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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  February, 2009

Did You Know?

Did you know that a U.S. President once sent a message directly to the editor of a Uniontown newspaper? Pres. Lyndon Johnson was expressed his best wishes for Uniontown Evening Standard’s 75th Anniversary on March 17th, 1964.

The telegram was published on the front page of the 112 page edition. Writing to Arnold Goldberg, the editor at the time, Johnson wrote, “Free newspapers such as yours are in (sic) integral part of our Democratic way of life…”

Yet, there was another mention of Goldberg – in Section H, page 5 – that is, perhaps, most fascinating. Did you know (and you may already have) that it was Uniontown’s Arnold Goldberg who was credited with naming the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The story told in that commemorative edition was that in 1940 the “Chief,” Arthur J. Rooney, had found it problematic that his team shared the same nickname as the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team. Ticket buyers had apparently been confused by the similar names. So Rooney held a contest by having people send him their suggestions for a new team nickname. Goldberg’s provided one of thousands of those suggestions.

His was the Steelers, and it arrived at team headquarters first. That’s why Rooney sent Goldberg a letter stating he was the person who gave the Pittsburgh Steelers their name. So on March 4th, 1940 – and with no fanfare – the Connellsville Daily Courier noted in one sentence, “The Pittsburgh Pirates pro football team will be known as the Steelers, Owner Art Rooney announced.”

A team named the Steelers, by the way, was not unique ‘round these parts. Looking back, I’ve found a number of high school and sandlot teams that called themselves the Steelers before that Rooney/Goldberg name change.
There had been the Homestead Steelers, the Monessen Steelers and the Farrell High School Steelers.

But there’s more. Did you know that the very first team the Steelers played with their brand new name was the Chicago Cardinals? Yep. On September 9th, 1940, the Chicago Cardinals, who would later become the St. Louis Cardinals, who would later be called the Phoenix Cardinals (until they realized that a Phoenix is a mythical bird that rose from the ashes, so that caused their team to curiously have two bird names at once) and would eventually become the Arizona Cardinals - were their first opponents.

Unlike the Steelers’ most recent encounter with the Cardinals, that game ended in a 7-7 tie at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.

There was a striking coincidence involving both games, though. While the Super Bowl champs faced a world class former University of Pittsburgh star in Larry Fitzgerald, that 1940 team faced another one. The starting halfback for the Chicago Cardinals was the legendary Pitt alumnus Marshall Goldberg.
Ironically, the final game the team won as the Chicago Cardinals (it moved to St. Louis in 1959) was against that football team once known as the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Did you know that Marshall Goldberg wasn’t the only Pitt graduate making headlines that year? Pitt’s two time college All American basketball star and Uniontown High School legend, Charles Hyatt, was getting his own share of ink. Hyatt, who would eventually become a 10 time All American (there were A.A.U. All American teams in those days, and he’d won high school All America honors while at Uniontown) was featured in an article in the Jefferson City (Mo.) Post-Tribune – just days before the Steelers officially adopted their new name in 1940.

On February 28th, 1940 that newspaper wrote that Hyatt’s playing days were over, but he was still thriving as a coach. He had become the coach of an independent basketball team from Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

It was a team that had nearly won the national championship the previous season, before falling to a team known as the Denver Nuggets.
Hyatt would later be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. He was among the very first class so honored.

Did you know that, perhaps, one of the first documented incidents of “road rage” just may have taken place in Uniontown?
The June 21st, 1955 edition of the Idaho State reported the state police had taken two men into custody after they’d shot at 10 cars, resulting in four injuries on the National Pike.

They didn’t seem shy about telling the police they were upset because passing motorists didn’t dim their lights. “He was mad at the way other people were driving,” said one of the officers.

Did you know there could be something about that old phrase “you should never look a gift horse in the mouth?”
In 1966, a gift horse in Uniontown and his mouth made front page news.

I’ll trot out the details next week.