'The Bus' rolls on with Altoona, State College

Jerome Bettis (AP)

By Jason Ratliff / MLB.com | February 6, 2006 5:28 AM ET

With the Pittsburgh Steelers' 21-10 Super Bowl win over the Seattle Seahawks in his hometown of Detroit, six-time Pro Bowl running back Jerome Bettis has managed to exit at the pinnacle of his career.

But while "The Bus" may be hanging up the spikes that carried him to the fifth-highest career rushing total in NFL history, his relationship with another set of spikes is just beginning.

Bettis and fellow Steel City sports icon Mario Lemieux are a part of Curve Baseball LP, the ownership group that operates the Altoona Curve and the brand-new State College Spikes.

Bettis was on hand to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day at Altoona's Blair County Stadium in 2002, shortly after joining the franchise. He'll cap off his storybook season by getting married this summer, but Curve Baseball president Chuck Greenberg says he expects the longtime Steeler will be active with the new State College team as well.

"We don't have anything scheduled with him yet," said Greenberg on Monday, while returning home from his trip to the Super Bowl. "During the season, he's got a job to do, so we haven't talked in a while. But he's been up pretty regularly, and I anticipate we'll be able to work something out."

Lemieux, already a member of the NHL's Hall of Fame, made headlines less than two weeks ago when he sadly announced the end of his legendary career due to an irregular heartbeat.

Greenberg says the last couple weeks have been unique. "We've got one current Hall of Famer and one future Hall of Famer, and it's been a great pleasure having both of them in our group. I'm proud of them and just happy for them as friends."

The Spikes -- the New York-Penn League affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals -- are moving from New Jersey to State College, where they'll begin their inaugural season in June, pending approval of the NYPL, Minor League Baseball and a review by the Baseball Office of the Commissioner.

The Altoona Curve opens the 2006 season at home on April 6 at 6:35 p.m. ET, against the Trenton Thunder. They'll also host the Eastern League All-Star Game on July 12.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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