Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December 31, 1973: The Fighting Irish Win A Shootout At The Sugar Bowl

On December 31, 1973, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish took the National Title with a 24-23 Sugar Bowl victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide in front of more than 85,000 at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. It was a battle of unbeaten teams with Notre Dame sitting at 10-0 while Alabama posted an 11-0 record during the regular season. Not only was this a great battle for squads on the field it was also a great battle of football minds as two coaching legends sat on each sideline, Ara Parseghian for the Irish and the one and only Bear Bryant guiding the Tide. This was guaranteed to be a great game before the ball was snapped and it owned up to the expectations. It was a seesaw battle that saw the lead change hands six times. The Irish got on the board first with a 6 yard touchdown run from fullback Wayne Bullock, their kicker Bill Davis who had converted on 51 of 53 attempts missed the extra point. 'Bama back Randy Billingsley put his squad in front with a 6 yard touchdown run of his own that literally turned the tide to the tune of 7-6 as he watched his kicker convert on the PAT. The joy of taking the lead was short lived, on the ensuing kickoff Irish freshman Al Hunter blazed down the field with a record setting 93 yard return, quarterback Tom Clements tossed a perfect pass to back the back of the endzone to convert for two and the score was now 14-7 Notre Dame. Before the end of the half Bill Davis cut the Notre Dame lead to 14-10 with a 39 yard field goal. The battle continued in the third with the teams trading touchdowns, first came a 5 yard touchdown run from Alabama's Wilbur Jackson, then Notre Dame's Eric Penick responded with a 12 yard touchdown run that put the score at 21-17 as the teams headed to the fourth. Alabama took the lead on a trick play that saw quarterback Mike Strock connect with backup quarterback Richard Todd on a 25 yard touchdown pass, after Bill Davis missed his second extra point of the day they held a 23-21 advantage. That one point would haunt Davis and the Crimson Tide as the Irish walked down the field and Bob Thomas booted the ball through the uprights to give the team from South Bend the 24-23 lead. The greatest drama of the entire day came with just minutes to go in the ballgame, fateful and gutsy decisions would determine the National Champion. With three minutes to go, facing a fourth down Bryant sent his punting unit out and his punter Greg Gantt delivered a kick that pinned the Irish at the one. However, Gantt was run into on the play and Bryant could have taken the ball back and faced a fourth and five, instead he chose to hold on to the field position and let his defense get the job done.  It looked like it was a sound strategy as the Irish found themselves facing a third and nine situation from the two with just a little more than two minutes left on the clock. If they could convert they would be able to run out the clock, if not Alabama would have a chance to win the ballgame. With it all on the line Tom Clements dropped back and after he couldn't hit his primary target he found backup tight end Robin Weber on a 38 yard connection that would preserve and Irish victory. This was the first reception of the season for Weber and the biggest reception of his football career as it helped the Notre Dame Fighting Irish cap off that '73 season as National Champions.

I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Be safe and please don't drink  and drive.

Monday, December 30, 2013

December 30, 1997: Another Milestone For The Great Michael Jordan

On December 30, 1997, Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabar's record of 787 games played with at least 10 points scored, as he knocked down 33 in a 99-95 loss to the Timberwolves in Minnesota. Jordan surpassed Jabar's record in the first half with a 17 point effort as he led the Bulls to the locker room with his squad ahead 56-47. Unfortunately, on this night that a basketball legend would celebrate another milestone in a career that most can only dream of, he was delivered a note at the half that said there was a phone call that had said his mother had been rushed to a hospital. Jordan came out and lacked focus as he worried about his mom. The call ended up being a hoax, however, it's hard to say after the fact, but with a score that close he might have been able to help lead his team to victory if not for distraction. The person that pulled the hoax off should be ashamed of themselves even today. There is simply a line that should not be crossed when it comes to trying to get under an athlete's skin and that line was definitely crossed that day. The streak would go on hiatus after Jordan "retired" from the game after his championship season in 1998. Three seasons later, he returned to the NBA and extended the streak to 840 games before being held to just 6 in a game against the Indiana Pacers on December 27th of '01, one night earlier he had dropped 28 in what would be the capper on a record that has not since been surpassed.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

December 29, 1997: Bubba Wells Fouls Out In 3 Minutes

On December 29, 1997, Dallas Mavericks forward rookie Bubba Wells broke a record that had stood  for 41 years when he fouled out in three minutes in a game against the Bulls in Chicago. The tactic came from the mind of Wells' coach Don Nelson who was hoping to limit the Bulls scoring attack. Nelson had Wells set his sights on Dennis Rodman who was known to have a weakness from the line, it was a strategy that failed as Rodman hit on 9 out of 12 from the line and the Bulls would go onto win 111-105. He would have probably been better off leaving the ball in Rodman's hands on the floor as he went 1 for 7 from the field. Although, he would have probably just dished to off to one of his teammates like Michael Jordan who scored 41 on points on the night. Rodman finished the night with 11 points, 27 rebounds, and 8 assists. While it took three minutes to foul out for Wells, in actuality it took nearly 10 minutes but it was three minutes of clock time. The record had been set by Dick Farley of the Syracuse Nationals in 1956 when he fouled out in five minutes in a game against the St. Louis Hawks. The strategy by Nelson was a whatever it takes kind of thing, he had taken over a sinking ship and had employed a variety of strategies as he attempted to lead his team to victories. he would eventually turn that sinking ship into a true contender. The strategy that was used on that night in Chicago would become known as the "Hack-a-Shaq" defense as it became a common practice against Shaquille O'Neal since he struggled from the line. The career of Bubba Wells was a short one, in fact he spent just one year with the Mavs then was traded to the Suns. After the trade he never stepped on the court at the NBA level again. He has since moved on to coaching at the collegiate level. While the run in the NBA might have been short, he made his mark and it took just three minutes off the clock to do so.

Here's the box score: http://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/199712290CHI.html

You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjTGfa6FY6A

Saturday, December 28, 2013

December 28, 1975: Staubach Says A Prayer And Drew Pearson Answers

On December 28 1975, in a first round playoff matchup against the Vikings in Minnesota,  Dallas quarterback Roger Staubach launched a 50 yard Hail Mary into the hands of Drew Pearson with just 24 seconds left in regulation that put the Cowboys ahead 17-14. The 24 seconds proved to be too little time for Fran Tarkenton's squad and the Cowboys were headed to the next round as the Vikings players sat shocked at the ending to the game that became an instant classic the moment Pearson crossed the goal line. The coach of the Vikings as well as players and fans thought that Pearson had interfered with defensive back Nate Wright to make the catch. Some fans began to shower the field with bottles and other debris hitting one of the referees and knocking him out. He recovered from a gash to the head but I'm sure he don't remember that game as fondly as the fans in the Big D. The Vikings got a huge break in the second quarter which led to the first points of the half. It happened when they were forced to punt, as the ball was on the way to return man Cliff Harris, Minnesota's Autry Beamon came flying in and Harris failed to field it. The field judge, who later caught bottle with his head signaled fumble and Pat Donovan, a lineman for the Cowboys went after it then lost the handle before the Vikings, Fred McNeil ended up with it at the 4.  Three plays later Chuck Foreman capitalized on the blunder as he slammed it in from the 1. The momentum shifted back to Dallas quickly as their defense held Tarkenton and company in check until they finally broke through in the fourth. Meanwhile, the Cowboys offense seemed to be clicking as well, seven times they crossed midfield and scored on two of those trips. The first Dallas score came on a 4 yard touchdown run by Doug Dennison then Toni Fritsch put them on top with a 24 yard field goal. Comparatively, the Vikings only crossed into Dallas territory twice after their good fortune in the second. While they struggled to get the ball moving against that Dallas defense Tarkenton was able to engineer an 11 play drive that was capped off with a one yard dive from Brent McClanahan to give the Vikings a 14-10 lead with just a little more than 5 minutes left on the clock. The Vikings came into the contest as two time defending champions of the NFC and many thought that this was the year they were going to win the Super Bowl. Things were looking like they would definitely be going to the NFC title game as time dwindled. With less than a minute to play the improbable began. Staubach, backed up to his own 25, facing a 4th and 16 found Pearson on a 25 yard first down grab, two plays later he unloaded the 50 yard bomb that will live forever. The ball was thrown a little short of the mark and Pearson had to come back and get it. In the process he was briefly tangled up with the defensive back but made the catch then took it into score. While the crowd screamed in protest the call stood and Dallas had a lead that would carry them to the title game in Los Angeles where they destroyed the Rams 37-7 and punched a ticket to Super Bowl X. The run would end there with a 21-17 loss against the Steelers. However, the journey to the big game was a remarkable one and that catch by Pearson  was a signature moment in that '75 season for those boys from the Big D.

