Greg Brown optimistic about Pirates’ future

SPEAKING — Pirates broadcaster Greg Brown speaks to the Rotary Club of Steubenville on Friday. (Photo by Andrew Grimm)

STEUBENVILLE — The Rotary Club of Steubenville raised the Jolly Roger Friday afternoon, welcoming iconic Pirates broadcaster Greg Brown as a guest speaker.

The voice of the Pirates, who just wrapped up his 25th season calling games for the team, talked about a wide-range of topics, including his beginnings in broadcasting and ties to the Steubenville area.

“It was fantastic,” Brown said of the event. “Great people. I have known a handful of them in the past. It was just a ton of fun. It is really neat to see there is still this great tie to the community amongst the leaders here of many ages and demographics. It is encouraging and rewarding.”

During his time speaking, Brown lamented that the region is, “as good of a baseball area as any in the country.” That was a sentiment he re-assurted after taking questions about the team and the coming 2019 season from Rotarians following his remarks.

“I always hold on to that,” Brown said of the connection people have with the team. “I know, because I have lived it and I know them, that there is an army of Pirate fans everywhere, including in the Steubenville area.”

Brown, who grew up a Pirates fan listening to games on the radio in Harrisburg, Pa., said his family often visited the area to see his uncle, the late Father Frank Brown.

“It’s great,” Brown said of coming to Steubenville. “My family would drive from the Washington, D.C., area. My father would pack all seven kids into a station wagon, during the Easter holiday. I had family by Lancaster, Ohio and we would stop in Mingo Junction on the way to see my uncle, Father Frank. Years later, when I was in the front office, and later a broadcaster, I would come down on occasion to have lunch with and see my uncle, or pick him up and bring him to Pittsburgh.

“I don’t want to be too corny and say it is a second home, but it’s great to be back here. It is such an awesome area with such great people. I love coming back.”

He talked about his first job with the team, dressing up as the Pirate Parrot, and his time in Buffalo calling minor league baseball games and working for the Buffalo Bills before going back to broadcast the Pirates in 1994.

As someone who grew up idolizing prominent broadcasters while dreaming of one day being one himself, it is still humbling for Brown when people recognize his voice.

“It is really weird,” he said. “Having been someone who loved the broadcasting business and remembering the day I met Lanny Frattare and Milo Hamilton like it was yesterday, my knees were shaking and I got autographs from them. They were my heroes. To see them and hear their voice having idolized them, it was one of the great moments of my life meeting those guys.

“It is hard for me to seperate the person that I am and the job that I hold. I often times lose sight of that. If I am at a grocery store getting checked out paying no attention and someone says, ‘how do you think the Pirates are going to do,’ and I realize he is talking to me because he recognizes me. It is very, very humbling.”

As for what he would tell a young person with similar aspirations today, just be enthusiastic.

“I tell them all the time, I have this much talent and I am holding my thumb and my forefinger about an inch apart,” Brown said. “But, now holding my arms far apart, I’ve got this much enthusiasm, drive and determination.

“I don’t care if you want to be a broadcaster, a lawyer, a writer, a photographer, if you want to get involved in sports, medicine, helping people, whatever it might be. Have some enthusiasm for something. Find something in life you are enthusiastic about it, grab a hold of it and never let go. There is no reason in the world if a guy from from a small town in central Pennsylvania in farm country that grew up being a fan and wanted to be a major league broadcaster can do it–if I can do it — there is not question anyone can do what they want.”

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