Monday, October 22, 2012

Cubs 365, October 22

On this day in 1974, Pat Pieper passed away. He was the PA announcer for the Cubs, known for his trademark opener..."Tention! Attention Please! Get your pencils and scorecards ready and I will give you the correct lineups for today's game."

He got the job in 1916 when the Cubs first started playing in what is now known as Wrigley Field, and he kept the job until his death--an incredible streak of 59 years.

When he first began, he had to do his job with a gigantic megaphone (this was before a public address system had been invented.) He said the starting lineups to the crowd from third base, and then did the same thing on the other side of the field from first base.

In 1932, the Cubs finally installed a public address system. Pieper sat next to the wall separating the field from the stands, between home plate and third base. He was responsible for picking up the straw hats that fans threw onto the field, but he was also there to shake the hands of Cubs players as they crossed home plate. He was sitting in that seat when Babe Ruth came up to bat in 1932, and Pieper is one of the few people who swore that Babe actually did call the shot.

"Don't let anybody tell you differently. Babe definitely pointed," he told Tribune columnist David Condon in 1966. Condon told the story in his column. "Pat remembers sitting on the third base side and hearing [Cubs' pitcher] Guy Bush chide Ruth, who had taken two strikes. According to Pat, Ruth told Bush: 'That's strike two, all right. But watch this.' 'Then Ruth pointed to center field, and hit his homer."

Pieper was the PA for 6 World Series, but he also handled those chores for the twenty consecutive seasons the Cubs finished in the bottom half of the league (1946-1966). When he died shortly after the 1974 season (October 22nd), the Cubs had just finished their most successful stretch since their World Series days.

He was inducted into the Chicago Cubs Walk of Fame in 1996, and a banner with his name still hangs in the Wrigley Field concourse.