Saturday, November 30, 2013

November 30, 1996: Michael Jordan Reaches The 25,000 Point Plateau

On November 30, 1996, in a 97-88 win over the Spurs in San Antonio, Chicago Bull legend Michael Jordan became the tenth player in the history NBA to score 25,000 points in his career. The milestone for Jordan came on the last shot of the game and capped off a 35 point performance. He came into the game a man on a mission as he sat just 35 points away from the mark. He came out the gate a man on a mission, knocking down 15 points in the first quarter alone. By halftime he sat at 22, then he was held scoreless in the third quarter. Things started to drop for him in the fourth and with a 3 pointer with just 3 minutes and 10 seconds left in regulation he found himself two points away from joining the elite list. After missing four shots his teammates kept putting the ball in his hands and he finally dropped the milestone basket through the hoop. It took Jordan 782 games to reach the milestone, only Wilt Chamberlain accomplished the feat in less games. He reached the mark in his 691st game. Jordan finished his career with 32,292 points. His legendary career included 14 All Star appearances, 5 MVP awards, as well as 6 NBA Championship titles. The list of accomplishments by Jordan is too long to list which is one reason why he will always be considered one of the greatest to ever pick up a basketball.

The artwork was done for Nike by HelloVon studios out of London. Check out their Facebook page:

Friday, November 29, 2013

November 29, 1992: Jets Lineman Dennis Byrd Paralyzed

On November 29, 1992, New York Jets defensive end Dennis Byrd was paralyzed after colliding with his teammate Scott Mesereau as they pursued Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Dave Krieg. The play was just another play in a football game, the Jets came with a rush, and Krieg stepped up to avoid it. It was during the third quarter when it all happened, as Krieg stepped up the two players collided violently with Byrd's helmet going squarely into the chest Mesereau resulting in a break in the vertebrae of  the 26 year old. After an exhausting physical therapy Byrd was able to learn to walk again. However, his life would be changed forever. He was in his fourth year in the NFL and was showing that he deserved to be there. The same day he was injured he had recorded the 28th sack of his career, he had 110 tackles under his belt as well and at the age of 26 you would think the best was yet to come. In one moment everything changed. That moment might have ended a promising young career, but it did not end Byrd's impact on people or the game. Less than a year later he would serve as an honorary captain and he walked to the middle of the field for the coin toss. He simply became an inspiration for those that suffer debilitating injuries and for that matter for anyone that realizes you just can't give up when life deals you a bad hand. Following the injury Byrd's #90 was unofficially retired, the Jets organization chose to make it official in 2012 and no man will ever wear that number again as a member of the New York Jets. Before a playoff game in 2011 Byrd sent the head coach of the team Rex Ryan the jersey that had been cut off if his body that fateful day, the coach was so inspired by the gesture that he he asked him to speak to the team before they played the Patriots. They would win that game by the score of 28-21 and punch a ticket to the AFC Championship game. I remember watching this game quite well. In all of my years watching sports I can't remember a game that was as devastating as this one. I was just a 15 year old Chiefs fan when it happened. I do believe that no matter who you have rooting interest in that nobody in their right mind wants to see a player seriously injured. After all sports are all about greatness and accomplishment. Unfortunately, injuries are a part of all sports as well. In the end, the story of Dennis Byrd is truly a story of inspiration. He did not let bad fortune defeat him.

You can watch the play here:

Thursday, November 28, 2013

November 28, 1981: Bear Bryant Wins #315

On November 28, 1981, legendary coach Bear Bryant became the all time winningest coach in NCAA history when he led his Alabama Crimson Tide to a thrilling 28-17 victory over their inter-state rival Auburn in the Iron Bowl. It was the 315th win of Bryant's career which surpassed Alonzo Stagg's record. Stagg amassed his wins over 57 seasons at Springfield Mass, Chicago, and Pacific. The 68 year old Bryant needed 38 years to win 315 games. He made stops at Maryland, Kentucky, and Texas A&M before becoming the head coach of the Crimson Tide in 1958. His stamp on the team was noticed immediately, before he arrived the team won a total of four games in three years and he would give them instant credibility by guiding them to a 5-4-1 record. In his second season he led the Tide to a bowl game and by 1961 he led them to a National Title. It was the first of six National Titles for Bryant at Alabama as he established a coaching career that would also include 13 SEC Championships. The game against Auburn in 1981 will be one the fans of the Tide will always remember. With the coach on the verge of owning one of the most prestigious records in college sports the matchup couldn't had been any better with the arch rival on the agenda. Pat Dye had served as an assistant coach on Bryant's staff from 1965 to 1973 and was in his first year as head coach of the Auburn Tigers. While his team was unranked they would give the #4 Alabama team a fight that to the end. Throughout the game the Tigers proved that being a 13 point underdog was the farthest thing from their mind, they had beaten Alabama in every aspect of the game besides the scoreboard before they finally took a 17-14 lead with 12:58 left in the fourth. The 78,170 fans that packed Legion Field in Birmingham were about to witness a comeback for the ages as well as a historic milestone in the career of Bear Bryant.  With sophomore quarterback Walter Lewis under center, the Alabama offense went to work on a methodical march up the field. Then with a first down at the Auburn 38, Lewis found Jesse Bendross open near the endzone and fired the ball into his waiting arms where he took it in for the score. As Peter Kim split the uprights the Tide had a 21-17 lead and Bryant was mere minutes away from adding an impressive win to his resume. The pumped up crowd chanting "D-E-F-E-N-S-E!!!" "D-E-F-E-N-S-E!!!" would get exactly that out of Alabama as they regained possession at the Auburn 49. Sophomore running back Linnie Patrick pulled a rabbit out of his hat on the first play of the drive as he ran over and around the Auburn defense on a 33 yard dash, two plays later Patrick capped off the drive with a 14 yard run to put Alabama up 28-17. The win came on the last day of the regular season and moved Alabama to 9-1-1 who was in line for a matchup against Texas in the Cotton Bowl. Bryant coached for one more season in 1982 and moved his all time record to 323-85-17, with 232 of those wins coming at Alabama. His record has since been surpassed and today he sits at number 5 for most coaching wins in the college ranks. In my opinion not one of those names that sit ahead of him on that list are as legendary as the one, the only, Bear Bryant.

