Sam and "Boots" Bryen (left) with
friends Jean and Al Quaill in the 1930s.
Sam Bryen - Voice of Brookline
"Way back in the Roaring 1920s, or
maybe it was the early days of the flirty thirties, a first-rate movie,
"What Price Glory?," and a best-selling novel, "What Price Fame?," were
titillating the public.
Some 30 years later, a
Post-Gazette baseball writer, one Charlie Feeney, would bounce into the
office, and without pausing for breath inquire of the executive sports
"What's the new digs with Maggie
and Jiggs, McGib?"
For purposes of clarification,
Jolly Cholly's inquisitive reference was to the health, wealth, latest
news, you name it, of Boots and Sam Bryen. By the 1960s, any Brookliner
who knew whether a baseball was blown up or stuffed, just hadn't been
around if he hadn't heard of Boots and Sam and their pride and joy, son
Bobby, who by 1969 was an Allegheny County police
Maggie and Jiggs? Jonathon and
Jennifer Hart would be more like it. But that was then. Today - Thursday,
June 24, 1984 - Boots and Sam are quietly celebrating their 49th wedding
anniversary. They met quite by accident at a tavern over in Allentown.
But their marriage less than two months later obviously was one truly
made by the Big Guy in the Sky, not by fate.
Charlie Feeney's frequent
questioning of the Bryen Family's current status was an honest endeavor
in those halcyon days for in November of 1969 they had been recipients of
the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association's annual award for
"outstanding achievements in combating juvenile
Sam and Boots were "King and Queen
for a Night as Brookline's First Family" at a Little League testimonial
dinner, organized by Phyllis Carver, only six months before the police
The Bryen Family: Bobby, Sam
and Boots at a dinner
honoring their years of service to children.
And in the early 1970s, Sam was
honored by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Dapper Dan Club at its annual "Man
of the Year" banquet.
The Bryen's - Boots, a stellar
athlete in the days when Resurrection included High school grades in its
curriculum, Sam and Bobby - were regular "headliners" in the daily and
Brookline weekly newspaper editions.
Boots and Sam ... in Brookline,
the names were as synonymous as baseball's Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Ty
Cobb, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson. Well, you get the
Boots, a West Virginia native, was
freshly retired from many years as president of the Little League Ladies
Sam lurked in the background when
the late John Pascarosa approached a small band of businessman along
Brookline Boulevard with a Little League proposition. Later, Sam was to
umpire, coach, manage, scout, announce, score.
Well, to simplify it, the former
Uniontown High School three-sport star from New Salem, Pa., touched all
the bases and eventually was "drafted" to the presidency, a lofty perch
he filled until 1975.
Lieutenant Bobby? Well, when
Little League was organized in 1951, the only child of Elizabeth Ellen
Kirby (Boots) and Sam Bryen was too old for the program. So, Boots and
Sam Bryen, for about a quarter of a century, played babysitter for
several generations of Brookline parents.
Danny McGibbeny and Mickey
White share a moment
with Sam and "Boots" Bryen in 1963.
The majority of those kids have
never forgotten the gruff, tobacco-chawin' Sam, who over the years has
been known as Mr. Bryen, Eli, the Big E and a few choice names which are
unprintable in a family newspaper such as the Journal. Let it be said
those who uttered the choice names were adequately chastised. Not by Sam,
a tender soul to the core, but by their peers. Out of Sam's sight
For three years now, or since the
spanking new Little League and girls softball fields were named in his
honor, Brookline's loveable Ol' Bulgin' Jaw has returned to the
microphone to announce Little League, Senior League and occasionally one
of the girls softball games. He hasn't lost that dulcet tone,
In the old days, when the LL and
Senior fields were located side by side, a high foul ball would provoke
the Big E, as the kids called him then, to yelp: "Heads up,
Over the years, Sam has earned
accolades as Brookline's "Voice" and the "Rich Man's Bob Prince." Believe
it or not, he's more informative than the three clowns who handle
broadcasts on TV and radio today. And you never hear him asking trivia
questions. Instead, he offers such straight stuff as:
"Fine play, good play by Bobby
"Another fine play by Kramer,
cutting off that runner at second."
"Clean shot to center, driving in
the fifth run for Legion. That's Mark Tomassi's second line-drive
"One and one, two away, 5-0
Legion, bottom of the third."
(In an aside to a reporter, the
"Voice of Brookline" softly remarks: "This kid, P.J. McDonough, has a
"There goes another bullet to
center, Fourth straight hit for Bobby Gardner."
"Two outs. Uh, oh, there goes a
dying quaill to short center and it's in there for a single by Chris
McLane. That spoils P.J.'s no-hit bid."
Long-time BLLA president Sam Bryen
(left) and Ed Motznik
at the 1982 dedication of Sam Bryen Fields.
Game over, Sam, resplendent in his
snappy blue cap, blue shirt, blue slacks and comfortable loafers, headed
home to his beloved Boots.
As he neared the archway - on
which is inscribed "Sam Bryen Baseball/Softball Fields" - one of the
victorious Legion players asked a few of his teammates:
"Who is this Sam Bryen they named
our field for?"
A nearby guy, hearing the question
and noting Sam's amused grin, walked over to the Little
"Son, I want you to meet Mr. Sam
Bryen. They named your field in his honor and he's still coming down to
announce your games. How about that?"
Could this be a remake of "What
Price Glory?" or "What Price Fame?" How quickly they
Article reprinted from The Brookline Journal - June
Sam Bryen, the
"Father of Brookline Little League", passed away in 1996.
The Brookline community lost a great man that day and we all lost a good
Here's a couple
other photos of Sam, sometimes known as Big Eli,
or mistakenly refered to as "Mas Neyrb". May his memory live on!
Sam at the new Concession Stand - 1959
and the Gang at Tryouts - 1959
preparing for the PA State LL Finals - 1959
surveying for the new Pony Field - 1961