ST. LOUIS -- Tim McCarver had maintained a matter-of-fact approach all season, his final one, in the Fox baseball broadcast booth. He was adamant about keeping the focus on the field, not on himself, after a record run that has him as the analyst on his 24th World Series.
But now, with the end here, he is much more reflective publicly.
"This whole year, it's been much more vivid, things are a lot clearer to me," he said Monday before his final broadcast in St. Louis, where his career began in 1959 as a catcher for the Cardinals and where he became a fan favorite during the team's run to three World Series in the '60s. "I appreciate the game, I wouldn't say more than ever, but as much as ever."
His partner since 1996, play-by-play broadcaster Joe Buck, said he can tell McCarver has become contemplative.
"He said to me before Game 3, 'I'm relishing this more than I ever have, more than I ever thought I would,' " Buck said. "The finish line is coming up here and I sense it is a little bit different -- and it is emotional in the best possible way. I don't think it's a sad thing, it's something he is very proud of, his body of work. And so am I."
Although McCarver was recognized briefly on the field at Busch Stadium before his final regular-season broadcast there in June, he didn't want an elongated farewell tour all year.
"I think it's only fair to Joe and Fox to keep me out of it," he said. "I'm very proud of my association with the networks I've been with, but that's an individual thing."
But he said from a personal standpoint he tried to take it all in throughout the season.
"I didn't know what the experience would be like, but I've enjoyed it immensely," he said. "It's not bittersweet, I'm very proud of being around this long. Everything's seeming to come to fruition this year. It's been quite a nice experience."
Meanwhile, Buck said over the summer that he wouldn't be surprised if McCarver reconsiders and comes back next season. He reiterated that thought this week.
"I'm still not convinced he's gone," Buck said. "I could see him shifting and doing a package of games somewhere. He is as passionate about this game and this sport and this broadcast as when I started with him in 1996, or when he was with my dad (Jack Buck at CBS) in 1990. I literally see no difference between now and 1990 when I got to know him as an announcer."
But McCarver, who recently turned 72, insists he is ready to move on.
"I love Joe for saying that, and for wanting that, he's told me that more than once," McCarver said. "But do I think I'd reconsider? My answer is, 'No.' I don't reconsider things. That comes from my catcher days. When you put down a signal, you can't take it back. You don't reconsider, that's not in my nature."
(c)2013 St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Visit the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at www.stltoday.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services