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Harry's Relocated Likeness A Statue Of Limitations

The statue of Harry Caray, moved to a new location outside the Wrigley Field bleachers, will be re-dedicated Wednesday afternoon. George says Harry's in his proper home.

harry statue
harry statue

I think Harry Caray will like his new home as an unofficial greeter outside the bleachers.

After all, he liked to go out there, at Wrigley Field, old Comiskey Park and old Busch Stadium, often with fishnet in hand, to soak in the sun, suds and sights. And, besides, there are more beer and babes per capita in the bleachers. That's Harry's world.

Every Cubs statue will be in its proper place now Harry in bronze has been relocated to Waveland and Sheffield. There will be a re-dedication ceremony for Harry's likeness on Wednesday afternoon at 12:15, before the game against the Pirates. Ernie Banks should highlight a plaza near the Wrigley Field main gate, as he does now. Billy Williams, taking Harry's place near Sheffield and Addison, will welcome families pouring out of the Addison St. L station.

Some members of Caray's family are outraged that his statue is being moved to make way for Hall of Famer Williams. Some Harry-o-philes and casual fans aren't happy, either. But they've long been outvoted by sensible fans and media who realized the Harry statue was out of its time, place and prominence in being erected at the start of the 1999 season.

The order of statues at Wrigley should have been Banks, Williams, Ron Santo, Jack Brickhouse and, then, maybe Harry.  The greatest Cub ever should have been first and foremost in bronze. Why successive managements did not act makes no sense unless for two reasons: endemic thriftiness (hellooo Andrew Bowen MacPhail) and lack of passion for Cubs history (again, hellooo MacPhail). When the Banks statue finally was dedicated in 2008, Hank Aaron said the sculpture was a decade overdue. Amen, Hammer.

Harry only got his statue first because he was so fresh in the public's mind after his death early in 1998. Jim Dowdle, then the Cubs' overseer and No. 2 Tribune Co. executive, commissioned the statue partially to honor his best -- and most daring -- hire. Dowdle headed Tribune Broadcasting when he went out on a limb, risking his own job, and hired the brash Caray, going against his company's conservative style, late in 1981. Caray succeeded beyond Dowdle's wildest dreams, albeit only after he and Dallas Green asked him to tone down his style just enough to satisfy his new bosses and fan base. He wasn't working for Bill Veeck anymore.

And in hiring Caray, Dowdle reneged on a promise made by previous WGN management to Milo Hamilton made two years previously that he would be Brickhouse's successor in the Cubs' broadcast booth. That's the breaks in the biz, but it prompted ill will from Hamilton that served as an off-key background to Cubs games from 1982 to 1984. 

Brickhouse, so identified with the Cubs compared to Caray's four-team resume, should have had the call for a statue before Caray. He worked on Cubs telecasts from 1947 to 1981 -- 35 seasons. That more than doubled Caray's North Side tenure. He also broadcast the Bears, who played in Wrigley Field up through 1970, from 1953 to 1976. But Brickhouse was out of sight and out of mind for Dowdle, working only in lower-profile radio roles, then shuffled off to full retirement during the Trib exec's corporate days. Shame on Dowdle as a native Chicagoan for ignoring Brick. His statue, commissioned by widow Pat, a longtime PR maven, now holds a semi-lonely vigil by Pioneer Court outside Tribune Tower. The sculpture  has required refurbishing long before its time as it's exposed to the windswept elements of North Michigan Ave.

Although Tom Ricketts never heard Brickhouse doing games unless he caught some early WGN cable telecasts in Omaha, he ought to do the right thing and re-locate the statue near Wrigley Field.

Recozniging the past in the right way is a slow process at Wrigley Field. Statues aren't the only examples of honorees being recognized out of order and in a pokey manner. Numbers of the all-time greats have been retired many years after they should have been rolled up the foul poles. And more numbers than have already been taken out of circulation ought to have been retired. What about No. 44 for Phil Cavarretta, the longest-running Cub of all time?

At some point, the new ownership will get things right when they meld Cubs past with present. In the meantime, give a toast to Harry as he welcomes you to the Bud Light Bleachers. A Bud man, Cubs fan he was, and he's really home this time.