Posted: 2:14 pm Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

Sad day as Braves lose another iconic broadcaster 

By David O'Brien

Pete "The Professor" Van Wieren

Pete “The Professor” Van Wieren

SAN DIEGO – Such a sad day. Pete Van Wieren, who died early this morning, was truly one of the good guys, in addition to being a damn fine broadcaster and perfect partner for the irreverent Skip Caray. Wonderful tandem, and before that a wonderful trio with Ernie Johnson.

Now they’re all gone.

They lived hard, they worked hard, they made days and nights a lot better for a long time for Braves fans, and for many of us baseball fans who didn’t live in major cities with baseball teams and only had access to TBS back in the day.

I can remember many nights watching Braves games at home in North Carolina, Memphis or Kansas, thinking, this team stinks, but these broadcasters are really good. And, hey, Murph (or Horner) could go ‘yard at any time.

Eventually the Braves got really good, and Pete and Skip were kings. I mean, I can recall staying at the team hotel sometimes in my first years on this beat – I took this job in 2002 – and noticing that when a bunch of players and the broadcasters went out to get on the bus, only Chipper got as much attention from autograph-seeking fans as Skip and Pete got. People completely identified with them from those years on TBS.

They were our Vin Scully, and we loved them.

I feel fortunate to have gotten to spend 6-7 years around Pete, aka “The Professor”, and Skip each day at the ballpark. Skip was a Mizzou grad, so we – I’m a Kansas grad — busted each other a lot about that. Pete was always interesting, always had a great point to make or a story to tell, stories that you loved hearing because they were interesting and he was a great storyteller.

Skip, Ernie and Pete. Broadcast teams don't come any better than what the Braves had.

Skip, Ernie and Pete. Broadcast teams don’t come any better than what the Braves had.

Did you know Pete was also an accomplished poker player – he cleaned up at some big tournaments – and a fine drummer, and that he loved rock music including a lot of current “alternative rock”? Well, he did.

Pete was a great dude. A really great dude. Most people know Skip was hilarious and the life of the party, but not so many know how much fun Pete was because they probably assume he was as professional and relatively (compared to Skip) buttoned-down away from the mic as he was on it. But that’s not really true. Pete was funny. Classy, sharp, and very funny.

As great as they were in the booth, they were at least as engaging away from it. Those fellas were real. Real smart, real funny, real good. And real.

I’m sure they’re all already together, Skip and Pete and also Ernie, bellied up to the big bar in the sky, a game on the TV, Skip ripping someone a new one….

This morning I called and chatted with Dale Murphy about Pete and the broadcast team. Murph is a Braves icon, and so are those guys who were behind the microphone. We all know that. It was something that the current generation of fans will probably never know, highest-caliber broadcasters who stuck with one team for decades, rather than jump ship to some generic sports network and be replaced by some young broadcasting hack just up from a minor league job.

Braves fans got spoiled, not just by having great teams for about 15 years, but by having great broadcasters for far longer. It was wonderful.

Anyway, Murph was up at Napa Valley, he’s there for Raiders camp with his son, who’s on the team. There was sadness in his voice as soon as Murph said hello. He saw my name on the caller ID and knew exactly what the call was about. Here’s what Murph had to say about Pete:

Braves icons Pete Van Wieren,  Bobby Cox, Skip Caray.

Braves icons Pete Van Wieren, Bobby Cox, Skip Caray.

“I think of Pete and it’s hard not to think of Ernie and Skip at the same time. When you think of one you always think of the other two. Isn’t it interesting, the combination of personalities that worked together so well. They were a great team, each one totally different, totally different approaches, and it worked so great. Pete complemented Skip and Ernie. It was as great trio. Happy that I got to know them. Those teams, personally for me, we only had a couple of years of real fun, exciting times. But those guys were great.

“I think of Pete as, when you talk about people that are real professionals and know their crafts, Pete was a craftsman. And great guy. Loyal to his team, obviouisly. But they called them liked they saw them….

“Nice, polite, classy guy that was always fun to see at the ballpark and fun to be able to work with. Very thankful for the years I was able to be with them. He was part of a great broadcasting team and a great Braves family that will be missed. Lot of great memories.”

“I think that’s why there’s such a loyal Braves fan base, their (broadcasters’) loyalty to the team. He was one of our guys, and we’ll miss him. It’s a sad day to hear the last member of that great trio has passed.”

 • I’ll close this with this great tune that Jackson Browne wrote and Gregg Allman covered. Raise a toast to Pete. (And Skip. And Ernie.) Pete, you’ll be missed more than you could’ve ever have imagined.

“THESE DAYS” by Gregg Allman

Well I’ve been out walking
I don’t do that much talking these days
These days-
These days I seem to think a lot
About the things that I forgot to do
For you
And all the times I had the chance to

And I had a lover
It’s so hard to risk another these days
These days-
Now if I seem to be afraid
To live the life I have made in song
Well it’s just that I’ve been losing so long

I’ll keep on moving
Things are bound to be improving these days
These days-
These days I sit on corner stones
And count the time in quarter tones to ten, my friend
Don’t confront me with my failures
I had not forgotten them

 

3836 comments
Rabbit_Maranville1914
Rabbit_Maranville1914

HZ - Will I have to start keeping score? Because since I started paying attention, it's liberals 1, conservatives 1...

As to this contention regarding the beginning of a political discussion I assume that the 1 in the liberal corner is supposed to be me. 

I pointed out , last Tues., a week ago, that I did not begin the political discussion of that day. I responded to a misguided political statement and then continued to respond to the responses. I furthermore made a commitment to refrain from beginning such a conversation and only to respond if I read a particularly egregious comment.

