Odd Pittsburgh: Beatlemania Hits The 'Burgh And 'Chiller Theater' Debuts

Also Connie Mack's legend begins with the Pirates and the story behind Grant Street

Larry Richert and John Shumway
September 14, 2018 - 2:09 pm
Odd Pittsburgh

John Schalcosky



PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - A baseball legend begins his managing career, The story behind Grant Street, Beatlemania makes its only stop in Pittsburgh and “Chilly Billy”, Terminal Stare and Stefan the Castle Prankster debut! It’s all part of the odd, fascinating and mysterious stuff that happened this week in Pittsburgh’s history.

  • Baseball Legend Connie Mack’s Managing Career Begins In Pittsburgh

Connie Mack began his playing career  on September 11, 1886 for the Washington Nationals and on September 12, 1894 Mack became the team’s manager while continuing to play catcher.

Schalcosky says Mack still holds the record for most wins by a manager ever with 3,731, but he also holds the record for most loses with 3,948

Mack was fired by the Pirates in 1896 and returned to the MLB in 1901 when he began managing the Philadelphia Athletics, a position he stayed in until 1950!

  • The Battle Of Fort Duquesne And How Grant Street Got Its Name

Most people might think Grand Street is named after Civil War Union General and former President of the United States Ulysses S. Grant, but that’s not true. It’s actually named after James Grant, who was the “leader of a small regiment of Highlanders, just like you think the movie Braveheart . . . kilts and all, bagpipes. Those people came from that regiment came here to Pittsburgh to fight for the British,” said Schalcosky.

Schalcosky says during the Battle of Fort Duquesne on September 14, 1758, Grant made the mistake of splitting his 800 troops in half and the 500 French and Native Americans surrounded Grant’s and killed 104 people with 220 people wounded, “ and this is compared to the French’s eight loses.”

Grant was captured and taken as a P.O.W. but John Forbes, who had a much larger regiment of 6,000 to 7,000 troops, came about a month later and drove the French out.

  • Beatlemania Hits The ‘Burgh

On September14, 1964 Pittsburgh experienced its only dose of Beatlemania. Schalcosky says Pittsburgh was the 20th stop on a 24 city tour for The Beatles.

The Fab Four played the Civil Arena to what Schalcosky describes as “pandemonium”.

Rare footage of The Beatles in Pittsburgh:

  • Chiller Theater with Bill Cardille debuts

On September 14, 1964 the classic Pittsburgh television show “Chiller Theater”, starring Bill Cardille, debuted on then WIIC (now WPXI).

The program showed two horror movies, one starting at 11:30 p.m. and the other at 1 a.m. with skits airing in between the movies and during other parts of the program.

Schalcosky says that “Chiller Theater” was so popular that Saturday Night Live didn’t air in Pittsburgh for its first four seasons. After pressure from the network, “Chiller Theater” moved to 1 a.m. and only showed one feature.

The show ran until 1984 and Cardille continued to work for WPXI as a weatherman and hosted the annual Jerry Lewis Telethon. Cardille also had a long and successful career in radio until 2014.

Cardille passed away at the age of 87 in 2015.

Check out this classic episode featuring Pittsburgh's own Barbara Feldon 

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