Friday, January 31, 2014

January 31, 1994: Dominique Wilkins Becomes The 11th Player In NBA History To Score 23,000

On January 31, 1994, with a 24 point effort in a 90-85 win over the Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks star Dominique Wilkins became just the 11th player in NBA history to record 24,000 points in his career. Coincidentally Wilkins would score his 26,000th point on the same date in 1997 as a member of the San Antonio Spurs, unfortunately the 27 points he dropped that night didn't lead to a win as the Minnesota Timberwolves went onto win that contest 97-95. Wilkins would finish his career with 26,668 points which is good for 11th on the all time list of points scored in NBA history.
     The night that his 23,000th point fell through the hoop was a memorable one as the Hawks had found themselves trailing 43-37 at the half. At the time the Mavs had a record of 3 wins and 40 losses and Wilkins a.k.a. "The Human Highlight Film"  even acknowledged that they were taking them lightly. It is always important to throw records out the window because any team that lacks focus can be beaten by a team that they consider to be inferior. The first half was fuel for a Hawks fire that would use Wilkins as the primary accelerant. In his own words, the 6 foot 8 big man said "We came in for the second half pretty mad." It was the kind of anger that works in your favor.

     The Hawks outpaced the Mavs 36-19 in the third quarter which decided the ballgame. 14 of Wilkins' 24 points came in that third quarter. His 23,000th point came with a dunk as the Hawks were in the midst of a 22-8 run. While the Mavs record didn't show it, they played with heart and determination to get back in it. They were down 73-62 after 3 quarters were in the books then outscored Atlanta 23-17 in the final frame. It just wasn't enough to overcome the third quarter that buried them.

     As mentioned before Wilkins finished his career with 26,668 points which is good for 11th on the all time list of points scored in NBA history. The 9 time All Star was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. The accomplishments of Wilkins also included a scoring title and 2 slam dunk titles. In 2001, the Hawks organization retired his #21 to honor him as one of the greatest to ever wear their jersey.

Check out Wilkins' career numbers and accomplishments here:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

January 30, 2000: The Rams Win A Thriller In Super Bowl XXXIV

     On January 14, 2000, the St. Louis Rams capped off what was a magical season with a 23-16 win over the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV. The game had one of the most thrilling finishes in Super Bowl history. Tennessee had found themselves down 16-0 before they came storming back to tie it. With just under two minutes left in the game Rams quarterback Kurt Warner found Isaac Bruce on a 73 yard bomb that would prove to be the game winner. Steve McNair and the Titans were not about to give up, McNair engineered a drive that nearly tied things up, only to have linebacker Mike Jones make "The Tackle" of a lifetime at the one-yard line to preserve the Rams victory.

     When the Rams began the season in '99 they were coming off a 4-12 mark a year before and were considered to be one of if not the worst teams in the league. During the offseason they signed quarterback Trent Green and the players and the fans alike were excited about where he could take them. Then in the third preseason game against the San Diego Chargers, Green suffered a devastating knee injury. The hopes of a good season seemed to be washed down the drain in one moment. Then came Kurt Warner, a 28 year-old quarterback that turned to stocking shelves at a grocery story in Iowa after not being able to make the cut in the NFL. Warner did find work in the Arena Football League and quickly turned the heads of many as he showed off his arm at that level. One of those heads turned was with the Rams organization and in 1998 the team signed him then sent him to play in NFL Europe for the Amsterdam Admirals where he led the league in passing yards and touchdowns as well. It was enough to get him an invite to play with the Rams the following season to backup the newly obtained Green. When the injury happened to Green, suddenly Warner was in the spotlight. Nobody could have predicted what that quarterback who had taken the long road to the NFL would do next.

     What he did was almost instantly gel with the team and with his head coach Dick Vermeil standing behind him 100%. He led them to a 13-3 record with a high-flying aerial assault that was complemented by Marshall Faulk who stood behind him in the backfield. The cast of players on that Rams squad has too many great names to mention them all but I'll go ahead and ring off a few. Along with Warner and Faulk, the offense had Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Ricky Proehl, and and offensive line that was anchored by Orlando Pace. Their defense, often unheralded, had names such as D'Marco Farr, Kevin Carter, London Fletcher, and Todd Lyght leading the way. While many might have thought their early season success was a flash in the pan, they would soon prove those naysayers wrong by winning the NFC crown and earning a berth in the Super Bowl.

