Myron Cope is a fucken legend of broadcasting, sports writing, and general local colour in Pittsburgh, my hometizzy. His voice is a Pittsburgh trademark and something that I’ve often Googled when homesick. He speaks a dense, frantic Pittsburghese and his raspy voice represents all that is haggard and yellowing about the city – even though he’s had it since he was young. I know of no one who could get more validation for making up words for shit than Myron, and I can just imagine those words being uttered over col’beers and scrawled on posterboard hung in shop windows in the Steel City in the days following his death. I know it’s cheesy, but I wish I was there to be with the fellow mourners – this is one of those things you can’t possibly explain to a non-Pittsburgher.
Cope is best known in the ‘Burgh as the colour analyst on Steelers radio broadcasts, and generations of Pittsburghers have a hard time separating that from their experience of Stiller Sundays and weeknight radio analyses. My dad had a special method for watching Steeler games, which involved turning the volume right down on the teevee, tuning the radio to KDKA 1020, and blasting it through stereo speakers. I didn’t understand this at the time, but now it makes perfect sense – Cope made you feel like you were right there at the game, screaming with the rest of those crazy fucks wearing nothing but black and gold body paint in the middle of winter. I remember being in my living room in McKees Rocks, watching my dad watch the game. Snow on the ground outside, dad in moccasin slippers, plaid shorts, and a NASCAR t-shirt, going out to the back porch between plays to turn the wings on the grill or get some more crinkle cut potato chips. He used to drape a Terrible Towel over the top of the television and place a mock-up Steelers helmet on top of that, building a Sunday Shrine to Steel Curtain. Before I was old enough to stay up for a whole night game, I could hear him downstairs yowling along with Myron over every Stiller success. None of this would have had as much of an impression upon me if not for Cope and everything he brought to the experience of being a Steelers fan.
In 2006, for my 22nd birthday, my dad sent me a copy of Cope’s autobiography Double Yoi, titled after one of his many catch-phrases used to describe football and life in general. In the inscription dad predicted a Super Bowl win for the Stillers. They won that year, just a year after Myron had retired from the booth. It’s honestly one of the best books I’ve ever read, and if you are from Pittsburgh or want to properly understand your Pittsburgher friends, you really need to read it. The only thing better than reading Double Yoi would be to listen to it as an audiobook read by the author, which unfortunately won’t come to pass, either because Myron died or because it would be a very difficult thing to propose to a publisher. There is a certain breed of person who can tolerate that voice for more than a few minutes, and nearly all members of this breed live in the Pittsburgh metro.
Well, Myron, I hope you and Mildred keep your afterlife radios tuned to 1020, Terrible Towels in hand. I know I will be, and I’m in Australia, which is heaps further away than the afterlife.