Thursday, October 23, 2014
How to Be a Devils Fan In Pittsburgh -- 2014-15 Edition
I like Pittsburgh as a city very much. I admire the Steelers. I respect the Pirates and the University of Pittsburgh Panthers. But I loathe the Penguins.
Why? Because I have taste. And because Commissioner Gary Bettman loves Crosby and has fixed games for him.
Before You Go. Pittsburgh is at roughly the same latitude as New York City, so roughly the same weather can be expected. As always, check out the newspaper website (the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) before you head out. They're predicting low 80s for the afternoons and mid-60s for the nights, and humid, all 4 days of this weekend, and rain is possible on Friday and Saturday.
Pittsburgh is in the Eastern Time Zone, so you won't have to adjust your timepieces.
Tickets. The Penguins are averaging 18,618 fans per home game. That's more than a sellout, and it includes standing-room. This has been the case pretty much since Mario Lemieux arrived 30 years ago (has it been that long already?), and it will be the case as long as Crosby is around.
Penguins tickets are also insanely expensive. In the lower bowl, you can expect to pay at least $190 between the goals and $111 behind them. In the upper bowl, at least $96 between the goals and $75 behind them.
Getting There. I'm not going to kid you here: There’s only one way to do so, and that’s by car. You do not want to fly, because you’ll end up spending over a thousand bucks to go less than 400 miles, and the airport is out in Imperial, Pennsylvania, near Coraopolis and Aliquippa - it’s almost as close to West Virginia and Ohio as it is to downtown Pittsburgh.
You do not want to take the train, because the Amtrak schedule just doesn’t work. It's relatively cheap at the moment, $144 round-trip. But the Pennsylvanian leaves Penn Station at 10:52 AM, and doesn't get to Pittsburgh's station of the same name until 8:05 PM, after the first pitch. And there's no overnight train that would leave at, say, 11 PM and arrive at 8 AM. And going back, the Pennsylvanian leaves at 7:30 AM and arrives back at 4:50 PM. No good.
Greyhound isn’t much better, but at least you have options. There are 14 buses a day between New York's Port Authority Bus Terminal and Pittsburgh, but it's a bit expensive considering the distance, $149 round-trip (though advanced purchase can get it down to $48). Leaving at 6:15 AM on Tuesday will get you to downtown Pitt at 5:55, giving you just enough time to get to a hotel and then get to the arena for a 7:00 start. The Greyhound station is at 55 11th Street, across Liberty Avenue from the Amtrak station.
The only sensible way is by car – especially if there’s more than one of you going and you can take turns driving. It’s 359 miles from the Prudential Center in downtown Newark to the CONSOL Energy Center in downtown Pittsburgh.
Take any highway that will get you to Interstate 78: For most of you, this will be the New Jersey Turnpike (Exit 14), the Garden State Parkway (Exit 142), or Interstate 287 (Exit 21). Follow I-78 west all the way through New Jersey, to Phillipsburg, and across the Delaware River into Easton, Pennsylvania. Continue west on I-78 until reaching Harrisburg. There, you will merge onto I-81. Take Exit 52 to U.S. Route 11, which will soon take you onto I-76. This is the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the nation’s first superhighway, opening in 1940.
You’ll be on it for another 3 hours – Pennsylvania is huge compared to a lot of Northeastern States. The political consultant James Carville, who got Bob Casey Sr., father of current U.S. Senator Bob Casey Jr., elected Governor in 1986, says, “Pennsylvania is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, with Alabama in the middle.” He wasn’t kidding: Between Philly and Pitt, it is very, very rural, hence the nickname “Pennsyltucky.” It certainly explains the State’s love of football: The Philadelphia Eagles, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Penn State and high school ball.
You’ll take the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Exit 57, the signs showing I-376 and U.S. 22 – the same Route 22 you might know from New Jersey, which I-78 was designed to replace – and the sign will say “Pittsburgh.” Check this photo.
There will be several exits on I-376, the Penn-Lincoln Parkway, into the city of Pittsburgh. Most likely, if your hotel (which I hope you’ve reserved before you left) is downtown, you’ll take Exit 71B, “Second Avenue.” If you're not staying over, and just going for the game, take Exit 72B for Boulevard of the Allies. Make a right on Gist Street, then a left on Fifth Avenue. The arena will soon be on your right.
