Who Can? Pie Traynor Is The Latest Addition To The KSWA Hall Of Fame
March 11, 2017
By Trapper Tom, Editor, KSWA Digest
Studio Wrestling defined professional wrestling in Pittsburgh from 1959 to 1974. The live program featured wrestlers from Pittsburgh and beyond. The first play-by-play host was sportscaster Mal Alberts, but when he moved on, “Chilly” Bill Cardille became the city’s first “Voice” of wrestling. Along for most of the ride was another Pittsburgh sports and broadcasting institution, Harold “Pie” Traynor.
Traynor, a Massachusetts native whose nickname was earned because of his love of the snack, made his debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1920 as a shortstop. He would become the team’s every day third baseman in 1922. He would forge a 17-year Hall of Fame career and a .320 career batting average. In fact, he would be considered the best all-around third baseman in the Major Leagues for its first 100 years.
Once Traynor’s on-field career ended, he managed the Pirates for five seasons. After a stint as a scout, Traynor became a sportscaster for KQV Radio. He was a top broadcaster in the city for 21 years. He was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1948.
In the late 1950’s he became the spokesman for American Heating Company, one of the region’s top businesses of its type. In print material, the advertisements were omnipresent. American became a top sponsor for Studio Wrestling and Traynor performed the live reads during the Saturday night program.
Traynor became as synonymous with Studio Wrestling as Cardille, “Ringside Rosie” and Bruno Sammartino.
While Traynor was most known for his commercials, he did fill in at least once for Cardille behind the emcee microphone. On Saturday, July 10, 1965 Traynor filled in for Cardille, who was out after surgery. WWWF Champion Bruno Sammartino, Cowboy Bill Watts, and Dr. Bill Miller highlighted that night’s card. Mr. Kleen and Bob Nandor also appeared.
Once when someone questioned Traynor’s involvement in professional wrestling, the MLB Hall of Famer was quoted as saying, “Wrestling. That’s the only honest game left.”
Hank Hudson, ring announcer, and one of the most pre-imminent Studio Wrestling historians, religiously watched the product from the mid-sixties until the end of the local run. He had a couple of fond memories of Traynor. “You could see the participants of the next contest entering the ring behind him and then patiently waiting in their corners for the commercial to end! However, on one hilarious occasion, sometime in 1968 or 1969, “The Sicilians,” Tony Altomare and Lou Albano, poked their heads through the ring ropes behind Traynor and continuously interrupted him with taunts like "Don't buy it!" and "We don't want it!", etc.! Traynor eventually blew his cool and in his shaky, craggy voice snapped: "Get out of here!!!"
Hudson also remembered once during a televised interview when Dr. Bill Miller, a legitimate 9-time athletic letterman from Ohio State University, was uncharacteristically polite to Traynor. It’s believed that Miller went out of his way to be polite to the 1925 World Series champion.
Traynor passed away on March 16, 1972. His passing was marked on the front page of the next day’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, above the masthead. The Pittsburgh Press called him “Immortal” on its March 17 front page story. The Press mentioned his reading advertisements for “local wrestling show.” The cause of death was “respiratory arrest.” He was found on the couch of his home in the Oakland section of the city, within walking distance of Forbes Field. The Post-Gazette obituary focused on Traynor’s baseball career, friendliness and kindness. There was no mention of his involvement with Studio Wrestling in the PG, despite the program being one of the most-watched programs in all of Pittsburgh.
Pie Traynor will be inducted into the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance (KSWA) Hall of Fame on Saturday, March 25 at Spirit Hall, 242 51st Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201 by former Pirate broadcaster Lanny Frattare. Frattare was inducted in the KSWA Hall of Fame, Class of 2016, for his work as a guest ring announcer and supporter of the organization. Traynor joins international journalist Bill Apter and “The Fighting Cop from Carnegie,” Frank Holtz. The Hall of Fame Ceremony is part of the Joe Abby Memorial Tournament. This year’s tournament is the 10th annual and returns to the original, four wrestler, single-elimination tournament. For tickets or more information, go to kswa.net or call 412-726-1762.