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50 Great Moments in Pittsburgh Sports
From the Flying Dutchman to Sid the Kid
By David Shribman, Richard "Pete" Peterson
Triumph BooksCopyright © 2012 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
All rights reserved.
First Pirates World Series Championship, 1909
In 1909 the Pittsburgh Pirates finished with a record-setting 110 wins and dethroned the powerful Chicago Cubs, winners of the last three National League pennants. After losing the 1903 World Series, the first in major league history, the Pirates finally had a chance to redeem themselves in the 1909 World Series. Led by Honus Wagner, the Pirates split the first six games against Ty Cobb's powerful Detroit Tigers. In the seventh and deciding game, played in Detroit, player-manager Fred Clarke decided to pitch rookie Babe Adams. With Adams pitching a shutout and Wagner clinching the victory with a clutch triple, the Pirates routed the Tigers 8–0 and claimed the first major sports championship in Pittsburgh's modern sports history — in the first year the team played its games at the fabled Forbes Field.CHAPTER 2
George Chip KOs Fred Klaus for Middleweight Title, 1913
The Pirates may have given the city its first professional championship, but its boxers gave Pittsburgh its first claim to being the city of champions. It's unusual when a title fight features boxers from the same area, but that's what happened when New Castle's George Chip challenged Pittsburgh native and middleweight champion, Fred Klaus, for the title. Chip was a heavy underdog for the match and lightly regarded by Klaus, but it only took one punch for Chip to overcome the odds and Klaus' taunting to become the middleweight champion. Chip and Klaus met three months later, and the underdog Chip knocked out Klaus again to defend his title. Despite the defeat, Pittsburgh's Klaus had a distinguished career and was eventually enshrined in the Boxing Hall of Fame.
Frank Klaus Is Stopped By George Chip
Miner Renders Middleweight Champion Incapable to Continue With Punch to Jaw
Comes in Sixth Round
October 12, 1913
By Richard Guy
The Pittsburgh Gazette Times
Frank Klaus, recognized as the champion middleweight fighter of the world, ran into a right hook to the jaw in the sixth round delivered by George Chip, the Madison miner, last night at Old City Hall, and was rendered incapable of continuing. His head came in contact with the hard floor of the ring, and he was dazed and unfit to fight any more and the referee waved Chip to his corner.
Klaus has been fighting over eight years, and in that time he has met all the tough boys of the middleweight division, sometimes entering the heavyweight plane and he was never knocked off his feet or never compelled to listen to the tolling off of seconds by a referee.
But last night it was different. He entered the ring for the exhibition with the spirit of a man going out for a frolic.
He did not consider Chip a man worthy of his mettle and that he had done no training for the bout was apparent by the extra weight around his belt and his shortage of wind when they worked fast.
There never was a time during the first five rounds that Chip had a chance and there were many times when Klaus appeared to be holding back his punches, which occasioned comment around the ring. "He can't keep the pig if he eats it," was a suggestive comment by a former boxer, which means that Klaus was looking for a future bout with the same opponent.
But Chip was doing his best: there never was a time when he let down in his work and his courage was unlimited, although a few times he covered to escape punches and at this time Klaus held back and allowed him to take a better position.
Chip is a fighter who was never rated as a champion or a championship contender, but he was recognized as a man who possesses a terrible wallop and game to the core. He takes fighting seriously, while Klaus, the sturdy man who could allow adversaries to hit him from swings to the jaw and never flinch, the owner of a veritable iron jaw, takes his average bout as matter of no concern. But it proved to be his undoing, and that night when Chip sneaked in that hook to the jaw and the champion went down on the flat of his back, the crowd could hardly believe it. His friends were astonished as were those who were shouting for Chip.
The victor came in for a great reception. Klaus climbed through the rope and on his way to the dressing room remarked: "It was my own fault. I held him too cheap. Being knocked down is a sensation new to me. I did not try for a knockout at any stage, but Chip had one real chance and he took it."
