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50 Years Later: Sports Museum kicks off campaign to honor Immaculate Reception anniversary


Last updated 10/25/2022 at 11:41am

The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, part of the Senator John Heinz History Center’s family of museums, has unveiled a special campaign to commemorate the Immaculate Reception – the greatest play in NFL history – to mark its 50th anniversary this season.

On Dec. 23, 1972, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris helped change the fortunes of a franchise and a city by making the legendary catch and touchdown run, which secured the Steelers’ first-ever playoff victory and led to four Super Bowl championships during the 1970s.

This season, the Sports Museum will help honor the Immaculate Reception’s golden anniversary with exhibition updates, a special public program, merchandise, and more.

The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum is the home of the Immaculate Reception year-round and features a lifelike figure of Franco Harris making the catch (its iconic twin is located at the Pittsburgh International Airport!), Harris’ cleats from the play, the Three Rivers Stadium field turf where it happened, and other 1970s Steelers artifacts.

Beginning Nov. 9, the Sports Museum will add rare and never-before-seen artifacts and historic images to its Super Steelers exhibition that examine the life and career of Harris, the New Jersey native and Penn State star who captivated Pittsburgh with his hard-running style and intensity during his rookie season in 1972.

The installation will feature the football from the Immaculate Reception play, owned by local fan Jim Baker, that will be on public view in a museum exhibition for just the second time ever.

Additional Franco Harris artifacts include:

• Football jersey from Rancocas Valley High School (N.J.)

• “Franco’s Italian Army” helmet

• NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award

• Pro Football Hall of Fame jacket

The Franco Harris installation within the Super Steelers exhibition will be on view beginning Wednesday, Nov. 9, through early 2024.


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