Thursday, January 31, 2013

January 31, 1920: Joe Malone scores a record setting 7 goals

On January 31, 1920, Joe Malone scored 7 goals for the Quebec Bulldogs in a 10-6 win over the Toronto St. Patricks. It was said to be one of the coldest nights of the Winter that year in Quebec and only 1,200 fans were in attendance. Those 1,200 fans witnessed something that hasn't been done since with Malone's 7 goals setting an NHL record that stands to this day.Malone nicknamed "The Phantom" was one of hockey's most prolific goal scorers in the early days of the NHL and surprisingly enough he had an even better game in the 1913 Stanley Cup Finals when he scored 9 goals in the first game of the series, this game predated the NHL and the Bulldogs were a member of the Canada Hockey Association.

When the NHL formed in 1917 his Quebec team dispersed their players throughout the NHL, Malone landed with the Montreal Canadiens where he became the first scoring leader in the history of the league. Averaging 2.20 goals per game in his first NHL season, it is far and away the highest goals per game average in the history of the league. He scored 44 goals in just 20 games. It would be impossible to keep up that pace in the modern day NHL, but just to put it in perspective, if someone could they would score 180 goals in a season. In his first NHL game he scored 5 goals against the Senators in Ottawa, which is the record for any Candiens player for goals in a road game. He also scored at least one goal in his first 14 games in the NHL, that streak is the second longest scoring streak in the history of the league. Malone would return to the Bulldogs after they resumed operations in 1919 and he continued his scoring.

The night he scored 7 goals, his Bulldogs were struggling with a 1-10 record and their opponents were a game under .500 with a 5-6 record of their own. Both teams were out of contention, so it was hardly the premier matchup of the night, considering the Ottawa Senators were hosting the Montreal Canadiens with a playoff spot on the line. Even with that being the case Malone would make the game one to be remembered. He scored his first goal almost 7 minutes into the first period, Toronto's Ivan "Mike" Mitchell kept him from putting the biscuit in the basket the rest of the first but an offensive explosion was on the way. Just 50 seconds into the second period Malone notched his second goal of the game, then added two more before the period was over. With 4 goals already Malone was on fire and the Toronto coach decided to try his backup goalie Howard Lockhart, the St. Pats tried desperately to get back into the game as they cut the led down to 7-6 in the third before a 5 minute major against Toronto set Malone up for his fifth and sixth goals of the game. He would light the proverbial lamp one more time late in the game scoring his historic 7th goal and preserving a 10-6 win for the Bulldogs. It was an absolutely dominating performances by one of the best players of his time.

The Bulldogs moved to Hamilton, Ontario and became the Tigers following that season and Malone went with them playing for two seasons with the Tigers before finding himself with the Canadiens, where he finished his career. In his latter years in Montreal he did not produce, in fact he only scored one goal in his last two seasons in the NHL. He played 7 seasons total and in his first 5 he was one of the most dominant scorers in the game scoring 142 goals over 5 years. Before  there were names like Gordie Howe, Rocket Richard, and Wayne Gretzky, there was a guy they called The Phantom and that guy was a badass who owns one of the most unbreakable records in the history of the NHL.  Malone was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1950 and was a two time Stanley Cup Champion in 1912 and 1913 as a member of the Bulldogs.

Only two players have come close to the  record in the modern era, St. Louis' Red Berenson in 1968 and Toronto's Darryl Sittler both scored 6 goals but couldn't match what Malone had done. Here is a list of player who scored 5 goals or more in one game:

Here is a look at his stats:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January 30, 1983: John Riggins and the Redskins win Super Bowl XVII

On January 30, 1983, at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California, the Washington Redskins beat the Miami Dolphins 27-17 in Super Bowl XVII. It was a very different road to the Super Bowl for both teams because the strike shortened season in 1982 reduced the schedule from 16 to 9 games and the standard playoff formats were thrown out, instead the top eight teams from each conference went to the playoffs seeded 1 through 8. The Redskins under second year Head Coach Joe Gibbs dominated the short season posting an 8-1 record and landing the #1 seed. The Dolphins led by Don Shula posted an almost equally impressive 7-2 record and landed the #2 seed in the AFC. Both teams would have to earn their way to the big game as the Dolphins beat the Patriots, Chargers and Jets while the Redskins took care of the Lions, Vikings, and Cowboys. It was a rematch of Super Bowl VII, the year the Dolphins completed the only perfect season in the history of the NFL. This time the Redskins would prevail.

They were two very different teams coming into the big game. The Dolphins passing attack led by quarterback David Woodley ranked last in the league but they did have a decent running game with Andra Franklin and Tony Nathan and a great defense to offset what they lacked in the passing game. With one of the best offensive lines of the era nicknamed "The Hogs" controlling the line of scrimmage the Redskins had Joe Theismann under center and he finished the season as the top rated passer in the NFC. Theismann had two great receivers that helped him achieve that in Charlie Brown and Art Monk and to compliment the passing game a 33 year old fullback named John Riggins led the way on the ground and he would shine in the postseason rushing for 444 total yards in the three playoff games leading up to the Super Bowl.

With more than a 100,000 screaming fans in attendance the game was sure to be a battle that would not be forgotten. The Dolphins struck first on their second possession of the game with a 76 yard bomb from David Woodley to Jimmy Cefalo. After they forced the Redskins to punt, Woodley tried another long pass only to be laid out by defensive end Dexter Manley who caused the quarterback to fumble, it was then snatched up by defensive tackle Dave Butz, which in turn led to a 31 field goal for the Skins. Miami didn't let the momentum stay with their opposition long. After a big 42 yard kick return from Fulton Walker the Dolphins were setup at their own 47. They drove it all the way down to the 3 yard line before settling for a field goal of their own. The short drive took 13 plays and more than 8 minutes before they had to settle for the field goal that gave them a 10-3 advantage. Washington answered right back with an 11 play 80 yard drive that featured four runs, as well as, a huge 15 yard reception by John Riggins. The drive was capped of with a 4 yard touchdown pass to wideout Alvin Garrett  in the corner of the endzone, knotting it back up at 10 apiece. The tie didn't last long, kick returner Fulton Walker took the ensuing kickoff 98 yards to the house and put the Dolphins back on top with a 17-10 lead, which they took into the locker room at the half. It was the first kickoff return for a touchdown in Super Bowl history.

Once the second half got underway the teams traded punts. Washington looked like they had something going as they reached midfield then Theismann handed off to Alvin Garrett on a reverse that he took 44 yards and put the Skins at the 9 yard line, they failed to punch it in for 6, as the Dolphin defense stood tall in the redzone, but still walked away with a field goal and narrowed the gap between them and their opponent.  Later in the third quarter Theisman was intercepted by linebacker A.J. Duhe only to have Woodley throw an interception minutes later and give it right back to the Skins. Theismann returned the favor by throwing another pick at the 1 yard line. It was the first time in Super Bowl history that three consecutive drives ended with interceptions. Luckily that was the end of the interception festival and in a way the last interception by the Dolphins hurt them. They only moved the ball a couple of yards before having to punt, which gave the Redskins great field position at their own 48. After 3 quick runs by Washington, that put them at the Dolphins 43 yard line, they face a fourth and one. It  might have been the most important play of the entire game as Joe Gibbs decided to go for it. Gibbs called for a run from Riggins and the fullback gave him a lot more than a first down as he went the distance and put Washington up 20-17. There would be no looking back for Washington as they controlled the rest of the game defensively and offensively.  The Dolphins were forced to punt multiple times, then they controlled the ball well as Riggins pounded it up the gut of the Dolphins defense. In the fourth quarter Theismann and company put together a long drive that led to a touchdown reception by Charlie Brown it was the nail in the proverbial coffin. With the score 27-17 and under two minutes to go, Shula put in his backup quarterback David Strock, but  he couldn't save the day and the Redskins were Super Bowl Champions.