"One good chance" just about describes the fight. For five rounds Klaus fought as though he was working out in a gymnasium. Chip was worked hard all the time, but when he led, Klaus warded off his punches, and when he felt like it he sent his right or left to the body, but there was not the viciousness to these punches that characterized his former fights. He paid more attention to boxing and during the intermission between the round he joked and chatted with his manager George Engel, and Billy Reynolds, a Philadelphia friend.
The fight up to this time could not be considered a good exhibition, for seldom did Klaus cut loose with any real work and Chip seemed so easy for him to handle. But suddenly, like the proverbial lightning from a clear sky, out went that punch and Klaus went down. He got up, but he was dazed and the bout was stopped. Less than 10 seconds remained to the end of the round.
Hooks Evans won from Harry Greb in six rounds and Jimmy McCoy and Johnny Ray boxed a draw. Young Tooley had a lead on Johnny Cook.CHAPTER 3
Pitt Defeats Georgia Tech and Claims Third National Championship, 1918
After an eight-year stint with the Carlisle Indians and the great Jim Thorpe, the legendary Glenn "Pop" Warner signed on to coach the Pitt Panthers beginning with the 1915 season. The Panthers went undefeated in 1915 and 1916 and were declared national champions. Pitt remained undefeated in 1917, but John Heisman's Georgia Tech team claimed the national championship. Both Pitt and Georgia Tech were undefeated in 1918 when they met at Forbes Field. In a season shortened by war and an influenza epidemic, the powerful Georgia Tech team had averaged 84 points per game and had scored 128 points against North Carolina State. But with All-American freshman Tom Davies leading the way, Pitt shut out Georgia Tech and claimed its third national championship under Pop Warner.
Pitt Masters Georgia Tech; Score 32–0
Southern Champions Defeated by Warner's Men at Forbes Field
Thirty Thousand People See Golden Tornado Dimmed by Ferocious Panther in Which Famous Jump Shift Fails Utterly to Baffle Local Gridiron Stars.
Visitors Are Not Equipped With Ground-Gaining Plays
November 24, 1918
By Richard Guy
The Pittsburgh Gazette Times
The University of Pittsburgh once more arose to the height of its power in football and smote a killing blow to a much-heralded adversary when it vanquished Georgia Tech representatives yesterday afternoon at Forbes Field, 32 to 0, in the presence of an estimated crowd of 30,000 people. The luster of the Golden Tornado, which swept aside all opposition south of the Mason and Dixon Line the past several years, was badly dimmed by the ferocity of the Panther. Pitt now is the undisputed collegiate champion of America, clinching the title in a game for the benefit of the United War Fund drive.
There was nothing fluky about the victory, for Pitt showed a superiority over its worthy opponent from Atlanta in a masterly fashion. So decisive was the victory, and the means whereby it was encompassed so convincing that not one iota of doubt existed in the mind of any person in the park long before the final whistle blew. Tech was out-matched in individual and collective efforts, and infinitely so in teamwork. The marked superiority of Pitt was manifested from the very start, and not once during the entire contest did the status of things change.
The famous jump shift of Tech, which could not be stopped by opponents heretofore, was negligible yesterday. There was nothing baffling in its deception to the Pitt foemen. Much was expected of the Tech team and little did it show.
The Tech team was impressive when it came on the field ahead of Pitt. The players are lithe, long-limbed, and strong, built for speed and endurance. They looked formidable and to the close observer it was not hard to discern from a physical viewpoint why they had come north with a record of victories and high scores unsurpassed in the history of Southern football. They were attired in a novel manner, too, for they wore golden jerseys and white stockings, with guards, fore and after. And they warmed up with the abandon of a field of great trotters in a classic, confidence portrayed in their faces and every move. But they were good-looking only, for subsequent events proved that they had not come to Pittsburgh equipped with ground-gaining formations and plays capable of combating such a versatile opponent as Pitt. Tech was not only whipped in a physical sense but was outwitted and outclassed.
