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The Penguins and bona-fide super star Sidney Crosby are recent champions as well, winning the Stanley Cup in 2009. Crosby, along with legendary former NHL MVP and current Pittsburgh resi- dent Mario Lemieux have helped bring a new arena and franchise resurgence to the City of Bridges.
The Penguins are three-time Stanley Cup Champions, including back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1992. Their logo and mascot name stems from the nickname of the original arena in which they started play, “The Igloo,” otherwise known as Pittsburgh Civic Arena.
The franchise’s fortunes changed with the fateful draft of 1984, when they selected center Mario Lemieux and hockey was forever changed in the Steel City. Lemieux played for the Penguins for nearly a decade and a half before retiring due to health related issues in 1997. Despite continuously battling injuries, Lemieux would return to the ice for six more years from 2000 until his permanent retirement as a player in 2006. He remains with the Penguins franchise as an owner. Lemieux, a first ballot hockey Hall of Famer, is a three-time Stanley Cup Champion (including once as an owner, in 09), Olympic Gold Medalist and three-time Hart Trophy winner (MVP). A statue outside the CONSOL Energy Center stands in his honor.
Today, the Penguins play in the CONSOL Energy Center, which opened during 2010-11 season. The current team features Hart Trophy winners Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. These two, and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, have lead the Penguins back to the playoffs, including back-to-back Stanley Cup appearances, winning in 2008 and 2009, capturing the Cup in 2009.
Pittsburgh’s five-time world champion baseball team has its fair share of victories and memories to celebrate as well. The Pirates joined the National League in its sixth season in 1887 and went on to play in the first ever World Series in 1903.
They took home their first championship in 1909, behind the stellar play of legend Honus Wagner. It is Wagner’s T206 card, of which only 57 copies exist, that is speculated to be the most valuable baseball card ever.
The Pirates returned to the series in 1960, winning in a game seven walk-off home run by Bill Mazeroski, the only time a World Series game seven has ended in a home run.
Legendary Pirates include Wagner, Mazeroski, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and the 1979 “We Are Family” championship team. Clemente, arguably the most famous Pirate of all-time, died in a plane crash in 1972 while on a trip to deliver earthquake relief supplies to Nicaragua. A statue, street and bridge all exist near the Pirates stadium in his honor.
The Pirates opened PNC field in 2001 and more than a decade later, it is still widely considered to be one of the best ballparks in the country. Current Pirates stars include outfielder Andrew McCutchen and pitcher A.J. Burnett.
Whether it’s the Steelers winning Super Bowls, the Penguins bringing home the Stanley Cup, or the Pirates winning the World Series, Pittsburgh has long been known as the City of Champions. Pittsburgh is the only city with three or more major professional franchises in which each team shares the same colors; black and gold.
With two titles in just the last decade, the Steelers now own the most Super Bowl wins of any professional football franchise. It all started back in the 1970’s with the Steel Curtain defenses led by “Mean” Joe Greene. Besides the 2005 and 2008 titles, the Steelers won the ring in 1974, 75, 78 and 1979.
The Steelers, the oldest franchise in the AFC, have been wholly owned by the family of founder Art Rooney for their entire existence and have the third most members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Their inductees include wide receiver Lynn Swann, the aforementioned defensive lineman “Mean” Joe Greene, Steel Curtain head coach Chuck Noll, defensive back Rod Woodson and owners Art and Dan Rooney among many other recognizable names. Not to mention “Immaculate Reception” duo Terry Bradshaw and Franco Harris. The “Immaculate Reception,” is the play that won the Steelers a 1972 playoff game against rivals the Oakland Raiders. NFL Films has labeled the play both the greatest and most controversial play in league history.
The Steelers’ passionate fan base, aka “Steeler Nation” and their Terrible Towels have been tormenting their rivals the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals and Oakland Raiders for more than three decades. The Steelers and Heinz Field, their home stadium, have hosted nearly 300 consecutive sellouts.
Today, the Steelers are led by head coach Mike Tomlin, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Hines Ward.
University of Pittsburgh
Football doesn’t just exist on the professional level in Pittsburgh. The University of Pittsburgh boasts alumni like Dan Marino, Tony Dorsett, Mike Ditka, and more recently, Larry Fitzgerald. Pittsburgh also lays claim to eight college football National Championships, good for 11th all-time.