I said this in a comment on yesterday's post and I'll say it again today; One of the things I am very thankful for is the fact that each and everyone of you follow and support this page. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and your families.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November 27, 1980: Bears and Lions Play to A Thrilling Finish in a Turkey Day Classic

On November 27, 1980, the Chicago Bears won a Thanksgiving thriller in Detroit as they tied the ballgame
as time expired in regulation, then on the first play of the overtime return specialist Dave Williams took the opening kickoff 95 yards and scored the game winning touchdown in the 23-17 Bears victory. The Chicago quarterback Vince Evans was instrumental in the victory as well. He led the Bears back from a 14 point deficit in the fourth quarter. The fourth quarter was less than three minutes old when Evans capped off a nine play 86 yard drive with a 20 yard pass touchdown pass to Bob Fisher that put the Bears within 7 of evening things up. The tying drive of the ballgame began with the Bears on their own 6 and 3:37 left in regulation. Evans marched them all the way down to the Lions 4 using up most of the clock on the way. With just enough time to run one more play, he dropped back, couldn't find a receiver, then darted up the middle  and scored the tying touchdown as the zeros ran across the clock.  The overtime period lasted exactly 21 seconds, after the Bears won the toss Williams was off to the races on the return and victory was theirs. After the game Bears head coach, Neill Armstrong said "I've been in football a long time, but I just don't ever remember a game like this. A touchdown scored with no time left, we win the toss and run the kickoff back for a touchdown" as he sat there stunned by his own good fortune. He joked that the only coaching he did that day was tell them to go out and win the toss before the overtime began. When Williams was interviewed he said "After I caught the ball, I was just trying to get us the best field position possible. I felt I had a chance to go all the way after I cut left and could see the goal line."  He found his running lane and ran all the way to victory, capping off what was a great Thanksgiving for the fans in the Windy City.

Watch Williams take it to the house:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November 26, 1989: Flipper Anderson Stuns New Orleans

On November 26, 1989, in a stunning  20-17 win over the Saints in New Orleans, Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Willie "Flipper" Anderson caught 15 passes for 336 yards which established a record for most receiving yards in one game. Flipper, a second year player out of UCLA literally took matters into his own hands. He was catching everything that Jim Everett threw at him and when they found themselves down 17-3 with time winding down in the fourth quarter the tide began to turn. Anderson hauled in a 46 yard pass that set up a 5 yard touchdown run by Buford McGee that closed the gap to 17-10 with just 2:46 left on the clock. The Saints offense stalled before it started and with 2:04 left in regulation they had to punt the ball right back to the Rams who took over on the Saints 40.  Once again Flipper was the man who got the job done as they drove down the field for the tie. He caught a 14 yard pass that put the Rams at the Saints 15, then eight seconds later he caught a perfectly lofted ball in the right corner of the endzone to tie the ballgame. Flipper wasn't done just yet, in the overtime he caught a 14 and a 26 yard pass to set up the game winning field goal by Mike Lansford who split the uprights from 31 yards out. After the game Everett said "I hope our fans stick in there. We're going to send too many people to the hospital with heart attacks." Anderson rather stunned by his stunning performance said "It just happened. It just hasn't sunk in yet." The previous record  of 309 receiving yards had been set by Kansas City's Stephone Paige in 1985 in a game against the San Diego Chargers. The comeback win was a huge one for the Rams, it moved them to 8-4 and kept them within arms reach of the division leading 49ers who sat at 9-2. The Rams would end up with an 11-5 record and would meet the 14-2 Niners in the NFC Championship game. They were no match for Joe Montana's San Francisco team  that would end up winning the Super Bowl. However, that late November day by Anderson will never be forgotten. Calvin Johnson nearly surpassed it with a 329 yard performance just last month, but no man has been able to get passed that guy they called Flipper.

Only 5 men have achieved more than 300 reception yards in a game. You can check the list out here:

Here's the box score from Flipper's historic day:

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25, 1980: Duran vs. Leonard II "No Mas" "No Mas"

On November 25, 1980, at the Superdome in New Orleans, Sugar Ray Leonard won the WBC welterweight title when his opponent Roberto Duran surprised the world by throwing in the towel in the eighth round. Duran had taken the title from Leonard six months earlier in a brawl in Montreal that would take 15 rounds for him to win by unanimous decision. That wasn't the case in New Orleans. Leonard controlled the fight from beginning to end. Duran claimed that he started experiencing stomach cramps in the fifth which led him to telling the referee "no mas, no mas" in the eighth round. Leonard looked slightly stunned by his decision to call it quits as he lifted his arms in the air before jumping up on the ropes in celebration.Many thought that 29 year old Duran was simply getting beat so handedly that he just gave up to the 24 year old Leonard. Some said that Duran lost heart, his own trainer said he quit because he was embarrassed. It was a crushing blow for Duran who contemplated retirement after the fight. Although, his career would continue after a two year hiatus from the sport and would even fight Leonard 10 years later. Once again Leonard would get the best of him and win by unanimous decision.

You can watch the fight here:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

November 24, 1977: Bob Griese Feasts On The Cardinals Defense

On November 24, 1977, Miami Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese torched an injury depleted St. Louis defense for six touchdowns in a 55-14 route over the Cardinals in a Thanksgiving Day matchup in St. Louis. Griese and company were in control in all aspects of the game. The Miami quarterback connected with wideout Nat Moore for three of the six touchdowns. The first two drives by the Dolphins ended in the endzone with Moore hauling in the first from four yards out, then connected with Duriel Harris on a 7 yard strike. Jim Hart walked the Cardinals down the field on the following kickoff and capped it off with a one yard run by Terry Metcalf to cut the lead to 14-7. That was the closest they would get as the Dolphins took a stranglehold on the ballgame. The running game was setting up the pass and the offensive line was letting Griese do his job at ease. In the second quarter he connected with Moore on a touchdown from 9 yards out, then hit him again with a 28 yarder that ended with 7 more points. With the score 28-7 at the half and 3 touchdowns under his belt Griese was rockin and rollin and the same old song and dance would continue in the second half. In the third he hit Gary Davis on a 17 yard catch and touchdown then he followed it up with his longest touchdown pass of the day hauled in a 37 yard pass that was Griese's sixth touchdown of the day and extended the lead to 41-7. It was simply an ass whoopin and the Dolphins weren't done whoopin that ass. Leroy Harris extended the Dolphins lead to 48-7 with a four yard rush before the third quarter expired then the Cardinals finally answered back with a 19 yard touchdown pass to Ike harris from Jim Hart. The beatdown came to a close with a touchdown run by Benny Malone that capped off the 55 Dolphins points. The story of the day was Griese. I know when I see a six touchdown headline I would expect to read about how the quarterback threw for 350 to 400 yards. That wasn't the case for Griese, he went 15 for 23 and threw for 207 yards in this one. The running game might have been overlooked a bit, collectively they rushed for 295 yards as they handed the Cardinals the biggest defeat they would suffer in their time in the Gateway City.  It not only snapped a 6 game losing streak for the Cardinals, it also started a streak of 12 straight losses for St. Louis.

