February 16, 2011
Meet Tanner and Hayden Zissis. They're both fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates and both were on hand to pay their respects to Chuck Tanner in Newcastle, Pa., at his wake on Tuesday. As you might be able to guess, Tanner is named after the manager of the world championship 1979 squad, even though he was born 22 years after the accomplishment. Both Tanner and his brother wore their Chuck Tanner jerseys, his trademark bucket hats and gold stars with his No. 7 emblazoned in the middle. That's a nice tribute for Chuck Tanner, who passed away last week at age 82.
Tanner's wake attracted a wide variety of other mourners, from a chartered bus full of current front-office members to a graying Kent Tekulve to our sportswriting pal, John Perotto, who penned a fantastic tribute to his friend in the Beaver County Times:
Nobody made you feel better than Tanner.
So many times over the years, he would grab hold of me, compliment me on one of my stories and slip some nugget of off-the-record information (sorry Chuck, our secret is out). By the time our conversion was over, he would have me believing I was the best baseball writer in the business.
Not present at the wake? Jim Leyland, who says he was told by Tanner's son that his father had left explicit instructions for the Detroit Tigers manager — and good friend — to stay put with his team in Florida.
Tanner will be laid to rest Wednesday.