First person Cox tribute: Pete Van Wieren

Longtime Braves broadcaster Pete Van Wieren on retiring manager Bobby Cox:

“On the road, the lobby get-togethers he and I would have in the morning, getting coffee. That became a regular practice, and we would talk about everything. We would talk about the game the night before. We would talk about the game coming up. We would talk about other games. We’d talk about television shows, politics, you name it. We talked about it all.

Van Wieren (left), Cox, and the late Skip Caray.

Van Wieren (left), Cox, and the late Skip Caray.

“But during those conversations Bobby opened up a lot on his thinking about the upcoming game, which gave you a lot of insight as to what was maybe going to take place that night, maybe reasons why things had been happening the way they had been. Things that he wasn’t quite so open about to the general media. Those are the sessions that I miss the most.

“When I retired that was one of the things I missed the most, just those sessions with Bobby in the morning on the road. It was a great time.

“The one thing about him that you marveled about all the time, was just his complete dedication to his job. I mean, he got up at 7 o’clock every morning, and he gets to the park at noon for a night game. But when he gets up in the morning, the first thing he’s thinking about is the lineup that night, or something he should have maybe done the night before.

“He’s 100 percent, 24/7, from the time spring training starts to the time that last out is made, his whole life is this team. And that’s him. And that’s been him.

“I met him the first time in the minor leagues; I was at Tidewater and he was managing Syracuse. So I met him then, and he was the same way. He was the same way then. I don’t know the hours he kept them, but I do know when you got the ballpark he was always there.

“And when you wanted to do an interview with him, he not only did the interview but as he so often does, after the interview was over he’d say, ‘Stick around, I want to ask you about your team.’ Always trying to get that little extra piece of information wherever he could get it.

“There’s a method to his madness.”

Previous tributes: Umpire Dan Iassogna

Joe Torre

41 comments Add your comment

Raleigh Dog

September 23rd, 2010
6:33 pm

What we fans miss is Pete! No Skip, no Ernie, no Pete! It just will never be the same. Those guys were the best!

jayvee

September 23rd, 2010
6:48 pm

One reason why Pete was so good at what he did was this background work: Winning Cox’s friendship, trust and confidence, and then making and taking the time to be there to listen. Sure, it was fun. But it was also very instructive. And Pete is sophisticated enough to deploy his inside information without letting on that much of came straight from Cox.

MattyB

September 23rd, 2010
7:05 pm

Really enjoying these pieces, DOB. Keep ‘em up.

Michael C

September 23rd, 2010
7:14 pm

Pete was always my favorite of the Braves announcers. I am grateful that for whatever reason, he didn’t get hired by another network such as Fox or ESPN.

JD

September 23rd, 2010
7:17 pm

I like Don Sutton on the radio and its always good to hear from Smoltz and Glavine in the booth when they’re on TV, the rest of the guys you can keep – although I can live with Joe Simpson in small doses.

Agree with Raleigh – Ernie will always be the benchmark.

Great tributes DOB keep ‘em coming, Bobby deserves every single one of them.

B_RAD

September 23rd, 2010
7:22 pm

I sure do miss Pete and Skip! Pete and Skip kept the fans interested in the games no matter what the score! Oh and Skip would love this team! Braves Win, Braves Win, Braves Win

TS

September 23rd, 2010
7:37 pm

These are great. Making me feel old and nostalgic, but they’re great.

nc braves fanatic

September 23rd, 2010
8:29 pm

I grew up during the days when Skip, Joe, Pete, and Don would do half the game on radio and half on tv on TBS; that quartet could really call good games. I miss those days; and yes, especially Pete’s contributions – they didn’t call him “The Professor” for nothing.

I also agree with JD about Smoltz, but I’d take that even a step further. I think Smoltzie may be the best color-guy in baseball broadcasting right now. He always puts forth this aura of excitement and unbridled joy. You can tell so easily how much he loves the game and loves talking about the game. His terrible jokes are just icing on the cake. I hope he’ll stay in broadcasting, and I’d love it if he did it primarily for the Braves, even though I’ve enjoyed the times when he’s done games with Bob Costas.

The Abs Man

September 23rd, 2010
8:38 pm

That’s a truly awesome picture with Pete and Skip flanking Cox,,,,two of my all-time favorite announcers…

Skip, RIP buddy…..Hope for you Braves make post-season by more than a game because they know “a lil’ insurance wouldn’t hurt…..”

tfchipper

September 23rd, 2010
9:13 pm

Grew up watching the braves on TBS and enjoyed listening to those guys call a game, used to be the Atlanta Braves Network as i grew up in West Virginia and Ohio. Always could just flip it to TBS and there was my Braves… i miss being able to watch most of the season that way…

richbrave

September 23rd, 2010
9:14 pm

Nice article DAVE. Boy do I miss TBS, SKIP and PETE.

