Beano Cook left unique legacy...and a clipboard

By John Mehno 
Beaver County Times Sports Correspondent | Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2012 11:30 pm
People carry laptops, tablets or smartphones these days. Beano Cook carried a clipboard.
It was a big clipboard, well-worn and always loaded with whatever occupied his interest at the moment. That could include stories torn from newspapers, notes to himself and his sizable phone bill. Everything was on the clipboard.
You could always count on Beano lugging that clipboard, wearing a dark suit and being the loudest guy in the room.
Carroll Hoff Cook’s interesting life came to an end Thursday when he died in his sleep at 81. Recent years had been cruel with a series of major health challenges that severely limited his mobility.
Beano spent his last years living in a high rise at the corner of 7th and Liberty in downtown Pittsburgh, right above a 7-Eleven store. In better times, he’d spend hours drinking coffee at the Wood Street Arby’s, going through his stack of newspapers. When crossing the street became a problem, he held court at a back booth in Yovi’s hot dog shop off his building’s lobby.
He was the best customer the newsstand at 6th and Penn ever had, buying all the out-of-town papers they stocked on a daily basis. Since Yovi’s closed, almost all of his contact with the outside world was by telephone.
Sports talk stations across the country called to get his insights on college football, and Beano lived to have an audience. In some ways, he was frozen in time somewhere around the 1960s. He’d make references to the Cuban Missile Crisis like it was last year’s big story.
Beano lived by unalienable principles. He bragged that he would never acquire the three great contributors to the downfall of men: A wife, a car and an ex-wife.
Although he tried to hide it (and incorrectly thought that he did), he was a staunch Pitt man. If anyone didn’t agree with his point of view, he automatically suspected some connection to Penn State.
In his good years, Beano circulated around town. He rarely watched games, but he’d hold court in the press rooms before games. He hated baseball, but he would show up at Three Rivers Stadium for Pirates games, just to preside in the press room and have an audience.
He wasn’t a diplomat. Once he asked someone how long Lanny Frattare had been announcing Pirates games. Told it was 25 years, Cook exclaimed, well within Frattare’s earshot, “Wow, 25 years and he’s still chasing Bob Prince’s ghost!”
That sort of behavior meant he wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but he was a unique presence. He started as a publicity man when that job required a different skill set. Publicists of his era didn’t just provide information, they “sold” stories and helped create stars. He worked for Pitt, then briefly for the Miami Dolphins, and then for ABC and CBS.
At ABC, he pestered the legendary Roone Arledge into giving him a shot on the air, and he became a cult figure as college football’s curmudgeon. That morphed into duty on ESPN, and he was still doing radio work recently.
One of the stars he created at Pitt, Paul Martha, hired him to work for the Penguins in the 1980s. That didn’t work out. Sports had become corporate and Beano was the square peg at the Civic Arena. He found contentment as the college football guru, following the sport from his apartment and spending hours on the phone.
Those calls kept him going through the tough times and gave him a purpose.
He doesn’t leave a wife, a car or an ex-wife – just the clipboard, and a legacy of laughs among those his unique style entertained.