     The Titans posted a 13-3 record, most seasons one would think that it would easily earn a division title, this season it was  good for second as the Jacksonville Jaguars went 14-2 to take the AFC Central. The Titans were led by Steve McNair and Eddie George on offense and Jevon Kearse and Samari Rolle on defense. Like the Rams they too had a wide variety of names in their cast of players that had performed at the top level and earned their way to the Super Bowl.

     The road to the Super Bowl was not a road easily traveled for either team. In the wildcard round the Titans pulled off an unbelievable win over the Buffalo Bills in a game that became known as "The Music City Miracle." The Bills led 16-15 in the waning minutes when one of the craziest plays in the history of the NFL happened that sent them to the next round. It all began with a kickoff to Lorenzo Neal who lateraled the ball to Frank Wycheck who then lateraled it to Kevin Dyson, and Dyson took it to the house and sealed a Titans victory. Truly an unbelievable game. The Titans had to face the Indianapolis Colts next and pulled off a 19-16 victory before they toppled the Jaguars 33-14 in the AFC title game. They would be facing a Rams team that had knocked off the Minnesota Vikings 49-37 in the divisional round, then eked out a 11-6 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC title game thanks to an unbelievable catch by Ricky Proehl late in the game which set the stage for the big game that would be held in Atlanta.

     After all the media coverage that led up to the big game was in the books and the game was underway, it seemed like it could turn into a defensive contest at a rapid rate as the Titans held the Rams to three field goals in the first half that led to a 9-0 St. Louis lead as they headed to their locker rooms. After a missed field goal by the Titans, Warner and company went to work. The Rams quarterback hit Isaac Bruce, Ernie Conwell, then found Torry Holt on a 9 yard grab that capped off a 68 yard drive and put them ahead 16-0. The deficit was not something that would cause Tennessee to lie down, they would not go down without a fight. A pair of Eddie George touchdowns put the score at 16-13, then with just 2:12 left in the fourth Al Del Greco kicked a 43 yarder through the uprights to tie it up. The joy of tying the ballgame was short lived when Warner found Bruce at the Titans 38 yard line on the next drive. Once Bruce found it in his hands, he did the rest, once again the Rams were ahead.

     With 1 minute and 48 seconds left on the clock, McNair took over on his own 12. The task of moving it 88 yards was in front of him and it was a challenge he readily accepted as he began a march up the field that will not soon be forgotten. As they marched deep into Rams territory, McNair was facing a 3rd and 5 and escaped the Rams defensive rush that looked like they had his number. The elusive McNair then fired a pass to Kevin Dyson for a 16 yard gain that put his team at the 10. Tennessee called a timeout with just six seconds left, it was their final timeout, which meant there was only time for one more play.

     That play was something. McNair targeted Dyson once again, and for a moment it looked like a tie ballgame was imminent. Then came Mike Jones who dragged him down from behind. With Dyson's arm extended in an effort to cross the goal line with the ball the clock ran to zeros. The Rams were Super Bowl Champions.

     As someone who grew up right outside of St. Louis, I can tell you this was a more than exciting time in my life. St. Louis was starved for a contender in football. The years of mediocrity with the Cardinals football team that headed to Arizona in 1988 simply seemed to continue when the Rams arrived on the scene in 1995.  The turnaround in 1999 was almost like living a dream. The story of Kurt Warner seemed like it was something you could only see on the silver screen, especially with it ending with him as the Super Bowl MVP. Warner threw for 414 yards on his way to winning the award, it is a still standing Super Bowl record. It was just simply amazing. Even if we might be from different cities, I think most of us have lived through the euphoria of a championship with one of our favorite teams. It does seem like the stars just align every so often and we get to feel that feeling. For me, there is nothing like it. I truly do hope that every fan gets to feel that feeling at least once in their lifetime.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January 29, 1985: Bryan Trottier Joins The 1,000 Point Club

     On January 29, 1985, New York Islanders centre Bryan Trottier became just the 19th man in the history of the NHL to score 1,000 points in his career. The milestone came on a night in front of a home crowd in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders fell into a 4-0 hole, before Trottier scored 2 goals and sparked his team to a 4-4 tie with Minnesota North Stars.

