The 1933 Pirates first game


Brilliant Galaxy of Stars in Both Lineups;
Douds Confident Team Will Show Well

Pittsburgh will get it’s first taste of professional football tonight when the Pirates open their National League season against the New York Giants under the flood lights at Forbes Field. The game will start at 8.30 pm.

The greatest collection of ex-college football stars to ever appear here will strut their stuff in the opening encounter for the edification of local grid fans. Such names as Barry Newman, Ken Strong, Angel Brovelli, Ray Moss, Elmer Schwartz, Reb Russell and many others who only a short time ago flashed brilliantly over the collegiate horizon will be in the two lineups tonight, and a brilliantly fought battle is anticipated by the large crowd sure to be on hand.

Local Team, Confident

Coach Jap Douds of the local aggregation has assembled a strong combination for the season and is confident that his crew will make a creditable showing throughout the whole of its initial campaign.

The Pirates will enter the contest underdogs in view of the experience possessed by the visitors. It will be a stiff test for the local outfit and will bring out whatever strength or weakness the team possesses.

1933 team photo

Douds put his team through its final practice paces yesterday afternoon and pronounced the players fit for the gruelling game ahead of them and well satisfied with the prospects of his newly formed combination.

“We have boys just out of college who are strong and fast and imbued with confidence and the desire to win,” he said. “Along with these we have some experienced play in Tony Holm, Elmer Schwartz and Bucky Moore. True, we are new to the game, but we are confident of holding our own even with the powerful Giants as opposition in the first game.”

30 Paul Moss - Left End - Purdue
43 Don Rhodes - Left Guard - Washington and Jefferson
31 Jim Leslinger - Left Guard - Purdue
33 John Oehler - Center - Purdue
35 Clarence Janacek - Right Guard - Purdue
44 Corwan Artman – Right Tackle - Stanford
40 Ray Tesser – Right End - Carnegie Tech
38 George Shaffer - Back - Washington and Jefferson
29 Angelo Brovelli – Quarterback – St. Mary’s, California
28 Bill Moore – Halfback – Loyola of New Orleans
36 Bernard Holm – Fullback - Alabama

Above article from the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette September 20th edition, 1933.


Former Michigan Star Outstanding Player;
Locals Put up Stiff Battle Until Routed in Final Period
by Jack Sell.

1933 Pirates shirtThe New York Giants proved real Gridiron Goliaths last night at Forbes Field when they ruined the debut of Pittsburgh’s golden jerseyed Pirates in the National Professional League by running and passing their way to a brilliant 23-3 victory before a surprising crowd of about 25,000 local well wishers. It was the second straight circuit conquest for the Easterners.

The local entry made a gallant effort to match the skill of the invaders but show conclusively the lack of players with experience in the paid-to-play class, especially in the late period of the battle when the cool, clever victors piled up their big margin.

Close Until Final Period

Sixteen points in a lop sided fourth quarter added to a touchdown and a point after which came in the second period gave the Gothamites the markers to make the two little Pirates points, which came from a safety in the third stanza extremely lonely on the home side of the score board.

Ken Strong, the former New York University halfback star; Harry Newman, ex-Michigan quarterback ace and Reb Russell, who did his college chores as a Northwestern line backer were the big guns of the winner’s attack, but the outstanding member of the trio was Newman.

Newman Is Outstanding

1933 Steelers helmetThe highly touted Wolverine did everything that was expected of him, passing, running, returning punts and directing his club in excellent fashion.

The versatile Jewish star was in action during the greater part of the sternly contested first half in which the home boys fought desperately and managed to stave off three dangerous attacks. The only score came from an intercepted pass. Harry took a rest as the final half opened, but after the locals gained their points he came back into the game and proceeded to run the locals off their feet.

Pittsburgh had no man who could come close to matching his ability. Local hopes were dashed by a pair of disappointments. In first place, Angel Brovelli, coast star from St. Mary’s, proved absolutely unable to produce at any stage.



Brovelli Is Stopped

He was smashed to earth whenever he sought to run the ball, his vaunted passing prowess failed to materialize and his punting was mediocre. In fact the locals tried a quartet of booters, Brovelli, Tesser, Moss and Holm, and only the latter impressed the few times he put his foot to the ball.

The local passing attack also was ineffective and in this department, as in all others, the superior work of the enemy overshadowed their efforts. When the last whistle blew, the Giants had rolled up fourteen first downs to only one for the Pirates. The Gothamites made a basket ball game of the contest at frequent stages and totalled fourteen aerial heaves, seven of which were completed. They also were injecting lateral passes with great success at opportune moments. The Pirates went into the air only seven times and connected but once and that for a small gain.