From North Jersey, you will probably need almost 6 hours just for driving. I recommend at least 2 rest stops, preferably after crossing over into Pennsylvania around Easton, and probably around either Harrisburg or Breezewood. So the whole thing, assuming nothing goes wrong, will probably take about 8 hours. In other words, if you're driving in just for the game, and leaving right thereafter, you should leave New Jersey at 10 AM to arrive by 6 PM, and then leave at 10 PM to arrive back home around 6 AM. (Again, I recommend getting a hotel and staying over. After all, you're not going to be in much shape to go to work on Wednesday morning, so you might as well ask for two days' off.)
Once In the City. Pittsburgh has, by American standards, a long history. It was settled by the French as Fort Duquesne (Doo-KANE) in 1717, and captured by the British in 1758, and renamed Fort Pitt, for Prime Minister William Pitt the Elder. The General who captured it, John Forbes (for whom the Pirates' former park Forbes Field would be named), was a Scotsman, and he intended the town that grew around it to be named "Pittsburgh" -- pronounced "Pitts-burrah," like the Scottish capital Edinburgh. From 1891 to 1911, the H was dropped from the city's name, and this was reflected on the Pirates' uniforms, which sometimes read "PITTSBURG," as seen on the famous 1909 "T-206" baseball card of Honus Wagner. But the Germanic "Pittsburg" went back to the Scottish "Pittsburgh," while keeping the Germanic pronunciation. (There is, however, a town named Pittsburg, with no H, in Kansas.)
With this long history, a great architectural diversity, and a dramatic skyline with lots of neat-looking skyscrapers, Pittsburgh looks like a much bigger city than it actually is. While the metropolitan area is home to 2.7 million people, the city proper has only 306,000, having lost over half its population since the nearby steel mills, coal mines, and other factories closed starting in the 1970s.
The reduction of blue-collar jobs led people to take comfort in their sports teams, especially in the 1970s. Either the Pirates or the Steelers made the Playoffs in every year of that decade, both of them did so in 4 of those 10 years, and the University of Pittsburgh (or just "Pitt," though they don't like that nickname at that school) had an undefeated National Championship season in 1976. The Pirates won 2 World Series in the decade, the Steelers 4 Super Bowls in 6 years.
Calendar year 1979, with spillover into January 1980, was an annus mirabilis, in which the "Steel Curtain" won Super Bowl XIII in January, the "Bucs" (or "Buccos," or "Lumber Company," or "Family") won the World Series in October, and the Steelers then went on to win Super Bowl XIV, with the Pirates' Willie Stargell and the Steelers' Terry Bradshaw being named Co-Sportsmen of the Year by Sports Illustrated and the city government advertising itself as the City of Champions. The the ABA's Pipers were gone early the decade, but the city got a fictional basketball team because, in 1979, it was considered cool enough to film a sports movie there: The astrology-inspired The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, starring Julius "Dr. J" Erving.
(It was also at that time that, in order to ride the Pirates/Steelers bandwagon, the NHL's Penguins switched their colors from navy blue and yellow to black and gold, but it was several more years before they became a championship contender.)
While the loss of industry did mean a sharp, long-term decline, the financial, computer and health care industries opened new doors, and Pittsburgh is very much a now and tomorrow city. And they love their sports, having won 14 World Championships in 19 trips to their sports’ finals (which gives them a .737 winning percentage in finals, the best of any city of at least 3 teams) -- and that doesn't count the 9 National Championships won by Pitt football, the Negro League Pennants won by the Homestead Grays (10) and the Pittsburgh Crawfords (4), or the 1968 ABA Championship won by the Pipers.
Pittsburgh has numbered streets, moving east from Point State Park, where the Allegheny River to the north and the Monongahela River to the south merge to become the Ohio River -- hence the name of the former Pittsburgh sports facility, Three Rivers Stadium. North-south streets start their numbers at the Monongahela, and increase going north.
There is a subway system in the city, and it's free within the downtown triangle. But outside that area, a one-zone ride is $2.50, and a two-zone ride is $3.75. A 75-cent surcharge is added during rush hour. These fares are the same for city buses, although they're not free within the downtown triangle.
The sales tax in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is 6 percent, and Allegheny County (including the City of Pittsburgh) pushes it to 7 percent.
