It’s no secret that Harry Caray liked to drink. A lot. A 1972 “Drinking Diary” proves as much, with the legendary broadcaster documenting (reportedly for tax purposes) every drink he bought for a year in which he spent 288 consecutive days — and at least 354 days total — drinking in bars. Head to Harry Caray’s Tavern at Navy Pier to see one of these diaries and unlock the answer to the question left unanswered: how many did he drink in his entire lifetime?
CEO of Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group, Grant DePorter, once spoke with Caray in 1997 (the year before his death) about this very topic. This was the year the Cubs set a National League record for consecutive losses and DePorter dropped the price of beer to 45 cents (and sold 50,000 of them) until the Cubs won their first game of the season. Harry told DePorter that he drank 300,000 total drinks in his lifetime (73,000 of them Budweisers, which is fitting, since he was known as the “Cub Fan, Bud Man”).
Harry’s drinking diaries are the go-to discovery tool, listing the names of bars, the total amount he spent at each bar and who he was drinking with, but it does not break down the types of drinks. That said, the diaries do show that Harry drank with everyone from Ted Williams and Joe Pepitone to Wilt Chamberlain and Jack Dempsey.
Also noted in the diary? A total of 1,242 documented bar stops, the most popular of which was then Sully’s, frequented by Caray a total of seventy times in 1972. He would often visit five to six bars a night and, according to Keith Olbermann, spent $6,961 on booze that year — at a time when a six-pack of Old Style cost $1.29 (that would've been 14.7 6-packs a day).
(For proof, see the memo in the check below from Harry to himself for "Bud & Travel.")
After an investigation by Thrillist’s Jay Gentile, the grand total of beers Harry Caray drank in his lifetime came out to 115,924. But the most shocking finding was that Harry Caray, the famous “Cub Fan Bud Man,” drank more cocktails than beers! Assuming the 115,924 beers figure to be accurate, and according to the 300,000 total lifetime drinks number given to DePorter — which comes to an astonishing 12.6 drinks per day — Harry drank 184,076 mixed drinks and 115,924 beers in his lifetime. Don’t believe it? See the diary for yourself inside Harry Caray’s Tavern amongst other priceless memorabilia.