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The Education of Lanny Frattare

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At the age of 61, Lanny Frattare was a rookie again. It was March of 2009, and the man that generations of Pirates fans knew simply as "Lanny" was stepping into a new role as "Professor Frattare."

As Waynesburg University's new Assistant Professor of Communication, Frattare wasn't sure what to expect out of his new career.

"I have tremendous respect for men and women that have been teaching for many years," Frattare said in discussing his first school year at Waynesburg. "It would have been an insult to them to assume I could jump in and have been an effective teacher."

Now in his second year of teaching, Frattare has become a jack-of-all-trades asset for the university. He teaches classes in sportscasting, news announcing, and public speaking for the Communication Department, but also serves as a special assistant in sports information and radio advertising for the University Relations office, and as faculty advisor to the student radio station WCYJ.

Frattare also hosted Waynesburg's first-ever Sports Announcing Camp, bringing together 37 teenagers from around the region and as far away as Arizona to learn about the sportscasting craft and enjoy on-campus activities.

On the last day of the weeklong camp, one camper raised his hand and asked Frattare, "How did you decide to become a professor?"

Even in front of a crowd of 15- to 18-year-olds, Frattare displays complete candor in describing his journey from the press box to the classroom.

After parting with the Pirates following the 2008 season, Frattare found himself with plenty of free time, and began to abuse alcohol. With no end to the abuse in sight, his family organized an intervention. Recognizing his problem, Frattare agreed to check himself into a rehab center in Ohio.

It was there that Frattare says he felt a strengthened relationship with God, where he began thinking and praying about what the next step in his life would be. Looking through the newspaper, he found two positions that intrigued him. One advertised the open athletic director position at Upper Saint Clair High School. The other was for a communications professor at Waynesburg.

"I sincerely believed that when I prayed to God, he told me to teach students at Waynesburg." Frattare reflected on his experience.

And it was those students that were the most important factor in Frattare's embarking on a new venture, in addition to his jobs at Waynesburg. This fall, Lanny will do play-by-play on high school football broadcasts for KQV and MSA Sports Network.

"One reason I said yes is that I could get students involved [in producing the broadcasts]," Frattare said. "That'll be a plus for the student."

Of course, Frattare had his own personal reasons for wanting to be back in the broadcast booth.
"I always loved play-by-play, and also wanted to be a part of high school football in western Pennsylvania. It's been deeply a part of the fabric of the region. I hope I do a great job."

There's little doubt about how well a man with 33 years of professional broadcasting experience will perform in his return to the airwaves. There were, however, plenty of questions surrounding Frattare's sudden departure from the Pirates organization two years ago. Rumors spread through the internet and public discourse that Frattare had been forced out by management, or that he was leaving the losing environment of the Pirates to broadcast for the Atlanta Braves or the new MLB Network.

Long-time Astros broadcaster Bill Brown, a co-worker of Frattare's former broadcast partner Milo Hamilton is quick to point out that calling losing baseball is a tough gig.

"I know it's much more difficult for a broadcaster of a team with that many losing seasons piled up, compared to somebody who's doing Yankees games," Brown said. "What you try to do is tell yourself 'I'm just doing tonight's game. I'm not carrying all this baggage of 17 seasons with me.'"

When Frattare was asked whether or not the years of losing in Pittsburgh had an effect on his later years with the team and decision to retire, he recognized that it was part of his consideration.

"I certainly brought that question up to myself, 'Was it related to the team's performance?'" Frattare admitted. But after pausing to consider the idea a bit longer, he rejected the notion that the losses affected his broadcasts.

"It would be unfair of me to put my performance on the shoulders of the team," he said.

Frattare instead describes his decision to split from his broadcasting gig as more of an "epiphany" than anything else.

"After I stepped away from the Pirates, I had some very depressed moments," Frattare acknowledged. "But I do believe that the right thing was to step away from the ball club. Things happen for a reason."

And while the leap from sports broadcasting to full-time professorship presented unique challenges, Frattare notes that many of the principles involved in his former on-air job have been beneficial as a teacher, including preparation and timing.

"You realize early on as a broadcaster that you want to reach as high a standard as you can each night," Frattare said in comparing the two fields. "You hope that you don't have large peaks and valleys. That's true with teaching as well. I just try to perform at a high level on a frequent basis.

"I'm just glad that I'm into my second year, and that some of my first-year anxieties have been reduced."

And no one in Waynesburg expects a sophomore slump from the broadcaster who is excelling in his second career.

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