The team was founded in 1921 as Hope-Harvey. The team's name was based on two items. The first was a fire station, located in the city's Hope ward, where the team would dress and shower for home games. The second item was based on Dr. Walter Harvey, the physician who tended to injured players. According to Art Rooney, Dr. Walter Harvey never charged the team or players for his services. The team’s uniforms were handmade by the players or members of their families so each one was sewn differently.
Rooney not only served the team as a player-coach, but also recruited players from the neighborhoods and local colleges. His brothers, Dan Rooney Jr. (uncle of longtime Steelers chairman Dan M. Rooney) and James P. Rooney, played on the team in its early years, the only time the three were players together on the same football team. After a few years of play, the team was sponsored by "Loeffler's Electronic Store", who renamed the team after one of its best selling products, the Majestic Radio. Hence the team became known as the Majestic Radios. The team's affiliation with Loeffler's ended prior to the team's 1931 season. When James decided to run for the Pennsylvania General Assembly, Art renamed the team the "J.P. Rooneys" as a way to promote his brother's campaign. James Rooney would go on to win the election easily. Rooney's semi-professional teams met a fair amount of success, including at least two Western Pennsylvania Senior Independent Football Conference titles in the early 1930s.
In 1933, as Pennsylvania's blue laws were about to be repealed, Rooney applied for and received a franchise in the National Football League. The Rooneys morphed into the Pittsburgh Pirates, and were renamed the Steelers in 1940.