It was a battle that was dominated in the second half by Washington as they won their first championship since 1942. Riggins would prove to be the MVP with 166 yards on the ground as well as a key 15 yard reception in the game. When it was all said and done Riggins had rushed for 610 yards in the postseason, simply astounding. The 33 year old played a few more years in Washington before hanging up the cleats. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992 and I'm sure that Hall of Fame performance in the Super Bowl helped that happen. Joe Gibbs led his team back to the Super Bowl the following season where they lost to the Raiders, it still proved to be very good times in Washington. Under Gibbs they won the Super Bowl in 1987 and in 1991 which led Gibbs to being inducted in the Hall of Fame, while he did return to the Redskins in 2004 he wasn't able to have the same success he had earlier in his career. Regardless, Joe Gibbs and John Riggins both Washington Redskins legends that had one great day on January 30, 1983.

Highlights from the game:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January 29, 1980: Cavaliers beat the Lakers in a quadruple overtime thriller

On January 29, 1980, the Los Angeles Lakers took on the Cleveland Cavaliers in Cleveland, Ohio. It was a contest that took four overtimes to decide a winner with the Cavs coming out on top 154-153. The Lakers were led by Kareem Abdul Jabar's 42 points, and had 7 players with double figures. While the Cavaliers had 3 players with more than 30 points each. The game was decided by forward Mike Mitchell with just two seconds to go in the fourth overtime, when he drained two free throws. It is considered to be one of the best regular season wins in the history of the Cavaliers organization.

It was by far the highlight of that season for the Cavaliers, as they went 37-45 on the year and missed the playoffs. The Lakers on the other hand were able to put the loss behind them and went onto put up a 67-22 record on their way to winning the NBA Championship in 1980. It would be the first of 5 Championships for the Lakers in the eighties and the first Championship under new owner Jerry Buss. I think it's safe to say that every fan that bought a ticket to the game that night was treated to one helluva ballgame. It took 68 minutes to decide a winner and in the moment the Cavaliers were victorious I'm sure the roar of the crowd in the Coliseum at Richfield damn near brought down the house.

I would have loved to come up with a better rundown of this game but just couldn't find a lot about it. I usually can come up with multiple articles about the topic to help me put together the blog, not really the case with this one. Regardless, it was an extraordinary game that I would have loved to seen with my own eyes.

Here is a look at some other historically long games in the history of the NBA:

Monday, January 28, 2013

January 28, 1953: Fred Saigh, the owner of the St. Louis Cardinals convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to prison

On January 28, 1953, the owner of the St. Louis Cardinals Fred Saigh was convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to 15 months in a federal penitentiary, he only served 5 months before being released. Just two days after the conviction Saigh met commissioner Ford C. Frick and agreed to sell the team. He made the decision to sell to Gussie Busch for $3.75 million dollars. Busch owned the Anheuser Busch Brewery based out of St. Louis. The decision to sell to Busch was based solely on the team staying in St. Louis, with Saigh turning down significantly higher offers out of Milwaukee and Houston.

Saigh made a fortune as a lawyer and an investor, as well as, an owner of prime commercial property in the City of St. Louis. When he learned that the owner of the Cardinals Sam Breadon was in failing health he brought in another well established businessman from the St. Louis area named Robert Hannegan and together they purchased the team for $4 million dollars in 1947. By '49 Hannegan had health problems of his own and sold his share of the team to Saigh before passing away later that year. Saigh had to contend with the St. Louis Browns who not only shared Sportsman's Park, but many thought they were trying to run the Cardinals out of town. After getting in the legal trouble over tax evasion the decision he made to sell to Gussie Busch totally changed any possibility of  that happening. Busch had much deeper pockets than Bill Veeck the owner of the Browns. With Veeck realizing that he wouldn't be able to compete with the new owner of the Cardinals, he sold Sportsman's Park to Busch and by 1954 the Browns were headed to Baltimore to become the Orioles.

It all started with the legal troubles for Saigh, it's hard to say what would have happened with the franchise if he was able to remain the owner but him being forced to sell brought on the Gussie Busch era in Cardinals baseball. His ownership of the team might have been short, but what it entailed had a great historical impact on the city. Busch was the primary owner from 1953 until his death in 1989, in that time the Cardinals won 6 National League Titles and 3 World Series Titles. It seems so crazy to me to think of the Cardinals residing in any other city than St. Louis. You just never know how much it would have changed history if a different decision was made or even if Saigh was able to avoid the charges and remain owner of the team. Sort of an interesting thing to think about.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

January 27, 1991: Giants take on Bills in Super Bowl XXV

On January 27, 1991, the Buffalo Bills took on the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXV in Tampa, Florida. The game would be a very memorable showdown that went down to the wire. The Giants led by Head Coach Bill Parcells put up an impressive 13-3 record in the regular season. only to lose starting quarterback Phil Simms in week 15 of the season to a leg injury then suffered a major blow when they lost rookie running back Rodney Hampton in the divisional round of the playoffs. With those injuries it looked like they might slow down the the team, but that wouldn't be the case. Jeff Hosteler a career backup quarterback stepped in under center and 33 year old running back Ottis Anderson took over in the backfield. The Giants team also had an impressive defense that included linebacker Lawrence Taylor who helped the team finish first in the league on defense. The Bills under Head Coach Marv Levy also had a 13-3 regular season and featured Jim Kelly at quarterback, Thurman Thomas in the backfield along with a Andre Reed and Don Beebe at wide receiver the offense would have a remarkable year scoring 428 points leading the entire NFL in offense. The team also had some pretty notable names on the defensive side of the ball like Bruce Smith, Darryl Talley, and Cornelius Bennett. They were truly one of the most dominant teams in the league at the time.

Both teams had a first round bye in the playoffs. The Giants had the #2 overall seed in the NFC and had to face the Chicago Bears in the divisional round, they absolutely destroyed the Bears 31-3 leading them to the NFC Championship game in San Francisco. The Giants squeezed passed the 49ers team with a 15-13 win and punched a ticket to the Super Bowl. The Bills came into the playoffs with the #1 seed in the AFC and had to win an absolute shootout with Miami 44-34 before blowing out the L.A. Raiders 51-3 in the AFC Championship game. With two teams from the state of New York going to the big game it had all the makings of an instant classic before the ball was even kicked off.

