Another Caray calling baseball
Josh joins family tradition, broadcasting for Class A Rome
ROME, Ga. -- Josh Caray hesitated at first. After all, everyone wants to create their own niche, and he thought his might be acting.
"Josh had to do some soul-searching," his father, Skip, said. "There's a lot of baggage that goes with the name, a lot of expectations."
He just couldn't resist, though. The lure was too strong.
The Carays -- Major League Baseball's first family of broadcasting -- already are part of history, with three generations working behind the microphone.
The grandson of Harry, son of Skip and half-brother of Chip wants to make it three-plus generations.
"I know this is what I want to do," Josh said. "I know this is what I was meant to do. I guess it's just in the blood."
Or vocal cords.
"He sounds great, and I couldn't be prouder of him," Skip said. "I'm his agent and a real stage father."
The 25-year-old isn't in the Majors Leagues yet, however. In fact, he is about as far away as you can get and still be in professional baseball.
Josh Caray is three weeks into his first season as the play-by-play voice of the Rome Braves in the Class A South Atlantic League.
The team has one of the worst records in the Minors, and Caray is getting a crash course in survival, just like the players.
The pedigree is there, along with the wit. So is the voice, deep and rich. But mastering the nuances of radio play-by-play isn't easy, even for a Caray.
Especially when you are working alone in a Minor League press box and the game seems to drag on and on.
In a few years, he will probably laugh about last Sunday's game, which lasted 16 innings and stretched over 4 1/2 hours only to end in a Rome loss. It wasn't so funny at the time, though.
Caray committed his first gaffe, misidentifying the Braves pitcher for a while after a mound change.
"That was embarrassing," he said.
Then by the 12th or 13th inning, fatigue set in after calling more than 300 pitches.
"I just wanted the game to end," Caray said.
But by the time he signed off on his postgame show, his enthusiasm was back in full despite putting in nearly six straight hours behind the microphone.
"I'm having a blast," said Caray, who ended up having to call a 12-inning Rome loss the next night. "I know that I have a lot to learn. I can't match my grandfather, my dad or my brother yet. Maybe I never will. But I'm working to get there. And I'm having fun doing it.
"My name gets me in the door. My ability is what will keep me in the building. And I think I have that ability."
"Josh is going to make it," said Chip Caray, who now works with his dad on Braves broadcasts after following his late grandfather with the Cubs. "He has the personality, the voice and the drive. He just needs the experience, and he's getting it.
"You have to be yourself. I found that out, and so did my dad. Josh can't be Chip or Skip or Harry, and he's not trying to be. He's letting his own personality come through."
But no Caray will ever be accused of sugarcoating things.
"He reminds me of a young Skip," said Randy Davis, the owner of the station that carries Rome broadcasts and the team's former announcer. "He's not afraid to tell it like it is."
Josh all but grew up in the Braves broadcast booth, falling in love with baseball and the calling of it. But he also had a passion for acting and a flare for it.
After graduating from Atlanta's Oglethorpe University in 2004, the former Lovett School football player appeared in theater productions around Atlanta and explored a possible acting career while working in radio promotion.
But last year he decided he was just putting off the inevitable. Calling baseball was what he really wanted to do, and he had to take that chance.
Josh headed to the Winter Meetings with an audition tape that he had done with Chip, and he got several job offers. But Rome's was the only one for full-time play-by-play duty. He jumped at it.
"He's been great," said Davis, whose only broadcast involvement now is to sit in with Josh on the home pregame shows. "I couldn't be happier. Everyone loves him."
Caray, who is used to the Majors, is getting a reality check on the Minor League lifestyle. Sitting near the cooler on the team bus gives him a little more leg room during road trips. Moving into a spare room at Davis' house helps with expenses.
"The hotel he was at here was taking almost all his money," Davis said. "I'm not paying him all that much."
"You can't beat free," Josh said.
No one gets rich in the Minors. The goal for everyone is to get to the Majors as soon as possible. It's no different for a broadcaster than a player.
"It's even harder to make the Majors as a play-by-play guy than as a player," Caray said. "There are a just a couple spots on each team, instead of 25. Some real good broadcasters never get the chance.
"I don't know how long I'll be willing to stick it out. I don't have a timetable. But I think I'll make it. I know that I want to give it a full shot."
This weekend, Skip Caray will take advantage of a couple days off while the Braves are in Colorado to visit Rome and his youngest son.
For a change, Josh will have some company in the State Mutual Stadium booth. His father will be listening to him, instead of the other way around.
"It will be great to have him with me," Josh said. "I'm sure he won't mind being on the air a little bit. But we won't share play-by-play or anything. It's his time off. I'll be the one working."
Someday, there may be another Caray calling Major League Baseball. This time, his first name will be Josh.
Guy Cutright is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.