Monday, July 6, 2020

Happy Birthday To One Of The Good Guys

When TigerBlog posted the tweet with the video of Brock Harvey's 92-yard touchdown run against Yale in 1995 last week, he should have mentioned that the radio call of the play was done by Tom McCarthy.

That's the same Tom McCarthy who has been a Major League Baseball broadcaster for the last 20 years, most of that with the Philadelphia Phillies, for whom he serves as the lead play-by-play man for the team's television broadcasts.

If and when Major League Baseball starts to play this year, Tom will be in the broadcast booth at Citizens' Bank Park for every game, whether the Phils are there or not. It appears that team productions will use their own announcers, except they'll call away games from their home stadiums via monitors.

It's not as easy as you think to watch a game on a monitor and broadcast at the same time. From his considerable experience doing radio broadcasting for Princeton games, TB can tell you that it definitely adds to the product to be able to focus on things away from the play, on the field and off.

TB isn't sure how many monitors there will be and what they'll be focused on, but it will be a tougher task for all of the broadcasters. Also, with empty stadiums, it'll be weirder as well.

Tom is a pro's pro when it comes to broadcasting. TB can't imagine how many games he's done in his long career, which includes six seasons with the Princeton football team and nine seasons doing Tiger men's basketball. Included in that run was the 1995 Ivy League football title and the Ivy title and NCAA tournaments in 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2001 with men's basketball, as well as the 1999 NIT run and the 2000 and 2002 NITs as well.

TB's favorite call of Tom's during his time at Princeton was the end of the UCLA game in the 1996 NCAA tournament - "there'll be a new champion."

His second favorite? It was probably the time that Tom was doing a game in Palmer Stadium with Walter Perez, who was then the Princeton football color commentator and who now is an anchor/reporter on Channel 6 news in Philadelphia.

Back in Palmer Stadium, the press box was two levels, and TB had to run stats up the old rickety wooden stairs to get to the broadcast booths on the top, which seemed like a hundred miles from the field. Also in Palmer Stadium, the media food consisted of bag lunches.

One day he got up there just in time to hear Tom say "Marc Washington on the carry, gain of three, it brings up second and seven and Walt, don't even think about eating my cookie."

TB and Tom did a lot of traveling together for Princeton men's basketball, either driving late nights back from whatever Ivy League venue the Tigers had just played in or on airplanes heading off to in-season tournaments. Usually back then, the team would travel a day or two before the game, but TigerBlog and Tom would go the day of, flying just the two of them and then coming back with the team.

TB remembers heading to a game in December 1999 at Kansas, where he and McCarthy flew the Kansas City, rented a car and drove an hour to Lawrence - arriving at the team hotel while the breakfast buffet was still being served. That's how you can tell you got up early.

They also flew to Hawaii together on Christmas 1998. And to a lot of destinations that weren't quite as warm.

If TigerBlog had to list his 100 favorite moments with Princeton, Tom McCarthy would have been there for at least a quarter of them.

The two worked together in the newspaper business as well, but it was clear that Tom's dream was to be a broadcaster. His first professional game was Trenton High-Atlantic City High boys' basketball one day, and he was part of the original broadcast team - and front office - for the Minor League Baseball Trenton Thunder.

It's been awhile since Tom has been the regular play-by-play guy for Princeton, but he and TB have remained close all these years. Tom's oldest son, Patrick, has taken his place at Princeton, as the football and men's basketball radio voice for home games and some road games and some other events on ESPN+. Patrick, who is the next outstanding Princeton broadcaster, is also a minor league broadcaster (he does the Phils' Triple-A team in Lehigh Valley, the Iron Pigs, though there will sadly be no minor league games this year).

Anyway, yesterday was Tom McCarthy's birthday.

Anyone who ever met Tom during his Princeton days immediately liked him and has been extremely happy about the success he's gone on to have. TB obviously has been as well - though, you know, he has missed having him around all the time.

TB got to see Tom yesterday for a bit, Tom and his wife Meg. And Patrick. And even some others in his family who have never actually broadcast a Princeton athletic event.

It was great to see him. It was all a reminder of why he's been one of TB's favorite people for more than 30 years now.

Happy birthday buddy. He's definitely one of the good guys.

1 comment:

Craig Haley said...

Tom has a booming voice, but the way everybody feels about him booms even more. Great memories here from TB.