I mentioned before that I had been reading a great book titled Playing Through the Whistle by S. L. Price. I want to share some passages from it along with my thoughts that I had while reading this.
We all know of Mike Ditka and Tony Dorsett’s (Hopewell) great football careers at Pitt but what was the town they came from like? That isn’t something most college football fans care much about because it is their living in the moment that matters… “What has he done for my school’s football team?” is the most common thought.
Well, “You are where you came from” is an old saying but one I think is dead-on true. I left Pittsburgh (I grew up in Shadyside) when I was 22 years old back in 1978, but I always think of myself as a Pittsburgher first and foremost – even though I have lived away from the city for 38 years. I believe the same hometown sentiment holds true with most people from Pittsburgh and the surrounding communities.
Once when underway on a long sea voyage a bunch of other Coast Guardsmen and I were sitting around the ship’s mess deck talking about various and sundry things and someone mentioned that New York and Pittsburgh were the only cities where others who are from there make sure to mention that fact in their first sentences when talking with you.
Well hell boys and girls, I’m from Pittsburgh and I have found that to be the case…as it should be. It is a different place altogether and is, in essence, two cities; Steel and Post-Steel.But you can pick out the Pittsburghers from others by their strong actions and then sometimes by the way they talk.
This book tracks and explains the blast furnace that was Aliquippa football which molded and spit out some of the most talented and tough boys and men that have ever existed in America.
While our backgrounds might not be the same as these kids who grew up in Aliquippa – mine sure isn’t – I do believe that each and every one of us was taught by teachers, friends and family that we had generations of Pittsburgh role models who took task to hand and showed the country, and indeed the world, what value the Steel City and its inhabitants inherently hold.
Enjoy the stories… and tell some of your own in the comments section.