Sports

Lay your money down

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’ve never really caught on to the gambling culture of pro football. Not that I’m totally clueless. I understand the over-under and a pick not covering. But when it comes to teasers, props and such, they might as well be speaking calculus. This is not the case in Britain, …

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Louis vs. Lewis

Joe Louis was the man. Everyone in the country knew his name. He was heavyweight champion of the world when the title was the most prized crown in all of sports and carried more prestige than the biggest Hollywood star. The light-heavyweight championship, on the other hand, had all of the stature of the winner …

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Remember the Tartans

They ruined a perfectly good trophy case. It used to sit there, self-consciously, in Carnegie Mellon University’s Skibo Gymnasium. The items in that case were pretty much the only tangible stuff that remained of the glory days of football, back when the school was Carnegie Tech. The main trophies were some old footballs from the …

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The Steeler Way

Over the summer, news reports across the country have focused on the dramatic increase in NFL player arrests since the Feb. 4 Super Bowl. As of early July, the off-season arrest rate has increased 75 percent over last year, according to one labor economist. And of the 31 arrests since the Super Bowl, the murder …

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Hello ACC

How did the University of Pittsburgh celebrate its official entrance this summer into the Atlantic Coast Conference? With Downtown fireworks, of course—quintessential Pittsburgh. But Panthers fan Stephen Clendaniel is holding out for the electricity inside the Petersen Events Center when teams like Duke University pass through this upcoming season. He’s been a devoted Pitt men’s …

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The aftermath of an 8-8 season

Last year wasn’t the type of season that we are used to having. In any organization, there are always going to be high moments and low moments. I have been very fortunate to be part of two Super Bowl victories and one Super Bowl loss. It’s a great feeling, the high that you get when …

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The Sport That Didn’t Quite Make It

Here’s what you should know about the mystery sport in Western Pennsylvania history: It’s against the rules to catch the ball with your top hat. The game is played by silly mid wickets and other Monty Python candidates. And this game didn’t catch on in the U.S.A. The growth of sports in the United States …

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The Beauty of Commitment

Bob Coward, dog-eared scorebook in hand, hurries through the turnstile at PNC Park for what will be his 2,600th-and-something Pittsburgh Pirates home game. A compact man who once worked as a prison guard at Western Penitentiary (now SCI Pittsburgh) on the city’s North Side, Coward darts through the thickening crowd, greeting ushers and vendors as …

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The Seniors Come to Pittsburgh

As public relations announcements go, this one was so benign, so coolly and corporately efficient, it might have been an update on pork belly and potassium futures: Pittsburgh, Pa. and Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.—The Constellation Senior Players Championship and the PGA Tour’s Champions Tour announced today that the tournament will move to Fox Chapel Golf …

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Forged in November

On Nov. 6th, 1959, the day before the fate of the largest strike in the nation’s history was decided by a Supreme Court decision, the Braddock High Tigers played the Purple Raiders of Scott High School in North Braddock for a chance to set the national high school football record for consecutive games without a …

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On the Green

This is the biography of a golf tournament. Bob Murphy, a Pittsburgh real estate entrepreneur, had every reason to believe his newest venture in the late 1980s would succeed. He had jumped into the golf boom, buying Fallen Timber, a hardscrabble course near Midway in Washington County, and turning it into Quicksilver Golf Club. He …

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The Black Diamond

Before the civil war, what black community existed in Pittsburgh largely included Northern-born free blacks and runaway slaves, many of whom had traveled the Underground Railroad. This small black population would preside over a new generation of African-Americans arriving from the South. In that first Southern, black migration, the city’s African American population grew from …

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Eye on the Ball: Centerfielder McCutchen

Tuesday night, Aug. 25, 2009. There are 17,049 paying customers in PNC Park. If they are baseball fans, they are getting their money’s worth. True, the Pirates are out of pennant contention. They are the sole resident of last place in the National League Central Division, as they have been for much of the past …

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From the catbird seat

In mid-November, when daylight dwindles, the sky turns flannel gray and a cold drizzle waterboards Pittsburgh, I flap my old, arthritic wings and fly south to Florida—God’s waiting room. Upon arrival, I encounter nice people who inquire where I am from and, upon learning the answer, chirp brightly, “You must be a Steelers fan!” Good …

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The Man Behind the Players

Kevin Colbert grew up the youngest of five boys living in a house on Pittsburgh’s North Side. The house had one bedroom and one shower. The five boys lived in the attic, and they were orphaned by the time Colbert was 15. Recipes for success, however, can be tricky things to gauge. Despite the odds, …

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A Mountain from the Hill

The wiper blades arched back and forth against the SUV’s windshield, sweeping away an icy rain. Over the narrow, cobblestone streets and vacant, littered lots of the Hill District, DeJuan Blair drove his grandmother’s Buick Rendezvous. He stopped at a light on Bedford Avenue and said, “This is my ’hood. Over there, that’s Whiteside Avenue. …

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Queens of the Court

If you think it’s hard to compete with the Pittsburgh Steelers on the field, imagine competing with them for a chunk of the area’s sport-obsessed, male-dominated fan base. But two exceptional women, Agnus Berenato of the University of Pittsburgh and Suzie McConnell-Serio of Duquesne University, are prying some eyes away. Between them, they aim to …

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Pittsburgh’s Three Seasons

Forget about winter, spring, summer and fall. For Pittsburgh’s most faithful sports fans, there are only three seasons: hockey, baseball, and football. They tattoo their bodies with the names of their favorite teams and paint their cars and homes black and gold. They plan their vacations to accommodate a trip to Steelers training camp, and …

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The Rub of the Green

In the language of golf, there is always a “hidden gem.” The hidden gem is a golf course that is little known or even unknown, that someone has visited and then pronounced a marvel. The course generally has been sitting there, probably for many decades, known but to the locals. It could be a Ross, …

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Now Batting: Roberto Clemente

Among the baseball bats, telegrams and uniforms displayed in Lawrenceville’s Engine House No. 25 is a 1960 photo some say predicted Roberto Clemente’s legacy. The former Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder is leaping up to catch a ball, the cumulus clouds behind him forming what looks like angel’s wings. Twelve years after the picture was taken, Clemente, …

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The Course Loved ‘Round the World

The U.S. Golf Association began staging the U.S. Open — the ultimate national championship — in 1895, and moves it year to year around the country. The USGA requires, first of all, a golf course that offers a stiff challenge, where the rough is deep, the greens fast and par is an outstanding score. It’s …

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Call Them Crazy

Tony Modzelewski can’t explain why he jumped off the Fort Pitt Bridge in January 1975, but modern psychology has him covered. Modzelewski was 17 years old, celebrating the Steelers’ first Super Bowl victory, and the group of revelers he was with decided to walk across the bridge. “I don’t know how we got started. There were …

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