SABR

In Memoriam: Pete Van Wieren

We are saddened to learn of the passing of SABR member Pete Van Wieren, 69, of complications from B-cell lymphoma on August 2, 2014, in Alpharetta, Georgia. He joined SABR in 2002 when he spoke at our 32nd national convention in Boston and remained a member ever since. He subsequently moderated a panel at the 2010 convention (SABR 40) in Atlanta, authored an article about his close friend and broadcast partner Skip Caray for the 2010 The National Pastime, and was active in the Magnolia Chapter.

Van Wieren retired after the 2008 season following a 33-year career as a Braves television and radio broadcaster. Along with partners Caray and Ernie Johnson Sr., Van Wieren developed a nationwide following when the Braves' telecasts were broadcast across the country on Superstation WTBS in the early days of cable television. For years, local radio listeners waited eagerly for his "Diamond Notes" segment prior to Braves' games. He was inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame in 2004.

As Mark Bowman writes at MLB.com:

It could be argued that nobody knew or loved the Braves more than Van Wieren, who came to Atlanta when Ted Turner hired him to become a part of the TBS broadcast crew that included Caray and their mentor Ernie Johnson Sr.

Because of his dedication to preparation and extensive knowledge, many have mistakenly believed Van Wieren's nickname, "The Professor," was aimed toward his intellect. But Johnson actually gave him the nickname because he felt he looked like one of his former teammates who had been given that nickname.

Johnson served as a mentor to Van Wieren and Caray during their early years and always provided them sound advice. When Johnson's wife met Van Wieren's wife for the first time in 1975, she gave her a plaque that read, "We interrupt this marriage to bring you the baseball season."

During those 33 seasons of interrupted marriage, Van Wieren saw Dale Murphy become a star and Gene Garber end Pete Rose's 44-game hitting streak. The struggling teams that he covered in the 1980s were followed by those Braves teams that won an unprecedented 14 consecutive division titles.

A native of Rochester, New York, Van Wieren had been calling games for the Triple-A Tidewater Tides when the Braves hired him before the 1976 season to join a new three-man broadcast team with Caray and  Johnson. He also called NBA games on TBS and TNT, in addition to stints with the NBA's Atlanta Hawks, NHL's Atlanta Flames and Big Ten Conference football.

In 2010, he released a memoir of his long career, Of Mikes and Men: A Lifetime of Braves Baseball.

Van Wieren is survived by his wife of 50 years, Elaine, sons Jon and Steve, a daughter-in-law and three granddaughters.

A private funeral will be held.

This page was last updated August 5, 2014 at 2:43 pm MST.

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