Penguins president takes the Stanley Cup to hometown of Beechview
David Morehouse stood at center court of the blacktop in Beechview, reminiscing about the days when he and friends squirted a hose to turn their basketball court into a hockey rink.
Morehouse likes to say he spent more time at Pauline Park than he did at home. When the Penguins won the Stanley Cup, the team president decided he would bring the trophy to the playground.
"I felt very fortunate to be in the position I was, in center ice with the Stanley Cup," Morehouse said, "and one of the first things I thought about was to bring this back to where I shaped my life."
Morehouse returned Saturday afternoon to the park just a few doors up from his childhood home on Pauline Avenue — where his brother, Don, now lives — to share his day with the Stanley Cup in celebration of the Penguins' National Hockey League championship. Despite informing just a few friends by phone, hundreds of Penguins fans showed up to take photos with the Cup.
"I literally made three phone calls, and the first two I said, 'Don't tell anybody,'" Morehouse said with a laugh. "I tried to get a couple people I grew up with, and everybody showed up."
Everybody from Dick Frank, the long-time football coach at St. Catherine of Sienna, to former NFL standout Jim Sweeney to Chartiers Valley basketball coach Tim McConnell showed up.
"This was the gathering place," said Sweeney, who spent 16 seasons in the NFL, including four with the Steelers. "The people of Beechview, they don't forget where they came from. This was a great community to grow up in."
They shared stories about growing up with Morehouse, who worked on four presidential campaigns before becoming Penguins president in April 2007. While no one expected this of Morehouse, after serving as an adviser to Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry, no one put it past him, either.
"Dave's had a lot of exploits in his life," Mark Rumpf said. "Beechview is having some tough times right now, so it means a lot that he brought it back. Clinton and Gore never came to Pauline Park, but the Cup is here."
So were a colorful cast of characters from the neighborhood. Morehouse took a photo with the Hoelle brothers — Mike, Jim, John and Joe — who used to play hockey with him at Pauline Park. Their father played goalie, wearing a first baseman's mitt and cushions from a porch glider for leg pads.
"I've seen a lot of people I haven't seen in 20 years," Morehouse said. "That makes it even more special."
As word spread, a steady line streamed throughout the playground for a chance to see the Cup. Ron and Linda Orchowski came with their son, Jimmy, and posed for a photo with framed pictures of their daughters, Katy and Kerry, who are away at college. Michelle Benedict placed her one-month-old son, Jake, inside the bowl.
After a three-hour reunion, Morehouse and a group of friends gathered around the Cup at center court to re-enact the photograph that followed the Penguins' victory over the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final at Joe Louis Arena. Afterward, Morehouse lifted the trophy over his head to a round of applause.
"We're proud of what he has accomplished," Tom Schweitzer said. "This is a day for Dave, as much as that Cup."