Pitt had a diversified attack, so bewildering in its nature that Tech was unable to fathom it, and of the five touchdowns scored Pitt started three of them by the medium of overhead attack, while Tech had no adequate defense to thwart them. Tech showed it is a champion in a slower class.CHAPTER 4
Harry Greb Decisions Gene Tunney for Light-Heavyweight Title, 1923
Munhall's Harry Greb was one of the greatest fighters in boxing history. Known as "the Pittsburgh Windmill," he had the ferocity of a street fighter in the ring. In his career, he fought in nearly 300 bouts and, while suffering two TKOs, was never knocked out. He won the light-heavyweight title from Gene Tunney in 1922 and the middleweight title from Johnny Wilson the following year. He also successfully defended his middleweight title against the welterweight champion, Mickey Walker. Greb fought Tunney five times. In their first bout, Greb soundly defeated the previously undefeated light-heavyweight champion. A few months later, Tunney regained his crown from Greb in a controversial decision. After two draws, Tunney soundly defeated Greb in their fifth and final meeting. Tunney claimed that in his loss to Greb in their first meeting, he suffered the most savage beating of his career.
Greb Light-Heavy Champion
Pittsburgher Wins U.S. Title in 15-Round Battle with Tunney
Ten Thousand Fistiana Followers in Madison Square Garden, New York, See Hitherto Undefeated Ex-Soldier Lose Laurels in Grueling Bout — Blood Pours from Eye, Nose, Mouth
May 24, 1922
By Harry Keck
Special Telegram to the Gazette Times
NEW YORK — May 23 — The dope panned out properly in Madison Square Garden tonight when Harry Greb, Pittsburgh's greatest fighter, left the ring at the conclusion of a hard 15-round bout with Gene Tunney. He was the new American light-heavyweight champion, and the logical next opponent for a battle with Georges Carpentier for the championship of the world at 175 pounds.
Greb won the decision of the two judges and the referee.
There was little doubt that the officials would give the award to the man who had entered the ring the challenger, and when the announcement was made the house let loose a roar of approval.
The crowd did not come up to expectations considering that a championship was involved in the main event. The advance sale of tickets was considerably below par, and, although the fans came in large numbers in the last couple of hours the capacity of the Garden was not tested. The attendance was probably about 10,000.
Tunney put up the great fight the writer expected of him. He was not good enough to beat down the ever-rushing Pittsburgher, but he went to his defeat at least with the heart of a champion.
Tunney Hits Solidly
He stood up and fought all the time and there were several times during the contest when Greb did not have things all his own way. Tunney hit solidly to the head and body, particularly to the body with both hands. A few times he popped Greb squarely on the chin with a heavy right, but as usual such punishment merely made Greb fight back harder.
Up until tonight Tunney had never been beaten in a bout. He fought his way through the A.E.F and won the light-heavyweight championship of the Army in France. Upon his return to this country he won every bout in which he participated and won the championship from Battling Levinsky in the same ring in which he met defeat tonight.
Gibbons Easier than Gene
Greb found Tommy Gibbons a much easier man to beat than he did Tunney. Gibbons was slow and did not do one-tenth the hard fighting that Tunney put across. Gene showed his pluck after getting away with a most discouraging start. His nose bled from a punch received in the first mix-up of the fight and the crimson smeared his features.
In the sixth round his left eye was badly cut and the gore poured from it throughout the remainder of the bout. In the latter rounds he was bleeding from the eye, nose and mouth. Greb left the ring unmarked except for some puffing around the face.
The two men fought at a terrific clip until Tunney tired in the last three rounds. Harry was in great condition and fast, but he did not appear to be as speedy as he was when he defeated Tommy Gibbons here on March 13. This was due to the fact that Tunney also was fast and kept moving around with him.
Greb Follows Rushing Tactics
Greb fought his usual rushing bout, while Tunney confined most of his efforts to trying to catch him coming in and score with swings to the body. He planted a number of these and after the first four or five rounds they appeared to have their effect on Greb, but Harry's wonderful vitality came to his aid and he got back into his best stride again.
Greb weighed in at 162¼ pounds at 2 o'clock this afternoon. Tunney's weight was 174½ pounds.
Excerpted from 50 Great Moments in Pittsburgh Sports by David Shribman, Richard "Pete" Peterson. Copyright © 2012 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books.
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