Man, the year didn't just take its toll on the team and its fans. Even the announcers are are headed out to pasture.
Lanny Frattare, 60, has decided to retire from his television and radio play-by-play duties after 33 seasons, the longest stint of any Pirate announcer in history. His departure was a mild shock, although not completely unexpected. He had been lobbying for a reduced workload, ala Steve Blass.
After the 1975 season, when the Pirates canned Bob Prince and Nellie King, Frattare came to Pittsburgh from Charleston, where he had been calling the games for the AAA Charlies, and joined Milo Hamilton in the booth.
When Hamilton, who never clicked with Buc fans, joined the Houston Astros in 1979, Frattare became the official Voice of the Pirates. He's been in front of the camera ever since, airing his 5,000th game in August.
"The decision to retire from the Pirates broadcast booth was something I have been thinking about and have discussed for some time, but a decision I did not make until after the final road trip of the season. It was a difficult and emotional decision, but in the end, I decided it was time," said Frattare.
"Without the support and approval of the fans, I could not have realized my dream of calling baseball games for the Pirates for such an extended period of time. I look forward to remaining an active part of the Pirates family and the Pittsburgh community."
One of Frattare's commitments has been the Family Links Golf Classic that he has hosted for the past 21 years. Over that time, Lanny has raised more than $1 million in support of more than 32,000 children, families, and mentally challenged individuals.
Frattare became the 18th recipient of the "Pride of the Pirates" award in 2007. The award is an annual honor which recognizes a member of the Pirates family who has demonstrated the qualities of sportsmanship, dedication and outstanding character during a lifetime of service.
Lanny did all that. There's noooooooo doubt about it.
Club President Frank Coonelly added "I ask the Hall of Fame voters to give serious consideration to Lanny's many contributions to the city, the Pirates and the game of baseball and consider him for recognition in the broadcaster's wing of the Hall of Fame.
"The Ford Frick Award recognizes the greatest broadcasters in the game's history and Lanny's accomplishments certainly warrant inclusion in this exclusive club. His place in the Hall would be well deserved, if not overdue."
Greg Brown, plus color analysts Bob Walk, Steve Blass and John Wehner, will return for the 2009 season. The Pirates have set no timetable to hire a new play-by-play announcer to replace Frattare, only that the search will be exhaustive and will begin immediately.
Call us old, but we still can't get used to the team picking the announcers instead of the network. But hey, that's the times. So the 2009 shopping list is now a power bat, pitcher, couple of coaches, and announcer.
New era, new faces, new voice.