‘Legend in the booth’: Tim McCarver, voice of Diamondbacks’ World Series win, remembered

Tim McCarver’s experience as a former major league catcher translated seamlessly to the broadcast booth, where he served as a versatile voice for some of MLB’s most notable moments. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – Despite a playing career that spanned four decades, Tim McCarver is best known for his time in the broadcasting booth as baseball’s premier color commentator. He called 23 World Series from 1985 until 2013, including the Arizona Diamondbacks’ lone title, a win over the New York Yankees in 2001.

Many Diamondbacks fans remember where they were the moment Luis Gonzalez floated an 0-1 cutter from Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer of all time, into shallow left field to bring home Jay Bell and lift Arizona in Game 7 to its first and only World Series.

On Thursday, MLB Network shared the call on Twitter after news of McCarver’s death at 81 years old. The iconic moment in Arizona sports history was tweeted with an undeniable statement: “Tim McCarver was a legend in the booth.”

“It (that call) has resonated with this community ever since,” former Diamondbacks broadcaster Jeff Munn said. “We’re now talking about it being 22 years ago.”

What some fans may forget is that after the first pitch, McCarver pointed out that left-handed hitters, such as Gonzalez, tended to hit the ball to shallow left field against Rivera, almost predicting that was going to be the outcome of the at-bat. He made that comment as the Yankees drew the infield in to throw out Bell at home on a potential ground ball.

McCarver made his call, and Gonzalez hit the next pitch just barely out of the infield right where Derek Jeter would have been playing if they were at normal depth.

Color commentators make occasional predictions, but their primary job is more so explaining why or how the previous play happened based on what they experienced in their playing career. However, using that experience based on previous circumstances allows them to be qualified to have an idea about what might happen, just as McCarver did.

When a play is correctly predicted from the booth, it’s a special moment.

“I know there have been several times where I’ll look over at Tom (Candiotti) and smile,” Diamondbacks radio play-by-play broadcaster Greg Schulte said.

Schulte got to broadcast the 2001 Fall Classic as well, which was one of the few times he and McCarver broadcasted the same games. In fact, Schulte didn’t go back and watch Gonzalez’s walk-off single with McCarver’s prediction until the next day.

He thinks that McCarver will be remembered for his versatility as a commentator despite his multiple All-Star appearances and two World Series championships as a major league catcher. Munn applauded McCarver for “not wearing out his welcome with baseball fans,” which broadcasters often do.

“He had a simple set of standards and enunciated them on the air and didn’t hesitate,” Munn said. “He also taught people about the game whenever he made a point.”

McCarver received the Ford C. Frick Award in 2012 from the Baseball Hall of Fame to recognize his contributions to baseball as a broadcaster. He called his final World Series in 2013, which included the St. Louis Cardinals, whom McCarver played for 11 seasons.

“Tim McCarver’s immense impact on baseball spanned generations, from a 21-year career on the field to the broadcast booth, where his insights and passion for the game made him one of its most beloved voices – and the 2012 Ford C. Frick Award winner for broadcasting excellence,” Chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum Jane Forbes Clark said in a statement.

His prediction along with Gonzalez’s heroic walk-off in 2001 will live with Diamondbacks fans for generations.

Dominic Stearn doh-mih-nihk stern
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Dominic Stearn expects to graduate in May 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. Stearn, who writes and podcasts for East Village Times and has interned with Sports360AZ, is working for the Phoenix sports bureau.