Here's the box score:

Saturday, November 23, 2013

November 23, 1984: Hail Flutie!!!

On November 23, 1984, Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie launched a last second hail mary that landed in the hands of his receiver Gerard Phelan giving the Eagles a stunning 47-45 victory over Hurricanes at the Orange Bowl in Miami. The last second miracle capped off a quarterback duel for the ages. Miami's Bernie Kosar completed 25 of 38 passes for 447 yards and two touchdowns while Flutie hit on 34 of 46 for 472 yards and three touchdowns. The Hurricanes looked to have the game at hand when Melvin Britton scored on a one yard blast that gave them a 45-41 lead with just 28 seconds to go in the game. With less than a half a minute to go and an 80 yard drive in front of him Flutie knew he had four plays to try and pull off the improbable. He quickly went to work and got the his team to mid-field. The winning play might have started at the Eagles 48 but all in all it covered 64 yards through the air as Flutie was flushed out of the pocket then put it in the air and prayed for a miracle. His prayers were answered as Phelan came up with the ball and Boston College secured the victory. It was a simply unbelieveable play that will stand the the test of time. In that same game the 5 foot 9 Boston College quarterback became the first signal caller in the history of NCAA Football to pass for 10,000 yards. He finished the day with 10,303 passing yards. Flutie would go onto win the Heisman Trophy that year before embarking on his career at the professional level.

Watch the play here:

Friday, November 22, 2013

November 22, 1950: The Lowest Scoring Game In NBA History

On November 22, 1950, the Fort Wayne Pistons ended a streak of 29 straight home wins for the Minneapolis Lakers with a 19-18 victory. The 37 points scored are the lowest total in the history of the NBA. The Pistons took an early 8-7 lead in the first quarter before the Lakers took it back, by halftime the Minneapolis squad held a 13-11 edge. After the half Fort Wayne's strategy of keep away went to new lengths, they held the Lakers to just 5 points as they held onto the ball for more than three minutes at a time without taking a shot. The Lakers were led by big man George Mikan who knocked down 15 of the 18 points but it wasn't enough to overcome the game of keep away that Fort Wayne employed. John Oldham led the Pistons scoring with 5 points on the day which was one more than his teammate Paul Armstrong. Larry Foust hit the game winner with just 6 seconds to go in the game to put the icing on the cake in the lowest scoring game in NBA history. Obviously this happened before the shot clock was introduced to the game. It would be implemented during the '54-'55 season.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

November 21, 1987: Bob Knight And The Soviet Incident

On November 21, 1987, Indiana head basketball coach Bobby Knight added an international incident to his controversial resume when he pulled his squad off the floor after being ejected with a little more than 15 minutes left in an exhibition game against the Soviet National team. The visiting Russians were simply outplaying his Hoosiers in front of a home crowd in Indiana and by the time the fourth quarter rolled around they were down 66-43 before a heated discussion with a ref turned ugly. The coach was whistled for his third technical of the game which carried an automatic ejection. Knight left the the court and he took his team with him giving the Soviet team a forfeit victory. This wasn't the first time Knight's antics reached across international boundaries, in 1979 he was convicted of hitting a police officer in Puerto Rico while he was coaching the United States in the Pan-American games. Throughout his career Knight had a variety of well documented controversies, when you put them to the side he was one of the greatest coaches of his era, winning 902 games which is good for third on the all time wins list, and coached the Hoosiers to three National Championships.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November 20, 1977: Walter Payton Sets The Single Game Rushing Record

On November 20, 1977, Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton broke the all-time single game rushing record when he ran for 275 yards in a 10-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field in Chicago. The record before the contest was 273 rushing yards which had been set by O.J. Simpson one year earlier. Payton came into the game fighting off flu symptoms but once he was on the gridiron he flipped a switch and was off to the races. In the first half rattled off a 144 yards on the ground and would nearly match the production in the second half. The only touchdown of the game was scored by Payton in the second quarter, it was a one yard blast that put the Bears up 7-0. As the two teams headed to the locker rooms at the half the Bears had tacked on 3 more and held a 10-0 lead. Both offenses were struggling with a passing game and the Minnesota offense couldn't get anything going at all while Payton ran circles around their defense. Sweetness moved within five yards of Simpson's record with a 58 yard explosion in the fourth then broke the record two carries later. Minnesota picked up their 7 points late in the fourth when they had the Bears pinned deep and Matt Blair blocked a punt that ended up in his teammate Bob Parson's hands, Parson's took it 10 yards into the endzone, keeping the Vikings from being shutout. It seems that Payton might have been the only offensive player on the field that day in Chicago, his quarterback Bob Avellini went 4 for 6 for 33 yards and one of those two incompletions ended up in the hands of a Vikings defender. Avellini's day just didn't matter with Payton standing in the backfield. The record stood until 2000 when Cincinnati's Corey Dillon ran for 278 yards in a game against the Denver Broncos. Today, Payton's 275 yard performance is good for fifth on the all-time list. Minnesota's Adrian Peterson is the current record holder, he rushed for 296 yards in 2007 in a game against the San Diego Chargers. When Payton broke the record he was a 23 year old kid who was embarking on one of the most storied careers in NFL history. What a career it was.

All-time single game rushing list:

Here's the box score from Payton's 275 yard performance:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 19, 1978: The Giants Fumble Away The Win

On November 19, 1978, the Philadelphia Eagles pulled off an improbable 19-17 victory over the Giants in New York when cornerback Herm Edwards picked up a fumble with just 20 seconds to go in the game and sprinted 26 yards for the game winning touchdown. The Giants were facing a third and short and all they needed to do was snap the ball and take a knee since the Eagles were out of timeouts. Instead, the coaching staff decided to call a handoff to fullback Larry Csonka. That's when the nightmare began in New York. When the Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcik took the snap he mishandled it immediately and it went bouncing across the artificial turf straight until Herm Edwards got his hands on it. It was all over from there as Edwards took it to the house. The head coach of the Giants John McVay later acknowledged that they called the play with the thought of getting a first down just in case there was a faked injury in an attempt to stop the clock. McVay said "In all my 25 years of coaching I have never seen such a horrifying finish to a game." The loss dropped the Giants to 5-7 and moved the Eagles to 7-5 giving them hopes of a playoff spot which was something they would end up getting. The game might have also been the beginning of the end for McVay in New York. After the season ended his contract was not renewed. In the end it is just another page in what is truly a great rivalry. I know it had to sting the fans of the Giants more than I could ever express in words but at the same time there were fans in Philly that rejoiced as they pulled off the inexplicable victory.

