Tuesday, April 04, 2006

"the gunner", bob prince

as i mentioned briefly yesterday, bob prince aka "the gunner" who announced the baseball games for the pittsburgh pirates during my youth was a major reason that i became a baseball fan.
i was going to write some of what i remember of bob prince but instead decided to post a excerpt of bob farr's superior (but lengthy) biography of bob prince.
i suggest you read the entire farr biography of bob prince if you consider yourself a baseball fan.
you can listen to select innings of bob prince announcing the 1960 world series against the new york yankees with the embedded audio player (tracks 2,3 & 4).


During that '76 season the Astros' organization allowed Prince to accept an offer from ABC Sports to join Warner Wolf and Bob Uecker on the primary broadcast team for the inaugural season of Monday Night Baseball. It proved to be a poor fit. Prince, long accustomed to a starring role in Pittsburgh, was reduced to a being a ringmaster on ABC, suppressing his own personality to provide the flamboyant Wolf and comedic Uecker (of whom Betty Prince remarked, "My Bob always thought he was a buffoon") with an opportunity to shine. Those familiar with Prince from his Pittsburgh days could tell he wasn't comfortable. "When I heard him on TV, he wasn't the same Bob Prince," said friend and longtime Dodger announcer Vin Scully. "He wasn't the same guy I knew. They stripped him of his personality, of all the things that made him special. Here they had the best, most colorful baseball announcer in the country and they took the life out of him." Prince agreed. "I never got to be Bob Prince," he said. "I had too many people talking in my ear, 'Do this. Do that.' And all they wanted us to do was talk, talk, talk-didn't matter what we said as long as we kept babbling." Critics didn't like what they heard. Too much talk, too much manufactured hype. Ratings were poor. Prince became one of the fall guys, canned, along with Wolf, prior to the start of ABC's coverage of the 1976 postseason. The most memorable moment of Prince's brief tenure at ABC came on June 7, 1976 as "The Gunner" returned to Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium for the telecast of the Pirates' Monday night game against the Cincinnati Reds. Before the game he signed autographs, shook hands, and received food and a "Babushka Power" T-shirt from fans. In the third inning, when the scoreboard flashed a welcome to Prince, Uecker, and Wolf, Pirate fans took the opportunity to say thanks, serenading Prince with a minute and a half standing ovation. Bruce Kison stepped off the mound and the game came to a halt. Prince bowed several times and waved a babushka. Then he cried, telling viewers, "I have to apologize to Warner and Ueck and turn over my mic." Wolf said, "I've never seen anything like it."


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