By Bob Druckman, Publisher South Huntsville Neighbors
Josh Caray is the voice of the Rocket City Trash Pandas. He is a 16-year veteran of broadcasting. Before coming to the Trash Pandas, Josh was the football and basketball play-by-play broadcaster for Stony Brook University on Long Island.
Josh is also the son of the late Skip Caray, the longtime voice of the Atlanta Braves and the grandson of Harry Caray, the legendary broadcaster who spent over 50 years in baseball.
I had the pleasure of spending time with Josh, talking about baseball and broadcasting.
Tell us about your background.
I am from Atlanta, GA, and attended Oglethorpe University, where I majored in Communications and minored in History. I started my broadcasting career in Rome, GA, which is a Class A team of the Braves. I really didn’t know if I wanted to do broadcasting, so I did it on a whim. I fell in love with the lifestyle, the camaraderie with the players, the bus rides, you name it, I loved it. Broadcasters are usually frustrated athletes, so this was perfect for me. I am a Southern boy at heart and am thrilled to be back in the South with the Trash Pandas.
What makes working in the minor leagues so special?
Minor league baseball, in my opinion, is a more pure form of the game. The players and the staff all go the extra mile to reach the ultimate goal of getting the call up to the Major Leagues.
You really have to work harder as a staff member in the minors. Everyone has multiple roles and that keeps us busy. For instance, when they roll out the tarp at the game two of the people doing it are our Executive Vice- Presidents. Broadcasters typically work seasonally, but as a full time staff member during the offseason, I will make sales calls and work in community relations. These are the things that the fans don’t see. There is more pressure at the Major League Level, but more work in the minors.
What training do you need to become a broadcaster?
It’s really on the job training. Get behind a microphone either on TV or radio and get better. Have others critique you. There are training schools out there but nothing compares to on the job training.
What advice would you give aspiring broadcasters?
First, get ready to not make a lot of money, (laughs). But, from another point of view, get involved with everything in high school and college; by that I mean, call small sports that others won’t do. Everyone wants to broadcast baseball, basketball and football, but no one wants to broadcast soccer, lacrosse, golf etc. Cast a wide net and the industry will take you in the direction, it’s about the love of the game and the love of the art.
How do you prepare for a game?
It’s really a daily process. I usually get here about 3 ½ hours before game time to talk to the players and coaches and watch batting practice. About 5 hours before game time, I receive the media notes from the opposing team along with a pronunciation guide. That can be enormous help. You always want to strive for accuracy and keep mistakes to a minimum.
What is your favorite broadcast story?
I have two actually. I had never been late to call a game and just recently, I was driving on I-24. We were playing the Chattanooga Lookouts that night. Well, a chicken truck overturned and I didn’t get to the game until the 4th inning.
The other is more poignant. I was broadcasting in Rome, GA. The Rome Braves were losing 5-0 in the 8th inning, and they came back to win 6-5. My dad was quite ill in Atlanta. He called me after the game and said “Keep up the good work.” Two days later he passed away.
What’s your favorite Dad Story?
Other than the one from 2008, which I spoke about, he surprised me with a visit to Rome GA one evening. I had a bad throat. I did a couple of innings and I was struggling. He volunteered to take the next three innings. Imagine a 33 year veteran of major league baseball calling a Class A minor league game. Working with him was a thrill.
What’s your favorite Harry story?
I was just a kid, maybe 7 or 8, and he took me to a high end restaurant in Atlanta’s Buckhead section. We were there with some other sports personalities. Even at that age I was able to balance a spoon on my nose. Well, I got bored and balanced a spoon on my nose. Harry saw this and started to do the same thing, or at least he tried. He couldn’t. He knocked off his glasses and everyone in the restaurant was just looking at him. To me he was just Grandpa.