SNAKES-ROX tilt on tap 9:40 p.m. DST.

GIANTS 12 – CUBS 0 bottom of the seventh.

PADRES-DODGERS 10:10 p.m. DST.

DC

September 23rd, 2010
9:17 pm

I love(d) Pete, but I don’t think Joe Simpson gets his due. He’s a great voice and he’s still there most nights. I could do without Chip (bring back Boog!) but Joe is a really great commentator and we’re lucky to have him. He’s the real carryover from Ernie, Skip, and Pete.

richbrave

September 23rd, 2010
9:24 pm

Ernie J was excellent also. I remember in 1956 I got thirty TOPPS cards of ERNIE JOHNSON. I said, who is that? “WTF, why can’t I get BOB BUHL, LEW BURDETTE, or WARREN SPAHN?” I did get three BUHL’s and finally a BURDETTE, but never a SPAHN, or HANK AARON for that matter. Literally gave the shoebox away when I was 16 – 320 cards. My earliest one was ALLIE REYNOLDS, ‘52 I think, last one’s in ‘58, but I don’t remember who. Started going to the RICHMOND VIRGINIANS games at that point, AAA YANKEES.

Bobby

September 23rd, 2010
10:08 pm

I’d like to see us wrap this up before the Phillies series so that I can walk my dog, although I will promise to patronize the sponsors. RIP, Skip! You were a doozy!

snowball's chance

September 23rd, 2010
10:10 pm

Nice piece,DOB

arbyjr

September 23rd, 2010
11:33 pm

Great series, DOB. You should collect them and make a book!

NO MORE BOBBY

September 24th, 2010
12:20 am

I thought it would be Moses since that’s who Bobby started out with in the minors.

Mitchell

September 24th, 2010
1:02 am

There’s a part in his book where he describes he and Skip first bonding over talk of Gene Mauch being an overrated manager because he always lost in the playoffs.

And then there was that one time in Philadelphia when his team had a huge lead in the division and blew it in the final weeks of the season.

I found that part interesting.

gotigers72

September 24th, 2010
1:06 am

I agree that Joe does a great job as an analyst. Glavine is also very good at explaining the little inside stuff, the nuances that we couch potatoes that never played the pro game don’t know about. That stuff really adds to the game for me.

Ernie Sr.and Skip were the best IMO. Skip used to crack Ernie up all the time and every now and then, Ernie would slip a funny one in himself. Ernie with his relaxing style was just wonderful. Just great announcing. Before every game was on TV, I can remember taking my radio outside on warm summer nights and listening to Braves baseball. Made summer even better for me in my teenage years.

Let's Go

September 24th, 2010
7:41 am

Man I miss Pete and Skip. Along with Ernie Sr they were in a class all by themselves. But when they came up broadcasting was different because all of these guys had experience doing radio and on the radio you have to work hard to make your audience visualize the game and now with every game on TV the young guys never have to learn that part of the profession. I’m not gonna bash Chip Carey, although I do think he has a lot of room to improve, but Ernie Johnson Jr has turned into a really good play by play guy that his father has to be proud of. The Games on the Peachtree channel this season were a pleasure to watch and listen to and as the season moved on John Smotlz started to fine his form and although I enjoy Joe Simpson the games Ernie Jr and John did were the best. I hope the Braves bring them back together next year.

Roll Tider

September 24th, 2010
7:44 am

I too miss Skip, Pete, and Ernie SR. Joe is a throwback to those guys, and I think he has brought his personality out more with Chip than he did with Jon Sciambi. I never really got attached to that guy.
I understand the complaints about Chip. He tends to get over excited about anything going on. We are used to his dad being a homer for the Braves, and his grandfather for the Cubs.
Speaking of TBS, I lived and worked in Athens, GA all summer and got to see less games than I do at home in Alabama. Explain that.
Now, with Bobby Cox retiring, and soon Chipper (Ted has been gone for some time), I’m afraid the good ole days of the Braves are going, going, gone… just like this season.

Nick P.

September 24th, 2010
8:16 am

Pete and Ernie Sr. were by far the best two man broadcasting team in all of baseball when they did it, it was just pure fun and interest when they talked and they never lied or exaggerated for their audience, right now I am not too excited abiut simpson, carry, or sutton, Pete and Ernie were the best!