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18, 1967: O.J. Simpson and the Trojans Knock Off UCLA

On November 18, 1967, USC running back O.J. Simpson led the Trojan to a 21-20 victory over the #1 ranked UCLA Bruin at the Coliseum in Los Angeles. The juice broke loose in the fourth quarter with a 64 yard touchdown run that would ruin UCLA's bid for an undefeated season and automatically punched a ticket to the Rose Bowl for the team from Southern Cal. It also put them in contention for the national title which they would go onto win. The Trojans came into the game ranked fourth in the country, Simpson and Bruins quarterback Gary Beban were the frontrunners for the Heisman and if there was ever a game that had instant classic written on it before the ball was snapped it might have been this one. The Bruins struck first with a 12 yard touchdown run by running back Greg Jones that gave them an early 7-0 lead. Beban took over and had the Bruins driving down the field until he made a crucial mistake. After a quick fake to the right, he threw a blind pass to his left, and USC linebacker Pat Cashman picked it off and took it to the house to tie the ballgame up at 7 all. After UCLA failed to convert on a field goal try, USC drove it to the 13 then put it in the hands of Simpson who dragged defenders with him as he scored the go ahead touchdown. The score was 14-7 USC at the half and the best was yet to come. Beban came back in the third quarter and connected on a 53 yard bomb to George Farmer that knotted the score at 14. The Bruins had their chances to take a lead as beban drove them into field goal range twice and twice they were denied by blocked attempts. The USC defense was also taking a toll on the Heisman hopeful, several times throughout the game he had to be helped off the field but like a true warrior he kept coming right back knowing that the undefeated season was on the line. Beban finally was able to break the tie with a touchdown pass to Dave Nutall. However, the kicking game didn't get any better for Zenon Andrusyshyn who had already had two of his field goals blocked by a 6 foot 8 lineman by the name of Bill Hayhoe. Hayhoe probably haunted Andrusyshyn after this game, he came up big again by getting a piece of the extra point that sailed wide right. It would prove to be a pivotal moment after O.J. scored on the most memorable play of the game. With just 10:38 left in regulation the Trojans were facing a 3rd and 7 on their own 36. Backup quarterback Toby Page stepped to the line and saw that the bruins were in a pass defense and quickly called an audible that would put the rock in O.J.'s hands. It was a good call. Simpson exploded around the left end then cut back to the middle as he outran each and every UCLA defender. The USC defense stood tall and the Trojans were headed to the Rose Bowl.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

November 17, 1965: William D. Eckert Is Named The Commissioner Of Baseball

On November 17, 1965, former 3 star General William D. Eckert was named the commissioner of Major League Baseball. He would be the fourth commissioner in the history of the league. The announcement was a bit of a shock as Eckert was not a part of the baseball world in fact he hadn't attended a game in more than ten years. When the great Willie Mays heard that he was the new chief his exact words were "Who's that?" The 56 year old Eckert came out on top of a list of more than 150 names that were in the running to replace the retiring Ford C. Frick. Eckert quickly earned the nickname "The Unknown Soldier" because of his link to the military and the fact nobody knew who he was. When he was named commissioner he inked a 7 year deal that would pay him $65,000 per year which would be close to half a million dollars per year by today's standards. It was a contract that would not be served in full. He was widely criticized for not cancelling games after the assassination of  both Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., then in 1968 with a players strike looming he was relieved of his duties. Although he had his share of shortfalls, Eckert did help the league become a more efficient organization. He developed more effective committee actions, streamlined business methods and helped stabilize franchises with bigger stadiums and long term leases. He was also a key contributor to helping baseball expand in 1969 when the Seattle Pilots, Montreal Expos, San Diego Padres, and Kansas City Royals all joined the ranks of Major League Baseball. He might not have been in the commissioners seat when those teams took the field for the first time but as you could imagine the planning for bringing new teams into the league began well before that '69 season. Bowie Kuhn followed Eckert and would hold the office until 1984. Just two years after Eckert left the offices of Major League Baseball he passed away suddenly while playing a game of tennis in the Bahamas. Even today Eckert could be called the unknown soldier. I would bet that a great deal of people wouldn't think of his name if they were asked to name some of the past commissioners of baseball.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

November 16, 1982: The NFL Players Strike Ends

On November 16, 1982, the NFL season was salvaged after it was announced that the players and owners of the NFL came to an agreement that would end a strike that had began 57 days earlier. The strike was brought on by disagreements on a pay scale that would make it more difficult for it to release veteran players and the NFLPA was seeking a 55% share of the NFL's gross revenues which led to the standoff that would take 57 days to solve. When it was all said and done the players received an upgrade in minimum salaries, a one time $60 million payment, and several other benefits to get back on the gridiron. The estimates of the money lost by the players and the teams over the 57 days were between $240 and $275 million. In the agreement football would resume just four days later under an abbreviated 9 game season which included 2 games that were played before the strike began on September 21st. The agreement also added six extra teams to the playoffs bringing the total to 16 teams in the postseason. The format was dubbed "The Super Bowl tournament" and the Washington Redskins capped it off with a 27-17 victory in the big game.

Personally, I don't remember this. I would have been just 5 years old at the time and I doubt I was picking up the paper in the morning just yet. However, I do know what it is like because unfortunately I have seen my fair share of labor disagreements in sports and I can tell you this they piss me off. I know this might be a simple way to look at things but the way I see it is all of these owners in every major sport should have a pretty good degree of intelligence so that would make me think that they would be working on a deal well before they are at a breaking point. I guess being bullheaded and stubborn ends up clouding their intelligence.

Friday, November 15, 2013

November 15, 1975: Tony Dorsett Runs Over Notre Dame

On November 15, 1975, in front of 56,480 screaming fans in Pittsburgh,Tony Dorsett's 303 rushing yards led the unranked Pittsburgh Panthers to a 34-20 upset over the ninth ranked Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. The Irish came into Pittsburgh ranked ninth in the Nation while Pitt sat on the outside looking in at the top 20 teams. Dorsett's rushing performance broke his own school record of 268 that he had set in a game against Army earlier that season. Dorsett's biggest runs of the day came in the first half. He rattled off a 57 yard gain on the first drive before quarterback Matt Kavanaugh punched it in from the three yard line. Dorsett's next big run was his longest run of the day. It was a 71 yard sprint to the endzone that gave his Panthers a 14-10 lead. After the team traded field goals Dorsett was on the receiving end of a Matt Kavanaugh flip pass that he took 49 yards and opened the Pittsburgh lead to 24-13 to cap off the scoring in the first half. As he headed to the locker room Dorsett had racked up 161 yards on the ground. He would rumble for 142 more in the second half as Pitt ran away with the big victory. Both teams came into the game with a 7-2 record, with Notre Dame being ranked #9 they had a major bowl bid on the line and because of the loss they were eliminated  from consideration. On the other hand, Pitt secured themselves a spot in the Sun Bowl thanks in large part to their running back that ran wild on the Notre Dame defense. Dorsett seemed to play some great ball against the Irish. Just two years earlier as a freshman Dorsett ran for 209 yards against the team from South Bend, Indiana and a year after his 303 yard game he turned in a 290 yard performance against them. I would imagine Dorsett kept a few coaches up at night as they wondered how in the hell they were going to stop him. The lost sleep wasn't worth it because they weren't stopping him.

