NFL in Ballpark Series:  Forbes Field, Pittsburgh 9/25/49 – Steelers clobber NY Giants 28-7 in season opener

NFL in Ballpark Series: Forbes Field, Pittsburgh 9/25/49 – Steelers clobber NY Giants 28-7 in season opener


Just 20,957 are on hand for the NFL season opener between the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers. At this point in time the NFL was still trying to gain a firm foothold into the American sports landscape. The sport itself was on solid footing when it came to the college game, but playing in the NFL after school was sometimes an after thought for even the best of the college players.

On this warm Sunday afternoon, the Steelers broke a scoreless tie in the second quarter with 21 unanswered points, highlighted by a 52-yard touchdown reception by Elbie Nickel from the arm of quarterback Bob Gage. Pittsburgh would add another touchdown in the fourth quarter, a two-yard run by halfback Joe Geri, to give them a commanding 28-0 lead.

The Giants would finally break through with their only score of the game with just two minutes left in the game on a Charlie Conerly 13-yard pass to a wide open Jim Poole and making the final score 28-7.

The Giants run defense was shredded through out the day as Pittsburgh piled up 223 yards on the ground with fullback George Papach leading all rushers in the game with 84 yards on 13 carries.

But despite the strong showing the Steelers finished their season with a 6-5-1 record while the Giants were just as mediocre with a 6-6 record.

As far as the layout of the gridiron at Forbes Field, the one end zone would be in the area of the third base and the other end zone, show in the photo in the comment section, was in right-center field.

The Steelers played at Forbes Field from 1933 to 1963 including the two seasons when their roster was depleted from the war effort and merged with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1943 (Phil-Pitt “Steagles”) and with the Chicago Cardinals (Card-Pitt) in 1944. With the latter being an utter disaster as they finished the season with a 0-10 record.

In 1964 the Steelers moved out of Forbes Field for good playing their home games at Pitt Stadium until 1970 when they would move into a cookie cutter by the name of Three Rivers Stadium.

And during their 31 year run at this historic ballpark in the Oakland section of the Steel City, the Steelers had only seven winning seasons and played just one playoff game at Forbes Field losing to the Eagles 21-0 in 1947.

-Ron A. Bolton

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