Pittsburgh Pirates broadcaster Greg Brown shares his on-air journey | News, Sports, Jobs
BEAVER TOWNSHIP – Equipped with his signature “raise the jolly roger” call after a Pittsburgh Pirates win and his “drop the deck, cannonball come” exclamation when Bucs players homer, Greg Brown gave play-by-play – Broadcaster of the Pirates, the Curbstone Coaches get a glimpse of what to expect from Team #142 this season.
“What I’m looking for this year is an improvement, not a division win, but a significant improvement over the last few years,” Brown told the group assembled at the Avion Banquet Center Monday. “Expect the talent acquired from general manager Ben Cherington to find its way into the big leagues as we saw last year.
“There were a handful of players who showed up and performed and I expect there will be more. In a lot of publications almost everyone has the Pirates in the top five in terms of farming talent, so I just think they’ve acquired so much talent that it starts bubbling up at the top. These young players will continue to rise and get better with more experience.”
The signing of veterans like Carlos Santana, Austin Hedges and Rich Hill and the return of fan favorite Andrew McCutchen should benefit their younger players.
“They also spent over $31 million, which nobody talks about,” Added Brown. “It’s weird to me because our owner, Bob Nutting, gets a lot of heartache and I always defend him because I think he’s doing it right in a small market. He’s been criticized for not spending more, and while simply spending more sounds good, as Cleveland Indians can attest, that doesn’t always work.”
In 1988, Brown served as a weekend presenter on Channel 21, WFMJ-TV, a respected and locally owned NBC affiliate that was a hotbed for Major League Baseball play-by-play networks and even a highly successful manager with a local Binding.
New Castle’s Chuck Tanner, who won 1,352 games in 19 seasons as manager, was a sportscaster for the network from 1968-1970. Well-known Boston Red Sox broadcaster Joe Castiglione worked at the station in 1972, while current Colorado Rockies broadcaster Jack Corrigan spent time at their downtown Youngstown location in the late ’70s and also served as the play-by-play voice of the YSU football acted.
“As I drove in today, I thought about how unusual and unique it is that WFMJ was a breeding ground for major league broadcasters and a major league executive in Chuck Tanner.” noted Brown. “I see Jack when we play the Colorado Rockies and every time I see Joe, whether it’s in spring practice or now during the season for interleague games, he makes it a point to stop in the dressing room and chat us up our time at WFMJ.”
Brown was the Pirates spokesman in 1987 after 10 seasons in various front office roles when he landed in Youngstown.
“I worked full-time in the Pirates front office and asked permission to apply to WFMJ as long as it didn’t interfere with my job.” Brown remarked. “Bob Pompeani [KDKA-TV] and I went to school at what was then Point Park College, and he brought the job opening to my attention. He knew I wanted to work in television, so I drove to Scranton, Pennsylvania, where I had a friend who made weather for a television station there. I got there at 2am, they had a couple of cameramen waiting for me along with a teleprompter. I made a dummy tape and sent it to former athletic director Steve Mechling and he hired me.
“This winter was a crossroads for me because a minor league baseball play-by-play job opened up in Buffalo. Just as Steve was retiring, they came up to me and asked if I wanted to be an athletic director and do it full-time. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I decided I really loved the idea of figuring out how to be a play-by-play guy, so I went to minor league baseball with no safety net.
“It ended up leading me to do play-by-play for other sports, including three years of University of Buffalo basketball and Buffalo Bills football, and four Super Bowls because I was the pre-game and post-game host , but in the dressing room was for the last three. Now it’s 30 years ago.”
Next Monday, YSU head softball coach Brian Campbell will be the guest speaker.