History with Ginny: Let’s talk about the Steelers

Yesterday the Steelers revealed their new throwback uniforms and my first reaction was this … WOOF!

Then my second thought was “This must be what a mug shot looks like at the bee jail.”

Then I decided to research the history of the Steelers uniforms, because you know how obsessed I am with Pittsburgh history lately, and focusing on the Steelers is a nice way for me to take my mind off of the fact that the Penguins might be eliminated by the Flyers [patooie!] and that the Pirates are making love to losing.

The Steelers started in 1933 as the Pittsburgh Pirates Football Club and here they are:


Here’s the close-up with the super sweet city shield:

They lost their first game to the New York Giants by a score of 23-2 on September 20, 1933:

In fact, they would not break .500 ball until they changed their name to the Steelers in 1940. Which makes me think “Pirates” is just a cursed name.

Here’s a program from the September 27, 1933 game against the Chicago Cardinals, which sold on eBay for more than $2,500:

Whoa. WHOA. Did you know Art Rooney sold the team to Alexis Thompson in 1940 in order to buy a share in the [gulp] Philadelphia Eagles?!

I never knew this you guys, and I apologize if this is something I should have known.

Then in 1941, they traded teams back. Easy peasy!

And here are all the 1934 bees!

Here’s a matchbook from 1934 showing the bee uniform, and yes, I just bought that on eBay for $19.99. I have problems. Not owning a 1934 Pittsburgh Pirates football matchbook keepsake isn’t one of them. Boom.

Artist’s rendering:

Pittsburgh Steelers 1934 uniform artworkI would much prefer they go with brown pants like they actually used back in 1934, but now that I’ve been lost in the history of the team for so many hours, I’m loving the jerseys and I’ll probably buy one and you doubt me but I JUST BOUGHT A MATCHBOOK FROM 1934.

I will own this jersey.

And I will rock the fullness of that thing all, “Bzzzzz!”


  1. SteelCityMagnolia
    April 18, 2012 9:08 am

    History or not…. That throwback uniform is the most absolute butt-ugly thing I have ever seen.

  2. Sheila
    April 18, 2012 9:25 am

    i like the one with the shield better. And black pants would make it look so much better but making it look good really isn’t the point of throwback

  3. Z
    April 18, 2012 9:25 am

    They should have gone with the 1933 version of the jersey. Casey Hampton in those horizontal strips will be hard to look at.

  4. Donny Iris
    April 18, 2012 9:50 am


  5. Aileen
    April 18, 2012 9:57 am

    This love child was produced by combining a prison uniform with left over PennDOT speed limit signs. Stevenson Sylvester may be the new PennDOT spokesman.

  6. Beth
    April 18, 2012 10:07 am

    I thought it was God-awful yesterday when I saw it, but it’s kind of growing on me a little bit. But I do agree that the pants should be black.

  7. facie
    April 18, 2012 10:10 am

    Ginny: I knew I could count on you to clear this up (and phew to the Eagles and Steelers team trading). The uniforms are still hideous and there is no way I would ever buy or wear one, but at least it makes sense. I have no doubt you will rock that ugly thing.

  8. philmatt24
    April 18, 2012 10:12 am

    I think the real takeaway here is that they made Ike Redman do a photoshoot in a Sheetz bathroom.

  9. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    April 18, 2012 10:22 am

    My initial thoughts when I first saw the pictures: 1) black pants would be so much better; and 2) the 1933 jersey would be better, no one besides a small child looks good in horizontal stripes. It’s all about merchandise revenues. People will call them ugly, but they’ll still go and buy one.

  10. cmd_45
    April 18, 2012 10:41 am

    #1, Redman looks really unhappy, like he lost a bet.

    #2 Why not the original uniforms? They were infinitely better than the horizontal jailbird look.

  11. Pensgirl
    April 18, 2012 10:41 am

    Everyone knows about the Steagles but I definitely hadn’t heard about that swap before. Good digging!

  12. Father George
    April 18, 2012 11:58 am

    I loved these new uniforms from the start. We are fortunate that the Steelers have such a long history to dig through. I do have to admit I hadn’t thought of Big Snack in one of these but perhaps it will motivate him to lay off the buffets this off season.

  13. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    April 18, 2012 12:31 pm

    Can’t wait to see what Hitsburgh comes up with to go along with this jersey!

