The Thirty-Year Journey of a Major League Pitcher and Broadcaster

14 October 2009

PRESS RELEASE for Nellie's Book

Nelson “Nellie” King is a captivating storyteller who loves to share highlights from his long association with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He witnessed many historic moments during his days as a pitcher (1954-1957) and a broadcaster (1967-1975) with his beloved “Buccos,” from the 1950s when the Pirates were “in the basement” to the thrill of the 1971 World Series Championship victory. Now King has recorded his memories in his new book, Happiness is like a Cur Dog: The Thirty Year Journey of a Major League Pitcher and Broadcaster.

In his memoir, Nellie takes us from his birthplace in the hard coal-mining village of Weston Place, Pennsylvania, to the golden age of Pittsburgh Pirates baseball.

One of King's most cherished and vivid memories goes back to 1941 when, as a thirteen-year-old, he saw his first major league game at Shibe Park in Philadelphia as the Phillies squared off against the Cincinnati Reds. Back in those days, fans were allowed to exit from the playing field. As King walked past the visitors' dugout, his brother remarked that both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig had sat there. Fourteen years later, on April 24, 1955, Nellie would also sit there in a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform.

King considers 1956 the most enjoyable season of his major league career. Nellie was a part of the Pirates team that surprised everyone by moving into first place in the National League on June 20. That year, he had a record of 4-1, 7 saves, and an ERA of 3.15. Joe L. Brown, who was in his first season as a general manager, made a bold decision to go with a roster dominated with talented but inexperienced players, creating the nucleus of the 1960 World Series Champion team.

Although an arm injury unexpectedly ended his bullpen days in 1957, Nellie was able to keep a positive attitude and strong faith that things happen for a reason.

Nellie ultimately found his true second career, sports broadcasting, in 1960. From 1967-1975, he was one-half of the Pirates broadcasting duo alongside Bob “The Gunner” Prince on KDKA radio. Together, the “royal” team of Prince and King would broadcast what Prince called the "Halcyon Days" of Pirate baseball. Current Pirate color analyst Steve Blass thinks that Nellie had a great style of interviewing. Blass thought that King's best quality was to make the person he interviewed feel at home and comfortable.

King's playing and broadcasting careers spanned a generation, and his comments on the game as it is played today are wrapped in colorful stories from baseball's golden age. As the undisputed folk historian of Pirates baseball, King brings to life some of the greatest names in Pirates history: Branch Rickey, Danny Murtaugh, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Bill Mazeroski, Vernon Law, and Dave Giusti. With a sparkling talent for narrative and a reverence for the players, managers, coaches, sportswriters, and fans of his beloved Pirates, King provides rich insights into the politics and economics of baseball during a period of profound social and cultural change, particularly the game’s role in the transformation of race relations in mid-century America and the way that farm systems and growing franchises changed the meaning of baseball in America, on and off the field.

If you love the Pittsburgh Pirates, baseball history, or a good tale well told, this book is for you!

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The Thirty-Year Journey of a Major League Baseball Pitcher and Broadcaster