The Pittsburgh Penguins were founded in 1967 in the NHL’s first expansion. The league went from six to twelve teams. Can you imagine a professional sports league with six teams? “OK, we play you guys on Monday, then we play the other guys on Wednesday, they you play us on Saturday, and we play those other guys next week. And then we just repeat that 45 times.”
There was a lot going on in 1967. “The Milton Berle Show” last aired on ABC. Hey, have you heard this Milton Berle joke? “I’m 83, and I feel like a 20-year-old, but unfortunately, there’s never one around.”
The Penguins weren’t the first NHL team in town. The Pittsburgh Pirates were active on and off from 1925-1931. They took their name from the baseball team in town. “Sure, why not call every team in town ‘The Pirates.’ Pittsburgh Pirates football, Pittsburgh Pirates basketball, Pittsburgh Pirates roller derby, Pittsburgh Pirates tiddlywinks…”
When the Penguins took the ice in 1967, the American Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Hornets shut down. They franchise appeared for the first time in Pittsburgh in 1936, moving from Detroit after nine years there as the Detroit Olympics. The Hornets used to play at the old Duquense Gardens, the very first rink to use Glass on top of the boards. Prior to glass, arenas used wire mesh. “I liked the wire mesh better,” one fan said. “That way, when a fight broke out right in front of you, you could stick your finger in the eye of guy on the opposing team. Old time time hockey, good times.”
Hardy Dexheimer quit his job and is riding his bike around the world.
We caught up with him outside his home town in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to see how the trip was going.
“This is exciting. You are riding your bike around the world. How long you been on the road?” I asked him.
“I left yesterday morning,” Hardy said proudly. “I have sponsors for every mile of the trip. I hope to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for various charities.”
“Great. You are doing wonderful things to help people. How far have you traveled at this point?” I said.
“Well, I technically haven’t started yet riding my bike,” he explained. “Up to now, I have been riding in various parades around town as different communities in the area celebrate my project and wish me well,” he said.
“You aren’t counting those parade miles in the total for the charity fundraising, are you?” I asked.
“Well, the truth is I am,” he said. “Those miles where I was riding in the parades are going to count because they are part of the entire project. In fact, I am scheduled to be in a parade in every community I go through this summer. I’ve also arranged for transportation from one town to the next, so I don’t have to waste any time cycling from parade to parade,” he explained.
“So, you are going to be riding in parades in every town, and you taking transportation from one town to the next. It doesn’t sound like you are going to be doing any actually cycling,” I said.
“Oh no,” he said. “I will be doing plenty of cycling at the end of the project. For the project itself, I didn’t want to get bogged down in losing energy and feeling sluggish. Also, the parades and transportation allow me to cover more ground and raise more money,” he said.
“But aren’t the people who pledged money thinking you are actually going to ride your bicycle the whole way?” I said.
“It was pretty clear in the fine print of the pledge forms that I would not be doing any actual peddling until the project is over. I will probably ride my bike from the final parade here in Pittsburgh back to my house. I should get home just in time to see the Game of Thrones marathon I have waiting for my return.”
The Steelers were originally called the Pittsburgh Pirates when they started playing in 1933. It was common back then for new football teams to take the same name as the local professional baseball team.
Some players played for both Pirate teams until one day Scooter “Long Drive” McGowan got confused and instead of running for a touchdown, he ran the football field like a baseball diamond, touching a waterboy’s head for first base, rounding second at center field and ending at third by sliding into and knocking over the team bench.
“He lost his cotton picking mind,” said one observer. “They say he never recovered from that day, and from then on would run the same imaginary baseball diamond in strange places like parks, stores and schools. One day at mass at St. Boniface, he ran the bases again, touching second at the main altar and sliding into a confessional booth like it was third base.”