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Pete Van Wieren

You know, for me Pete was never a moment, or a call.  He was a steady professional, understated and at times I think – underappreciated home team announcer who quietly night in and night out brought you your home team without hyperbole.

He did the same job through the lean years and through the good ones.

He was not an easy target, but he could take a joke.

In a way he was a throwback to when announcers weren’t looking to make headlines because they saw the star player drunk in a bar with a girl on each arm because he had had a few pops himself.

He drank Heinekens like people eat Tic Tacs.  Until the 2000’s he smoked cigarettes like Don Stanhouse was pitching every night.

And he drank coffee, hot coffee even at high noon in St. Louis on August 15th.

All while wearing a blue blazer.

(I actually saw him in a golf shirt once.  No wait, that wasn’t him.)

Pete wasn’t bothered by the three-run walk-off home run that would cost the Braves a win.  But by God make a line-up change 15 minutes before first pitch and he was a basket case.

Pete saw a lot.  Big losing streaks.  Owners managing.  Long losing streaks.  Ostrich races.  Gawd awful losing streaks.

But he also saw worst to first.  A World Series title.  14 consecutive Division championships.  He saw Dale Murphy, Tom Glavine.  Gaylord Perry.  Greg Maddux.  Bruce Sutter, John Smoltz and Biff Pocoroba.

He saw things that would make your hair fall out.

Ask me how I know.

You couldn’t meet Pete and not be impressed.  He was before the internet.  He knew when you were having a bad day, and who was teething.

If your day was going south you could always get a “… you think your day was bad you should have seen what happened to me today…” and a story about how the 8:05 bus didn’t arrive until 8:07 invariably throwing Pete’s day into utter turmoil.

He carried a brief case full of important things; reference books, score sheets, pens, a comb.

That’s right, Pete carried a comb.  I always figured it was because being a Braves fan you always knew that this might be the year…

His score sheets were ancient.  Didn’t matter – they were too small to read anyway.  But they were big enough to know that Ryan Klesko broke 3 different ways en-route to catching that fly ball in the 7th inning with a diving catch two feet from where he started.

Pete knew who the leader in the club house was, the 8 ways you could reach first base, and the infield fly rule.

He also knew football.  And basketball.  He bowled, and played cards.  He walked a lot during the day on road trips and he could shoot 94 on any golf course in the country.

He knew how to be a proud grandpa.  In later years he replaced the comb in his brief case with pictures of his grandchildren which he would show off whenever the chance presented itself.

“What is Chipper hitting?  I don’t know, 290-something did you see the new picture of Chaney?”

Pete was an All-Pro at everything, except the playing cards part, and was All-World at the proud grandpa part.

He was my friend and I am proud of that.

Pete passed away Saturday.  He was 69 years old and he died too young.

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