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Area natives remember Myron Cope

February 28, 2008
By David Hurst,
Ron Gresko has Terrible Towels in his basement, a photograph with Myron Cope in his wedding album and enough memories of his friend to last a lifetime.

Gresko, 43, a Carrolltown native now living in Indiana County, worked with Cope at Three Rivers Stadium during Gresko’s years in the Steelers’ personnel department.

On Wednesday, he remembered the longtime Steelers broadcaster as ‘‘a good friend’’ who loved life and his profession.

‘‘Myron was the kind of guy who woke up and couldn’t wait to get to work. He loved the players and the coaches — and really just loved talking to anyone,’’ Gresko said.

Cope, of course, spent more than a generation as the animated, excitable voice of the Steelers.

Known as a wordsmith in his own right and the architect of the Terrible Towel, Cope died Wednesday of respiratory failure at 79.

‘‘Myron was an institution in Pittsburgh. Being in broadcasting with the voice he had, you never would’ve thought it possible,’’ said Ted Beam of Altoona, who did part-time work for KDKA-TV and now-WPXI-TV on Steelers preseason shows for several years.

‘‘But the kind of person he was and the following he had, he not only got away with it, [he] became a big part of Pittsburgh.

‘‘The city embraced him,’’ Beam said. ‘‘And I know he’ll be sorely missed.”

Gresko met Cope in 1988. At the time, Gresko was a Steelers Scouting Department intern. During the next 2¢ years, the pair became close, Gresko said, handling a post-game locker room show together.

‘‘On the third segment, we’d name an MVP,’’ Gresko said. ‘‘But one time we forgot to talk about it before the show. The next thing you know, it’s time to announce, and we’ve got nothing.”

Myron looked at Gresko and mouthed the words, “Who is it?’’

Gresko froze. Then he thought about his friend Mike Mularkey.

Mularkey quickly was named the game’s most valuable player. Better known for his years as an offensive coaching guru than for three mediocre seasons as a Pittsburgh tight end, Mularkey had one or two catches in the game — totaling about 18 yards, Gresko recalled.

Linebacker Greg Lloyd had two sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery, they quickly realized. Steelers fans knew it, too, and flooded the phone lines, hammering Cope for his poor choice.

‘‘He stuck up for me for awhile,’’ Gresko said.

By the time he got home to Carrolltown, he heard Cope yelp on the radio, ‘‘‘OK, Ron Gresko told me to pick him. Leave me alone.’’’

‘‘He gave up his informant,’’ Gresko said, laughing. ‘‘We never forgot about that one.”

Gresko, who left his Steelers stint to return to Cambria County in late 1990, never forgot about Cope either.

Cope attended his wedding later that year — even serving as a bartender at the reception for a bit. They saw each other a few times afterward, most recently during training camp seven years ago, Gresko said.

‘‘We talked about good times, the time we spent at Three Rivers,’’ he said. ‘‘But he asked how [my family] was doing and reminded me to take care of them. Family was so important to Myron.”

Gresko said that thought crossed his mind several times Wednesday, recalling how much Cope missed his wife, Mildred, who died in 1994.

‘‘I know he’ll be with her now — and that he’s better off,” he said, recalling Cope’s years of health problems.

There’s a tradition in the Gresko home these days.

The 43-year-old father of three carries his youngest —now 4 — downstairs every Sunday before the Steelers play to smack a Terrible Towel that adorns his wall for luck.

‘‘I told him, ‘You know the guy who invented that and Daddy were buddies,’’’ Gresko said. ‘‘One day, he’ll understand what that means.”

Mirror Staff Writer David Hurst is at 946-7457.

Article Photos

(Courtesy photo)
Longtime Steelers broadcaster Myron Cope (right) congratulates Ron Gresko after his wedding in 1990. Cope died Wednesday at the age of 79.

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