A town's pride and a team's shot at glory during the biggest strike in american history
On July 15, 1959, half-a-million steelworkers walked off the job – the largest single strike in U.S. history. Steel production, the lifeblood of American enterprise, ground to a halt. With an economic crisis looming, and with the nation’s industrial inertia at a standstill, weary eyes in the foothills outside Pittsburgh turned to Braddock, PA, an iconic steel town on the Monongahela River and home to a high school football team on the verge of greatness.
Coach Chuck Klausing and his Braddock High Tigers had quietly gone five seasons without losing a game. On the eve of a sixth season, the Tigers stood within reach of the national record for most consecutive games without a loss. It would take another incredible run to make history.
Praise for Striking Gridiron
Selected by the Christian Science Monitor as one of the best football books of the season.
"If you loved Friday Night Lights, you'll also love Striking Gridiron, Greg Nichols' true-life, American-spirited page-turner about a massive 1959 labor strike that shut down the steel-mills economy of Braddock, Pa., but couldn't quash the hopes and dreams of the town's championship high school football team."
—American Profile Magazine
"Greg Nichols illuminates Western Pennsylvania mill-town race, class and labor-management tensions 55 years ago through the prism of high school foot-ball. Rich with detail about life back then…Striking Gridiron captures a slice of Western Pennsylvania as it was, offering an intriguing contrast to today."
“Striking Gridiron is one of the best sports books I have come across. It is an inspiring read with unforgettable characters…This book is a must-read not just for sports fans but for all readers who enjoy a good story.”
—The El Paso Times
“Nichols captures the pace of life in a late-fifties, single-industry town, and also integrates the progress of the strike and its implications for the nation as well as Braddock. An excellent book on a number of levels.”
—Wes Lukowsky, Booklist (Starred)
“The characters are well developed, especially head coach Chuck Klausing, who later coached in the college ranks, and the book teems with game action and local color. . . . Nichols offers a nice bit of Americana with dark undertones; the story speaks to all readers.”
“Not since Friday Night Lights has a writer portrayed a powerhouse high school football team and its coach as vividly as Nichols does the Braddock High Tigers; but Nichols tells a larger tale as well, that of the mid-century American working man whose livelihood may not last the season. The combination is unbeatable.”
—Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life
“Can a team make a town forget defeat? There is tragedy in Striking Gridiron but much more importantly there is also glorious triumph. Greg Nichols takes you back to 1959, on the banks of the Monongahela River in western Pennsylvania, and puts you on the cinder-covered field with the Braddock Tigers as they set records and win games against the backdrop of a devastating steel strike. Nichols has crafted not only a richly detailed chronicle of that memorable season but also the tale of a team’s heroism and a town’s redemption.”
—Mark Beech, Sports Illustrated staff writer and author of When Saturday Mattered Most
“Greg Nichols has written a phenomenal account of a football team on the eve of a national winning record, set in a Pennsylvania steel town during a calamitous 1959 worker’s strike. A deeply inspiring story of a coach who knew how to win, not just on the field and in the locker room, but in the community, and how to overcome racial prejudice and treat all as one. Striking Gridiron is a compelling read with character that won’t let go.”
—Douglas Whynott, author of The Sugar Season
“This book puts you down on the field and takes you out to the streets of Braddock, Pennsylvania, a gritty mill town that faced long odds during the strike of 1959. This is the way a sports book should be written.”
—Art Rooney Jr., Vice President, Pittsburgh Steelers
“Read this story and you will see what America is all about.”
—Bobby Bowden, NCAA record holder for most wins and bowl wins by a Division 1 FBS coach
“Greg Nichols couldn’t have written it better if he’d been on the sidelines with us.”
—Chuck Klausing, coach of the 1959 Braddock High Tigers