How Joe L Became a Pitt Fan…

How Joe L Became a Pitt Fan…

My friend Joe l. has chipped in with his Bio here also.  I had a great dinner with Joe and his daughters before a Pitt bowl game two years ago… Great kids and a great Pitt fan. 

I am a native Pittsburgher, born in Suburban General Hospital in Bellevue in January of 1960. My parents were both from Richmond, VA and were brought to the Pittsburgh area in 1959 when my Dad took a job at the Shippingport Nuclear Plant (Beaver County) following his graduation from UVa. We lived in the Sewickley Manor apartments just off of Ohio River Boulevard, behind the then Holiday Inn (later featured in the movie “Jack Reacher” as the motel Reacher stayed in while in town).

I am told that at nine months, I was sitting in my dad’s lap when Bill Mazeroski hit the home run over the left center wall (and Yogi Berra’s head) to beat the Yankees and win the 1960 World Series.

When my younger brother was born in 1962, we moved up to Coraopolis Heights directly beneath the water tower with a full view of the Ohio Valley. In 1965, my parents then bought a house in Mount Lebanon off of Beverly Road so that we could attend the local school system.

In the late 60’s, I attended my first big sporting event with my Dad – a Pirates game at Forbes Field. We entered the ballpark with “knothole club” tickets through a nondescript door down Bouquet St. Our seats were high up and I seem to recall that the ramps had railings made of bull rope as we ascended to the upper level.

As a part of the knothole club experience, the Pirates sent up two players to meet with our group before the game. As luck would have it, the two players were from Virginia – Jerry May and Gene Alley. Like my father, Alley grew up in Richmond and the two remembered each other from their high school playing days. I can imagine that it was special for my dad and I thought it was really cool that he knew one of the players.

On the way home from the game, I had my first sight of the monolithic edifice that was Pitt Stadium at the top of the hill. It was gone in a flash as we passed by and I asked my Dad what it was. He told me that was the place where the Pitt pennant on my bedroom wall came from and that we’d go there someday. He occasionally went there with friends and I recall that after one Notre Dame game, he came home and went right to bed – with his clothes still on and on top of the sheets. My mom explained that he had a “virus” but she didn’t seem too sympathetic to his plight.

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Why Pitt & Pitt Football Mean So Much to Me

Another great Pitt Bio submitted this time by Justin. What a great memory and a wonderful way with words. Plus he thinks the POV is the best around and for that I thank him…

I was born in Donora, PA, a Mon Valley steel mill town founded in the early 1900’s and populated by many European immigrants to America and Southern blacks who moved up to northern industrial centers, nearly all of whom worked in the steel mills.  Never numbering more than 13,000 residents, it still produced an amazing number of sports champions, the first generation of children of those hard-working steelworkers. The school’s colors were black and orange, the colors of the flames and smoke from the mills.  (Consider the current powerhouse Clairton HS that has the same school colors.)

Donora, now pretty much a very rusty rust belt town and much smaller now, still calls itself the Home of Champions.  Here are just some of them: Baseball Hall of Famers “Stan the Man” Musial and Ken “Junior” Griffey; Ken’s father Ken, Sr., a member of the Cincinnati Reds’ “Big Red Machine” ; Arnold “Pope” Galliffa, Army Football All-American quarterback and College Football Hall of Famer; “Deacon” Dan Towler, W & J Little All-American running back who played for the Los Angeles Rams and actually became a minister; and Lou “Bimbo” Cecconi, a Donora HS great, a State of Pennsylvania and a WPIAL Hall of Famer, and a Pitt QB and RB of note and also an assistant coach.

Except for the Griffeys, all these sports greats made their initial marks in the 1940’s when I was a child.  Buddy Griffey, Junior’s grandfather and Senior’s father, played with Stan the Man on the Donora baseball team in 1939.  As I grew up, I heard all about these greats, but Bimbo made the greatest impression on me, probably because of his unique nickname.  That was how Bimbo’s Pitt first became It to me.

As I grew up in the 1950’s Pitt’s football teams had some real success by winning tough intersection games as an Eastern independent.  Two major bowl games were achieved in the 1950’s, both against Georgia Tech, and both of them losses. Pitt had an African-American player, Bobby Grier, for the Sugar Bowl game, and controversy erupted when the segregationist Georgia governor called for both teams not to play each other.

