(Source) It isn’t the “Vampire Diaries” or “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” It sure isn’t the diary of Anne Frank. But it is a diary, of sorts. An 8-by-5-inch, dark green, 1972 “Day Book” owned, once upon a time, by famed baseball broadcaster Harry Caray. In 1972, he had just begun his tenure with the Sox. A savvy businessman, Caray cut a deal pegged to ballpark attendance, which doubled, largely thanks to his flamboyant presence. It would make him very wealthy, though in 1972 he was still tallying each bar tab. Saturday, Jan. 1, lists four bars: the Back Room, still on Rush Street, plus three long-ago joints: 20 E. Delaware, Sully’s and Peppy’s, with expenses for each $10.30, $9.97, $10, and $8.95. This in a year when a six-pack of Old Style set you back $1.29.
You needed to cite who you entertained to get the write-off, so on New Year’s Day he lists Dave Condon, the Tribune sports columnist; Billy Sullivan, who owned Sully’s; and Joe Pepitone, the former Yankees first baseman who had been traded to the Cubs. And so it begins. A chain of old-time Chicago bars — Riccardo’s, Boul Mich, Mr. Kelly’s. A posse of early 1970s sports figures — Wilt Chamberlain, Don Drysdale, Gale Sayers. Plus a few unexpected blasts from the past: boxer Jack Dempsey, comedian Jack Benny. “These guys did nothing but go out and have a few cocktails,” said Jimmy Rittenberg, who owned Faces, which Caray visited 14 times in 1972. “I don’t know how they did it. They were 20, 30 years older than me and I couldn’t keep up with them.”
Jan. 16 something unusual happens. Caray is in Miami, yet there are no expenses, just one enigmatic word, “Super.” After that break, if indeed it was, comes 288 consecutive days in bars, not only in Chicago, but New York City, and of course on the road with the Sox, beginning with spring training in Sarasota. The unbroken streak pauses Nov. 3, when all we get is “to K City @310.” The only completely blank day is Monday, Nov. 6 — what must THAT have been like? Then off to the races again.
Toward the end of the diary, on Dec. 24, comes the kicker. After spending at least 354 of the previous 357 days in bars (DePorter counted 61 different tap houses) Caray writes, in a bold hand, “Vacation in Acapulco. Then “Vacation” every day until the year runs out. Which makes me wonder how he knew he was on vacation. I guess if nobody was playing baseball in front of him and when he looked over the rim of his drink he saw Mexico, then he knew he was on vacation. But give Caray credit. As old-fashioned, and perhaps even pathological, as the bar-crawling seems today, there is another truth worth mentioning: Harry Caray could have taken his drinks at home. He went out because it was his job. “He felt the bartender and bar people were his fans,” Rittenberg said. “He felt he was responsible He would stop in 10 joints. He was just a gregarious guy.”
354 days in a bar in a single year. With a streak of 288 and a run of 354 out of 357. I know we tend to hyperbolize from time to time but that may be the most impressive record I have ever read. And it’s not like Harry Caray was some bum or homeless guy who could spend every day drinking either. This is a guy who was doing games every day and then hitting the bar every night and then repeat over and over for an entire year. Not to mention all the beers he had in the booth. It honestly Makes Wade Boggs and his 60 beers look like a pussy. I just spent the last 4 days in a bar and I want to die right now, I can’t even imagine getting up every day and being like, alright, what new bar am I going to get hammered in today. What an absolute legend.
I love that Harry Caray kept a diary exclusively to count his drinks. Feelings and thoughts are overrated I want to remember how many whiskey drinks I drank in 1972