The Steel City 500

The Steel City 500 : A Decidedly Subjective Ranking of the Greatest Athletes to Ever Play on Pittsburgh's Diamonds, Gridirons, Rinks, Rings

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We're gathered here: To select and celebrate the Steel City 500, the greatest athletes in Western Pennsylvania history. A few notes of explanation as you're getting your beer and preparing to argue with the choices. First, in the case of team sports, we're limiting our picks to those who competed here at either the collegiate or professional level. That same rule doesn't hold true for individual sports (more on that in a minute). Therefore, of our great legacy of NFL quarterbacks like Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Joe Montana and Dan Marino, only Marino qualifies for inclusion on the Steel City 500 list (No. 20), based upon his exploits at the University of Pittsburgh. Likewise, Donora's Stan "The Man" Musial doesn't crack the list, despite being one of the 20 greatest baseball players of all time, because he unfortunately never played for the Pittsburgh Pirates. For us, high-school athletics paled in comparison, so we chose to identify those who competed at a higher level. (However, we'e not nuts, so we included a separate listing of great athletes who hailed from but never played here.) How did we choose the 500, you may ask, and was there beer involved? Carefully and yes. We cast a wide net in determining what athletes and indeed what sports to include. Among the 500 you'l find the expected football, baseball, hockey and basketball players. But you'll also find boxers, swimmers, jockeys, wrestlers, sprinters, long jumpers, golfers and tennis players' and a whole host of others who competed in individual sports. We have a number of Hall of Famers. Some from Cooperstown and Canton, but also others from Danai Beach, Florida, home of the Fishing Hall of Fame as well as the Basketball, Hockey, College Football, Track, Soccer, Bowling and Tennis halls of fame just to name a few. We don't have any figure skaters because we don't consider it a sport but rather an activity. But who in their right mind can come up with rankings when you're comparing and contrasting across different sports? How do you determine that a great running back ranks higher than a power-hitting first baseman? Good question. There were a number of factors weighed: Records held and other awards/achievements, longevity/number of great seasons in Pittsburgh, championships, inclusion into halls of fame and impact. That's why Louise Fulton comes in at No. 194. As the first African-American woman to win a title on the Women's Professional Bowlers Association Tour in the midst of the Civil Rights movement, she had impact at a turbulent time. And yes, we'll probably hear it for ranking a horse, Adios, at No. 32. But before you say nay (or is it neigh?), take a look at our reasoning. Chances are you might not agree with where some of our competitors fall in the list. Barry Bonds outside the top 20? You'll see why. That's the beauty of this project, the discussions that are sure to ensue. The other highlight for us is to be able to showcase many of the top athletes you may not have heard of or have been overlooked. Western Pennsylvania has a great sporting heritage. Join us in celebrating it.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 524 pages
  • 178 x 252 x 30mm | 919.99g
  • Createspace
  • United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1478208287
  • 9781478208280

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About David Finoli

Chris Fletcher is the former publisher and editor of Pittsburgh magazine and has been writing about sports since he was a kid in the Pre-Designated Hitter era. The Patterson Twp. native first teamed up with co-author David Finoli on Steel City Gridirons, a collection of essays on football in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Now residing in Forest Hills with his son Dylan Roberto, he was actually at Three Rivers Stadium to witness "The Immaculate Reception." Today, he vows to get a tattoo of the '70s clean-cut Pirates logo-should the team ever qualify for the postseason. David Finoli has followed the trials and tribulations of Western Pennsylvania sports for over six decades and got a front row seat to the City of Champions year in 1979 when he was a freshman at Duquesne University, where he graduated in 1983 with a BA in Journalism. A native of Greensburg, Finoli has penned eleven books, mostly on the history of sports in Western Pennsylvania, and has contributed to several anthologies and magazines. He currently lives in Monroeville with his wife and three children and is a Personnel and Operations Manager for the Kohl's Department Store.

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