Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Interview with Tim Gleason, Author of From Black to Gold

You may not know the name Tim Gleason, but if you’re a Steelers fan, you know the tremendous blog Behind the Steel Curtain and one of the site’s contributors, maryrose. Well, I’m about to reveal a major secret here: maryrose is Tim Gleason.

Well, this may not be a secret. Anyway, Tim recently released his book From Black to Gold, a historical perspective of the Pittsburgh Steelers as seen through the eyes of a die-hard season ticket holder. While I haven’t read the book yet, Tim shared some of the book’s chapters including:

• That first season in 1933 when the team could not play on Sundays due to Pennsylvania Blue Laws
• The whacky winter of 1941 when Art Rooney sold the team and then traded cities to get it back again
• Great stories of the burning Steelers-Browns rivalry
• The Immaculate Reception and how Instant Replay was born on that play
• How Rocky Bleier fought back
• The Terrible Towel – How it began, what it means and those it helps
• How Frank Sinatra joined Steeler Nation

Tim was nice enough to take some questions from me about the book.

First of all, tell us about the book.

In 1970, the American Football League merged into the National Football League to form a single 26-team entity. Since that merger 40 years ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been the most successful and consistent franchise in the NFL. The Steelers have won six Super Bowl Championships, more than any other team. They have compiled winning seasons in 30 of those 40 years, again, more than anyone else. Their overall .609 winning percentage (394-253-2) is also king-of-the-hill. The Steelers have boasted 64 players on the NFL's All Pro Teams, more than any other franchise. In addition to unparalleled success, the Steelers have shown remarkable consistency throughout the past 40 years. Never have they won fewer than five games, a claim that no other team can make, and only twice did they win just five games.

However, pro football did not begin in 1970, though some in Steeler Nation might like to think so. The NFL began in 1920, with the Steelers coming on board in 1933. In the 37 years that Pittsburgh played pro football before the merger, life was not so good. The Steelers were riddled with calamity, tragedy and, for the most part, failure. Regardless, we fans who were around before the merger were still in love with the team unconditionally. While part of me envies younger Steelers' fans who know of nothing but success, a bigger part is grateful that I experienced the growing pains. From Black to Gold is an account of both the growing pains and the glory.

How were you able to put all 75+ years of Pittsburgh Steelers history in one book? It seems like this could be an entire encyclopedia set!

I just focused on the great story lines. I wanted the book to be easy to read. That was important to me. I wanted people to really like reading the book as opposed to being a lengthy chore. It is still 260 pages in order to get in all the great stories and vignettes, but it is really an easy read.

How long did it take you to write the book?

About a year and a half all told. I took my time and enjoyed the research.

It’s hard to miss "Foreward by Art Rooney Jr." on the front cover. How were you able to get him for the book’s foreward?

One of his assistants read stories that I wrote and showed them to Mr. Rooney, who really liked them. Mr. Rooney sent me an autographed copy of his book Ruanaidh. When I wrote to thank him, I asked him if he would write the foreword if I continued writing. I sent him an outline just for kicks. Then I was in a grocery store when my phone rang. It was Mr. Rooney! I was shocked. He said he would be happy to write the foreword. That was all the motivation I needed. I am a no-name, so getting his name on the cover was very important to the book's success.

Do you have a favorite personal Steeler memory?

Yes, when I was a college student and I worked the Super Bowl in January 1979. It is a chapter in the book so I won't say too much now. I also have a great memory of going to my first Steelers' game in 1968, which is also in the book. Both of those memories have neat stories behind them.

What is it like being a Steelers fan in the Browns/Steelers border territory of Youngstown?

It is really intense. Half the town is Hatfields and half McCoys. It really jacks up when both teams are good, but that doesn't seem to happen too often. There is a lot of hate. The team that is down at whatever moment hates the most. I really enjoyed writing that chapter. The players themselves will tell you how much hate there is.

Care to share any predictions for the 2010 Steelers season?

I think 9-7 is reasonable, but then again, the Steelers always do best when they are under the radar. They are considered third right now in the Division, which means they might win it going away! I hope.

The book is not available in stores but can be purchased at Thanks Tim!


SueSaidSo said...

My husband is a mad Steelers fan and Im going to get him this for his birthday.

Mike Thomas said...

I am writing to ask for your permission to include your posts on and include a link to your blog in our directory. We would
include a link back to your blog fully crediting you for your work
along with a profile about you listed on . Please let us
know as soon as possible.

Mike Thomas