City of Champions

From magical moments to iconic champions – these stories of Pittsburgh's sports transcend time.

Bill Mazeroski’s World Series trading card (1961) by ToppsOriginal Source: Heinz History Center Museum Collections

The Unforgettable

This is a story about the unforgettable people who forged an identity through sport, transforming the city and sports itself. They made Pittsburgh the City of Champions.

Penguins pose on the ice with the Stanley Cup (2016)Original Source: Pittsburgh Penguins

The Stanley Cup

The Penguins celebrate their fourth of five Stanley Cup victories after defeating the San Jose Sharks, June 12, 2016.

Bill Mazeroski’s Pirates game-worn home uniform, World Series (22202)Original Source: Heinz History Center Museum Collections

The 1960 World Series

Considered one of the premier defensive players of all time, Bill Mazeroski is most remembered for a home run.

His walk off home run in the ninth inning of the seventh game of the 1960 World Series off Yankees pitcher Ralph Terry gave the Pirates their first championship in 35 years and created an indelible moment in sports history.

Maz spent his entire 17-year career with the Pirates, was named an All Star 10 times, and holds the record for most double plays at second base.

Franco Harris's football shoes (26656)Original Source: Heinz History Center Museum Collections

"The Immaculate Reception"

A key offensive threat for a Steelers dynasty that won four Super Bowls in six years in the 1970s, Franco Harris attracted an “army” of local fans and became the first African American and first Italian American to be named Super Bowl MVP.

He may be best known for his role in one of the most acclaimed and controversial plays in all of sports history.

The “Immaculate Reception” saw Harris make a shoestring catch of a ricocheted ball to give the Steelers an improbable last second playoff victory in 1972. A nine-time Pro Bowler and Hall of Famer, no Steeler has worn #32 since he retired.

Roberto Clemente Topps in Action trading card (1972) by ToppsOriginal Source: Heinz History Center Museum Collections

Roberto Clemente

In 1954, the Pirates claimed 20-year-old outfielder Roberto Clemente from the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Montreal farm club for $4,000 in the minor league draft. He had a brilliant career with the team, amassing 3,000 hits.

In 1961, Clemente won his first batting title, hitting .351. He added three more titles in 1964, 1965, and 1967. Named MVP in 1966, Clemente batted .317 with 29 home runs and 119 RBIs.

Clemente owned right field, his powerful and precise arm earned him 12 consecutive Gold Glove awards. Known for his off-field humanitarian efforts as well, Clemente broke barriers in baseball for Latin ballplayers.  

Mario Lemieux on ice his rookie season (1984)Original Source: Heinz History Center Museum Collections

Mario Lemieux

From the time he first stepped on the ice for the Penguins in 1984, until his second and final retirement in 2006, Lemieux contributed at the highest level.

Though he battled health problems and cancer, he still notched 690 goals and 1,033 assists in 915 regular season games.

Immediately inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame upon his first retirement in 1997, he earned five Stanley Cups with the Pens (two as a player and three as an owner).

Lemieux’s career also includes Canada and World Cup championships and Olympic gold won in 2002. It is no wonder that Mario Lemieux is known as “Le Magnifique,” the magnificent.

Arnold Palmer in the bunkers at Oakmont (1960s)Original Source: The Oakmont Country Club

Arnold Palmer

Arnold Palmer established himself as golf’s first superstar, amassing 92 professional victories, including seven Majors, designing hundreds of golf courses worldwide, and providing management and golf instruction services.

James Harrison shows off the Super Bowl Trophy during the Steelers’ victory parade (2009) by Paula AndrasOriginal Source: Heinz History Center Museum Collections

Pittsburghers Who Became Champions

Black and gold brings this City of Champions together – it is our heritage and has become a part of Pittsburgh’s identity!

Swin Cash competes for the University of Connecticut (c. 2000)Original Source: Heinz History Center Museum Collections

Swin Cash

Cash achieved excellence in basketball at every level, starting with high school All-American honors while at McKeesport High School.

She led the University of Connecticut to two NCAA National Championships, was a four-time WNBA All-Star, and has three WNBA championship rings and two Olympic gold medals to her name.

Cash has continued her winning ways off the court, serving as a WNBA executive and as one of the first women in the front office for an NBA team.

Hans “Honus” Wagner trading card (1910-11)Original Source: Heinz History Center Museum Collections

Honus Wagner

Born in Chartiers (now Carnegie), this hometown hero spent 21 years in the majors. Arguably the greatest Pirate player, Wagner retired in 1917 with a .327 career batting average.

Eight times the National League batting champ, he hit over .300 for 16 consecutive seasons. A defensive force at shortstop, Wagner’s quickness also made him a threat on the bases. He stole 722 in his career.

Billy Conn’s light heavyweight belt from his reign as world champion (1939-41)Original Source: Heinz History Center Museum Collections

Billy Conn

The golden age of professional boxing in Pittsburgh occurred in the early 1940s. Between July 1939 and November 1941, five Western Pennsylvania boxers won championships in five of eight traditional weight classes.

At no other time in boxing history did one city so dominate the professional boxing scene.

Tony DorsettOriginal Source: University of Pittsburgh Archives

Tony Dorsett

High school All-American, Heisman Trophy winner, Hall of Famer – Tony Dorsett achieved at every level of football. A native of Rochester, Pa., he competed for Hopewell High School, earning Parade and Scholastic All-American honors.

His senior year, the University of Pittsburgh captured the national championship and Dorsett won the Heisman, as well as the Walter Camp, Maxwell Club, Football News, and other Player of the Year awards.

Drafted by the Cowboys in the first round, Dorsett captured NFL Rookie of the Year honors in 1977 and played in two Super Bowls, five NFC championship games, and four Pro Bowls. He racked up 16,347 combined net yards and 91 touchdowns in his Hall of Fame career.

Suzie McConnell SerioOriginal Source: Heinz History Center Museum Collections

Suzie McConnell Serio

Starring first as a player at Pittsburgh’s Seton LaSalle High School and Penn State, this two-time Olympic medalist began her coaching career at Oakland Catholic High School.

McConnell Serio led the team to three state championships and began an accomplished professional career in the WNBA, where she succeeded first as a player and then as coach. 

Leaving the WNBA to come home to Pittsburgh, she coached first at Duquesne University, then at the University of Pittsburgh, leading both programs to the post season.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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