Chris and Stefan Caray: Double-A’s bright stars – making ishtory
The minor league baseball circuit is the proving ground for the future of the sport, where young prospects get the chance to showcase their talents with hopes of making it to the big leagues.
Playing in front of a more localized fan base in smallish towns across the country, MLB farm systems give younger players a chance to develop and hone their skills with less national media pressure.
Under most circumstances, a new broadcast crew for a Double-A baseball team would not make big waves through the broadcasting landscape. In Amarillo, Texas, though, Chris and Stefan Caray are attracting attention,
Chris and Stefan are sons of Chip Caray, grandchildren of Skip Caray and great-grandchildren of iconic Harry Caray. They’re now the voices of the Sod Poodles in the Texas panhandle. The 22 year old identical twins are offspring of Harry who first made his name in St. Louis, calling games for both the Browns, now the Baltimore Orioles, and the Cardinals. The eldest of the Carays would later be billboard material in Chicago with the White Sox and Cubs.
Chris came to the realization that he wanted to follow the path that his forefathers did, so successfully. If you’re a Caray, it seems baseball will invariably be a part of your life. Harry, on those torrid and sticky summer days in Chicago and St. Louis pulled his top off and broadcast shirtless in the bleachers. His love of baseball was irrepressible. Mid-seventh at Wrigley Field: “A 1,2 and a 3…”Take me out to the ballgame…,” was a Harry tradition ;a husky husky and charismatic voice, belting out the anthem.
Broadcasting baseball often felt like it was the only job the Caray twins knew. Dad Chip, 57, still does baseball for the Braves. He too had a stay with the Cubs and on Turner. And that led to yet another generation. The know-how was somehow embedded with the twin boys and they rode it through their teenage years and later at college at Georgia. They realized how their father, grandfather and great-grandfather were public figures whose calls reached millions.
Harry started with the Cardinals in the 40s. the games were carried by KMOX and whose nighttime signal covered almost all America. Chris and Stefan’s were born about a year or so after the death of their iconic great-grandfather Harry in 1998. Most of the stories they heard about him were second-hand, with people telling them that “Harry was the voice of their summers.” Will Ferrell’s impressions of Harry on Saturday Night Live, also filled the stage for more Carays.
Their first taste of the spotlight came for the press run, an annual toast to Harry at Harry Caray’s Tavern, Navy Pier. In 2017, one year after the Cubs won their first World Series title since 1908, the tagline of the celebration was “Let’s Win Too.” The marketer for the event wanted identical twins to help promote the event, but, little did they know that Chris and Stefan fit the role perfectly. Going from radio station to radio station along with speaking at the event, gave the then teenagers, Chris and Stefan, their first chance to speak in front of a large audience. Looking back at this time in their lives, Stefan was shocked to hear how different his voice sounded when on-air, having matured past the self-described “lax-bro” tone and delivery. They each described this experience as the defining moment in their lives when they realized they wanted to become broadcasters, officially following in their family’s footsteps.
Chris and Stefan made their first connection with the Amarillo Sod Poodles when they met the team’s General Manager Tony Enzer at the World Series between the Braves and Astros. The two impressed the GM immediately and secured the job for the current 2022 season. Now that the season is underway, the twin tandem has faced some triumphs and challenges in the early stages of their career in North Texas. Chris shared that the biggest transition for him, the crowd size, where their typical weekday crowd was larger than any weekend crowd when covering the University of Georgia.
Beyond broadcasting adjustments, Chris and Stefan expressed how their common last name had carried high expectations, with Chris and Stefan saying that they “Have the name lagging in the background that reminds people that we have to be like Skip, Chip and Harry.” Maturely, however, the twin rookie broadcasters have managed to temper the pressure, recognizing that they are not going to have perfect broadcasts right away. As they noted, pressure makes diamonds, seeing this as motivation to work even harder. Going from two ad reads a game to twelve, along with travel, play-by-play and color commentary. It would all be enough for any broadcaster to fold, but the Caray twins are taking it with stride, improving one game at a time.
Dad Chip was the first TV voice of the Orlando Magic in 1989, He always sounded cheery and very confident. Not long after Chip overlapped, calling baseball with father Skip in Atlanta, Pop was known for his deadpan humor. Chip also spent time with Seattle and later the Braves where he still works.
One aspect that transitioned seamlessly into place was the working relationship between Chris and Stefan, sharing space together in one tight booth. Throughout my time speaking with the two young upstarts, there was a lot of banter and cooperation.
While entering broadcasting thinking he was more polished than Stefan, Chris realized this could not have been further from the truth, Apparently, Stefan is providing lots of energy, charisma and humor in the booth while Chris was bringing baseball savvy and more traditional play-by-play.
Each brother has enjoyed the opportunity to grow together, behind the microphone and learn collectively as they navigate in the minor leagues. Part of that growth has been the recognition by Chris and Stefan that anyone can call balls and strikes, but it takes a true broadcaster to be a storyteller and entertainer. While the twins might not be singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” as Harry did to invigorate the crowd, they’re beginning to appreciate the human connection and how important it is to sparkle doing baseball.
Chris and Stefan are identifying the areas to improve as the Sod Poodles’ season progresses. Chris admires his brother’s skills, saying he wants to bring more charm and funny stuff to the microphone.
Stefan hopes to economize his verbiage when calling complicated plays. Cut down on the stumbling and stammering that young broadcasters are guilty of early in their careers. Stefan and Chris understand that mistakes are a part of the learning process. Yet always remain enthusiastic and remain optimistic. If you’re having a bad broadcast remain charismatic. Many broadcasters can struggle through a broadcast but have a magical and galvanizing call on a game winning hit. Never give up. Getting to AA right out of college is by itself an achievement. Now Chris and Stefan have to make the best of it.
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