With more than 73,000 in attendance the game started off with the Bills receiving the ball first, they were forced to punt. Hostetler and the Giants put together a 10 play, 58 yard drive that would be capped off with a 28 yard field goal from the leg of Matt Bahr. The Bills came right back as Jim Kelly led them the other direction with a 5 play drive, that took them 66 yards which included a 61 yard reception by wideout James Lofton. The drive led to a 23 yard field goal by Scott Norwood and the score was tied at 3-3. After the Giants were forced to punt Jim Kelly put together an impressive 80 yard drive, that took 4 minutes and 27 seconds, with Andre Reed hauling in 4 receptions for 44 yards before running back Don Smith punched it in from one yard out, the Bills were up 10-3. After trading punts,the Giants found themselves deep in their own territory at the 7 yard line, Hostetler hit Anderson for what should have been a 7 yard gain but a holding penalty brought it right back to the 7. One play later Hostetler got tripped up and Bruce Smith tackled him in the endzone for a safety, putting the Bills up 12-3, it looked like the they were in control. The Giants answered back late in the 2nd quarter with a huge 87 yard drive that was finished off with a pass from Hostetler to wideout Stephen Baker for a 14 yard catch and score. With just 25 seconds left in the half the Bills lead had been cut down to 12-10 and momentum had definitely shifted toward the Giants.

The Giants looked dominant when they came out after the half. Hostelter led his team on a 14 play, 75 yard drive that included a crucial third down conversion a huge 24 yard field goal by Anderson. Then an absolutely great effort by wide receiver Mark Ingram, who broke multiple tackles on another third down conversion. After even another third down conversion from Hostetler deep in Bills territory Ottis Anderson scored from one yard out and gave his team a 17-12 lead. When the Bills took over on offense things continued to unravel for the team, to the point that they found themselves facing a 4th and 25, which forced them to punt from their own 38. Their punter Rick Tuten put the ball up in the air and it only traveled 20 yards giving the Giants a short field as they started form their own 42. Momentum shifted back toward Buffalo when New York attempted to convert on 4th and 2. Hostetler handed off to Anderson and Bruce Smith stuffed him for a two yard loss, it gave Buffalo an opportunity that wouldn't be wasted as they headed into the fourth quarter. The Bills stormed down the field, going 63 yard in just four plays, with almost half of those yards coming on a 31 yard touchdown run by Thurman Thomas. The Bills led 19-17 but this one was far from over. The Buffalo defense was being stretched thin with their offense working so fast, they could barely catch their breathe before they were back on the field trying to stop the Giants offense. While the Bills worked quickly the Giants put together another long drive. This time it was a 14 play, 74 yard drive that stalled out in the redzone, but still led to a field goal for the Giants. With New York up 20-19 they forced a Buffalo punt and took back over before having to punt the ball back to their opponents. With just 2 minutes and 16 seconds left on the clock, the Bills took over at their own ten yard line. They tried desperately to put themselves in field goal range. Kelly scrambled twice for a gain of nine yards, then Thurman Thomas ran the ball on a draw play out of the shotgun formation for 22 yards, converting on 3rd and 1. A quick strike to Reed and another run by Kelly put the Bills in Giants territory. Kelly hooked up with tight end Keith McKellar then Thomas ran it another 11 yards, that put them at the Giants 29, Kelly spiked the ball with just 8 seconds left on the clock and the offense had put themselves in position to win the game with a field goal. Scott Norwood stepped up for the 47 yard attempt and had plenty of distance in his kick but it sailed wide right of the goalpost and the New York Giants were Super Bowl Champions.

It was the first of four consecutive Super Bowl appearances for the Buffalo Bills, however they were never able to finish off the season with a Super Bowl victory. They were an absolutely great team that unfortunately might be remembered best for getting there but not winning it all. I'm sure it left a void in a lot of the players on that roster. I hope the fans in Buffalo appreciated how great of a team they were because every other team in the AFC would have killed to be in their position. When it comes to the Giants they came into the game as 7 point underdogs but did a masterful job of controlling the clock and executed a defensive game plan that ultimately brought The Lombardi Trophy to New York. I was just a kid when this game was played and I'll never forget it. The ball sailing just wide of the goal post is lasting image that broke the hearts of Buffalo fans while Giants fans rejoiced. It was a classic.

Video from the final minutes of the game:

Saturday, January 26, 2013

January 26, 1960: Pete Rozelle named commissioner of the NFL

On January 26, 1960, Pete Rozelle was chosen to be the new commissioner of the NFL. The decision came after the passing of Bert Bell, who had held the post since 1945. Rozelle, a native Californian, Rozelle got his start in the sports world after serving in World War II. He returned home, enrolled in junior college and soon found a part time position in the publicity department of the Los Angeles Rams who had just moved to town from Cleveland. After transferring to University of San Francisco he helped bring their basketball program national attention while working as the new athletic director for the school. By 1952 he found his way back to the Rams when Tex Schramm hired him to be the publicity director for the team. He did take a year off from the team to take on a job promoting the 1956 Olympics which were to be held in Melbourne, Australia. Upon his return he came back to the Rams organization and soon found himself as General Manager of the team. As GM he turned the Rams into a contender and also made them a profitable team for the first time since they had arrived in the Los Angeles area.

When Bert Bell passed away in October of 1959 the owners had a very important decision to make on who would lead them into the future. After casting 23 ballots they decided on  the 33 year old Pete Rozelle which was a surprise to many. A lot of people thought that the decision to go with Rozelle was becasue he was so young and that the owners would be able to manipulate and basically control him. He proved them wrong as he took control of the league but he also proved they made the right choice because the league would have unprecedented success in the years to come. When he took over as commissioner people around the league almost looked at the role as someone who helped keep the peace when there were disputes between owners, Rozelle had a much bigger picture on what the role should mean to the league. His goal was to bring prestige to the league that had just 12 teams and hardly could be found on a television unless they were in a major market. One of the first things he did was move the NFL offices from Philadelphia to New York which was home of all of the major networks. Rozelle negotiated a deal that brought the NFL to CBS in 1962 and had to jump major hurdles in the process like going before Congress to give the NFL an exemption from antitrust laws. The deal he made with CBS was to be equally shared throughout the league, the legendary Vince Lombardi once said what Pete did with television probably saved football in Green Bay.

Rozelle did have some rough times to deal with in the early days. One of them being an antitrust lawsuit brought against the NFL from their rival the AFL, although the lawsuit was eventually thrown out there was friction between the two leagues. He also had to suspend star players Paul Hornung and Alex Karras because of gambling allegations which brought him praise among the owners in the league. One of the hardest decisions Rozelle ever made in his tenure as commissioner was to give the go ahead to play football just two days after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, it was a decision that bothered him for many years. He would later call it the most regrettable decisions he had ever made.

As the 60's rolled on the NFL/AFL rivalry heated up, players salaries were on the rise as both leagues got into bidding wars for football's biggest stars. After realizing the potential the inflation of salaries could have on both leagues Rozelle helped orchestrate a merger between the leagues. With the biggest hurdle being having the merger approved by Congress. Rozelle promised Congress that the teams would stay in their current cities which was one promise he couldn't keep. The merger was completed in 1966 with the first Super Bowl coming in January of 1967. Within a few years it was the most watched game in the United States, due in large part to the huge upset by the New York Jets in Super Bowl III. Rozelle was also instrumental in bringing Monday Night Football to the televisions of every household in North America in 1970. As the popularity of the league grew there would always be a hurdle in front of the commissioner to jump.