Watch the play here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7uS0ezb2o4

Friday, December 27, 2013

December 27, 1958; The Colts Pummel The Giants For The Title

On December 27, 1959, with nearly 60,000 on hand at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, the Colts exploded for 24 points in the fourth quarter of the NFL Championship game and took the title with a 31-16 victory over the New York Giants. The Giants came into the contest looking to avenge a heartbreaker of a loss in the title game a year before. In the '58 matchup the Colts prevailed 23-17 after going into overtime to decide a victor. Much like the year before the Giants would walk away with broken hearts as Johnny Unitas led his team to back-to-back titles as he threw for two touchdowns and scored another one with his legs. His first touchdown pass came on the first drive of the game as he faked a handoff to fullback Alan Ameche on his own 40 then fired it to wideout Lenny Moore on the New York 38 where Moore was off to the races. It was all the offense that the Colts could muster in the early going as the Giants defense held Unitas and his boys at bay. On the Giants side of the ball, every time they seemed to be clicking on offense the drive would stall which led to three field goals from the foot of Pat Summerall. The Giants defense had put together a more than impressive third quarter. In fact, the Colts only picked up one first down in the period and that only came in the waning moments. That same defense began to waiver in the fourth as Unitas led his Colts on a 10 play 86 yard drive that ended with the signal caller taking it in with his own legs from the 4 yard line giving them a 14-9 lead. Once the Colts were ahead, New York's quarterback Charlie Conerly went to the air in hopes of retaking the lead. He had one little problem and that was the Colts defense who picked him off three times. The first pick was a backbreaker, deep in his own territory, Conerly attempted a 25 yard pass to Kyle Rote only to have defensive back Andy Nelson come flying in and snatch the ball out of the air. Nelson raced 16 yards all the way to the Giants 14 before he was hauled down. Two plays later, Unitas tossed his second touchdown pass of the day, a lob to the corner that Jerry Richardson found cradled in his hands. It was all the Colts would need even though they would tack on a couple more scores before New York could answer back. The next two possessions by the Giants ended in the hands of Colts defensive back Johnny Sample, the first pick by Sample turned into 6 points as he ran it back 42 yards into the endzone. His next pick set up a 25 yard field goal which capped off the scoring for the lightning in a bottle fourth quarter for the Colts. With 32 seconds left in the game Conerly found Bob Schnelker open and connected with him on a 32 yard catch and score. It was too little too late as the game had been decided and the Baltimore Colts were the Champions of the NFL.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

December 26, 1991: The Chuck Noll Era Comes To A Close

On December 26, 1991, the end of an era happened in Pittsburgh when the head coach of the Steelers Chuck Noll announced that he would be retiring after 23 years at the helm. When Noll took over as the 14th head coach in the Steel City in 1969 he had his work cut out for him. Before Noll arrived the Steelers had only enjoyed 8 winning seasons in 36 years of existence and the hope Noll could turn them into a legitimate contender. It took three seasons of losing for Noll to turnaround the team that was considered a laughingstock of the NFL. One of the keys to Noll's success was adding players through the draft that would end up forming one of the greatest dynasties in the history of the NFL. His first pick was linebacker "Mean Joe" Greene, the future Hall of Famer would become a centerpiece to a defense that became known as "The Steel Curtain," one of the most feared defensive units in the game. It took time though, his tenure began with a dismal 1-13 campaign, as Noll continued to draft well, bringing in players like Terry Bradshaw and Franco Harris the ascent out of the cellar began. They posted an 11-3 record in '72 beginning a run of eight consecutive playoff appearances. The team that was once the laughingstock of the NFL had become a legitimate contender. The draft in 1974 was was the lynchpin in the Steelers becoming a dynasty. They selected four future Hall of Famers in their first five picks. Those men who would end up in Canton were wideouts Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, as well as linebacker Jack Lambert and center Mike Webster. To date, no team in the history of the game has had a draft that included more than two future Hall of Famers. It paid immediate dividends as the Steelers posted a 10-3 record and would go onto win the first Super Bowl Championship in franchise history. One year later the Steelers were champions once again as they dominated the '75 season with a 12-2 record. After a couple of years of falling short of the ultimate goal the Steelers returned to glory in '78 as they posted a 14-2 record and went onto to win the Super Bowl for the third time in five years. The '79 season saw Noll top off his decade of dominance with a 12-4 record and his fourth Lombardi Trophy. The next decade did not match the one before, after back-to-back playoff appearances in '83 and '84 poor drafts and personnel decisions led to a decline in the organization. The team only made more playoff appearance in '89 but fell one pint short of going to the AFC Title game. Noll's decision to retire came after a 7-9 season in '91 as he realized the time had come. Even with the 80's being a bit disappointing by most standards, it could not take away from the 4 time championship decade of the 70's. He would forever be a legend in Pittsburgh and beyond as the only head coach to guide a team to four Super Bowl titles. Generations to come will know the name Chuck Noll and it will be held in such high regard as Curly Lambeau, George Halas, and Vince Lombardi as he stands alongside them at the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

December 25, 1971: Dolphins/Chiefs and The Longest Game In The History Of The NFL

On December 25, 1971,  in an AFC divisional playoff, Garo Yepremian's 37 yard field goal 7 minutes and 40 seconds in the second overtime capped off a 27-24 win for the Dolphins over the Chiefs in Kansas City. Yepremian's kick not only moved his squad onto the next round, it also put the exclamation point on the longest game in the history of the NFL that had lasted a grand total of 82 minutes and 40 seconds before a victor was declared. Three times the Dolphins fought their way back from deficits and the final score showed the only time they had led in the contest. The Chiefs put up ten points in the first on a 24 yard field goal off the foot of Jan Stenerud then Len Dawson turned a turnover into 7 more points by hooking up with Ed Podolak on a 7 yard touchdown pass. The seesaw shifted in the second quarter, Bob Griese led the Dolphins right back into contention as he led the team down the field through the air, before handing off to Larry Csonka, who punched it in from the 1. With the clock winding down in the first half, Podolak fumbled and the Dolphins D came up with it leading to a game tying field goal by Yepremian. The two teams would head to the locker room tied and when they both returned to the field it is safe to say they were ready to play some ball. The second half began with a 14 play 74 yard drive that the Chiefs Jim Otis slammed in from the 1. The drive took 9 minutes and 44 seconds and put the Chiefs up 17-10. The lead didn't last long, Griese took control and marched it down the field in 8 plays with Jim Kiick finishing things off with a one yard run of his own. After exchanging hands via the turnover, Dawson and the Chiefs stormed 91 yards which included a 63 yard bomb to rookie Elmo Wright from Len Dawson which was one of the most spectacular plays of the day. Podalak finished it off with a three yard run and the Chiefs were up once again. The Dolphins simply refused to quit. Griese took his team 71 yards, hooking up with Paul Warfield on passes of 17 and 26 yards before hitting his tight end Marv Fleming on a 5 yard game tying touchdown with 1:25 left on the clock. The sure footed Stenerud had a chance to win it in regulation but missed the 31 yarder and the two teams were headed for sudden death. The fifth quarter was a defensive battle that saw a Stenerud field goal blocked while his counterpart Yepremian fell short on a 52 yard attempt. The game winning field goal was set up by a 29 yard run by Csonka that put the ball on the Kansas City 36, three plays and 5 yards later Yepremian came in with the season on the line and split the uprights. The Dolphins rushed the field in rejoice while the Chiefs stood there exhausted and defeated as they watched the celebration. It was truly one of the greatest battles in the history of the NFL as both teams left it all on the field, but only one could emerge victorious.

There were 11 future Hall of Famers on the field that day in Kansas City, of those 11 men one man stood above the rest and that was the Chiefs Ed Podalak. He alone had 350 all purposes yards. 85 rushing, 110 receiving, and 155 in return yards but still ended up on the losing end in the instant classic.

If you look at the box score and think of it in the terms of a boxing match you would say Round 1 was all Chiefs and Round 2 was all Dolphins, the other rounds were virtual draws until Yepremian delivered the knockout blow.