I also agree with Scoots comment regarding someones's need to defend them self because of their own uncertainty relating to their innocence. I do readily admit my guilt, if you will, in engaging in said political arguments here. I'm far from alone and will continue to refrain from going there.

I have noticed a few quasi-political comments since last Tues and have not uttered a word. Oh well.

I will attempt to use Scoots as my role model in this regard going forward.

DS1
DS1

Would u send Melvin and Peraza to the White Sox for Eaton and Alexei??

ChattTownBrian
ChattTownBrian

Ouicherbichin, like someone around here says a lot - they have that football mentality. Especially here in the south where fb rules everything.

ChattTownBrian
ChattTownBrian

Somebody doesn't believe that just read a teams blog like this one and see fans obsess over sh** they can't control. Blood pressures going through the roof LOL

ChattTownBrian
ChattTownBrian

Fans suffer the most. Players and GM's still get huge checks and respect.

Double down
Double down

When I hear that BJ plays too deep, I wonder why he is not being positioned better from the dugout.

Quicherbichin
Quicherbichin

@DS1 Ramirez has played one season at second... and it weren't good.

Quicherbichin
Quicherbichin

@ChattTownBrian that's quite true...  a lot harder to blow a season with early losses when you only play 1/10th the number of games in an MLB season.
 And in football, there are no guarantees...  there COULD be a 16 game winner or loser in every season.

Quicherbichin
Quicherbichin

@ChattTownBrian basically.... the lesson is... enjoy the wins, but don't get so upset that you have to vent after every single loss. with a team guaranteed to lose 54 in a season.... that's asking for trouble.

EMWTK
EMWTK

@Double down If he played shallower, it would look bad when he declined to lay out for a liner in front of him, a la Andruw.

Keep those suckers out of reach.

noleee
noleee

@Double down

who says he is too deep?

for most a bit deep is better and his play has been more effective since he moved back

his metrics used to suck, not quite so much now

of course you position in context but in general it is less harmfuf for a single to dop in front that it is for a long poke to get by

MFin04
MFin04

He expects Jason and Justin to get those! ;-)

ncscoots
ncscoots

@EMWTK @Double down

You forget how this works: if you don't dive for a single in front of you, it's lollygagging. If you dive and it gets past you, it's just stupid. Since you're going to get ripped either way, the team play is to hold it to a single.

_Murph_
_Murph_

@MFin04 Justin's too busy picking grass and waving at his brother like some kind of t-ball player.

Rabbit_Maranville1914
Rabbit_Maranville1914

@EMWTK @Quicherbichin

Thomas Jefferson said, "I consider it my duty to oppose tyranny in any form."

Quicherbichin
Quicherbichin

@_Murph_ Murph... people have no business posting anything of that nature here at all. 2 topics that should always be off limits.

Quicherbichin
Quicherbichin

@ncscoots diving for a shallow single and whiffing is the easiest way I know to turn a single into a triple.Either that or a single and a 2 base error... either way, the runner is still on 3rd.

MFin04
MFin04

If we win.. we get whole snow cones...

If we lose...we get whole snow cones...

Not half...whole snow cone.

_Murph_
_Murph_

@Quicherbichin @_Murph_ So if a baby somehow manages to post a political statement you're going to flag it?  

Seems kinda harsh.  Personally I'd be more encouraging to the tyke.

MFin04
MFin04

Then don't freaking...Whiff!!!

ncscoots
ncscoots

@EMWTK @ncscoots @Double down

As soon as folks start thinking about game situation, flight of the ball, starting position, and closing rate before going for "lollygag" or "stupid", let me know. I love new things.

Rabbit_Maranville1914
Rabbit_Maranville1914

@EMWTK

Yes, I was thinking along the same lines.  :-)

I'm sure he meant well.  :-)

ncscoots
ncscoots

@MFin04

Then don't freaking...Whiff!!! [on a diving attempt]

"Don't walk this guy. But don't give him anything to hit, either."

EMWTK
EMWTK

@ncscoots @MFin04 All these things could be put t bed if the player would just be better than he really was. Is that too much to ask?

MFin04
MFin04

Oh I've noticed. I'm not sure BJ dives to catch balls...but merely to knock them down.

The dude is the anti-Jim Edmonds...doesn't dive for much...that's for sure.

ncscoots
ncscoots

@EMWTK @ncscoots @MFin04 

I think that's the exact right amount to ask. But it's delusional to think that would make a difference in the minds of many of these folks.

Quicherbichin
Quicherbichin

@MFin04 in 10 seconds, I located 3 diving catches that BJ has made this year... diving catches aren't really all THAT common, are they?

Quicherbichin
Quicherbichin

@EMWTK I was going to say that quote would have come better from your previous avatar.... :)

MFin04
MFin04

Darn right. And on BJs...if he had reacted right...and not lollygagged he wouldn't have to dive.

Quicherbichin
Quicherbichin

@ncscoots given the narrative, no I certainly did not. I am reasonable, generally.... except to those espousing said narratives.

Quicherbichin
Quicherbichin

@EMWTK yeah... never a good idea to forget about Harry Callahan.... he'll shoot your a-z-z :) either that or tell you to place a badge somewhere uncomfy :)

ncscoots
ncscoots

@MFin04

Well, naturally. Not diving for every ball is a sure sign of lollygagging, and having to dive for a ball is also a sign of lollygagging.

In fact, we can safely say that just about any ball hit in the same zipcode of BJ Upton will produce lollygagging, regardless of defensive outcome.

Quicherbichin
Quicherbichin

@MFin04 said the person who probably never misjudged anything in his entire life... except perhaps for blog perceptions of his whines.