Cub Fan, Bud Man: Harry Caray’s Drinking Diary Released


Source – Harry Caray’s widow shared epic drinking notes from the self-professed “Cub Fan, Bud Man” and all we can say is “Holy cow!”

The legendary broadcaster made at least 1,362 bar stops in 1971 and 1,242 bar stops in 1972, according to handwritten notes in “Harry Caray’s drinking diaries.”

Dutchie Caray told USA TODAY that her late husband recorded his off-hours drinking because he initially wanted to use it as a tax write-off.

In 2014, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Caray went to bars for 288 consecutive days during 1972.

However, after Caray’s doctor told him to stop drinking, he turned to non-alcoholic beer.

“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,” Dutchie Caray said. “He didn’t want people to know that he wasn’t still drinking Bud, because that didn’t fit his image.”

She continued: “He asked the doctor, ‘When can I have another drink?’ The doctor said, ‘When the Cubs win the World Series.'”

Any Chicago resident, Cubs fan, or baseball historian has heard all the tales of Harry Caray.  But while many adults know the legends of the “Cub Fan, Bud Man,” there’s an entire generation of young people who only recognize Harry Caray from SNL’s Best of Will Ferrell.  There is not necessarily anything wrong with this. I do, in fact, understand how time works.

Ferrell’s Harry Caray is one of my favorite pop culture characters ever – he really is perfect – but a large part of that is because I had the luxury of growing up listening to Caray call games as a child.  Caray helped teach me the game of baseball, and when I didn’t know what the hell the crazy old man in the glasses was talking about, my dad did his best to explain the Blues Brothers connection and what exactly Harry meant by “Booze, Broads, and Bullshit…”

As impressive as the Emmy award-winning play-by-play man was in the booth he was an even bigger character outside the Friendly Confines. The guy lived to entertain his fans, call Cubs baseball, and slug gallons of Budweiser.  So it’s only fitting that when the Cubbies finally got back to the NLCS fans also get treated to some old school Harry Caray hilarity.  Here are a few highlights:

Through two seasons in the early ’70s, Caray spent time in at least 2,604 bars – 1,362 in 1971 and 1,242 in 1972.  And by “spent time” I mean he stopped in a bar for a beer and food and the purchase was significant enough to call for a write off.  The number probably jumps over 3,000 if we include places where the bill was comped.

Harry started keeping his diary strictly to record future tax write-offs.  The man was a marketing guru (see Budweiser bit below) and a genius when it came to avoiding taxes.  How do you write off literally every meal you eat and every beer you ever drink?  Simple, you create the greatest off-field character in sports and claim that everywhere you go is a promotional event.  Caray was way ahead of his time.

The man once went out drinking for 288 straight days.  This was in 1972, year two of his 2,604 bars hit stretch.  This is like if Joe DiMaggio’s hit streak came at the tail end of Ripken’s Iron Man record.  What an absolute force.  Keep in mind he was 58 years of age at the time.  I’m 26 and can’t put together a coherent sentence after a 5-day bender. I want to end it all on Sunday night after a long weekend.  Not Harry. Harry Caray just kept building on his foundation. He bought into his plan and never looked back.  Drink, call a game, and drink again.  No regrets. The man was truly a member of the greatest generation.

Even when he switched to non-alcoholic brew he would still carry a phantom bottle of Bud.  

Caray was a marketing genius, pure and simple.  If he wasn’t such a baseball-obsessed whackjob he probably would’ve ended up as an Ad Man on Madison Avenue.  When you’re the Cub Fan, Bud Man you stay drinking Budweiser, even when you’re doctor forces you to switch to O’Douls.

His doctor told him he could have another drink when the Cubs won the World Series.

Harry turned to non-alcoholic booze at some point in the 1970s. After that, the Cubs only made the playoffs twice (’84 & ’89) before his passing.  I’m not saying that doctor killed both Harry and the Chicago Cubs, but I’m not saying he didn’t.

I’d be willing to bet that The Bud Man snuck in a few cold ones before he kicked the bucket but in case he didn’t, I’d like to personally apologize for the 2015 Chicago Cubs in the NLCS.  I thought this was the year, Harry.  Back 2 The Future mojo and a team full of young bats got me all jacked up. It just wasn’t in the cards.  We’ll get ’em next year.  Hopefully you’ll be cracking sixers with Yahweh in the fall of 2016.

PS – Yes I’m writing this as I watch the 2015 Cubs beautiful run come to an embarrassing halt.  This team just didn’t have the starting pitching depth to compete with the Mets.  After another year of pro seasoning, this team should be scary come October 2016.  The bats are there. We need a couple young arms to fill out the rotation, and some of the young guys need more reps fielding in pressure situations (Schwarber, Baez, Bryant).  All in all, it was an amazing season. 2016 expectations are at an all time high.

For now, we have Harry to remind us what’s really important: booze.


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