I Can’t Say Goodbye

I saw a headline today. And as I read it I prayed it wasn’t true. I checked every source I could find. I closed out of every article after reading just the headline.

Then I just tried to ignore it. But all day it has creeped into the back of my head to the point where I will no longer be able to ignore it.

So I guess I will write about it. But just like how I read the headlines of at least 12 articles and no more than the first sentence I hope after this sentence you stop reading. Because in honesty no one needs to write about this. No one needs to reminisce about his excellence. Or the number of amazing moments he has narrated. Or the amount of times you have repeated one of his iconic catch phrases to yourself after you score the game winning goal in your backward. 

No one needs to write about it because everyone knows the weight this man carries in your heart. 

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how lucky I have been as a sports fan. To grow up in such defining eras for so many of my teams. To win the trophies, to live the moments, and to hear them all narrated by some of the greatest to ever do it.

When we do the Steelers prediction segment on Two Beers Deep I start my prediction with a double yoi, not because I believe I have a good Myron Cope impression, but because of what he meant to me as a kid, as I sat in the back seat of my Dad’s car listening to the games. I desperately tried to make sense of the play as Bill Hillgrove described it, but It was Myron who broke it down to a level even an 8 year old could understand.

But as much as I have loved my sports teams over the years one has always been head and shoulders above the rest. My beloved Pittsburgh Penguins, and from the time I was born one man has called every game. One man has held my hand through the highs and the lows. One man was the voice of my biggest childhood memories.

In 2009 the Penguins triumphantly forced game 7 against the Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Final. So much has been written about that team, and that game. From Mario’s text about meeting the team at center ice, to Max Talbot’s unlikely two goal performance, to Brooks Orpik’s 4 hits in one minute, to Marc-Andrea Fleury’s legacy-creating save on Nick Lindstrom. 

For me the thing that will always be tied to that team didn’t happen in game 7. It happened at the end of game 6. As the clock struck zero Mike Lange uttered maybe my favorite of all of his iconic phrases. 

 “I’ll meet you in the school yard, baby, for all the marbles.” – Mike Lange

It was the confidence in his voice that night. It was different. It was sure, it was a man who had seen this fish before. The Penguins would go on to lift the Stanley Cup in game 7. Just like Mike Lange said they would. 

We all have a moment like that attached to the voice of Mike Lange. And as long as I am on the planet I will remember that night and the sound of his voice, assuring me that my Penguins would win a cup. 

Now as the tears hit my keyboard, I have one thing left to say. It will always be a hockey night in Pittsburgh. Thank You Mike Lange. 

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