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They mingled, joked, kept their shirts on

By SHARON GINN

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 29, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- Legendary Cubs announcer Harry Caray was known for, among many things, calling games from the centerfield bleachers at Wrigley Field.

Rays announcer Dewayne Staats, who called Cubs games on radio in the 1980s while Caray was doing television, did his part to carry on the Caray tradition Tuesday night. Only he didn't take his shirt off on-camera -- or actually get too close to the action in the stands.

Staats left that up to analyst Joe Magrane, who roamed around Tropicana Field talking on-camera to various pseudo-celebrities and regular folks, which allowed him to, as he put it, "play to my wandering attention span." Meanwhile, Staats called the game from their makeshift booth behind home plate.

Magrane took care of what Staats called the "goofy things." He tracked down Randy "Macho Man" Savage. He visited with PA announcer Bill Couch (but neglected to steal the microphone and belt out Take Me Out to the Ballgame, Caray-style). Magrane also attempted to speak to Japanese fans of Ichiro Suzuki, but his sense of humor was evidently lost in the translation.

In the sixth inning, he returned to the temporary booth to focus on more baseball-related matters, such as Chris Gomez's inside-the-park home run in the eighth.

Staats said next time -- and he'd like to do it about once a year -- it might be better to get the fans more involved.

"From a pure baseball point of view it was great, because you got a chance to see some of the pitches much better," Staats said after the broadcast. "And (Paul) Wilson tonight put on a show for that.

"(But) I think it would be great to have it some night early in the year when you have a good house and do it from the outfield. ... Fans would have kind of a direct access there, which would be a neat thing."

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