Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Jim Thorpe’s Remains Remain In Jim Thorpe, PA

October 6, 2015

Thorpe_Memorial

After a five year battle waged by some of Jim Thorpe’s descendants to have the Olympic champion’s remains returned to sacred burial ground in Oklahoma, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a final appeal so the athlete’s tomb in upstate Pennsylvania shall remain unmoved.

The towns of Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk, areas which Jim Thorpe never visited, combined their two towns
to attract tourism and struck a $250,000 deal with Thorpe’s third wife to rename themselves as Jim Thorpe, PA.

A memorial to the famous indian was created in his honor.

In 2010, Thorpe’s son Jack took legal action to move his father’s remains back to the Sac and Fox nation of Oklahoma.

Other family members were opposed to the lawsuit. The high court made its final judgment in the case. Jim Thorpe stays
where he’s been since 1953.

Yogi Berra Took On Yogi Bear In Court

September 24, 2015

Larry_Berra

New York Yankee legend and Hall of Fame catcher Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra recently passed away at the age of 90.

Did you know that he once brought a lawsuit for defamation of character against Hanna-Barbera Productions and their 1958 cartoon creation Yogi Bear?

The legal case was eventually withdrawn as the defense was considered implausible but sources report that Berra was indeed the inspiration for the name.

The producers claim it was all one big coincidence but animation industry insiders think differently.

As an ironic side note, in the announcing of Berra’s death, the AP wire service mistakenly announced the death of Yogi Bear instead.

Oops.

Like Yogi the ballplayer said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

Ty Cobb Was Much Taller Than I Ever Imagined

September 16, 2015

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I’ve heard and read all the stories about Ty Cobb.

He is baseball’s all-time leader in batting averge. His lifetime percentage is .367 — led the major leagues 12 times in that category. Three times, he batted over .400.

It is common knowledge among baseball historians of how nasty and aggressive Cobb’s competitive spirit was.

How driven he was. How hated he was. By his opponents. By his own teammates. He had a reputation all his own.

To be fair, I have also read of other descriptions of Cobb as being a charitable man. Some accounts say he wasn’t as vile or as despicable as the media made him out to be.

However, when I stumbled upon a picture of him standing next to the legendary Babe Ruth, I was shocked by how tall Cobb
was.

I knew that Ruth stood about six foot two inches. The two Hall of Famers were just about standing eye-to-eye.

I somehow thought that Cobb, being the prototype lead-off hitter, was maybe five foot nine inches or perhaps five foot ten inches in height. Tops.

So I reached for my old copy of the Baseball Encyclopedia. The bible of baseball information. The book is huge. Over 1700 pages. Three inches thick.

I looked up “Tyrus Raymond Cobb.” Twenty-four seasons in the major leagues. Mostly played with the Detroit Tigers. Two seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics.

Lo and behold: Six foot one inch.

To quote broadcaster Mel Allen, “How about that?”

That definitely surprised me.

Two Ballplayers Who Hit Three Home Runs In One Inning

September 15, 2015

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George “Mule” Suttles was a Negro League power hitter who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

In 1929, he had one memorable game against the Memphis Red Sox where he slugged three home runs. He didn’t just do it in one game. He did it all in one inning. What are the odds?

What’s even more intriguing is that another player matched that feat the following year in a Texas minor league game. His real name was Eugene Mercantelli but he went by the name of Gene Rye.

Rye hit 26 home runs for the Waco Cubs of the Texas League in 1930 but three of those occurred in one inning of a single game. His third home run was a grand slam and it had outdistanced the other two to centerfield.

Rye’s major league career lasted just 17 games with the Boston Red Sox in 1931. He was used mostly as a pinch-hitter, injured his knee and never hit a home run in the big leagues.

But for one game in 1930, he certainly swung a mighty bat for one magical inning just like Mule Suttles had done the previous year.

Tennis Fans Are Idiots To Blame Loss On Fake Curse

September 13, 2015

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Forget about the Boston Red Sox and the Bambino. Get rid of the billygoat and the Chicago Cubs. And don’t even dare think about any kind of Drake Curse on tennis player Serena Williams.

Williams lost her bid for the U.S Open championship and the chance of winning the Grand Slam of Tennis because she was outplayed by Italy’s Roberta Vinci. No curse. No spell. Just outplayed.

It had nothing to do with any alleged superstition of hip-hop singer Drake watching her play. She lost all on her own.

Were the Brooklyn Dodgers cursed against the New York Yankees when they lost all of those World Series games of the 1940’s and 50’s? No.

Was Mike Tyson cursed against James “Buster” Douglas in his heavyweight title defense years ago? Absolutely not.

The odds against unseeded Vinci upsetting the top seed Williams were 300-to-1. That means during 299 other matches, Williams would have wound up winning. David simply slew Goliath.

Give the foreign lady her due. She came up big.

Jackie Robinson Was A Fighter To The Very End

August 16, 2015

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By joining the Brooklyn Dodgers organization in 1947, Jackie Robinson brought down the color line by becoming the first African-American player in the 20th century to play professional baseball since Cap Anson set that barrier using ugly language back in the 1880’s.

Jackie Robinson not only changed baseball but he helped change the world. He once said “A life is only as important as the impact it has on other lives” and it is truly poetic as being his own personal mission statement.

When one thinks about baseball and the color line, Robinson’s name immediately comes up. One would need to do research to
discover the first black players to enter football (Charles Follis), basketball (Earl Lloyd) or hockey (Willie O’Ree).

