Playing Through the Whistle, S.L. Price

Wednesday, October 18, 2017 • 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
History Center - Library & Archives Reading Room
FREE, but does not include access to museum exhibitions.

Add to Calendar10/18/2017 07:00 PM10/18/2017 08:30 PMAmerica/New_YorkBooks in the ‘Burgh: Playing Through the WhistleAs part of the Books in the ‘Burgh literary series, join the History Center for a reading, discussion, and book signing with S.L. Price, author of “Playing Through the Whistle.”Heinz History CenterHeinz History CenterfalseMM/DD/YYYY

As part of the Books in the ‘Burgh literary series at the History Center, join S.L. Price, Sports Illustrated senior writer,  for a reading, discussion, and book signing of his book, “Playing Through the Whistle.”

Admission to this event is free, but does not include access to museum exhibitions.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

For more information, please contact Caroline Fitzgerald at or 412-454-6373.


Register online for this and other Books in the ‘Burgh events.


About Playing Through the Whistle

Aliquippa, Pa., a small town twenty-six miles down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh, is famous for two things: the Jones & Laughlin steel mill, an industrial behemoth that helped win World War II; and football, with a high school team that has produced numerous NFL stars, including Mike Ditka, Ty Law, and Darrelle Revis. Aliquippa has also produced an NBA legend, an Oscar- and Grammy-winning composer, and a U.S. Surgeon General. As Price observes, “Through some combination of proximity, geography, friction, hardship, talent, conflict, drive—not to mention a loathing for steelwork—the town had stumbled on a knack for producing excellence.” But the steel mill, once the fourth-largest producer in America, employer of over fifteen thousand people in a town of twenty-six thousand, started withering in the 1980s and closed for good in 2000, and crime and drugs rushed into the void.

S. L. Price tells the story of this singular place, its people, its players, and, through it, a wider story of American history from the turn of the twentieth century. Aliquippa has been many things—a rigidly controlled company town, a booming racial and ethnic melting pot, a battleground for union rights, and, for a brief time, a sort of workers’ paradise. Price expertly traces this history, following the growth and decline of industry and the struggles and triumphs of Eastern European immigrants and blacks from the South willing to trade their grueling labor for a better life for their families.

Price interlaces this history with the birth and development of high school sports in Aliquippa, from a minor pastime to a source of civic pride, to today, when it can sometimes seem like the only way out of a life of poverty, drug abuse, and crime. And yet the tough town of Aliquippa endures, churning out state champions, charismatic coaches, and legendary players. “Playing Through the Whistle” is both sportswriting at its very best and a masterpiece of narrative journalism that will make you cry and cheer in equal measure.

About S.L. Price

S.L. Price. Photo credit: Simon Bruty.
Photo by Simon Bruty

S. L. Price, a senior writer at Sports Illustrated since 1994, is the author of three previous books: “Heart of the Game,” “Pitching Around Fidel,” which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and “Far Afield.” He lives in Washington, D.C., with his family. He tweets at @bySLPrice.