We Had 'em All The Way

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Sports  |  House: Booksie Classic


Bob Prince was an iconic broadcaster for the Pittsburgh Pirates for many seasons. He entertained as well as inflamed the fan base.

Submitted: April 19, 2018

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Submitted: April 19, 2018

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We Had “em All The Way

I grew up listening to baseball games with my Dad on our radio that we would bring outside for each game. The hard plastic AM/FM radio was gray in color, and had a carrying handle that functioned also as an antenna. We lived in a small town nestled in a valley so sometimes the broadcasts were difficult to bring in. Our house, which had been a company house at one time, looked much like everyone else’s and  It had an open porch where we sat to listen. The porch was open on three sides if you counted the steps, and at one time there were faux bamboo curtains to shield us from the afternoon sun

Our team was the Pittsburgh Pirates lead by Roberto Clemente, the team’s only legitimate star, and surrounded by other good ball players who were hard workers much like the fans. These fans were mostly blue collar workers from the mines and mills surrounding Pittsburgh. The team’s flamboyant announcer was Bob Prince aka the Gunner, who wore checkered sport coats, and gave descriptions of plays in what became known as “Gunnerisms”. In broadcast speak he was a “rooter” rather than a “homer” like Mel Allen and Harry Caray. These men enthusiastically supported the team, and gave the players nicknames. They all had their own trademark phrases. Bob Prince had many, but the one that would inevitably draw the ire of my Dad was, “We had’em all the way”.

The 1960 Bucs were a scrappy team that was seldom out of a game. Along with Bobby Clemente, there were Dick Groat and Bill Mazeroski, a great infield tandem, a golden glove centerfielder Bill Virdon, and first baseman Dick Stuart, nicknamed Dr. Strangeglove who would many thought muff routine plays on purpose, and a cast of other quirky players with names like Ducky, Smokey, Deacon, Kitten, and the Baron. This motley crew was led by manager Danny Murtaugh, The Irishman.
The season played out into the hot days of August, the Pirates were sitting in first place. Some days it was great pitching, others timely hitting, and others, well just plain lucky.

On one particular night, hits and runs were hard to come by. We had the lead then lost the lead. In those days the starting pitchers would pitch the whole game and only come out if they were being hit early in the game. The days of the relief specialist and pitch counts were years away. Now we were into the sixth, seventh and eighth and still could not get a run. All the while Bob Prince painted us a picture with phrases like, “The seeing eye single,” that snuck through for the other team, and told us the, “Bucs are snake bit tonight,” because we could not get a hit. In addition to the play by play announcing, he would be selling the next home stand, and of course, Iron City beer.
Dad took another dip of Copenhagen snuff out of the can, and said, “I don’t know Boy. It doesn’t look good.” “We’ll get them Dad. Clemente’s going to get a hit, and then maybe someone will get a homer.” “Well, they better do something it’s getting late in the game.”
Now, to call Dad an optimist would be like saying that Billy May the television huckster was a shrinking violet. On more than one occasion the famous Eastern European temper would be ignited by one or another “Gunnerism”.


© Copyright 2018 John Shore. All rights reserved.

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