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.

Freshmen were ineligible to compete at the varsity level so we could not partake in matches, even though I was the best of my chosen event which were the Parallel Bars.  We freshmen did get to go to the away meets which was great. Image result for gymnasts using parallel barsMy first time on a plane trip was travelling to Amherst and the University of Massachusetts. It was really cool and I got to eat my first Filet Mignon on the plane also – I kid you not. Now you get less than a dozen tiny pretzels.

That year at a Penn State match Gene Whetzel, the legendary Penn State gymnastics coach, suggested the freshman be allowed to perform an exhibition. At PSU gymnastics was a huge draw, so I got to perform in front of a packed Rec Hall. I hit my routine (meaning I didn’t fall off the bars) and got a rousing applause from the crowd. It was quite an experience for a guy used to performing in front forty or fifty people.

Also that year the coach had some extra scholarship money and asked if anyone needed help. Like a dummy, I knew little about my finances and didn’t speak up. That summer my Dad took me to sign for some college loans and the light bulb went off.  So the next fall I talked to the coach and told me he couldn’t help. But if I made the team that year, he would help next wrangle a scholarship for me the next year.

I had a pretty good year with the help of the best coach I ever had, a grad assistant who believe in my talent and told me I could possibly win Eastern League Tournament and make NCAA’s National Tournament the next year.

When I came back that next year, after hitching across the country (which is a story best told over beers) the coach told me he had to renege on the scholarship he promised me because a kid who he had given one to the year before had gone out for football didn’t make it and had come back with his parents to petition him for the scholarship.

As you can imagine, my pride was hurt so I quit, thinking that I would get a part-time job. (Another story!). There were a bunch of guys with scholarships who weren’t earning points let alone winning or placing high, like I had done the year before. I should have gone to our athletic director Cas Myslinski, but I was too naïve to think like that.

I tell you this for two reasons, first because the coach was incompetent and secondly I never saw him coaching anyone as the assistants did the coaching. That speaks directly to the incompetence throughout the athletic department at the time. Examples of that are football had Carl DePasqua and Dave Hart and this was pre-Buzz Ridl for basketball. But I never held it against Pitt and later when the coach left I still used to work out with team and even helped coach a little.

The second reason I tell this sad tale is that for an athlete there is only a small window to be at your best. For years I regretted my decision to quit and wondered how much better I could have gotten. Only recently have I realized that I may have been lucky to quit considering how much more arthritis I might be experiencing, not to mention the chance of real injury. As a young guy you think you are bullet proof, but gymnastics is high risk sport. I was really glad years later when my daughter gave up the sport to play soccer.

Also I do want to mention that as an athlete I always had respect for my competition. That carries on to today which is probably why I don’t have much hatred for our rivals. Sure I want Pitt to beat them on game day, but I find the rest of the put downs and name calling rather childish. Sport should lift us up in nature; not make us act like idiots.

In any case my experience with athletics was mostly positive, I got to be with some great teammates, travel and see some great places like the Naval Academy among other places. During my sophomore year Easterns were held at Syracuse and each team was hosted by a sorority, which was obviously really fun. Manley Hall had a dirt floor and all of our white uniforms had red dust from our feet to our ankles. The things you remember.

I also remember seeing Ralph Cindrich, working hard to rehab his knee in the weight room; Moose handing out towels with his squeaky voice, the training room in the bowels of Fitzgerald Field Hall and the squash courts built even deeper in The Fitz. Image result for Fitzgerald Field Hall pitt interiorAt Trees Hall, the shared weight room, the racquetball courts, you had to climb down into, playing pickup basketball with the guys from the Hill, the scary high dive at the Pool.

I was on campus when Mooney Knight came on campus with Buzz Ridl and we had a basketball team for the first time since our All-American Don Hennon. Also during my senior year, a “Major Change” came to Pitt.

I remember quarterback Bob Haygood wearing a high school letter jacket with more award patches than anyone I seen before. I saw Coach Majors work out the previous, recruiting class which wasn’t his, at Fitzgerald so hard that most of them quit. There was also now a separate training table for football where other athletes not allowed.

In essence I was there when Pitt football went from complete incompetence and irrelevance to championship greatness!

It was really hard to believe from what I had personally witnessed earlier. We went from having three 1-9 teams in football with a basketball team that no one remembers to playing a game against a great North Carolina State team with Pitt’s team being mostly local Pittsburgh area kids.

