Something very disturbing happened during the seventh inning stretch of Thursday night’s second annual Field of Dreams Game, an otherwise ho-hum nine innings of baseball but with corn. Light suddenly filled a broadcast booth above the stands, and a hoarse voice rang out, and a nightmare vision appeared. An abomination. Somehow more disturbing than simply flinging the exhumed remains of Harry Caray down onto the unsuspecting crowd, the Fox broadcast produced a digitized hologram of … something, and gave it Harry Caray’s voice, and had it lead viewers in a surreal and deeply unpleasant performance of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
Holding aside the arbitrariness of this insanely ill-advised exercise—Caray didn’t start leading crowds in song until the mid-1970s, and the gimmick didn’t start to catch on with the public at large until Caray joined the WGN-broadcast Cubs in 1982, and Thursday night’s showcase was nominally a home game for the dang Reds—I would like to know how anyone involved in this stunt watched it come together in production and did not have their skin crawl most of the way off. The plastic audio-animatronics on the oldest rides at Disneyland are a thousand times more lifelike. The Caray hologram’s stiff jerky approximation of human movement is revolting and offensive, at a primal, biological level, to all living things. The moment at the end of the performance when the awful monster “smiles” and “claps” is like something out of a Paul Verhoeven fever dream. The wax figures of Madame Tussauds, resting on the upper slopes of the uncanny valley, recoil and scream and vomit and flee as this monstrosity lumbers up out of the darkness.
Did anyone responsible for this ever lay eyes on Harry Caray during his lifetime? I had not one but two grandfathers who more closely resembled Caray than this projection did. I have watched this performance possibly as many as 30 times now and there is not one frame where the hologram is recognizable as Caray. Why is the mouth like that? Why are the eyes melting over onto the sides of his head? Why did they use some other man’s nose? For God’s sake, why couldn’t they at least get the glasses right? It’s like they robbed the wrong grave in the night and realized too late they’d grabbed the corpse of Ned Beatty by mistake, and just decided to go with it.
Here is a video of the real Harry Caray singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” from his final performance, back in 1997. This is an older version of Caray than the one Fox’s broadcast was hoping to depict, I think, although I admit that’s giving them a lot of unearned credit.
Please take the files where the codes or whatever for this CGI Caray are stored and destroy them immediately.