Carey a profound influence on Tigers' voices

Impemba, Dickerson, Block reflect on late broadcaster's kindness, professionalism

Carey a profound influence on Tigers' voices

PITTSBURGH -- Paul Carey might always be remembered as Ernie Harwell's broadcast partner on Tigers radio calls. But for broadcasters who grew up in Michigan, he'll be remembered as an influence on their careers -- some with advice, others through the call on the radio.

"I expected this imposing presence the first time I met him because of his voice," Tigers television play-by-play broadcaster Mario Impemba said Wednesday. "But he was the kindest, gentlest man that I had ever run across in the business. And that set Paul apart. He was a genuinely kind person. He was always very encouraging to me in my career."

Carey, part of Tigers radio broadcasts with Harwell from 1973-91, passed away Tuesday night at age 88. Much like Harwell's death seven years ago, the news hit home to Tigers fans who remember listening to the pair growing up.

Former Tigers broadcaster Carey passes away

"They were a really good team," Tigers radio broadcaster Dan Dickerson recalled, and it's interesting that style back then was different. It was two play-by-play guys. Paul would talk a little bit when Ernie was on. There wasn't a lot of analysis like you get now, like with a former ballplayer, but he was there. And he just had that voice. He called a great game.

"I always talk about Ernie's influence, but Paul too, because they both kind of called the game a certain way -- straightforward, not a lot of frills. They gave a good call for both teams, and I always appreciated that. It definitely had an influence."

Pirates broadcaster Joe Block was a teenager growing up in Roseville, Mich., during Carey's final seasons at the microphone, but he'll never forget the deep, authoritative voice.

"I never got to meet him, but just like any kid in Detroit, I grew up listening," Block said Wednesday from Pittsburgh. "I would imitate the cadence of Ernie, but with the voice of Paul. And to this day, I'm sure I dial my voice down an octave for Paul."

Carey would broadcast the middle three innings most nights, with Harwell calling the first and last three.

"He called big moments," Dickerson said." I mean, he was a middle-innings guy, but he called [Cecil Fielder's] 50th [home run in 1990]. I remember listening to that. I might have that on cassette tape somewhere."

Carey calls Fielder's 50th homer

Block can still hear it.

"Number five-oh," he said. "I just thought the anticipation in that at-bat, he was letting the crowd tell the story. That was my favorite radio call. As much as I loved Ernie, too, that was the call I remember."

It wasn't just the call that made Carey so good at his job.

"People don't realize that for much of his career as the Tigers' radio announcer, he served as the engineer as well," Impemba said, "and then broadcast the game and then did the Paul Carey scoreboard show. Having done all that in the Minor Leagues, I know how difficult it is."

Dickerson remembers meeting Carey when he called for career advice. Carey invited him to the studio at WJR and talked for hours.

"He was so nice at a time when nobody was giving me the time of day," Dickerson said. "That meant a lot, and that's the kind of person he was."

For Impemba, the act of kindness was a message when Impemba was in his first season calling Tigers games in 2002.

"I came to Detroit and there was a little bit of pressure for me," Impemba said, "because I was doing games in front of friends and family. He was one of the first guys to tell me that I was doing a good job and to keep it up. He kind of calmed me down a little bit. Those words went a long way for me."

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.