Whether it was playing in the majors in four different decades, winning two World Series or having a Hall of Fame career as a broadcaster after his playing days, Tim McCarver is remembered fondly by baseball fans all across the country. McCarver passed away yesterday at the age of 81 due to heart failure.
McCarver started his major league career with the Cardinals in 1959 and would not stop playing until he played in six games with the Phillies during the 1980 season. Between the beginning and the end, McCarver played 12 seasons with St. Louis, nine with Philadelphia, two with Boston, and one with Montreal. In 1,909 games, he produced a line of 97-645-.271/.337/.338 and was twice named to NL All-Star teams in 1966 and 1967. In 1967, McCarver finished second in MVP balloting to teammate Orlando Cepeda.
In ’67, McCarver set career highs in most offensive categories with 14 home runs, 69 RBI and a .295 average in 138 games. It was in St. Louis that McCarver would develop a professional relationship with Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton. The two were reunited in Philadelphia in 1975 after Boston had released McCarver and the Phillies signed him at the urging of Carlton. At that time, McCarver was past his prime but had guaranteed playing time on any day that Carlton was on the mound for the Phillies, earning him the moniker of “Steve Carlton’s personal catcher.”
Many times, McCarver quipped that “When Lefty and I leave this world, they should bury me 60 feet, six inches from him.”
McCarver then moved to the booth and worked with the Phillies broadcast team of Harry Kalas, Richie Ashburn, Chris Wheeler and Andy Musser. Between then and 2019, McCarver would work as an analyst and part-time play-by-play broadcaster for the Mets (1983-1998), Yankees (1999-2001), and Giants (2002), in addition to his work with the Phillies. He also did national games for ABC, CBS and FOX, calling a record 24 World Series games and 20 All-Star Games.
McCarver was a member of both the 1964 and 1967 Cardinals World Series championship teams. In the ’64 series, McCarver hit .478 (11-for-23) with five RBI. His lone home run of the series came in Game 5 when he hit a 10th inning blast that gave the Cardinals the win. In Game 7, he stole home for St. Louis. The Cardinals also played in the ’68 Series and McCarver hit .333 (9-for-27) with a home run and four RBI, but the Cardinals lost the series to Detroit in seven games.
In addition to catching Carlton, McCarver was a favorite of Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson and was behind the plate when Gibson struck out 17 Tigers batters in one game during the ’68 World Series.
McCarver was born in Memphis, TN on October 16, 1941 and passed away in Memphis on February 16, 2023.