One of the great things about a university in the middle of a City is that you benefit from the total environment. From being able to study at Carnegie Library when Hillman Library was closed, to the Carnegie museum and music hall; having the Syria Mosque on campus, Soldiers and Sailors Memorial were all major assets. Even the hospitals on campus were great especially since I flattened my nose in a touch football game on the Cathedral lawn and spent hours on the floor waiting for them to bring in a plastic surgeon.

Don’t forget the girls from Carlow and Chatham College, even next door neighbor Carnegie Mellon University and Flagstaff Hill with co-eds in the spring.

Also while at Pitt, the Pirates won the 1971 World Series and the Party in Oakland that night is still the biggest bash I have seen.

My friends and I also witnessed the rise from obscurity of the Steelers; from the drafting of Joe Green to the Immaculate Reception and first Super Bowl.

Forbes Field was torn down while I was at Pitt also. I was on the field looking around when The Great One, Roberto Clemente, took his last walk around the infield wearing a shark skin suit and just being his awesome self. No one bothered him by asking for an autograph as we could just imagine what he was thinking.

I marched from Oakland to downtown Pittsburgh in protest against the Vietnam War with a lovely co-ed. Then watched the Pittsburgh Police bash in some heads and take people to jail. We had no bus money so the young lady and I hoofed it back to Oakland on our own through some rather sketchy neighborhoods. It helped set the mood for later that night…

I spent a lot of time in the local establishments and got very proficient at Pin Ball. That cost me a lot of quarters until I got good enough to play all day using only one or two. Measured how drunk I was the night before by how messed up my shirt was from the late night Big O chili dogs. Image result for old ritters diner pittsburghLate night trips to Ritter’s Diner and Primanti’s Brothers when the Brothers were actually there. If they liked you then a sandwich and drink was two dollars; if not three dollars.  After Scotty’s was torn down there were all night joints in Oakland for a while.

The Peace and Love thing was big but I won’t go into the drug stories too much even though the statute of limitations has long expired.

I enjoyed my college experience so much, that I stayed for two more years at the Graduate School of Public Health after I actually got a little more serious about studying.

Back to football for a minute, I spent many an afternoon in an almost empty Pitt Stadium so I have paid my dues so to speak. I’ve really great memories but as you know I am a realist about the reality of an on-campus or ‘Pitt only’ stadium. You can’t live in the past or predict the future. I just wish more people would embrace the ‘now’ and show up at Heinz Field when Pitt is playing their home games. It is what we’ve got and it ain’t bad. Other than being on campus, it is million times better than Pitt Stadium.  I actually remember getting splinters from the wooden benches and knees in your back from the people sitting behind you.

Pitt Fans are their own worst enemies but I guess at times excuse making is all we have. You have to take the good with the bad and hope that better times are coming, while enjoying the times you have now and have had in the past.

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So many stories and it is fun remembering and sharing some of them. I hope you enjoyed your Pitt experience as much as I did and still do.

How many of you have run up all of the Cathedral Stairs, penny’ed your neighbors into their Tower dorm room and flooded them out or had a gun pulled on you in front of Haddon Hall? And remember the crazies on Atwood Street? Those were good times!

HTP!!

GC had another bite from the originating and sent me this additional bit the next day…

It always bugged me that I wasn’t stout enough to play football. I loved the sport and playing with my friends. I had two uncles that were football legends at Allegheny High School. Uncle Mike went on to play at Tennessee and as a tight end caught two touchdown passes to beat Alabama, a very big deal at the time. He was on Bear Bryant’s first coaching staff at Kentucky. Yes he coached there before Alabama. Mike also coached in the pros before taking over his wife’s family business after her father took ill.

uncle georgeMy uncle George was a running back who played basketball at Duke, went to WWII and then played basketball and football at Tennessee after the war. I learned most of this on the internet since my family didn’t talk about it much.

My uncles both played on SEC championship basketball teams at Tennessee.
So my love for athletics is genetic. I loved running and jumping and playing most every sport.

I should mention that college life helps you learn how to grow up in many ways and learn how to deal with people on a daily basis. My freshman year roommate was on the Golf team, yes once upon a time, Pitt had a golf team as well as a Men’s Gymnastics team. He was a great guy and we had a lot of fun adjusting to college life.

Although being on a sports team at Pitt was pretty relaxed in those days, it was challenging, fitting it all in and making grades. I marvel at how Football and Basketball players do it today and why more aren’t ineligible. My roomy was from Waynesboro and he and a group of his buddies all came to Pitt. One was named Zack, he worked at Flo’s Records and ended up owning the store. I always wondered what happened to those guys and many other of my classmates.

