Sports

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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A Tall Tail

It might be on the desolate plains of North Dakota, a lowland plantation in South Carolina or a rolling field in Pennsylvania. Wherever, it doesn’t take a first-time bird hunter long to realize the majesty and value of a good English pointer. The indefatigable dog zigzags in a euphoric trance through fields of high stubble, …

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The Tracy Method

On the afternoon of Sept. 21, 1980, a rookie outfielder for the Chicago Cubs cracked his first major league home run over the centerfield wall at Wrigley Field. Four days later, he hit his second homer, and two days after that, a third. “I was on pace,” said Jim Tracy, laughing the knowing baseball laugh …

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Pittsburgh’s Claim to Fame

In honor of the midsummer classic’s July reappearance in Pittsburgh, I pulled out some interviews I did years ago with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Dan Fitzpatrick got many new ones of great National Leaguers of the past and their recollections of the Pirates and Pittsburgh. Many remember the eccentricities of old Forbes Field. Some recall …

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Last of the Romantics

Maybe there never was anything even remotely innocent about football, and to be clear, that’s just an introductory reflection, not a lament on any recent spasm of cheerleader high jinks, or low jinks as the case may be. But if football ever had an age of innocence, it’s ancient enough to have ended prior to …

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Get the Message?

When President George W. Bush tossed the ceremonial first pitch at the home opener of the Washington Nationals in April, it marked the return of Major League Baseball to the nation’s capital after a 34-year hiatus. It also gave a newcomer from Pittsburgh millions of reasons to cheer for a team that plays against the …

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