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The Cal Times student news is a publication of the Student Association Inc. at California University of Pennsylvania

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The Cal Times student news is a publication of the Student Association Inc. at California University of Pennsylvania

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The Former Voice of Pittsburgh, Lanny Frattare

Interview with Lanny Frattare
JJ Robinson
Lanny Frattare when he visited PennWest California during the 2022-2023 academic year

In the captivating realm of sports broadcasting, few voices have resonated as profoundly as that of Lanny Frattare, a seasoned luminary whose commentary has left an indelible mark on the world of sports, and more specifically the city of Pittsburgh. In an exclusive interview, I had the privilege of delving into the depths of his illustrious career, extracting words of wisdom that not only shed light on the everyday routines of a professional in the field, but also served as a guide for aspiring broadcasters like myself. As I sat down with Frattare, the echoes of his iconic calls seemed to reverberate in the air, creating a symphony of insights that reveal the artistry behind the microphone. This article chronicles my conversation with the master of play-by-play, providing a glimpse into the dynamic world of sports broadcasting and the invaluable advice from a legend.

Lanny has commentated over 5,000 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates over a 33-year career. He continues to commentate for West Virginia baseball and other high school sporting events today, while also being a professor at Waynesburg University, where he teaches Sports Broadcasting to aspiring students.

He entered the career field because it had always been his dream to call baseball games for most of his young life.  He shared a story with me remembering a time when he was in the car with his dad at the age of 12, and they were listening to a baseball game on the radio, and that’s when he decided that’s what he wanted to do with his career.

“I told my dad, ‘that’s what I want to do,’” said Frattare. “From that point forward, my parents did everything they could to encourage me. Going into high school, all of my teachers knew I wanted to be a play-by-play announcer, and their encouragement went a long way for me.”

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Frattare attended Ithaca College, and straight from there, his career began with commentating on Division 2 baseball and Minor League hockey in Rochester, New York. This allowed him to get his foot through the door of the industry. He did not land his first professional job until he was 26 years old, six years after graduating. He ended up landing with the Pirates in 1976 as the primary play-by-play commentator and fell in love with the process of carrying himself as a professional, and was honored to be doing it for such a profound organization.

“You can’t pick your team,” said Frattare. “You can’t choose where your big break is going to be. If it means going to Montana or Arkansas or wherever, in order to have a job broadcasting, then you have to go.”

He continued to talk about the evolution of the profession and the endless opportunities throughout the industry in today’s world, as compared to when he first got into it.

“When I was growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, if a Minor League baseball or hockey team wanted to have their games broadcasted, it had to be on a radio station, but that’s not the case anymore,” said Frattare. “There are more networks and streaming services that allow for these Minor League teams, Division 2 and 3 teams, and even high schools to have their games broadcasted through multiple sources of media for listeners all over the world, not just the specific area.  It gives college students, like yourself, an opportunity to do the crew work and practice their professionalism when it comes to the case of broadcasting games.  It allows for not only the local fans to see and hear the game, but even the visiting team’s fans and family members.”

Frattare’s recent opportunities have come from being the play-by-play commentator of the West Virginia baseball team on ESPN+. He said that the metrics show that more fans and family members of visiting teams make up the majority of the listeners, considering that many of West Virginia’s fans and family were the ones in attendance. Frattare even mentioned that some of his most rewarding moments were when the opposing team’s fans and the visiting team’s coaches showed their gratitude to him for being as professional as he was, and for not being an objective commentator.

“I get just as excited when the opposing teams hit a homerun as I am when the Mountaineers hit a homerun,” said Lanny. “It’s not your job to be a fan of the team as much as it is to be the explainer to the listening fans, regardless who they’re rooting for. You’ll find that the majority of your listeners will be rooting for the opposing team.”

When it comes to the preparation before each game, Lanny talked about how he would spend 8-10 hours researching, taking notes, and reaching out to important people that he knew who would give him the upper hand in the broadcasting booth.  He stressed how that is a key factor in controlling one’s nerves and allowing for a fluid and enjoyable experience for not only himself, but for the people tuning into the games as well, and even the players.

“It’s important to know how well the teams have done in recent years, and what their matchup history is when it comes to the two teams playing one another,” said Frattare. “I find that if you have to prepare for 8-10 hours for a game, it’s better to do it in steps. Do an hour of work one day, and an hour and a half the next day, and just allow yourself some time to understand each aspect of the game and not overwhelm yourself with too much information at once. Then, you get a real feel for the game that is at hand and your connection runs deeper than just cramming as much homework as you can at once.”

As our conversation fades into the recesses of memory, I find myself not only armed with advice from a prominent figure, but appreciative for the artistry that defines sports broadcasting. Lanny Frattare’s journey, rich with passion, dedication, and a unique ability to weave narratives, serves as a compass for those navigating the unpredictable seas of the broadcast world. As I embark on my own expedition, I am reminded that the microphone is not merely a tool but a conduit through which stories are immortalized. In the grand tapestry of sports commentary, Frattare’s voice stands as a testament to the enduring power of words, and his counsel serves as an example of success for all who aspire to follow in his footsteps.

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About the Contributor
Andrew White
Andrew White, Sports Editor

Andrew White is the Sports Editor and serves as a staff writer for the CalTimes.  He has a deeply engraved passion for sports and loves to inform the community about the local teams, both on and off campus. He is a Senior here at PennWest California, majoring in Communication Studies with a minor in Business Management.

Growing up in Brownsville, PA, Andrew is a die-hard Yinzer and will always have a place in his heart for the city of Pittsburgh and where he came from.  He serves as a play-by-play commentator for California’s basketball teams and hopes to land a career in Broadcasting, Public Relations, or Media Writing down the line, with his main goal being finding success as a play-by-play commentator.

Andrew is involved in CUTV, WCAL, CalTimes, and dips his hands in some graphic design work as well. He will be graduating in May and looks forward to his next steps of his career past PennWest California. He is the son of Tami and Stephen White of Brownsville, PA.

Comments (4)

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  • T

    Thomas KerrMar 2, 2024 at 8:54 pm

    Primary play by play commentator? What about Milo Hamilton?

    Why did Lannie leave the Pirates?

  • K

    KathyMar 2, 2024 at 5:10 pm

    We miss you and Rook, Lanny!

  • S

    Sundar-RajMar 1, 2024 at 6:57 pm

    I used to love listening to Steeler games at home and on the road. I also listened to the radio that I carried when Jim Leyland as the Pirate home games. What a voice so embedded in the memory of my brain. Thank you for shar

  • E

    ELIZABETH LUSKMar 1, 2024 at 12:22 pm

    Great interview! Interesting and we’ll written.