You can watch the old NFL Films highlight reel here: http://bcove.me/xmtoplqt

Merry Christmas to all

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

December 24, 1961: The Oilers Repeat as AFL Champs

On December 24, 1961, the Houston Oilers repeated as Champions of the AFL with a 10-3 win over the Chargers in the title game at Balboa Stadium in San Diego. Led by George Blanda and Billy Cannon, the Oilers posted a 10-3-1 record during the regular season and were an offensive powerhouse as they scored 513 points on the year. At the time the 513 points set a professional record for points in a season. The Chargers went 12-2 with Jack Kemp under center which led to a showdown for the title. Blanda, a 10 year veteran of the NFL had come over to the upstart league one year earlier and led the Oilers to the first ever AFL title with a 24-16 win against those same Chargers. While many might have expected another high scoring affair in the championship rematch, they got the complete opposite. Both teams watched scoring opportunities go down the drain early in the contest. Midway through the first quarter Kemp fumbled on his own 37 and the Oilers recovered then marched it down to the San Diego 14 only to have Bud Whitehead pick Blanda off. Then late in the first, Kemp fumbled again, this time it was on the San Diego 24 which looked like it set Blanda up for a field goal from the 19. A bad snap from the center ended up all the way on the San Diego 46 where it was finally recovered by the Chargers squashing the scoring opportunity. The Oilers were finally able to put three points on the board with a Blanda field goal at the 8:06 mark in the second quarter. The straw that broke the camels back came when Blanda capped off an 80 yard drive by taking the snap at the San Diego 35, then as the Chargers defense came pouring in on him he found Billy Cannon at the 17 and put it up in the air, Cannon hauled it in and raced to the endzone with defenders trailing behind him. The Chargers avoided the shutout by tacking on a field goal in the opening minutes of the fourth but that all they could drum up and the Oilers would finish the day as the Champions once again. By the time the game was in the books San Diego had picked Blanda off six times, while the Houston D forced 7 turnovers of their own. Some called it sloppy play, I tend to look at that as taking credit away from the defenses. Both of those defensive units played one helluva game. Blanda and company broke through just enough to win the ballgame. This was the last championship title for the Oilers franchise that would later join the NFL then move on to Tennessee in 1997 where they became the Titans. Even so, the franchise had a rich history in Houston that I hope is remembered. A lot of great players wore that uniform in Houston.

Monday, December 23, 2013

December 23, 1979: Garry Unger's Iron Man Streak Comes To An End In St. Louis

On December 23, 1979, in a game against the Blues in St. Louis, Atlanta Flames center Garry Unger sat out a game for the first time since February 24, 1968. It marked the end to an NHL Iron Man streak of 914 consecutive games played. The streak began when he was a member of the Maple Leafs when he was a 20 year old kid and came to an end when he was a 32 year old man. He played in only 15 games in Toronto, then was moved to the Detroit Red Wings via trade where he spent the next three years before being traded again. This time it was to St. Louis where he spent the next  8 and a  1/2 years of his career. To date, he ranks near the top in many of the Blues all time offensive scoring categories and only Al MacInnis has taken more shots on goal with a Blues uniform on. That '79-'80 season marked a new chapter for Unger after the Blues traded him to Atlanta. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury that happened on December 9th of '79 led to him being used sparingly that night he visited his old stomping grounds his coach Al MacNeil decided he just couldn't put him out there. It was not an easy decision for the coach, he just thought it was time to let him heal so he could truly contribute to the team. The decision didn't hurt the team, they skated to a 7-3 win in front of the crowd in St. Louis. In the last minute it looked like Unger might just jump onto the ice, with the crowd that had watched him for so many years as a member of their team were now cheering for their opponent as they chanted  his name in hopes that he would extend the streak. While it marked the end to a remarkable run, Unger was relieved it was over, it seems that all players involved with historic streaks share that sentiment. Nearly four years earlier Unger obtained the Iron Man title when he played surpassed Andy Hebenton's record of 630 consecutive games played that had stood since '64. Hebenton reached the 630 plateau as a member of the Rangers and Bruins. Unger's record stood until Doug jarvis surpassed him in December of '86. Jarvis would extend his streak to 964 games which is the current record with Unger right behind him.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

December 22, 1915: The War With The Federal League Comes To An End

On December 22, 1915, it was announced that a peace treaty had been signed between the Federal League and the Major League Baseball essentially ending a war that had begun a couple of years before when the "outlaw league" had formed. The agreement would mean that the league would disband and that the owner of the Chicago Whales Charles Weeghman would be purchasing the Cubs while the owner of the St. Louis Terriers Phil Ball would be able to purchase the Browns and players that had been blacklisted from the ranks of Major League Baseball would be removed from that list. Before the Federal League formed there was a large variety of organized leagues in baseball but none had ever reached the point that they would be considered a "major" league. That all changed when the Federal League came along in 1914. With John T. Powers leading the way as league president the six team league came together, with the Terrapins in Baltimore, the Tip-Tops in Brooklyn, the Blues in Buffalo, the Rebels in Pittsburgh, the Hoosiers in Indianapolis, the Packers in Covington, Kentucky, and the aforementioned Terriers and Whales. Out of those teams the Hoosiers and the Packers would end up moving out f their respective cities, with the Hoosiers going to Newark, New Jersey where they were known as the Pepper and the Packers ended up in Kansas City. Unlike any of the other leagues that had formed before it the Federal League had big money behind it and began to lure players away from both the American and National League's. Many of the men lured away were not of star caliber, but there were a variety of names that made the league legitimate such as Joe Tinker, Chief Bender, "Three Finger" Brown, and more. All in all 172 of the 286 men who played in the Federal League had played in the American or National League. While the agreement stated that blackballed players would be able to go back many of them never stepped on the diamond as a major leaguer again. In fact out of those 172 only 71 returned to the ranks of major league baseball and the bigger names were snatched off the market quickly. While the league was short lived it proved to have one of the most exciting seasons in the history of professional baseball in 1915, when the Whales and Terriers played in the tightest pennant race in the history of the game. The Terriers finished with a 87-67 record while the Whales went 86-66 finishing one tenth of a percentage point ahead of the club from St. Louis. The "War" that was waged against the professional baseball had a ripple effect of sorts, it drove salaries up, caused scheduling conflicts ,and had a great financial strain on all the "major" leagues in operation. That brought the parties involved in the Federal League to the bargaining table where the agreement was hammered out. It entailed $600,000 that would be distributed among team owners as well as the agreements on Weeghman's and Ball's plan to purchase the Cubs and Browns. Both Weeghman and Ball would bring many of the palyers fromt heir Federal league rosters over to their new clubs following the disbandment. Weeghman owned a ballpark that we all know as Wrigley Field today and he would shift the Cubbies from Chicago's west side to the north side where they have resided since 1916. Many might not know it, but Wrigley was built for the Federal League, it was called Weeghman Park and today it is the only remaining ballpark that was used for any of those teams that played in the league. While it came and went, the Federal League changed the baseball landscape. One team out of the six challenged the settlement reached which was the Baltimore Terrapins, they would take an anti trust suit all the way to the Supreme Court, it was a battle that would not be won as the court stood on the side of Major League Baseball and after the case was dismissed most remnants of the Federal League had become a thing of the past. The old ballpark that stands in Chicago is one of the only things truly left that is a reminder of a league that once was.

This is an in depth article that was published by the Society of American Baseball Research:  http://research.sabr.org/journals/federal-league-a-major-league It is a very good read if you have interest in the Federal League. This is just one of the articles about the league that they have published.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

December 21, 1989: Dave Jamerson's Three Point Festival

On December 21, 1989, Ohio University guard Dave Jamerson knocked down a NCAA Division I record 14 three pointers and scored 60 points as he led the way in the Bobcats 110-80 win over the College of Charleston. Jamerson felt great in the warmups before the game and when the ball was tipped it came his way early and often. By halftime he had scored 37 points, which included a run of 8 consecutive 3 pointers. The 6 foot 5 senior hit on 14 of the 17 three pointers attempted and finished the day 21 of the 28 overall . The Jamerson clinic ended when he was pulled from the game with more than 8 and a 1/2 minutes left on the clock. The record had been held by Gary Bossert out of Niagara, he hit 12 three pointers in 14 attempts just a couple of years before. Jamerson's record stood until 1996 when Keith Veney out of Marshall knocked down 15 in a game against Morehead State. Jamerson is regarded as one of the best players to wear a Bobcats uniform in. He holds the school record for most points scored with 2,336 along with a variety of other school records. After his college career came to a close he was picked 15th overall by the Miami Heat, then dealt to the Houston Rockets where he played for a couple of seasons before a knee injury ended up ending his career on the court. Just a bump in the road of life, he turned his focus to his church and became a pastor. His alma mater honored Jamerson's outstanding college career by retiring his number 33 during a halftime ceremony in 2007.

Friday, December 20, 2013

December 20, 1979: The Flyers Match The Unbeaten Record

On December 20, 1979, the Philadelphia Flyers tied the NHL record of 28 games in a row without a loss, when they skated to a 1-1 tie with the Pittsburgh Penguins, in front of a home crowd at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. The crowd of 17,077 were there to see the record matched and they would not be disappointed. The Penguins jumped to an early lead on a powerplay goal by Ron Stackhouse in the first period. From there, it was a battle of the goaltenders as Pittsburgh's Greg Millen and Philly's Pete Peeters turned away everything that was thrown at them. The Flyers came out in the third desperate to score the equalizer. They peppered the goalie but just couldn't break through the Millen wall. With 5:39 left in regulation, Pittsburgh defenseman Bob Stewart was called for hooking, it was a game changer. At the 4:08 mark Behn Wilson took a pass from Dennis Vervegaert and punched it into the corner of the goal. The crowd let out a cheer that Millen called the most incredible thing he had ever heard  following the goal by Wilson. Once the clock hit zeros and the tie was intact, red and black balloons, fell from the rafters with cards floating through the air like confetti that read "28 you were there." The record had been set by the Montreal Canadiens during the '77-'78 campaign and on that night in Philly it was done yet again. The Flyers would extend the streak to 35 before it was snapped. To date, it is the longest unbeaten streak in the history of North American sports. The streak began with a 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on October 14th of '79 and was capped off with a 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on January 6th of '80. During the run they won 25 of the 35 and tied the other 10 as they rewrote the record books. Philadelphia would post a remarkable 48-12-20 record as they rolled through the playoffs and into the Stanley Cup Finals. Unfortunately for the fans in Philly and all those men who worked to get there, the run would end there as they fell in 6 games to the New York Islanders. Even so, they rewrote the history book along the way and that was one great season by those Philadelphia Flyers.

This page has rosters, box scores, as well as some great facts about the streak: http://www.flyershistory.com/streak.htm

Thursday, December 19, 2013

December 19, 1948: The Blizzard Bowl In Philly

On December 19, 1948, during a blizzard in Philadelphia the Eagles won their first NFL Championship title with a 7-0 victory over the Chicago Cardinals in front of more than 36,000 fans at Shibe Park in Philly. The fans that showed up were told if you bring a shovel to help clear the field they would not be charged admission for the Championship battle. Before the kickoff the grounds crew struggled to remove the tarp due to the weight of the snow which led to all of the players pitching in to get the job done. Once the game was underway the Eagles looked to draw first blood when Tommy Thompson connected with Jack Ferrante on a 68 yard bomb only to have it called back on a holding penalty. It was the only shade of offense for three quarters as more than a half foot of snow covered the field. The lone scoring drive began on a mistake by the Cardinals. It happened as quarterback Ray Mallouf attempted to handoff to his running back only to lose the handle, as the ball hit the snow packed ground, Philadelphia's Bucko Kilroy pounced on the ball at the Cardinal 17. It was an opportunity that would be wasted by the Eagles offense. Three plays later, Steve Van Buren, who had led the league in rushing for the last two seasons, punched it in from 5 yards out. The score was all that was needed to cap off championship and avenge a 28-21 loss to those same Cardinals one year earlier. Van Buren nearly missed the contest. He thought with the storm that there was no way the game would be played. He had to take an interesting trek to the stadium. After an unsuccessful attempt at digging his car out, Van Buren took a bus, switched to a train, jumped on the subway, then walked 6 blocks to the stadium where he would become a Champion before the day was over.

Here is a great highlight reel from the contest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLVmCfkxMUY it's a little more than 15 minutes long just so you know. If you would like a much more condensed highlight reel check this out: http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-network-top-ten/09000d5d80498bf1/Top-Ten-Weather-Games-1948-NFL-Championship

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

December 18, 1932: The Bears Take The Title

On December 18, 1932, the Chicago Bears won the first ever playoff game with a 9-0 victory over the Portsmouth Spartans. The victory made the Bears the Champions of the league. It would be another year until there was an official Championship game as the team with the best record had been granted the Championship title every year since the NFL began in 1920. There was one little problem in '32 and that was both the Bears and Spartans finished with 6 wins apiece so the choice was made to schedule one more regular season game that would determine the Champ. The game was to be held at Wrigley Field but extreme weather caused a change of plans. It was moved to Chicago Stadium where they would have to modify the rules of the game due to an improvised dirt field that was only 80 yards long, and 10 yards narrower than a standard field and was closed in by walls. The rule changes included keeping the ball in the middle of the field to help avoid injury. With limited room to work and field conditions that were considered sub par neither offense could break through until Bronco Nagurski on a fourth down play that he found Red Grange in the back of the endzone that put 7 points on the board for Chicago. Just before the contest ended Mule Wilson was set to kick out of his own endzone but fumbled the snap giving the Bears an automatic safety. The game was not only the first playoff game in NFL history it was also the first to be played indoors and it led to a yearly title game that would begin the following season.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

December 17, 1991: The Cavs Blow The Heat Away

On December 17, 1991, in the most lopsided game in NBA history the Cavaliers toppled the Miami Heat 148-80 at the Richfield Coliseum in Cleveland. The 68 point blowout surpassed the mark of 63 that was set by the Los Angeles Lakers in March of '72 when they beat the Golden State Warriors 162-99. On that night in Richfield everyone on the Cleveland roster was getting in on the action. By halftime they held a 20 point lead and four players were in double digits in scoring.The basketball clinic continued in the second half  with the Cavs scoring 17 of the first 19 points, midway through the run the head coach of the Heat Kevin Loughery benched all 5 of his starters. Cleveland outscored the Heat 75-27 in the second half which included a 42-13 smackdown of a fourth quarter. By the end of the tilt eight different players on the Cavs roster had scored 10 points or more with Mark Price and John Battle leading the charge with 18 apiece.

Check out the box score: http://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/199112170CLE.html

Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16, 1945: An Early Safety Leads To A Championship Title For The Cleveland Rams

On December 16, 1945, a first quarter safety that was caused by the uprights led the Cleveland Rams to a 15-14 Championship victory over the Washington Redskins on a frigid day in Cleveland, Ohio. The mercury dipped to negative eight that day, which didn't keep the crowd of more than 32,000 away. The fateful safety happened early in the first, the Redskins signal caller Sammy Baugh dropped into his own endzone, went to pass the ball, only to have it hit the uprights resulting in an automatic safety. At the time the goalpost was in the front of the endzone rather than where we see it today. While the play proved to be unfortunate the Redskins didn't lie down. In fact, they bounced right back in the second quarter when Baugh's backup Frank Filchock connected with Steve Bagarus on a 38 yard touchdown pass. The 7-2 lead held for just a few minutes as rookie quarterback Bob Waterfield engineered a 70 yard drive that was capped off with a 37 yard pass to Jim Benton that ended in the endzone to put the Rams up 9-7. There was no looking back for Cleveland. Late in the third quarter Waterfield struck again. This time he unleashed a 53 yard bomb that landed in the hands of Jim Gillette who took it in for the score. After missing the extra point that early safety loomed even larger for the Rams. The Redskins tried to comeback from he deficit but it was too much to overcome even after Filchock connected with Bob Seymour for a nine yard score in the fourth. Not once but twice Washington had the chance to take the lead but their kicker Joe Aguirre missed field goal attempts from 46 and 31 yards out. The victory marked an end of an era in Cleveland as the Rams would pack their bags and head to L.A. for the '46 season. They had joined the league in '37 to replace a team out of St. Louis that were known as the Gunners. While the run in Cleveland might have been short it marked the birth of a franchise and ended with a title.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

December 15, 1900: Christy Mathewson Heads to New York

On December 15, 1900, the Cincinnati Reds traded a 19 year kid by the name of Christy Mathewson to the New York Giants for Amos Rusie. The pitcher swap would turn out to be one of the worst trades in the history of the game as Mathewson went on to forge a Hall of Fame career in New York while Rusie appeared in just three games for the Reds posting an 0-1 record. At the time of the trade Cincy looked to be getting a veteran pitcher that was known for throwing the heat, led the league in strikeouts five times,won 20 or more games eight times and won 30 or more 4 times while building a Hall for Fame career of his own. Unfortunately for the Reds they wouldn't see the production that he had in the past. In 1898, an arm injury coupled with a line drive to the head would keep him on the shelf for the next two seasons that led to the trade with the Giants. It's hard to say now what they were thinking at the time but I would imagine the idea of a fresh start for the future Hall of Famer along with bringing in some youth to New York might have been a motivating factor in the deal. Who knows, the Giants might have known that Rusie was done and just made the swap to get out from under his contract. Whatever the factors were what they got in return with Mathewson was a pitcher who would build one of the most storied careers of his era. By 1901, Mathewson recorded his first 20 win season, he would accomplish that a total of thirteen times and would win 30 or more 4 times. By 1905, helped lift the Giants to a World Series title after putting together a season that not only ended with a championship he also took home the pitchers triple crown as the league leader in wins, strikeouts and earned run average. Mathewson accomplished the triple crown feat once again in 1908 as he continued to show that he was one of if not the best pitcher in all of baseball. He spent 17 years in the Big Apple and won 372 game there while losing just 188. His career went full circle after being traded back to Cincinnati in 1916.  Nearly 16 years after the trade that sent him to New York, Mathewson picked up the last and 373rd win of his career, it was his only appearance as a member of the Reds. I bet they wished they would have never let him go. He would remain with the club in a manger role for several seasons before retiring from the game. An inaugural member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Mathewson found his way into baseball immortality in 1936.

