Archive for the ‘Finder’s Keepers’ Category
Posted on October 17, 2012 - by ChuckFinder
Western Pennsylvania’s first trivia contest and “Steelers Encyclopedia” signing:
watch Steelers-Bungles, enjoy food and libations, play trivia…and books!
Posted on September 29, 2012 - by ChuckFinder
If this is Saturday, it must be. . . Orlando?
Yep, there’s the Mouse.
Greetings from Florida, where the rental car burned through a tank of gas within the first 24 hours.
Had a blast at O’Brien’s Irish Pub in Tampa, 8 miles north of Raymond James Stadium (wasn’t there a famous comeback and catch there?), and at Fan-atics in Bradenton. Steelers fans number more than 100 and, thanks to kindly owners, are given free reign over the bar area on gamedays.
Met some great people, several of them named Tom(?). Lotsa conversation about the Chief, Chuck Noll, Terry Bradshaw…even Johnny Unitas. In between, made time to stop and deliver a book to one of my favorite interviewees, Chuck Cherundolo, who at age 96 had decided to grow a beard?! (Please go back and read about him… he’s worth it.)
Next stop: Brewski’s in Orlando on Saturday night.
Then the East Side Pub in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday.
Thank you all for your time, Black and Gold passion (and conversation), and your kind words about the book. Once people look through it and read it, they’ll see it’s the most current, most substantive, most detailed in oral histories and rare photos of any Steelers book currently on the market.
Posted on August 3, 2012 - by ChuckFinder
In honor of yet another Steelers-tinged Canton weekend, with Jack Butler and Dermontti Dawson (both interviewed for this book) getting enshrined, we bring you another Hall of Famer…who went from player to part-owner.
Talk about a pattern nobody else ever ran: From strike-camp rookie to Hall of Famer to owner of his old team.
It has been quite a Steelers wheel route for John Stallworth, to be sure.
His is quite the success story. Stallworth nowadays is an eminently successful businessman in the same Huntsville, Ala., where he attended college (and that’s a Bill Nunn scouting story for another day). In a long, long-distance chat, we reminisced about his beginnings, his bond and competition with Lynn Swann, an eye-opening intervention by Chuck Noll and more.
That 1974 camp was an interesting start.
“We had an orientation camp soon after the draft,” Stallworth began. “All the rookies and free agents came to Pittsburgh to work out for a few days. I got a chance to see [Lynn]. We didn’t talk a whole lot. In fact, Lynn didn’t participate in that camp because he hadn’t signed. Lynn was standing there and watching. I didn’t have a gauge as a person or an athlete. Like other folks, I had seen him on TV. When we got to training camp, we had meetings together. We both were consumed about trying to acclimate ourselves to the system, getting to know our assignments, getting to know the other guys. We went through at least four weeks of two-a-days. Most of us didn’t know any better. We thought that ws the norm. But there was always looming in the back of our mind, the veterans are not here.
“Lynn and I both had a good preseason; I had a really good preseason. But I didn’t know what to expect and what was coming. Joe Gilliam was our quarterback. Whether joe was going to be our starting quarterback. . . . Lynn and I formed a bond during that time. It was rookies vs. vets. It was he and I vs. Ron Shanklin and Frank Lewis. When they got there, they’d start the game – they were the veterans. And we played the second quarter. And we played the last quarter. That started in training camp and went on during the season. As it turned out, we’d run the ball in the first quarter, and throw it in the second. We’d run it in the third, and we’d throw it in the fourth. I don’t think Ron and Frank were too excited about it. So we were competing against them not so much against eatch other. Even though we competed against each other later, that bond started then. . . . It was there even then when we were really hot and heavy trying to catch more passes than the other.”
You know the rest of the story. . . although you’ll find out, from the book, about his vision and some key moments. Such as the Super Bowl XIV touchdown catch, which Stallworth admits he originally thought he wouldn’t be able to run under and grab.
Perhaps his most amazing catch? Joining the Rooneys, his former employers, as a co-owner.