I am now down to golf as the only sport I can still play and wondering how many rounds I have left in me.

I am proud to say my immediate family is 100% Pitt. My high school sweetheart started at Clarion and was either so bored or missed me so much she transferred to Pitt. Good thing too, she typed all of my papers and helped a few of us make grades. One time in an anthropology final there must have been six of us looking over her shoulder.

I later regretted immensely not learning how to type, although I am better than Frankcan. After we were married my wife Pat went back to Pitt and got her Masters in Library Science.

My son Alex went to UPJ and is now a successful mechanical engineer working at Westinghouse, just like my Dad. My daughter started at W&J to play soccer, like her mother found it boring, transferred to Pitt and she is now a librarian at a top school district. They both married super people and I am very lucky to have them living in Greater Pittsburgh.

None of them are as Pitt Crazy as me, but my wife loves going to basketball games with me, until last year, she hates Stallings, did I mention she is very perceptive? Both my kids attend some games in both sports with or without me.

I mentioned my father getting me to Pitt since I didn’t have the brains or money to go to his alma mater.  He really was a Pitt Fan.

He died watching the 1983 Pitt-WVU game. I wonder if I may go out the same way since so many times Pitt gets me so agitated.

I am encouraged that Heather Lyke has the support of Gallagher and the BOT and will bring Pitt back to relevance if not prominence. Although I wouldn’t be a Pitt Fan if I didn’t harbor a little doubt.

As always, Hail to Pitt!

 

 

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!

My Mother’s last pregnancy was very difficult one and included a long hospital stay for both my new baby sister and my Mother. During my Mother’s illness I became very close with the couple upstairs as I could just walk through my Grandma’s side and go up a flight of stairs to see them. Our family was pretty much lost and confused without our mother available so I spent a lot time with them.

DoSoon the biggest change in my young life happened when my Mother passed away on our living room couch a few months later. I was around four years old when she died from the flu pandemic of 1959 because she was still weak from her hard birthing and there were no hospital rooms available for her so she had to stay at home. I guess it was obvious to my Mother that she wasn’t going to pull through because she asked the couple upstairs if they would take me in and raise me which they said they would, and did.IMG_0473_01

So Patsy and Ruth were my new parents. Patsy, who was the local mobbed-up Bookie, had been raised in Italy and Ruth was from the Deep South. Once they took me in we moved right into where my family had lived after they relocated outside of town to Hempfield, PA. We did not have a telephone, a TV or get this… a car and we never did get one. We did get a telephone later on but I wasn’t allowed to answer it – that was Patsy’s instrument of business!!Image result for bob prince pirates

Anyway, later I had been given the greatest gift a small boy could own; a transistor radio. I loved Patsy but he was a hard-line dago who had two rules. Rule One – “I’m the boss” and Rule Two, if you don’t like it, see Rule One again! His other two minor rules were; don’t chew grape bubblegum in the house and he never wanted to have to hear Bob Prince’s voice. He couldn’t stand the man.

Image result for roberto clementeAnd this just when I had become a big baseball and Roberto Clemente fan and listened to all their games I could. I just had to sneak-listen to the games in my bedroom with the radio underneath my pillow so Patsy couldn’t hear it. Why is all this important?

You’ll see…

So, I was the biggest Pittsburgh Pirate fan they had. I followed every game in 1960 when the Pirates had won the World Series in 1960 and I just couldn’t get enough of them. I read the Tribune Review’s sports section everyday and followed my team into the fall when there wasn’t any more baseball to be played.

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I also quickly became a Steelers fan to quench my thirst for Pittsburgh sports. Being their fan was much more difficult as the Steelers were pretty much awful back then usually losing more games than they won.  “Ed Brown goes back to pass! Ed Brown goes down!“… But I still loved them even when they lost. I had become a PITTSBURGH fan and really loved the city.

Down the block from our place lived a grade school chum of mine whom I still talk with today. That little redheaded kid, named Dave, and I became fast friends with only one problem; his two older brothers had gone to Penn State and he was a fan of that school… ugh!  I knew nothing about Penn State or any other college actually. My life had centered on surviving through the day at hand as well as I could.

Dave would tell me how the whole family couldn’t stand the University of Pittsburgh and how badly they all wanted PSU to beat them. I can remember wondering almost out loud how he and they could possibly root against a team from Pittsburgh. That was a load of bull to me. Pittsburgh was my town.

