Monday, April 2, 2007

Remembering Herb

Stew Thornley was a biographer of Herb Carneal and passed along these thoughts yesterday to the SABR Minnesota chapter's e-list:

knew he had been having some additional health problems, and he really had been having some other health issues in recent years, in addition to still missing his wife, Kathy, who died in 2000, and it was sad to hear the news. Still, to make it to 83 after having lived a good life is okay.

Herb was like Ray Christensen in that he was just like what you expected him to be after hearing him on the radio for so many years. That makes for a pretty genuine person. He was low-key and had a good sense of humor. Sometimes it took a little nudging to get more stories out of him, and he left out a few good ones that I didn't hear until after the book was done. One was that he had proposed to Kathy during the seventh-inning stretch of a game (I think she was up in the radio booth with him at the time or something like that). After that, he would always look down to her in her seat during the seventh-inning stretch and blow a kiss. It's also why, after she died, that he cut back the innings that he announced so that he would no longer be announcing during the seventh inning.

Kathy and Herb were both from Richmond, although she then went to Atlanta to live with one one parent and a stepparrent (can't remember if the mom or the dad was the stepparrent). She was back in Richmond in 1950, staying with an aunt, when Herb came back to Richmond prior to the baseball season, when he would be starting as the announcer for the Springfield, Massachusetts, Cubs. They met and got married later in the year.

Kathy especially had that southern hospitality. In January 1995 I spent a couple days with Herb at their winter home in Florida to work with him on the book. After each session with Herb, I figured out Kathy wasn't going to let me out of there without first having dinner with them. Herb and I kind of wore each other out with these sessions, and I was so tired I just wanted to get back to my hotel and lie down. However, it wouldn't have been good southern hospitality to let a visitor leave on an empty stomach, so Herb and I would just sit and watch TV until Kathy got all the food on the table. After I had eaten, I was finally allowed to leave. (Please note that I hope this doesn't come across as bitching, but that it's a very endearing memory I have of both of them.)

Kathy was pretty sharp-tongued and you could get some good gossip out of her. But I also remember her intervening as Herb started to tell me a story she didn't want in the book. It was what caused Danny Walton of the Twins to punch announcer Larry Calton in 1975. This story is also in Danny Thompson's diary of that season, E-6, and the reason was that Danny Walton was handing out cigars on the team bus because he and his wife had just had a baby. Calton took a cigar and said, "Congratulations, Danny. What was it? Black or white?"A

s Herb started to tell me this story, Kathy heard it and came out of the other room. We had a tape recorder running, and she apparently didn't want her objection on the tape, so she just positioned herself in front of Herb and waved her arms back and forth, signalling him to knock it off. It was pretty funny (not the story but her reaction to Herb telling it).

Herb was the featured guest at our chapter meetings twice and was always happy to help out. He sure loved Halsey and had some good stories to tell about him.

Because he did only home games, I haven't been able to listen to Herb on the broadcasts in recent years. I heard from some that it was obvious he was slowing down, but I think he was still better than most of the announcers I now try not to listen to.


No comments: