Barry J. Rosner is known as “The voice of the Mustangs,” and his dulcet tones have been a staple at Laurel Highlands sporting events for 41 years.
He does far more than just speak into a microphone, however, and has had a positive impact on countless parents, fans, coaches, athletes and students in that span.
Laurel Highlands recently decided to pay tribute to him for those many years of service to the school.
Rosner’s dedication to Laurel Highlands was recognized Oct. 25 prior to the Mustangs’ football season finale as the press box at Mustang Field was renamed “The Barry Rosner Press Box.”
Rosner is battling skin cancer, which has cut down on his usual schedule of events. He was determined to attend that particular game but not because he had any indication of the honor that would be bestowed upon him.
“It was Senior Night and I wanted to be there,” Rosner said. “After I announced the seniors, I was sitting in my spot waiting for the game to start and I hear Gary Frankhouser from the South Union Township Television Network asking everyone to turn towards the press box.
“I really didn’t know what was going on, but when he started to announce that ‘from this day forward,’ I knew what was going on, and for probably the first time in my life, I was speechless. Everybody started clapping, and I know they wanted me to say something, but I was afraid that if I did, I may break down. I opened up the window and waved to everybody, but I was completely thrown off by it.”
Football isn’t the only sport Rosner is involved in.
“Other schools have a different announcer for each sport, but at our place, it’s me,” Rosner said. “That’s why they dubbed me ‘The voice of the Mustangs.’ The school gave me a replica of a microphone quite a few years ago that said I was the ‘The voice of the Mustangs.’”
Rosner was eventually in high demand but he had to make some decisions on what sports to work.
“I can’t do every sport because I can’t be at every sport,” he said. “I can’t be at a basketball game when there is a swim meet and I can’t be at a soccer game when there is a volleyball match.
“Mr. (Laurel Highlands athletic director Mark) John and I sat and talked about it, and he said, ‘Well, you choose what you want to do.’ And I said, ‘I am not going to bounce around.’ That is why I don’t do volleyball, swimming and track & field.”
Rosner, a Fairchance-Georges graduate, attended Penn State University before landing a job as a radio disc jockey. He has used his experiences in radio as a springboard to a long and lengthy career that started as the football announcer for the Mustangs.
“They needed an announcer to do the football games because the gentleman that was doing the football games got sick, so Mr. (Ron) Fudala, our athletic director at the time, got me and told me he needed an announcer,” Rosner said. “I figured what the heck? I might as well. Friday night football was all I did. I did that for a couple of years, and then they added boys soccer to the program. I told him I couldn’t do it, but he told me that he needed someone to do it.”
So he relented and added boys soccer to his list.
Rosner has kept stats for the football team, and the boys and girls basketball teams at away and home games.
“In between doing the announcing for boys soccer and football, I started to do stats for football because their statistician quit,” he said. “Then, the next thing you know, the man that did stats for basketball ended up quitting that, too, then they got me doing stats for basketball. I also do the announcing for girls basketball, baseball, girls soccer and softball. I also did announcing for wrestling until the last few years, but we don’t have a program anymore.
“It just grew and went from there. I still do stats for boys basketball at the away games. I never did stats for soccer. I did football until 2013, and then I stopped because it got to be too much as I got older. I enjoy doing the stats, as you are into the game.”
Most football announcers are provided with a spotter to help them identify players, but Rosner doesn’t have that luxury, which makes his abilities as an announcer all the more impressive.
“Bethel Park was up at our place a good 10-15 years ago, and they had a guy who came up to our press box that did the stats and a guy who spotted,” Rosner said. “And when the game was over, the spotter and that guy both came into the press box and they congratulated me on a great job I did as a one-man show. It is rough to do it all by yourself.”
Rosner has been part of the booster clubs and arranged many of the activities while not having any children attend Laurel Highlands.
“We are all there for the kids, and more people need to know that,” Rosner said. “When the kids come back after they have graduated from Laurel Highlands, it makes me feel good that they make it a point to contact or see me. I see these kids at Laurel Highlands as my kids.
