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An Eighties Flashback
Written August 21, 2007


On a shelf in my apartment is this baseball, autographed by Lanny Frattare and Steve Blass (top) and Kent Derdivanis and Jim Rooker (bottom).  It's a souvenir of my 1987-93 travels as the graphics coordinator for Pittsburgh's KDKA-TV and the Pirates Television Network.

Recently I was copying some videotapes from 1989 and 1990.  That prompted me to share some of the memorable images with you.

Hi, friends!  At the stadium, our broadcasters included Lanny Frattare,

Steve Blass, Kent Derdivanis,

John Sanders, and Jim Rooker.

John Steigerwald was among those back at the studio.

Rooker prepared scouting reports called "Rook's Book," sponsored by MAC, the bank card that was used to operate those newfangled Automatic Teller Machines.

Just before our telecast went on the air each night, audio engineer Brad Sheldon broke the tension with a scream of  mock panic.

Our director was Lonnie Dale.

You'll find additional pictures from behind the scenes in my article Game Day.

Remember these former Pittsburgh sponsors?  The Star Lake Amphitheatre has a new name nowadays,

and Equibank has been merged out of existence.

(The quiz demonstrates the different graphics backgrounds from the 1989 and 1990 seasons.)

In those days, Johnny Bench pitched spray paint.

Spuds McKenzie (a dog and alleged party animal) sold beer.

Gary Burghoff was the spokesman for Boron, the brand  that Standard Oil of Ohio (Sohio) used for its gas stations outside the Buckeye State.  However, he would soon be out of a job, as the commercials promised “something big is happening”: a name change to BP.

April 18, 1989, Busch Stadium, St. Louis.

During a pitching change, the control room back in Pittsburgh rolls a Pittsburgh Paints commercial.  Unfortunately, the tape doesn't "lock up" immediately, resulting in ten seconds that look like this.

June 10, 1989, Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh.

The Pirates trail the Mets 5 to 4 in the bottom of the ninth.  Pittsburgh's Barry Bonds is on second base.

Since he represents the tying run, we have a camera isolated on him, and we record his celebration when Rey Quinones hits a game-winning homer.

September 4, 1990, Three Rivers Stadium.

Bonds is apparently picked off first base by the Phillies pitcher, but he manages to steal second when John Kruk's throw goes wide.

Pittsburgh fans applaud a play.

Pirates manager Jim Leyland watches, as does pipe-puffing Phillies broadcaster Richie Ashburn.

On September 4, 1990, the National League leaders showed Lenny Dykstra seven points ahead of Willie McGee, whose NL average had been frozen at .335 when he was traded to Oakland the week before.  Dykstra would finish fourth, ten points behind McGee.

Here are some more examples of our graphics.

It was the era of the Eras Bold font,

lifetime stats for the starting pitchers,

and a non-automatic radar gun display that I had to type in myself.


Finally, here's a graphic that unfortunately hasn't appeared on Pirates telecasts since 1992.

Oh, well, maybe next decade.



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