Once I got into a football vibe with the last post, I started thinking about the upcoming Steelers season. Aside from the actual game playing part of it, I started thinking about the legend that was Myron Cope (1929-2008).
If you’re from Pittsburgh, you know all about him, and you and everyone you know has probably imitated him at one time or another. This will be a trip down memory lane.
If you’re not from Pittsburgh, let me tell you about this guy.
Myron was a tiny little guy, a well-accredited sports writer for newspapers and for Sports Illustrated. Almost on accident, the Steelers put him on the air, broadcasting Steelers games. It was quite a risk… Myron has a voice like no other. He sounds like a pissed off hardware store owner. He is not polished or smooth and is prone to sputtering when he gets overly excited. But to Pittsburghers, he’s one of us… our surrogate up in the booth that tells us what’s going on.
Besides broadcasting the games, he also did his own sports call-in show as well as sports commentary on TV. Granted, his face was suited for TV about as well as his voice was suited for radio, but his sparkling wit, intellect made him a Pittsburgh household name, as well as his complete fearlessness of making a fool out of himself.
I could go on describing some of his regular bits, but they’re already all over the web, and quite Googleable. I should also mention that he’s the guy that invented the Terrible Towel. That story is Googleable as well, but let me point out that long before he passed away, he signed over all royalty rights for The Terrible Towel over to a school/home for autistic children. Think about the cash involved there. Ever see how many Terrible Towels are out there? Consider that they are NOT given away at the stadium, like every other copycat team in the league does. Every fan twirling a towel bought it for about $7.00.
This is going to sound funny, but I’ve hardly ever listened to him. I didn’t live in Pittsburgh while he was broadcasting, so the only opportunity to hear him was the rare occasion when we were visiting. And in those cases, we usually had the game on TV. (Yes, I know that many people turned the TV down and listened to Myron on the radio, but we didn’t.)
Once I started going to some games in Pittsburgh, we always listened to his locker room show on the way home. That was often as much fun as the game itself. But I never really got to hear his radio calls until the early 2000s and I was living in Baltimore.
The Steelers would be playing but they wouldn’t be on TV. I was too broke to go out to a sports bar, so I’d listen to the radio call over my new-fangled PC. That’s when I finally got to hear Myron in his element. Hearing him get all worked up on the radio was just delicious and just the tonic a lonely Steelers fan needed.
I’ll never forget listening to one preseason game against the Redskins, who were in a state of disarray after a bumpy off-season. Myron kept referring to them as the “Redfaces.”
New owner Daniel Snyder sent one of his lackeys into the booth, to tell Myron to stop calling them the “Redfaces.” Myron went ballistic, on the air.
“If that Boy-Owner thinks he can tell me what to do, he can go stick his head in a bucket of paint!”
I almost pissed myself laughing.
My brother with Myron, circa 1981.
Anyway, I could write about Myron forever and not come close to having you know what he was like to listen to, so I won’t try.
Instead, I spend the last two nights putting this “video” clip together for you. There have been Myron Cope sound bytes available on the web for years. I downloaded a ton of them from one site in particular, probably the first month I had a PC. I would credit and link the site here, but alas, it seems to have been taken down.
Lucky for me, I still have all the clips, so I picked out my favorites, tried to group them into some kind of logical order, added some signposts and assembled them into one YouTube video, which you will find below.
Now trust me… sports fan or not… you gotta give a listen. At first, you think it’s a miracle this guy lasted 10 minutes on the radio, as opposed to 30 years. But soon, you come to see the humble, homey, homely brilliance.
Plus, if you’re going to be painting a room soon, this will loosen the old coat for you.
If you want to indulge me in comments, tell me which clip you liked best.
Cope… you’re on, buddy…
Note: The "COPE" picture at the top is available on T-shirts and more from CafePress.