Dec. 11, 2012
That's right: With a little effort on the part of the Merrick School of Business and the Baltimore Ravens, our own Dennis Pitta, professor of marketing and a veteran researcher and educator, finally got to meet his namesake—Dennis Pitta, tight end for the Ravens and an overall good sport about this little coincidence of names and hometowns. The meeting took place in the offices of Dean Darlene Smith on Dec. 11, where the two Pittas quickly struck up a conversation about what it’s like to share your name with someone else—especially when that person is a popular professional athlete. Their brief chat was covered by local television and print media.
In a surprise that was arranged by Smith and her staff, Prof. Pitta entered the dean’s suite thinking he was being photographed for a Merrick publication. He walked in, right past the football-playing Pitta, before the presence of several UB colleagues and reporters with microphones and cameras caught his attention. Turning to see his namesake, Prof. Pitta introduced himself: "I'm the Dennis Pitta," he said, laughing.
After exchanging some handsome Ravens and UB apparel, Pitta and Pitta sat down to get acquainted and go over some perhaps shared family history. The name Pitta, it turns out, is Portuguese, and, according to Prof. Pitta, it has found its way into three identifiable communities across the United States—one on the East coast, one on the West, and one in Hawaii. The Ravens’ Pitta, who hails from California, said he didn’t think the two are related, but they agreed that it could be possible.
Prof. Pitta, a fan of the Ravens, said he often can’t bear to watch the team’s games until they are nearly over, out of a fear that he will bring bad luck to the team. Still, he said, it’s a major event when his namesake scores—and the cry "Touchdown, Pitta!" is heard around his house at top volumes on those occasions.
Slipping a large Ravens jersey over his signature bow tie and button down, Prof. Pitta beamed: "With my ego, I think it'll fit."
At one point, the somewhat diminutive professor stood on a chair next to his namesake, posing for photos.
"Meeting the other Dennis Pitta has been on my bucket list for a long time," he said later. "Thanks for making it happen."
The soft-spoken Raven presented Prof. Pitta with tickets to an upcoming home game, several souvenirs, and of course plenty of opportunities to brag to his students and fellow professors.
"But right now, I'm uncharacteristically speechless," Prof. Pitta said.
"This meeting was priceless," Smith said. "Dennis is such a good teacher and loyal colleague that it could not have happened to a nicer man. I certainly appreciate Dennis Pitta—the Raven—coming forward to make it happen."