Decades before Pittsburgh’s professional soccer team, the Riverhounds, took the field in 1999, another pro team called the Steel City home, the Pittsburgh Phantoms. This ghastly team lasted one terrifying season in the ‘Burgh, losing $750,000 along the way. They ended the year with a 10-14-7 record, finishing 5th in the 1967 inaugural season of the National Professional Soccer League.
Despite being bankrolled by two investors of the newly-minted Pittsburgh Penguins franchise, the Phantoms couldn’t avoid coaching challenges (they went through four coaches by season’s end) and contractual issues with players (the team paid a $50,000 settlement to Sparta Rotterdam for signing Theo Laseroms who was still under contract with the Dutch team). The Phantoms played their first and only season sporting their signature purple and white kits before calling it quits due to poor attendance, drawing a measly 3,122 attendees in the 35,000-person capacity Forbes Field, their home turf and home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Despite their short-lived existence, the Phantoms are as much a part of Pittsburgh’s story as any other, and we’re honoring them this month with a new entry into the Tee Club.