it into a local Florida paper, and some of the players found out about it.
"Kirk Gibson got on my case something awful," Carey remembers of his prediction. "He and Lance Parrish both jumped all over me: 'Third? Where have you been?' They sure proved me wrong. They had the makings of a championship team, and they knew it. I'm not sure the media knew it, but the players knew it."
Paul Carey passed away yesterday, April 12, 2016, at the age of 88. Here's one of those famous end-of-game recaps. Rest in peace, Paul.

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