End of story right? Pretty much but…

Patsy was a devout Catholic, a dago as it were, and an aside here; in case anyone is taken aback by the word dago, I use it because I consider myself part Italian. Hell, you don’t live with an Italian as long as I did without some rubbing off on you to become part dago. However Ruth was a Southern Methodist lady who went to church whenever she could. They both insisted I needed to get some religion so they sent me along with the redhead’s family to church on Sunday’s (still no car, remember?).

That church had organized a bus trip to PITT Stadium to see the Panthers play West Virginia. I had already become a big PITT football fan but only from reading about the games in the newspaper…. and now I’m going to see PITT but damn did it have to be with Penn state fans? PITT was getting their ass kicked by the Mountaineers in the 1st half and the redhead’s PSU fans just loved it.

Over a section from us was another group down from Greensburg who were also PITT fans like me. The Redheads were having their fun with the big lead and here I was stuck in the middle of it. That didn’t last for long though as that was the game that PITT roared back in the 2nd half to win.  I believe it was 36-35 and in that Greensburg group I found myself some new friends who shared a love of PITT football like I did.

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I’m still best friends with the biggest PITT supporter that day. That, my friends, was a joyous ride home on that rickety old school bus. Of course that’s not the end of my story but like the telephone we weren’t allowed to answer, the rest is left for a different day.

That’s it, no romance, no real drinking… just a young boy struggling to find his way in life and how he got on the road that lead him to PITT Panthers football and then to the Pitt POV.

 

Maybe I Just Enjoy the Agony…

Here is another nice look back at another Pitt fan’s young life. Our friend Jay 91 is a converted Nitter fan – something you don’t see too often around these parts. Thanks a lot Jay, this is a great story… Glad you escaped the clutches of The Evil Nit Jay.

Why am I a Pitt fan?  Maybe I just enjoy the agony..

I’ve been reading these pieces and thought I’d add my kindling to the top of the Pitt bonfire.fr

Let me shoot this shocker at you right off the bat… I was once a Penn State fan.  Sorry, I just threw up in my mouth a bit there. But yes, it’s true. The biggest Nittany hater in the world once sported a t-shirt with Joe Paterno’s face on it. But before you banish me from the POV, please allow me to explain.

Both of my parents hail from Somerset County, my Dad from an especially rural area southeast of Berlin, PA. That area is set in big PSU country. My Dad’s brother Dave had attended Dairy U. and my dad (who would later play at W&J) actually attended football camp there in Rip Engle’s final year as head coach. So, growing up in Maryland and Delaware where the NFL is far more popular than college football, I didn’t know any better.

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That all changed in 1980. My Uncle Dave’s that guy who the more he likes you, the more he likes to give you sh!*. Well, let’s just say he really likes me. To no one’s surprise I was always willing to give it back and so at the time I realized the best way to get his goat was to root against his Lions. I guess his daughter Barb realized the same and we became THE two Pitt fans in the entire family. It was us against the world!

Continue reading “Maybe I Just Enjoy the Agony…”

Ajs32: How Pitt Changed My Life

Here is a submittal from our reader and commenter Ajs32.  Another great slice of life piece and this, and the writing that all you others have contributed, is truly what separates the Pitt POV from any other sites. Bar none.

My Pitt story isn’t all that dramatic, but it is ironic that I ended up loving the school I desperately did not want to attend.

My love affair with Pitt sports began in the early to mid 1990’s when as a ten-year old, my father who was a Pitt engineering drop out, got me into following the basketball program.  I was a huge fan of Jason Maile, Jerry McCullough, Eric Mobley, Chad Varga, and Vonteego Cummings. 9274-706538fr Pitt basketball often lost more than it won in those days and I would get agitated when we would lose to Seton Hall and especially Syracuse.  I remember thinking as a fifth grader, “We will never beat Syracuse in basketball, never.”  I also remember watching an NCAA Tournament with my father during this era and Cincinnati was doing great.  I asked, “Why can’t Pitt win like them?”  My dad said, “Cincy is big time basketball, we just aren’t.”

Unfortunately, as time went on, my father began to lose interest in sports in favor of following politics (yuck) and completing home improvement projects, (double yuck) and I became obsessed with the NFL.

I was a huge Steelers fan growing up in the North Hills and I also cheered for the Buffalo Bills because Jim Kelly is the uncle of one of my friends.  Meeting Jim Kelly, getting autographs from him, and just being in his presence was an awesome thrill.  My love affair with the Steelers would quickly end though because in seventh grade, I saved up $60 which was no easy feat and I purchased a Kordell Stewart jersey.  Image result for Kordell Stewart jersey.My father was less than thrilled with the purchase, not understanding that I would turn into a jersey and autograph junky.