The old Pittsburgh Press, once the 2nd-largest newspaper in Pennsylvania behind the Philadelphia Inquirer, went out of business due to a strike in 1992, before the city's remaining daily, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, brought it back in online form in 2011. That strike gave Richard Mellon Scaife, the current head of the legendary Pittsburgh metals and banking family, a chance to turn a local suburban paper into the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, spouting his right-wing fanatic views. It may be that the P-G brought back the Press to give the city 2 liberals voices against the 1 nutjob voice.
Going In. The CONSOL Energy Center -- the 1st word always in ALL CAPS -- is right downtown. The official address is 1001 Fifth Avenue. It was built across Centre Avenue from the Penguins' previous home, the Civic Arena, now demolished, and its address of 66 Mario Lemieux Place stricken from the U.S. Postal Service's records.
If you're driving in, parking is remarkably cheap for a big-league sporting event: It can be had at most nearby lots for as little as $6.75.
The new arena seats 18,087 for Penguins and other hockey games, including the 2013 NCAA Championships (a.k.a. the Frozen Four); and 19,000 for basketball, for college tournaments and, in the unlikely event the NBA returns to Pittsburgh, the pros. The building and opening of this arena means that, for perhaps the first time in franchise history, the Penguins' long-term future in Pittsburgh is secure. The rink is laid out north-to-south. The Penguins attack twice toward the north end of the arena.
Food. Pittsburgh is a city of many ethnicities, and most of them love to eat food that really isn’t good for you: Irish, Italian, Polish, Greek, and African-Americans with Soul Food and Barbecue. (Yes, I did mean to capitalize those last two. The styles deserve it.)
Unfortunately, the kind of variety available at the Pirates' PNC Park isn't nearly as available at the New Igloo. The legendary Primanti Brothers sandwich makers have a stand at Section 119, and Section 116 has several healthy options. There are Dairy Queen stands at sections 105 and 234. But there's not much specialization. Pretty much anything you can eat at a sporting event is sold there, though.
Team History Displays. A statue of star-turned-owner Mario Lemieux is in front of the arena. Because the Penguins are the arena's only major tenant, their championship banners are hung over center ice: The 1991, 1992 and 2009 Stanley Cups; the 1991, 1992, 2008 and 2009 Conference Championships; and the Division titles.
As the Devils do, the Penguins hang their retired numbers along the side. In their case, 1 on each side: 21, Michael Briere; and 66, Mario Lemieux. Most likely, the 68 of Jaromir Jagr will be retired when he retires from hockey -- which he will do, eventually. And, of course, the 87 of Sidney Crosby will also go up there.
The Penguins have a team Hall of Fame, but I don't know where the display is at the arena. The 18 current members are:
* From the pre-Cup years, 1967 to 1990: General manager Jack Riley, center Syl Apps Jr. (son of the Toronto Maple Leafs legend), right wings Jean Pronovost and Rick Kehoe, defenseman Dave Burrows and goaltender Les Binkley.
* From their 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup Champions: Team owner Edward J. DeBartolo (father of the former San Francisco 49ers owner), longtime front office executive Elaine Heufelder (one of the few women with her name stamped on the Stanley Cup), general manager Craig Patrick (of hockey's first family, grandson of Lester Patrick), head coach "Badger Bob" Johnson, center Mario Lemieux, right wing Joe Mullen, defensemen Paul Coffey and Ulf Samuelsson, broadcaster Mike Lange, organized Vince Lascheid, and locker room attendants Anthony Caggiano and Frank Sciulli.
So far, no members of their 2009 Cup winners have been elected. And, as I said, Jaromir Jagr has not been. Oddly, neither has center Ron Francis, nor defenseman Larry Murphy, both of whom have been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame and were instrumental in the Cup wins.
Lascheid was the organist at Three Rivers Stadium and the Civic Arena. Much like Gladys Goodding at Ebbets Field and the old Madison Square Garden, and John Kiley at Fenway Park and the Boston Garden, Lascheid was the answer to a trivia question: Who was the only man to play for the Pirates, the Steelers and the Penguins?
Stuff. The PensGear store is on the ground floor, on the northwest corner of the arena. Smaller souvenir stands are all around the arena.
There aren't many books about the team. Right after the 2nd of the back-to-back Cup wins, Dave Molinari published Best In the Game: The Turbulent Story of the Pittsburgh Penguins' Rise to Stanley Cup Champions. As for their more recent triumph, Andrew Podnieks wrote Year of the Penguins: Celebrating Pittsburgh's 2008-09 Stanley Cup Championship Season.
