This will be Blass’ 34th season as a Pirates color commentator.
On June 27, 1960, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed a 17 year old graduate from Housatonic High School, Connecticut for $4,000. From his rise to the majors, to throwing two complete game victories in the 1971 World Series, to becoming patient zero for “Blassitis” and to his run as the longest tenured broadcaster in team history, the Pirates are the only team Steve Blass has ever known.
On Tuesday morning, Blass announced 2019 will be his final season as a full-time broadcaster, hanging up his headset after 34 years.
“I’m not sure how this works. I’m more comfortable I guess with unconditional release than [a] press conference,” Blass said.
Blass may have not felt comfortable, but you would not know it from the way he composed himself, telling jokes and stories about his playing career, time as a broadcaster and his family life. In a way, it’s similar to one of his most embarrassing moments:. during his first season of little league at eight years old, he unexpectedly hit a double and wet himself while on second base.. Nobody knew that until today because his uniform pants were such a dark of gray they did not change color.
Blass and Chairman of the Board Bob Nutting stressed this is not a full retirement from the team. Blass will return in 2020 in an ambassador role with the club, which he says will include working with the broadcast team and in the ballpark in some capacity.
“I just can’t pull the plug on being a part of the Pirates,” Blass said. “...Kind of rounding third, heading for home, and I want to find out what the last 90 feet’s like. I want to enjoy that.”
“No one has represented this organization, this city, longer, with more pride,” Nutting said. “We are just grateful for the time that we’ve had with you.”
Blass got his start as a broadcaster in 1983 when he called games with Bob Prince and became a full-time member of the broadcast team in 1986. He was one of several to audition for the job, but broadcaster Jim Rooker put a stop to the process, telling the higher ups, “stop this, sign Blass.”
“I will never forget that,” Blass said. “These are gestures that people make that you don’t lose track of.”
2019 will be Blass’ 60th season with the Pirates. He does not have many regrets during that time- besides not being able to pitch another seven or eight years and never getting his name mentioned in the Post-Gazette’s birthday section.
“Sixty seasons with the Pirates, one organization in one city, I am so very proud of that,” Blass said. “It ranks right up there with anything I have ever done on the baseball field. It has been a wonderful run.
As a player, Blass had a great winning percentage, but the 76 year old is more proud of his life win-loss record: 74-2.
“I’ve had 74 great years. I’ve had two of them that were quite bad, but 74-2 ain’t bad,” Blass said.