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The Tribune-Review sports staff is conducting a daily countdown of the best players in Pittsburgh pro and college sports history to wear each jersey number.
No. 13: Dan Marino
He was the coachs son, so it was only right that a very young Dan Marino had to accept he was the last kid given the chance to pick his jersey number.
No. 13 was left in the pile. He grabbed the jersey and wore it for the rest of his football life and, eventually, into college and NFL immortality.
Raised on Parkview Avenue in Oakland, Marino was No. 13 as a youth, at Central Catholic, Pitt and for the Miami Dolphins until he retired in 1999. He is the Tribune-Review staffs clear choice for the best Pittsburgh athlete to wear a number some people consider unlucky.
Not so for Marino.
Now 59, he never won a national championship for Pitt or Super Bowl for the Dolphins, although he reached one as a second-year player. But he carved his name indelibly into those teams history books on the strength of a right arm unsurpassed by almost every other quarterback over all these years.
Pitt retired his number after his last season (1982) before he earned induction into the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame and the inaugural class of the Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame.
At Pitt, 38 years after his final season, he holds records for touchdown passes in a career (79) and season (37 in 1981, tied by Rod Rutherford in 2003). He threw for 8,597 yards, a record at the time.
The Panthers won 42 of 48 games during Marinos four seasons, including one of the most dramatic victories in Pitt history. Marino hooked up with tight end John Brown for a 33-yard touchdown strike with 35 seconds left in a 24-20 victory against Georgia in the 1982 Sugar Bowl.
Penn State coach Joe Paterno called Marino, the best quarterback Ive ever coached against.
Marino was chosen by coach Don Shula in the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft 27th of 28 picks and played 17 years, all with the Dolphins. At the time of his retirement, he held NFL records for passing attempts (8,358), completions (4,967), yardage (61,361) and touchdowns (420). Today, he is fifth in each category behind (in varying orders) Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning.
Florida States Bobby Bowden was right when he said, Hes a pro quarterback in college, really.
Other Pittsburgh athletes were not afraid to wear No. 13.
Duquesne basketball player Mike James scored 1,411 points, with 348 assists and 201 steals from 1995-1998 before entering the NBA.
He played 12 years for 11 teams and was the first undrafted player to average more than 20 points in a season (20.3 in 2005-06 for the Toronto Raptors.).
Stan Terlicki wore No. 13 for the Pittsburgh Spirit, an indoor soccer team that played at the Civic Arena for seven seasons from 1978-1986, outdrawing the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1983-84. Terlicki was co-MVP of the Major Indoor Soccer League in 1981-82, with 74 goals and 43 assists in 43 games.
In six seasons, he scored 252 goals, with 161 assists.
Nick Bonino played for the Penguins 2016 and 17 Stanley Cup champions. Bonino totaled 66 points in two seasons (27 goals, 39 assists), but he was at his best in the 2016 run when he had 18 points in 24 playoff games (four goals, 14 assists).
After the second championship, he visited his hometown of Farmington, Conn., and ate his moms homemade spaghetti right out of the Stanley Cup.
Also, Roberto Clemente wore No. 13 as a rookie in 1955. He switched to 21 that season, according to baseballreference.com.
Check out the entire Burghs Best to Wear It series here.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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