Dec 7, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) keeps the puck away from Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) during the first period at TD Banknorth Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Vs. Boston: Who’s The ‘City Of Champions’ By The Numbers?

A comment on a recent article disputed Pittsburgh’s claim to the “City of Champions” moniker we so proudly display on this site, saying Boston was the true holder of that title.

While we derive our name from the confluence of Pirates’ and Steelers’ championships in 1979 – and the ’70s in general – it’s true that other cities may have a beef with our self-appointed lofty status. Site contributor Matt Lipcsak dug into the numbers to see whether Pittsburgh or Boston is more deserving of the crown:

As with many things these days, it all started with a Facebook post.

The Red Sox had just wrapped up the World Series, and a friend posted something along the lines of “Congratulations Boston, City of Champions.” Now, this friend was born and raised in Ellwood City, Pa. For those of you who don’t know where that is, it’s about 45 minutes northwest of Pittsburgh, straddling the line between Lawrence and Beaver Counties.

As you may expect, several people took offense to this comment, as we from Pittsburgh like to style ourselves as the “City of Champions” thanks to the outstanding work of the Pirates and Steelers in the 1970s. A tweet from City of Champions co-editor Matt Gajtka about a Boston fan who was trying to lay claim to the nickname reignited the idea in my head and got me thinking: “Which is the true ‘City of Champions?’”

I decided to take an empirical look at it to get an answer.

Here’s how I broke it down:

NHL: I counted the number of Stanley Cups each team has won and divided it by the number of years the team has been in existence. This number does not include the years the cup was not awarded due to labor stoppages.

NFL: Counted the number of Super Bowls won since the AFL/NFL merger and divided by the number of Super Bowls played. That’s right Cleveland, no one, and I mean NO ONE, cares about your six NFL titles.

MLB: Counted the number of World Series won and divided by the number of years the franchise has been in existence, again not including labor stoppages (Can we have a moment of silence for the 1994 Montreal Expos, please?)

Here are the results:

Red Sox – 7/111

Patriots – 3/47

Bruins – 6/88

Boston total – 16/246 (6.5%)

Pirates – 5/126

Steelers – 6/47

Penguins – 3/45

Pittsburgh total – 14/218 (6.42%)

If you add the Celtics’ 17 NBA titles in 66 years, the numbers really go funny:

Boston – 33/312 (10.58%)

Pittsburgh – 14/218 (6.42%)


So as you can see, those chowder-cramming, Sam Adams-guzzling, wicked-smaht nor’easters have a slight edge over us Yinzers for the “City of Champions” moniker. But if you really want to grind the gears of someone from the Massachusetts capital, point this out:

Yankees – 27/112

Mets – 2/51

Rangers – 4/86

Islanders – 4/41

Knicks – 2/66

Giants – 4/47

Jets – 0/47

New York total – 43/439 (9.79%)

No NBA – 41/373 (10.99%)

Nothing like reminding a Bostonian that they’re still second fiddle to New York to warm your heart. And with the current state of your Penguins and Pirates, that 0.08 percent gap between Pittsburgh and Boston may be closing rather quickly.

Matt Lipcsak is a broadcaster for the Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League. He’s a graduate of Youngstown State University and a proud native of Ellwood City, Pa.

Tags: City Of Champions Pittsburgh Penguins Pittsburgh Pirates Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Lou Bourbon Jr

    The Pittsburgh Pipers….the ABA’s charter franchise and winner of the first Championship. They played two YEARs in Pittsburgh. According to the way you’ve decided to judge the cities, wouldn’t that mean they score 50% compared to the the Celtics…??? How would taking this into account skew your ratings and is it really fair?

    Again…City of Champions refers to the 70s…no one was beating their chest in Pittsburgh during the 80s proclaiming a sports superiority. I think New York or Boston probably does have some level of claim of being a City of Champions…but in the same way that “America’s Team” was shunned by The Steelers and adopted instead by the Cowboys, the City of Champions was a moniker adopted by Pittsburgh in the glory years of the 70s and has stuck…especially since the Penguins have come along and the Football team has won a couple of more rings…without the use of illegally procured video I might add.

    • Matt Gajtka

      Bringing the Pipers in would add a little mojo if we’re going to battle the Celtics. Since Pittsburgh has no NBA team at present day, I prefer the apples-to-apples comparison of MLB/NHL/NFL.

      Agreed on the origin of City of Champions. It’s more of an attitude than anything, but we thought this exercise would be fun.

  • Bryant Oliveira

    First off, Boston is not 2nd fiddle to New York, only 2 of their 8 teams (Yankees/Giants) have more championships than the Boston team in their respective sports. Secondly, Pittsburgh has never had all of their teams win titles in a 6 1/2 year span like Boston did, and they have one less team vs. Boston to accomplish that. Also first World Series? Boston over Pitt. 2 AFC title games IN Pittsburgh? Patriots win both.

    • Matt Gajtka

      Well that’s another way to look at it. I hope you did notice that Boston is ahead of Pittsburgh any way we broke down the numbers.

      • Bryant Oliveira

        Yes I did but just wanted to put it more in perspective and that on the big stage against each other Boston more often than not overtakes Pittsburgh.

        • Matt Gajtka

          And it sucks. 2001 and ’04 AFC title games were just awful. Last year’s East final was just as bad. Payback for the Pens’ two conference final wins in ’91 and ’92 I guess.