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‘Pittsburgh’ Maulers Throw Out First Pitch in Cleveland Before Opener



USFL Pittsburgh Maulers Cleveland Guardians

The Pittsburgh Maulers of the USFL threw out the first pitch before the baseball game on Monday as the team gets ready to start its season this coming weekend.

The only problem? They did it in Cleveland.

Pittsburgh Maulers head coach Ray Horton — presumably hired because of his ties to Pittsburgh from working with the Steelers — threw out the first pitch before the Cleveland Guardians game against the New York Yankees on Monday.

The Maulers are not going to play in Pittsburgh in 2023, with the USFL setting up a hub city in Canton, Ohio for this spring’s games. The team is a lot closer to it’s “home” than it was in 2022, when all teams were in Birmingham, Alabama.

But the team has taken pains to try to be more connected to its Pittsburgh name, changing its colors from the Maulers traditional orange and purple to black and gold to match the rest of the teams with Pittsburgh in their name,

That good will only goes so far. Canton is certainly closer to Cleveland, but not by a large margin. It’s a 56-minute drive from Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium to Progressive Field in Cleveland. It’s two hours to PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

It’s clear that fans from the Cleveland area are probably more likely to make the one hour drive than those in Pittsburgh make a two-hour drive.

It should also be clear that people in Cleveland aren’t going to root for a team called Pittsburgh any more than people from Pittsburgh are going to be OK with “their” team making PR visits to Cleveland.

This entire situation with the USFL team is untenable in the extreme. There are no realistic options for the team to ever play in Pittsburgh. Most XFL games this spring have drawn in excess of 15,000 fans. There’s no place to play in Pittsburgh short of Acrisure Stadium that can regularly handle that kind of capacity. For that matter, there isn’t a place in Cleveland, either.

Canton is a perfectly good place to have a minor-league football team. The city has a long history with the sport, and the Canton Bulldogs were one of the founding members of the NFL, playing from 1920-27 at the highest level of pro football.

The Hall of Fame is a great draw for visiting or casual fans. If the team from Canton had a half-dozen players or coaches with Pittsburgh connections, people from Pittsburgh wouldn’t be any more or less likely to come see them play spring football, just as they’re comfortable occasionally making the trip to Altoona or Wheeling to see minor-league baseball or hockey.

Fill the team with half ex-Steelers and half ex-Browns, call themselves the Bulldogs to get the people of Canton behind then, market the Hall of Fame as a weekend getaway destination, and there might actually be a future for the club in Canton.

It’s certainly better than dressing up as Pittsburgh while trying to sell tickets in Cleveland for a game in between.