Greg Brown still excited after more than 25 years of Pirates play by play


Christopher Horner/Tribune Review

Pirates play by play announcer Greg Brown in the booth at PNC Park

Anthony Cugini

Greg Brown has been in the Pirates organization since 1979. He is currently a play by play announcer for Pittsburgh and is regarded as one of the best in the league.

Brown got a quick start to his career in sports getting an internship with the Pirates when he attended Point Park University. Beginning at the internship Brown spent 10 years in the Pirates front office doing whatever was asked of him.

It wasn’t an easy road for Brown to become the Pirates play by play broadcaster. He had to do his time plenty of other places before he got his shot in the Pirates broadcast booth.

“I did minor league baseball. I did Bills football. I did some hockey pregame. I did some hockey, college basketball up in Buffalo for five years,” Brown said.

After getting his first real shot at announcing professional sports, an opportunity Brown had been hoping for opened up.

“Pittsburgh made a change in the announcing booth with the Pirates,” Brown said. “They were aware of me having spent 10 years in the front office. That really put me on the map.”

Brown got the job and the rest is history. Brown has been in the Pirates booth for the last 26 years. He’s made a name for himself with phrases like “Cannonball comin’” and “Raise the Jolly Roger”.

When asked about his favorite moment in his Pirates broadcasting history, he did not hesitate to retell the story of the final Pirates game at Three Rivers Stadium on October 1, 2000.

While working minor league baseball games, he got to know many of the players who would eventually play for the Pirates, including Pittsburgh native John Wehner, who was at the end of his career playing a part-time role with the team.

A couple hours before the gates opened (on the day of the 2013 Wild Card game) I looked over on the corner of Federal Street and General Robinson and it was just filled with a sea of black…It was tribal.

— Greg Brown

“The last game ever at Three Rivers Stadium was emotional for all of us. I grew up a Pirates fan and spent a lot of time in that stadium so it was kind of near and dear to my heart. I went into the clubhouse to look at the lineup for the very last game of Three Rivers Stadium history and lo and behold John Wehner was the starting 3rd baseman. It was a meaningless game in terms of the standings but meaningful to many of us,” Brown said.

“I sat next to John in his locker and I said ‘Can you believe this?’ He goes, ‘No I can’t believe this. I grew up a Pirates fan and there are 60,000 people at Three Rivers Stadium going crazy. These guys are giving me all kinds of grief because they want me to hit a home run.’ John Wehner hit a total of four home runs in his major league career over 10 years. In about the sixth inning the Pirates are down two runs, two outs, and Wehner came to the plate. Wehner swings at this 2-1 pitch and hits this line drive toward the left-field wall. At that moment for me, time stood still.  My mind is trying to comprehend what’s happening here. And I’m realizing this ball has a chance to leave the ballpark. And sure as heck, this ball leaves the ballpark. I was absolutely beside myself. Place went berserk. It was absolutely phenomenal.”

Throughout the last 26 years it’s been a lot of losing for the Pirates, but Brown has tried to stay positive. From the opening of PNC Park, he always imagined what that would be like.

“If the Pirates got that combination someday. They get a ballpark and they get a winning team, you won’t be able to get into (PNC Park),” he said.

In 2013 Brown was able to see that come to light as the Pirates made the playoffs as a wild card team.

“In 2013, it was the pinnacle of what I was talking about,” Brown said. “A couple hours before the gates opened (on the day of the 2013 Wild Card game) I looked over on the corner of Federal Street and General Robinson and it was just filled with a sea of black…It was tribal.”

The most memorable moment from that game is one that he, and Pirates fans who saw it, will never forget.

“Johnny Cueto, the pitcher for the Reds, dropped the ball and then (on the next pitch) Russell Martin hit the home run,” Brown said. “I almost got too caught up in the Martin home run. There’s a fine line between being a fan and being a broadcaster.”

Over the last 26 years Greg Brown has been the play by play announcer for the Pittsburgh Pirates and he keeps hoping that he gets to see more of what he witnessed at PNC Park back in 2013.