PITTSBURGH -- Joe Santoni, who named the Pittsburgh Steelers
in a contest in 1940, died at 82.
Santoni died Friday of complications from heart surgery.
Santoni was an avid sports fan and in the 1930s followed an NFL
team then known as the Pittsburgh Pirates. But the team wanted a
new identity to differentiate it from the city's baseball team.
Santoni, who worked in the mills for Pittsburgh Steel, submitted the name "Steelers" through a joint contest held by the team and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and founder/owner Art Rooney Sr. liked it.
"That just boosted his morale something great," Santoni's sister, Norma Fayer, told the Post-Gazette on Monday. "He was a great sports fan."
Santoni was given season tickets for a year and remained a season ticket holder until shortly before his death, Fayer said. She said he attended at least a couple of the Super Bowls the Steelers played in in the 1970s.
He lived in Charleroi, Pa., and for decades owned Santoni's Restaurant, which was decorated with Steelers photos. Fayer told the Post-Gazzette that Santoni kept in his home a signed picture of Rooney.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.