Headlines made this controversy known nationwide. The game was eventually played, making it the first integrated major college football game played in the Deep South. Ironically, another problem came about when a controversial interference call in the game was made against Grier, setting Georgia Tech up on the one yard line for the game’s only score, 7-0.  Pitt lost to Tech in the Gator Bowl the next year, 21-14. I never forgot those Tech games, and to this day, I hate it when Pitt can’t win the game against GT.

About this time, my beautiful first cousin Frances was on the cheering squad at Pitt.  She fell in love with Charles “Corky” Cost, a star running back on the Pitt bowl teams in the 50’s.  I remember seeing Fran’s picture in a Sunday Pittsburgh newspaper in her cheering outfit. They eventually married and still are together.  He and his family’s construction business grew to great proportions, and Pitt received the family’s largesse through buildings on campus and donations.  Although I was not close to the Cost family, I was still proud that through him and Fran Pitt benefited and was not forgotten by them.

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How I Became a Pitt Fan – Mitt72

How I Became a Pitt Fan – Mitt72

This bio is from Mike Buncher (Mitt72) who is a regular reader but infrequent commenter.  His is a more simple story than some but the theme remains the same; Pitt changed his life. I love the part about what his Mother did so that Mike could attend Pitt.  We tend to forget what our parents did for us… but then somehow we do the exact same things for our children.  Mike’s Mom was of the generation who would do whatever it took to ensure their children had better lives than they had.

I’m 68 years old, born and raised in Pittsburgh. My grandparents emigrated from Poland and started a family in the Squirrel Hill section of the city back in the 1920’s. My grandfather supported them by working as a baker while my grandmother, a homemaker, cared for their three children.

Image result for taylor allderdiceMy mom went to Taylor Allderdice high school along with her two brothers; the same high school I attended some twenty years later. When they graduated from high school they found jobs, got married and started families of their own.

No one from my family had gone to college and aside from my doctor I don’t think I even knew a college graduate while I was growing up.  But my mom had a dream for her kids.

She told me, more times than I care to remember, “You are going to college,” and while I pushed back and tried to convince her otherwise I could tell there just was no way I was going to win that argument.

I had two initiations to Pitt football. The first came at around age eight. Our Cub Scout troop received tickets to see Pitt play. I don’t remember who we played; I just remember being amazed by the spectacle of a college football game and amazed by the excitement, the size of Pitt Stadium and the roar of the crowd. I was hooked.

My next connection came a few years late when I was around age 11. My mom had remarried and our blended family moved to Stanton Heights where I started in a new school and was unhappy about the move and all the adjustments it took. Gym class was the one place I felt comfortable because I loved playing sports. It was my gym teacher, Mr. Adams (Henry Adams) who made me forget my school problems, reintroduced me to Pitt football and made me a fan forever.

He told our class of about 30 or so 11-year-old boys that he had played football at Pitt. He said he was the starting center on the Pitt football team that went to, and won, the 1937 Rose Bowl. He mentioned this quietly without fanfare or bravado. And he never even mentioned that he had played football professionally for a year with the Chicago Cardinals after college.

Wow” I thought! We had a real live football player as our teacher. After that introduction I felt lucky to be in my new school and I shared a bond with the other guys in my class regarding Mr. Adams. From that point on Pitt was going to be it for me.

Some years later when it came time for me to go to college my mom made good on her promise to me. We didn’t have much money but she learned that I could attend Pitt for free if she got a job at the university. So while I was in high school my mom started working at Pitt as a secretary at The Graduate School for Public and International Affairs so I could go to college for free. Even my books were discounted.

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My Name is Mark… and I’m a Pitt fan

My Name is Mark… and I’m a Pitt fan

Here is MarkPT’s recap of his road to Pitt fandom. It’s a great read and Mark wins the secret contest to be the first POVer to use “jagoff” in his story.

Like many POVers, I grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania. My dad was a minor and regional sports fan. As I recall he favored Pitt among college sports teams in football (and Duquesne in basketball) but if Pitt wasn’t playing PSU he would root for PSU against other teams. The three sports teams I recall hearing the most about in Belle Vernon in the early 70s were Pitt, PSU, and Notre Dame.

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“My Pitt Fan Story” and Bio Addendums

“My Pitt Fan Story” and Bio Addendums

Here is a bio by our commenter friend “frank md”…

I lived in Johnstown through high School among Pitt and PSU fans.  I really had no feelings either way.  But that took a turn after I graduated from high school.