On this day that I use this fact about the great Tony Dorsett I just want to say I wish him and his family the best. He was recently diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease that is directly related to the abuse his body took while playing the game of football. I like many of you love watching the games and look forward to seeing who might be the next player to have a record setting day like Dorsett did in 1975. With that said, I do feel sad for these players that are suffering later in life. I hope that medical advances can help players in the future not have to go through what him and his family are going through now. I do apologize for ending it on a sadder note but we can not ignore something that is so tragic. I think that sometimes people forget these guys are just people like you and me. They have family and many other people that care about them well beyond the gridiron and I hope for their sake they can figure out how to make it safer so the kids strapping on a helmet these days don't have to suffer the same consequences down the road.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

November 14, 1943: The Sid Luckman Show

On November 14, 1943, in a  56-7 win over the Giants at the Polo Grounds in New York, Chicago Bears legend Sid Luckman became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw 7 touchdown passes in one game. The touchdown pass record was not the only one to fall that day, Luckman and the Bears would break a total of six different records before the game was in the books. The 7 touchdown passes surpassed Washington's Sammy Baugh's record of 6 that had been set in a game earlier that season. Luckman also went 21 for 32 and a record setting 433 yards through the air, the previous record was held by Green Bay quarterback Cecil Bell who threw for 333 yards in a game for the Green Bay Packers one season earlier. The Bears broke the record for most total yards with 682 and the most passing yards in a game with 488. The final 55 passing yards came on the last touchdown of the contest when backup quarterback Bob Snyder connected on a long touchdown pass. Snyder was also the team's placekicker and his eight extra points broke a record that was set by Washington's Riley Smith in 1937, he also equaled Don Hutson's record of 33 straight extra point conversions. The true story of the day was the Sid Luckman show, it was witnessed by more than 56,000 fans in New York. Jim Benton and Hampton Pool caught two touchdowns apiece while Connie Berry, George Wilson, and Harry Clark all hauled in one on the day. The Bears scored 14 points in each quarter. The 7 touchdown day by Luckman was part of a legendary season, it is widely considered the greatest season of all time by a quarterback. He completed 110 of 202 passes for 2,194 yards and 28 touchdowns that led to a 107.5 passer rating. Several single season records he set along the way still stand today, his 13.9% touchdown rate, 10.9 yards per completion, and  his 19.9 yards per pass completion  are all #1 on the all time list. Since that day in '43 6 other men have joined Luckman in the 7 touchdown passes in a game club. Before the 2013 season the number of men in that club was just 5 and  the feat hadn't been accomplished since Joe Kapp of the Minnesota Vikings fired 7 in 1969. Denver's Peyton Manning joined the exclusive club by starting off the 2013 season with a 7 touchdown game then Philadelphia's Nick Foles joined the short list of men on November 3rd.  Luckman set the bar, a handful have reached it, but none have yet to surpass it. He will always be the first man to accomplish the legendary feat.

If you would like to read more about the Hall of Famer's career check this out: and this is a great video about the game as well:

The day also included another great game in which Washington's Sammy Baugh not only threw for 4 touchdown passes he also intercepted 4 balls in a 42-20 win over Detroit. This was the fact from last year on this date. You can read about it here:
Luckman's Bears would go onto beat Baugh and the Redskins in the Championship Game

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November 13, 1979: Stargell and Hernandez Share MVP Honors

On November 13, 1979, a first happened in the world of Major League Baseball when Willie Stargell from the Pittsburgh Pirates and Keith Hernandez of the St. Louis Cardinals were named co-winners of the National League MVP award. It is the only time in the history of the league that the award was shared by two different players. Hernandez hit a league leading .344, eleven home runs, and knocked in 105 men. He aslo led the league in doubles with 48 and scored the most runs with 116. On the other hand, Stargell hit .281, 32 bombs, and knocked in 82 runs. One other thing Stargell did was help lead his team to a first place finish before winning the NLCS MVP and the World Series MVP awards for the World Champion Pirates. He is the only man to win all three awards in one season. This was the only MVP award in Stargell's Hall of Fame career. Twice before he had better stats but was passed over. It was something that he didn't let bother him in fact he wasn't upset that he was not the sole winner of the award, after all he did just win the World Series which is by far a much greater prize. Hernandez was surprised after being told that he would be sharing the award with Stargell, he knew he was well deserving but at the same time he thought that the leadership that Stargell provided pushed the Pittsburgh legend into first place in the voting. Instead the members of the Baseball Writers Association of America voted and each player received 216 points leading to the both men being named MVP of the National League.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 12, 1892: Pudge Heffelfinger Gets Paid

On November 12, 1892, guard William "Pudge" Heffelfinger became the first football player to be paid for his services making him the first professional in the history of the gridiron. Heffelfinger, a three time All American out of Yale played as an amateur with the Chicago Athletic Association following his collegiate days. In Chicago, Heffelfinger was compensated as well in what was called "double expense money" which basically amounted to the team rewarding him with gifts that he could turn around and sell for a great price. Up until that point no player had been openly paid cash for his services, until Heffelfinger was approached by the Allegheny Athletic Club out of Pennsylvania. At first they offered him $250 to play which was turned down as he didn't think it was worth jeopardizing his amateur status. When they doubled the offer to $500 he changed his mind and would play for the team later that day against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. The investment paid off for Allegheny as Heffelfinger scored the only points in the contest after he picked up a fumble and ran it in for a touchdown. Allegheny won the contest 4-0 as touchdowns were just four points and the extra point had yet to become a part of the game. For many years John Brallier of the Latrobe Athletic Association was considered to be the first professional football player after he was paid $10 to play a game in 1895. That all changed in the 1960s when a man named Nelson Ross walked into the office of Art Rooney the President of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ross produced a manuscript that he believed proved that Heffelfinger was the first professional football player. Shortly thereafter, the Pro Football Hall of Fame located a ledger that would substantiate his claims. The $500 that Heffelfinger was paid would equate to nearly $13,000 today.

