Max Rauer of D.M. Remembers Arne Harris
Arne Harris never hit a home run for the Chicago Cubs. Never pitched a game or fielded a ground ball, either.
But Harris was a talented and very valuable behind-the-scenes member of the cast during every Cubs game that was televised by Chicago station WGN.
Harris, 67, who died last weekend while dining at a downtown Chicago restaurant with his wife and Cubs TV announcer Chip Caray, was the long-time director and producer of Cubs’ games on WGN.
Max Rauer of Des Moines remembers Harris well.
“I attended Jim Duncan’s radio and TV classes at Drake with Arne in the 1950s,’’ Rauer said. “Jim was the head of the broadcast journalism department, and also in those classes was Al McCoy, who is still broasdcasting games for the Phoenix Suns.’’
Paul Morrison, historian in Drake’s athletic department, recalls Harris as being “one of Jim Duncan’s prize pupils. He was always considered one of Jim’s brightest students.’’
Others quickly learned how bright he was.
“While he was going to school at Drake, I think Harris had a part-time job at WHO-TV in Des Moines,’’ Rauer said. “Then, the following summer, he left to go back to Chicago, his hometown. He got a part-time job with WGN, and they were doing some stuff with the Cubs.
“So they offered him a regular job that fall. Arne called Duncan and told him, ‘You know, I have this chance to be with WGN and do some stuff with the Cubs. What do you think?’
“Duncan said, ‘Stay there. If that thing doesn’t work out, you can always come back to Drake. But at least you’ve got your foot in the door at a good operation. So I would advise you to stay.’’
Stay he did.
For 38 years.
Hardly a Cubs game went by on WGN-TV without Harris’ name being mentioned. Chip Caray regularly talked about him, and Harry Caray (Chip’s late grandfather) always had fun talking about Harris’ choices of TV shots during games when he was the Cubs’ play-by-play announcer.
Rauer said Harris was “always very knowledgeable about baseball. He’d get in trivia games with people and he knew everything about the game. When he was doing Cubs games, he came up with some TV shots that had never been done before.’’
Back when the Chicago Cubs still played exhibition games in Des Moines, Harris often accompanied the team here. It wasn’t necessary that he come here because the games weren’t televised, but he just wanted to be around baseball and he liked coming back to Des Moines.
After his days at Drake, Rauer went on to do play-by-play of games involving Iowa, Iowa State and Drake for various Des Moines radio stations. Although pretty much retired now, he remains close to the Drake scene.
“I’m on the Drake Relays executive committee and do other things pertaining to athletics there,’’ he said.
Veteran play-by-play broadcaster Larry Morgan will have an interesting basketball season.
He may survive the winter as long as he’s got a compass and a number of road maps in his suitcase.
“Morgan will announce Drake’s women’s games, but will continue to be the TV announcer for Iowa’s men’s games,’’ Drake athletic department spokesman Mike Mahon explained.
But what if there’s a conflict? What happens when Iowa’s men and Drake’s women play on the same night?
“Larry said there are only two conflicts,’’ Mahon explained. “When there is a conflict, another announcer will fill in for him.’’
Working with Morgan on the Drake games will be analyst Laura Leonard, a former Drake player. The play-by-play announcer for Drake’s men’s games will be Mike Newell.
Former Iowa player Al Lorenzen will be the analyst.
Drake’s games will be carried by KXTK-AM (940). Both Morgan and Newell have broadcast games involving Bulldog teams in other seasons.
[THE AUTHOR -- Ron Maly edited and wrote at the Des Moines Register for 39 years and 9 months. He somehow kept most of his sanity and some of his health during that time. He was voted Iowa’s Sportswriter of the Year four times, won lots of Associated Press writing awards and a number of other writing awards that he can no longer remember. It seems like 100 years ago that he covered Drake’s men’s basketball games alongside announcers Mike Newell and Larry Morgan. Some of those games date so far back that New Mexico State and West Texas State were still in the Missouri Valley Conference with Drake. In those days, the players wore short pants, not the knee-length variety Michael Jordan brought to basketball. And no one ever imagined there would be something called the Knapp Center on the Drake campus. That also was before Maly knew anything about computers and e-mail. Now he knows a little about both. If you care to light up his e-mail button, his address is email@example.com.]
Oct. 10, 2001
VOL. 1, No. 3