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 Shamrocks lasted only on short season, from ’36-’37. That being said, finding reference points to recreate the logo were few and far between. I was able to find a team photo, as well as a photo of an original jersey to reference, and re-drew the simple front print by hand. Much like the Hornet’s tee, there are subtle imperfections in the print of this tee, which I feel adds to the quality when recreating a logo from 1936. The “shamrock” in particular was left looking imperfect to replicate the actual sewn-on patch that dawned the actual jersey. Ink was specially mixed to match the age of the jersey, original team colors, and contrast with the shirt that was picked for this tee.
A brief history of the Pittsburgh Shamrocks:
As stated above, the Pittsburgh Shamrocks lasting one season, from 1936-37, playing in the International Hockey League. The Shamrocks played all of their home games at the Duquesne Gardens. During that lone season, the team finished in fourth place in the West Division behind the Detroit Olympics, Cleveland Falcons and Windsor Bulldogs. It’s estimated that the team lost $36,000 during 1936–36 season, which seams like an ungodly amount for the time.
The Shamrocks were coached by Sprague Cleghorn who was regarded as one of the dirtiest players in the National Hockey League. For nine of the NHL's first ten years, Cleghorn led the NHL in penalty minutes. He won the Stanley Cup twice with the Ottawa Senators in 1920 and 1921, and one with the Montreal Canadiens in 1924. Prior to the formation of the Shamrocks, the Cleghorn family was already embedded in the history of Pittsburgh hockey. Cleghorn's brother, Odie, was the head coach of the Pittsburgh Pirates when they became the city's first NHL team in 1925. Harold Darragh and Gordon Fraser also played in the NHL with the Pirates.
Rookies Jean and Conrad Bourcier also made local history by becoming the first siblings to play professional hockey on the same Pittsburgh team when they joined the Shamrocks in late January.
As stated in the Hornets write up, contrary to local legend, the Shamrocks did not evolve into the Pittsburgh Hornets. In 1936, the Detroit Olympics moved to Pittsburgh to become the Hornets. Players were merged with the existing Olympics from the Yellow Jackets and the Shamrocks. Only two players from the Shamrocks, Bill Anderson and Bill Hudson, were on the Hornets roster to start the 1936-37 season.
* This tee is printed on American Apparel 100% Organic Fine Jersey cotton tees. These tees are made to be the softest, smoothest, best-looking organic cotton tee available, anywhere. The tee specifically fits the feel I was looking for the Shamrocks recreation, specifically with the “natural” tee color, and the Kelly green contrast stitching on the shoulders, sleeves, and tail. This is definitely one of my favorite shirts, not to big, not too small, soft, vintage looking, simple, and part of Pittsburgh history.
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