“John Banaszak told me he wanted to make a comeback,” Stallworth said of the grief he caught when he joined the ownership group. “A number of guys joked with me, start asking about tickets. The first time I saw Joe Greene after the deal was done. . ., he referred to me as ‘Boss.’ ”
Next “The Steelers Encyclopedia” blog: Friday, Aug. 10
Posted on April 20, 2012 - by ChuckFinder
The goldfish croaked.
It couldn’t be helped.
“I took them to a banquet, took my shoes off. . . and they were floating on their backs. Dead.”
John Fuqua, better known as Frenchy, was talking about the infamous 1970s platform shoes with the goldfish swimming in the heel. He was the hot halfback of the day — Franco Harris played fullback, officially — and a man of haute haberdashery. Purple capes. Flowing hats. That was the Frenchman.
“I went with tropical fish. Freshwater fish. Goldfish. They all died. What made me feel bad, about two months after I had [the shoes], I got some hate mail about being cruel to animals. So I took it [PR guru] Joe Gordon.” It was a Frenchy revelation: Flower power. “I had a little geranium plant put in them,” Fuqua said. “But everybody still talks about the goldfish.”
Frenchy talked about a metric ton of interesting stuff in our interview for the book.
He spoke about the fashion contests that Myron Cope elicited among the Steelers.and L.C. Greenwood in powder-blue hot pants, cape and hat. (Thank goodness there were no cellphones to photograph and tweet that.) “A fearsome defensive lineman wearing hot pants,” Fuqua groaned.
He spoke about Frenchy’s Foreign Legion and anniversary calls with Franco.
He spoke about, of course, the Immaculate Reception. Oh, it will be a happy 40th anniversary come this Dec. 23.
Next “The Steelers Encyclopedia” blog: Friday, April 27
Posted on April 13, 2012 - by ChuckFinder
Where did the time go?
Dick Hoak wore on his firm right hand — the one with lines like dive plays in a playbook — the Super Bowl rings that dazzled the most: IX and XL. Or, as he put it, the third and the fifth ones. And the way he put it carried not a trace of greediness or tedium at the accomplishment achieved by few others on the planet. Five golden rings.
He isn’t the black-mop topped halfback — an accidental halfback at that, after playing quarterback at Jeannette High and Penn State — that he was a half-century ago. But the gray haired, chiseled gent still looks the same as over the past 20 years.
The Steelers have been around for 79 years.
He was part of them for a truly Pittsburgh percentage of that time: 57.
Hoak spent 44 of 45 years in a row under the Steelers’ employ, only missing 1971 to cut his coaching teeth while teaching at Wheeling, W.Va., Central Catholic. He got two unexpected calls, secretaries from Pittsburgh asking for “Mr. Hoak.” He wound up scheduling job interviews the same day: one with his own Steelers coach, Chuck Noll, and another with Pitt’s Carl DePasqua. Good thing he scheduled Noll’s first — he wound up taking that job.
It gave him quite a collection of rings and tales to tell.
Stories such as:
* The dungeon that served as the Steelers’ practice facility and meeting rooms before Three Rivers Stadium.
* Wild times from Bobby Layne to Terry Bradshaw.
* Some insight into Rocky Bleier and Franco Harris, the first backfield tandem of 1,000-yard rushers in NFL history…and how that came to pass. One particular passage about Harris: “It still ticks me when people say Franco ran out of bounds. But he never ran out of bounds . . . when the game was on the line or we needed that yard.”
* Considerable insight into Chuck Noll, teacher extraordinaire.
* An amazing story about the Rooneys continually handing him envelopes in his lone Pro Bowl season.
From Big Daddy Lipscomb playing basketball to Bill Cowher never spitting on him, from South Park to Acapulco, from the Nixon Administration (both President Richard and coach Mike), Hoak covered an awful lot of ground, an awful lot of Steeler years.
Next “The Steelers Encyclopedia” blog: Friday, April 20