The longtime public address announcer of the Pittsburgh Penguins, John Barbero, has passed away at the age of 65 after a long battle with a brain tumor. Fans of the Penguins certainly remember him and his iconic way of announcing the name of Penguins legend Mario Lemieux. Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review talks about his memories of the man with the voice.
My memory of John will be the way he inspired joy at the Mellon Arena press box. He was friends with the off-ice officials, team personnel and most of the old-guard media — and on many game nights I caught myself laughing at the good-natured shots they delivered to one another, with John setting a great example by going with the yucks even when they were at his expense.
John was always kind enough to speak with me, even on the days when I wasn’t popular because of something I had reported. He loved the Penguins dearly, and his contribution to their popularity cannot be overstated. Yes, Mario Lemieux would have delighted home fans with spectacular goals no matter who manned the PA, but credit Barbero for helping Mario’s magic seem magical because of the way Barbero delivered the name: Mar-e-0 Le-muuuuuuuuuuuuuu!
If you’re curious to find out a bit more about John Barbero’s legacy in Pittsburgh, FSN Pittsburgh did a great profile on him years ago that you can find on You Tube. Having a guy with a great voice handle all of the goal announcements is a luxury that sometimes gets understated as the PA guy can get the home fans go from revved up and excited to going out of their minds insane during big moments. What Barbero did in Pittsburgh with the Penguins was outstanding work as the fans there fed off his announcements of goals by guys anywhere from Lemieux to Sidney Crosby.