What I really enjoy doing is bringing a great account of the game that was played. In this case it was hard to come by especially with the way the papers of the day used english. I did find an archive from the Pittsburgh Press that has a description which I found interesting enough to provide a link to. If you go to page 6 near the bottom of the right side of the page there is an article titled "Four To Nothing" that can give you a look at how it was reported one day after the game. I'll tell you right now that it is not the easiest thing to comprehend. The Pro Football Hall Of Fame also did a great piece on Heffelfinger that can be viewed here. In that article there is a copy of the ledger that proved Heffelfinger was the first professional football player in America.

Monday, November 11, 2013

November 11, 1993: The Nets Retire Petrovic's Number

On November 11, 1993, the New Jersey Nets organization retired the #3 in honor of Drazen Petrovic who had been tragically killed in a car accident in June of that same year. Petrovic was quickly making a name for himself in the NBA when his life suddenly came to an end. The 6 foot 5 guard gained notoriety by being a key contributor on team Yugoslavia in the '84 and '88 Olympics winning the Bronze in his first trip then the silver in his second. The well documented divide between Yugoslavia and Croatia in 1992 had Petrovic on the Croatian side of the war torn country and in 1992 he won silver as a member of the Croatian squad. Before his second trip to the Olympics he joined the ranks of the NBA. The year was 1986 and Petrovic was drafted 3rd overall by the Portland Trail Blazers. The transition into the NBA was not an easy one for Petrovic. The Trail Blazers had an established backcourt with Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter and the playing time was limited for him and he let it be known that he expected more. His fortunes would change in January of 1991 when Portland sent him to New Jersey in a three team deal that would rejuvenate Petrovic's career.The Nets had lacked success before he arrived but with the addition of him and several other good young players the team would make a playoff appearance in his first full season with the team. It looked as if things were going in the right direction as he was getting playing time while becoming one of the best in the business. By the end of the '92-'93 season he held the eleventh best average in scoring with 22.3 per game and had established himself as a viable 3 point man. Despite his success he was not selected to the All Star game which was something that did not go over well with him. After the season ended there was speculation that he would go play ball in Greece. Unfortunately for him that would never come to fruition. On June 7th of '93 Petrovic traveled to Poland to watch the Croatian National Team play in a qualifying game. After the contest, he decided to skip a flight back to Croatia so he could ride back with his girlfriend and another friend. It was a fateful decision. With rain coming down, while traveling down the Autobahn, a big rig trying to avoid another accident lost control and came through the median killing Petrovic and seriously injuring both passengers in the VW Golf that they were traveling in. Petrovic was in the passenger seat sleeping at the time of the accident and he was not wearing a seatbelt. He was just 28 years old, had his whole life ahead of him, then it was over in the blink of an eye. It's a very sad end for a promising young athlete but he would never be forgotten in his home country or the United States. The decision to retire his #3 in New Jersey showed great class for the organization that he was only able to give 2 full seasons before his life came to an end. He was posthumously inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002 and in his home country he was honored in a multitude of ways. His legacy in the United States is not nearly the same as his legacy in Croatia. He is a national hero in his homeland and despite the fact he is no longer on this earth he will live forever in the hearts of many.

As many of you know I prefer to use facts that are absolute great moments in sport. While it is great that the Nets chose to retire his number, the reason behind it is a sad one. I do believe that you can pay no greater tribute to someone that lost their life than remembering the life they lived. Quite awhile back I watched "Once Brothers" a 30 for 30 documentary that was ESPN. It covers the divide in Yugoslavia that led to a divide between Petrovic and his friend Vlade Divac who also made it to the NBA. It's a sad story, but it truly gives you a look at Petrovic's life. Something I thought about after watching it is how important it is to not hold a grudge in life because after all it is a limited time offer and we just never know when it will come to an end. I know that it weighs heavy on Divac that they were never able to resolve the issues they had between them. If you would like to watch that documentary I know it is on Netflix and Youtube as well. Here's a link:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

November 10, 1928: Notre Dame Wins One For The Gipper

On November 10, 1928, with more than 80,000 fans in the stands at Yankee Stadium in New York, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish pulled off a stunning 12-6 come from behind win over an undefeated Army team. It was in this game that the famous "Win one for the Gipper speech" was given to the Notre Dame squad during halftime of the hardly fought contest. The "Gipper" was in reference to George Gipp. He was an all american who was stricken by illness in December of 1920 and suddenly passed away at the age of 25. The head coach of the Irish, Knute Rockne spoke with Gipp when he was on his deathbed and he told his coach "I've got to go, Rock. It's alright. I'm not afraid. Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys, ask them to go in there with all they got and just win one for the Gipper." These words were something Rockne never forgot and on that day his 4-2 Irish were taking on a team that many considered unbeatable, he told his kids what Gipper said to him that day before he said to them "this is the day and you are the team."  Both teams had failed to put points on the board in the first half which led Rockne to delivering the speech that would fire his boys up. However, it was Army that struck first. The Cadets scored on a long trick play in which their running back Christian Cagle aired one out to Edward Messinger that set up a two yard touchdown run by John Murrell. Undaunted, Notre Dame came right back. They drove the ball all the way to the goal line where Jack Chevigny punched it in. After he scored the game tying touchdown he jumped up he yelled "that's one was for the Gipper." In the next Notre Dame possession, they drove to midfield before missing a long field goal. Army went 3 and out deep in their own territory and were forced to punt. The Irish began the legendary drive that would make this game one for the ages. They drive all the way to the Army 35 yard line before they stalled and faced a do or die fourth down. Rockne made a call that would lead to victory as he substituted in  Johnny O'Brien at receiver. O'Brien ran over to quarterback Frank Carideo and whispered something then went to his set position. As soon as the ball was snapped O'Brien was off to the races, Carideo handed off to halfback Johnny Niemiec who faked a run around the left side before he put the ball in the air where O'Brien hauled it in at the ten yard line before working his way around two defenders for the score. The Notre Dame squad was overjoyed as they had taken a 12-6 lead. Even then the game was not over. Cagle took the kickoff and ran it back 55 yards to the Irish 30 yard line and just minute left to play. In a desperate move the Cadets coach Biff Jones pulled his running backs and opted for receivers as they attempted to tie it back up. They were able to get it down to the 3 yard line, but with no backs in the game to try and punch it in time quickly expired before they could get another play off. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish had won one for the Gipper.

