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Tuesday | 19 February, 2008 | 4:17 am

People - February 21, 2008

It says something about a man when, a decade after he left us, people still imitate him, toast him and yearn for one more mention of a slugger who swings at summer air with the bases loaded and hits a ball so meekly, it wouldn't be a home run in a phone booth.

It says we still miss Harry Caray, who is more than a restaurant or a statue or a voice from the distant past. He died 10 years ago Monday at age 78 which, spelled backward, is 87, so maybe he was somewhere in between, maybe not. Doesn't matter.

Caray began his career in the day when radio baseball was being recreated via Western Union with fake crowd noise a studio prop. Yet, despite those plaid pants and uncool eyeglasses that dominated his cheeky face, Harry cut through generational gaps because energy has no expiration date. Good for Harry, and us, that he treated every assignment like Game 7 of the World Series because he never drew one of those with the Cubs. Or White Sox. But this never distilled his joy about being around the ballpark, as witnessed by daily appearances at spring training games that were not even being broadcast.

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