I don’t recall if it was teammate Duke Snider or Carl Erskine but someone once claimed that Jackie was a better ballplayer when he was angry. He took out his anger by playing harder and using that aggression to beat his opponents on the playing field.

The problem I see and feel sorry for the most with Jackie is that he never seemed to stop being angry. He understood his role in Branch Rickey’s “great experiment” and carried his race on his back throughout not only his baseball career but throughout his entire life. Some say they think his internal anger helped to kill him at the early age of 53. He suffered from diabetes but I tend to believe that Robinson never learned to take the burden he carried for his people off his shoulders.

After retiring from baseball, Robinson served as vice president of personnel with the coffee company Chock Full O’ Nuts. He tried opening a bank for blacks. He tried selling life insurance to blacks as it was difficult to get coverage. He tried his hand at franchising a Sea Host restaurant which was similar to Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips. Nothing he did outside of baseball was ever able to make up for what he did in baseball and, as sportswriter Dick Young pointed out, that was the real tragedy of being Jackie Robinson. He couldn’t give up the fight because that’s all he ever knew how to do.

He stayed quite active in civil rights. He enjoyed politics. He led picket lines. He traveled to the deep South in support of Dr.
Martin Luther King during the turbulent 1960’s. If he had nothing left to fight for, he was lost.

Adjectives that describe Jackie Robinson include courageous, dedicated and trailblazer.

Other words could be stubborn, hot-tempered and narrow-minded.

Any way that you look at it, Jackie Robinson was an original.

James “Buster” Douglas Drops Mike Tyson

August 15, 2015

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The year was 1990. Mike Tyson’s tenth title defense. 9th round in Tokyo. “I was in the zone, man, I was in that zone, THAT ZONE,” recalls Douglas, “It was just my time to shine.”

Tyson got nailed by a punch and fell down onto the canvas, groping for his mouthpiece, while the referee counted him out. Halfway around the world, Americans who stayed up during the wee small hours of the morning to watch this bout were stunned.

Tyson was knocked out. Odds against James “Buster” Douglas were 42-to-1.

Roger Maris: A Case For Cooperstown

August 15, 2015

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While Roger Maris is not currently inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame, there is a free access glass-encased Roger Maris Museum taking up space in the West Acres Shopping Center in Fargo, North Dakota.

Sportsblogger Steve Buttry makes a compelling argument in favor of Maris for the Hall of Fame. He feels it is the subjectivity of sports writers keeping him out and objectively states that his brief 12-year injury-riddled career is not the only thing working against him.

https://stevebuttry.wordpress.com/2011/11/04/if-journalists-were-objective-roger-maris-would-be-in-the-baseball-hall-of-fame/

Hall of Famer and all-time great Mickey Mantle said that Roger Maris was one of the best all around players he had ever seen.

Broadcaster Bob Costas thinks he should be in. “Stature grows with each passing year…career stats short but historical importance huge.”

Without his mighty 1961 season, he likely wouldn’t even be considered a candidate. Johnny Vander Meer tossed back-to-back no-hitters and Jim Bunning threw a perfect game yet neither of them are Hall of Famers.

Voting rule #6 specifically prohibits automatic elections due to broken records: “No automatic elections based on performances such as a batting average of .400 or more for one (1) year, pitching a perfect game or similar outstanding achievement shall be permitted.”

Yet Maris is a two-time MVP and a four-time all-star whose trade to the Yankees helped them make it to the World Series five years in a row. He also won two pennants and a championship with the St. Louis Cardinals as well.

Buttry points out that Rajah broke Babe Ruth’s single season home run record against all odds when even fans, teammates and sportswriters were rooting against him, making his consideration that much more meaningful.

It’s his belief that writers are still biased against him.

Does Johnny Damon belong in Baseball’s Hall of Fame?

August 14, 2015

JD
One fan says, “Hall of Very Good.”

Another fan states, “No. If he did, they would have to start calling the Hall of Fame the Hall of Players who are Above Average.”

Johnny Damon’s best supporter for a Cooperstown plaque is Johnny Damon himself.

He told Tyler Kepner of The New York Times, “I think even if you look at my numbers now, how high I am on the runs list, how high I am on the doubles list, and you also have to take into account the ballparks that I’ve played in. I’ve played in some pretty tough ones for left-handers. If I played in Yankee Stadium my whole career, my 230 home runs turn into 300, easy.”

Most ballplayers don’t push for their own selection towards such enshrinement.

Baseball fan Tony Cunningham comments on Hardball Times that “Damon was very good, but not quite a Hall of Fame player even if he got to 3000 hits.”

Damon ended his playing career with 2,769 career hits.

Bill Petti of Sports Blog Nation agrees, “End of the day, I think Damon was a very, very good player, but not necessarily Hall of Fame worthy.”

Petti does add, “However, his unique blend of statistics combined with playing for two championship teams in major markets and being one of the most recognizable personalities in baseball will certainly endear him to a number of voters when the time comes.”

Frank Gifford Went Down For The Eternal Count Today

August 9, 2015

tackle_football
Frank Gifford passed away today at age 84. One week shy of his 85th birthday.

The former football player spent his entire 13-year NFL career with the New York Giants before turning to broadcasting on television.

His widow Kathie Lee Gifford announced in a statement that “We rejoice in the extraordinary life he was privileged to live, and we feel grateful and blessed to have been loved by such an amazing human being.”

Chuck Bednarik, his tackler in the 1960 championship game, died last March. Maybe they’ll simply play two-hand touch up in heaven.