Bob Prince: Pittsburgh Broadcasting Legend

Bob Prince was a Pittsburgh sports legend. The voice of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1948 until the 180s, Prince's flair and honesty over the KDKA airwaves had baseball fans glued to their radios. He's a Hall of Fame sportscaster.

Say the name "Bob Prince" in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and you'll probably get a smile in return.

Prince was simply one of the city's most popular citizens during his life. He wasn't a civic leader, wealthy benefactor or religious icon. Prince was the play-by-play radio voice of the Pittsburgh Pirates and fans loved him.

Prince actually grew up in Los Angeles, but in 1948, he began an association with the Pirates that didn't end until his death in 1985. He succeeded a popular broadcaster named Rosey Rosewell, also beloved by Pirate fans. But Prince won Pittsburgh fans over with his raspy voice and often humorous work on-air.

An unrestrained "homer", Prince rooted for the Pirates with terms like "all we need is a bloop and a blast". He popularized the term "green weenies" which he hoped fans would "use" to put a hex on the opposing team. His rat-a-tat-tat delivery earned him the nickname "The Gunner", but Prince wasn't a broadcaster who felt the need to paint an all-encompassing picture. He often used stories to entertain the KDKA audience, sometimes recapping the inning when it was over without having called much of any action as it happened. Fans sat at home, enraptured by the stories of his dinners with famous singers or other celebrities.

He called the 1960 championship, won on a dramatic 9th inning homer by Bill Mazeroski as well as their 1971 comeback victory in the Series against Baltimore, using his nicknames for great players like Roberto Clemente ("Arriba") or Dave Parker ("The Cobra").

A corporate takeover by Westinghouse Broadcasting led to executives giving Prince orders about how to do the games and who should be allowed into his radio booth. Prince resisted and was fired in 1975. Protests rained down but Prince went off to work for ABC on it's new Monday Night Baseball broadcasts. Again pushed by network executives to be something he wasn't, Prince was able to return to the Pirates by 1985.

The homecoming was bittersweet. Prince had cancer and called only a few games before becoming too ill to continue. He died June 10, 1985 and the following year was given the Ford Frick Award fromthe Baseball Hall of Fame. He was honored prior to the Pirates' 1999 home opener. Prince is still considered one of the game's most unique and talented broadcasters.

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