  14. Lucy
    April 18, 2012 1:18 pm

    Let’s just say that the size of the average NFL player is considerably larger now than in 1934. Good Lord, The Big Snack is those “khaki” pants and horizontal stripes….magnified by a TV camera? I think even God himself will be giggling! Wonder if they can arrange a TV blackout for the games in which those uniforms will be worn so the rest of the world won’t pick on us.

  15. Rachel
    April 18, 2012 1:25 pm

    Thanks for the history lesson! Never knew that we actually ended up swapping teams with Philly…. but like the majority of your posters, still despise the new look. I don’t know how any of the players can say they like it with a straight face. Not to mention the fact that it’s already brought up comments such as looking like prison garb, how appropriate for Ben, etc

  16. Moxie Bestos
    April 18, 2012 2:42 pm

    Bee jail. That’s funny. Is it totally terrible that I can hear Jeff Reed saying, “but your honor, the other guy stole my honey!”

  17. Joe K.
    April 18, 2012 2:56 pm

    I actually like the one with the city emblem and the “V” pattern running from the shoulder. I think there’s a reason the horizontal stripes haven’t been worn since 1934 . . .

  18. all5boys
    April 18, 2012 5:27 pm

    Some friends and I think it looks like it was taken from the album cover for Blind Melon…

  19. johnaz6312
    April 18, 2012 5:40 pm

    When I first saw these jerseys my first that was ‘jail house clothing” I personally will NOT buy one. These things are horrible!! To paraphrase James Harrison “they’re from 1934,send em back”

  20. cnik
    April 18, 2012 7:09 pm

    Ben in prison stripes….. seems almost fitting……

  21. Vivian formerly NYLuvsPitts
    April 18, 2012 8:46 pm

    Oh wait…I got it. It’s called strategy. I think I’m okay with them now.

  22. Ellie
    April 19, 2012 7:33 am

    Not liking the new uniforms. I always thought the shield looked like a smiley face roadkill.

  23. PG Wodehouse
    April 19, 2012 8:05 am

    I wish they had gone with these throwbacks instead.


  24. bluzdude
    April 19, 2012 9:49 am

    Remember, they used the 1933 jerseys as throwbacks in the mid-90’s, so I’m sure they didn’t want to use them again. (And I thought those “33s” were ugly…)

    And when I got one for my birthday that year, upon closer inspection, they didn’t get any better. But I’ll wear it on throwback day, rather than popping for Apian Jailhouse Chic…

  25. facie
    April 19, 2012 11:14 am

    Last night I read this comment on Twitter: The Penguins are 1-0 since the Steelers revealed their throwback jerseys.

    I have decided I now LOVE the new (old) look. :-)

  26. toni
    April 19, 2012 11:21 am

    Grotesque…while I love the city shield jerseys of 1933, these should never see the light of day. What can the Rooneys be thinking? I wouldn’t buy a copy of these, Steelers or not. God help us if the next throw back is the batwing cape looking ones….I have a vague memory of 1967.

    To take a quick view of Steeler uniforms thru the years go here:

    You can click on a uniform to enlargen it.

  27. johnaz6312
    April 19, 2012 11:41 am

    The 1960 or 1967 jerseys would have been A LOT better then these things ” Beware of the attack of the jailhouse Bumble Bees” What were the Rooney’s thinking?

  28. bucdaddy
    April 19, 2012 11:50 am

    Clearly, they’re trying to create a buzz.

    I’ll let myself out.

  29. Julia
    April 19, 2012 12:11 pm

    It’ll be funny to see James Harrison running toward the opposing team now. He already is scary as shit on the field, now he’ll look like an enraged yellow jacket or something.

    Also, did not know that about the Eagles/Steelers swap. Interesting bit of trivia there.

    • toni
      April 19, 2012 3:41 pm

      Ya but Ray Ray will feel right at home… It’s sorta like sunlight between jail bars, ya know?

  30. Sooska
    April 19, 2012 4:20 pm

    All I can imagine is the horror of the vision the will be Casey Hampton wearing that jersey.

    Why didn’t they use the cool ones with the city shield? The basic design is simple, eye-catching, sleek and doesn’t conjure up prisons and hives. Replace the shield with the hypercycloids, or nothing.