Paul Carey (broadcaster)

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Paul Carey

Biographical Information[edit]

Paul Carey was a broadcaster for the Detroit Tigers for 19 seasons, teaming up with the great Ernie Harwell on radio broadcasts form 1973 to 1991. the duo was generally known as "Ernie and Paul", no last names required.

He grew up a Tigers fan in Mount Pleasant, MI, where his father was a geography professor at Central Michigan University. Like many future broadcasters, he idolized his team's radio voice at the time (Hall of Fame player Harry Heilmann), would broadcast make-up games in his bedroom, and once traveled to Detroit to watch Heilmann recreate a Tigers' road game from ticker tape report. He started college at the institution where his father taught, but soon transferred to Michigan State University because it had a radio station. He got his start in broadcasting back in Mount Pleasant with WCEN, a start-up station that first got on the air in 1949. His first week on the job, he also broadcast his first baseball game, describing a local sandlot game as a publicity stunt for the new station. However, while he did college football and basketball broadcasts after that, he did not return to baseball until getting the Tigers' job over two decades later. He was still finishing college in Lansing, MI at the time he started working, and would hitchhike 70 miles home on the week-ends to get to his radio job in his hometown.

After college, he was drafted and served in infantry for two years during the Korean War, after which he immediately returned to WCEN. he then moved to Saginaw, MI where he did a bit of television work and also worked as an afternoon disc jockey for a local radio station. In 1956, he was hired as an announcer for WJR, one of the biggest AM stations in Detroit, and soon had his own sports show. That led him to be appointed host of the Tigers' pre-game show before their home games, starting in 1958. It was a big step up for him, and he received a lot of help from Mel Ott, who was a Tigers broadcaster in those days. He was replaced by Harwell in 1960, after a format change, which let him free to become the main producer on the Tigers' radio network. In 1973, when Ray Lane left the Tigers' radio booth to concentrate on television work, Carey was persuaded by friends to audition for the vacant job besides Harwell. Since he did not have a tape of any recent work, he did a mock game with fake stadium noise as his audition tape, but still managed to beat out about 150 other applicants for the coveted job.

Carey had a great radio voice, a deep baritone that sounded like the "voice of God", and a style that complemented Harwell perfectly. He was always understated, letting ballpark sounds fill the broadcast and stuck to describing the action on the field. In addition to his work with the Tigers, he also broadcast games of the Detroit Pistons of the National Basketball Association. He said he found basketball easier to broadcast because of the continuous action; during baseball games, he was glad Harwell was around with his unending store of anecdotes to fill any dead time. Starting in 1975, as a cost-cutting move, he was asked to be his own engineer during baseball broadcasts; he is probably the only man to have ever done both jobs at once, as the requirements for the two are so different. The Tigers reached the World Series in 1984, but the experience was dampened for Carey because his wife Patti was seriously ill at the time, stricken by a malignant brain tumor, a condition that proved terminal. He was finally relieved of engineering duties in 1990 and broadcast one final season with Harwell in 1991. In the meantime, he had mentored his successor, Dan Dickerson, when he was starting out in broadcasting for a Grand Rapids, MI station. It turned out that while Carey went out on his own terms, Harwell was fired at the end of the 1991 season, a move that proved to be extremely unpopular with Tiger fans (he would be brought back due to popular demand a few years later).

Carey remarried in 1987. In retirement, he spent his time between Rochester, MI and Sarasota, FL.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Jason Beck: "Former Tigers broadcaster Carey passes away",, April 13, 2016. [1]
  • Matt Bohn: "Paul Carey", in Mark Pattison and David Raglin, ed.: Detroit Tigers 1984: What A Start! What A Finish!, SABR Publications, Phoenix, AZ, 2012, pp. 206-208. ISBN 1933599448

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