Love for the Steelers is a family thing for the Humphreys
REYNOLDSVILLE — Pete Humphrey, owner of Humphrey TV in Reynoldsville, has been following the Pittsburgh Steelers before the games were on television.
Actually, he’s been following the team before television was invented, and like the rest of Steeler Nation, he’s looking forward to Sunday, when his beloved Steelers take on the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV.
“I probably saw my first Steelers game in 1949 or 1950, when the Steelers played in the old Pittsburgh Pirates baseball park, Forbes Field, and I also saw them play at Pitt Stadium,” Humphrey said.
He and three others had season tickets to the Steeler games back then but the others gave up their tickets in 1970 when the Black & Gold moved to Three Rivers Stadium, and he took all the seats.
“Season tickets in 1970, when Three Rivers Stadium opened, were $7.15 per game, which is a lot cheaper than they are today at $84 per ticket at Heinz Field,” Humphrey said. “I later accumulated the fifth ticket, so I’ve had season tickets for the last 43 years.”
Pete said he and his son, Jay, liked Three Rivers Stadium much better than Heinz Field. Jay said his dad’s seats at Heinz Field are on the 20-yard line like they were at Three Rivers, but at Heinz Field, the fans are further away from the action.
Despite having season tickets, Pete has missed two of the greatest moments in Pittsburgh sports history: Pirate Bill Mazeroski’s home run to win the 1960 World Series, and Steeler Franco Harris’ “Immaculate Reception” Dec. 23, 1972, to beat the Oakland Raiders 13-7.
Jay said his dad didn’t want to miss anything at work that day, so he stayed home and didn’t attend the game.
“Not only are they two of the greatest Pittsburgh sports plays in history, but arguably two of the greatest plays in sports history,” he said.
Of the Steelers’ 11 AFC championship games at home, Jay has attended 10.
“I have two nephews who are ages 26 and 28, and they’ve attended seven out of 11,” he said. “Who can say at their age that they’ve seen seven championship games.”
Jay said his fondest memory of all is when he and his dad, brother Todd Humphrey and a family friend, Pete Nocerini, attended Super Bowl XIV Jan. 20, 1980, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., when the Steelers defeated the Los Angeles Rams 31-19.
“I remember (Terry) Bradshaw threw a bomb to John Stallworth, and right in front of us, he caught it over his shoulder at the 35-yard line and ran in for a touchdown,” he said. “We had great seats. That was really special watching Stallworth catch the ball right in front of us like that.”
The excitement continued when they boarded the flight to Pittsburgh and eventually Reynoldsville, when they met a very important passenger.
“We flew back home Tuesday, and after we boarded the plan in Las Vegas, we couldn’t believe who was on the plane with us: ‘The Chief,’ Art Rooney.
"Here he is, Art Rooney, the man of all men, on a plane with us, and so we went over to thank him, and instead, he thanked us for coming to the game. Here he is, thanking us for attending the game, and we’re nobodies.”
When the plane landed in Pittsburgh, Jay said he got his bags, and retrieved his game program and asked Rooney for his autograph. “The Chief” wrote, “To Jay, good wishes, Art Rooney.”
“That might be my fondest Steelers memory of all, flying back to Pittsburgh with Mr. Rooney thanking me for coming to the game in Pasadena” Jay said.
The Humphreys aren’t planning to attend Super Bowl XLV this weekend in Dallas, and despite how great the game looks on a big screen TV in high definition, there’s still nothing like being there in person, Jay said.
“You can see the plays develop, and you can see when a receiver is wide open, and the quarterback doesn’t throw the ball or misses him or another receiver,” he said. “That’s something you don’t get on TV.”