Pittsburgh sports lore
In Pittsburgh sports lore history, many extraordinary events have contributed to the city's sports franchises winning — and almost winning — titles.
- 1 Pirates Wins
- 2 Pirates Losses
- 3 Steelers Wins
- 4 Steelers Losses
- 5 Penguins Wins
- 6 Penguins Losses
- 7 World Firsts
- 8 World Lasts
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Mazeroski's Home Run
Mazeroski's Home Run was the home run hit by Pirate second baseman, Bill Mazeroski, in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series against the New York Yankees, played on October 13, 1960. It gave the Pirates a 10–9 victory, their first World Series title in 35 years, was the first home run to end a World Series, and remains the only one to decide it in the climactic seventh game. Mazeroski has remarked that he was so focused on the play on the field that he had to be reminded he was up to bat first in the bottom of the ninth. Coincidentally, Mazeroski, who wore #9 for the Pirates, came to bat in the bottom of the 9th inning with the score tied 9-9.
In the seventh game of the 1960 World Series, the Pirates and Yankees were locked in a "teeter-totter battle" that had settled into a 9–9 tie going into the bottom of the ninth inning. Yankees pitcher Ralph Terry faced the Pirates' leadoff batter for the inning, Bill Mazeroski. With the count one ball, zero strikes, Mazeroski hit a line drive toward deep left field that cleared the wall for a solo home run.
There's a drive into deep left field, look out now… that ball is going, going gone! And the World Series is over! Mazeroski… hits it over the left field fence, and the Pirates win it 10-9 and win the World Series!
Well, a little while ago, when we mentioned that this one, in typical fashion, was going right to the wire, little did we know… Art Ditmar throws—here's a swing and a high fly ball going deep to left, this may do it!… Back to the wall goes Berra, it is…over the fence, home run, the Pirates win!… (long pause for crowd noise)… Ladies and gentlemen, Mazeroski has hit a one-nothing pitch over the left field fence at Forbes Field to win the 1960 World Series for the Pittsburgh Pirates by a score of ten to nothing!… Once again, that final score… The Pittsburgh Pirates, the 1960 world champions, defeat the New York Yankees. The Pirates ten, and the Yankees nine!—Chuck Thompson's radio call of the final play, including a mistake on who the pitcher was (actually mentioning who was warming up in the bullpen when he was interrupted), and initially flubbing the final score.
- Pirate catcher Hal Smith had helped to set the stage for Mazeroski's dramatic home run one inning earlier when he capped off a Pirate rally with a pivotal three-run home run of his own. Smith's home run put the Pirates ahead 9-7, but its true value was realized when the Yankees scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning to tie the score. Thus, instead of Mazeroski coming to bat in the bottom of the ninth with the score 9-6 in favor of the Yankees, the game was tied with the winning run (in the form of Mazeroski) at the plate.
- Since Mazeroski's home run in 1960, only Joe Carter has repeated the feat of ending the World Series with a home run, hitting one for the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1993 World Series. However, Mazeroski's remains the only walk-off Series-winning home run to come in the deciding Game 7.
- The home run completed an improbable victory for Pittsburgh, whose three losses to New York were by scores of 16–3, 10–0 and 12–0. In total, the Pirates were outscored 55–27 in the series, and their biggest margin of victory was three runs: a 5–2 victory in Game 5.
- The city of Pittsburgh had suffered its longest pro-sports championship drought by 1960, having waited 35 years since the Pirates won the 1925 World Series; meanwhile at the time, the Steelers were mediocre at best, the city had long ago lost its NHL Pirates, and had seen only spotty success during the intervening period from their minor-league hockey team, the Hornets. Many local sports fans[who?] felt bittersweet going into the Series, since the Pirates had been swept by the mighty "Murder's Row" Yankees during their last Series appearance in 1927; and by Game 7 in 1960, it was clear—through even a cursory examination of a stat sheet—that the Yankees were clearly outplaying the Pirates, reminiscent of 1927. Furthermore, the surprising[according to whom?] but nail-biting wins that the Pirates had managed to collect in order to force a Game 7 had done little to buoy the hopes of the region's fans.
- Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle admitted that out of all the losses he experienced both as an amateur and a professional, the Game 7 loss to the Pirates in 1960 is the only one that was so emotionally disheartening that it brought him to tears.
- Hall of Famer (and former Pittsburgh Pirate player) Casey Stengel was fired, ostensibly as a fall guy for the Series defeat, shortly afterward. The reason given for his dismissal was that he was too old to properly focus on the game, to which he famously quipped, "I'll never make the mistake of being 70 again!"