If you would like to learn more about the life and times of Christy Mathewson check this out: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/f13c56ed

Saturday, December 14, 2013

December 14, 1988: The Miami Heat Snap The Losing Streak In L.A.

On December 14, 1988, long before Dwayne Wade and Lebron James were winning Championships in Miami, the Heat recorded the first win in the history of their organization with an 89-88 victory over the Clippers in Los Angeles. It was the first season for the expansion team and they began the campaign by losing a record setting 17 games to begin the season before snapping the losing streak in exciting fashion. The Heat's scoring was evenly spread out between Pat Cummings, Grant Long and Billy Thompson who all had 15 on the night while Jon Sundvold was one point shy of that mark with 14. They had built a 12 point lead in the second half but the Clippers put together a fierce rally and with just 2:23 left in the contest they had closed the gap to 84-83. Each and every man on the Heat's roster could feel the victory slipping away. It was something they had felt before, the head coach Ron Rothstein acknowledged that they had been in at least six of those games and felt like they should have one a few of them. On that day the worry and the heartache of losing would end as the team traded jump shots before the exciting conclusion that had the ball in the hands of Clippers forward Ken Norman who attempted to nail a 17 foot jumper with two seconds left on the clock and missed it as the ball deflected off of the rim. The moment the ball bounced off the rim the members of the Heat rushed to the middle of the floor victorious. Although the Heat had set the mark for most consecutive losses to begin a season they did avoid being the team that was known for the most consecutive losses during a regular season which had been set at 20 by the Philadelphia 76ers during the '72-'73 season. It also kept them from equaling or surpassing the Cleveland Cavaliers mark of 24 losses in a row that extended over two seasons from '81 to '83. The Cavaliers would later break that record with 26 losses in a row in 2010 and the New Jersey Nets would lose 18 in a row to begin the season in 2009 surpassing the mark that the Heat had set in '88. I'm sure those affiliated with the Heat organization were glad to see someone else take the worst start in the history of the league title away from them.

The list that no team wants to be on: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_National_Basketball_Association_longest_losing_streaks

Friday, December 13, 2013

December 13, 1983: Papa Federko Becomes The Top Scorer In Blues History

On December 13, 1983, Bernie Federko became the all-time scoring leader in the history of the St. Louis Blues organization when he recorded his 576th point in a 4-1 win over the Blackhawks in St. Louis. The Blues star center had sat at hospital the night before awaiting the arrival of his second son. After his son was born the whirlwind of a new edition was upon him which meant hardly any sleep for the 27 year old. When he got to the rink, a bleary eyed Federko passed out cigars, received numerous congratulations, and shook every hand that was extended toward him before he laced up the skates and turned his focus to the archrival Blackhawks. Federko's teammates Joe Mullen was instrumental in the victory as he scored his first of two goals to get things going early in the contest. The second goal of the game came in the second period when Federko took a rebound off the back glass and knocked it past Chicago netminder Murray Bannerman  to tie Garry Unger's franchise mark of 575 points. The crowd in St. Louis cheered Federko ecstatically as they knew they had just witnessed history. The historic night was far from over for Federko and the Blues. A minute and twenty three seconds after Federko's goal Jorgen Peterson lit the lamp after the Blues won a faceoff in the Blackhawks zone. 32 seconds later Mullen scored his second goal of the game which was assisted by Federko making him the all-time scoring leader in franchise history while opening up a commanding 4-0 lead. The Blues goaltender Mike Luit nearly added a shutout to the end of this tale but with just about  a minute to go it was broken up and the Blues had to settle for the 4-1 victory. Federko would later say that he was running on adrenaline and surpassing Unger's record had hardly sunk in. He was playing in his seventh season with the note on his chest and was on his way to legendary status in the Gateway City and beyond. He played 13 of his 14 years in the Lou scoring 1,073 points and still remains the top scorer in the history of the franchise. Only the great Brett Hull can boast more goals in a Blues uniform and no man has worn that uniform on the ice more than he has. In 1992, less than a year after he hung up the skates, the Blues organization retired his number 24. In 2002, he joined the ranks of the Hockey Hall of Fame, and today he has a statue outside of the Scottrade in St. Louis that reminds Blues fans young and old that Bernie Federko was one of the greatest to ever wear The Note.

Some might say that Bernie Federko was underrated in his time, he played in an era that had names like Gretzky, Bossy, and Yzerman across the backs of the jerseys around the NHL which might have made it  rather difficult to get deserved recognition. The fact that the Blues play in a smaller market and he wasn't able to hoist The Cup might be reasons that might be as well. I can tell you this, as someone that was born, raised, and still resides right outside of St. Louis. I have great appreciation for everything he did. He playing days came a generation before I was tuning in so I never did watch him on the ice but much like Stan Musial I didn't have to see it with my own eyes to appreciate the things they did. There is a long list of athletes that I talk about on a daily basis that the same can be said about. We all have athletes in our respective cities that will remain a part of the community after their playing days are over. Personally, I have a great appreciation for men like that. They don't just play in the city, they are part of the city.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

December 12, 1965: The Gale Sayers Show

On December 12, 1965, Bears rookie Gale Sayers turned in one of the greatest performances in the history of the NFL as he scored a record tying 6 touchdowns in a 61-20 beatdown of the San Francisco 49ers at a muddy Wrigley Field in Chicago. The Bears had opened that '65 season against those same Niners and ended up losing 52-24 which was a little fuel for the fire.The Gale Sayers show started with the running back hauling in a Rudy Bukavich bomb that turned into an 80 yard touchdown. It was just a glimpse at how the day was gonna go for Sayers and his Chicago Bears. In the second quarter he scored on touchdown runs from 21 and 7 yards out, then in the third he scored another pair from 50 and a 1 yard out to bring his total to 5 on the day. Sayers put the exclamation point on things with an 85 yard punt return in the fourth. His six touchdown performance tied the record that had been set by the Chicago Cardinals' Ernie Nevers in 1929 and equaled by Dub Jones in 1951 when he was running the rock for the Cleveland Browns. Both of those six touchdown days came against the Bears but on this day in Chicago Sayers turned the table. The 46,278 that sat in the stands witnessed something that no man has been able to equal since. The '65 season was something special for Sayers, he established a new rookie record with 22 touchdowns scored and that is another feat that has not been accomplished since. With a 9-5 record the Bears ended up finishing third in the Western Division which was a great improvement over the year before when they flipped the record around and sat at 5- 9. A great deal of the improvement could be attributed to the emergence of Sayers and another rookie by the name of Dick Butkus.

If you have 9 minutes to spare this is an absolute great video that talks about both Butkus and Sayers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pk35vPHDtAQ

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December 11, 1977: The Bucs Win!!! The Bucs Win!!!

