Louis Bimbo Cecconi


The name Bimbo has many connotations but for those from Donora or the University of Pittsburgh community the name or nickname Bimbo is held in reverence and only refers to one person – Louis “Bimbo” Cecconi.

Born in Donora in 1928 to Italian immigrant parents, when Lou was a baby or bambino (Italian for baby), a nickname stuck, and his family started to call him Bimbo.

A late bloomer in sports, Bimbo struggled to make the Donora Junior high basketball team. Once he got to high school, his legend started to surface when he excelled in four sports: football, basketball, baseball and track. It was football and basketball that he was most remembered.

While Stan “The Man” Musial was winning World Series titles with the St. Louis Cardinal in the 1940s, a core of guys was winning WPIAL titles in football and basketball for Donora High School giving Donora its nickname – Home of Champions. One of the main cogs on those powerhouse teams was Bimbo.

Following in the footsteps of another “legend in the making” – Arnold “Pope” Galiffa, Bimbo had big shoes to fill when he quarterbacked the Dragons in 1945.

Bimbo graduated from Donora in 1946 but it was prior to his graduation that he met the girl that would eventually be his wife – Velma, also a 1946 Donora graduate.

After Donora, he was part of the “Donora pipeline” that sent many players to the University of Pittsburgh. It wasn’t unusual for five or six Donora boys on the roster with three of four of those starting.

Bimbo was a fantastic storyteller and shared many with the Donora Historical Society at his home in Jefferson Hills in his basement man cave. We also had Bimbo in Donora a couple of times to share his experiences. He loved to share his exploits while being humble at the same time. Blessed with a quiet sense of humor, he could really “spin a yarn” and catch you off guard with a story that would make you laugh and say, “Really?” Bimbo wasn’t the biggest guy, maybe 5’8″ on a good day, which almost seemed to contradict his statistics when playing for the Pitt Panthers football team. We would ask, “Bim, how did you do all the things you did playing both ways at your size?” Blessed with quickness and shiftiness that eluded defenders, Bimbo would whisper, “They had to catch me first.” It was not unusual for him to throw or run for a touchdown playing QB on offense and return an interception for a touchdown playing defense.

He told us a Stan Musial story once when in the late 1940s, he was playing football for Pitt and headed west to South Bend/Notre Dame by train. Stan Musial was also headed west and happened to be on the same train. At that point in the late 1940s, Stan was already “The Man.” Stan knew that Pitt players were on board and also knew that a couple guys from Donora were playing on the team. He went from train car to train car asking where Cecconi from Donora was. Bimbo never really met Stan before but obviously knew who he was. Eventually Stan found Bimbo and spoke with him like they were longtime friends. Bimbo was awestruck and wondered how Stan knew who he was. Stan always kept up on the news from back home. After their meeting and Stan wishing Bimbo well, all of Bimbo’s teammates gathered around Bimbo and were amazed he was friends with “Stan the Man.” Bimbo played it off like they were longtime friends when in fact he was still stunned that he made the effort to find him.

He told us a story about Deacon Dan Towler at a track meet in 1946. The track meet was in progress at Legion Field. Dan Towler’s 100-yard dash event was coming up, but Towler was not on the field. They knew he was there, so Bimbo ran down into the tunnel to the locker room to look for him. Towler was napping on a bench, so Bimbo had to wake him up. Bimbo said, “C’mon Deaco, you have to get up and run.” Towler ran out of the locker room, up the tunnel, no stretching or warmup, right into the starting blocks of the 100-yard dash, the gun went off and Deacon Dan smoked the field winning easily. Bimbo said to us, “Can you believe that?” Of course, we just shook our heads.

Our last visit with Bimbo was a couple of years ago when we were trying to get more background on a story for our Civic Empathy project with the Heinz History Center. Bimbo played with “Deacon” Dan Towler in high school, and he was the one who told us the Towler story because Towler told him the story later in life. This story was the basis of our project and why we chose segregation in Donora as our theme. After that, we wanted to learn more, and we did. See our Facebook posts on: 11/19/2022 and 02/03/2024. A year or so after that visit, Bimbo would require more assisted care living.

While sports were a big part of Bimbo’s life, family was his true center. He loved to talk about his children and their families and had Sunday afternoon family dinners almost every week.

Even up to a couple of years ago, Bimbo and Velma would welcome the Historical Society to collect more stories to their home with hugs, kisses and cookies. To them, anyone from Donora was family and they loved talking about their hometown. After we were done, Bimbo would walk us out to our car and wish us a safe trip. Just like how Stan treated Bimbo on the train, Bimbo treated us the same way. Why? Because of our shared bond of being from Donora…

God speed Bimbo…

Lou “Bimbo” Cecconi
Donora High School – Donora Dragons – Legion Field
Class of 1946
How famous was Bimbo? First of all, he is identified by his nickname and not his first name Lou. In 1950, Topps Card Company issued the Topps 1950 Felt Back Football set consisting of 100 cards, each measuring about 7/8” by 1-7/16″. These unnumbered cards illustrate a black-and-white player image set against a color background on each front side, with his name, position and school identified beneath the image; the backs are made of felt and bear a college pennant. Of the 100 cards, an amazing three of the players were from Donora: Deacon Dan Towler (W&J) a small college All-American RB, Arnold “Pope” Galiffa (Army) an All-American QB and Lou “Bimbo Cecconi (Pitt) an honorable mention All-American QB (see photo).NOTE: Both Towler and Cecconi graduated from Donora in 1946 so their senior year in college was 1950. While Galiffa graduated from Donora in 1945, he first attended West Point Prep School for one year so graduated from college in 1950 as well. 
In August 2014, during the festivities of welcoming the Towler Family to the Donora Borough Building for the dedication and renaming of Washington Avenue to “Deacon” Dan Towler Way. Lou “Bimbo” Cecconi (left) – a member of the 1945 football team that played with Towler, along with Joe “Chip” DeFelicis (right), hold the trophy that Towler, Bimbo and Chip’s brother Francis “Gus” DeFelicis were awarded for winning the WPIAL football championship 69 years prior. The 1944 WPIAL trophies for football and basketball are in the background along with other Towler memorabilia.
L-R: Bob “Bones” Rosborough (Class of 1953), Lou “Bimbo” Cecconi (Class of 1946) and Rich “Moch” Mongelluzzo (Class of 1957) in 2019 at our Living Legends of Donora Football event at the Donora Public Library where the three exchanged stories of playing for the Dragons, going to Donora High School and growing up in Donora.
To read Bimbo’s obituary and learn more about his family and accolades, click: