'Voice' of the Pirates turns off his mic

'Voice' of the Pirates turns off his mic

PITTSBURGH -- "The Voice" has called it a career. And what a legendary one it was, indeed.

After 33 seasons of calling Pirates baseball, Lanny Frattare, appropriately nicknamed "The Voice," announced on Wednesday that his call of the Pirates' Sept. 28 season finale was his last. Frattare, 60, will retire having broadcast more Bucs games than anyone in franchise history.

"The decision to retire from the Pirates broadcast booth was something I have been thinking about and have discussed for some time, but a decision I did not make until after the final road trip of the season," Frattare said. "It was a difficult and emotional decision, but in the end, I decided it was time."

Frattare's voice has been synonymous with Pittsburgh baseball since he joined the organization in 1976. It was in '76 that Frattare worked alongside former play-by-play man Milo Hamilton before graduating to a larger role when Hamilton left after the Pirates captured the 1979 World Series.

On Aug. 10, 2008, Frattare called his 5,000th Pirates game.

"It has been a privilege and an honor to bring Pirates baseball to the fans for more than 33 years," Frattare said. "I owe it all to the strong support of my family, my broadcast partners, all of my colleagues throughout the years and, perhaps most importantly, the fans. Without the support and approval of the fans, I could not have realized my dream of calling baseball games for the Pirates for such an extended period of time."

In '04, following his 29th season behind the microphone, Frattare officially became the longest-tenured Pirates broadcaster, passing legendary voice Bob Prince. Prince, known to those in Pittsburgh as "The Gunner," was named the recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award in 1986.

Frattare currently is under consideration for the 2009 Frick Award, an honor that annually recognizes one broadcaster who has made major contributions to the game. The 10 finalists will be named on Monday, after which a 20-member committee will vote for one broadcaster to be honored at next year's Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

"It is important that we all recognize the significance of this moment in Pirates history and properly honor Lanny for his outstanding contributions," president Frank Coonelly said. "I ask the Hall of Fame voters to give serious consideration to Lanny's many contributions to the city, the Pirates and the game of baseball and consider him for recognition in the broadcaster's wing of the Hall of Fame. The Ford Frick Award recognizes the greatest broadcasters in the game's history, and Lanny's accomplishments certainly warrant inclusion in this exclusive club. His place in the Hall would be well deserved, if not overdue."

Frattare actually has been affiliated with the Pirates organization since 1974, when he began broadcasting games for the Triple-A Charleston (W.Va.) club. He remained there for the '75 season as well, before moving to the Major Leagues.

Frattare's contributions in the Pittsburgh community haven't been limited to the broadcast booth, however. The Family Links Golf Classic, which Frattare has hosted for 21 years, has raised more than $1 million for children, families and mentally challenged individuals in Pittsburgh and its surrounding areas.

Last year, Frattare became the 18th recipient of the "Pride of the Pirates" award, which is presented annually to a member of the organization who has demonstrated the qualities of sportsmanship, dedication and outstanding character during a lifetime of service.

"Lanny has certainly demonstrated all of those qualities, and many others, during his distinguished tenure with the Pirates," Coonelly said. "The entire Pirates organization will sorely miss the sound of Lanny's voice calling Pirate baseball games, but we respect Lanny's decision to call it a career as a play-by-play man for the Pirates. The baseball season is a long and grueling one, especially for those like Lanny who put their heart and soul into the broadcast every night over a 162-game season."

Frattare will be honored during an on-field ceremony next season, with the specific date and details to be determined.

In an additional announcement on Wednesday, the Pirates confirmed that the remainder of their broadcast team will return in '09. That includes play-by-play announcer Greg Brown and color analysts Bob Walk, Steve Blass and John Wehner.

No timetable has been set for hiring a second play-by-play announcer, with Coonelly only saying the search process will begin immediately and will be exhaustive.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.