On December 11, 1977, a huge monkey was lifted off the back of each and every person affiliated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization after the team recorded a 33-14 win over Saints in New Orleans. It was the first win in the history of the organization after they had rattled off 26 losses since they had joined the league one season earlier. The Bucs were considered the laughingstock of the league due to their struggles and when the quarterback of the Saints Archie Manning was interviewed before the contest he said it would be a disgrace to lose to the lowly team out of Tampa. Nothing like giving a team a little bulletin board material to feed off of and the Tampa Bay defense feasted on Manning and the Saints offense. The Bucs defense hauled in six picks and produced five sacks. Up to that point in the season the Bucs had scored 53 points on the entire year and had been shutout six times as they continued to go through the struggles of building a franchise. The tide turned in New Orleans. The first half scoring came from a pair of field goals by Dave Green, then a six play 71 yard march led by Gary Huff was finished it off by him throwing a 5 yard touchdown pass to Morris Owens. With the score 13-0 as the teams headed to the locker rooms at the half the head coach of the Bucs John McKay felt good about the way his team was playing but as you could imagine after 26 losses in a row he nor any of his players were comfortable with the slim lead. The hope was to score quickly in the second half to open up the margin and they did exactly that. On the second play of the second half Bobby Scott who had taken over at quarterback for Manning tossed a pick that Mike Washington took 45 yards to paydirt opening up a 20-0 lead. It was the first pick six in the history of the organization. The second pick six in the history of the organization came on the second play of the fourth quarter when Scott dropped back into his own endzone and threw the ball into the waiting arms of linebacker Richard Wood who ran it ten yards for a quick score. After missing the extra point the Bucs held a 26-0 advantage. This was their day. The Saints finally got on the board with Manning back under center, he engineered a 4 play 66 yard touchdown drive that ended with him keeping it himself as he ran it in on a bootleg from two yards out. After the Bucs went three and out they pinned the Saints deep, moments later Wood deflected a pass that was snatched up by defensive end Greg Johnson who walked straight into the endzone. With Buccaneers up 33-7 and less than two minutes to play the Tampa sideline began to celebrate the victory that had been so damn elusive. They had to watch Manning pick up a garbage time touchdown before the true celebration began. It was a celebration that continued after their plane landed in Tampa as they were greeted by more than 8,000 fans that were accompanied by the team band as well as their cheerleaders. The crowd was so large that they had to close a street outside of the airport and the team shuffled in and out so quickly that a cavalcade followed the team buses to their headquarters where they cheered them on as the coach and the team owner addressed the crowd. Each of those faces in the crowd along with the coach and all the players who had endured losing and could finally go to sleep at night a winner. The next Sunday the Bucs capped the season off with a 17-7 win over the St. Louis Cardinals and the fans tore down the goalposts. Sounds like one helluva week in Tampa.

Check out the box score: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/197712110nor.htm

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December 10, 1939: The Packers Take The Title at The Dairy Bowl

On December 10, 1939, the Green Bay Packers won the NFL Championship title in convincing fashion as they toppled the New York Giants 27-0 in front of a record setting crowd at the Dairy Bowl in Wisconsin. Both teams had put together spectacular regular seasons. The Giants had posted a 9-1-1 regular season record to claim the Eastern Crown while the Packers posted an equally impressive 9-2 record to claim the Western Crown. The battle to name a champion was a a rematch of the title game from a year before in which the Packers lost 23-17 to the squad from New York. They didn't just avenge their loss they pitched the first shutout in NFL playoff history. The game looked like it was going to be a defensive battle in the first half as they went to the locker rooms with the Pack up 7-0 with the lone score coming on a 7 yard touchdown grab by Milt Gatenbein that was tossed by Arnie Gerber. The second half was a whole different ballgame and everyone on the Packers offense got in one the action. The Green Bay offense was effective on the ground and in the air as well. It seemed like every man on the Packer roster came up with a play when his number was called as the offensive unit was clicking on on every level and that included the outstanding blocking of an offensive line that showed no weakness. The Packers D looked every bit as good as their offense as they formed a wall that rejected anything the New York offense threw at them as the frustrated the Giants all day long.  The third quarter featured Joe Laws as the primary offensive threat. Twice Laws led the Pack into enemy territory. The first time the drive stalled but it was still productive as Tiny Engebretsen parked one through the uprights from 29 yards out. The second time Laws and company were able to cap it off with a 31 yard connection from Isbell to Laws that gave the Pack a tight 17-0 grip on the ballgame. On the defensive side of the ball Charlie Brock seemed to be the driving force behind the Packers attack. He was described as a man possessed, if he wasn't in the backfield stopping the run dead in its tracks he was picking off a ball that ended the only true scoring threat by New York. Every time the Giants looked to have any momentum the Packers would come up with a play that swung the pendulum back to the Green Bay side. In the fourth the Packers continued on their path to a championship. Isbell setup the first points of the half with a 31 yard pass to Harry Jucinski who made a spectacular shoestring catch. The drive stalled after a fumble nearly turned the tide but everything was going the Packers way that day and after they recovered. Ernie Smith hit a field goal from 42 yards out. The scoring was capped off with a 1 yard run by Ed Jankowski just minutes after his teammate Bud Svendsen intercepted a ball  on the New York 30 and took it back to the 15 before he was tackled. Late in the game the Giants nearly rallied to avoid the shutout but just couldn't get the job done as the Packers defense stood tall until the end.

The recorded attendance for this game was a record setting 32,279 people. The $83,510.35 that was brought in at the gate also set a new record. By todays standards that would be $1.4 million. The money was divided among the players as well as the organizations. The 33 members of the Packers received a little more than $700 apiece. By todays standards that would total nearly $12,000. The 34 players on the Giants roster received a little more than $450 which would equal a little more than $7,500 today. I throw this information in because in the day and age we live in those numbers would be scoffed at. Just something to think about.

Monday, December 9, 2013

December 9, 1977: The Kermit Washington Incident

On December 9, 1977, one of the uglier incidents in NBA history took place at the Forum in Los Angeles when an on court skirmish ended with the lakers Kermit Washington hitting Houston's Rudy Tomjanovich in the jaw so hard that it nearly killed him. It  happened during the third quarter as Tomjanovich was attempting to play the peacemaker after Washington and Tomjanovich's teammates Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kevin Kunnert got into a fight. As Kunnert was being knocked to the floor Tomjanovich came running over and Washington came around with what was described as a roundhouse punch that broke Tomjanovich's jaw, nose, gave him a serious concussion, fractured his skull, and left him in a pool of blood. The doctor that had to operate on him said that he had seen people with lesser injuries not survive and compared the surgery to putting an egg shell together with scotch tape. The incident was followed with a 60 day suspension for Washington as well as a $10,000 fine. The repercussions for Tomjanovich were far more severe, he did make a full recovery but was never the same, and just a few seasons after the infamous moment he retired from the sport. Later in life Tomjanovich had a successful coaching career and guided the Houston Rockets to back-to-back titles in '94 and '95. The intentions of Kermit Washington were not to seriously injure an opposing player. It was a heat of the moment reaction that had great consequence. Washington received hate mail, death threats, and his family had to pay a price for that one heated moment as well. Two weeks after the incident the Lakers traded Washington to the Boston Celtics. After a short lived stay in beantown he played a season with the San Diego Clippers before going to Portland where he spent his last three seasons. I'm sure the incident haunted all those involved. It led to lawsuits, settlements, and the end of a promising career. Both men would acknowledge that it is something that they have had carry with them but they also acknowledged it is something they put to bed. In fact, they are friends today. A lesson that can be learned out of this is even in the heat of the moment you must think before you act. One decision can effect the rest of your life and the lives of others. It is very fortunate that this story didn't end in tragedy and that the two men have become friends. It's just too bad it doesn't always work like that.

If you go to the 1 minute and 50 second mark in the video you can watch the incident: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgqUZ1IAA_8

Sunday, December 8, 2013

December 8, 1963: Charlie Gilchrist's Rumbles For A Record

On December 8, 1963, in front of more than 20,000 at Buffalo's War memorial Stadium fullback Cookie Gilchrist had the finest rushing day in the history of the AFL when he rumbled for 243 yards and scored 5 touchdowns in 45-14 romp over the New York Jets. The 250 pound battering ram made life hell for the Jets defenders that day, he began his scoring with a four yard touchdown run in the first then punched in the second with a goal line blast in the second. Along with Gilchrist's solid running a field goal by Mack Yoho and a 23 yard touchdown pass by Daryle Lamonica gave the Bills a 24-7 advantage at the half. The best was yet to come for Cookie as Lamonica kept handing the ball to him and he kept running through the Jets defenders. In the third quarter he smashed through from the one once again giving the Bills a 31-7 lead then followed it up with two more touchdowns in the fourth before the Jets answered back with a late score that hardly put a dent in the scoreboard. His first fourth quarter touchdown was his longest scoring play of the day as he took it in from 19 yards out, the second was a 6 yard run. The 243 yards on the ground bested Houston's Billy Cannon record of 216  rushing yards in a game against New York in 1961.  The 5 touchdowns tied a record  that was held by the aforementioned Cannon, as well as Dallas' Abner Gaines.