- Mazeroski and Roberto Clemente were the last two players from the 1960 Pirates World Series team that were part of the Pirates next World Series team in 1971. And Danny Murtaugh was the Pirates' manager for both of those victorious World Series teams.
- Mazeroski had also hit a home run in the fourth inning of Game 1 of the Series. The run he scored on his home run proved to be the deciding run of the game, meaning that Mazeroski holds the distinction of both scoring and driving in the winning runs in the opening and concluding games of a World Series.
The Comeback I
Facing elimination in the "Fall Classic" and led by the 1979 NL Comeback Player of the Year recipient, Willie Stargell, the Pirates rallied from a 3-games-to-1 deficit to claim their fifth overall World Series title and second within the decade of the 1970s.
- Both of the Pirates' World Series victories in the 1970s came against the Baltimore Orioles. In a curious string of coincidences surrounding those Series victories:
- Both deciding Game 7 matches were played in Baltimore's Memorial Stadium on October 17, exactly eight years apart.
- Stargell (who wore #8) scored the winning run in both Game 7 matches, making him the first (and to date, only) player in MLB history to score the winning tallies in two World Series Game 7 matches. Stargell's winning run in Game 7 of the 1971 World Series came in the eighth inning.
- Only six teams have won a World Series title after facing elimination going into Game 5, and two of those teams were the Pirates. The first Pirate (and major league) team to have accomplished this feat was in the 1925 World Series.
- The team became known as the "We Are Family Pirates" after adopting the Sister Sledge hit as their theme song.
- The 1979 Pirates were also the last team to win Game 7 on the road until the 2014 San Francisco Giants.
You can steal first
With the Pirates on their way to another losing season, manager Lloyd McClendon rallies the team during a June 26, 2001 rivalry game verses Milwaukee being ejected after arguing a call with the ump in the 7th inning and defiantly picks ups first base and walks off the field with it, the Pirates go on to win 7-6.
The Relay, or "The Curse Reverser"
In the bottom of the ninth inning during a September 23, 2013 away game against the Chicago Cubs, the Pirates were leading 2-1 with two outs and a Cub runner on first. Ryan Sweeney, one of the Cubs' outfielders, singled a ball into right off of Pirates' closer Jason Grilli. Pirates' right fielder Marlon Byrd bobbled the scoop as Nate Schierholtz, the tying run, neared third. Andrew McCutchen, who had been covering behind Byrd on the play, quickly wrangled the ball and launched it towards the plate. As Schierholtz broke for home plate, McCutchen's throw, which was clearly off-line for home plate, was cut off cleanly by Pirates' first baseman Justin Morneau, who was positioned near the pitcher's mound as the play unfolded, and then quickly relayed to catcher Russell Martin. Just as the catch was made, Schierholtz collided with Martin and both tumbled to the ground. Martin rose dramatically with ball in hand, the umpire signaled "out," and the Pirates won.
- "Grilli tries to save it for Melancon. The 2-2 pitch. And a fly ball to right-center field, that's gonna drop for a hit... and bobble! McCutchen's throw; the runner breaks for the plate! Here's the throw - He is out! The Buccos win it! Raise the Jolly Roger! They waved home Schierholtz! He's thrown out at the plate, the Buccos win their 90th! What a finish!" - Greg Brown's call on the game ending relay.
- The Pirates had led the Cubs 1-0 throughout most of the game until their notoriously solid set up man Mark Melancon failed to hold in the 8th, allowing the game to be tied at one. In the top of the ninth with two outs, Starling Marte, who had been a defensive replacement in the seventh and was just coming off a stint on the disabled list, launched a solo home run in his first at bat to allow the Pirates to retake the lead.
The Drop Seen 'Round the World
During the bottom of the second inning in the 2013 NL Wild Card Game against the Cincinnati Reds, Pirates' catcher Russell Martin stepped up to the plate to face Reds' ace pitcher Johnny Cueto. The crowd at the park, having not experienced playoff baseball in twenty years, was incredibly intense. A rhythmic chant of "CUE-TO CUE-TO" began to rise through the cheers, until the pitcher's name echoed loudly through the entire park. Cueto, visibly rattled, set himself on the mound and began wiping the ball with his hands. Seconds later he fumbled it and it fell to the ground, rolling a few feet away. The crowd's chants grew even louder as he quickly recovered the baseball and returned to the mound. The next pitch he threw would be launched into the seats by Martin, giving the Pirates a 2-0 lead and the momentum they would need to secure the win.