In 1974, the NFL suffered the first work stoppage because of labor disputes, while it was solved quickly, it was  a sign of things to come in that part of the game. The NFL had competition for the first time since the AFL with the World Football league starting up. They only lasted one year but drove the prices up in the ranks of professional football.  He also had to contend with owners wanting bigger and better stadiums with the cities they resided footing the bills. They threatened to move out of those cities if they refused. Rozelle fought hard to keep each and every franchise where they were but ran into Al Davis the owner of the Oakland Raiders. In a bitter court battle Davis sued the NFL for his right to move his team to Los Angeles  and won only to move the team back to Oakland  years later. Rozelle would have another league to contend with in the early 80's when the United States Football League formed, they were another short lived league that helped the prices rise for the cost of an NFL player. The 80's brought several challenges the USFL attempted to sue the league and were ultimately awarded $3.00 . There were drug scandals and a short strike in 1987 that Rozelle decided to bring in replacement players after one week, rather than have the league miss anymore games due to the work stoppage. The strike only lasted three weeks before the issues were resolved and the regular players were back. Rozelle would retire in 1991 after dedicating more than 30 years to the NFL.

Rozelle had his challenges and he faced them head on. He was a true innovator and one of the best promoters the world of sports has ever seen. What he did with the NFL is what we see today, every Sunday in households all across America, we are tuned in to see our favorite team play. If it wasn't for Pete Rozelle that NFL emblem might not be what it is today, he changed the game. When I tune into the Super Bowl I'll be sure and remember Pete Rozelle built the league into the juggernaut that it is, truly one of the greatest commissioners that the any league in United States has ever seen.

Friday, January 25, 2013

January 25, 1972: Luke Witte gets mugged in Minnesota

On January  25, 1972, one of the ugliest brawls in the history of college basketball took place at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Ohio State Buckeyes came to town, to take on the Gophers in a Big 10 matchup. The Minnesota team were many years removed from success, in fact the last time they won the Big 10 title outright was in 1919, they also had shared the title in 1937. Under new head coach Bill Musselman the attitude was changing in Minnesota, when asked how long did it would take before he expected the team to win, he said "We'll win right off. I don't believe in rebuilding years." He brought in several players and quickly made them a contender in the conference. The team brought new found interest in the squad and the arena was packed with 17,775 fans ready to cheer on their Gophers.

Before the game even started the Buckeyes were booed by the fans as they took the floor. Then the Gophers liked to put on a show while warming up, featuring a Harlem Globetrotter like show that had them showing off their ball handling skills and dribbling techniques with loud rock music coming through the P.A. speakers that got the crowd and team pumped up. The game was well played and officiated early. The first signs of trouble came as the players were walking off the court at halftime. The Gophers Bob Nix held up his fist as Buckeyes center Luke Witte was walking by him, Witte shoved the fist out of his way and barely caught Nix on the jaw in the process. It seemed rather insignificant at the time, but that little incident really pissed off some of the Minnesota team and a pretty bad seed had been planted.

It was good game on the floor as the Gophers took a 32-30 lead with just a little under 12 minutes left, then the Buckeyes rang off ten straight points to give them a 40-32 lead. The Gophers tried desperately to come back but never came closer than 5 points. With the major momentum shift the crowd also shifted into an unruly mess, throwing whatever debris they could find, onto the floor. The fans in the house were warned that the team would receive a technical foul if they kept it up which only pissed them off more as they booed and threw even more debris. When play resumed the Buckeyes were well on the way to a victory, then with 36 seconds to go the 7 foot center Luke Witte was driving the lane, for what should have been an easy layup. That easy layup turned into a cheap foul by Clyde Turner then Corky Taylor caught Witte with a right hook to the ear. After Taylor was called with a flagrant foul and ejected the crowd booed and the boiling point was upon us. With Witte on the floor Corky Taylor extended his arm in what looked like an act of good sportsmanship. It was far from that, as he helped him up Taylor kneed Witte in the groin and sent him falling back to the floor, all hell broke loose. With fist flying from every direction Witte was on the floor laying helplessly when he was stomped by Gophers player Ron Behagen. Meanwhile with players and fans all ganging up on the Ohio State team Mark Wagar was pummeled by future MLB Hall of Famer Dave Winfield who had just joined the Minnesota basketball team. When order was finally restored Witte and Wagar were sitting on the floor beaten and bruised. Witte didn't recall the end of the melee, he just recalled being in the emergency room. Witte received the worst damage as he had to have 29 stitches in the face and a scarred cornea with the latter effecting him for the rest of his life and his career. The referees would decide to end the game rather than play the final 36 seconds giving Ohio State a 50-44 victory.

The commissioner of the Big 10 Wayne Duke handed down stiff penalties to Ron Behagen and Corky Taylor with suspensions for the rest of the season, many thought that Winfield should have also been suspended. In the end it was a classless on the part of the Minnesota and their fans. As I dug into this story it also made me wonder why the Gophers coach Bill Musselman wasn't suspended also, he instilled the "win or die" mentality and basically set his team up for this terrible event. A lot of the events I get to use for On This Day In Sports are truly great events that are more than fun to talk about, not the case with this one. Fights will always happen in sports, emotions are running high and everyone involved wants to win the game. When a team doesn't win one of the best things they can do is lose with a little class, just play the full game and give it everything they have. Unfortunately Bill Musselman might have taught his players how to play some ball, but he sure in the hell didn't teach them how to play with a little sportsmanship.

Video of the incident:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

January 24, 1981: Mike Bossy scores 50 in 50

On January 24, 1981, Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders became just the second player in NHL history to score 50 goals in just 50 games. It hadn't been accomplished since Maurice "Rocket" Richard did it in the '44-'45 season. As a rookie in 1978 Bossy scored a rookie record 53 goals on his way to winning the Calder trophy as rookie of the year. Bossy was a key part in the Islanders dynasty of the early eighties, as they won 4 Stanley Cup Championships from 1980 to 1983. In the '82-'83 season he recorded 83 assists a record for a right winger. What he was doing was simply astounding, for a kid that fell to the middle of the first round and many thought he wouldn't cut it at the highest level, he was proving them wrong, not only could he make the cut he was going to be one of the top players in the league.

Bossy had read about Rocket Richard's accomplishments from a very early age and even told friends before the that 50 in 50 was the feat he hoped to accomplish. When he got to 40 goals in 41 games Bossy told the press "Rocket's record is what I'm aiming for", the race was on. In a two week period he brought he the total up to 48 goals in just 47 games, a media frenzy followed. In game 48 the Islanders  spanked the Calgary Flames 5-0 but Bossy wasn't able to score with the Flames putting all their focus on stopping him. It pissed off quite a few of the Islanders players that Calgary's main goal wasn't to win the game it was to stop Mike Bossy, sort of a bush league move on their part. They put that game behind them and moved onto Detroit. The Red Wings didn't use the same tactics as the Flames but they still covered him well keeping him scoreless, Bossy even missed two prime opportunities for empty net goals in that contest. Still stuck at 49 goals he had one more chance to achieve what the Rocket achieved.

