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Caray Wake Ends With Familiar Song

February 21, 1998

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (AP) _ Several hundred mourners, ranging from former Chicago Cubs great Ron Santo to Norm of ``Cheers″ fame to 9-year-old Zachary Calucchia, paid final respects to Harry Caray on Friday, the wake ending with the group singing a slightly off-key ``Take Me Out to the Ball Game.″

``Harry taught us we don’t have to be a good singer to be a happy singer,″ said the Rev. David Andel during a brief prayer service at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church.

The organist then launched into seventh-inning stretch music and the baseball favorite. The broadcaster legend was known for singing with unabashed enthusiasm at Cubs games.

Caray, 83, died Wednesday in nearby Rancho Mirage, where he has a winter home. He had a heart attack four days earlier.

Caray’s widow, Dutchie, and some family members were at the wake. The entire family is expected to attend services next week in Chicago.

Several of the mourners wore Chicago Cubs jackets, and one had on a Cubs hat. A woman knelt and left a baseball stamped with the Cubs logo near the casket. Another mourner left a handwritten poem, ``Ode to Harry.″

George Wendt, who played the beer-guzzling every-man on the TV sitcom ``Cheers,″ said of Caray: ``He was my kind of fellow. He was just so much fun. Some guys put you to sleep broadcasting baseball games, but Harry jolted you with something interesting or funny.″

Zachary, a student at St. Theresa’s school, said Caray sometimes visited the school and talked to the students. ``He was a good guy,″ Zachary said. ``He was very special. He had a great job for the Chicago Cubs.″

Santo, now a radio broadcaster for the Cubs, said, ``It’s real tough. He was so unique. There was nobody like him. What he was like in the booth, he was like off the field. I’m not surprised at all by the nationwide outpouring of affection for him.″

Josh Lewin, who worked with Caray on Cubs broadcast last year and resigned recently to take a job with the Detroit Tigers, said he thought it was good that Caray found out just before his death that his grandson Chip Caray would be doing Cubs broadcast full time.

``Caray died having learned 48 hours earlier that Chip was in line to carry the torch,″ Lewin said. ``I hope Cubs fans now give Chip a chance to be himself. They shouldn’t expect (him) to try and be Harry.″

Chip Caray was scheduled to do 40 or 50 home games with his grandfather this year, but Lewin’s resignation meant the younger Caray would be working full time.

Robert Shapiro, who said he grew up a Cubs fan, was vacationing in Palm Springs when Caray collapsed. He said he will miss Caray.

``It’s going to be very melancholy when the seventh inning rolls around,″ said Shapiro, a Washington, D.C. resident who wore a Cubs jacket to the service.

There also will be a wake and prayer service at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago on Thursday.

A funeral Mass will be said the following day at Holy Name, and Caray will be buried at All Saints Cemetery in suburban Chicago on Saturday, Feb. 28, in a private service.