Highlight DVDs from the 3 Stanley Cup seasons are available. The NHL also produced a Pittsburgh Penguins: 10 Greatest Games video, but it was released before the 2009 Cup win. Not surprisingly, the 1991 and 1992 Cup clinchers are included. Also unsurprisingly, there are no games in the set from before Lemieux arrived in 1984. The set includes Lemieux's 5-goal-3-assist Playoff game against the Flyers in 1989, another 5-goal game from Number 66 clinching their NHL record 16th straight win in 1993, their 4-overtime Playoff epic with the Washington Capitals in 1996, Lemieux ending his 2nd retirement to score against the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2000, Darius Kasparaitis' overtime winner against the Buffalo Sabres in a Playoff Game 7 in 2001, and, to your dismay and mine, 2 games against the Devils: The 1991 Playoff clincher and a 2006 game with Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, none more than 20 years old, all scoring to beat our boys.
During the Game. If you were a Flyers fan going into the CONSOL Energy Center, or a Cleveland Browns fan or (a little less so) a Baltimore Ravens fan, going into Heinz Field to face the Steelers, you might be in a bit of trouble. But as a Devils fan going into CONSOL,you’ll be fine. You can wear your Scarlet &Black gear without fear of drunken bums physically hassling you.
They're certainly not going to hurt you if you don't provoke them. Just don’t say anything bad about Lemieux or the Steelers, and you should be fine. And, for God’s sake (not to mention that of its inventor, the late Steelers broadcaster Myron Cope), do not mock or deface The Terrible Towel, that great symbol of Steelerdom. You might not see any at a Penguins game (though you may hear a stray chant of "Here we go, Steelers, here we go!" -- it's been known to happen at Penguins, Pirates and Pitt football games), but they take that particular item very seriously, even pointing out that other NFL teams have lost after mocking it, leading to the phrase “The Curse of the Terrible Towel.”
(The Cleveland Indians are in the American League, Pittsburgh doesn’t have an NBA team, and Cleveland doesn’t have an NHL team, so the Steelers-Browns dynamic doesn’t cross over into any other sports, the way Yankees-Red Sox becomes Jets-Patriots or Knicks-Celtics or Rangers-Bruins – or Mets-Phillies becomes Giants-Eagles or Rangers-Flyers. Being put in a separate Conference, let alone Division, and being mostly terrible since coming into existence, Ohio’s NHL team, the Columbus Blue Jackets, doesn’t generate much heat from Penguin fans. Even Penn State-Ohio State isn’t that big a rivalry. Pitt-Penn State is another story, as is Pitt-West Virginia, “the Backyard Brawl.”)
The Penguins mascot is named Iceburgh, and he looks nothing like either of the logos the team has worn over the years. Indeed, he looks more like something you'd find on The Muppet Show than at a hockey game. Like N.J. Devil, he wears Number 00.
Jeff Jimerson sings the National Anthem for the Penguins, and did so in the 1995 film Sudden Death.
The Penguins' goal song is "Kernkraft 4000" by Zombie Nation, replacing "Song 2" (a.k.a. "Whoo Hoo!") by Blur. Pens fans have a habit of remembering that they're also Steeler fans and singing, "Here we go, Steelers, here we go!" during their games. As far as I can tell, the Pens don't have a postgame victory song, but I don't think the current Pirates would mind if they adopt the 1979 Bucs' anthem, "We Are Family" by Sister Sledge.
After the Game. There are several sports-themed bars near the arena, many of which date to the glory days at the Civic Arena. Souper Bowl is at 5th & Washington, while Tailgaters is at Centre & Crawford. However, the amount of establishments around the arena is limited by the parking lot where the old arena used be on the north, and the Catholic (and therefore, at least officially, discouraging of drinking) Duquesne University campus to the south.
South of downtown, across the Monongahela River on the South Shore – or, they say in Pittsburghese, the Sou’side – is Station Square, an indoor and outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment complex. This is a popular gathering place, although as New Yorkers you’ll be hopelessly outnumbered. When I first visited Pittsburgh in 2000 (I saw the Pirates hit 4 homers at Three Rivers but lose to the Cards thanks to a steroid-aided mammoth blast by Mark McGwire), there was a restaurant with a Pittsburgh Sports Hall of Fame at Station Square, but as far as I can tell it is no longer there.