Homer in the Gloamin'
For most of the 1938 season, the Pirates had led the National League and seemed on their way to a pennant. But in the final month of the season, they started to falter, losing a 6.5 game lead in the beginning of September and by the time they played the Chicago Cubs in a three game series at Wrigley Field late in the month, they were only up by 2. The Cubs won the first game, narrowing the lead to 0.5. The next game on September 28, 1938 was tied at 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth inning. With an 0-2 count, Gabby Hartnett hit a Mace Brown pitch for a home run to win the game for the Cubs. The Pirates lost four of the next five games to close out the season while the Cubs went on to clinch the pennant.
The Heartbreaker I
The Cincinnati Reds had overcome a 2-games-to-1 deficit in the 1972 National League Championship Series to force a deciding Game 5 in Cincinnati. The Pirates claimed an early 2-0 lead in the game, then traded runs in the middle innings with the Reds to take a 3-2 advantage into the bottom of the ninth inning. Three outs from returning to the World Series as the defending champs, normally dependable Pirates closer Dave Giusti surrendered a home run to Johnny Bench, tying the game. After allowing two base hits to Tony Pérez and Denis Menke, Giusti was replaced on the mound by Bob Moose. After coaxing the next two Reds batters to fly out, Moose unleashed a wild pitch with runners on second and third, allowing the winning run to score.
"One and two, the wind, and the the pitch to Bench; change hit in the air to deep right field, back goes Clemente at the fence...she's gone! Johnny Bench, who hits almost every home run to left field hits one to right. The game is tied."
—Al Michaels call on the series ending play.
The Heartbreaker II
Twenty years later, history seemingly repeated itself for the Pirates. In the 1992 National League Championship Series (NLCS), the Pirates (who had "three-peated" as division champs) faced the Atlanta Braves in a rematch of the previous year's NLCS. The Game 7 series decider, held on Wednesday October 14, was its most memorable contest. The Pirates' Doug Drabek pitched masterfully for the first eight innings, holding the Braves scoreless. His only real scare came in the sixth, when the Braves loaded the bases with none out. But Jeff Blauser lined into a double-play and Terry Pendleton struck out to end the inning. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh wasn't doing much with Atlanta starter John Smoltz, but they did manage single tallies in the first on an Orlando Merced sacrifice fly and in the sixth on an RBI single by Andy Van Slyke.
The Pirates took their 2–0 lead into the bottom of the ninth, when their season imploded. Drabek allowed an inning-opening double to Pendleton. In what would prove to be a crucial play, normally sure-handed second baseman José Lind then booted David Justice's easy grounder. A walk to Sid Bream loaded the bases, and Stan Belinda replaced Drabek. Ron Gant then plated one run with a sacrifice fly to make it 2–1, and Damon Berryhill walked to reload the bases. Pinch-hitter Brian Hunter popped up to second base with nobody scoring, and it looked like Pittsburgh might escape. But pinch-hitter Francisco Cabrera singled to left to score Justice and — just ahead of Barry Bonds' throw — Bream. The Braves piled onto Bream at the plate, the stadium erupted, and Atlanta went back to the World Series. Meanwhile, it took the Pirates twenty-one seasons to return to post-season play — and compile a winning record for a season.
- "Swung, line drive left field! One run is in! Here comes Bream! Here's the throw to the plate! He is...safe! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!" - Skip Caray's call of Francisco Cabrera's game-winning hit in Game 7.
- "Line drive and a base hit. Justice has scored the tying run. Bream to the plate...and he is safe, safe at the plate! The Braves go to the World Series!" - Sean McDonough's call of Francisco Cabrera's game-winning hit in Game 7.
- Sid Bream played for Pittsburgh from 1985 to 1990 and has long made his home north of the city.
- The Pirates had found themselves in a familiar situation during the 1992 NLCS: down 3-games-to-1 and facing elimination going into Game 5. In fact, they had come within one out of re-accomplishing the feats of the 1925 and 1979 Pirates in overcoming such a deficit in post-season play (albeit this time in the NLCS rather than the World Series).
The Sausage incident
At Milwaukee on July 9, 2003, Randall Simon was arrested, suspended and fined for swinging a baseball bat from the dugout at the head of a Milwaukee stadium Sausage runner's costume. The tap didn't hit the actual head of Mandy Block, who was wearing the Italian sausage costume, but did knock her over causing a chain reaction that took the "hot dog" costumed runner down with her. The Polish sausage helped the Italian sausage up and all sausages finished the race. The Pirates lost the game 2-1. Simon later apologized and Block asked only that the offending bat be autographed and given to her. Simon obliged. Later that year, Mandy Block received a complimentary trip to Curaçao, Simon's home island, from the Curaçao Tourism Board. Since the incident, T-shirts and other memorabilia have been sold with the slogan "Don't whack our wiener!"
Worst Call Ever
At 2 AM on July 26, 2011, in the bottom of the 19th inning (the fourth-longest game in franchise history), the Pirates are ironically handed another disheartening loss against the Atlanta Braves, this time in the form of a blown call by home plate umpire Jerry Meals.
Posting their best regular-season record in 19 years and on pace for a wild-card playoff spot, a night game tied at 3-3 in Atlanta drags on into extra innings. In the bottom of the 19th inning, Atlanta placed runners on first and third with one out. Atlanta's Scott Proctor hit a ground ball to third base which was fielded cleanly by Pedro Alvarez. Alvarez threw home to Pirates' catcher Michael McKenry, who appeared to apply the tag to the Atlanta base runner, Julio Lugo, in plenty of time. To the shock of everyone watching, home plate umpire Jerry Meals indicated that Lugo had avoided the tag by signalling "safe."
While this was only one loss in what was otherwise a winning season to that point, the play seemingly resurrected too many "ghosts of '92," and put the Pirates into a season-breaking tailspin from which they could not recover.
In the 1972 AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Oakland Raiders, The Steelers found themselves trailing in the score, "4th and long," 60 yards from the end zone, and down to their last play. A desperation pass, actually intended for the Steelers' other running back, John "Frenchy" Fuqua, ricocheted to rookie running back Franco Harris, who made an incredible, "shoe-string" catch and ran the ball in for the winning touchdown. The play, soon dubbed the Immaculate Reception, became one of the most famous and controversial plays in the history of sports.
The Immaculate Deflection
January 14, 1996: Trailing by four points (20–16) and with five seconds remaining in the AFC Championship Game, the Indianapolis Colts needed to score a touchdown to defeat the Steelers, with the winner advancing to Super Bowl XXX. With the ball at the Steelers' 29-yard line, Colts QB Jim Harbaugh lofted a pass into the corner of the end zone. The pass seemingly hung in the air forever, and was batted down by Steelers defensive back Myron Bell. However, the ball was knocked straight down onto the stomach of fallen Colts WR Aaron Bailey. On the television camera feed, the view of the ball was lost for a split second, after which Bailey had possession of the ball. The Colts immediately began signalling touchdown, and the Steelers defensive backs vehemently signaled incomplete. The back judge, however, ruled that the ball hit the ground, and after a lengthy discussion, the referee declared the pass to be incomplete - which other camera angles would show was clearly the diciest call in playoff history.
The Comeback II
- (January 5, 2003, Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, AFC Wild Card Playoff Game)
Trailing by 17 points, a 24–7 disadvantage with 19 minutes left to play, the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Quarterback Tommy Maddox rallied the Steelers, scoring three passing touchdowns in four offensive drives. The Browns managed to score 9 points in the 4th quarter keeping them in the lead (33–28) until a 61-yard drive, culminating in a 3-yard rushing touchdown and a successful two-point conversion by the Steelers. At 36–33, with 54 seconds left in regulation, it was the first time in the game that the Steelers had been leading on the scoreboard. The Browns failed to answer back in their final drive, ending the game in one of the greatest comebacks in NFL playoff history.
The Tackle/Immaculate Redemption
- See also: National Football League lore
The Tackle or The Immaculate Redemption refers to an event that occurred on January 15, 2006 during the AFC Divisional Round between the Steelers and the heavily favored Indianapolis Colts. Clinging to a 3-point lead, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made a game-saving tackle against Colts cornerback Nick Harper, who nearly returned a fumble by running back Jerome Bettis for the go-ahead touchdown.
With 1:20 remaining in the game, Pittsburgh's Joey Porter sacked Colts quarterback Peyton Manning on fourth down at Indianapolis's 2-yard line. The Steelers, leading 21–18, appeared to have clinched victory as the Colts turned the ball over to them on downs. Since the Colts had all three of their timeouts, the Steelers were forced to try for a two-yard touchdown; they would be unable to run the clock out by simply kneeling on the ball.
On first and goal, Pittsburgh veteran running back Jerome Bettis (who hadn't fumbled throughout the 2005 NFL season) spun to his left near the goal line with the ball cradled in his left arm. Colts linebacker Gary Brackett put his helmet squarely on the ball, and it popped out of Bettis's arm, back behind the line of scrimmage. Immediately, Colts cornerback Nick Harper picked up the ball and headed for the Steelers' end zone with several blockers around him. It very much appeared as if Harper would take the football all of the way for a go-ahead, possible game-winning touchdown, with precious little time left. As Harper was running down the field, Roethlisberger, who had been turned completely around several times desperately trying to stay in front of the speedy Harper, managed to get a hold of Harper's right shin by diving in a backwards twisting motion, and make a shoestring tackle to bring him down at the Colts' 42-yard line.
The tackle would later prove to be the play of the season, as afterward, the Colts, while denied a touchdown return, tried to drive down the field in an attempt to score a touchdown. On 2nd & 3rd and 2, the Colts took deep shots down the left sideline to Reggie Wayne. Both passes were blocked by rookie Bryant McFadden. This playcalling was questioned as a simple running play could have extended the drive. But the Colts were eventually forced into a potential game-tying 46-yard field goal attempt. However, kicker Mike Vanderjagt (the most accurate kicker in NFL history) missed it terribly wide-right and the Steelers held on to win 21–18. Vanderjagt's miss was his last attempt in a Colts uniform. He would sign with Dallas after the season ended.
Vanderjagt was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after the kick because he removed his helmet and slammed it to the RCA Dome turf.
Fueled by this play, the Steelers traveled to Denver and dominated the Denver Broncos in a 34–17 upset a week later in the AFC Championship Game, then defeated the Seattle Seahawks 21–10 on February 5, 2006 in Super Bowl XL to claim their first NFL title in twenty-six years.
- If Harper had scored and ended Pittsburgh's season, it would have created a bitter ending to the career of Jerome Bettis, who would have been blamed with costing Pittsburgh the win with his fumble. Instead, Pittsburgh won and Bettis got to later return to his hometown, Detroit, and win his lone championship ring before retiring. Bettis did, however, state that if Pittsburgh lost the Super Bowl or did not reach it that he may have returned for one last season.
- After Roethlisberger's tackle, the game was saved a second time by cornerback Bryant McFadden. On 2nd and 2 from the Pittsburgh 29, Colts QB Peyton Manning fired to the corner of the endzone, looking for star receiver Reggie Wayne. McFadden matched Wayne stride for stride into the endzone and just as Wayne appeared to make the catch, McFadden got an arm between Wayne's arms and knocked the ball free. As it hovered in the air, both Wayne and McFadden dove for the ball, as McFadden foiled two subsequent attempts by Wayne to catch the tipped ball as they went to the ground.
- Harper's wife, Daniell, had been arrested the night before the game after slicing his knee during an argument. The injury required three stitches but did not prevent him from playing the next day.
The Interception/Immaculate Interception
With 18 seconds left in the first half of Super Bowl XLIII, the Arizona Cardinals were on the Steelers' 2-yard line and threatened to take a 14-10 lead into halftime. The Cardinals sent receiver Anquan Boldin on a quick slant route and Larry Fitzgerald on a quick post route, hoping to shake a defender and allow a quick scoring pass. Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner's pre-snap read was an all-out blitz by its linebackers and defensive line. In order to avoid the impending pass rush, Warner threw the ball to Boldin. However, outside linebacker James Harrison had in fact faked the blitz and dropped back into coverage, right in the passing lane to Boldin. Harrison intercepted the ball on the goal line and started to return the pick. After almost running into fellow Steeler Deshea Townsend, Harrison darted down the sidelines, following his blockers and hurdling Cardinals players down to the goal line. Fitzgerald, after bumping into teammate Antrel Rolle who had wandered from the sidelines onto the field of play, still caught up to Harrison on the Cardinals' 5-yard line. He and fellow Cardinal Steve Breaston grabbed Harrison but were unable to bring him down before he scored on the longest play in Super Bowl history—a 100-yard interception return as the clock ticked down to zero. Harrison, exhausted, lay on the ground for a while before getting up. The play ultimately was a 14-point swing, allowing the Steelers to go to the locker room up 17-7.
The Catch (The Tampa Toe-chdown)
In the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIII, the Arizona Cardinals stormed back from a 20-7 deficit to take a 23-20 lead on two touchdowns by All-Pro wideout Larry Fitzgerald as well as a safety caused by a holding penalty against the Steelers in their own endzone. Trailing for the first time in the game, Pittsburgh then marched down the field in impressive fashion to set up a potential go-ahead touchdown with less than one minute remaining. On second-and-goal from the Arizona 6-yard line, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw high to the right corner of the endzone where receiver Santonio Holmes made an incredible diving catch on his toes and miraculously kept both feet in bounds while maintaining control of the ball. The Steelers went ahead 27-23 and proceeded to win their record sixth Super Bowl title.
The Act (Nedney's Flop)
- (January 11, 2003, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Tennessee Titans, AFC Divisional Game)
One week after an unforgettable victory over the division rival, Cleveland Browns, the Steelers traveled down to Tennessee to face the second seeded Titans. The Titans were coming off of an 11-5 record, and were heavily favored in the match-up. Early on, it looked as if that were the case. The Titans took an early 14-0 lead over the Steelers. But Titans running back Eddie George fumbled, mid-second quarter, giving the ball to the Steelers in their own territory. Quarterback Tommy Maddox connected with Hines Ward for an 8-yard strike on the second play of the drive. It was a dog fight from then on. The game saw three lead changes during the remainder of regulation. After a failed Steelers drive, Titans quarterback Steve McNair was given the ball on his own 20 with 1:43 to go, and the game tied at 31. He took his team right down the field and set up kicker Joe Nedney with a 48-yard field goal attempt with just three seconds remaining. The first kick was good, however, Steelers Coach Bill Cowher had called a timeout right before the ball was snapped. Nedney was forced to attempt the kick again. He missed it wide right, and the game went into overtime. The Titans won the toss and McNair was given another shot. After two long pass plays, the Titans offense had set up Nedney with another field goal attempt. This one from just 31 yards out. Nedney missed it wide right, yet again. However, after the kick took place, Steelers cornerback Dwayne Washington was pushed into the legs of Nedney, and Nedney fell. A flag was thrown on Washington for "running into the kicker". A 5-yard penalty was enforced, and Nedney went on to make the 26-yard attempt, giving the Titans a 34-31 victory. The replay of the first kick, however, showed that Washington had not even touched Nedney. Head coach Bill Cowher was furious with the call. A week later, the NFL issued a written apology to the Steelers organization.
The Save I
On April 13, 1991, Pittsburgh Penguins backup goalie Frank Pietrangelo made an incredible diving glove save against Peter Stastny, who was shooting toward an open net, in the first period of Game 6 of a first-round playoff series at New Jersey during the 1991 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Pietrangelo's stop helped the Penguins to a 4–3 win and forced a seventh game, where he proceeded to shut out the Devils 4–0. Although shortly thereafter Pietrangelo relinquished the starting goalie job to Tom Barrasso, the Penguins went on to win the Stanley Cup.
The Save II
In Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals against the Detroit Red Wings, the Penguins had the puck frozen in their own zone leading 2-1 with 6.5 seconds remaining. The Red Wings won the ensuing faceoff, and the puck came to Henrik Zetterberg, who shot it at the goal. Goalie Marc-André Fleury made the pad save, and the rebound came to Niklas Lidstrom at the opposite faceoff circle, and he shot at the open net. In a play similar to the Pietrangelo save, Fleury dove across the net to knock the puck away as the clock ran out, giving the Penguins their third Stanley Cup in franchise history.
The Penguins took a 3-0 lead over the New York Islanders in the conference semi-finals, just as the rival Flyers also won their series 4-0 for an expected All-Pennsylvania Eastern Conference Finals. The Penguins proceeded to lose four straight to the Islanders for the first 0-3 comeback in the NHL since the 1940s.
- Minor League: 1877 with the formation of the International League.
- Two sport players: 1903 Fred Crolius and Christy Matthewson for the Pittsburgh Stars and Pittsburgh Pirates.
- Standing ovation: May 28, 1956 Pirate slugger Dale Long gets a five-minute standing ovation at Forbes Field after hitting his 8th home run in 8 games against the Brooklyn Dodgers, the first curtain call in sports history.
- African-American manager: June 21, 1961 Gene Baker became the first African-American manager in Organized Baseball when the Pirates named him skipper of their Batavia Pirates farm club in the New York-Penn League.
- Family in the Hall of Fame: July 24, 1967 Pirates' great Lloyd Waner joins his brother, and fellow Pirate, Paul Waner in the Hall of Fame becoming the first brothers in any sports hall of fames.
- Hall of Fame waiver: March 20, 1973 Roberto Clemente became the first player to enter a major sports hall of fame, waiving the mandatory five-year waiting period.
- Back-to-back Hall of Fame broadcasters: April 10, 1976 Milo Hamilton announced his first Pirates game taking over for fellow hall-of-famer Bob Prince, making the Pirates the first major league team to have back-to-back hall of fame broadcasters. During this same season both hall of famers Myron Cope and Mike Lange also announced for the Steelers and Penguins respectively.
- Million Dollar Contract: January 26, 1979 Dave Parker of the Pirates became the first $1 million/year player in sports.
- Uniform uniforms: January 30, 1980 Pittsburgh became the first, and still only city, to have all its major professional teams don the same colors, when the Penguins completed the process.
- White House Double visit: February 22, 1980 President Jimmy Carter hosted both the Steelers and Pirates in a single ceremony to celebrate their respective championship wins in Super Bowl XIV and the 1979 World Series.
- Drug trials: 1985 The Pittsburgh drug trials took place and were the first investigation in sports doping and drug use.
- Most Hits July 5, 1886: Pittsburgh Alleghenys' slugger Fred Carroll gets 9 hits against the Baltimore Orioles in a doubleheader.
- Monkey burial at home plate: 1887 Pittsburgh Alleghenys's Fred Carroll buried his pet monkey, which earlier served as an unofficial team mascot for the team, beneath the home plate at Recreation Park in a pre-game ceremony.
- 21 runs in consecutive innings: June 6, 1894 The Pirates beat the Boston Beaneaters with 21 runs scored in just the 3rd and 4th innings, along with 4 home runs in a single inning, major league records.
- Rain Tarps: May 6, 1906 Rain tarps were first used in game at Exposition Park during a game between the Pirates and Chicago Cubs.
- 3000th off a 20 game winner: June 9, 1914 Pirates' Hall of Famer Honus Wagner became the first player with a documented 3,000th hit and the only one to get it on a 20-game winner.
- Modern Glove: April 14, 1920 Pittsburgh-native Bill Doak introduced the modern glove to baseball as his St. Louis Cardinals played the Pirates.
- First pitch homer: May 7, 1922 Pirates' rookie Walter Mueller becomes the first in baseball to hit a home run on his first major league pitch.
- Eight modern-era triples: May 30, 1925 The Pirates hit eight triples against the St. Louis Cardinals at Forbes Field, the most in the World Series era.
- Most Consecutive Hits allowed: June 23, 1930 The Pirates pitcher Heinie Meine sets the dubious baseball record for most consecutive hits allowed against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
- Hall of Famer: June 12, 1939 Honus Wagner becomes one of the four first players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, receiving the second most votes.
- All Star Game multiple homers:July 8, 1941 Pirates' slugger Arky Vaughn becomes the first to hit multiple home runs in baseball's All Star Game.
- Back-to-back homers to start a game: July 6, 1945 and July 5, 1980 The Pirates become the only team to start two games with them against the Boston Braves and Houston Astros respectively.
- Night-game Season Opener: April 18, 1950 the Pirates and Cardinals become the first teams to open a season under the lights.
- Batting helmets: April 15, 1952 The Pirates became the first baseball team to don batting helmets for protection.
- Batting helmets for defense: 1953 The Pirates became the first, and last, team to used batting helmets on defense.
- Heisman Trophy winner to the baseball diamond: May 31, 1953 Vic Janowicz became the first Heisman Trophy winner to play major league baseball, when he played third base for the Pirates.
- Walk off inside the park grand slam: July 25, 1956 Against the Chicago Cubs, Roberto Clemente becomes the first and only player to hit a walk-off inside-the-park grand slam at Forbes Field.
- 12 inning Perfect Game: May 26, 1959 Pirates ace Harvey Haddix at Milwaukee.
- African-American Manager: June 21, 1961 Gene Baker for the Pirates.
- Mets win: April 23, 1962 Riding a 10 game win streak the Pirates lose to the expansion Mets at Forbes Field, the very first franchise win for the Mets.
- Southern game: April 12, 1966 the Pirates play Atlanta's very first baseball game, a 3-2 win.
- NL 14 inning opening day game: April 15, 1958 vs. the Braves and April 8, 1969 vs. St. Louis.
- NL 2nd baseman to play 392 straight: May 15, 1968 with Bill Mazeroski.
- LSD No hitter: June 12, 1970 Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis pitches the franchise's fourth no-hitter, with the Pirates winning the game on two Willie Stargell single shot homers against the San Diego Padres. Years later, Ellis would admit he was high on LSD the entire game, a first for baseball.
- Home Run only game: May 7, 1973 The Pirates record only five hits, all homers, in a 5-0 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the first such game in baseball history.
- NL Grand Slam Single: July 4, 1976 at Three Rivers Stadium the Pirates pitch the first Grand Slam Single to the rival Philadelphia Phillies, the first in the National League and just the second ever in Major League Baseball history.
- World Series Manager & MVP to be booed: May 20, 1988 at Three Rivers with former skipper Chuck Tanner and MVP Willie Stargell are booed for coaching rival Atlanta.
