April 8, 2011
After more than 50 years of service to the broadcasting industry and four decades covering Pittsburgh sports, Bill Hillgrove’s voice has become synonymous with sports fans in the city of Pittsburgh and Pitt athletics. As a result, Friday, April 8 has been established as Bill Hillgrove Day in Allegheny County.
“I feel fortunate to have been able to pursue my passion for sports in such a direct way and be able to do so broadcasting for teams I grew up rooting for and loving,” said Hillgrove. “Here’s to 50 more years of having fun talking about Pittsburgh sports.”
A graduate of Pittsburgh's Central Catholic High School, Hillgrove went on to earn his bachelor's degree from Duquesne University in 1962. He then attended the U.S. Army Information School before serving as a disc jockey and staff announcer for various radio stations in his hometown during the 1960s and ‘70s.
His time with Pitt athletics began in 1969 when he was hired as Pitt basketball's play-by-play announcer. Impressed with his sports knowledge and broadcasting prowess, the university named Hillgrove color analyst for the football team the following year. By 1974, he became the play-by-play broadcaster for both sports and continues to hold both positions today. In that time he’s called numerous milestone games for both the football and basketball teams, including Pitt football’s National Championship in 1976.
This fall, 41 years after first stepping into the radio booth for Pitt football, he’ll once again grace the press box when he continues his radio duties for the Panthers.
Highly respected throughout his hometown, he was handpicked in 1994 by Pittsburgh Steelers' owner Dan Rooney to replace the retiring Jack Fleming as the team's new play-by-play announcer.
Hillgrove has also served as sports director for WTAE- TV and has hosted "Steelers Insider" for the past 16 years. He has received numerous awards during his prolific career and is one of only 10 honorary University of Pittsburgh lettermen. Hillgrove's most memorable day broadcasting was Oct. 23, 1976 - the day 1994 College Football Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett set the all-time NCAA career rushing mark.
The list of Hillgrove’s achievements seems endless. He was inducted into the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sports Hall of Fame in 1996 and inducted into the East Boros’ Chapter of the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame in 2005. In April of 2004, he received the Pittsburgh Radio and Television Club’s Outstanding Achievement Award. This past May, he was inducted into the Minor Pro Football Hall of Fame at the Heinz History Center. Also heavily involved with charity work in the city, Hillgrove’s charity golf tournament has raised more than $1 million for heart research at the UPMC Cardiovascular Institute.
Hillgrove and his wife of 46 years, Rosette, have two children, Bill and Leah, and two grandchildren, Jack and Max.
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