Game #50 was at home against the Quebec Nordiques and things weren't looking good through the first two periods for Bossy, he hadn't even put one shot on goal. He sat in the locker room in the third period with his stomach tied in knots and even admitted to almost giving up on the idea and just staying in the locker room, it's a good thing he cleared his head and jumped back out there. He later acknowledged he had played terrible in the first two periods then found his game in the third. Even though he was skating much better and he started putting some shots on goal Bossy still hadn't scored with just a little more than 5 minutes to go, the time was now. Bossy came out on the power play and took a pass from Bryan Trottier and Stefan Personn then flipped it in with a backhand shot passed the Nordiques goalie Ron Grahame, he had just notched #49 and knew that 50 was right there. Bossy had new life and destiny was on his side, with just 1:29 to go he took a perfect pass from Trottier and shot it straight through the 5 hole for goal #50. All 15,008 fans at the Nassau Coliseum went crazy as he reached the milestone that hadn't been done in 36 years. With the Islanders up 6-4,  he did have his opportunity to surpass Richard's mark but chose to pass it to Trottier who finished off the 7-4 win for the Islanders. When asked about it later he said he owed it to Trottier, very classy on Bossy's part. Rocket Richard was on hand to congratulate the player and Bossy was more than gracious to have the legend in attendance. It was an absolute great night in the history of the NHL. Bossy would score at least 50 goals 5 more seasons following that historic season but never in less than 60 games. He retired in 1987, then was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991. Mike Bossy is one of those players I would have loved to see with my own eyes. Just looking over his numbers just makes you know it was beyond exciting to watch that guy, in that season he scored 50 in 50 those fans in New York and the fans of the NHL were treated with one magical season by one helluva player.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

January 23, 1984: The Buffalo Sabres win ten consecutive road games

On January 23, 1984, the Buffalo Sabres became the first team in NHL history to win 10 consecutive road games, with a 5-3 win in Boston. It is an accomplishment only matched by the St. Louis Blues in 2000 and then the New Jersey Devils in 2001. The '83-'84 Sabres had Scotty Bowman leading the way as head coach and featured a future Hall of Famer Gilbert Perreault as well as a cast of up and coming stars in Dave Andreychuck, Phil Housley  and Tom Barrasso. The team started the season posting a 16-10-3 record before the road winning streak began. After posting back to back road losses to the Blues and Blackhawks on December 6 and 7th, the road winning streak began.The win against the Bruins on December 10, 1983, it was the 30th game of the season, started it all. Buffalo did not lose a road game until game 53 on February 2, 1984, ironically the streak began in Boston, had the final win there and had it end there.

It was a solid season in Buffalo as they went on to post a 48-25-7 record that led to a playoff birth. Unfortunately for them it looked like they peaked too early. Whether it be injuries or the long season catching up with them, they struggled in the last stretch of the season and were knocked out in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Quebec Nordiques. Even with the lack of playoff success they accomplished something that hadn't been accomplished before and that earns them a right to be on this page. I'm sure they were a fun club to watch especially when you look at some of those names that they had on that roster.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January 22, 1973: Down goes Frazier!!! Down goes Frazier!!! Down goes Frazier!!!

On January 22, 1973, George Foreman took on the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World, Joe Frazier, the fight would be dubbed "The Sundown Showdown" as it was fought in Kingston, Jamaica. Foreman, an Olympic gold medalist in 1968 stood 6' 3" and was a massive human being with great talent. His record was 37-0 coming into the title fight with 34 of those wins coming by knockout. "Smokin Joe" Frazier had won Olympic Gold in 1964 and had an impressive victory against Muhammad Ali in 1971. Frazier came into the match as a 3 to 1 favorite with a 29-0 record, the 24 year old kid nicknamed "Big George" would surprise him and the world.

As soon as the bell rang the upset was in progress. Foreman came out pummeling Frazier with a fury of punches ranging from solid body shots, to crushing uppercuts. As Foreman connected with punch after punch Frazier hit the floor for the first time. Announcer Howard Cosell proclaimed "Down goes Frazier!!! Down goes Frazier!!! Down goes Frazier!!!" as Foreman was stunning the world. Just 1:35 seconds into the second round Foreman put him on the ground for the sixth and final time in the bout, Arthur Mercante called an end to the fight, declaring Foreman the winner by technical knockout. The fight may not have been a long battle but it was an epic event as Foreman pulled off the huge upset and became the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World.

Foreman would go onto defend the title successfully several times before meeting Ali in the famous "Rumble in the Jungle" in 1974. Ali got the best of George in that one and took the belt. Foreman, 20 years after losing the title to Ali, regained the the belt after beating Michael Moorer in 1994. Foreman's career was a great one that I believe was defined by "Down goes Frazier!!! Down goes Frazier!!! Down goes Frazier!!!"

Video of the fight:

Monday, January 21, 2013

January 21, 1969: Stan Musial is elected to the Hall of Fame

On January 21, 1969, Stan Musial was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.  Musial was born in the steel town of Donora, Pennsylvania which is where he first picked up a baseball. After playing the game with his brother Ed and friends Musial joined a semi pro team in Donora called the Zincs.Originally he was a pitcher and that is what got him discovered by a one of the Cardinals' scouts. In 1937 the team signed him to a minor league contract and the rest is history. After a shoulder injury in the minors Musial was moved to the outfield. He excelled in the minors with his famous cork screw stance and was called up to the majors September 17, 1941. In his short stint with the Cardinals late in the '41 season he was impressive, hitting .426 in 12 games. It was just a sign of the great things to come.

What followed was the one of the greatest careers to ever be played in a Cardinals uniform. Musial spent his entire 22 year career with the St. Louis Cardinals hitting 475 home runs while recording 3,630 hits with 1,815 of them coming at home and 1,815 on the road he was a model of consistency. The list of accolades are long at the time of his retirement he held 17 Major League records, 29 National League and 9 All Star Game records. The list of accolades is long, he played in a record  24 All Star games was a 3 Time World Champion as well as a 3 time National League MVP. It doesn't stop there, in 1945 he missed an entire season when he joined the service, like many of his peers at the time serving their country was bigger than any game they would ever play. In 1948, Musial was just one home run shy of winning the triple crown, something he would have accomplished if it wasn't for one home run not counted becasue of a a game being rained out. In 1954, Musial hit 5 home runs  in a doubleheader which was only accomplished one other time in 1972 when St. Louis native Nate Colbert hit 5 jackertons in a double header for the San Diego Padres. In 1957, Musial became the first $100,000 player in the National League. When he had an off year hitting just .259 in 1959 Musial insisted that the team only pay him $80,000, something that would be unheard of today. Musial held a high standard for himself and wanted to prove he was worth the money he was paid. He bounced back with a .275 year in '61 then in '62 he brought his average up to .330. Musial played one more season in '63 before retiring, while his playing days were over the impact he would have on St. Louis is something that is still felt to this day.

As many of you know I was born and raised in St. Louis and Cardinals baseball is part of who I am. I have always admired Stan Musial, in fact there is no other player I admire more than him and there never will be. The incredible thing about my admiration of Stan Musial is it goes well beyond what he did on the field, he was truly a great human being. As we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. today it should be noted that Musial openly supported African American ballplayers like Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron. Stan never looked at any person and judged them by their color he judged them as people and would go out of his way to make sure they knew he respected them as men. There are tons of great stories about how well he treated people, from taking some time to talk to the customers at his restaurant to keeping his phone number listed for several years taking phone calls from fans at all hours of the night. With the passing of Stan Musial this week I could not pass up my opportunity to pay my respects to Stan, he truly was The Man. When he was inducted into the Hall of Fame he said "I hope I gave baseball as much as it gave to me", he undoubtedly gave baseball and the world around him everything he had.

