The second coming of Pittman is a joy for Paterno and Penn State professors

The Inside Stuff

September 24, 1992|By Bill Tanton

There's a familiar name -- Pittman -- on the Penn State football team that will host Maryland Saturday.

This is Tony Pittman. His father, Charlie Pittman, was a youngster who came out of Edmondson High in the 1960s, became an All-America running back at Penn State, and spent three years in the NFL, two of them with the Colts.

Tony is a cornerback for coach Joe Paterno's unbeaten (3-0) Nittany Lions.

But this is more than the story of a father and his son playing for the same college. That sort of thing happens fairly commonly.

The Pittmans are a high achieving family. While Tony may never become the All-American and pro player his father was, he is extraordinary in his own right.

Charlie Pittman today is 44 years old and is an executive at the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, training to become either publisher or general manager. He's been there for a year and a half after spending 10 years with the Erie (Pa.) newspaper.

Tony Pittman went to one of the country's most elite prep schools, Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. He has two younger sisters, one of whom is at Andover now.

Tony was recruited by Harvard, Yale and Princeton and turned down all three to go to Penn State, where he's a 3.8 student in engineering.

"Tony is a great student," says his dad, who will attend the Maryland-Penn State game. "He chose Penn State not just because I went there, but because he wanted to be challenged in both arenas -- academically and in football. Penn State has an outstanding engineering school.

"Joe [Paterno] tells me Tony will get a lot of playing time the next two years. I'm a big Paterno fan. He has the best interests of the kids at heart, yet he's tough on them and he wins. I told Tony he'll appreciate Joe even more after he leaves Penn State."

A Baltimore man who knows Charlie Pittman well is Ernie Accorsi. He was the public relations director at Penn State when Charlie was being touted as a Heisman Trophy candidate, and he was the Colts' PR man when Pittman played here in 1970 and '71.

"This is the classic case of opportunity provided by athletics," says Accorsi, who is living in Towson after resigning as GM of the Cleveland Browns.

"Charlie was a great back at Penn State. He was on a Lenny Moore track going into his senior year.

"He had an incredible opening game against Navy, but in the second game against Colorado he hurt his ankle. He was never quite the same, and Lydell Mitchell and Franco Harris came on to grab the headlines that year.

"I'm not surprised Charlie is successful. He showed his character in that senior year. Instead of pouting when he got hurt, he continued to be a leader on the Penn State team."

Though Charlie is living in North Carolina, he knows what's going on in his old hometown.

"My mother still lives in West Baltimore," he says. "She called me re

cently to tell me Baltimore was in an uproar because John Unitas was coming down here to a pep rally."

Pittman has ties to all three leading cities in the NFL expansion derby, since he also played a year with the St. Louis Cardinals.

"From here," he says, "it appears that Charlotte has the edge. Our NBA Hornets sell out every game but the Orioles sell out every baseball game. Baltimore is a better football town than St. Louis. I'd like to see Baltimore and Charlotte get in whenever the NFL expands."

* Toronto Blue Jays general manager Pat Gillick pointed out an amazing fact at a luncheon at the Camden Club yesterday. The two teams that wind up their series here tonight, the Jays and the O's, this year, combined, are going to outdraw the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers and Angels.

Said Gillick, a onetime Orioles farmhand: "Together, these two clubs are going to draw 7.5 million [3.5 or 3.6 million of that by the Orioles]. Who would ever have thought we'd outdraw New York and Los Angeles?"

* Billy Boniface, the trainer who saddled Deputed Testamony to a Preakness victory in 1983, says the seventh annual Maryland Million, to be run Saturday at Pimlico, has bucked an industry trend by drawing a record number of entries. More than 200 horses were pre-entered and all 12 races will have limit fields.

New York stakes races are sometimes drawing fields of five or six. What's more, the Maryland Million is 75 percent sponsored; the Breeder's Cup was only 50 percent sponsored.

"I think what this shows," says Boniface, "is that the owners and breeders in this state have accepted the Maryland Million program."

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