If Art Rooney Sr. were alive today, Clint Hurdle is the type of guy he would love to sit down with and share stories about Pittsburgh sports. The two would hit it off perfectly.
That is why it is fitting that Hurdle, the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, is this year's winner of the Arthur J. Rooney Award. The award is presented annually at the Art Rooney Award Dinner, benefiting the Catholic Youth Association, to a "Pittsburgher" for their outstanding contribution to the city and their leadership qualities.
While Hurdle was born in Michigan, Pittsburgh has made him one of their own since he was named the Pirates manager in 2011 and took the Pirates back to the playoffs in 2013 for the first time in 20 years.
"Clint has demonstrated that leadership makes a difference," said Art Rooney II, the grandson of the man the award was named after. "The way he has led the Pirates has been really outstanding. Last year was such an exciting year. I am sure there is more to come. It's exciting to have him win the award. We are honored he is taking time out of his very busy schedule to be a part of the dinner."
Hurdle received the honor just hours after the Pirates played the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park in their opening week series. And while it's a busy week for him, winning an award named after the Steelers founder meant the world to him.
"It's a little bit numbing," said Hurdle. "It's humbling when you think of the Rooney family, when you think of the patriarch, when you think of the legacy, and the impact upon a city, the fans, the players and the coaches. So many lives have been touched by Mr. Rooney and so many of the Rooneys that have been involved in the Steelers organization.
"I just think of the golden rule, treat others as you'd like to be treated. Art was the champion of that. He had a servant's heart. It was all about everybody else. From that perspective to be able to accept on behalf of the Pirates organization and everybody that has shaped and molded me over the years, I am eternally grateful and very humbled."
In a similar way that Rooney would act when honored, Hurdle also downplayed his contributions to the city of Pittsburgh, simply stating he is just doing his job.
"I know I have a role to play," said Hurdle. "I know I have a lunch pail to carry every day. I have meaning and purpose to what I need to do for our organization, our fans, players, coaches, training staff, everybody connected to our organization. I need to represent. I need to be managerial. I need to be accountable for everything I say and do. I am representing the Hurdle family everywhere I go as well.
"For me it's an honor to serve others. It's not something I take lightly and don't think about every day and how can I make a difference today in the life of somebody else. How can I show up and be of aid or assistance for somebody else. It never becomes about me which is where I need to live."
Former Robert Morris University football coach Joe Walton was presented with the Bob Prince Award, named after the late Pittsburgh Pirates radio announcer and honors someone who embodies Prince's enthusiasm for Pittsburgh sports.
Walton, who was born in Beaver Falls, Pa., played football at the University of Pittsburgh. He played in the NFL from 1957-63 and coached in the league from 1967-91, the last two years as the Steelers offensive coordinator. He was the head coach at Robert Morris from 1994-2013.
"He has been a part of the sports scene in Pittsburgh since he was a young person," said Rooney. "What he did at Robert Morris is just remarkable. He took a program from almost nothing and took it into something everyone at Robert Morris is proud of. They are proud of where the whole athletic program has come but in particular the football team has come a long way. They have a great stadium out there now.
"It's great to be able to recognize the many achievements that Joe has had, the many contributions he has made to Western Pennsylvania sports."
Also honored at the dinner were KDKA-TV's Dave Crawley who won the Bill Burns Award, Kim Tellotson Fleming who won the John McGrady Award, and Ed Skoken and Christian Haggerty who won the Nick Cardello Senior and Youth Awards, respectively.