This week in Pittsburgh Sports History | Sports News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

This week in Pittsburgh Sports History

A look back at events that you’ve either forgotten about or never heard of in the first place

click to enlarge Connie Mack
Connie Mack

Sept. 14, 1916

Pitcher Burleigh Grimes, who would go on to a Hall of Fame career, makes his first professional start, as a Pittsburgh Pirate, losing to the Brooklyn Robins, 3-2, at Ebbets Field. Grimes was best known for his spitball — it’s exactly what it sounds like. According to the Society for Baseball Research, Grimes chewed elm bark and used the spit it created to load up the ball, making it move erratically. The spitter was outlawed in 1920, except for 17 pitchers who were using it at the time, including Grimes. When Grimes retired in 1934, the pitch was completely banned.

Sept. 15, 1938

Pittsburgh’s Paul and Lloyd Waner become the first brothers in major-league history to nail back-to-back home runs. They would be the only pair to do so until B.J. and Justin Upton did in 2013. In 2009, the Pirates’ Adam and Andy LaRoche homered in the same game, but most fans would rather forget that those two siblings ever played here.

Sept. 16, 1962

The Pittsburgh Steelers change their helmets by adding the now-famous “steelmark” to one side of the headgear. The yellow, red and blue hypocycloids would become one of the most recognizable logos in pro sports.

Sept. 17, 1917

Legendary Pirates shortstop Honus Wagner plays in his final game. Wagner had originally retired after the 1916 season, but returned in June. On this day, he played second base late in the game and never received an at-bat.

Sept. 18, 1947

“The Hebrew Hammer,” Hank Greenberg, plays his final game, as a Pirate, at Forbes Field. Greenberg played his entire career with the Detroit Tigers until the Pirates purchased his contract after the 1946 season. A lifetime .313 hitter, Greenberg hit just .249, but still managed 25 home runs.

Sept. 19, 1982

In his final major-league season, 38-year-old Pittsburgh Pirates captain Willie Stargell attempts to steal second base against the Chicago Cubs. Stargell slides several feet short of the bag and when he stands up, he attempts to call timeout before being tagged.

Sept. 20, 1933

The Pittsburgh Steelers (then known as the Pirates) play the first game in franchise history. The team fell to the New York Giants at Forbes Field, 23-2.

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