     With his team down but not out, Trottier scored both his goals in the second period to give the team new life. The first was a power play goal that he tipped in when Denis Potvin shot him a quick pass. The second was a thing of beauty, it happened with the team down a man, Trottier poled the puck away from Bob Rouse, then skated stride for stride down the ice with the Minnesota defenseman, at the last second Rouse tried to break things up with a stick check but he wasn't stopping Trottier who faked out the goalie Rollie Melanson then flipped in a backhander. One helluva a way for him to record his 1,000th point. Duane Sutter and John Tonelli each tallied a goal in the third that led to the tie.

     After the contest Trottier was more concerned with his team falling behind then having to overcome the deficit rather than his own personal achievements. Although he did say "I was just happy to score the goal. I'll let people that are good at describing things describe it. But I will always remember it. I'll reflect on the 1,000 points and be thankful to play with these guys on a good team."

     Trottier would score 1,425 points total before his career came to a close. He was a Stanley Cup Champion 4 times with the Islanders, then won it two more times late in his career as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. In 1997 he was honored as one of the greatest to ever lace up a pair of skates when he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. A true legend of the game Trottier's 1,425 points ranks 16th on the all time list and it is safe to say he will always remember the day that he tallied the 1,000 point of his career.

Check out Trottier's career numbers here:

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January 28, 1958: Roy Campanella Paralyzed

     On January 28, 1958,  Roy Campanella of the Brooklyn Dodgers was paralyzed after he hit a telephone pole with the car he was driving. The 36 year old catcher had taken home MVP honors three times, helped lead the Dodgers to five National League Pennants, as well as a World Series Championship in 1955. It was a devastating blow for Campanella and the fans in Brooklyn. They were getting ready to watch the team they had loved head west, and one of their own had just suffered a terrible injury, it was a hard pill to swallow. Like the fans in Brooklyn, Campanella would move on. He remained active within the Dodgers organization and would receive multiple honors from those that had watched him play the game he loved.

     The accident happened after 3 a.m. on that fateful day. Campy, as his teammates called him, was driving a '57 Chevy home from a liquor store that he owned and operated when he hit a patch of ice and careened into the pole that changed his life forever. The injuries sustained looked to be much worse initially as the doctors feared that he would be quadriplegic, within 24 hours he began to regain some feeling in his upper body and would gain control of his arms and hands so the worst case scenario had been averted. The accident ended the career of Campanella, but it didn't end his life, and he was thankful for that. He had a lot to live for, which included six children.

     Following the accident, his marriage fell apart, a few years later he met his third wife Roxie who remained by his side until he passed away in 1993. He did live a good life, it might not have been under the perfect circumstances, but he adapted and learned to live with his disability. I know a couple of people who have suffered the same fate as Roy Campanella. They both lost the use of their legs due to accidents. With the advancement of medical technology we do have hope that one day they will be able to walk again. The most important thing is, no matter what happens, the injuries sustained have not defeated them by any means, it is something they share with Roy Campanella.

     The Dodgers organization honored him with a record setting crowd of more than 90,000 in 1959. In '69 he joined the ranks of baseball's greatest in Cooperstown, New York, and in 1972 his #39 was retired by the Dodgers organization. Today, when I hear the name Roy Campanella the first thing that comes to mind is the accident. I think one of the reasons behind that is I never got to see him play. He did suffer injuries throughout his playing career that ended up limiting some but when he was on the field he was one of the best in the game. Campanella caught three no hitters, held a .276 career average, and was a guiding force behind a Dodgers team that were considered to be one of the best in the National League on a yearly basis. To have seen him play would have surely been a treat. Numbers can always tell a tale but there is nothing like seeing it with your own eyes.

