Thompson: 7 things we learned from new Harry Caray book that tries to separate fact from legend

From Phil Thompson at the Chicago Tribune on May 2, 2019, with SABR member Don Zminda:

Author Don Zminda worked for STATS LLC for more than 20 years, so one could say he took an analytical approach to writing “The Legendary Harry Caray: Baseball’s Greatest Salesman,” sometimes using attendance charts, radio ratings trends and other numbers to gauge the late Cubs broadcaster’s influence. But Zminda’s review of Caray’s life and career isn’t robotic. He fleshes out the events that helped shape Caray’s public image as well as the man behind the mic.

Here are several anecdotes and excerpts from the book that might not be familiar to Caray’s fans.

1. When was Caray’s birthday?

Classic of Caray, it’s difficult to pinpoint his age with absolute certainty — he often would change his birth date, depending on the audience.

When Caray died Feb. 18, 1998, the Tribune wrote, “According to Who’s Who in America, Caray was born in 1919, making him 78, but the Cubs media guide lists his birth date as 1920. Even with those dates, there was always speculation that he was a few years older.”

And Zminda noted in his book that New York Times and USA Today pegged his birth year as 1919, while the Chicago Sun-Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Sports Illustrated reported it as 1914.

Zminda wrote: “Two decades after Caray’s death, it is fairly certain that Caray’s birthday was March 1, 1914; that is the date that is listed in St. Louis health records, and that is also the date listed on his Social Security death record (available online at and other genealogy websites).”

Read the full article here:

Originally published: May 2, 2019. Last Updated: May 2, 2019.