Gilchrist began his professional football career north of the border, first as a member of the Ontario Rugby Union, then moved onto the CFL where he became a dominant force. In '57 he helped lead the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to a Championship then spent several more seasons with in Canada playing for two other teams. He joined the Bills in '62. The original plan was for the Bills was to have Heisman winner Ernie Davis in the backfield with Gilchrist a backup option, that was if they could keep him from going to the NFL. Fate changed that plan as Davis never played a down of professional football. He was diagnosed with leukemia and died at the young age of 23. Many of you I'm sure have watched "The Express" which is a great biopic of the Ernie Davis story. The plan for the Bills might have been altered but Gilchrist proved to be a formidable option, in fact he was a star. He was the first running back to top the 1,000 yard mark in his rookie season then he continued to wreak havoc on the opposing teams defenses as he bowled them over. Regularly recognized as one of the best Gilchrist but is often overshadowed by premier backs O.J. Simpson and Jim Brown. Mainly because his career was much shorter and a little less storied than both of those men. With that said, he helped the Bills win the AFL Championship in '64 and I'm sure that when the opposition looked over and saw him lining up on the other side they knew he was a force to be reckoned with. Two out of three seasons in Buffalo he led the league in rushing. After the championship season a contract dispute ended his tenure in Buffalo. It led to a year in Denver in which he finished second in rushing yards before moving onto Miami for a season then back to Denver where he hung up the cleats after participating in one game during the '67 season. While the career of Cookie Gilchrist might not be as storied as some of the others that came along it is still quite the story nonetheless. I wish I could have watched him rumble.

Today I'll leave you with the AFL statistical leaders: http://www.profootballhof.com/history/story.aspx?story_id=3268 as well as the box score: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/196312080buf.htm and Cookie's career stats: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/G/GilcCo00.htm

Saturday, December 7, 2013

December 7, 1980: Montana Leads The Way In The Comeback at The Stick

On December 7, 1980, the San Francisco 49ers pulled off the biggest regular season comeback in the history of the NFL. They rallied from a 35-7 halftime deficit to an improbable 38-35 overtime win over the New Orleans Saints in front of a very pleased crowd at Candlestick Park in San Fran. The game was a tale of two halves. Archie Manning owned the first half as the Saints signal caller fired three touchdown passes and put up 248 yards through the air. His squad jumped to a 21-0 lead before surrendering a 57 yard punt return touchdown to San Francisco's Eddie Solomon. The punt return looked like it hardly phased Manning and company as they tacked on two more touchdowns that gave them the commanding 35-7  halftime lead. The Saints came into the contest with an 0-13 record and as they sat in the locker room they had to feel pretty good about their chances of getting that monkey off their back. In the Niners locker room Bill Walsh must of gave the halftime speech of a lifetime. Led by a young quarterback by the name of Joe Montana the 5-10 Niners showed they weren't going to give up easily. In the third quarter Montana began the insurmountable comeback by capping off  the first drive of the 2nd half  with a one yard touchdown run. Then he unleashed a 71 yard bomb to Dwight Clark that shrank New Orleans lead to 35-21.  The Saints held them at bay until the 6 and a 1/2 minutes mark in the fourth. The 14 point was cut in half as Montana connected with Solomon on a 14 yard strike, minutes later the Niners were driving again and they capped off a drive with a 7 yard touchdown run by Lenvil Elliott that knotted the score at 35-35 with just 1:50 on the clock. The Saints won the toss but quickly went 3 and out and were forced the punt. The Niners began the game winning march from their own 34. At one point it looked like the Saints had them stopped but a personal foul on a third down gave them new life as they would have almost surely punted the ball. Four plays after the penalty Ray Wersching came in and booted the ball through the uprights from 36 yards out. The field goal put an exclamation point on the biggest regular season comeback in NFL history. I look through a lot of newspapers to come up with good material for these facts. With the teams both struggling in the standings this game was a bit of an afterthought despite the fact that it was a comeback for the ages. Over the course of time it has proven to be a bit of a coming out party for that kid Joe Montana. He was just 24 years old at the time and had sat behind Steve DeBerg on the depth chart up until the midway point of that 1980 season. The game against New Orleans was more than just a remarkable comeback, it might have just been the beginning of one of the greatest dynasties that the NFL has ever seen.

You can watch each of the touchdowns here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T62YIM1RaJU and you can check out the box score here: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/198012070sfo.htm

Friday, December 6, 2013

December 6, 1973: The Owners Approve a Move To Washington For The Padres

On December 6, 1973, the owners of the National League ballclubs voted that the sale of the San Diego Padres would be approved to Washington D.C. businessman Joseph Danzanky who planned to move them to D.C. the next season.  There were two options to keep the team in San Diego. The first was Marge Everett a race track owner that promised to keep the team in the city. It fell apart for her after allegations arose that she was involved in a political bribery scandal that involved the Governor of Illinois Otto Kerner. The other option was to let C. Arnholdt Smith continue to run the team, he had bought them in 1955 when they were a Pacific Coast League franchise and would be granted an expansion franchise in 1967, two years later the Padres were a major league ballclub. Smith, a high school dropout that worked in a grocery store before becoming a messenger for the Bank of Italy which we happen to call the Bank of America now days, worked his way up the ladder while saving up for one of the biggest investments of his entire life. That investment was into the United States National Bank. With the help of his brother who was in the oil business, Smith became the majority share holder and would build an empire that included a wide variety of investments as well as the Padres franchise. Things came crashing down for him in 1973 when the United States National Bank collapsed with an outstanding debt that exceeded $400 million. At the time it was the biggest bank collapse in the history of the United States. While the owners considered letting him remain in control it hardly seemed like a viable option. Danzansky, the owner of a very successful grocery chain tried to keep the Senators from moving  to Texas in 1971 and when he saw the trouble brewing in San Diego he put his name in the hat hoping to bring baseball back to the nation's capitol. Danzansky had formally purchased the club in May of that year for $12 million, he had jumped many hurdles along the way to make it happen and the owners vote looked like his dream could become reality. They went as far as designing new uniforms, issuing Topps baseball cards that projected a Washington National League team, as well as projecting an opening day start that was to be held at RFK on April 4, 1974. What followed the owners vote was a fierce legal battle by the City of San Diego. It was a fight they wouldn't lose, the team had 15 years left on a 20 year lease and the city would seek damages if the team was to relocate. Danzansky failed to reach the deadline to cover the damages by the lawsuit and at the last minute Ray Kroc bought the team and guaranteed the team would be staying in San Diego. Kroc, another self made millionaire had worked in radio, sold paper cups, then started a little short order food joint that he called McDonalds... that worked out quite well. He owned the team until he passed away at the age of 81 in 1984. After his wife inherited the club she tried to donate it to the City of San Diego only to have the rules keep her from doing so which led to a sale in 1990. They have since changed hands since then but one constant has remained the same, which is they remain in the city in which it all began.

This is a fact about something that never happened. I couldn't help but find it interesting because you just never know how it would have all turned out it could have a proverbial "Butterfly Effect" on the entire game. Just think of the possibilities such as; There would be no team called the Nationals playing in Washington. Would there still be a team in Montreal? I doubt it but there might be a team in Oklahoma City, Portland, or North Carolina. From there the possibilities are endless with how it would have effected standings,division realignments along with player and personnel decisions.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

December 5, 1978: The Phillies Sign Pete Rose

On December 5, 1978, after he signed on the dotted line that guaranteed him $3.2 million over the next four seasons Pete Rose became a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. Rose was the free agent prize of the offseason, he was courted by Philadelphia, St. Louis, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Kansas City. Despite the fact that each of the other cities in the mix offered him more money he made the decision to play in the City of Brotherly Love because of a close relationship with several of the Phillies players and the organization's willingness to add the fourth year to the contract. At the time Rose was 37 years old, he was coming off a remarkable season, he not only joined the 3,000 hit club early in the campaign, he also strung together a 44 game hitting streak. He had spent all of his 16 years in the league with the Cincinnati Reds and after he left he said he would have signed for half the amount to remain in the city in which it all began only to have them balk at negotiations.While in Cincinnati he was a key component of the team that was known as "The Big Red Machine" and a machine they were. From 1970 to 1976 they averaged 98 wins per season with men like Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, and Pete Rose led by Hall of Fame skipper Sparky Anderson. The pinnacle for those great teams came with back-to-back titles in '75 and '76. When he hit the free agent market in '78 the bidding wars included a beer distributorship in St. Louis, race horses in Pittsburgh, and stock interests in Kansas City. While the perspective offers from each of the other cities in the running were considered higher they did not involve the same amount of cash and in the end cash is king and Rose with the sure thing. The contract amounted to $800,000 annually and made him the highest paid player in the game. When he was inked the owner of the club Ruly Carpenter thought he had found the final piece to a World Series puzzle. Some might have thought it was a bad deal after the Phillies failed to make the playoffs in '79 but I would bet those same people changed their minds in 1980 when they watched Rose roll through downtown Philadelphia as the city celebrated the first Phillies title since 1950. He exited Philly following the '83 season and signed with the Montreal Expos where he became the only the second in the history of the game to record 4,000 hits in a career. The stop in Montreal didn't last long, in August of '84 he was dealt to the Reds where he was named player/manager. It was a triumphant return to the city that helped build his career. He surpassed Ty Cobb's record of 4,191 in September of 1985. After playing in 72 games during the '86 campaign Rose turned his focus to managing. His playing career spanned 24 years and the list of the accomplishments are too long to list. Unfortunately, we all know how it ended for Pete with the lifetime ban, but everything in between was pure greatness. I'm sure the fans in Philly are glad he wore their uniform as he made his journey through baseball.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

