Recording, cataloging sports history is his specialty
ALTOONA, Pa. (AP) —
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski Ron Brode looks over his extensive collection of recordings of memorable sports moments in the basement of his Altoona home.
Many people enjoy watching sports, and many people enjoy playing them.
Ron Brode has done both during his lifetime, but his claim to fame has been recording and cataloging sporting events.
Brode, 79, has a collection of more than 3,000 video or audio tapes of various sporting events in the basement of his Altoona home.
“They represent a part of our past that we can’t bear to slip away,” Brode said of the tapes. “Memories are the soul of every collector.” Brode began his hobby as a teenager in 1960 when he audio-taped the Pittsburgh Pirates’ historic Game 7 World Series victory over the New York Yankees on Bill Mazeroski’s home run.
Over the years, he has made or collected thousands of sports tapes. He started his hobby with a tape recorder, but over time, he has progressed to video recording on reel-to-reel, VHS and DVD.
Included among Brode’s collection are tapes of each of the Steelers’ six Super Bowl victories, every Penn State-Pitt football game from 1977 to the present, Penn State’s national championship football wins over Georgia in 1983 and Miami in 1987, the Pirates’ 1971 and 1979 World Series victories, the final Pirates’ games at Forbes Field and Three Rivers Stadium, the first night baseball game ever played at the Chicago Cubs’ historic Wrigley Field in 1988, the undefeated 1976 Indiana Hoosiers basketball championship victory, the Altoona Curve’s first-ever home game that was televised locally in 1999 and various championship games won by Brode’s favorite NBA team, the Boston Celtics.
“I have them stored in my basement,” Brode said of his collection. “I don’t have them on a computer, but I have them cataloged with index cards containing dates, locations and statistics of the games that have been recorded, along with the names of the announcers who did the broadcast.
“I’ve always liked sports,” said Brode, who formerly played in the Altoona Greater City Baseball League and until his late 50s in basketball leagues at the Jewish Memorial Center. “I just enjoy going back and watching and listening to these old games. I know what is going to happen, but it’s still exciting to watch what does happen.”
Brode said one of the turning points in the progression of his hobby was crossing paths and developing a friendship with another collector of sports tapes, John Miley of Evansville, Ind.
“There was an article about John in the Sporting News in 1977, and I got in touch with him, and we’ve traded a lot of tapes over the years,” Brode said. “He’s in his 90s now, but his stuff is all good. He has a lot more tapes than I have. I have 3,000 tapes, and he has over 100,000, I think.
“I got the last three no-hitters pitched by (Hall of Famer) Nolan Ryan from John, and in return, I traded him copies of tapes that I made from the Steelers network and the Pirates network that, living in Evansville, he didn’t have.”
Dealing with Miley and other collectors, Brode made a name for himself.
Miley submitted copies of Brode’s Pirates and Steelers tapes to the Library of Congress. Through Brode’s dealings, the Pirates public relations department got wind of Brode’s hobby, and he developed a friendship with veteran Pirates broadcaster Greg Brown.
“Greg Brown and (Pirates public address announcer) Tim DeBacco visited me at my house to see my collection,” Brode said. “I gave Greg Brown a copy of my tape of (Pirates pitcher) John Candelaria’s no-hitter (in 1976 against the Los Angeles Dodgers).”
Brode taped the televised implosion of Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium in 2001. He gave a copy of that tape to Brown, and it later aired on KDKA Radio.
Brode has become nationally known through his hobby as well. “Sydney Pollack, who directed the Jeremiah Johnson film, called me from Hollywood, Calif., one year,” Brode said. “He said that he had a tape of the 1958 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, and that he would send me $100 and a copy of that tape if I would send him a copy of the tape of the 1960 World Series Game 7 between the Pirates and the Yankees that I had received from John Miley.
“At first, I didn’t believe it,” Brode added. “I thought that it might have been one of my buddies playing tricks on me. I waited until his tape came to my house from Hollywood, then I sent (Pollack) the 1960 World Series tape.”
Brode has also given tapes to some of his local friends as well.
Bill Socey of Altoona, a lifelong Yankees fan, has a tape that he received from Brode of Yankees pitcher Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1956.
“He’s taped everything,” Socey said of Brode. “He loaned me a couple of his tapes. He has a lot of the Pirates stuff, and they used to get a hold of him to get stuff from him. It’s been a good hobby. He’s been doing it for years.”
Brode’s favorite announcer was Celtics play-by-play legend Johnny Most, who Brode had the good fortune to meet when the Celtics played the old Washington Bullets in Landover, Md., back in the 1980s. “I could listen to him all day long,” Brode said of Most. “He was my favorite announcer, then (former Pirates announcer) Bob Prince.”
Brode still enjoys his recording hobby, but over the years, the volume of it has diminished.
“One day in the 1970s, I had three recorders going on audio at one time,” Brode recalled. “Penn State and Pitt were playing different games in football, and the Pirates were playing somebody. It was crazy what I did back then.”
The Brode file
Name: Ron Brode
Family: Wife, Shirley; son, Ron Jr.; daughter, Sherry (Bridges); stepson, Jimmy Quiren; stepdaughter, Tammy Lawson; nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Education: 1960 graduate of Altoona Area High School
Employment: Retired from Boyer Candy Co. in 2000 after 39 years of service in the shipping department. Has been employed part time since 2008 in the maintenance department at Penn State Altoona.