'Pope Yinzer' a staple at Steelers games

Donald Zadach of Jefferson Hills dresses up as 'Pope Yinzer' during a pep rally for the Steelers on Friday, Jan. 15, 2016, in Market Square, Downtown Pittsburgh.
Donald Zadach of Jefferson Hills dresses up as 'Pope Yinzer' during a pep rally for the Steelers on Friday, Jan. 15, 2016, in Market Square, Downtown Pittsburgh.
Photo by Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
| Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, 9:00 p.m.

If you've gone to Heinz Field for a Steelers game, chances are you've seen him.

If you've watched the games on television, you've seen him wearing papal “attire,” in black and gold.

Known as “Pope Yinzer,” Donald Zadach, 57, of Jefferson Hills is a die-hard fan who brings smiles to Steelers Nation. Zadach, a chemical operator at Eastman Chemical Co., attends every home game, tailgating and leading a prayer at Stage AE — a Steelers rendition of the Lord's Prayer.

“I just enjoy meeting people and talking with Steelers fans. It's so much fun at the games meeting new people — good people,” Zadach said. “People line up to take pictures with me every Sunday. I literally take thousands of photos.”

Zadach also meets with fans at benefits, private parties and local bars.

“He's one of the cast of characters you expect to see at every Steelers home game,” said Bill Crawford, who regularly has Zadach on the WDVE radio morning show he co-hosts.

Before he became Pope Yinzer, Zadach and his wife, Remy, paraded around Heinz Field as Mr. and Mrs. Steeler Claus, but the jig was up after the holiday season.

“I wanted to do something for the whole year,” he said.

One Halloween, he and his wife were in a party store when the idea hit him.

“How 'bout a Steeler Pope?” he asked his wife. “Do you think you can whip up a black-and-gold Steeler Pope costume?”

She obliged, and the rest, he said, is history.

She fashioned an outfit that includes a velvet hat with a Steelers emblem. Black, denim-like material lined with black-and-gold trim was used for the clerical cassock.

During any given home game, Zadach said, he meets fans from several states and countries. So far, he has met fans from 47 countries, he said. This season they have come from Sri Lanka, Israel, Panama, India, Jamaica and Argentina.

“Whenever the season comes to an end, it's a sad time for Pope Yinzer,” Zadach said. “He's not going to get to see his friends again until training time in August.”

Samson X Horne is a Tribune-Review contributing writer. He can be reached at samson.x.horne@gmail.com.

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