Memories of Ernie Johnson, Sr.

Former Braves player and announcer, Ernie Johnson, Sr.

An integral part of my childhood faded away last night when retired, long-time Atlanta Braves player and broadcaster, Ernie Johnson, Sr., died at the age of 87. It wouldn’t be possible to count the number of hours his voice filled my ears either from radio or TV, usually channel 17 (WTCG before it was WTBS). With little to work with on the field for so many years, it was entertaining to listen to he and his on air partner, Skip Caray, keep themselves and the rest of us entertained.

There are three broadcast moments that come to my mind, two I heard live and the third was recounted by Caray (I think). None are earth shattering like Jim McKay’s turn during the Munich Olympics; they were just ordinary moments in otherwise dull games. Perhaps none will seem funny to you, but they still cheer my memory.

The first occurred as Johnson and Caray were discussing a no-hitter that had just happened in another game, perhaps the night before.
Johnson: “Y’know, I had a no-hitter going once.”
Caray: “Oh, yeah?”
Johnson: “Yeah…then a guy singled off of me in the top of the second.”

The second isn’t really even funny. It just struck me as funny and I remember laughing and laughing in the car as I was driving. I swear, I think this happened as I was listening to the Braves game on the way home from church on a Wednesday night. This was when the Braves were really bad.
Johnson: [as the crowd is really booing] “Well, the boo-birds are really out tonight. [Pause] BOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”

I’m not sure whether it was just the way he sounded or that he was imitating the boo-birds, but I laugh even today when I think about hearing that.

The third took place at a moment during the broadcast when Caray was doing the play-by-play. Phillies great, Mike Schmidt, has come to bat. Unfortunately, when Caray introduced him, he mispronounced his last name as “Sh-t.” Knowing his own mistake, he immediately launched into a long, long soliloquy to draw attention away from what he had said. Finally, after getting well beyond his original error, he finished.

With perfect comedic timing, Ernie says, “What did you say his name was again?”

The truck had to cut off their mics due to the laughter.

I haven’t kept up with the Braves in years, really. Maybe even longer than a decade. I’m also not really one big on nastalgia. But, we’ll miss you Ernie. I already did.

Feel free to add your favorite Ernieism or memory as a comment.

Marty Duren

Just a guy writing some things.

  • Andy Scott

    “What did you say his name was again?” Now, that was funny. And, actually, it was one of the best kinds of funny: natural, spontaneous, clean, slice of life. Yes, we have certainly missed Ernie.