- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; Complete Numbers Starting with 1, 1st Ed edition (September 16, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1250039851
- ISBN-13: 978-1250039859
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #959,932 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Striking Gridiron: A Town's Pride and a Team’s Shot at Glory During the Biggest Strike in American History Hardcover – September 16, 2014
Customers who bought this item also bought
“If you loved Friday Night Lights, you'll also love Striking Gridiron, Greg Nichols' true-life, American-spirited page-turner about a massive 1959 labor strike that shut down the steel-mills economy of Braddock, Pa., but couldn't quash the hopes and dreams of the town's championship high school football team.” ―American Profile Magazine
“Greg Nichols illuminates Western Pennsylvania mill-town race, class and labor-management tensions 55 years ago through the prism of high school foot-ball. Rich with detail about life back then…Striking Gridiron captures a slice of Western Pennsylvania as it was, offering an intriguing contrast to today.” ―Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
“Nichols captures the pace of life in a late-fifties, single-industry town, and also integrates the progress of the strike and its implications for the nation as well as Braddock. An excellent book on a number of levels.” ―Booklist (starred review)
“Striking Gridiron is one of the best sports books I have come across. It is an inspiring read with unforgettable characters…This book is a must-read not just for sports fans but for all readers who enjoy a good story.” ―The El Paso Times
“Nichols offers a nice bit of Americana with dark undertones; the story speaks to all readers.” ―Library Journal
“Greg Nichols couldn't have written it better if he'd been on the sidelines with us.” ―Chuck Klausing, coach of the 1959 Braddock High Tigers
“I was rather unsure of myself when I started out in the scouting department for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Someone recommended I talk to Chuck Klausing. He was one of the greatest coaches in Pennsylvania, and it didn't take me long to figure out why. We'd watch game film together and he would spot every mistake every player made. Chuck saw the details, and so does Greg Nichols. This book puts you down on the field and takes you out to the streets of Braddock, Pennsylvania, a gritty mill town that faced long odds during the steel strike of 1959. This is the way a sports book should be written.” ―Art Rooney Jr., Vice President, Pittsburgh Steelers
“Can a team make a town forget defeat? There is tragedy in STRIKING GRIDIRON, but much more importantly, there is also glorious triumph. Greg Nichols takes you back to 1959, on the banks of Monongahela River in western Pennsylvania, and puts you on the cinder-covered field with the Braddock Tigers as they set records and win games against the backdrop of a devastating steel strike. Nichols has crafted not only a richly detailed chronicle of that memorable season but also the tale of a team's heroism and a town's redemption.” ―Mark Beech, Sports Illustrated staff writer and author of WHEN SATURDAY MATTERED MOST
“The Must-Read Narrative Nonfiction Of The Season!” ―The Valley Mirror
“Reading Greg Nichols's STRIKING GRIDIRON will make you forget all about Joe Paterno and Jerry Sandusky and remember a time when football in Pennsylvania was a matter of national import for all the right reasons. Not since FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS has a writer portrayed a powerhouse high school football team and its coach as vividly as Nichols does the Braddock High Tigers; but Nichols tells a larger tale as well, that of the mid-century American working man whose livelihood may not last the season. The combination is unbeatable.” ―Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prize-winner and author of MARGARET FULLER: A NEW AMERICAN LIFE
“Greg Nichols has written a phenomenal account of a football team on the eve of a national winning record, set in a Pennsylvania steel town during a calamitous 1959 worker's strike. A deeply inspiring story of a coach who knew how to win not just on the field and in the locker room but in the community, how to overcome racial prejudice and treat all as one. STRIKING GRIDIRON is a compelling read with characters that won't let go.” ―Douglas Whynott, author of THE SUGAR SEASON
“If you wish to read a heart-warming story, I recommend you read Greg Nichols' story of how a football team helped heal a town in Western Pennsylvania. Chuck Klausing was the football coach at Braddock High School at the very early stage of his coaching career. I had the opportunity of working with Coach Klausing while I was head football coach at West Virginia University. He was probably the best hire I ever made. I will say he was the wisest coach I ever had. Read this story and you will see what America is all about!” ―Coach Bobby Bowden, NCAA record holder for most career wins and bowl wins by a Division I FBS coach
“If it is possible for a town to die of a broken heart, Braddock is it. Ninety percent of our population is gone, along with the amazing, true story of the Braddock Tigers, if not for the scholarship of Greg Nichols. Braddock, conceived in struggle, was built by the heroic sacrifices of tens of thousands of immigrants. There is so much history here--history that literally shaped our nation--from the French and Indian War to Andrew Carnegie. In STRIKING GRIDIRON, Greg has painstakingly related (thereby, preserved) one of Braddock's most accessible and relatable historical struggles: football. As mayor, I am humbled and grateful for what Greg has achieved with this important book.” ―John Fetterman, mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania
About the Author
Author and journalist GREG NICHOLS has followed his penchant for place-based reporting from the barrios of South America to the steel towns of Western Pennsylvania. His article on Braddock for Pittsburgh Quarterly won the 2012 Golden Quill Awards for Best History/Culture Feature and Best Sports Feature. Nichols holds a B.A. in philosophy from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Emerson College. He lives with his wife in Los Angeles, California.