If you would like to read about Campanella's life and career check out his bio that was published by the Society of American Baseball Research here:

Campanella's career numbers and accomplishments:

Monday, January 27, 2014

January 27, 1982: The Trade That Brought Ryne Sandberg To The Windy City

     On January 27, 1982, the Philadelphia Phillies sent veteran shortstop Larry Bowa to the Chicago Cubs for another veteran shortstop Ivan De Jesus.... oh yeah the Cubs also got a 22 year old kid by the name of Ryne Sandberg who had appeared in just 13 games at the major league level. That 22 year old kid would go on to play 15 years in the Windy City and he became a legend along the way. The kid who was destined to have a spot in Cooperstown was almost an afterthought in the eyes of the newspapers that were printed in the following days, the focus was one the two veterans and the potential they might bring to their respective clubs, little did anyone know of the career that Sandberg had in store.

     The owner of the Phillies, Bill Giles didn't want to move the 36 year old Bowa, he was a 2 time Gold Glover, a 5 time All Star and had been a key component in the 1980 World Series Championship run. The decision came down to deal him after contract demands exceeded what the Phillies could offer. De Jesus was 29, he appeared durable as he appeared in more than 150 games a year for the each of the previous 5 years in Chicago. He was coming off a season in which he hit .194 though; by all accounts it looked like the Cubs had clearly won this trade. If you looked at it without Sandberg included it might have almost been a push, when you throw Sandberg's name in there the clear cut winner was easily the Cubs. Today it is still considered one of the most lopsided trades in history of the game.

     The Phillies just didn't have a spot for Sandberg and they believed he would ultimately be a utility man. He had hit .290 with their Tulsa affiliate and that is what caught the eye of the Cubs front office. Much like the Phillies, the Cubs also weren't sure about the position he would play. When you can hit a position will find you. The first plan was to have him play centerfield, that plan changed when Opening Day rolled around in '82 he was penciled in at third. He played 156 games in his rookie season and was a part of the conversation when it came to the rookie of the year after batting .271 with 7 home runs and 54 RBI.

     With the successful rookie year behind him, a position change would come when the Cubs grabbed third baseman Ron Cey in a deal with the Dodgers. Sandberg moved over to second where he would spend the majority of his Hall of Fame career. In his first year at second base he won his first of nine consecutive Gold Gloves. In '84 he earned the league's Most Valuable Player Award after batting .314 with 19 home runs, 84 ribbies. He also led the league in runs with 114 that season and triples as well with 19. A model of consistency, Sandberg was selected to 10 All Star games and his power numbers rose to the point that he led the National League with 40 home runs in 1990, that same year he won the annual Home Run Derby. He was a fixture in Chicago that the fans and players alike had great respect for as he strived to be his best. He retired in 1994 then returned to the Cubs in '96 and played for two more seasons before retiring at the age of 37.

     Over the course of his 15 years in Chicago, Sandberg truly achieved greatness, the team might have fell short in the postseason, but he gave those fans a lot to cheer for as he built his Hall of Fame resume. I'm going to reiterate a few of those numbers that earned him a plaque in Cooperstown, New York. Sandberg carried a .285 career average, he was a 10 time All Star, 9 time Gold Glover, 7 time Silver Slugger and picked up 2,386 hits, parked 282 home runs over the wall, and knocked in more than a 1,000 runs. Only one of those hits came in a different uniform and that happened in one of those first 13 games of his career in Philly.

     When it came to the original headliners of the deal Bowa hit .296 over 4 years in Chicago, De Jesus hit .249 over three years in Philly. While they were the original focal point, a 22 year old kid that was largely written off  by most pundits then became the true story in the deal. It might just be the best deal that the Cubs ever made. It's sort of crazy how it went full circle and Sandberg is now managing the team that traded him so long ago.

Today I will include the stats of Sandberg, Bowa, De Jesus in that order:


Sunday, January 26, 2014

January 25, 1960: Danny Heater Scores A Record Setting 135

     On January 26,1960, the Heat was on in Burnsville, West Virginia when high schooler Danny Heater set a world record for most points scored in basketball game at any level with a 135 point performance. The six foot Burnsville guard scored 50 points by halftime then knocked down another 85 in the second half as he etched his name in the record books. No player at the high school level has yet to surpass the 135 point game that Heater put together and more than 50 years later the record seems nearly untouchable. Since 1913, only 19 males and five females players have crossed the 100 point threshold in basketball at the high school level. The closest challenger to Heater's unbelievable record was a kid named John Morris out of Portsmouth, Virginia who dropped 127 in a 173-47 beatdown just one year later.

