A year ago today, baseball lost a familiar voice. For Braves fans, he is even more familiar. He is, the one and only Pete Van Wieren.
Wieren was a Cornell University alumni. He started his career in sports in 1975 when he joined TBS Sports. With this job he covered Atlanta Hawks, Flames, Falcons games as well as Big 10 football games and NBA games on TBS and TNT. He also served as a sports reporter for CNN.
In 1976, he then joined the Atlanta Braves as a TV and radio broadcaster. His long-time partners included Ernie Johnson, Don Sutton, and Skip Carey. Carey was hired at the same time he was. Johnson named nicknamed him “The Professor” because he looked like pitcher Jim Brosnan. They claimed it stick with Wieren because of how he thoroughly prepared for games, as well as, his knowledge of the game.
In 2004, the two-time Georgia Sportscaster of the Year winner, along with his partner Carey, was inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame. Two years later, in December he signed a new three year contract with the Braves for the radio broadcast. But on October 21, 2008 he unexpectedly announced his retirement. This was less than three months after the death of Carey. A little over a year later, Wieren was diagnosed with cutaneous B-cell lymphoma, 13 months after his retirement. He still went on to emcee Hank Aaron’s “715 Home Run Anniversary Special” before opening day 2014.
The broadcast booth at Turner Field is named after Wieren. In 2010, a book he co-wrote with Jack Wilkinson was released. The book was titled Of Mikes and Men; A Lifetime of Braves Baseball. Wieren has also claimed to had worked at the Washington Post in the ’60s but never stated his position there.
On August 2, 2014, Pete Van Wieren died from complications of lymphoma. He was 69. His death came one day shy of the anniversary of Skip Carey’s death and 10 days before the anniversary of their mentor Ernie Johnson’s death.
Baseball lost an amazing voice, the Braves lost a family member, but even more, the world lost an amazing man one year ago. He will never be forgotten.
From MLB.com, here are a few things people around baseball had to say about Pete Van Wieren at the time of his death.
- “He was a great friend, colleague and mentor,” said current Braves broadcaster Chip Caray. “He was a true professional and a tremendous man. I learned more from Pete about broadcasting than I did from anybody else. I will always be grateful for the time we shared together.”
- “It was a pleasure for me to get to know Pete Van Wieren because as other people saw him, that’s how I saw him,” said Braves first-base coach Terry Pendleton, who was introduced to Van Wieren during his 1991 National League MVP season. “He was an awesome man who was truly concerned about how things were going with your life. The way he carried himself, we all loved him.”