Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Fans Flock to Steelers Training Camp

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Fans Flock to Steelers Training Camp

Article excerpt

If fans at the first day of Steelers training camp were looking to photograph themselves with actual players, the next best thing was "Pope Yinzer."

That's how Dan Zadach of Jefferson Hills introduces himself to fellow fans who want to pose with the tall guy garbed completely in black and gold, including - it befits a pope - a Steelers-themed mitre, sewn by wife Remy, atop his head.

"We've been coming out here a dozen years or so, and I guess this is about five or six years I've been doing that," he said about his costume, which must have started to get a bit toasty as the temperature climbed into the high 80s Sunday afternoon.

Most of the thousands of others who converged on Saint Vincent College dressed a bit more appropriately for the weather as they witnessed the start of the football team's 50th year training at the campus in Unity, near Latrobe.

Aware that his black Steelers jersey is prone to absorb heat, Chris Douglas of New Castle was one of many fans to stake out a spot under the trees that ring the main practice field.

"I haven't been here since 2008," he said. "It's a lot different than the last time I was here. The campus looks bigger."

While that isn't the case, at least in terms of acreage, Saint Vincent continues to host an increasing number of gridiron onlookers each summer. Along with getting early looks at their favorite players, fans have a variety of entertainment options during training camp.

The Steelers Experience, for example, gives them the opportunity to act like football players by trying to kick a field goal or connect on passes to receivers.

The Traveling Great Hall is a veritable Steelers museum on wheels, and, of course, official team merchandise is available for sale.

Some merchandise, though, can't be bought these days. Patti Hitchcock of Crawford County brought her 1983 copy of "The Super Steeler Cookbook" to camp, hoping to add to the autographs she's been compiling in it for the past three decades. …

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