Longtime Steelers broadcaster Bill Hillgrove retires

The Steelers change play-by-play announcers less often than they change head coaches — three times since 1968 — but there’s a rare opening in Pittsburgh in the broadcast booth.

Bill Hillgrove, 83, announced Thursday that he is retiring from the job he accepted in 1994 after being hand-picked by late owner Dan Rooney. He spent 30 years in the role, replacing Jack Fleming, who had held the job for 39.

“Bill Hillgrove’s contributions to both the Steelers Radio Network and the Steelers organization have spanned nearly three decades that included him serving as our play-by-play announcer for four Super Bowl appearances and countless other memorable games during his tenure,” team president Art Rooney II said in a team statement Thursday. “He has played a major role in broadcasting to our amazing fans on our radio network, but he also found time to be part of so many special events since he began working alongside the great Myron Cope on the airwaves in 1994. Bill will truly be missed by Steelers Nation, but we are excited for him and his family to enjoy his retirement.”

Hillgrove has lived in Pittsburgh throughout his life, bring raised in the Garfield section, graduating from high school and then studying sports broadcasting at Duquesne. He said he intends to continue calling Pitt basketball games, which he has been doing full-time since 1970, and Pitt football, which he started in 1974.

“As to the next chapter of my life, I’ll do Pitt football, and I’ll do Pitt basketball because my brother is the engineer, and we room together on the road,” Hillgrove said.

“Like we did as kids growing up in Garfield, we’re sharing the same bedroom, only this one’s bigger. I have all of July almost all of August to myself now. Every once in a while if the Steelers aren’t playing on Sunday, I can get on a boat and enjoy the fall foliage at Conneaut Lake, which I was never able to do before. So it’s all very positive in that way.”

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