Sam Bryen
Little League President

Picture of Sam
 Bryen, wife
Sam and "Boots" Bryen (left) with friends Jean and Al Quaill in the 1930s.

Sam Bryen - Voice of Brookline
by Dan McGibbeny

"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 editor:

"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 lieutenant.

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 delinquency."

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 chief's affair.

 Boots and Sam Bryen

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 message.

Boots, a West Virginia native, was freshly retired from many years as president of the Little League Ladies Auxiliary.

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 with Sam Bryen
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 naturally.

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, either.

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, seniors."

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:

"Struck'm out."

"Fine play, good play by Bobby Ingold."

"Another fine play by Kramer, cutting off that runner at second."

"That's outta here."

"Clean shot to center, driving in the fifth run for Legion. That's Mark Tomassi's second line-drive hit."

"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 no-hitter going.")

"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."

Picture of
 Sam Bryen and Ed Motznik.
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 Leaguer.

"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 forget!

Article reprinted from The Brookline Journal - June 28, 1984.

Picture of Sam Bryen - The Father of the
 Brookline Little League -  1985.

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 friend.

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
Sam and the Gang at Tryouts - 1959
Sam preparing for the PA State LL Finals - 1959
Sam surveying for the new Pony Field - 1961

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