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Sports Comment Carneal was just as nice as he sounded

Legendary Twins broadcaster Herb Carneal died Sunday, at the age of 83.

Games he broadcast featured long pauses, where you could hear the crowd noise.  "The count rides along" was one of his signature lines. Look up "understated" in the dictionary, you’d find a picture of Herb.  

Herb? That’s what he told me to call him. In 1982, as a college sophomore, I had the pleasure of sitting in the Metrodome press box, watching him work. I was taking a media class, and I introduced myself, "Hi Mr. Carneal."

"Call me Herb", he said with a smile. I remember he had a tremendous amount of information in front of him, but he only used about half of it. He said the broadcast that night didn’t need more info, the game was a good one. "Nice to meet you, George" he said at game’s end. Why he remembered my name, I don’t know.

I spoke to him other times, and he was exactly the person you thought you knew, listening to him broadcast — genuinely nice, funny, never critical, absolutely thought he had the best life of anybody.

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After the Twins won the 1991 World Series, there was three hours of postgame radio coverage. All the players interviewed after that historic game asked Herb how he felt. They wanted to know what he was thinking, what the game meant to him. Very few broadcasters are held in such high regard by the team they are covering.

Herb wrote a book titled "Hi Everybody,’’ after the words he used to open his broadcasts. He said the phrase meant that "everything’s all right, there’s baseball on the way, and what more could anybody want?"

Here’s a bit of irony: Herb Carneal was big on loyalty — one wife for over 40 years, one job with one team for over 45 years. The Twins games were broadcast on flagship radio station WCCO since the team moved here in 1961. Tonight is the first game broadcast by a new flagship station, KSTP.  

Herb Carneal won’t be broadcasting the game.

It’s a cliche to say that a man was beloved, that he had no enemies, that no one ever said a disparaging word about him. Herb Carneal was the basis for that cliche.

George Rownd

rownd@charter.net

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