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This Week in Pittsburgh Sports History

click to enlarge Arlen Specter
Arlen Specter

Feb. 15, 2008

In a move to prove that Pittsburgh Steelers football is the most important thing in the country, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) calls for an investigation into the NFL’s handling of Spygate. For the three people who don’t know, Spygate involved the New England Patriots improperly videotaping other teams to learn their plays. Many fans claim it cost the Steelers a trip to the Super Bowl that year. This case was one of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s first “thorough” investigations and the evidence was quickly destroyed. Specter later said: “What is necessary is an objective investigation. And this one has not been objective.”

Feb. 16, 1952

Pittsburgh Pirates skipper Honus Wagner calls it a career when he retires after spending 55 years in professional baseball as both a player and a coach — 53 of those with the Pirates.

Feb. 16, 1984

Tony Dungy is promoted to the Steelers defensive coordinator. It was his first coordinator position and thus the first step on his road to becoming the Super Bowl-winning coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

Feb. 18, 1949

West Virginia University men’s basketball team had won 57 straight home games when they played the Pitt Panthers this night in Morgantown. The streak would end in a nail-biter with WVU losing 34-32. 

Feb. 18, 1961

During a match with Pittsburgh’s own Bruno Sammartino at the Sunnyside Gardens in Queens, N.Y., professional wrestler Chick Garibaldi died in the ring. According to reports from the time, Sammartino body-slammed Garibaldi and noticed that his opponent’s eyes rolled back into his head. It was later ruled that Garibaldi died of a heart attack.

Feb. 19, 2012

In what may be one of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ last brilliant offseason moves, the team sends two low-level prospects to the New York Yankees for A.J. Burnett. Burnett would leave in the offseason because the Pirates failed to make him a qualifying offer, but would return in 2015. He remains one of the most beloved Pirates in recent history.

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