I wanted to become an aeronautical engineer.  I found that PSU had that course so I applied there.  But when I heard from them they said they could not offer me any assistance even though my grades were in the top 10% of my high school class and our family qualified for low-income assistance.  So I applied to Pitt.  Lo and behold Pitt offered a small scholarship that I could use to attend the Johnstown campus.  Since they did not offer aeronautical engineering, I enrolled in electrical engineering.

Frank LuciaAfter two years I had to transfer to Pittsburgh because Johnstown did not offer the last two years of electrical engineering.  By the way, Pitt-Johnstown is now a located on a huge beautiful campus with four-year degrees.  With my Johnstown scholarship over, I had to wait to see if Pitt would continue the scholarship in Pittsburgh.  Otherwise it meant the Air Force.  Pitt did offer an Alcoa scholarship and loans.99

I had been working in Johnstown for Acme markets and as luck would have it they had a store in the North Hills on McKnight Road.  I also had family in Pittsburgh as my uncle and nephew had a barber shop on Fifth Avenue for many years.  So, off I go to Pittsburgh.

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Why Pitt Is It For GC…

Why Pitt Is It For GC…

I grew up in the bedroom community of Penn Hills and graduated with 1000 other Penn Hills kids. Had a great time in high school, was too small for football and in the wrong clique for basketball, so luckily I excelled at high jumping and by my junior year gymnastics also. It was important in a class of 1000 to gain some notoriety if you wanted to date the more worthy girls. Funny story; I was voted President of the Varsity Club, but the Football coach didn’t approve and rounded up a bunch of his players then  took a second ballot. But I digress.

My first memory of Pitt is my Dad taking me to a game, which I vaguely remember that Paul Martha starred in, and who could forget their first visit to massive Pitt Stadium.  My Dad was the reason I ended up at Pitt. He was a research engineer at Westinghouse and went to night school at Carnegie Tech. One of my earliest memories is of him dropping me off at Skibo Hall and I rolled around on the gym mats while he was in class… I was destined to be a gymnast.

Anyway, I was having so much fun in High School that I never thought ahead to college. My Dad filled out the Pitt application and, had me sign it, so I went to Pitt. I did have good grades and a decent SAT, but probably wouldn’t be accepted there today.

Back then, Pitt had a several day summer orientation, I remember a particular evening on the Gateway Clipper. (Note: current Pitt LB Quentin Wirginis’ family now owns the Gateway Clipper line).

So in the fall of ’68, my folks dropped me off at Tower B where I was assigned a dorm room. Image result for tower b pittFor you young folks, those really were turbulent times with the Vietnam War raging, the assassinations of RFK and MLK, inner-city riots and student protests. The music was awesome though with Motown, the British Invasion and the start of Hard Rock. My neighbors in the dorms had a record player and played the Doors all day and all night. By the time I graduated everyone had their own stereos playing Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. One night there was a buzz through the Towers, because “Paul Was Dead! so  people began playing the Sgt Peppers album backwards, etc.

I walked on the Pitt Gymnastics team, which was being reconstituted after a hiatus. I was a parallel bar specialist and fit in with the great bunch of guys. They took me to QuinQues where I had meatballs and cheese in a bowl and a beer. I had already started drinking when I was 15 and was bar hopping throughout the region when I was 16, but it was still cool have a beer with my new friends.

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Who in the Hell Does Ike Think He Is?

Who in the Hell Does Ike Think He Is?

Well to answer that question for a very long time in my life… I simply didn’t know who I was.

I wanted to contribute and be a part of the autobiographical articles on the POV so I had to ask myself, “Self, how did you become such a big PITT football fan and be so fanatical about it?” So I’ve started and erased around five different times wondering how I can explain all the past. I didn’t want to come off as a bleeding heart or too dramatic, yet at the same time my young life is what is most important in telling this story. There are no pretty girls and loves of my life involved; no romantic tales or mingling with the players from the team, this would be a long distance relationship.

I started off as a child born into a large family in a large house in Greensburg, PA which my maternal Grandmother owned. My family lived on one side of the house, grandma was on other and a couple was staying in the third floor two room apartment – they were Patsy and Ruth or “Do” as I called her.

Image result for james dean motorcycle imagesMy father was an alcoholic and people thought he was a James Dean type because he was the only person anyone knew of who owned a motorcycle back in those days. He worked for the railroad and in his spare time collected and worked on old cars that ended up littering our backyard like it was a junkyard.  This was complete with chained up mean-ass junkyard dogs that no one was allowed to go anywhere near. This was while we lived smack in the heart of Greensburg mind you… sounds like a white trash lifestyle to me!

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