Game Late Starting

The game was some 20 minutes late in starting, giving the customers in the cheaper seats along the third base side an excellent chance to rush the boxes which they preceded to do with a whoop. When the first whistle blew, all sections in that direction were packed from the boxes to the farthest row in the rear.

Minus the cheer leader, bands and other collegiate paraphernalia, the crowd was slow in warming up to the new style of play. They got their first chance to cheer when Newman fumbled on the Pirate 25 shortly after he had tossed a 21 yards aerial pass to Flaherty.

Moore, left half of the home eleven, covered the loose white oval and the first threat was ended. It was not long until the red and blue clad visitors were back in dangerous territory again. Newman uncorked another long pass to the brilliant Ray Flaherty from Geozaga, who was in the old ball game right up to the top of his head guard all evening and he was downed on the home nine. Again the Pirates rose to the occasion thwarted three attempts and Newman’s try from placement on the fourth down went wide.

Strong Scores First

Forbes Field vs New York Giants 1939Poor kicking by local booters hampered their chances throughout the quarter, but they appeared to gain confidence as Artman, Janeck and Oehler came through on the defense in the tight-spots.

The first score however, came without warning, on the second play of the second quarter. The Pirates drew an offside penalty on the first scrimmage play and decided to make up that five yard deficit in a hurry. Bro faded back and heaved a long pass from close to his own goal line but Ken Strong bobbed up on the thirty three, saw leather and raced the distance for the score. With Newman holding the ball, Strong place kicked the extra point.

Pirates in Comeback

Stung by this sudden reversal and fortunes, the locals made a fine comeback. Tony Holm, the big backfield man from Alabama took the kickoff and returned from his own ten to the thirty as the fans leapt to their feet for the first time. The Giants however put on the pressure, squelched the home attack and, after a 30 yard pass from Newman to Badgro got as far as the local four-yard line before the local boys tightened up. Again the Giants moved to the home fifteen after a 26 yard pass, Newman to Flaherty but a 15 yard holding penalty eliminated the visitors’ chances.

Coming on the field sporting a 7-0 lead as the second period started, the visitors relaxed for a bit. Pittsburgh managed to get their lone first down soon after the action started. Jimmy Clark, former Pitt fullback replaced Bucky Moore ex New Orleans, when the latter hurt his leg and was carried from the field. Jimmy cut through on a cross-buck and Holm went rolling along the field two plays later for the only first down for the home club.

Holm Kicks Long One

Midway in the period Holm found his hand, or rather his foot in punting. His kick went sailing over the safety man’s head and bounded to the New York one-yard line where Moss and Janeck put it out of bounds. It was a 65 yard kick and led the way for the only Pirates score when Ken Strong came rushing in from the bench to punt behind his own goal line, but Johnny Oehler, local center from Purdue, smashed through and blocked the kick.

It bounded over the center zone for an automatic safety. That play brought Newman back into the game and incidentally spelled finis for the locals. Harry bided his time until the last period was under way and then switched to a running attack.

Big Reb Russell from Northwestern moved into action. With a zero as the numeral on his jersey, he elicited a chorus of “Ohs” from the stands as he ripped the local wall to pieces. He carried the ball time after time, making the first downs on the home 40, then 25 and the 14. Newman then called on Strong, and the former Violet star tore off right tackle to the five. A pass on the first downfield, but Newman moved through the opposite tackle on the left and went whirling through a trio of tacklers for the score, standing up. Harry held the ball and Strong place kicked the extra point, which sewed up the game.

Most fans felt that the Giants would rest on their oars and let it go at that, but they didn’t know this guy Newman. He urged his team to renewed efforts, and when an advance was halted exactly on the 30-yard line, calmly stepped back with Burnett holding the ball and booted a perfect placement, the leather just clearing the bars for three more points.

With time running short, the Michigan grad gave a parting salute a bit later when he heaved a perfect toss to Burnett for a 37-yard gain and another touchdown. Harry tried his hand at the extra point this time but it went wide.

It was difficult to tell the exact reaction of the fans to the pro game. They grew enthused at times but a long succession of time outs and injuries dragged the play along and many grew impatient. Practically every one departed, however with praises from Newman on his lips and hoping the locals will be able to buy, borrow or steal a gent who comes close to the dark-haired Hebrew lad in all-around grid ability.

The above match report is from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from September 21st 1933

The Pirates shirt and helmet images are courtesy of Heritage Sports Art and I appreciate their support in allowing me to use their images to enhance this page. If you are interested in purchasing original paintings of sports uniforms, please visit their web site, link above.

The next day's New York Times gave the game a small report:

The Steelers History index>>>