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Caray's Condition Critical After Collapse

Baseball broadcaster Harry Caray, the longtime voice of the Chicago Cubs, was in critical condition Sunday after collapsing during a Valentine's Day dinner with his wife.

Caray, 78, was in critical but stable condition at Eisenhower Medical Center, but his wife, Dutchie, asked that no details be made public, said hospital spokesman Jim Ellis.

Mrs. Caray told WGN radio, the Cubs' flagship station, that her husband collapsed Saturday night after he leaned on a table that gave way at the Basin Street West nightclub.

"It broke or something," she said. "I don't really know."

Caray's stepdaughter, Tunie Wells, told WMAQ radio in Chicago that Caray put his hand on the table when he stood up to acknowledge the crowd after someone pointed out he was in the restaurant.

"He simply put his hand on the table, probably just for balance ... and the table was not secured, and it came up and knocked him," she said. "I do not believe that he suffered a heart attack and fell. I believe he fell and if his heartbeat stopped it was because of the trauma to the head."

She said doctors said he definitely did not have a stroke.

"Everybody was stunned," said Ron Marino, who was in the restaurant. "It took awhile for the paramedics to get there. They worked on him for a long time, but there were no signs of life."

Paramedics said they took a man in full cardiac arrest to Eisenhower from the nightclub, but hospital officials would not confirm that Caray was that person. "We had about seven ambulances come in here about the same time, and four were cardiac arrest cases," Ellis said.

Caray and his wife have a home in neighboring Palm Springs.

He is known for singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch at Chicago's Wrigley Field, and for exclaiming "Holy Cow!" and hollering "Cubs win! Cubs win! Cubs win!" after each Chicago victory.

"Obviously, we're very upset, and we're hoping that he makes a complete recovery," Cubs spokeswoman Sharon Pannozzo said from Mesa, Ariz., where the team has spring training. "Harry is part of Wrigley Field and Chicago baseball. Seventh-inning stretch isn't the same without Harry."

Caray has broadcast baseball games for 53 years, 16 with the Cubs. He also broadcast games for the St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland A's and Chicago White Sox. For 1998, the Cubs broadcast team added his grandson, Chip Caray. Caray's son Skip also is a broadcaster for the Atlanta Braves.

Caray suffered a stroke in 1987 and has cut back his broadcasting duties on WGN-TV in recent years. Beginning in 1997, he stopped traveling with the Cubs: "Road trips are a grind for ballplayers, and they can be pretty tough on announcers, too."

Since the stroke, Caray has made more and more mistakes on the air misidentifying players and mispronouncing words.

"As frends and fans of Harry Caray's we are obviously concerned for his well-being and hope for the best," said WGN-TV general manager Peter Walker.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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