Here's a short video from the Baseball Hall of Fame:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

January 20 , 1985: Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers dominate Super Bowl XIX

On January 20, 1985, Super Bowl XIX took place at Stanford Stadium in California. It was a heavyweight matchup between the 15-1 San Francisco 49ers against the 14-2 Miami Dolphins. The 49ers led by Head Coach Bill Walsh had a team that featured quarterback Joe Montana, running back Wendell  Tyler, and an offensive line that featured 3 Pro Bowlers. With Don Shula at Head Coach Miami had a few weapons of their own, quarterback Dan Marino had a record setting year as he passed for 5,084 yards and threw for 48 touchdowns, wide receivers Mark Clayton and Mark Duper both exceeded 1,300 yards and they each hauled in more than 70 passes on the year. On the defensive side of the both teams had their stars also most notably defensive end Doug Betters for Miami and cornerback Ronnie Lott for San Fran.

With 84,059 roaring fans in the stands Super Bowl XIX began.  The Dolphins struck first, after forcing a Niners punt, they drove the ball 45 yards in six plays then Uwe von Schamann kicked a 37 yard field goal to give Miami the first points of the day. The Niners responded quickly, after a few quick passes from Montana and a run by Tyler they faced a crucial 3rd and 7 situation, Montana took it in his own hands converting for the first down with a 15 yard run. One play later Montana found Carl Monroe, and the running back took it in for a 25 yard touchdown. Dan Marino and the Dolphins went into a no huddle offense completing 5 straight passes with the last one being a touchdown to tight end Dan Johnson. By the end of the fist quarter the Dolphins led 10-7 and it looked like a shootout was on the way.

In the second quarter the San Francisco team took control of the ballgame. Bill Walsh made a key adjustment on defense that slowed the Miami passing attack. After forcing a Dolphins punt that was returned to mid field the Niners offense was back to work. Once again Montana worked a little magic with his legs this time scrambling for a 19 yard gain. Then he found Dwight Clark for a 16 yard gain, after a short run by Tyler Montana, nailed Roger Craig for an 8 yard touchdown, they were up 14-10 and there was no looking back. The next time San Francisco got the ball they had great field position right form the start and they didn't wast the opportunity. They started off the possession with Tyler and Craig running the ball, then back to back receptions by tight end Russ Francis that put them at the 11. Craig ran it 5 more yards before Montana ran it in himself from six yards out. Miami quickly went three and out and after San Francisco returned the punt to mid field they were poised to inflict more damage. On the first play of the drive Doug Betters knifed through and sacked Montana for a 5 yard loss, any momentum gained from that sack was quickly subsided after the quarterback hit wide receiver Freddie Solomon for a 20 yard gain. Initially when Solomon caught the ball he was drilled by Dolphins safety Lyle Blackwood causing him to cough it up, it looked like a huge break for Miami but the play was called dead and San Francisco retained the ball. Just 5 plays later Roger Craig punched it in from two yards out extending the lead to 28-10. The Dolphins would find some success late in the 2nd quarter, Marino strung together a drive where he completed 7 of 9 before stalling out in the red zone, it setup another field goal for von Schamann. Then Miami squib kicked the ball straight to San Francisco offensive lineman Guy McIntyre. Instead of falling on the ball McIntyre decided to try and return the ball, it was a decision that he would regret. McIntyre was leveled by rookie running back Joe Carter and he put the ball on the turf, it was snatched up by wideout Jim Jensen and led to another von Schamann field goal. the score was 28-16 at the half and it looked like the Dolphins had momentum swinging their way.

In the second half Miami received the ball and lost any momentum that was gained in that first possession. Right out the gate Tony Nathan was tackled for a loss by 49ers defensive end Dwaine Board. An incompletion by Marino, then he was sacked for a nine yard loss by Board who had come out with his hair on fire.  After another punt that had the Niners at mid field once again they capitalized with a Ray Wersching field goal. The 49ers put the final nail in the coffin late in the third quarter as they capped off a 70 yard drive with a touchdown pass from Montana to Craig. The score was 38-16 and the defenses took over for both clubs the rest of the way, posting goose eggs in the fourth.

The numbers put up in this game were remarkable. It was the first Super Bowl that both starting quarterbacks threw for 300+ yards. The two teams combined for 851 yards of total offense which was a record at the time. Marino threw for 318 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, he was truly one of the greatest quarterbacks of his time but would not ever get the chance to redeem himself as the Dolphins never did find themselves in the big game after that season. Montana took home MVP honors with 331 through the air with three touchdowns and 59 yards on the ground with a touchdown. The 59 rushing yards for Montana was a Super Bowl record for a quarterback until 2000 when Steve McNair rushed for 64 yards in when Tennessee lost to St. Louis. It was truly a remarkable performance by Montana and he was well on his way to becoming one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. The 49ers of the eighties were one of the most dominant teams I can remember, when Joe Montana fell to them in the 1979 draft great things would follow. They won the Super Bowl for the first time with him under center in 1981, then had the victory over the Dolphins in 1984, before winning back to back championships in '88 and '89. When I think of the greatest dynasties in the history of the NFL, that stretch of football in San Francisco might just top the list.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

January 19, 1974: UCLA's 88 Game Winning Streak Comes To An End

On January 19, 1974, in South Bend, Indiana, the longest winning streak in the history college basketball came to an end when Notre Dame knocked off the UCLA Bruins by the score of 71-70. It was the end to one of the most remarkable winning streaks in the history of sports. Before the game even started it was sure to be a good one with UCLA ranked #1 and Notre Dame #2, both teams were undefeated on the season. The Bruins led by legendary coach John Wooden and future Hall of Famer Bill Walton looked like they were about to grab their the 89th consecutive victory. With just three and a half minutes left in the game UCLA was ahead by 11 points then Notre Dame turned it on with a press defense that threw the Bruins off guard.  After scoring 10 consecutive points and an offensive foul by the Bruins, The Irish went right back down the court, Gary Brokaw ditched the ball to Dwight Clay and he hit a jumper from the right corner that put Notre Dame ahead for the first time in the game 71-70, it was gettin crazy in South Bend. After a quick timeout for the Bruins they scrambled down the floor desperately trying to score but Notre Dame's defense stood strong. With just 6 seconds left the Irish knocked the ball out of bounds giving the Bruins one last shot at winning it, it just wasn't to be, they inbounded the ball to Walton and he made an attempt to hit the game winner then several rebounds later Notre Dame got their hands on the ball and the 88 game streak was over. The 11,623 in attendance erupted, running onto the court mobbing the coaches and the players.

It was an unbelievable finish to an unbelievable run. The Fighting Irish led by head coach Digger Phelps had pulled off a monumental win. Phelps created a mindset that they were going to beat the UCLA team. Going as far as, having his team rehearse cutting down the nets, in the days leading up to the event, some of his players even said they thought he was crazy. It's safe to say the Bruins were a confident bunch and they should have been, early in the game they took a commanding lead and talked a little smack, in the end that might have helped motivate rather than intimidate the Irish. By the time the score was 70-59 and a little over three and a half minutes left, Phelps called a timeout and let his team know what was on his mind when he said "If you don't think we can win, get out of here. Go shower right now." he lit a fire that burned hot under the asses of his players and they executed their game plan to perfection. It was a defining moment in the career of Digger Phelps.

The players on the court gave it everything they had. Bill Walton was coming off a back injury, he had missed 3 games and took to the floor that night with a back brace on, despite that fact, he scored 24 points and grabbed 9 rebounds for UCLA. Notre Dame's Gary Brokaw scored 25 points and his teammate John Shumate drained 24. The star of the game Dwight Clay only scored 7 points in the contest, and the only two points he scored in the second half made him the hero of the day. Ironically the last time the Bruins lost it happened on the same floor when Notre Dame knocked off  UCLA on January 23, 1971. What followed the '71 loss to Notre Dame was arguably the most remarkable winning streak in the history of sports. Those UCLA teams led by John Wooden might have been the best college teams to ever step on a basketball court. Just to think about a team winning 10 National Championships in a 12 year span is simply astounding. As dominate as those Bruins teams were, on that day in 1974 Notre Dame was #1.