     Before the game even began, Heater's coach Jack Stalnaker and teammates alike encouraged him to go out and break the state record, which stood at 74 points. The coach thought that if he could break that record it would catch the attention of college scouts. There was no way that Heater's family could afford to send him to school and that coach had faith in him and his ability to achieve success as a collegian, he saw it as a ticket. Heater almost didn't go along with it, as we all know when we play team sports it's about the team and not about one man.The kid didn't score for the first two minutes and thirty eight seconds, Stalnaker burned an early timeout and pulled Heater to the side and told him they were doing this for him, if he was thrown the ball, he needed to not dish it off to a teammate, he needed to score. That was a turning point. When Heater got the ball in his hands the next time he dropped it in with a layup, it was the first two points in what would be a history making performance.

     With 50 points by halftime everyone involved knew that the record would be surpassed and it didn't take long. The 74 mark was eclipsed just 10 minutes into the second half. Heater thought that was where the day would end and was expecting to come out of the contest, then his teammates told him to get back out there and go after the National record which had been set by Dick Brogenrife out of Ohio in 1953. Heater went back out there and in what he described as a dream, everything he put up fell through the hoop. In the last ten minutes he dropped 55 points. He was dominating the other team in a way that probably made them want to catch a quick bus out of there.

     Once the news spread into Charleston he had his moment in the sun, with fan mail pouring in, his picture in a weekly national sports magazine, and even had the Basketball Hall of Fame call and have him sign a commemorative postage stamp. Unfortunately, it was just a moment in the sun. Heater suffered a severe ankle sprain that led to poor performances and unimpressed scouts. He did receive a scholarship offer from the University of Richmond but he suffered a back injury in a car accident, then his family's home burned to the ground and he had to return home. Sometimes that's the way life takes a person. He moved on, found work, got married and lived a life that he still lives today in West Virginia. In 1988, the Lakeland Ledger published a story that was about how Heater was waiting for the day that the world record would fall, that was 28 years after the record setting game, he had to wait another 24 years before it finally happened when Jack Taylor out of Grinnell College surpassed him with a 138 point performance in 2012. While the world record is no longer owned by Heater, the high school record remains intact. The most recent high schooler to surpass the 100 point plateau came in March of 2013 when Herman Saygar out of Culver, Indiana dropped 113 in a game his team won by the score of 154-10.

     I jumped out of the box with this fact a little. I think it's the first fact that I have used from a high school event. I have a rule; if it intrigues me dig on in and that's what I did here. While we sometimes like to say a record is unbreakable, you never know when it might just happen. It truly is something I love about sports, any time you attend a sporting event at any level you might just witness something historic. The way I see it is each event has it's own place in the history books, some just rise to the top. Danny Heater rose to the top.

You can view the list of 100 point scorers here:

Saturday, January 25, 2014

January 25, 1991: The Golden Brett Joins The 50 Goals In 50 Games Club

     On January 25, 1991, St. Louis Blues right winger Brett Hull became just the fifth player in NHL history to record 50 goals in 50 games. Hull reached the milestone in the Blues 49th game of the season making him the one of only three to accomplish the feat in less than 50 games. The milestone came in Detroit with a two goal and two assist performance in a 9-4 victory over the Red Wings. The "Golden Brett" joined the likes of Rocket Richard, Mike Bossy, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky on the elite list of men who accomplished the feat of 50 goals in 50 games.

     The game was all Blues. Late in the second period, Hull extended an already insurmountable lead when he blasted the puck past Tim Cheveldae, giving the Blues a 7-2 lead. The head coach of the Red Wings, Bryan Murray made a change between the pipes after the second period ended. The Wings veteran goalie Glen Hanlon had recently suffered an injury and a 23 year old kid by the name of Dave Gagnon had his number called. Gagnon was making his NHL debut, he would only play in two games at the professional level and might best be remembered as a trivia question answer as to who Hull scored his 50th goal against in 1991.

