Having grown up in Washington, Chuck Finder thought he knew everything there was to know about the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Then he started writing a book about them.
Finder quickly learned there were plenty of stories about the Steelers he hadn’t heard.
A veteran sports writer who spent 25 years at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette before retiring last year, Finder has long been a mainstay in the Pittsburgh market.
Now, with the completion of his first book, “The Steelers Encyclopedia,” he hopes to share his knowledge of the team with Steelers fans around the world.
The book, which was published by Temple University Press, is due out Sept. 8, one day before the Steelers open the 2012 regular season at Denver. It will be available on Amazon.com.
“They’re billing it as the definitive history of the Steelers,” said Finder, a 1979 Trinity High School graduate. “Writing the history of a team that’s been around for 80 years is a daunting task. But it was interesting because there was a lot of stuff I didn’t know about before I started writing this.”
Finder interviewed approximately 100 former players, coaches and front office people to find out little nuggets that haven’t appeared in previous books about the Steelers. Considering the plethora of books out there documenting the Steelers of the 1970s and a number of individual players, that wasn’t easy.
But Finder feels he captured quite a bit of the history.
“I still love Gary Dunn’s story about Jack Lambert running down the hall in his tighty-whities,” said Finder with a laugh. “He was afraid of snakes and thought they had put a snake in his room. That one was new to me.”
All of the stories might not be new, but there likely hasn’t been a collection this complete.
Finder also went all the way back to the beginning of the Steelers, when they were called the Pirates, and spoke to some old-time players about their recollections.
Included in that group was 95-year-old Chuck Cherundolo, perhaps the oldest living former Steelers player. Cherundolo played center for the Steelers from 1941-42 and 1945-48.
“Chuck Cherundolo played for Jock Sutherland for goodness sakes,” said Finder. “He played with Bullet Bill Dudley. There was a lot of history there.”
So much so, it was tough for Finder to cram it all into the 336-page book.
“I’m still scared that people will be mad that I left some things out,” Finder said. “Now I know why James Michener takes 1,000 pages to write a book about Hawaii. And I think the Steelers might be more important than Hawaii.”
F. Dale Lolley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org