"Do It All"
It was the Spring of 1976. Four scruffy teenagers were playing a game of fencies, a daily ritual at the time, on the old Senior League field at Brookline Park. The left field fence was short, only about 250 feet, with a thirty foot chicken-wire extension. It was more like home run derby. Another pitch and another long drive over the fence.
Rather than rounding the bases, the slugger took off down the third base line, hopped the fence, searched for and retrieved the ball. As Dugout Doug did the dubious home run trot, his fellow fencers Big Bo, Moondog and Dugluke yelled out, "Do it all, Man." If only Norman Rockwell was there to capture the moment. It was pure Americana, Brookline-style.
Douglas Brendel was born on September 27, 1961, to Regina and Joseph Brendel. His family, including brothers Michael and Chris, lived in a nice corner lot on Berkshire Avenue. He attended Carmalt, Resurrection Elementary and South Hills Catholic High School.
Like most Brookline youngsters at the time, Doug was a member of the Brookline Little League, playing Senior League baseball for Denmark's Cafe and Coach George Kinzel. His sandlot years in Brookline lasted until 1977. Although he had talent, Doug's true glory days came later, during his playing career in the local softball leagues.
A gifted artist, Brendel attended the Art Institute in Pittsburgh, graduating in 1981. Doug's first job was as a graphic designer for Pitt Studios. He moved to Vance, Wright and Adams the following year. In 1983, the first-year apprentice competed among several established professionals to create concept logos for the Pittsburgh Maulers football franchise. He was a major contributor to the winning submission. Soon his work was seen all over town. Among his fellow fencers, Doug had hit the big time and was "doing it all."
Doug's career in graphic design included layouts for the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates, as well as several corporate and small businesses throughout the Pittsburgh area. His clients included Winkys, PPG, Duquesne Light, Westinghouse, Alcoa, Heinz, U.S. Steel and Eat'n Park. In 1989, after a few years in the wild world of Mad Men, Brendel decided on a career change and joined the United States Army.
Beginning in 1986, Doug had been corresponding with General Matthew Ridgway. The two became friends. "I met him a few times at his home in Fox Chapel. He was my main inspiration. I wanted to earn my Jump Wings. Also, instead of reading about history, I wanted to experience some first-hand. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it was worth it."
At age 28, he was by far the oldest recruit, and aptly nicknamed Mr. Geritol. After completing infantry training at Fort Benning, Doug went to airborne training school, and was soon a member of the 82nd Airborne Division. He was assigned to the 2nd/11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, stationed in Bad Kissingen, Germany. The 2nd/11th ACR was an elite Border Guard unit responsible for monitoring the West German border with Czechoslovakia.
His years in the military were some of the most exciting in his life. Doug, a veteran of thirty-five airdrops, thirty of which were over Germany, was introduced to the latest in military hardware and looks back with pride at his time patrolling "The Trace" along the Iron Curtain. Private Brendel participated in the last official Border Mission in May 1990.
Doug recalls one situation where it wasn't quite so exciting. While doing live Mortar drills, there was a mis-fire. "Since I dropped the mortar round that got stuck, I was given the mission, along with my Platoon Sergeant, to remove the 150lb Four-Duce Mortar tube from the vehicle, with the live round still inside. Wearing flak jackets, we carried the tube to a safe zone 300 yards away. If the live round would have shifted ..."
In addition to his experiences with the 2nd/11th ACR, Brendel visited the Berlin Wall in February 1990, only two months after the wall fell. He traveled to Berlin for Unification Day, when East and West Germany came together, signalling the end of the Cold War. Once again, as we were struggling through the trials and tribulations of everyday life, Doug was galavanting around Europe "doing it all."
After his time in the service, Doug returned to Pittsburgh. From 1993 to 2005 he was back in the advertising business, and continues to work on freelance projects. Currently, he spends most of his time as a speculator in rare memorabilia, merchandise and artifacts.
As one of the fencers who yelled "do it all" back in the simpler days, when baseball was life and school days were our biggest worry, I've known Doug since kindergarten. We went to grade school and high school together, then hung around with each other for several years until my career took me to Ohio. We stayed in touch during his time in the Army. After my return to Pittsburgh, I began the Brookline Connection website. Soon, Doug and I were working together, gathering information and preserving our community history. It seemed like old times.
An avid historian, Doug has contributed a lot of photos and research to this website. We have collaborated on a few cool projects, most notably the restoration of the last-remaining Skybus vehicle. Skybus was an innovative People-Mover technology designed and tested here in Pittsburgh. Although the project did not catch on in this city, it has since become a world-renowned system. Through Doug's efforts and dedication, that piece of Pittsburgh history has been preserved and is on display at Bombardier's Headquarters in West Mifflin. Ask anyone involved in the restoration project and they will tell you that Mr. Brendel "did it all."
Doug currently resides in Brookline. His brother, Dr. Michael Brendel, another major contributor to the website, lives in Centerville, Ohio, with his wife Cecilia and their children Kristina and David. Mike is employed by LAU Industries as Vice President of Engineering and Marketing. Doug's younger sibling, Chris, better known as "Fritz," is a Commercial Insurance Underwriter for the State of North Carolina and Virginia, living in Raleigh, North Carolina, with his wife Linda and their children Jensen and Joe. Doug's father, Joseph, a retired advertising executive, still resides in the Brendel family home on Berkshire Avenue.
My good friend is always prepared to take on a new challenge. Whatever creative project lies ahead, one thing is for certain. That familiar phrase will be on the tip of my tongue ...
"Do it all, Doug."
* "'Do it all, Doug' ... in a Nutshell" - Written by Clint Burton, October 2011 *
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