As fate would have it, two months after buying his jersey, I saw Kordell Stewart leaving Lens Crafters at a nearly empty Ross Park Mall with a beautiful blonde on his arm.  My mother saw I was in awe and nudged me to go ask for his autograph.  As a shy chunky dork with no self-confidence I strolled up and asked him, “Mr. Stewart, may I have your autograph.”  He stopped, looked at me strangely, turned and walked away, and I was crushed.  From that day forward I never again cheered for the Steelers but still follow the Bills and the Browns, and I turned more toward following college football.

Continue reading “Ajs32: How Pitt Changed My Life”

How Did I End Up a Pitt Fan?

How Did I End Up a Pitt Fan?

This is a bio submittal from wbb who is right near the top in POV comments posted…

The most accurate answer to the above is ‘Beats me!

I have no real connection to Pitt.  My parents were neither alums or fans; my dad was a Youngstown University grad and my mom wouldn’t know a touchdown from a double bogie.  I didn’t attend Pitt but did have a cousin who graduated from Pitt in circa 1964, but that’s about it.

I grew up in Lawrence County, about 60 miles north of Oakland but did read the Post-Gazette sports page every morning in the mid to late sixties.   My dad followed the Pirates (many a summer evening was spent on our patio listening to the Gunner and the Possum) so I was quite familiar with Pittsburgh sports, but frankly, Pitt football was not much good then nor do I ever remember watching them on TV.

Maybe it was sympathy.   Full disclosure – I adopted Alabama as my favorite team back then, and I also had no hatred whatsoever towards Penn State.  In fact, the first major college FB game I attended was a 63-7 drubbing of Pitt by Penn State which I believe was in the first of their two back-to-back unbeaten seasons. (Edit Note: 1968 was the season where we were outscored 197-16 over the last four games with both Miami and Army pitching shutouts against us).

In addition, I knew of Pitt’s head basketball coach Buzz Ridl way back in 1964 when my dad took me to watch Pitt play at Westminster (yes, at Westminster).  If memory serves, Pitt lost.  I do remember Brian Generalovich having ‘General’ written on his warm-up jacket.

While I don’t remember the exact moment I became a Pitt fan, I do know it was in the mid 70s.  Maybe it was because I saw Tony Dorsett play in high school, maybe it was because a guy I knew in high school started at guard (opposite Wannstedt) for the 1973 team, maybe it was because Ridl was hired at Pitt, or most likely a combination of all of them; but I became a big Pitt fan somewhere along the way.

And further, I became sold on college football and never found it more exciting than when both Pitt and PSU were ranked in the Top 10 in late 70s / early 80s.  And, of course, I saw two of the best of all time in Dorsett and ‘tackle made by No. 99 Hugh ___’ (still the best college FB player of all time IMO).sports_illustrated_70903_19800901-001-775

My friends and I would drive an hour and a half to watch a couple of Pitt games per year beginning in ’73.  I was there when they lost to highly ranked USC in ’73 as the Trojan and his large white steed roamed the sidelines.   I remember Dorsett running a for a 75 yard TD on the first play from scrimmage versus Navy in 1975 only to have it called back.  That was the closest Pitt came to scoring that day in that upset loss.  I was at the stadium in 1976 when Pitt would assume the No. 1 ranking; I remember the PA announcer announcing that Michigan was upset and then proclaiming “Guess who’s No. 1 now!”  (or something like that.)

I saw a large handful of Pitt FB games both live and on TV before I moved to Ohio (Akron) in 1982.  But even then, I kept close tabs, watching them on TV and making the trip to Pittsburgh on a few occasions.   When I finally moved to the Pittsburgh area in the late 90s, I would attend FB and BB games more frequently.  Finally, beginning in 2002, I became a season ticket holder in FB, having as many as five sideline season tickets as well as having BB season tickets for the first 4 years of The Pete. That all ended in 2007 when I had to leave for employment purposes.    But over the last several years, I along with a couple of my friends, still held the three-year season pass package.

So why am I such a big fan?   I still don’t have a clue.

 

 

How Did Central 80 Become a Pitt Fan?

How Did Central 80 Become a Pitt Fan?

