Wednesday, October 1, 2008
33 years is a long time to stay at any job, let alone one that over the past 16 seasons has been enough to make a grown man cry, but through all of the Pirates losing ways, Lanny Frattare always managed to keep a smile on his face, always tried to inject enthusiasm into what was oftentimes a bleak experience and managed to finish a career as being universally regarded as one of the gentlemen of the game.
Of course as is the case with any public figure, Frattare had his detractors too. In many circles he was often viewed as being too much of a "company man" by failing to be critical enough of many of the franchise's questionable personnel moves over the last 16 years in particular.
However, in what has to be one of the more curious arrangements in broadcast sports, the Pirates broadcasters are approved by the team while being paid by the station. How any person can satisfy two masters for that long of a period of time is a testament to Frattare's diplomacy at the microphone as well as a long history of involvement in various community service events.
Frattare came to be known for far less of the colorful phrases than many of his brethren have been known to throw around, but he most often would say, "And there was noooooooooooo doubt about it", on those few occasions each year where the opposition was out partying late the night before. Another seldom-used phrase was, "Go ball, get outta here" on those rare times where a Pirate managed to place a round bat barrel onto a round baseball in a pefect symmetry of physics. You got it, that didn't happen that often either.
In fact, while there were good moments in his earlier years (the 1979 World Series win will more than likely stand as the last forever for this franchise), he will no doubt be more remembered for being behind the mike during the Barry Bonds-Jim Leyland teams that came oh so close to getting back to the World Series. And then sadly for failure, lot's of it. Sixteen years to be exact.
Next year will mark the all-time futility record in all organized sports for consecutive losing seasons. Having dealt their two best players for another bag of magic beans, next season has all the look of possibly the worst season in Pirates history. When is enough, enough?
Apparently the gutting of the heart and soul of another Pirates team was more than even Frattare could take. Always the good soldier, his retirement strangely feels more like a man who was "walking the plank", but hey, he did work for the Pirates you know.
Lanny Frattare will be honored at a game to be announced next season. There may be fireworks, there could even be a bobblehead produced for the occasion. Sadly, for an organization that has become most adept at creating events to attract fans (and distract them from the product on the field) Frattare's "good guy" image should help them once again to put some butts in the seats.
As a conclusion to this story, I tried to add up the number of losses that Lanny broadcast during his career, but my calculator burned up prior to arriving at the final result... John McCain became a Senator and might become President largely initiated by the five years of torture that he endured in Hanoi. What do you think Frattare should get for finishing his 33 year sentence as "The Voice of the Pittsburgh Pirates"?