With a movie made about Rokne in 1940 the speech made it to the silver screen. Some of it might be myth, but one thing is for sure. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish proved that day that they would fight to the end and because of that they were rewarded with a thrilling victory.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

November 9, 1972: Johnny Bucyk Scores His 1,000th Point

On November 9, 1972, in front of a home crowd in Boston, Bruins left winger Johnny Bucyk became just the seventh man in NHL history to record 1,000 points in his career after scoring a goal in an 8-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Coincidentally, Bucyk's NHL career began with the team he would help beat that night in Boston. After playing several seasons of junior hockey Bucyk found his way to the roster of the Detroit Red Wings in 1955. His time in Detroit was brief, after two seasons in the Motor City he was traded to the Bruins for Terry Sawchuk who was regarded as one of the best netminders in the game. The move seemed to work out for the Bruins as Bucyk became a model of consistency that would spend the next twenty years with the team. In Boston, Bucyk was paired up with Bronco Horvath and Vic Stasiuk. The trio became known as the "Uke Line" they were an impressive force in the league as Bucyk developed into top level talent. Throughout the sixties he endured multiple losing seasons despite his high level of play. The emergence of Bobby Orr and several other key players turned his fortunes around. In 1970, he hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time as the Bruins swept the St. Louis Blues in the Finals, then again in 1972 when they knocked off the New York Rangers in six games. The journey to 1,000 points was a hard fought battle that paid off as he became a champion along the way.  His consistent play only got better with age, at the age of 35 Bucyk scored a career best 51 goals. He averaged 62 points a season over 22 years. Scoring more than 30 goals seven times, 20 goals 9 times, and always coming up with his fair share of assists as well. When he retired he was the league's fourth highest scorer with 1,369 points in his career. To date, 79 men have scored 1,000 points or more. It is an elite list to say the least considering how many men have worn an NHL sweater since the league was established in 1917.

Friday, November 8, 2013

November 8, 1981: Don Shula Wins His 200th Game

On November 8, 1981, Don Shula became just the fourth head coach in NFL history to record 200 wins. # 200 did not come easy, in fact it would take his Dolphins an overtime period for them to pull out the 30-27 victory over the New England Patriots in Foxboro. The Patriots had a commanding 17-6 lead at the half but just couldn't hold on as the Dolphins came storming back into the contest. Tom Vigorito closed the gap with a 30 yard touchdown run in the third before a Tony Nathan put the Dolphins in fron 20-17 with a one yard run later in the quarter. The Dolphins lead didn't last long. The Pats quarterback Steve Grogan drove them down to the goal line in the fourth and with 7 minutes and 21 seconds left in regulation Tony Collins blasted through the line and gave the New England squad a 24-20 lead. The craziest play of the game was right around the corner. With a little more than two minutes left in the fourth and the Dolphins near midfield, Miami quarterback handed off to rookie fullback Andra Franklin in what was supposed to be a designed flea flicker. However, it didn't go exactly as it was designed. Franklin was supposed to fake a run up the middle then flip the ball to Woodley who would be looking for Duriel Harris who was going to go deep. The only problem was Franklin didn't get a clean handle on the ball and the next thing you know it bounced of three different lineman before ending up back in the fullback's hands who then turned flipped it to Woodley who unloaded a 55 yard bomb to Harris that gave the Phins a 27-24 lead. The play was called bizarre and a variety of other adjectives after it was all said and done. It might have looked like the final nail in the Patriots coffin but that would have to wait as they tied the ballgame with a 34 yard field goal from John Smith with just 11 seconds to go in regulation. The nail came with 7:51 left in the overtime period after Grogan tossed his fourth pick of the day to linebacker Bob Brudzinski that turned into the final 3 points of the game when Uwe von Schamnann booted it through the uprights from 30 yards out. Win number 200 was a memorable one for Shula who hadn't won a game in Foxboro since 1975. He would go onto win 128 more games following the victory in New England and his 328 wins makes him the winningest coach in the history of the league. His impressive resume includes 5 AFC Championship titles, 3 Championship rings, and he is the only coach to guide a team to an undefeated season that ended with a Super Bowl championship.

Check out the box score:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

November 7, 1968: Red Berenson Scores 6 Goals For The St. Louis Blues In Philly

On November 7, 1968, Red Berenson of the St. Louis Blues became the sixth player in NHL history to score 6 goals in one contest in an 8-0 win over the Flyers at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. The St. Louis center hadn't scored in more than a week and had just three goals on the season before the offensive explosion in Philly. The feat had not been achieved since 1944 when Syd Howe lit the lamp 6 times as a member of the Detroit Red Wings. Berenson fell just one goal shy of the all-time mark of 7 that was accomplished by Joe Malone in January of 1920. Since that day only Toronto's Darryl Sittler has joined the 6 goal club. All 6 of Berenson's goals came against Flyers netminder Doug Favell. Berenson broke out of his slump with a goal in the first, then in the second he put on a clinic with four goals in the period, before adding his sixth goal in the third. Before it was all said and done Berenson picked up an assist on a Camille Henry goal that just put a little more icing on the cake. Before Berenson arrived in the Gateway city he had scored just 14 goals in 166 games played in the NHL. After the expansion Blues acquired him via trade in November of '67 he found his groove and scored 22 goals on the way to being named rookie of the year for the new Western division. Things would only get better for Berenson, the 6 goal night was just the beginning of his best offensive season in which he scored  35 goals and recorded a total of 82 points on the season. When Berenson was asked about his offensive outburst after that game in Philly he said "Tonight was just like planting trees. Some years you plant 12 and five or six grow. And some years they all come up." They all came up that night for Berenson who had also tied the record for most goals in one period with his four in the second. It would take 9 years for Sittler to join the 6 goal club and while quite a few men have scored 5 in one contest there are only an elite bunch that can lay claim to 6 goals in one game.

Watch this video about Berenson's 6 goal performance:

Check out the list of men who have scored 5 or more goals in one NHL game:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November 6, 1974: Mike Marshall Wins The Cy Young

On November 6, 1974, Los Angeles Dodgers hurler Mike Marshall became the first relief pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball to win the Cy Young award. Marshall's season was one for the ages as he put together one of the greatest Iron Man pitching performances in the history of the game. Marshall broke two records for relievers on his way to winning the Cy Young. He appeared in a record setting 106 games and threw in 208 innings all in relief, both records still stand today. During the regular season Marshall set another record by appearing in 13 consecutive games in late June and early July and finished a total of 83 games for the 102 win Dodgers who would end up in the World Series. Marshall finished the season with a 2.4.2 E.R.A., 15 wins, and a  league leading  21 saves. He received 17 of the 24 first place votes and beat out his teammate Andy Messersmith who posted a 20-6 record on the year as a starter. In the day and age of the specialist it is very likely we will never see a reliever turn in a season like the one Mike Marshall did in 1974.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November 5, 1961: Bill Stacy Leads The Gridbirds To Victory