Here is a Pitt-life Bio from an old friend from the message boards and who is a truly great Pitt fan. – Central80. I’ve had a chance to meet his family and watch games with them and all because of our similar fandom for Pitt football…

My history as a Pitt football fan has many phases and dates  back to the late 60’s. Family friends were good friends with Boo and Kay Connors. Boo Connors was the legendary Pitt football equipment manager for many years. Every Pitt home game I would go with my friend Mike and his family and meet up with Kay Connors and her group of friends at the Pitt Tavern. I would scarf down huge ham sandwiches and drink as many pony bottles of Pepsi as I could manage before the walk up Cardiac Hill. After the games we would meet Boo and he would take us into the locker room to meet the players. These were not very good years for Pitt football and I’m sure that these years were meant to prepare me for my fate as a Pitt fan.

My later grade school and high school years I would walk from my house in Shadyside to Oakland with my buddies and sneak into the stadium and look at all of the drunk students. They were as entertaining as many of the games. In college I became one of those drunk students. My friend Jakes was a bartender at the Sanctuary and would work Saturday mornings before games. Jakes never met a drink that she didn’t like to give away. She also dated a player so I became friends with a lot of guys on the teams at that time. This was also during Pitt’s glory years so the games were a lot of fun.

After college I, of course, remained a Pitt fan but didn’t attend as many games as I used to. Not sure the reason why but other things just took priority. That changed sixteen years ago when my son was born. He and I have been going to Pitt games since he’s been ambulatory. He’s had the opportunity to meet many players, from legends Tony Dorsett, Jimbo Covert, Larry Fitzgerald, and Dan Marino to James Conner and Quadree Henderson. Each one of them treated him like gold. Pitt football and their games have been such a bonding agent for my son and I and they are something that we will always share.

My daughter enters Pitt in the Fall and that begins a new phase for me as a Pitt football as a Pitt father. She looked at many schools and initially had scant interest in Pitt….namely because it is in Pittsburgh. She finally decided that Pitt was the best place for her and her academic interests. I couldn’t be happier. I was also so proud that the one school that she refused to consider was Penn State!!

In my brief history above I haven’t mentioned one specific game. As a fan I would love for Pitt to win every time they take the field but, ultimately, that’s not what is most important to me. Enjoying the experience with the people in my life, from grade school until now as a parent is what is more meaningful and important to me. A lot of you seem to have photographic memories concerning details of games, Reed included. I’m not like that. I remember the fun that I have had with people. The bond that I have created with my kids and even some people on social media. These will always be my memories of Pitt football.

Not the wins and losses.

How My Kids Became Pitt Fans

How My Kids Became Pitt Fans

Here is a Bio piece from Eric Wassel – MissingWlat to us.

My parents did not attend Pitt. In fact, neither attended college at all. Truth be told, I grew up rooting for the now-hated Dairy School to the East, as my uncle had played football there in the late 60s under Joe Paterno. My only tie to Pitt prior to my enrollment in 1988 was my sister, who had graduated from Pitt in 1985.

I had originally intended to attend Pitt-Johnstown to play baseball. Had I done so, the rest of this story would never have happened. So here’s how my kids became Pitt fans.

In the spring of 1991, during my Junior year at Pitt, I traveled with my roommates to Florida for Spring Break. I had a good friend from high school who was attending Palm Beach Atlantic College. Free room for the week, warm weather, fake ID. I was all set.

Being the frugal (i.e. poor) college student that I was, I booked the cheapest flight that I could find, so I was scheduled to fly home on a Monday rather than a Sunday. Missing one day of classes never hurt anyone, and I got to extend spring break by an extra day. Having time to kill on that Monday before an evening flight back to Pittsburgh, my roommates and I decided to attend a spring training baseball game in Palm Beach between the Expos and the Dodgers.

We arrived and moved towards our cheap seats in left field. As luck would have it, the guy sitting in the row behind us had a daughter who attended Pitt.IMG_2070 One of us was wearing a Pitt shirt, so the gentleman struck up a brief conversation. He had put his daughter on a plane home the previous day, and pointed out that we were skipping class. Point taken. Anyway, real nice guy. Buys us all beers, and we talk a little bit about Pitt football. He had been a season ticket holder since 1982. Sat with his back against the press box on the 50 yard line in the last row of Section 19 of Pitt Stadium. (opposite side of the field from our buddy, Lastrow).  He was a die-hard Pitt fan, and had attended numerous Pitt Bowl Games, including the 1982 Sugar Bowl. Continue reading “How My Kids Became Pitt Fans”