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
Locals who had no money coming in were betting on the Tigers, and winning. Coach Chuck Clausing wasn't sure how long their luck would hold out, and members of the team admitted to being nervous, but the magic lasted for six years, meaning some players spent their entire careers with an undefeated team.
The Tigers' winning streak lasted through the second game of the 1960 season, and a cottage industry of betting halls was formed in Braddock. All good things must come to an end, but during the three-month-long steel strike of 1859, Braddock, Pennsylvania had something to believe in.
Great book, highly recommend it.
And that's where the history ends. This story by Greg Nichols focuses more on the passion of the game, the dedicated coaches, their families, and the players of the Braddock High Tigers and their 56-game winning streak throughout the mid 1950s. This team was the town's if not the state's pride, if only to give people hope when so many steel mill workers were needing more of it.
The details and the research required are impressive, after all these years to be able to recollect a season and capture the euphoria of their final victory. One can read this and cheer vicariously for the Tigers, because Nichols' writing style is captivating; one can sense the tension during that last game, and feel a sense of relief when it's over. Even non-football fans like myself end up getting attached to this team.
This book is categorized as a history book, but I strongly believe it should be categorized first as a sports/football book.
My husband and I are big football fans and harbor soft spots for goose bump-inducing high school football stories. So, Striking Gridiron was right up my alley. The big question was if Nichols would be able to give me goose bumps in a situation where I already knew the ending...but, he succeeded!
That being said, this is a book for football fans. Though I did learn a fair amount about the 1959 steel workers' strike, that historic event serves as a backdrop for the football drama...not vice versa. There are a fair amount of football X's and O's in Striking Gridiron, but Nichols did such a great job developing the characters that I truly cared about those X's and O's. The one mistake in this area was including a Prologue with a lot of play-by-play before readers get to meet any of the characters. But, once I got past that, I was all in.
Now, let's get to the real reason I loved this book. My favorite TV show of all time is "Friday Night Lights" (there is also a book and a movie, but this is a rare instance where the TV series is my favorite version) and Striking Gridiron reminded me of it in multiple ways.
The atmosphere and imagery of Braddock reminded me of Dillon, Texas...
FNL's Dillon, Texas and Striking Gridiron's Braddock, PA are both small, essentially single industry towns (the steel mill for Braddock and the oil rigs for Dillon) that have fallen on hard times. Both towns are in big time high football country and, despite their economic woes, have thriving high school football teams. The juxtaposition of failing industry and tremendous success on the football field is powerful and residents of both towns cling to the football teams as one of the few bright spots in their otherwise tough lives.
The imagery of massive pre-game pep rallies at the high schools and caravans of cars following the team buses to games shows the towns' unfathomable level of devotion to these football teams.
Braddock has an Eric Taylor-style tough, but kind-hearted coach in Chuck Klausing...
At the beginning of Striking Gridiron, Coach Klausing reminded me of a nicer Bear Bryant. He shipped his players off to a two week hell camp before the season started (reminiscent of Bear Bryant's Junction camp), but, unlike Bryant, allowed his players water breaks in the August heat. But, by the end of the book, Klausing was screaming Eric Taylor (the revered coach in FNL) to me. He was much more than just a coach to his players and lived by this motto:
"We don't coach football. We coach boys."
And, what coach can succeed without an equally revered Mrs. Coach? Joann Klausing fills Tami Taylor's very large shoes in this respect, faithfully shepherding their five children to their Dad's games.
To make a book like this successful, the author has to capture the excitement and nervousness and goose-bumpiness of big time high school football under the lights and Nichols absolutely did that. Striking Gridiron is a great pick for football fans or people who love feel good sports stories.
Check out my blog, Sarah's Book Shelves, for more reviews.