MLB Network honoring legendary late Cubs announcer in documentary
By Doug Miller
The old chestnut that "impression is the sincerest form of flattery" is attributed to Charles Caleb Colton, a British scholar who died in 1832 and sadly never got to drink a Bud Light while witnessing the quirky, lovable broadcasting prowess of Harry Caray.
But when it comes to mimicking the Cubs legend behind the microphone, there are plenty of takers to honor Caray's memory.
In honor of MLB Network's one-hour documentary "Holy Cow! The Story of Harry Caray," which premieres at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday as part of the MLB Network Presents series, here's a ranking of the seven best Harry Caray impressions, from the baseball and non-baseball worlds:
1. John Caponera: This impression hits for the cycle: Comedian Caponera nails the facial expression, the voice, the rambling broadcasting style, the unabashed penchant for ripping the home team (when deserved, of course), the irreverence and the occasional distractions. Quite simply, this is the gold standard for Caray impressions. It's so good, it's almost Harry-scary.
2. Will Ferrell: The most famous actor/comedian/baseball fan to attempt a Caray impression does it justice. Ferrell doesn't have the voice or face down as well as Caponera, but ... well, he's Will Ferrell. So while his impression of Harry isn't quite the best because it's only about 83 percent Caray and 17 percent Ferrell being completely insane, it does, to the surprise of absolutely no one, end up being the funniest one of them all.
3. Ryan Dempster: The former Cubs pitcher clearly knows his former home city and his fan base, because he does a heck of a job -- easily the best of the ballplayer set. Not only does Dempster get the Midwestern accent down (all the more impressive considering Dempster is Canadian), but he knows when and where to sprinkle in the spectacular randomness for which Caray became so beloved.
4. Brendan Ryan: It's not bad, and he gets a few more points for the simple fact that he's a full-time Major League Baseball player and not a comedian, so the standards are lower. The thing we love about it is Ryan is trying. He wants to be better. Note that even in the course of doing the impression on air, Ryan is figuring out the nuances and pushing himself to improve.
5. T.J. McFarland: The Orioles reliever grew up in Palos Hills, Ill., which you'd figure would give him a leg up on a Caray impression. So it's somewhat surprising that McFarland's version of Caray has a bit of a Texas drawl -- or something -- to it. Still, very good content here with the backwards spelling of Kevin Gausman's name that gives the overall performance an endearing quality.
6. Elliot Johnson: This is not a bad job, especially considering Johnson was doing it from the dugout and didn't have the prop glasses to make him look the part. It does seem like he stole some of Caponera's "A" material, but hey, maybe this former Rays, Royals, Braves and Indians infielder should get extra points for knowing that it's smart to borrow from the best.
7. Derek Holland: Not every big leaguer has the courage to even try something like this. Holland comes up a bit short when compared to our top six, partially because his impression seems to be more of an impression of Ferrell's impression. He does get additional points for the mustache, though.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.