Gunnerisms: Famous sayings by Pirates' broadcaster Bob Prince

Last Updated 22 May 2003

Bob Prince was a broadcaster for the Bucs from 1948-1975. He was known for his colorful commentary and rapid fire delivery. Because of his quick tongue, he became affectionately known as "The Gunner".

During Prince's years with the Bucs, listeners either loved him or hated him, but they were always amused by him. He was a great Pirates fan, and he saw the club through some dark years as well as through a few championships. On May 3, 1985, after a 10 year abscence, Prince returned to the Pirate broadcast booth for one encore as a Pirate announcer. At 68 years old, he was fighting and losing a battle with cancer, but during his encore broadcast, the magic returned, and the Bucs responded with a nine-run 4th inning on their way to a 16-2 victory over the Dodgers. Prince was only strong enough to announce two of his scheduled three innings, but he received three standing ovations from the crowd. A month later. Bob Prince lost his battle with cancer. His name was displayed proudly in the Pirates broadcast booth at Three Rivers Stadium.

Bob Prince was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame as a broadcaster in 1986. He will live in our Pirate memories and our personal hall of fame forever.


Prince was known for his unique style of broadcast lingo. A new listener might need an English-to-Prince dictionary to understand his broadcasts. Here is a sampling of Bob Prince sayings and nicknames which we affectionately call "Gunnerisms". Several members of the Pirates e-mail list sent in their favorite Gunnerisms. Special thanks goes to Father John Hissrich (ForbzField@aol.com), Gary Davis (GARY68@aol.com) and all my other contributing authors. Here is a collection of various contributions:
Sayings:
"AN ALABASTER BLAST"
A Baltimore chop base hit that would go higher than normal due to the extraordinarily hard infield at Forbes Field

"ARRIBA"
Prince's cry to Roberto Clemente to hit one up and over the wall.

"ASPIRIN TABLETS"
A pitcher would be throwing a ball so hard it looked as tiny and as hard to hit as an aspirin tablet. As in, "Veale's firin' aspirin tablets out there tonight."

"ATEM BALLS"
Hard line drives right to an infielder - it was at 'em. "Law has his At'em ball workin' tonight."

"BABUSHKA POWER"
Prince developed babushkas that the women in the stands could wear to bring the Pirates luck. It was, in a sense, a later version of the Green Weenie.

"THE BASES ARE F.O.B." (full of Bucs)
What was needed now, was a bingle, a dying quail, perhaps a bug on the rug...

"A LITTLE BINGLE"
A little hit; a small single; perhaps a bunt single. Just something that would get a Bucco on base.

"THE BLACK MAX"

"A BLOOP AND A BLAST"
A quick way to get two runs through a single (the bloop) and a home run (the blast), as in, "The Buccos are down by one run going to the bottom of the ninth. What we need here is a bloop and a blast."

"A BUG ON THE RUG"
A basehit that skittered through the gap, particularly on artificial turf.

"BY A GNAT'S EYELASH"
A very small margin indeed, as in, "That ball just missed. It was foul by a gnat's eyelash."

"CHICKEN ON THE HILL"
A home run for Willie Stargell, begun by the fact that Stargell owned a chicken restaurant in Pittsburgh's Hill District and that whenever he homered, the person at the counter would get free chicken. Thus, Prince would say, "We need a homer here. Come on, Willie, spread some Chicken on the Hill." In one particular game, Prince said that if Stargell hit a home run, everybody in the restaurant would get free chicken. Stargell did hit the home run, everyone got free chicken, and Stargell sent the bill to Prince.

"CLOSE AS FUZZ ON A TICK'S EAR"
a little closer than a gnat's eyelash.

"DON'T BOO STU, HE'S OVER-DUE"
A cheer to get firstbaseman Dick Stuart out of a slump.

"DON'T KNOCK THE ROCK"
Rocky Nelson, 1b-man alternating with Stuart.

"A DYING QUAIL"
A little bloop, a tweener, or a bingle; a hit that falls in like a shot quail would.

"THE GREEN WEENIE"
A device invented by the Gunner to jinx and perhaps spook opposing players, the green weenie was the size and shape of a hot dog. When pointed at the opponents and shaken, it rattled and supposedly put a jinx on them.

