How Much Alcohol Did Cubs’ Announcer Harry Caray Really Drink?

By Mike Pomranz |
FWX HARRY CARAY DRINKING

© Al Levine/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

This year, the Cubs have another chance to win the team’s first World Series since 1908. No one would probably be as excited as former Cubs announcer Harry Caray: partly because he was a Cubs fan and partly because it might have given him one more chance to down some booze.

According to his widow, Dutchie Caray, toward the end of his life, Harry was told to stop drinking, “He asked the doctor, ‘When can I have another drink?’” she said. “The doctor said, ‘When the Cubs win the World Series.’” Though the doctor obviously meant it as a joke, if that doesn’t get chants of “one last drink for Harry Caray” going, why are the Cubs even playing baseball?!

The fact that the legendary announcer was forced to give up drinking later in life is one of a few interesting revelations in an article written by Josh Peter for USA Today. Despite kicking the habit, Dutchie Caray said he continued to support his favorite beer brand. “People assumed that Harry was still drinking, because what he would do was he'd put a real Budweiser bottle in front and then we'd put non-alcoholic O'Doul's into his glass,” she told Peter. “He didn't want people to know that he wasn't still drinking Bud, because that didn't fit his image.”

That image was of a man who loved to drink. Dutchie also reveals that Harry used to keep what she called “Harry Caray’s drinking diaries”—essentially logs, intended for tax purposes, of all of his bar stops during the early 1970s. Peter writes, “Handwritten notes list 1,362 bar stops in 1971 and 1,242 in 1972.” For the record, that’s around 3.5 bar stops per day. And with all his drinking, I’m guessing the records might not have been that accurate either.

But Harry Caray should still always be remembered as a baseball fan first and a borderline problem drinker second, no matter what his occasionally slurred speech made it seem like. One more interesting note on Harry: When he was at his restaurant, he always chose to sit at the bar seat closest to the entrance. “He loved to be loved by the fans,” Dutchie Caray said. Maybe it was all the positive energy that kept him functioning through the copious amounts of alcohol.

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