And now it’s time for Beaver County Memories, a daily feature presented by St. Barnabas, where we take a look back at some of the people and events that have been part of Beaver County history. As we enter the warmer months of springtime, and baseball season is underway, in today’s segment, appropriately enough, we will sit back and tell a few baseball stories, specifically, a few baseball radio announcer stories, that you may or may not have heard before.
In the early days, after tower construction was completed at the WBVP transmitter site in Pulaski Township in 1948, the vast expanse of flat land surrounding the tower was converted into a baseball field. Many community based teams played there, sometimes there were several games scheduled back to back that would last an entire day according to neighbors who live nearby. One of those neighbors, Steve Procovich, reported in a discussion in 2016, that one of the games was indeed special. Though he could not recall the occasion, or who was playing, he did recall that Pittsburgh Pirates play by play radio announcer at the time, Albert “Rosey” Rowswell, announced one of the games. Procovich couldn’t say for sure if Rowsell’s voice was broadcast over WBVP, or if his colorful description was simply amplified for those on site through a public address speaker. Not much verification exists of Rowswell’s visit to call a game in Beaver County, but Procovich remains steadfast in his claim that legendary Pittsburgh Pirates radio announcer Rosey Rowswell called a community baseball game in Beaver County back when. Most likely in the early fifties, as Rowsell served as the Pirates announcer until his passing in 1955.
Speaking of the Pirates, In those early days, The Pittsburgh Pirates hosted contests for young aspiring announcers. Prominent local historian and author, Kenneth Britten, in a 1990 publication called “Local Radio”, wrote about a senior at Beaver Falls High School who had participated in one of the annual competitions. “In 1959. Jim Reynolds had just won the yearly Pittsburgh Pirate Sports casting contest and had broadcast a number of Pirate games on KDKA with veterans Bob Prince and Jim Woods. (WBVP General Manager Frank) Smith (then) hired him immediately. Though no one would realize it (then), Reynolds would (eventually) go on to become the longest hired veteran (up until that point in time) in the station’s history. He would last (over) 28 years at WBVP.
Back then, just as nowadays, Beaver County residents loved their Pittsburgh Pirates, and loved their local radio station, WBVP. One of the great traditions that the radio station organized every year was when WBVP would co-promote Beaver Falls-New Brighton Night at Forbes Field along with the local town newspaper, The News Tribune. WBVP and WMBA sportscaster and show host Greg Benedetti fondly recalled in 2017 that WBVP executive, Tom Price, and Jim March, Publisher of The News Tribune, worked together on a promotion to take local fans to watch the Pirates. This became a huge event, and in 1966 those fans reportedly filled up fourteen buses lined up outside of the Brodhead Hotel to go to Pittsburgh to watch their beloved Pirates. Benedetti mused “Tom and Jim stood at attention with a great deal of pride, as if inspecting the troops, as the baseball fans boarded the buses.”
And in one more unique baseball story . . . In the late eighties, no sports event was too far or two obscure for WBVP to cover. In June of 1986, Jimi Miller and Tom Stein loaded up the WBVP radio station van and headed east to Shippensburg State University to broadcast Hopewell High School’s baseball team state championship game which saw Hopewell defeat Montoursville at Grove Stadium that day under the guidance of legendary head coach Joe Colella. The game was memorable for a couple of Reasons. It was Beaver County’s first high school baseball state championship. Secondly, due to the lack of available press box space, Stein and Miller had to improvise and, according to Stein, drove the radio station van over near the edge of the field. The duo then hooked up some microphones and broadcast equipment, climbed up on the roof of the van so they could see what was going on, and then called the action from that unique vantage point.
We hope you enjoyed these few baseball radio announcer stories in today’s edition of Beaver County Memories presented by St. Barnabas. Tune in Everyday to Beaver County Radio for a another memory. You can also view transcripts of this and other archived Beaver County Memories at Beaver County Radio dot com