Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sunday Cubs Fact: 59 Seasons

As I was writing yesterday's post on my newest Cubs scorecard, this phrase kept going through my head, "Attention, Attention please! Have you scorecards and pencils ready and I will give you the correct lineup for today's game." Let me tell you where that phrase comes from....

The name of Bob Shepherd is familiar to many baseball fans, especially New Yorkers, as the voice of Yankee Stadium. He served as the PA announcer from 1951 - 2007, which is a pretty long run. A recording of Shepherd's voice still announces Derek Jeter each time he comes to the plate.

The name of Pat Pieper may not be as familiar to many of you, but long time Cubs fans would recognize it immediately. Pieper served as the Wrigley Field PA announcer for an amazing run of 59 years!

Pieper's association with the Cubs started in 1904, when he became a popcorn vendor at the Cubs old park, the West Side Park. In 1916 the team moved into what would become known as Wrigley Field. At the time of the move, Pieper found out that the old PA man had quit and asked for an audition. The team liked what they heard and Pat got the job. He held the job until his death after the 1974 season. For their first 59 seasons at Wrigley Field, only one man was the public address announcer!

I find it amazing that the man who announced the lineups the day Babe Ruth hit his "called shot" in the 1932 was still announcing games when I attended games at Wrigley Field (and no, I am not that old!) in the early '70's.

For the first 15 years of his PA career, Pieper used a megaphone. He would go along the foul lines and announce the lineups.

You can see Pat Pieper in the background of this picture with his megaphone

Here is the same picture, cropped and enlarged, to show Pieper.

In 1932 the Cubs installed an electric amplification system and Pieper's megaphone was retired. Strangely, he was not stationed in the press box, but instead sat along the brick wall near home plate with his microphone. He also had the job of giving baseball to the umpire when more were needed.

Here he is, with mic and scorecard in hand, seated along the brick wall

He was finally moved up to the pressbox in 1970 and worked from there his last five seasons.

Pat Pieper had a few trademark calls. His most famous was prior to the start of the game when he would say, "Attention, Attention please! Have you scorecards and pencils ready and I will give you the correct lineup for today's game." His phrasing of the word "Attention" sounded more like "Tention" and as kids, that how we would imitate it, "Tention, Tention please!"

When giving the lineups, Pieper would say the the players name and number, but never the word "number" He would say "14 Ernie Banks" not "Number 14, Ernie Banks." And if you really think about it, he is right. Saying the word "number" follower by "14" would be redundant. Of course 14 is a number, its not a letter or anythings else.

His other memorable call was just before the start of the game. Pieper would loudly announce "Play Ball" and then the Wrigley crowd would cheer and the game would begin. It's like the game couldn't start until Pat said so. And unfortunately, on many occasions the cheer for Pat's "Play Ball!" would be the only thing to cheer for all day!


  1. I am in search of a sound bit of Pat Pieper's voice.

    1. Here you go:

  2. I heard Pat Pieper announce the first big league game I ever attended, at age 15, an 18-8 blowout by the LA Dodgers at Wrigley on August 20,1974. He had a gravelly voice and I could tell he was elderly, but he galvanized the attention of the people in the stands when he announced the starting lineups. For some reason I especially remember when he growled "Jim Wynn," who was having a good year for the Dodgers, and hit one of eight home runs blasted that day. Sadly, that was one of the last games Pieper ever announced. The whole day was a wonderful memory, despite the Cubs' loss.