North of downtown, where the Monongahela and the Allegheny come together to form the Ohio, where PNC Park and Heinz Field are, across from where Three Rivers Stadium used to be, is Jerome Bettis' Grille 36, named for the Steeler legend and his uniform number. It's at 393 North Shore Drive.
The William Penn Tavern, at 739 Bellefonte Street in the Shadyside section of town, is said to be a Jets fans' bar. Bus 71B. Other than that, a search of the Internet, but could not find any bars in the Pittsburgh area that cater to New Yorkers. Usually, I can at least find something that welcomes Giant or Jet fans on their gamedays, but I guess the Steelers are so ingrained in Western Pennsylvania culture that establishing an outpost for “foreign fans” is anathema to them. (Anathema? Didn’t Rocky Graziano knock him out in Buffalo? No, wait, that was Quinella.)
When I did this piece last year, I was told by a local that the Brillo Box was owned by a New Yorker, but, not having been to Pittsburgh since, I cannot confirm this. And one source I found to back it up calls it a "hipster" place. If "yinz" (Pittsburghese for "youse") want to take your chances, it's at 4104 Penn Avenue at Main Street. Number 88 bus from downtown
Sidelights. Pittsburgh has a long and storied sports history, if a real hit-and-miss one. As I mentioned, the Civic Arena was across the street from the new arena, between Bedford Avenue, Crawford Street, Centre Avenue and Washington Place. The official mailing address for "the Igloo" in its last few years was 66 Mario Lemieux Place.
Built in 1961 for the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, it had a retractable roof before additional seating made such retraction impossible. It hosted the American Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Hornets from then until 1967, and then the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins until 2010. It was officially known as the Mellon Arena from 1999 to 2010, when the naming rights expired.
The Pittsburgh Pipers, later renamed the Condors, played there, and won the first ABA Championship in 1968, led by Brooklyn native Connie Hawkins. The Beatles played there on September 14, 1964. (And when the new arena opened on August 18, 2010, it was ex-Beatle Paul McCartney who played the opening night.) Elvis Presley sang there on June 25 & 26, 1973 and December 31, 1976. It was demolished in 2011.
Pittsburgh hasn't had professional basketball since the Condors moved in 1973. On May 12, 2014, the New York Times printed a story that shows NBA fandom by ZIP Code, according to Facebook likes. The Consol Energy Center is 134 miles from Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena, but don't let that fool you into thinking that Pittsburghers toss aside their NFL-bred hatred of Cleveland to support the Cavaliers, not even to root for the returned LeBron James: They seem to divide their fandom up among 4 "cool teams": The Chicago Bulls, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat. The Philadelphia 76ers, only 309 miles away? Forget it.
* PNC Park. The Pirates opened this 38,362-seat ballpark, which opens to a spectacular view of downtown Pittsburgh, on the North Side in 2001. It took them until last year to reach the postseason there, but they've now done so in back-to-back seasons. 115 Federal Street at 6th Street. Metro to North Side Station. Or you can walk there from downtown. over the 6th Street Bridge, now renamed the Roberto Clemente Bridge and painted Pittsburgh Gold.
Exposition Park, home of the Pirates from 1891 to 1909, was nearly on the site of PNC Park. The first home of the Pirates, Recreation Park, was roughly on the site of Heinz Field.
This was also the site of the first football game played by an openly professional player. Yale University star William "Pudge" Heffelfinger was paid $500 (about $12,800 in today's money) to play for the Allegheny Athletic Association against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club, and scored the game's only points in a 4-0 Allegheny win. (Under the scoring system of the time, a touchdown was 4 points.)
There are historical markers in the complex for both Exposition Park (as one of the sites, along with the Huntington Avenue Grounds in Boston, of the 1st World Series) and Recreation Park (as the site of the first professional football game -- though the 1st all-professional game was in 1895 in nearby Latrobe).
* Heinz Field. This is a far better palace for football than the concrete oval Three Rivers Stadium was. It has a statue of Steeler founder-owner Art Rooney outside, and, on gameday, 65,500 Terrible Towel-waving black and gold maniacs inside. There are plans to expand it to 69,000 or so seats in time for the 2015 season.
The Steelers hosted the AFC Championship Game in the stadium's 1st season, 2001 (losing it to the New England Patriots, and again in 2004 (losing to the Pats again), 2008 (beating the Baltimore Ravens) and 2010 (beating the Jets).
