More tales from Pirates announcer Steve Blass, a master story-teller
Steve Blass can captivate an audience like few announcers before him, and he was at his best Tuesday at PNC Park. A room full of family members and friends listened while he recounted his 60 years with the Pittsburgh Pirates and told them 2019 would his 34th and last in the broadcast booth.
Here are some more notes, quotes and anecdotes from his playing and broadcasting career that didn’t make it into this story:
— He talked about two of his most embarrassing moments. The first:
“I was 8-years-old in the Little League in Falls Village, Conn., in 1950. I hit a double and realized I had to go to the bathroom. Peed my pants at second base. Nobody knew it but me because they had those 50-pound, heavy, gray dark uniforms. Nobody ever knew it until — today.”
And this one:
— My grandson, Christopher Parker, was pitching two years ago (a Little League game). Karen (Blass’ wife) and I are watching him. He’s not throwing strikes. (Blass, himself, had to retire after the 1974 season because he had trouble throwing the ball over the plate.)
“I’m saying, `Christopher, throw the damn ball over the plate.’
“Karen looks at me and says, `Do you realize what you just said? You, telling somebody to throw strikes.’ That was a little embarrassing.’ ”
— On the occasion of his 50th wedding anniversary, Blass arranged with the Pirates to have dinner for two at home plate at PNC Park. The Pirates made it a special night, he said.
“Video on the board. Johnny Mathis singing the songs from high school (Blass and his wife were high school sweethearts.)
“Harpist in back of home plate. Nine-course gourmet meal cooked for us by Adam (Holt), the executive chef, delivered by a guy in a tuxedo.
“This organization did that kind of stuff for me. I will never turn my back on the Pirates.”
— Blass could have spoken for hours, telling Bob Prince stories. Here’s a tale from one of his first broadcasts with the Pirates’ legendary announcer.
“The second game I did with him, in the seventh inning, he called down to the press room. You’re not supposed to have anything to drink.
“He said, `Send up two screwdrivers.’ I thought something was loose in the booth. I thought he was going to tighten something.
“He tightened something, all right.”
— On nights when Blass was pitching, his father used to drive around Falls Village until he found just the right spot to pull in KDKA on his car radio.
“My dad would go with a six-pack of Bud. After every season, he would send Prince a bill for two car batteries and six cases of beer.”
— Blass also remembered Lanny Frattare, another longtime broadcast partner.
“I didn’t know what I was doing. Lanny gave me room to talk and told me when to shut up.”
— “My problem is interviewing people. I start listening to them and forget my next question.”
— He made a point to mention teammates who have died: Nellie Briles, Danny Murtaugh, Joe L. Brown, Dock Ellis, Willie Stargell, Roberto Clemente, Bruce Kison and Tony Bartirome. “They’re brothers,” he said.
— “I regret I couldn’t have pitched seven or eight years more because I had the right body,” he said. “I didn’t do it just by throwing it by people. I could throw a slider for a strike when I was behind in the count. That’s how I won in the big leagues.”
— Blass said he loves it when people visit the booth, especially with kids.
“I want to say hello to as many people as I can. They bring people up to the booth and they have kids with them That is my drug to say hello to them. That’s my joy.”
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at email@example.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .