Big Lead Sports Bar



Hope you're enjoying Readers Rule Week (I know I am). Yesterday sure brought back a lot of memories. Today, we're in for a different kind of treat: your Pittsburgh sports-related photos, narrated by you.

Champion was kind enough to give us some pieces from their new Rashard Mendenhall-endorsed line of clothing to use as prizes, which I will do. Here's how we'll be handing these out: a three-person panel of judges (appointed by me) will be selecting a total of (3) winners from the submissions below, based on which reader had the best photos. Each winner will receive (1) Champion hooded sweatshirt, modeled below by our injured rookie:

As you can see by the link, the retail value on these is $65. I can tell you firsthand that these are very nice. Look for more Champion items to be awarded as prizes in the coming weeks. The three winners will be announced tomorrow.

And since tomorrow will wrap up Readers Rule Week, I wanted to remind anyone who runs or works for a local business to send their info for "Free Plug Friday" tomorrow. I will be providing free mentions and links as part of tomorrow's content, so pass those along to if you'd like to be included.

And now, without further adieu, here are your greatest Pittsburgh sports-related photos. Be sure to read the corresponding stories, as well. Some definite classics are residing there.

Jack Miller:

I have some pics from Feb 20 2007, when the Pens were about 3/4 of the way through their incredible 14-0-2 run. I was the lucky winner of a Pens Home Invasion from 105.9 The X! I signed up for the contest on the web site and about a week later I got a call that they would be coming on a Saturday night with 10 Subway hoagies (this is Pittsburgh, right?), a case of LaBatt Blue, Paul Alexander and Fox Sports Pittsburgh camera crew and Iceburgh.

I'm a Shaler kid that left the Burgh right after high school for the Navy. My wife (also a proud Shaler grad) had expected to return home after my 6 years of service, but surprisingly there was no decent job to be found in the area. We spent 2 years in Phoenix and then five more in Massachusetts while I worked for Intel Corp, and then one glorious late summer day in 2003 I receieved a job offer from Seagate Technology to join their research center in downtown Pittsburgh. A dream come true! A kickass job in the Burgh, the town that we love!

So I made my triumphant return to our fair city in the fall of 2003. 13 years had passed since I was a local resident. I returned in time to see those high flying Steelers an their fabulous passing attack led by Tommy Gun. A glorious 6-10 campaign. I was really drinking it all in, though. I had never before had the pleasure of listening to Pittsbugh sports talk, the Super Genius, that is, on the afternoon commute. Life couldn't be better!

You know, I could go on and on about what coming back and being here has meant to me. From going to Steeler games with a Polamalu jersey and a wig, to buying single seats to last years Pens playoff games when my wife knocked me out of the house for Bunco night with the girls, I've really been living the dream. I'd actually be honored if you would let me chronicle my story on your site. Especially in lieu of the fact that the company that brought me back to town, Seagate, recently announced they are closing their research center here. It has been located downtown, just up the river from the Convention Center since 2002. They are centralizing their operations at a larger facility in Bloomington, MN. I am faced with the possibility of having to leave my beloved homeland once again Certainly if I want to stay with the company I will be leaving. Anyhow, I'd love to maybe do a chapter by chapter recounting of my time here for your site. As I said, it would an honor. Let me know if you'd be interested. I've always wanted to write, and maybe I could get started with this and then become a contributor. Let me know your thoughts.

Back to the Home Invasion. A promotions chick from The X shows up with the hoagies and beer and a short time later Paul Alexander and the camera crew is there. I had a bunch of friends and family over and the atmosphere was electric. My teenage daughter had about a dozen of her friends over and I had invited about 20 more people. Again, this was about 10 games into the 14-0-2 run of late Jan to Feb 2007. They informed me beforehand that they would be shooting footage of the party and also that Paul Alexander would do an interview to get my analysis of the Pens to this point. Knowing this, I took my Pens fleece blanket and tacked it up on the living room wall for a backdrop.

Soon after Paul and the others arrived, Icebugh showed up and got the party crankin'! The dude that does Iceburgh showed up in civis (short for civilian clothes) and asked where he could change. I sent him upstairs to my bedroom without much thought. About a minute later my wife asked why the bedroom door was locked. I told her that Iceburgh was getting changed in there, and she proceeded to beat me about the head and neck. She had stashed some laundry in our bedroom just before the party. "My bras are laying on the bed up there!", she screamed. Icebugh never mentioned them.

So Iceburgh did his thing and then it was time for my big interview with Paul. He asked me questions like what did I think was the keys to Pittsburgh's hot streak. I proceeded to regurgitate much of what I was hearing from the Super Genius, how Sid's work ethic was leadership by example, and noting that the hot streak coincided with Mark Eaton's return from injury. I nailed it!

I was very impressed with Paul Alexander as a dude. I always thought he came off as kind of a pompous jerk. I was very wrong. He was at the house for about 45 minutes chatting with everyone and enjoying the grub. Very friendly and cool guy. He even gave my mother-in-law's Buffalo chicken dip a shoutout when they rolled the party footage on FSN. Big fan of his.

Alright, sorry I'm dragging this out. The crew left just before that night's game against the Maple Leafs. What a glorious game it was. A 6-5 OT win with Jordan Staal getting the game winner and his first career hat trick. What a night! After the game on FSN they had Pens highlights, followed by footage of the party and my expert analysis. It was awesome!

Charlie Hildbold:

The Highlight of me working with the Pirates...I got to be in the pierogie race (I was Saul)
My friends from Grove City and I go to a different ballpark every year. 2006 we went to Cincy and saw them play the Indians. Cleveland vs. I wore my Big Ben Jersey and got a whole section to boo me and throw stuff at was awesome...and right after the Super Bowl (and right after we hurt Carson Palmer)
Freddy at the All Star Workout, picture from our seats...signing my baseball.
Van Slyke was my favorite player growing up...I never had a chance to meet him...ever. When he came with Detroit and I got an autograph and picture is the highlight of my life so far (tied with Super Bowl XL)
Working for the Pirates we got Front row seats at the All Star Week festivities in the Handicapped section. This is from after the game itself...
Me celebrating when Reed kicked the game winning field goal against the Jets in the 2004 AFC Division Game (taken in Grove City...yeah PAC!)

DJ Peckens:

Here are a few of my obscure (and hence, my favorite) Pittsburgh sports photos that I wanted to send it for Readers Rule Week. Almost all of them are pretty old, and I've sent a few of them since I didn't know which one would be the best:

Ryan Vogelsong - This isn't one of my favorite pictures because Vogelsong's in it. No,'s because of the back story behind it. A few of my friends and I went out to Dick's Sporting Goods at The Mall at Robinson a few years ago when some of the Pens players were signing autographs for charity. In between sessions, they went to track down Ziggy Palffy since he was the only one they didn't get to sign anything - as I spotted Vogelsong and asked him for a picture. Since none of them were around to take it, I asked the guy standing next to Vogey to take it. It was Paul Steigerwald. 'Steigy' glared at me with a look of utter contempt and said real dryly, 'Do you know who I am?' Of course I knew who he was, but I denied it since he pulled out the 'Do you know who I am?' card. He snapped the picture and flung the camera back at me. Even Vogelsong thought it was pretty funny.
Warren Morris - WaMo was one of my favorite players in the late 90's when he burst onto the scene in 1998 and hit 15 HR's as a rookie 2B for the Buccos. He made the return for Esteban Loaiza seem a lot more tolerable (I mean, Todd Van Poppel was the other player sent to Pittsburgh) until he couldn't hit his way out of a wet paper bag in resulting years and was supplanted by Pat Meares. When my dad told me right before this picture was snapped that WaMo 'could be the next Johnny Ray,' that's not that high of a ceiling - and Morris never even came close to reaching it.
Yancy Thigpen - In the bye week between the 1996 AFC Championship game and Super Bowl XXX, Thigpen and Andre Hastings came to Ohio for an autograph signing and a whole lot of people showed up. There were probably about 900 people in line when I got there, but my one of my sister's friends at the front of the line let me cut in and only about 10 people were in front of me at that point. Decked out in all Black-and-Gold and wearing my hat Joba Chamberlain style, I got on the front page of the local paper - so this is pretty much a one-of-a-kind Super Bowl XXX souvenir for me along with my team photo signed by the two WR's.
Neil O'Donnell - Oh, yes...him. Mind you that this picture was taken well before Jerry Jones sent #14 a Brinks Security Truck full of cash to complete passes to Larry Brown in the Super Bowl. This picture, too, was taken at the Steubenville Home Show - and I was just happy to be getting a yardstick out of the deal.
Louis Lipps - Again, this was from the Steubenville Home Show. I loved Lipps' Bill Cosby sweater and 'LL' chain. I was really young here but for some reason I can remember Louis being a real cool guy.

Jim Leyland - Pirates fans really must have no sense of history at all. How can you not recognize Jim Leyland at a freakin' Pirates game? The 'Marlboro Man' was serving as an advance scout for the Cards and stood in front of me in line at the concession stand at PNC while I waited for Dippin' Dots - and nobody else knew who he was. Who could've thought that he would be leading a team to a World Series 2 years later?

