He’d been on my mind a lot lately, and now, I guess I know why.
Pete van Wieren, a stalwart of Braves broadcasting for 33 years, passed away this morning at the age of 69. His long-fought battle with cancer had come to an end.
But it was never just Pete. It was Skip and Pete. That’s Skip Caray, of course — the son of longtime Cubs announcer, Harry Caray.
So it’s probably no coincidence that tomorrow marks six years since Skip’s passing. That’s how they always were in the broadcast booth: side-by-side.
People laud Vin Scully — who will return for his 66th season as broadcaster for the Dodgers next season — as “The Voice of Baseball,” and rightly so. But for me, as a Braves fan and a kid growing up in the South, Skip and Pete were MY voices of baseball.
Just like I’d never known a Braves team without Bobby at the helm, or Chipper at third (base and in the batting order), I never knew a Braves broadcast, on television or radio, without Skip and Pete in the booth.
Skip did play-by-play, while adding his unique, endearing sense of humor, and Pete (known as ‘The Professor’) provided every piece of information you could ever wish to know about the game and its players. Together, they were the perfect partnership.
Earlier in tonight’s broadcast, Don Sutton — a Hall-of-Fame pitcher and another longtime Braves broadcaster — moved from the radio booth to the television booth, to talk with the Chip and Joe, and to reflect on the life of our beloved Pete van Wieren. You could hear the tears in his voice, and it was heartbreaking, but it was wonderful to hear Don on the TV side again, however bittersweet.
Certainly, Pete’s family is in mourning, but I like to think that tonight, Skip and Pete have been reunited and are calling Braves games once again.