A 2007 ESPN.com article named it the best stadium in the NFL, tied with Lambeau Field in Green Bay. It also hosts the University of Pittsburgh's football team. This summer, it hosted a soccer game between English champions Manchester City and Italian giants AC Milan. On New Year's Day 2011, it hosted the NHL Winter Classic, but the Penguins lost 3-1 to the Washington Capitals. 100 Art Rooney Avenue. (Three Rivers' address, famously, was 600 Stadium Circle.)
* Senator John Heinz History Center, 1212 Smallman Street at 12th Street, a couple of minutes’ walk from Union/Penn Station and Greyhound. It includes the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM. (Senator Heinz, of the condiment-making family, was the first husband of Teresa Heinz Kerry, who nearly became First Lady in 2004.)
* Forbes Quadrangle, intersection of Forbes Avenue and Bouquet Street. This set of buildings, part of the University of Pittsburgh campus, was the site of Forbes Field, home of the Pirates from 1909 to 1970 and the Steelers from 1933 to 1963.
Included on the site is the last standing remnant of Forbes Field, part of the outfield wall, with ivy still growing on it. (Wrigley Field in Chicago wasn’t the only park with ivy on its outfield wall.) Where the wall stops, you’ll see a little brick path, and eventually you’ll come to a plaque that shows where the ball hit by Mazeroski crossed over the fence to win the Series.
Home plate has been preserved, in Wesley W. Posvar Hall, named for the longtime UP Chancellor. An urban legend says that, if it was in its exact original location, it would now be in a ladies’ restroom; this isn’t quite the case, but it’s still at roughly the same spot.
If you’ve ever seen the picture of Mazeroski in mid-swing, you’ll recognize the Carnegie Museum & Library in the background, and it is still there. If you’ve ever seen a picture of a Gothic-looking tower over the 3rd-base stands, that’s the Cathedral of Learning, the centerpiece of UP (or “Pitt”), and it’s still there as well. A portion of the wall, including the 406-foot marker that can be seen with the Mazeroski ball going over it, was moved to Three Rivers and now to PNC Park.
Pick up the Number 71 bus at 5th Avenue at Ross Street, and it will take you down 5th Avenue to Oakland Avenue. From there, it’s a 2-minute walk to the Quadrangle and Posvar Hall.
* Petersen Events Center, at Terrace Street and Sutherland Drive. The home arena for Pitt basketball, it was built on the site of Pitt Stadium, where they played their football games from 1925 to 1999, and where the Steelers played part-time starting in 1958 and full-time starting in 1964 until 1969. Part-time from 1970 to 1999, and full-time in 2000, Pitt shared Three Rivers with the Steelers, and they’ve shared Heinz Field since 2001.
Pitt Stadium was home to such legends as Dr. Jock Sutherland (a dentist and football coach), Marshall “Biggie” Goldberg, Mike Ditka and Tony Dorsett. If you’re a Giants fan, this is where they played the Steelers on September 20, 1964, and Giant quarterback Y.A. Tittle got clobbered by the Steelers' John Baker, resulting in that famous picture of Tittle kneeling, with blood streaming down his bald head, providing a symbolic end to the Giants’ glory days of Frank Gifford, Sam Huff and quarterbacks Charlie Conerly and Tittle. The Petersen Center is a 5-minute walk from Forbes Quadrangle.
* Roberto Clemente Museum. A fan group tried to buy Honus Wagner's house in nearby Carnegie and turn it into a museum, but this is the only museum devoted to a single Pittsburgh athlete. Clemente wasn't the 1st Hispanic player in the major leagues (white Cuban Charles "Chick" Pedroes played 2 games for the Cubs in 1902), nor was he the 1st black Hispanic (Minnie Minoso debuted with the Chicago White Sox in 1949). But he was the 1st to really take hold in the public imagination, to the point where later Hispanic stars wore Number 21 in his honor, and there is a movement to have the number retired throughout baseball as was done for Jackie Robinson (but it is not likely to succeed). 3339 Penn Avenue at 34th Street. Bus 87 to Herron Avenue.
Pittsburgh has never hosted an NCAA Final Four. Duquesne University reached the 2nd Final Four (not that it was called that back then) in 1940, and Pitt did so in 1941 -- no Western Pennsylvania school has done so since. In fact, Pittsburgh has never been a big basketball city: The Pittsburgh Ironmen played in the NBA's first season, 1946-47, and only that season, and are best known now for having had Press Maravich, father of Pistol Pete, play for them; and the ABA's Pittsburgh Pipers, later the Pittsburgh Condors, won that league's first title in 1967-68, but that was it. The most successful Pittsburgh basketball team may well have been the Pittsburgh Pisces in The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.
