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Pete van Wieren


He was called the Professor, and not because he was more read than the average baseball professional (which isn't saying much, I know) or because of his encyclopedia knowledge of the game and his insane research before each game, but because Ernie Johnson thought he looked like someone he knew who may or may not have been a professor, or maybe just looked like one. So the Professor he was. One third of the three wise baseball men. Johnson, Caray, and Pete van Wieren. Three guys who called some of the most depressing games in Atlanta history, but who made the worst rout a lively affair. (I hate listening to guys whining about a losing effort, or season, or decade. Can we just try to enjoy ourselves? Yankees announcers are the worst in this regard.) They delivered what fans were looking for, even if the games weren't doing their part.

They had extra incentive, because their broadcasts weren't just local. Thanks to Ted Turner, the whole country could listen to these guys, Caray being the funny guy, and Johnson being the aw-shucks guy, and van Wieren being the guy with the facts. Before any and all statistics were a couple of keystrokes away, he was spending his days before the night games researching. They had the stories. Van Wieren had the numbers. But that's not all he had. He had another career calling NBA basketball, and he had a book called Of Mikes and Men: A Lifetime of Braves Baseball. Van Wieren died in August this year. Despite his national notoriety, his death was a solo for Tim J., for a hefty 16 points. I write this 53 days until pitchers and catchers. Can't wait.


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