On November 5, 1961, Bill Stacy's two second quarter interception return touchdowns proved to be the difference in a 31-17 Cardinals win over the Cowboys in Dallas. The St. Louis defense wreaked havoc on the Cowboys quarterback Eddie LeBaron all day long. LeBaron threw 5 picks on the day with three of those five turning into 21 points for the opposition. The Cardinals scored their only offensive touchdown in the first quarter after capping off a 78 yard drive with Frank Mestnik punching it in from the one. The next 14 points were all Stacy, he ran his first pick in from 31 yards out then his second pick in from 39 yards out. All the Cowboys offense could muster was a field goal in the first half  that gave the Cardinals a commanding 21-3 lead as they headed to their locker rooms. The 5 foot 7 LeBaron showed he had a short memory and got the Cowboys right back in the game by hitting Frank Clarke for touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters to close the gap to 21-17. Unfortunately for LeBaron any thoughts of a comeback win went to the wayside after he tossed his 5th pick of the day to Joe Robb late in the game. The Cardinals offense turned it into 7 points, then tacked on another 3 before the day was over. Stacy played for 5 seasons with the Cardinals. In his first couple seasons he was a  kick return specialist that led the league in returns and return yards in his rookie season. He picked off a total of 20 passes over his 5 years in the league and those two on that day in '61 were the only ones that ended up in the endzone. The '61 season proved to be a great one for Stacy as he ended it with a Pro Bowl selection. It was the only time he would receive the honor.

Here's the box score:

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4, 1960: Wilt The Stilt Leads His Team To Victory While Breaking a Record That No Player Would Want To Have

On November 4, 1960, Wilt Chamberlain led the Philadelphia Warriors to a 136-121 win over the Detroit Pistons with a 44 point performance. Chamberlain knocked down 22 field goals but he also set a record that no player would want by missing all 10 free throw attempts he was awarded in the contest. The Pistons were trying to avoid dropping their 5th game in a row and they put up a fight in the process. Philadelphia was down by 13 twice in the second quarter and down by 9 in third but kept fighting back. The game was tied a total of 13 times but Chamberlain broke the 13th tie with a field goal in early in the fourth that gave the Warriors a 102-100 lead, it was a lead that they would not relinquish as they sailed to victory. The 10 missed free throws stood as a record until December 8, 2000 when Shaquille O'Neal missed 11 in a contest against the Seattle SuperSonics, unfortunately for Shaq's Lakers they weren't able to pull off a victory in that contest as they lost 103-95.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November 3, 1952: The Kentucky Basketball Program Receives The Death Penalty

On November 3, 1952, it was announced that the University of Kentucky's basketball 21 game schedule would be cancelled after an NCAA investigation uncovered numerous rule violations that dated back to 1948. The decision to cancel the season came after it was announced that the NCAA would recommend that all athletic programs at the school would be put on probation during the '52-'53 seasons. The NCAA said that some athletes received pay and some were illegally certified as eligible for NCAA participation even though the head coach of the team Adolph Rupp and his assistants knew they were ineligible. One year earlier several former players were arrested on charges of shaving points during the NIT, while the team went onto win the National Championship the seed had been planted that would lead to the first ever "death penalty" that would be enforced in the history of college basketball. In each of the years that followed players from the Kentucky squad were accused of taking money and gifts until the arrests were made in October of '51. Kentucky wasn't the only school implicated in the scandal, Bradley out of Peoria, Illinois was also caught up in it and would be forced to sit out the NCAA tournament in 1953. Neither school fought the sanctions but Rupp made it clear that he thought the punishment was harsh and that the players should be held accountable and not the entire school. Rupp had been the head coach at Kentucky since 1930 and had built them into a powerhouse in the ranks of college basketball. He had guided the Wildcats to titles in '48, '49, and '51 before being rocked by scandal. After the cancelled season the Wildcats came back with a vengeance, Rupp coached the team to a 25-0 record and finished #1 in the AP poll. Before the tournament began the NCAA ruled that three of the players on Rupp's squad were deemed ineligible because they had graduated in the previous academic year and the coach decided to sit out the tournament in protest due to the actions of the NCAA. It seems that even after the year lost the program felt lingering repercussions of the mess that had been made. Rupp and the Wildcats did return to prominence and he did guide them to another National Championship in 1958. However, the scandal was something that Rupp and anyone else involved did not soon forget.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November 2, 1976: Randy Jones Wins The Cy Young

On November 2, 1976, just two years after posting an N.L. worst 22 losses, San Diego Padres lefty Randy Jones was named the recipient of the National League Cy Young Award. After losing the 22 games in '74 he came back in '75 and posted a 20-12 record with a 2.24 E.R.A. on the way to winning the Comeback Player of the Year Award. Jones finished second in Cy Young voting behind the Mets Tom Seaver in that '75 season. He came back in '76 and went 22-14 with a 2.74 E.R.A. that earned him one of baseball's most prestigious awards. The Cy Young race was a tight one as Jones just beat out the Mets Jerry Koosman and the Dodgers Don Sutton who had posted matching 21-10 records on the season. The road to the Cy Young was far from easy for Jones. The Cy Young campaign was nearly derailed by a car accident in early August that Jones was very lucky to walk away from with minor injures. Despite the fact that he had cuts and bruises on his face and neck following the accident he didn't miss a start which was key in him winning the award. When Jones was named the award winner he said "It's like a boyhood dream come true. When you achieve your boyhood dream, it is an incredible thrill." Unfortunately for Jones he suffered an injury in his last start of the season that required exploratory surgery. Following the surgery he never did regain his Cy Young form, he was still an effective pitcher but could not find the same magic that he had during that '76 season. Jones pitched in San Diego until he was traded to the Mets in the Winter of 1980. He finished his career with a 100-123 record and to date he is the only Cy Young award winner to retire with a losing record. Despite that fact he achieved his dream during that one season in which he was the best pitcher in the National League. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

November 1, 1913: Gus Dorais and The Irish Revolutionize The Game Of Football

On November 1, 1913, Notre Dame quarterback Gus Dorais put on a show that hadn't been seen before when he completed 14 of 17 passes for 243 yards and a touchdown in a 35-13 win over Army. The forward pass had been made legal 7 years prior to this game but it had never been used like it was used on that day in West Point, New York. Before that day the only time the forward pass had been used was in late game situations when a team was desperate. Knute Rockne hauled in a record setting 40 yard pass from Dorais that had the Army team stunned by the aerial display. By halftime the Notre Dame squad held a 14-13 lead, then just simply walked away with it as Dorais and company put on a display that would forever change the landscape of college football. While many credited Dorais and the Irish for inventing the forward pass, it first arrived on the scene in 1906 at St. Louis University when Eddie Cochems built an offense that incorporated it into his game plan. What Dorais and the Irish did was change the way it was used, they ushered in a new era and put Notre Dame on the map in the process.