MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Hall of Fame broadcaster Herb Carneal, whose
smooth baritone narrated Minnesota Twins games for the past 45
seasons, died Sunday morning of congestive heart failure.
Carneal, 83, was part of the club's radio play-by-play team for
all but the first year of the team's existence in Minnesota.
"Herb Carneal's voice was the signature element of Twins
baseball for multiple generations of fans," said club president
Dave St. Peter, a longtime friend of Carneal's. "Clearly, he was
one of the most beloved figures in Minnesota sports history."
A native of Richmond, Va., whose first radio job was right out
of high school, Carneal called Athletics and Phillies games in
Philadelphia and Orioles games in Baltimore before coming to
Minnesota in 1962 - a year after the Washington Senators moved west
to become the Twins.
Carneal was given the Ford C. Frick Award for major
contributions to baseball broadcasting. by the Hall of Fame in
With his fluid, understated style and southern drawl, Carneal's
voice became synonymous with broadcasts on WCCO-AM and affiliates
on the team's radio network throughout the Upper Midwest.
"He is the absolute consummate pro of broadcasting," his
longtime partner, John Gordon, said in an interview last summer.
"He works very hard. He does all of his homework. He's never been
a guy that's been real flashy. He just kind of slips into the seat
and says, 'Hi, everybody."'
Opening each game with that signature greeting, Carneal was a
master of baseball minutiae who could easily recall old facts and
statistics well into his 80s - when his duties had been drastically
"He's forgotten more about baseball than most of us have ever
known," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire once said. "He's a very
Carneal's wife Kathy died in 2000. He stopped traveling with the
team in 1998, scaled back further in 2003 and last year was limited
to the first three innings of weekend and weekday afternoon home
games. He was scheduled for similar spot duty on the air this
season, but a series of health problems had put that duty in doubt.
Needing a walker to get around the Metrodome and his vocal
chords clearly weakened, Carneal sat in the media dining room and
smiled before the 2006 home opener - still eager to get behind the
"As long as I can do the job the way it should be done," he
In a 2003 interview with The Associated Press, Carneal spoke
warmly about the way he was able to connect listeners throughout
the region to the team - whether they were sitting on their
porches, driving in their cars or cooking dinner in the kitchen.
"Sometimes I say, 'What's an old man like me doing here
announcing a kid's game?"' he said then. "But I'll get a letter
from someone saying how much they look forward to hearing the games
on the air. That's one of the things that makes me keep going."
His favorite call came in 1987, when the Twins won their first
World Series. Sixteen years later, in that interview, he mimicked
his original narration - without hesitation - of the final play of
a Game 7 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
"Willie McGee hits a little bouncer down to Gaetti, there's the
throw to Hrbek ... and the Twins are world champions! The Twins are
Carneal dabbled in football, but after announcing some Triple-A
games in Springfield, Mass., and then several seasons of major
league broadcasts he knew he really wanted to do baseball, a
passion that was instilled during his youth.
"Baseball was kind of No. 1 to football and basketball," he
said. "Most of the kids that I hung around with, we all liked
baseball. We just liked to play. It was something we all seemed to
Garrison Keillor, another radio man whose voice made him a
Minnesota icon, once wrote a tune for one of his Prairie Home
Companion shows that was titled "Porch Song." In that whimsy,
folksy tribute to summer's simple pleasures, Keillor included this
"Just give me two pillows and a bottle of beer. And the Twins
game on radio next to my ear. Some hark to the sound of the loon or
the teal. But I love the voice of Herb Carneal."