December 4, 1949: The Steelers Bobby Gage Nearly Shocks Chicago

On December 4, 1949, with the Steelers down 30-7 to the Bears in Chicago, Pittsburgh back Bobby Gage tied an NFL record with a 97 yard dash that closed the gap to 30-14. Just 44 seconds later the Steelers capitalized on a fumble that had Gage running it in from 6 yards out to bring it to 30-21. The Steelers looked like they might have a shot at pulling off the unbelievable comeback after an interception put the ball right back in the hands of their offense only to have a fumble squash their hopes. The 97 yard run by Gage with 2:39 left was what gave the game historical significance It tied Green Bay's Andy Uram's 97 yard rumble that he had set in a 27-20 win over the Chicago Cardinals in 1939. The run by Gage surprised George Halas' squad as he looked like he was getting ready to punt, stepped deep into the endzone, then broke right and was off to the races up the sideline. The record stood until 1983 when Tony Dorsett of the Dallas Cowboys took it to the house from 99 yards out on Monday Night Football. While Gage only played two seasons in the NFL he stills holds the Steelers franchise record for longest yards from scrimmage. He was a multi talented athlete who not only played tailback, he also played the quarterback position, as well as defensive back.

Here's the box score: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/194912040chi.htm

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December 3, 1950: Tom Fears Hauls In 18 As The Rams Annihilate The Packers

On December 3, 1950, in the final game of the regular season Rams wideout Tom Fears hauled in a record setting 18 passes in a 51-14 beatdown of the Green Bay Packers in front of 39,323 cheering fans at the Coliseum in Los Angeles. Before the game even began the news came across the wire that the Cardinals had beaten the Bears in the Battle of Chicago, a Rams win guaranteed a crack at the conference title which was a goal they would achieve in dominant fashion. The Rams were held scoreless in the first quarter, then early in the second Green Bay's running back Floyd Reid set up the first points of the game with a 57 yard rumble that put the Pack at the eight yard line. One pass later Bob Mann hauled in a Paul Christman pass and the Rams were in a hole. They would get out of that hole quickly as they began to dominate on both sides of the ball. In fact, the Packers weren't able to get back on the board until late in the fourth quarter. While they were busy not scoring, the Rams were lighting up the scoreboard like a Christmas tree as they scored 5 touchdowns and safety before the Pack answered back in the fourth. After they answered back the Rams tacked on two more touchdowns for good measure. While it looks like Fears might have been a bit of a one man show as he set the new record for receptions, the entire Rams offense put on a show. Before the day was over quarterback Norm Van Brocklin added three touchdown passes to his resume with Fears hauling in the third. Bob Waterfield took over under center late in the third and threw his first touchdown pass of the game to Vitamin Smith before sitting on his sideline. The Packers marched 84 yards, capping off the drive with a short touchdown pass from Tobin Rote to Ted Cook that hardly put a dent in the scoreboard. At that point the Rams held a 37-14 advantage, the joys of scoring didn't last long for the team from Wisconsin. Fears hauled in his second touchdown pass of the day, a four-yarder from Waterfield. Fear finished the day 189 receiving yards with the two touchdowns along with the 18 grabs.Then the final blow to the Green Bay D came with a late touchdown run that capped off the 51 point day for the Rams. The record setting day by Fears also capped off a record setting season for the future Hall of Famer. He finished the season with record 84 pass receptions and he led the league with 1,116 receiving yards. The huge win led to a divisional playoff between the Bears and the Rams in L.A. to decide who would go onto the NFL Championship game. After beating the Bears 24-14 in that playoff game the Rams fell to the Cleveland Browns 30-28 in a classic Christmas Eve Championship game. Fears' record stood until 49ers wideout Terrell Owens caught 20 balls in a 17-0 win over the Chicago Bears in 2000, nine years later Brandon Marshall of the Denver Broncos hauled in 21 against the Colts but they still managed to lose 28-16. To date, Fears' 18 catch day is good for third place on the all-time list. You can view that list here: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/leaders/rec_single_game.htm

Monday, December 2, 2013

December 2, 1907: Tommy Burns Pummels Gunner Moir

On December 2, 1907, Canadian born boxer Tommy Burns was crowned Heavyweight Champion of the World after beating British champ Gunner Moir with a ten round knockout in London. Burns had taken the American title in February of 1906 and would defend it successfully a total of thirteen times before losing to the legendary Jack Johnson in 1908. He was not a man who showed prejudice. In a time that most white fighters would only fight other white fighters he would say " I will defend my titles on all corners, none barred. By this I mean white, black, Mexican, Indian, or any other nationality. I propose to be the champion of the world, not the white, or the Canadian, or the American. If I'm not the best man in the heavyweight division, I do not want the title." His stance was very different at the time and it earned the respect of the men he faced along the way. Burns came into the fight against Moir an odds on favorite and he would prove that was well deserved by beating Moir mercilessly. Before the fight began Moir was nervous he could barely shake the hands of the man who was about to beat his ass. Most of the punches Moir landed early on were described as weak and the one blow that ended up with blood running from the nose of Burns was described as lucky as he caught Burns with a right as he charged him in the third round. After that it was all Burns., he landed blow after blow until Moir was battered and bruised then he finally landed a right to the jaw that left Moir knocked out for more than 5 minutes. The next day if you looked at Burns you would not have known he had been in a battle. On the other hand, Moir looked like he might have been hit by a truck and I would bet he felt like he had as well. To date, Tommy Burns is the only Canadian born boxer to hold the heavyweight title.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December 1, 1997: The Latrell Chokewell Incident

On December 1, 1997, Golden State Warriors All Star guard Latrell Sprewell choked his head coach P.J. Carlesimo after a heated exchange during practice. The incident began with Sprewell making a few lazy passes as the team prepared for the next opponent. His coach told him to sharpen things up, in turn Sprewell told him he wasn't in the mood for it and threatened to kill him. When the coach shot back with "I'm right here" Sprewell grabbed him by his throat and for a brief moment the threat looked like he might just go through with it as both coach and player went to the ground with the hands of Sprewell around Caliesimo's neck. The melee was broken up quickly then Sprewell was removed from  the practice only to return 15 to 20 minutes later to confront the coach again before throwing a punch at him. After the second incident Sprewell stormed into the General Manager's office and expressed his desire to get out of Oakland. Not only would he be suspended for 10 games, he got his wish the Warriors released him which voided more than $27 million that he had left on his deal. The lockout that shortened the next season would keep him off the NBA radar until he was signed by the Knicks in 1999. He spent the next 5 seasons in New York and made his fourth and final All Star appearance of his career with a Knicks uniform in in 2001. After the 2003 season he was a part of a four team deal that landed him in Minnesota where he spent the last two seasons of his career. With Sam Cassell and Kevin Garnett on his sides they became one of the best scoring trios in the league as they made a trip to the Western Conference Finals where they lost to the Laker. Disagreements in what he should be paid ended the career of Sprewell. He was insulted by a 3 year $21 million offer that would lead to an early end of his career at the age of 34. The story of Latrell Sprewell is an interesting one. He was obviously a very talented player that had a solid career in the NBA. Unfortunately for him he will be remembered for one bad moment, but the way I see it is that was of his own doing. Gotta think before you act. When it comes to the early retirement, I guess he had plenty of money and a championship didn't mean that much to him. Sprewell received offers from several legitimate contenders and turned them down simply because he felt he was worth more than those offers. I try hard not to criticize athletes for the choices they make because I do believe it is their own life and they can live it how they choose. With that said, I also have a great appreciation for athletes that will go to the ends of the earth simply to win a championship. When it comes to Sprewell if he is happy with the choice he made, I guess that is all that matters. I know capping off a career with a title would have been a much better ending to a story about some guy who lost his shit and choked his coach.