Ike Taylor - I've always liked this one. I'm pretty sure this was the week before the Steelers improbable victory against the Jets in the AFC Divisional Playoffs when Doug Brien gift-wrapped the game for Pittsburgh. The autograph session was in Youngstown, OH and I'm pretty sure I was the only one there - and Ike was a little 'inebriated' if you know what I mean.
Eric Green - It's hard to outdress someone with a swanky wardrobe and Hollywood L.A.P.D. hat, but I think my 'Home Alone' t-shirt, 'Ninja Turtles' pants and light-up shoes do the trick. The Steelers and Browns each used to send one player to the Steubenville (OH) Home Show...guess which player always had the longer line? The one who represented the Black 'n Gold. And besides, who likes Kevin Mack anyway?

Mike Vrable:

This is the Standing Steel Brigade...a group of guys who go full-boat on the Steelers apparel. One of my buddies (the one in the Roethlisberger jersey) took part in the festivities. The guy in the center is former Steeler Louis Lipps. Funny thing is, the SSB got more photo opps than #83.
The shot inside the stadium is me at Texas Stadium when the Steelers beat the Cowgirls on their home turf in October 2004.
Mike Chatburn:

This is just a great Steelers tailgating picture. I think the guys next to me might be the founders of Steely McBeam!
Tim Russell:

Here I am with Franco Harris at the Pittsburgh Airport a few years back. This was an awkward situation for me for more than one reason and I’ll tell you why. This is the first famous person I’ve ever met. After hearing other friends tell stories of meeting other Steelers/Pens, when I saw Franco at the airport and noticed he was boarding my plane, I had to ask him for a photo. First off, Franco doesn’t follow airport guidelines. He doesn’t get there two hours early. He was quite late, actually. Obviously sitting in first class and boarding first, he showed up very late, at about the same time I was boarding last. But with most of the people on the plane already, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to approach him for a picture. Though not obvious, in the picture, his mouth is stuffed with pizza. When I asked for the picture, he mumbled back with a mouth full of food something I couldn’t understand. I had no idea what he said, so as politely as I could, I asked……………… “What?” After finally swallowing, he said, “Okay”. To make the situation more awkward, he noticed my hoody and asked if I went to Penn State. Again, another awkward situation. As politely as I could, I replied, “No”. I thought that response was better than telling him “Yeah, but I dropped out after attending a branch campus for a year, because I though the curriculum sucked”.

David Fulmer

Pinpoint at Sentinel Peak Park, overview of downtown Tucson, Arizona.

Mark Anderson:

This is my girlfriend and I in front of Oscar’s in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Great Steeler bar by the way as you can tell by the outside of it.

Melissa Zbikowski:
My cat, Drusilla, loves her Steelers, especially Willie Parker. Here she is laying in her favorite spot (the Steelers circle) on her favorite blanket.

Steve Beall:
Here's a pic of My Dad (on the right) with Mean Joe Greene in his rookie camp in Latrobe. The photo has obviously seen better days. Notice the ball with Joe Greene signed on it being handed to him upside down. I don't know who the guy handing him the ball is either.

Travis Harp:
This is a picture of the great Lanny and I from the 2008 Pirates Caravan.

I’m in the promotions department for Clear Channel Radio Pittsburgh and I had the opportunity to travel around with Rocco De Maro to these events to help him cover them.

I’ve met and worked with a lot of Pittsburgh athletes, and Lanny for some reason was one of the only guys who I legitimately felt nervous around.

Evin Harpur:

I'm originally from Wexford (aka the Wild Wild Wex) but go to school at Notre Dame, so it's great to read your site for Pittsburgh news and some good laughs. Anyways, here are a few Terrible Towel pics from when I studied abroad in Australia - one is from an Aussie Rules Football game near Perth and the other is from Sydney Harbour. And yes, my Terrible Towel is autographed by #29 Barry Foster...signed at a Hills store, no less.

A MAJOR thank you goes out to the readers who submitted photos and everyone who's contributed to Readers Rule Week. On Friday, we'll be catching up on some current happenings as I tackle a mountain of email that's piled up during the week.

1 comment:

The Duke from Dukes Court said...

I worked briefly with Paul Alexander at KDKA radio and he was very cool off the air. A lot of radio personalities think they are better than everyone and treat people like crap off the air but Paul is genuniely a good guy. No surprise he was cool to hang with at the party.