SAN FRANCISCO - For more than a quarter-century Tim McCarver was as much a part of October baseball as champagne celebrations.
On three networks, across four decades with four different play-by-play partners, McCarver was a near constant on the World Series soundtrack with his unique style as an analyst and familiar Tennessee twang.
McCarver had been on the job for every World Series since 2000 before going on semiretirement after last year's Fall Classic and being replaced in the Fox booth by Tom Verducci and Harold Reynolds. McCarver called 24 World Series overall, including all but two since 1989.
But this October, McCarver is experiencing the Series just like millions of other viewers by watching back home in Florida instead of his usual spot in the broadcast booth.
"When you're working you're so immersed in your work that you're trying to put on a telecast or add to it without getting in the way of it and all the things that are involved in the business of baseball on television," McCarver said.
"On the other hand, you pick up part of your life as the viewing audience. I haven't been able to do that for 35 years. It's kind of nice. I would imagine John Madden felt the same way his first year out. I don't know," he said.
McCarver worked about 30 games locally this season calling St. Louis Cardinals games. But this is the first year he did no post-season games since 1984.
The 73-year-old McCarver is still watching the games from his couch as an analyst, and complimented the broadcasts on Fox led by his old play-by-play partner, Joe Buck.
In a brief phone conversation, he praised the way Kansas City dictates games with speed and defence, debated San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy's decision not to start ace Madison Bumgarner on short rest in Game 4 and talked about how the dominance of the Royals' bullpen changes the tenor of the game.
But McCarver said his appreciation of the players rises when he doesn't have to call the games. He cited Lorenzo Cain's outfield defence and Bumgarner's tenacity, which reminds the former catcher of what he saw from St. Louis teammate Bob Gibson.
"I had a chance to admire the players from a technical standpoint while doing the games," he said. "Now the admiration soars because I have a chance to really analyze some of the things for myself and not necessarily for the viewing audience."
A big leaguer for 21 seasons, McCarver made his World Series announcing debut in 1985 for ABC when he was a late replacement for Howard Cosell in a booth with Al Michaels and Jim Palmer when Kansas City beat St. Louis in seven games.
ABC and NBC alternated Series coverage in those days, so McCarver did a league championship series in 1986 and '88 before starting a near uninterrupted run of World Series coverage in 1989.
In 2012, he was honoured with Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence.
"I was fortunate enough to be involved in so many great moments in the post-season and so many great moments in the World Series," he said. "I'm thankful for that."
McCarver was part of many memorable World Series moments, including the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco and Joe Torre winning his first title in 1996 with the New York Yankees.
But three Series that all went seven games stand out above the others: Minnesota beating Atlanta in 1991 on Jack Morris' 10-inning shutout in Game 7, Arizona's win over the Yankees in 2001 just months after the Sept. 11 attacks and St. Louis' improbable comeback against Texas in 2011.
That 2001 Series also might have provided the high point of McCarver's broadcasting career. Long known for his willingness to "first guess" decisions by managers, McCarver questioned the Yankees strategy of bringing the infield in with the bases loaded and one out in a tie game in the bottom of the ninth because of Mariano Rivera's propensity for giving up broken-bat hits to lefties.
Just one pitch later, Luis Gonzalez blooped a broken-bat single just barely cleared the drawn-in infield and gave Arizona the title.
"I said a lot of things over the course of doing 24 World Series," McCarver said. "Some were right on the money and some weren't and I'm reminded of both."