Listening to the Joe. L Brown show on KDKA radio was almost like a religious experience.
When I was a kid, I listened to it every Sunday morning on the way home from St. Bernard’s church in Mt. Lebanon. I could hum a few bars of the theme song if you asked me. It was “With a Little Bit of Luck”.
With Nellie King dying last week, that’s two great baseball men that we’ve lost.
When I used to love baseball, there was no better compliment that I could give a guy than to say he was a good baseball man.
Joe L. Brown was one of the last remnants of the Pittsburgh Pirates that I followed and loved growing up. He not only put together two World Series winners in 1960 and 1971, he oversaw a franchise that, for at least 20 years, went into every season with a legitimate chance to win a pennant.
He also played a role in the 1979 World Series winner. Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, Manny Sanguillen, Kent Tekulve, Omar Moreno, Ed Ott and Steve Nicosia were signed when he was GM.
The Pirates have had one good team in the last 55 years that was not built, at least in part, by Joe. L Brown. That was the 1988-92 team that won three division championships.
He was smarter than just about everybody else when there was a level playing field. He had his super scout, Howie Haak, who kept stocking the Pirates’ farm system with great Latin players.
He was the boss of the Pirates when the Pirates were every bit as big as the Steelers are now and the Steelers were something to do between Pirates seasons.
When I was a kid, Joe L. Brown was every bit as important to me as the mayor of Pittsburgh or the governor of Pennsylvania. He had an air of superiority and seriousness about him that you don’t see much any more in sports exectuives. Or maybe I just got that impression because I was a kid.
I got to know him when I started working in Pittsburgh and that was one of the many things that made working in the town where I grew up so interesting.