Pittsburgh has been in the American hockey forefront way before the Penguins moved into the Civic Arena in 1967. We had the Pittsburgh Athletic Club, the Yellow Jackets, the Pirates, the Shamrocks, the Hornets, and then the Penguins. Pittsburgh hockey can be dated as far back as 1895. Take that Canada.
These shirts were made in celebration of Pittsburgh hockey and it’s illustrious, and often overlooked, history. An incredible amount of effort was put into recreating each design from hand, using vintage team photos as references. The prints are done meticulously; as to not disappoint passionate, detail obsessed fans, nor myself, often the worst critic.
The Hornets, originally a minor-league team for the NHL's Detroit Red Wings, made their debut in the International-American Hockey League in 1936-37. This Hornets tee is a combo of the original ‘36-‘37 Hornets uniforms, and the sleeve patch on the ‘48 uni’s. Both team logos where hand-drawn from photos of the original jerseys. The imperfections of non-computerized artwork are there, but I believe it adds to a tee that is made to look like a throwback. The ink has been specially mixed to both replicate the colors of the original jerseys, and also to coordinate with the color and style of the shirt chosen for the tee.
Here’s a brief history of the Pittsburgh Hornets:
The franchise that would become the Pittsburgh Hornets started play in 1927, playing their first nine seasons as the Detroit Olympics. Then on October 4, 1936, after winning the IHL championship, the Olympics moved to Pittsburgh to become the Hornets.
John Harris, a Pittsburgh theatre chain owner, purchased the Detroit Olympics in October of 1936 and renamed the team the Pittsburgh Hornets. Contrary to popular belief, the Pittsburgh Hornets did not evolve from the International Hockey League's Pittsburgh Shamrocks. Bill Anderson and Bill Hudson were the only two players from the Shamrocks to be on the Hornets roster at the start of the 1936–37 season. That year, the Hornets wore wool jerseys that were likely recycled from the Olympics (front print of this tee).
The Hornets were in originally in the Canadian Professional Hockey League, which was renamed the International American Hockey League in 1929.
The Hornets actually lived several lives in Pittsburgh. The first Hornets’ team ended after the 1955–56 season. On March 31, 1956, The Hornets played their final game at the Duquesne Gardens. The original Hornets franchise was suspended for five years because Pittsburgh’s urban renewal project, Renaissance I, called for The Gardens to be torn down. The Gardens would be replaced as the home rink of the city's pro hockey team as construction of the Pittsburgh Civic Arena began in 1958, three miles to the west of the Gardens. At that time, due to all these variables in the city of Pittsburgh, the city of Rochester, New York was awarded a franchise, becoming the Rochester Americans.
The Hornets reappeared in the new Civic Arena in 1961 and, after a poor start, they became AHL contenders again. They won a division title in 1964, won the Calder Cup in 1967, which would be their third, then vanished for good. The second Hornets ceased operations on April 30, 1967, when the expansion Pittsburgh Penguins played their first season in the National Hockey League. This AHL franchise had to be terminated in order to make room for the bigger NHL.
Regardless of the bad news, the Hornets would go out with a bang. On April 30, 1967, they finished the sweep of Rochester Americans in the Calder Cup Finals after Billy Harris scored :26 seconds into overtime in what would be the last goal in Pittsburgh Hornets’ history. Thirty-one years after the Hornets first game, Coach Baz Bastien was presented with the Calder Cup. The Hornets were Calder Cup Champions one last time.
*This design is printed on Anvil's premium Independence Red "Sustainable" tee's. These tee are made of 50% ring spun cotton and 50% recycled polyester, which means the tees are soft and comfortable, and have a worn in look and feel.
Most shirts don't feel like this one.
* The ladies version of the "Hornets" tee is printed on Red premium ring spun American Apparel 2001 ladies cut tees.
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