But what Artie wanted to be when he finished college was an actor. Art Sr. says he is always running into old friends from among " Pittsburgh theatrical people," and he is proud enough that actress Anne Jackson is his cousin. But he was not eager to have an actor son. "I knew Artie was wasting his time," he says, "but I let him play the string out."
So Artie went off to New York to try his fortune. "Actually my type was pretty much in demand," he says. "I made everybody around me on the stage look like fruits." But after a year or so on the boards Artie turned back toward a role more like his father's.
When racing was legalized in Pennsylvania and the family bought into William Penn Raceway, Artie worked there for a while, it being his turn to get a chance to prepare himself for a managerial job. If he had stayed on he would have become president and general manager instead of John, but Artie wanted to return to the Steelers. "The other day after I got back from a trip to the coast," he says, "my wife heard me telling somebody, 'I saw Dog out there, and he said he's seen Bow-wow.' " Bow-wow and Dog are a couple of scouts. " 'When are you going to get a real job?' my wife asked." Artie smiles.
Most observers, however, feel that of all the boys Tim, 35, is most like Art Sr. They think he has the most spark. But Tim couldn't cling to his Pittsburgh roots because there was no more room for Rooneys in the Steeler setup, and after he had worked for a few years as a stockbroker he went down to West Palm Beach to help run the dog track. Then the brothers took on their biggest challenge: the purchase of Yonkers Raceway for some $48 million.
When Artie came to New York to be an actor he was warned by his brothers that if a man came up to speak to him on the subway it would be for the sake of making unnatural advances. So he nearly slugged the first man who asked him for directions. The Rooney boys are more sophisticated nowadays, but their venture into New York is a hazardous one. Off-track betting has cut into the attendance at Yonkers, the plant there is aged, Sonny Werblin is planning a big new harness track in New Jersey, and there are 13 different unions to deal with.
The first night Yonkers opened under Rooney management—last June—there were pickets outside. Except for the 1968 NFL players strike, it was the only picket line the Rooneys had ever experienced. "If there was ever any trouble in Pittsburgh," Tim says, "there was no question whose side you were on; you were with the unions." But with Pittsburgh unions, he adds, "you were dealing with guys you grew up with."
Tim still thinks that the union people at Yonkers are "regular guys." On other fronts, he has seen to a good deal of repainting; he plans to winterize the clubhouse and grandstand and he has hired a different advertising agency to attract a new crowd. Meanwhile Art Sr., who used to play the thoroughbreds at Yonkers when it was Empire City, cultivates the old crowd. He comes up every couple of weeks and walks around, running into friends at every turn.
Tim also gets help from the twins, John and Pat, who started trying to improve the family fortunes when they urged their brother to write to their father from training camp about how good a rookie quarterback named Johnny Unitas was. Head Coach Walter Kiesling was not giving Unitas a chance. As a matter of fact Unitas had no one to throw to except the twins. Tim dashed off a 22-page epistle but Art Sr. adhered to his noninterference policy. However, right after Kiesling cut Unitas, the Rooneys' car, with Kiesling riding in the back seat, happened to pull alongside Unitas'. Art Sr. leaned across Kiesling and yelled over to Unitas, a Pittsburgh native, "Johnny, I hope you become the greatest quarterback in football."
The twins were pretty good athletes themselves, Pat having something of a future as a pitcher until he hurt his arm. But there was no work for them in sports when they finished college, so John taught high school for three years and Pat worked as a copper salesman. Then Liberty Bell opened and they worked their way up from punching tickets. Now John is president of William Penn, the nighttime harness operation, and Pat is president of Continental, which handles the daytime flat racing.
Before they had established themselves as two of the youngest racing presidents in the country, however, the twins, who are now 34, engaged in a venture which lies behind one of the brothers' observation that "nobody ever lost money on a Rooney except another Rooney."