Duder

September 24th, 2010
9:36 am

Thanks for these vignettes DOB. Not sure what I’ll miss more: Pete’s diamond notes, or seeing number 6 in the dug out.

I think Jim Powell is doing an admirable job on the radio and enjoy his play-by-play.

knarf

September 24th, 2010
9:38 am

Love that picture!

Miss hearing Pete and Skip call games…

Biff Pocaroba

September 24th, 2010
10:45 am

Half the fun of watching a Braves game was the Skip/Pete banter. Those guys seemed to have more fun in that booth than anyone…

Golden Years

September 24th, 2010
11:10 am

I’ll never forget listening to Pete and Skip call games, whether on the radio or TV – they were and always will be (to me anyway) the voice of the Braves. The back and forth between Skip and Pete was classic and I think it’s tough for the ‘new’ guys to follow those two.

Glad to hear from Pete, Skip is still dearly missed but his call when Bream slid into home or when Grissom caught that final out in the Series will live on forever.

Unknown Hinson

September 24th, 2010
11:11 am

Thanks Chief. Great article. I think every Braves fan misses Pete and Skip tremendously and it’s unfortunate that Chip is pretty much a horrible announcer. Joe and Don do a great job and even Jim P. has came along nicely. To me Braves announcing will always be remembered by the big four: Skip, Pete, Joe, and Don.

I can’t believe I’m watching the end of the era I have watched growing up my entire life come to an end. After Chipper makes it official it will officially come to an end. What a great time to be a Braves baseball fan from 91-present day. Thanks for all of the memories and go Braves, Giants, and Cincy!

Unknown Hinson

September 24th, 2010
11:13 am

P.S. – Ernie was slightly before my time, is the only reason he’s not in my big four

Early Cuyler

September 24th, 2010
11:23 am

Enter your comments here

Early Cuyler

September 24th, 2010
11:24 am

I like the way they used to rotate the announcers on the radio talky box

David O'Brien

September 24th, 2010
12:37 pm

Duder: Agreed on Powell. He’s solid.

By the way, I love Ernie’s work with Joe.

adam

September 24th, 2010
1:03 pm

no better tv combo than skip and joe . a close second was pete and don.

[...] Pete Van Wieren [...]

Miss 'em all

September 24th, 2010
10:40 pm

Pete and Skip were studies in different styles, and both were fabulous and complemented each other well. The current cast does an admirable job, Jim Powell has grown on me, and Chip Carey, like his father, is a fabulous ‘homer’, as they all are. Chip and Jim bring a fan’s overexcitement to the game, which works fabulously with Don Sutton and Joe Simpson’s ‘players view’. Glavine is better than I had anticipated and Smoltzie is absolutely fantastic…I’m glad Sciambi is gone, never could take his approach.

buffr

September 25th, 2010
2:18 pm

Red Smith (1905-1982), the greatest sportswriter of all time in my modest opinion, used to say, “Sports are games that little boys play.” My favorite Braves announcers have recognized this, even while, as In the case of Joe & Smoltz, sharing a thorough knowledge of their game. Skip had a droll sense of humor. Joe has a dry sense of humor; he could also play straight man to Skip. I enjoyed the banter between Joe and Boog. Smoltz is great fun–I hope he’ll be back next year. Chip is a nice guy and once in a while reveals a sharp wit, but he needs to stop his wearisome “announcing” & just talk,like Ernie Jr., whose relaxed tone reflects the Red Smith philosophy.

[...] Pete Van Wieren [...]

[...] Pete Van Wieren [...]

MM

September 28th, 2010
3:54 pm

I’m a college professor, and everything I learned about keeping a class awake and interested I learned from Ernie, Skip and Pete (because, of course, watching the Braves in the 1980s would have been like attending a boring college lecture without them).

Tater the FORMER Bobby Hater

September 29th, 2010
10:42 am

I have been one of the most militant of Bobby’s critics over the years and I have always been quick to point out when his stubborn loyalty to his players cost the team wins. (I still shudder when I remember how he let Charlie Liebrant to pitch to Kirby Puckett.)

Lately, however I have come to the conclusion that maybe Bobby has been right all along. After all aren’t loyalty, kindness and patience toward a fellow human being more important than a few numbers in the win column? So I would like to apologize to you Mr. Cox for all of my judgemental remarks. Thank you for caring for your players. Good bye and good luck in your retirement.

[...] Pete Van Wieren [...]

snowball's chance

September 29th, 2010
10:39 pm

I miss the Professor, especially now when he could explain the magic number ramifications.

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