- #1 pick to win his first game: April 9, 1999 Kris Benson of the Pirates became the first #1 draft pick in National League history (second overall) to win his first game.
- Stealing First Base: June 26, 2001 Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon walks off the field with first base.
- Sausage assault arrest: July 9, 2003 Pirates slugger Randall Simon is arrested after jokingly "batting" away a Milwaukee Brewers sausage racer.
- Perogi firing: June 19, 2010 The Pirates become the first sports team in world history to fire a "perogi", dubiously during a series with the Cleveland Indians.
- 4-5-4 triple play: May 9, 2015 the Pirates became the first MLB team to turn a 4-5-4 triple play during a 7-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. The play occurred when the Cardinals' Yadier Molina lined out to Pittsburgh second baseman Neil Walker. Walker then threw to third baseman Jung Ho Kang to double off the Cardinals' Jhonny Peralta for the second out. Kang then threw the ball back to Walker, who was standing on second base. for the final out after St. Louis’ Jason Heyward froze between second and third.
- Pro Football Player: November 12, 1892 William "Pudge" Heffelfinger is hired by the Allegheny Athletic Association for $500, becoming the first known professional football player.
- Pro football coach: 1893 Sport Donnelly of the Allegheny Athletic Association became the first known professional football coach.
- Pro football contract: 1893 A player, assumed to be Grant Dibert of the Pittsburgh Athletic Club, signed the first known pro football contract, which covered all of the clubs games for the 1893 season.
- Pro football team owner: circa 1898 William Chase Temple bought up the player contracts for the Duquesne Country and Athletic Club, becoming the first individual owner of a professional football team.
- Pro football all-star game: December 3, 1898 The first ever professional football all-star game held between the Duquesne Country and Athletic Club and players from Western Pennsylvania All-Stars.
- "National" Football League title: November 29, 1902 Pittsburgh Stars defeated the Philadelphia Athletics, 11-0, at the Pittsburgh Coliseum.
- Professional ice hockey league: 1902 Western Pennsylvania Hockey League becomes the first ice hockey league to openly hires and trades players.
- Hockey Trade:January 28, 1908: The first trade in professional ice hockey took place between the two city teams the Pittsburgh Bankers and Pittsburgh Pirates.
- Changing players on the fly: This article from the December 21, 1925 Pittsburgh Press describes how Pittsburgh Pirates' coach Odie Cleghorn would change the forward line halfway through each period with another set of attackers, who would play for "six or eight minutes". The first line would then come back on to finish the period. The defencemen were not changed.
- Three lines: The Pirates were also the first team to use three set forward lines, which was a huge change from the standard, which was to simply leave the best players out for as long as possible.
- "Miracle" Coach suspended: January 16, 2000 Penguins coach Herb Brooks, made famous as the coach of the 1980 US Hockey Olympic Team, was suspended by the NHL on after confronting a Denver broadcaster after a game with the Colorado Avalanche.
- Winter Classic win: January 1, 2008 The Penguins won the first ever NHL Winter Classic defeating the Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Sidney Crosby scored the first Classic game winner.
- Prime-time Winter Classic: January 1, 2011 The Penguins hosted the first prime time Winter Classic, first to be held in an NCAA football stadium and first to use a cable-cam, as well as the first Winter Classic alumni game.
- African-American Drafted In 1955 the Duquesne Dukes boasted of the NBA's first African American player chosen in a sports draft.
- College to produce back-to-back NBA #1 Draft picks: In both 1955 and 1956 the Duquesne Dukes produced the #1 NBA Draft pick, to date the only college basketball program to accomplish such a feat.
- National High School Tournament in 1965 the Roundball Classic was first held at the Civic Arena as the first nationwide pre-college basketball tournament, the classic was held in the city every year until 1993.
- Championship with the dunk and 3-point shot: The Pittsburgh Pipers won the ABA Title in 1968, the first league to allow the dunk and 3-point shot in professional basketball and the Pipers the first to win such a championship.
- Baker's last game: March 24, 1917 Hobey Baker, considered the first American star in ice hockey by the Hockey Hall of Fame, played the last game of his career at the Pittsburgh Winter Garden.
- Vezina's last game: November 28, 1925 The Pittsburgh Pirates upset the Montreal Canadiens, 1-0, in the final game for legendary Habs goaltender, Georges Vezina.
- No Mask Goalie: April 7, 1974 Penguins goaltender Andy Brown is the last of the "ironmen netminders", the last NHL player not to wear a mask.
- Ruthian Home Runs: Babe Ruth hit his last 3 home run game and last career home run at Forbes Field on May 25, 1935, days before retiring.
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