“I have helped all the different booster groups throughout the years. I was an officer in the band boosters for many years. I helped to organize the Laurel Highlands band festival. I do whatever I can for whatever booster groups as needed. I was president of the boys basketball booster group for 20 straight years, and that was the one I was most active in. I resigned about five or six years ago as president, but I am still around and go to the meetings, and help in any way.”
There have been a plethora of outstanding athletes and teams that have come out of Laurel Highlands, but Rosner has announced the names of two NFL players and one MLB alumni.
“We had Will Peterson (now James) and Kaleb Ramsey in the pros in football,” Rosner said. “And we had Terry Mulholland with baseball. Terry and I were friends. As the years go by, I make friends with the kids and their families.
“Terry didn’t play all his years on the basketball team because he quit to focus on baseball, but when he was on the basketball team, I got to be friends with him and his family. He has four brothers, and I became friends with them, too, because they all played sports.
“I was friends with Terry all through his high school days, all through his college days and his pro days. I went to many, many pro games, went to his house and stayed periodically while he was in the pros and bounced around to all those different teams. I went to Philadelphia when he was with the Phillies. I was in Philly a lot watching him play. I would go to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.”
Rosner has seen so many moments of excellence in his career that it is hard for him to narrow down to just a few, but he recalled one specifically from basketball season.
“There have been so many good ones, great ones,” Rosner said. “I can’t remember the year. I think it was one of Coach (Harold “Horse”) Taylor’s last years, but we had two back-to-back overtime games with Connellsville and Uniontown. I believe the one with Connellsville went four overtimes and the one with Uniontown went two overtimes, and we won them both. Those were two straight outstanding games.”
Rosner is also the clock operator for football, boys and girls soccer, and boys and girls basketball.
Health concerns this past year forced Rosner to miss the baseball season in which Laurel Highlands reached the WPIAL finals for the first time.
“I had to miss baseball and softball season this last year because of my injury and my sickness,” Rosner said. “Not too often does any team make it to the WPIAL Championships and on to states, and I missed it all. That would have been a memory, but unfortunately, I was confined to have to listen to it or read about it in the paper.”
Rosner is proud of his time organizing, sponsoring and coaching The Blitz 3-on-3 basketball team from 1993-2013 that had players from not only Laurel Highlands, but surrounding area schools.
“I had somebody on my team from every school in Fayette County but Geibel,” Rosner said. “I keep in contact with some of these kids as if they are my own. I had The Blitz team for 20 straight years, with a total of 91 boys getting a chance to continue playing basketball being a Blitz team member.
“I am very blessed to have good kids. I don’t have the exact number, but I would go as far to say we probably won 85 percent of the games we played in our tournaments. We qualified for the national tournament seven times out of my 20 years.
“We did get to play in the national tournament one of the seven years in Indianapolis, and we finished 13th in the country. I had very respectful kids and there were many times where my kids won the tournament sportsmanship award.”
Rosner found many of the players that didn’t attend Laurel Highlands at the annual Laurel Highlands Undergraduate Basketball Tournament, which is something he ran for many years.
“I took over the boys and girls undergrads in the ’90s, and did it every year until about six or seven years ago,” Rosner said. “I built it up to 66 teams one year. It ran like five and a half solid weeks and we ran it Sunday through Sunday. It was so big that the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette came up and spent one Saturday with us. I had teams from West Virginia, other parts of Pennsylvania and Maryland.”
Rosner has done all of his work at Laurel Highlands while working a full-time job.
“I want to work until my health tells me no,” Rosner said. “I was never a person that didn’t want to work. There were times when people joked why don’t I just live up at Laurel Highlands?”
Rosner, 66, has had major health problems throughout the last year and continues to determinedly battle melanoma.
Anyone who would like to send him well wishes can do so at P.O. Box 1076, Uniontown, PA 15401.