Great footage from the game:

Friday, January 18, 2013

January 18, 1958: Willie O'Ree becomes the first black player in the NHL

On January 18, 1958, Willie O'Ree of the Boston Bruins skated onto the ice in Montreal making him the first player of African decent to play in the NHL. O'Ree was Canadian born and like Many Canadians hockey was in his blood. He worked his way up to the minor league ranks of the NHL, while there an errant puck that left him 95%in his right eye. O'Ree's injury could have ended his playing career becasue the NHL had rules against players with eye damage because of fear that something could happen to their good eye. Not sure how but O'Ree his his injury and kept on playing the game he loved. When an injury left the Bruins in need of a man O'Ree was called up and history was made.

He only played in two games in 1958 but two years later he got another chance, this time playing in 41 games in the '60-'61 season. He scored 4 goals and had 10 assists by the end of that season, while he would go onto have a long career in hockey that would be the last season he played in the NHL. O'Ree has become known as the "Jackie Robinson of Hockey" while his career in the pros wasn't nearly as long, his historical impact on the game he played was definitely significant. He had to play with fans shouting racial slurs, to opposing players taking cheap shots, it wasn't enough to keep him from pursuing a dream.

Following his first full season in the NHL O'Ree  was traded to the Montreal Canadiens , it wasn't good news for Willie because the Canadiens squad was packed with talent and he had no chance of cracking that roster. He found himself back in the minor leagues, two months after the trade to the Montreal organization he was traded again, this time to the Los Angeles Blades of the Western Hockey League. After 5 seasons with the Blades, O'Ree took his talent to the San Diego Gulls another member of the WHL, he made such an impact there the Gulls retired his #20. Willie O'Ree played from 1961 to 1979 in the WHL minus two separate seasons late in his career that he had short stints in the PCL and AHL. In those years in the Western Hockey League O'Ree won two scoring titles, scoring thirty or more four times. It was said that he never got another shot in the NHL because the eye injury had been discovered by the pro clubs. It's too bad that he had to suffer the injury to the eye becasue he was obviously a great player. The head coach of the Bruins, Milt Schmidt said he was one of the fastest players in the NHL that year he skated in Boston.

While O'Ree has been called the "Jackie Robinson of Hockey" there wasn't major changes in the game that was played on ice like there had been in baseball. In 1974, the Washington Capitals drafted Mike Marson, 17 years after O'Ree played in his final NHL game. I think that world of hockey was much slower to advance becasue the popularity of the sport was primarily in the white community. With that said there is no doubt that racism slowed  the wheels of progress, O'Ree himself said he saw his fair share of black players that could definitely play at the top level. Since that day in 1958 more than 70 players of color have played in the NHL, Willie O'Ree will always have been the first.

His impact on the NHL didn't end the day he played his last game, most recently he was involved in a program to help diversify the game, even as late as 2008 O'Ree received death threats for trying to help the game progress. I think those people who would send such a threat are nothing more than cowards who need to understand that we as a people have come a long way. Racism will always exist, simply put it's because some people are just ignorant. I look at what Willie O'Ree did with some of the greatest admiration. I have the utmost respect for any player that did not let racism keep them from pursuing their dreams. With the holiday that celebrates the life of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. upon us it's important for all people to try and achieve their dreams. The line that stands out to me in his famous speech is "I have a dream that one day all men will be created equal" while there will always be work to do, his dream is being achieved. I know personally I hold no hate in my heart for another human being just becasue they have a different skin color. If I ever had the opportunity to shake the hand of Willie O'Ree it would be a privilege and honor. He helped pave the way for other dreams to be achieved.

The first piece of art is the plaque at the San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Museum's Breitbard Hall of Fame.  Christopher Paluso did the artwork you can view more of his work here:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

January 17, 1989: Miami Race Riots Cause The Heat To Cancel Game

On January 17, 1989, the Miami Heat were forced to cancel their scheduled game against the Phoenix Suns due to race riots in Miami, the Super Bowl was scheduled to be played there within the week. Just one day earlier a Miami police officer attempted to stop a motorcycle for speeding and not coming to a full stop. A police chase would ensue that changed the lives of many. Several blocks from where the chase started was an officer named William Lozano, as the motorcyclist approached  Lozano pulled the trigger to his gun one time hitting Clement Lloyd in the head and killing him. Lloyd was only 23 years old and the passenger on the bike 24 year old Allan Blanchard would later die from the injuries caused by the motorcycle crashing. Both Lloyd and Blanchard were African Americans which caused outrage in the black community, to the point that massive riots broke out in the Liberty City and Overtown neighborhoods in Miami.

Initially the show was to go on, then with the violence nearing the Heat's arena the game was cancelled, just 50 minutes before scheduled tip off. They were two very different teams scheduled to take the court that night, the Phoenix team would get all the way to the Western Conference Finals while the Heat were in their infant years and went 15-67 on the year. That night in Miami it didn't matter what the teams did on the court becasue all hell was breaking loose around them. It took hundreds of officers to bring the rioting under control.  When it was under control the city had sustained more than $1 million dollars in damage, one looter had been killed, 22 injured, and 385 arrests had been made. With violence subsiding the City of Miami held Super Bowl XXIII  just 5 days later.

The officer, William Lozano was tried and convicted of manslaughter but would be acquitted during a second trial. The entire incident is a sad one in my eyes. Lozano was only 30 years old at the time of the incident it ruined him financially and his career was gone the second he pulled that trigger. Clement Lloyd and Allan Blanchard were young men, they were classified as street thugs in Lozano's trial. Even if Lloyd was in possession of marijuana and $1,500 in cash I don't think it's fair to go that far. He was a young man that was making stupid decisions by no means does that give a cop a right to shoot and kill him. This is hardly a story about sports as much as it is about how some of the events that happen in the world around us can affect the sports world. Some things are just bigger than those games we wait for with great anticipation. I came close to deleting this whole thing when I realized how sad of a story it is but it happened and the Heat had to cancel a game, in the grand scheme of things, that game just didn't matter. It was a sad week for the City of Miami, I'm sure that those who lived through it don't bring up that game when the subject comes up.

News footage following the riots, a little over 7 minutes long but gives you great insight:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January 16, 1988 Bill Bidwill announces the St. Louis Cardinals will be moving to Phoenix

On January 16, 1988, the owner of the St. Louis Cardinals football team Bill Bidwill announced his plans to relocate the team to Arizona. The announcement came after years of negotiations with the city on a plan to build a new stadium. With Bidwill insistent that Busch Stadium was no longer up to par to accommodate his team several proposals were made to keep the team in St. Louis, including a brand new open air stadium that would hold more than 70,000 fans. None of the proposals were sufficient enough to please the owner so he started shopping the team. Bidwill flirted with cities like Memphis, Jacksonville, and Baltimore before being lured to the desert. He was set to share Sun Devil Stadium with the University of Arizona in Tempe. The move to Arizona had Bidwill in line to collect more than $17 million a year in ticket revenues and he said the warm climate and the stadium that held more than 73,000 would give the team a chance to be competitive. It was a temporary end to 28 years of pro football in the city of St. Louis.

