The "family" has a sit down

Written by Dan Gigler on .

In a scene that was shades of Michael Corleone-meets-Michael Tomlin, the Steel City Mafia, held their annual "sit down" dinner tonight at the Altar Bar in the Strip District.

Billing themselves as the world's largest independent Steelers club -- 7,900 members in all 50 states and several countries -- tonight's event is part of the club's "sit down" weekend in which the truly dedicated and elite members of the group are "made" (in true Mafia parlance). About 60 members attended the $50 a head dinner, which benefited the Pitterich Foundation, a local charity devoted to treatment of adult-onset leukemia.

Guest of honor, Frenchy Fuqua -- sans cape -- looked sharp in a black three-piece suit with tasteful gold tie and pocket square. Fuqua did a dramatic and very entertaining retelling of the Immaculate Reception game, and promised to divulge a new clue about the play. He gets right up to the moment it happened, then on cue, his cell phone rings -- and he says its Roger Goodell threatening to cut off his pension if he divulges what actually happened on the play. A good schtick. Brought the house down. Fuqua also "pinned in" the club's new bosses.

Another Steeler-great, Andy Russell, has been connected to the group for several years and said he's a big supporter of the club's mission. Russell will also appear at a book-signing event tomorrow on the North Shore. One of the Mafia's fundraising raffles features a chance to win a weekend with Russell, including attending a game with him in a club-level suite at Heinz Field.

The weekend culminates with the SCM's official "tailgate" at the North Shore Saloon beginning at 9 a.m., Sunday. The tailgate includes food and drink and is open to the public. Tickets are $15.


Frenchy with one of the SCM's top bosses, Duane Smyth of Cranberry.


The guy on the left of Frenchy is Anthony Battaglia, of Australia, who flew in 8,000 miles to attend his first Steelers game Sunday. To Frenchy's right is Kentuckian Shawn Spinda, who has a pretty neat truck that you'll see further below. 


Andy Russell shows off his Super Bowl IX ring. The SCM does fundraising for Russell's foundation;


A painted football designed for the event by newly pinned in SCM "boss" Larry Klukaszewski of New Kensigton. A grade-school teacher, Klukaszewski is a self-taught artist who in recent years has started painting some truly incredible pieces of sports memorabilia. The "he'll never tell" line is a nice touch. One of Klukaszewski's helmets is on display at the Whatever-it-Takes Steelers' fan art exhibit at Carnegie Mellon.


Klukaszewski with Frenchy, holding the football he created. The ball was up for raffle, but the Frenchman offered to buy the thing on the spot. 


The centerpiece for the head table, obviously inspired by the Frenchman.


Frenchy's Super Bowl IX ring.


Front mural of Shawn Spinda's truck.


This is a tailgate truly made for Heinz Field tailgating.


Shawn Spinda's truck. The goalposts are autographed by various Steelers.


Nice hat.


The proverbial well-turned ankles.


Van belonging to newly pinned 'boss' Scottie Brown, who owns the VIP Sports Bar & Grill, the SCM's official hangout in Martinsburg, W.Va.


Front of the van.


Shawn Kennedy of Johnson City, Tenn. (via the North Side), a co-founder of SCM, displays the pins that "made" members of the Steel City Mafia receieve. 


Kennedy's Frenchy approved footwear.

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