Former All-Star catcher and Hall of Fame broadcaster dies at 81

Tim McCarver, a stalwart catcher for 21 seasons in the major leagues before becoming a Hall of Fame broadcaster, has died at the age of 81.

According to a press release from the Hall of Fame, McCarver died of heart failure Thursday morning in his hometown of Memphis.

McCarver played 12 seasons with the Cardinals, teaming up with ace Bob Gibson to form the heart and soul of two World Series championship squads in 1964 and 1967. A two-time All-Star in St. Louis, he set career highs with a .295 average, 14 home runs and 69 RBI in 1967, finishing second to teammate Orlando Cepeda in the NL MVP voting.

Two years later, he was part of a blockbuster trade to the Philadelphia Phillies, where he would spend nine more seasons. McCarver also played for the Boston Red Sox and Montreal Expos as he became one of the few MLB players to appear in four different decades.

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McCarver’s move to the booth

After his playing career ended in 1980, McCarver embarked on a second career in baseball, making an even greater impact on the game as a broadcaster. 

He made his first national television appearance in 1980 on NBC’s Game of the Week, which led to a full-time job broadcasting Phillies games from 1980-82, followed by stints with the New York Mets from 1983-98, New York Yankees in 1999, San Francisco Giants in 2002 and the Cardinals from 2014-19. 

Also during that time, he became a regular on national broadcasts – from ABC’s Monday Night Baseball to CBS to the short-lived Baseball Network and finally to Fox.

Joining Fox as its No. 1 baseball analyst in 1996, McCarver worked primarily with play-by-play announcer Joe Buck, covering a total of 23 World Series and 20 All-Star Games before stepping down after the 2013 season.

In 2012, McCarver received the ultimate broadcasting honor, winning the Hall of Fame’s annual Ford Frick Award.

“I think there is a natural bridge from being a catcher to talking about the view of the game and the view of the other players,” McCarver said at his induction in 2012. “It is translating that for the viewers. One of the hard things about television is staying contemporary and keeping it simple for the viewers.”

Tim McCarver remembered

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred: “Tim McCarver was an All-Star, a World Series Champion, a respected teammate, and one of the most influential voices our game has known.  As a player, Tim was a key part of great Cardinals and Phillies teams in his 21-year career. In the booth, his analysis and attention to detail brought fans closer to our game and how it is played and managed.  Tim’s approach enhanced the fan experience on our biggest stages and on the broadcasts of the Mets, the Yankees and the Cardinals.’

Cardinals principal owner and CEO Bill DeWitt: “Tim was a very popular player with the Cardinals and a key member of our World Series Championship teams in 1964 and 1967. He remained a fixture in the game following his playing career, earning Hall of Fame recognition as a national broadcaster, and in later years as a Cardinals television analyst and a member of the Cardinals Hall of Fame.’  

Phillies owner John Middleton: “The Phillies are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Tim McCarver and extend our most heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, former teammates and colleagues.’ 

‘Tim joined the Phillies at the height of his career and returned for his final six seasons as a veteran leader, helping the club to three straight NLCS appearances and, ultimately, their first-ever World Series title. Following his playing career, fans throughout the world, including here in Philadelphia, listened to him describe their favorite team’s most iconic moments with professionalism and class. For Tim’s leadership, friendship and voice, the Phillies are forever grateful.”

New York Mets organization: “We are saddened to learn of the passing today of Tim McCarver, who for 16 years in the television booth gave Mets fans an insightful, humorous and knowledgeable behind the scenes look into the game of baseball. Tim drew on his 21-year career as a catcher to give viewers a unique opinion on what went on between the lines. We send our condolences to his daughters, Kathy and Kelley, and the rest of the McCarver family.”

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