The Cardinals moved from Chicago to St. Louis in 1960. In 1962 Violet Bidwill Wolfner wife of the late Charles Bidwill passed away. Her sons Bill and Charles Jr. took over the team. Within a couple of years Bidwill was threatening to move the team to Atlanta because they had plans to build a new stadium in place while the Cardinals were sharing Sportsman's Park with the baseball Cardinals. The issue was resolved when Busch Stadium opened in downtown St. Louis in 1966.  The team had limited success in their years in the Gateway to the West. In the sixties they had stars like Jim Hart, Sonny Randle, and Larry Wilson make them a competitive team that were fun to watch. While they did string together some winning seasons it wouldn't add up to any playoff appearances in that decade. The seventies brought us stars like Roger Wehrli, Mel Gray, Terry Metcalf, Dan Dierdorf, and more. In 1972 Bill Bidwill took over sole ownership of the team, the next year he brought in Don Coryell as head coach. The "Air Coryell" offense helped lead the team to three consecutive double digit win seasons from 1973 to 1975, those teams earned the nickname "The Cardiac Cards", they always kept you on the edge of your seat. The decade brought the first playoff appearance for the franchise since 1948. Unfortunately for the team they wouldn't have playoff success, as they were knocked out by the Vikings in '74 then the Rams in '75.  In 1977 the team finished with a .500 record, Bidwill let star running back Terry Metcalf go along with several other stars. In the eyes of many the owner was cheap, which ended up running Don Coryell out of town. Coryell took his prolific offense to San Diego where Dan Fouts executed it with great success. The end of the Coryell era started the Bud Wilkinson era which only lasted for two whole seasons.

The teams suffered through notoriously bad drafts and an owner who would not spend what it took to field a competitive team. From 1978 to 1987 the team only finished with a winning record 3 times. Their only playoff appearance came in the strike shortened year of 1982 when they went 5-4, they went onto lose to the Green Bay Packers. On December 13, 1987 the Cardinals played their last home game in St. Louis, it was a 27-24 win over the New York Giants. The 29,623 in attendance witnessed the end of an era in St. Louis.

In Arizona the team went through many more years of mismanagement under Bidwill. The fans in Arizona would get their first taste at the playoffs in 1999 when Jake "The Snake" Plummer led the team to a 9-7 record.. The Cardinals lost in the Wild Card round to the Vikings and it would be awhile until they had another postseason opportunity. In 2005, Kurt Warner inked a deal that brought him to Arizona, it wouldn't take Warner long to take Matt Leinhart's job. Warner teamed up with Larry Fitzgerald turned into a lethal combination that led them all the way to the Super Bowl. Even though they lost it looked like a franchise that had been down for so long was finally going to be a competitive team. It wouldn't last. Warner retired following the 2009 season, the team has yet to find a quarterback that can lead the team back to the playoffs.

I grew up in St. Louis and I was 10 years old when the football Cardinals left. As a kid I didn't realize how big of an impact it had on the fans, I just always knew that if the name Bill Bidwill came up the conversation wasn't going to be a very nice one. It was a different situation from any other move that has ever happened in the league. When the Colts moved from Baltimore and the Browns from Cleveland people were surprised, in St. Louis people could see it coming from a mile away. It seemed that there was no satisfying the owner, the battle with the local government became so bitter that the fans here knew the end was coming. In 1995, after missing out on a shot at an expansion team Georgia Frontiere moved the Rams from L.A. to St. Louis. By 1999 the Rams brought this city The Lombardi Trophy when they won Super Bowl 34. I would never trade "The Greatest Show On Turf" for what was the St. Louis Football Cardinals. I can see it from both sides of the coin though. One city rejoices as their new team arrives and one city sheds tears as the moving vans roll away. I can always understand when the Rams fans from L.A. say they want their team back or have disdain for the owner that pulled them out of their city, it a tough thing for fans to go through. In St. Louis they have a stadium issue on the horizon with the Rams, as a fan of the team I hope that issue is resolved and they are in this city a long time. When it comes to the Arizona Cardinals, I hope that we see the day when the Bidwill family sell the team. In my opinion they were never good for football and never will be. If they don't I hope for the sake of the Cardinals fans that Bill's son Michael does a better job than his father.

While I was looking for some video involving the move I ran across this, its pretty funny:

An article from the Chicago Tribune following the announcement:

An article from CBS Sports that will give you a look at how despicable of an owner Bill Bidwill was:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January 15, 1936: The Boston Bruins buy Flash Follett for $16,000

On January 15, 1936, Conn Smythe the owner of Toronto Maple Leafs sold William "Flash" Follett to the Boston Bruins for $16,000 at the time it was one of the highest amounts of  money a team had ever given for a player, by today's standards it would be over $250,000. It would be a decision Smythe would come to regret.

Hollett was a two sport player in fact he was discovered by Smythe while playing lacrosse. Smythe persuaded him to try his hand at professional hockey and inked him to a deal. His first few years on the ice were spent in the minor leagues, then in the '33-'34 season the Maple Leafs loaned him to the Ottawa Senators where he spent his first full season in the league. He returned to play for Toronto the following season and played another full year in the league before returning to the minors for a couple of seasons.

When Toronto sold him to the Bruins it would be a turning point in his career. He couldn't have landed with the team at a better time as the Bruins of the 30's were a dominate bunch that had too many future Hall of Famers to list. I would bet that fellow defenseman Eddie Shore had a good amount of influence on Hollett. He earned the nickname "Flash" becasue he was quick on the ice and he used that speed to become one of the best scoring defenseman in the NHL. His defining moment as a player came in Game 5 of the 1939 Stanley Cup Finals, Hollett scored the game winning goal that brought Boston their second championship in franchise history. The series had been played against the Maple Leafs which is why Conn Smythe might have regretted letting the player go.

Flash went onto help the Bruins grab another Stanley Cup championship in '41 and also became the top scoring defenseman in the league, in the '41-42 season he scored 19 goals tying the record for a defenseman, he then followed that season up with another 19 goal performance. Boston traded Flash Hollett to the Detroit Red Wings in the middle of the '44 season, he continued to put the biscuit in the basket. The year he was traded he scored 15 goals between the Boston and Detroit, the last 6 of those goals were in a Red Wings uniform. His first full year in Detroit he became the first defenseman in the league to score 20 goals, it was a record that until the '68-'69 season when Bobby Orr of Boston Bruins scored 21, it should be noted that when Hollett scored 20 goals he did it with just a 50 game schedule by the time it was broken the NHL had expanded to 76 regular season games. His numbers fell off drastically following the 20 goal season and after a contract dispute with Detroit GM Jack Adams he was traded to the New York Rangers. Hollett chose to retire instead of accept the trade to New York.

At the time of his retirement his 132 goals and 181 assists made him the highest scoring defenseman in the league with 313 total points. It was a pretty damn good career for a guy who had been sold for $16 grand a little more than a decade before. Flash Follett was a hard guy to dig up information on, most things I came across were short bits about how he should be in the Hall of Fame and I think those who say that have a great case. He was great player in his time and even if he played in an era that had many of his peers at war it shouldn't diminish what he did on the ice. I think with the fact that he won two Stanley Cup championships and retired as the top scoring defenseman in league history makes him among the league's best.