     The third started with success for Gagnon as he turned away his first shot but the success did not last long. Just 90 seconds into the period the second shot came off the stick of Hull and wound up in the back of the net. It was a slap shot from the slot that had been assisted by Adam Oates. Brett Hull was now a member of the 50 in 50 club. He said "This is the most exciting thing to ever happen to me." He knew he had a long career ahead of him and had hopes of championships and more but being on that list of men was a great accomplishment that he would be sure to remember. 25 years earlier his father Bobby came so close to being amongst those men as well. He had scored his 50th goal for the Blackhawks in his 52nd game of the '65-'66 campaign. Hull knew how great of an accomplishment it was and gutted through an ankle injury to be on the ice. The ankle injury was serious enough out keep him out of the All Star game and the next night the Blues took on the Wings in St. Louis and he had to leave the game early because of it, but not before he added a two more goals in a game that would take overtime for the Blues to win by the score of 5-4.

     Hull finished that '90-'91 season with a career high 86 goals. One year later he accomplished 50 goals in 50 games for a second time. Only Lemieux and Gretzky could boast such a feat and only Gretzky could lay claim to three 50 in 50 seasons. No player since Hull has joined the elite list, it will only be a matter of time until a player does and I hope it means as much to him as it meant to Hull and those that came before him.

Watch the goal here:

Friday, January 24, 2014

January 24, 1950: Jackie Robinson Inks The Richest Deal In Dodgers History

On January 24, 1950, Jackie Robinson inked a one year deal with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The contract guaranteed the 31 year old $35,000, making him the highest paid man in the history of the franchise. By today's standards that $35,000 would equate to $338,000 and it's safe to say that Robinson earned every single penny.

After breaking through baseball's color barrier in 1947, Robinson proved to be one of the best players in the game. He had taken home rookie of the year honors in '47, then in 1949 he was selected to the All Star game, won the National League Batting Title, and took home the National League MVP award as well. When Robinson first signed on with the major league club for $5,000, after his stellar rookie year his pay increased to $14,000, then $21,000 a year later. Following that MVP season in '49 Jackie made it known that he would seek a substantial pay raise after the club mailed him a contract he deemed "not satisfactory" after the threat of  a holdout a meeting with owner Walter O'Malley and General Manager Branch Rickey was arranged and within minutes of the doors closing behind them the deal was made.

O'Malley knew the value of Jackie Robinson and even with his star second baseman receiving a raise of more than $22,000 he knew that in many ways it was a bargain. The previous Spring the Dodgers saw record crowds attend Spring Training exhibition games and the organization knew who they were there to watch. When asked about the negotiations Rickey said "He told me what he thought what he should get and I agreed. It was just like that." When Robinson spoke about it he agreed with Rickey's assessment then said with a big smile on his face "It didn't take me more than three minutes to sign the contract. It is a very generous one."

With the deal in place Robinson would embark on another All Star season and would continue a career that was destined for the Hall of Fame. He played with the Dodgers until his career came to a close in 1956. The most money that Robinson ever made was $39,750 and over the course of his nine years in the big leagues he made close to $300,000 total. That would equal more than $3 million today and In the age of the monster contract we often hear that there is no player that is worth the money that is being tossed around, when it comes to Robinson, his value in baseball and society combined far exceeds any dollar amount that has been mentioned in this article.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

January 23, 1944: The Red Wings Destroy The Rangers In The Most Lopsided Game In NHL History

On January 23, 1944, the most lopsided contest in the history of the NHL was played in Detroit with the Red Wings destroying the New York Rangers 15-0. The Wings started at what most of us would consider a normal pace with two goals in the first period then progressively got stronger. They notched five more in the second, then eight more in the third, as they set a record that is likely to never be broken.

More than 12,000 fans packed the stands at the Olympia to watch their Red Wings take on the visiting Rangers and by the time the clock ran out they had witnessed history. The New York goalie, Ken McAauley faced 58 shots in the beatdown, he might have turned 43 of them away but he could not stop the scoring of the Red Wings. In fact every man on the Red Wings roster besides defenseman Cully Simon and the rookie goaltender Connie Dion got in on the scoring. Dion only faced 9 shots in the contest which was a far cry from the onslaught that was bestowed on McAuley. It was the fifth victory in a row for the Detroit netminder who had been recently discharged from the Canadian Army.