The U.S. Steel Tower, at 7th & Grant Avenues, is the tallest building in Pittsburgh, at 841 feet -- although there are 3 buildings in Philadelphia that surpass it for the title of tallest building in Pennsylvania. Built in 1970, it surpassed the 1932-built Gulf Tower, on the opposite corner from U.S. Steel.
There haven't been many TV shows set in Pittsburgh. Mr. Belvedere, starring Christopher Hewett as a butler to a family led by a sportswriter played by ballplayer-turned-broadcaster Bob Uecker, was set in nearby Beaver Falls, hometown of Jets legend Joe Namath, but it was filmed in Los Angeles. The most notable TV shows actually taped in Pittsburgh, at the PBS station WQED-Channel 13, were Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego?
Fred Rogers was from Latrobe, and in spite of his show's success, he never moved the taping to New York or Hollywood. He notably had Steeler receiver Lynn Swann on his show, to show that even a big tough football player (or, at least, a graceful wide receiver) could love ballet (which explained how Swannie got such nice moves in the first place). A statue of Mr. Rogers, sponsored by TV Land, is near Heinz Field, as is one of Steeler founder-owner Art Rooney.
A lot of movies have been shot in Pittsburgh, due to its varied architecture. Many have had sports scenes. You may have seen the 1994 version of Angels in the Outfield, which involved the team then known as the California Angels; the original black-and-white version came out in 1951, and the downtrodden team they featured was the Pirates, and there's some nice shots of Forbes Field in it. Some nice shots of Janet Leigh, too. (Jamie Lee Curtis' mom -- no, unlike in some other films such as Psycho, Janet doesn't flash any skin in this one, but now you know why Tony Curtis married her, and where Jamie Lee inherited the goods.)
The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh was a very silly, very Seventies movie, with Julius "Dr. J" Erving playing for the good guys and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar playing for the opposition. Sudden Death had Jean-Claude Van Damme trying to stop an assassination attempt at the Stanley Cup Finals. Both featured the old Civic Arena. Van Damme also filmed Timecop in Pittsburgh.
While most of The Dark Knight Rises was filmed in New York (with a few CGI bridges added to the skyline to create the atmosphere of the fictional Gotham City), and its 2 predecessors were filmed in Chicago, the football game scene was filmed at Heinz Field, with the fictional Gotham Rogues wearing Steeler black & gold. (They even made up a fake website for the team, including the Rogue Rag, a takeoff on the Terrible Towel.) Real-life Steeler legend Hines Ward returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown as Bane's bomb collapsed the field behind him, and playing the opposition's kicker was real-life Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. The scene where Gary Oldman goes to Matthew Modine's house to prepare for the final assault may also have been filmed in Pittsburgh, although the row-house style resembles Philadelphia. Some of the movie was filmed in Newark, but that street doesn't look like any part of Newark I've ever seen. You'd have to get as far south as Trenton to see Philly-style rowhouses in New Jersey, but then they've got 'em all along the Delaware River, in places like Bordentown, Burlington and Camden. Maybe it's a Pennsylvania thing.
One of Tom Cruise's first big films was All the Right Moves, a high school football movie set in Pittsburgh. He returned to Pittsburgh to film Jack Reacher. A movie with more life in it, the original 1968 Night of the Living Dead, was filmed in Pittsburgh. Its sequel Dawn of the Dead was filmed at the Monroeville Mall in the eastern suburbs, and the concluding chapter Day of the Dead back in the city. Gung Ho, with Michael Keaton, spoofed the decline of Pittsburgh industry. Flashdance, with Jennifer Beals, turned the declining Pittsburgh dream on its head. Boys On the Side seemed to wink at it. And Groundhog Day starts in Pittsburgh before moving east to Punxsatawney. However, those aren't sports movies. (Although, with Jennifer Beals, Drew Barrymore and Andie MacDowell in them, there may be some heavy breathing.)
Pittsburgh is a terrific city that loves its sports, and PNC Park is one of the best of the new ballparks. Its Sunday games are scheduled for 1:35, while nearly every other home game, including on Saturday nights, is at 7:05. (Though, in this series, the Saturday game is a 4:05 PM start, as it's a Fox Game of the Week.)