Celebrating 25 years of making the call

He is a fixture when it comes to Steelers football. A voice you have heard whether you live in Pittsburgh or listen to games thousands of miles away.

Bill Hillgrove is the voice of the Steelers, and this year he is celebrating his 25th year in the radio booth as the team's play-by-play announcer, and the Steelers honored him before the game, with Art Rooney II presenting him with a custom jersey.

"The first year was 1994. I remember the first day at training camp as a 53-year old rookie. I blocked in Bill Cowher's car and I heard about it," said Hillgrove. "It's hard to believe it went this quickly. In the 25 years I was privileged to do four Super Bowls and only three losing seasons.

"When they say the standard is the standard, it certainly is very high for the Pittsburgh Steelers."

That standard is what provided Hillgrove with the highlight of his career, calling the Steelers exciting win over the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009.

"That game is top of the list," said Hillgrove. "When Larry Fitzgerald scored that touchdown, things looked dark, especially since we had that holding call with just a little over two minutes to go. Ben Roethlisberger responded. He put every pass on a Steelers player's hands. Santonio Holmes caught 'the one' on the right side of the end zone.

"That touchdown was across the field from the way I was looking. I didn't have a great view of it. I was always taught watch the official. I did watch him and when I saw his hands get up to his waist I was able to call touchdown, because I knew they were going all the way up. That was incredible."

For Hillgrove, who is Pittsburgh born and bred, his job is one he easily describes as his 'dream job.'

"It is. Absolutely. No question about it," said Hillgrove. "I remember going to Forbes Field to watch the Steelers play, Pitt Stadium.

"I had a pretty full plate when I was calling University of Pittsburgh football and basketball, and the WTAE-TV nightly sports. I got a call from Tony Quatrini, who was the sales manager at WTAE then, saying Mr. (Dan) Rooney keeps asking for your tape for the play-by-play job. I said I didn't send a tape. I was told he had a tape and he is using it to compare to the other ones coming in from all over the country.

"Then a few weeks later Tom Donahoe, the director of football operations, called and said we had a meeting last night and things are looking pretty good. I was like 'Oh my goodness' I am a candidate for a job I never really sought. The more I thought about it, to become a play-by-play announcer, it made sense.

"I still get notes from family all over the country that they heard me. It's very, very rewarding."

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