"HE COULDN'T HIT THAT WITH A BED SLAT"
This is what the Gunner would say when a batter chased a pitch way outside. Take one of the slats out from under a full sized bed and notice how much longer it is than a bat, and you get an idea that the batter was definitely chasing.

HE LIT UP THE LIGHTS ON BROADWAY"
in response to a called 3rd strike.

"HIDDEN VIGORISH"
Similar to the law of averages, it was the force which dictated that a player who was in a slump was due for a big hit, as in, "Stargell is Oh for his last eight, so with hidden vigorish he should get a big hit here."

"HOOVER"
A double play by which the Bucs would clean up the basepaths. When someone complained that Prince was giving free advertising to a particular brand of vacuum cleaner, he tried to invent a story about President Herbert Hoover's cleaning up corruption in Washington.

"HOW SWEET IT IS"
After suffering through some terrible Bucco teams in the early- 1950's, Prince got to enjoy the taste of victory in 1960 and throughout the early-1970's with the Battlin' Bucs. The taste of a championship, a mid-season victory, or a home run that would put the Bucs ahead would draw out "How sweet it is".

"KISS IT GOOD-BYE"
The most famous of Prince's sayings; this was his well-known home run call.

"MARY EDGERLEY"
No one knew exactly who she was (or whether she was related to Jimmy Durante's Mrs. Calabash), but Prince would end each broadcast by saying, "Good night, Mary Edgerley, wherever you are."

"A #8 CAN OF GOLDEN BANTAM"
A can of corn; refers to an easy fly ball. Immortalized in 1970 when Matty Alou dropped a "can of corn" against the Cubs, and the Bucs had to wait another day to clinch their first pennent in 10 years.

"RADIO BALL"
"Koufax just threw Stuart his radio ball. He could hear it, but he couldn't see it." "Low hummin' riser." (Similar to a radio ball)

"RUG CUTTIN' TIME"
"It's rug cuttin' time." More commonly known as "crunch time." "For all the money, marbles, and chalk." Deciding moment. Crunch time.

"RUNNIN' THROUGH THE RAIN DROPS"
When a pitcher gives up a lot of hits but doesn't give up serious runs. Escapes without serious damage being done.

"SNAKE BIT"
Can't get a break. The Bucs are snake bit tonight.

"SOUP COOLERS"
a high pitch was up around a sluggers mouth, or lips, or "soup coolers". Prince often said Stargell was looking for a pitch up around his "soup coolers".

"TWEENER"
A ball that got "between" the outfielders; similar to a "bug on a rug", but it could occur on grass or as a "bloop" hit that fell in between fielders; hopefully, followed by a Bucco "blast".

"WE HAD ‘EM ALL THE WAY"
Spoken after a close win by the Pirates, it indicated that we should have known all along that the Pirates would win. It was perhaps the father of Lanny Frattare's "No doubt about it."

Nicknames:
Bob "Beetles" Bailey
Nellie Briles: "the Rainmaker"
Smokey Burgess : "Shake, rattle, and roll."
Donn "Clink" Clendenon
Gene "Little Angry" Clines
Elroy Face: The Baron of the Bullpen
Dick Groat: (no.24) was sometimes called "Double-Dozen"
Harvey Haddix: "Kitten"
Don Hoak: "the Tiger"
Ralph Kiner: from Alhambra CA, was The Alhambra Kid, or the Alhambra Hammer.
Ed "Spanky" Kirkpatrick
Vern Law: "the Deacon"
Gene Michael: was "the Stick."
Manny Sanguillen: was the "Road Runner", long before Ralph Garr stole the nickname.
Dick "Ducky" Schofield: not to be confused with his son Dickie who was also a ML player.
Willie Stargell: was Willie La Starge or Wilver Dornell (his given name).
Bob Skinner: was "Doggie"
Bill Virdon: was "The Quail"
Jim "Possum" Woods: one of Prince's fellow broadcasters.
If you are interested in sound files of the Gunner, see Ed McConnell's page for several examples in Real Audio format.
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