A coterie of 140 close friends gathered for a luncheon at The Carlton on the morning of the last regular season Pittsburgh Penguins game at Mellon Arena, and paid tribute to the ultimate sportsman: Paul Martha. Martha, who now lives in St. Louis, near his son J.P. Martha, returned to Pittsburgh for the moving tribute.
Martha leaves an indelible stamp of the face of Pittsburgh sports. Starting as early as high school, at Shady Side Academy, he became the school’s star quarterback, and graduated in 1960. Moving on to the University of Pittsburgh, he continued his star status as a running back and was named a consensus All-American in 1963, becoming the 1964 first-round draft pick as wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he played until he was traded to the Denver Broncos in 1970.
During his tenure on the Pittsburgh Steelers, Martha took night classes at Duquesne University to become a lawyer, and following his NFL career, he started one in law at Reed, Smith, Shaw, and McClay. He later left the firm to become an owner of Youngstown Steel Tank in Youngstown, Ohio, where he met Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. Martha became a prominent staff member in the DeBartolo family sports empire, which included the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Francisco 49ers, the USFL franchise Pittsburgh Maulers, and MISL franchise Pittsburgh Spirit. He ran the Civic Arena, now Mellon Arena, and was part of the management teams that saw the 49ers win four Super Bowls and the Penguins win their first two Stanley Cup Championships. He is the only professional sports manager to own six championship rings.
The luncheon brought together many of the people who Martha has worked with over the years, from those who helped guide his career, such as Edward DeBartolo Jr., to those whose careers he helped launch, including Len Komoroski, president of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chris Wright, president of the Minnesota Timberwolves. The event was conceived of and planned by Ida D’Errico and Tinsy Lipchak, who worked in marketing at Mellon Arena under Martha’s leadership.
Larry Richert of KDKA-Radio/TV emceed the luncheon’s presentation. Later in the day, Martha’s fans and supporters re-joined to attend the last game of the regular season at Mellon Arena. The game — and the event — were both winners.