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For the sports fan

Today the hubby and I spent a few hours at the Senator John Heinz History Center in the Burgh. I was last there sometime between 10 and 15 years ago, and I don't remember the place as being even half the size. Before we were even about halfway finished, my feet and legs hurt!

Hubby and I went mostly for Gridiron Glory, which is where we began our tour. Unfortunately, even though only a certain number of tickets are sold for that exhibit per time slot, it was crazy crowded with people, making it difficult to see everything (I so wanted to check out the instant replay booth, but did not feel like waiting in a four-person-deep line). Regardless, the exhibit was pretty cool. I learned a few things, most of which I forget because, as has been clearly documented, my memory is like a sieve. I liked that you could touch footballs, wear shoulder pads, see how big some football players arms were, and relive many great moments. Not surprisingly, I found the Steeler-related memorabilia and anecdotes the most interesting. And, also not surprisingly, my eyes might have teared up a bit when I saw some Super Bowl highlights in the one section. I am really moved by seeing how excited and emotional the players get when they win. I think I might have even smiled when I saw a photo of Tom Brady grinning after one of his victories (nuts, I know). Watching the replay of the Immaculate Reception might have had the same effect on me had it not been replayed over and over and over again on local TV (maybe as an advertisement for this exhibit?).

Following are some photos of things that most resonated with me.

Franco Harris's Pro Football Hall of Fame jacket

An early-era football (which I think would be much easier to throw)

Terry Bradshaw's uniform from Super Bowl XIV

Troy Polamalu replica locker

Football from Steelers 6th Super Bowl victory

Hines Ward's 10,000-yard reception jersey

Super Bowl IX commemorative ball

The Immaculate Reception ball

Program from the Immaculate Reception game

Pretty obvious to the football fan, particularly a member of Steeler Nation (apparently these babies will be at the Center for only a week; glad we went when we did)

The History Center is also home to the Western Pennsylvania Sport Museum, which was also really cool. In addition to the sports you would expect (baseball, football, hockey), there were also local artifacts and stories about swimming, jump rope, track and field, wrestling, and golf, to name a few. Among the various interactive areas, I rolled a bocce ball, hit a golf ball, and tried to do the long jump, all with limited success, but still fun.

There were a ton of statistics and stories in the baseball section, which would surely impress those still on the Pirates bandwagon as well as those of us who have fond memories of Pittsburgh's being a baseball town and "We Are Family."

Roberto Clemente

I enjoyed the small area dedicated to local college teams. From several areas away, I could hear the Penn State fight song, which made me both smile and feel a little sad. Not sure how old that section was, but it could use some updating considering the listing of bowl games goes back to only 2004. There was also a blurb on IUP, which referenced its former mascot, the Indians, not the current one, the Crimson Hawks.

Players carrying JoePa after PSU won the Sugar Bowl in 1983

Of course, I had to take in all the Steeler-related things in this area as well, though I was dismayed to learn the Steelers had the first cheerleaders, the Steelerettes. Fortunately the team wised up. Regardless, there were a lot of great nuggets in that section.

You can put your finger underneath one of the SB rings.

Not sure what this car was about, but kind of cool

The hockey section almost made me cry. Seriously, can we please get hockey back!

Just call me Tom Barrasso!

The History Center has more than sports, however. There was an exhibit on glass; another on Lewis and Clark; some neat things about the British, French and Indian War; and a tour of Pittsburgh innovators. I was amused by the Pittsburghese "translator" (I think it was Jimmy Krenn who voiced it), particularly listening to some grandparents explaining to their teenage granddaughter say, "See, this is what we are saying!"

I definitely recommend spending a day at the History Center. Just make sure you have a good pair of walking shoes on!

I will leave you with a sports-related picture of a Dwight White quote, which sums up the Burgh and its people pretty well, even more than 30 years after he said it.

Happy Thanksgiving weekend!


bluzdude said…
Great post! If I lived in the Burgh, I'd definitely go have a look.

Few thoughts...

First, I ALWAYS tear up at our Super Bowl and Stanley Cup highlights. No shame in that.

Regarding what you said about seeing how big football players really are... that hit home. Back in the 70s/80s, we used to stay at the same hotel in Cleveland that the Steelers did, so we'd get to see some of the guys up close. I could never get over how massive the linemen's arms were... like hams coming out from their shoulders. And by today's standards, those guys were shrimps!

That car! I've seen that before; in fact I ran a picture of it myself. It rambled through the Three Rivers parking lot during a 1997 playoff game against the Pats. Totally drew a crowd. I guess the guy donated it for display. Probably quit running...
Facie said…
Bluz: It is a shame it was not here when you were in town. I am sure you would have loved it. And I don't feel bad about tearing up during highlights; I feel bad that seeing Tom Brady in his glory not only did not irritate me but it also made me feel good for him. That is just wrong! :-)
bluzdude said…
I'm like that with the Stanley Cup. No matter who wins it, I always feel happy just to see the pure joy on their faces, after the culmination of a very long, painful season.

Although I'm sure I'd be severely testing that theory if the Flyers or Caps ever won.

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