Nine different Detroit players found the back of the net with Syd Howe's three goals leading the way. Murray Armstrong, Carl Liscombe and Don Grosso each grabbed two goals while Harold Jackson, Adam Brown, Bill Quackenbush, Ken Kilrea, and Mud Bruneteau all scored one. Syd Howe's hat trick made him the all time scoring leader in the history of the franchise with 149 which was one more than Herbie Lewis had recorded in that same uniform.

Surprisingly enough the 15 goals is second on the all time list of most goals scored in one NHL contest. That record belongs to the Montreal Canadiens who scored 16 goals against the Quebec Bulldogs in 1920, the Bulldogs did score three times in that affair so it wasn't quite as lopsided as that game in Detroit in 1944.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

January 22, 1984: The Raiders Annihilate The Redskins In Super Bowl XVIII

On January 22, 1984, with 72,920 on hand in Tampa, Marcus Allen set a Super Bowl rushing record with a 191 yard performance as his Raiders pummeled the Washington Redskins 38-9 in Super Bowl XVIII. The Redskins came into the contest favored by 3, they had beaten the Raiders during the regular season by the score of 37-35, scoring 17 points in the final six minutes and felt confident they could beat them again. One thing that might not have been accounted for in their game plan, was Allen, the 23 year old had sat out of the first meeting. The legendary running back that would end up in the Hall of Fame, had the game of a lifetime on the world's biggest stage. At the end of the day he was more than the Super Bowl MVP, he was a Champion.

In the first half the Raiders scored with every unit they put on the field as the offensive, defensive, and special teams units all got in on the action. Just 5 minutes into the ballgame the Raiders defense had pinned the Redskins deep and a punt was on the horizon. That's when disaster struck for Washington, backup running back Derrick Jensen came up with the play of a lifetime as he blocked the punt then fell on the ball in the endzone to give L.A. the first score of the day.

With the score 7-0 the momentum stayed within the Raiders grasp as they moved into the second quarter. Their quarterback Jim Plunkett hooked up with wideout Cliff Branch on a 50 yard bomb early in the period that put his team on the 15, a couple of plays later Branch found it in his hands again as he crossed the goal line and extended the lead to 14-0. The Skins finally put points on the board with a 24 yard Mark Moseley field goal that came after a 73 yard drive that was stopped at the 7 yard line. It looked like the Raiders defense had a stranglehold on a Redskins offense that had generated a league best 14 wins that season, the Redskins might have moved the ball on that drive but the L.A.'s defense came through when they needed to the most.

That same defense would come through again with just 12 seconds to go in the half. The fate play began with  Joe Theismann attempting a screen pass from his own 12, it ended up in Jack Squirek's hands who then ran it into the endzone for another touchdown. Squirek, a reserve linebacker, had started one game all season. He had one sack under his belt and a forced fumble as well, the Super Bowl seemed like a good time to add a pick 6 to his list of accomplishments for the season. With the score now 21-3 the Raiders had just become the first team in Super Bow history to score two non-offensive touchdowns in a half. They had a lot more in the tank with the second half on the way.

The Redskins looked to jump back into it in that second half as Theismann and company drove all the way to the one yard line where he handed off to John Riggins who finished things off with a one yard blast that narrowed the lead to 21-9 after a failed extra point. Even with the failed extra point it looked like last years champion's were about to find their footing in this contest and make it a game. The Raiders were not about to let that happen. Plunkett moved his team right back down the field, he was assisted by a pass interference call on Darrell Green that cost the Skins 38 yards before Allen found the ball in his hands near the goal line and scored on a 5 yard dash. The 18 point lead was back intact for Los Angeles and they would keep momentum squarely on their side, however, albeit temporarily things did swing toward the Redskins after Cliff Branch fumbled a pass that Plunkett delivered. Washington defensive back Anthony Washington recovered at the L.A. 35 then three plays later the Skins were facing a fourth and one. Normally a handoff to John Riggins would easily produce the needed yard, not on that day. Pro Bowl linebacker Rod Smart stuffed Riggins attempt to gain the first down and the Raiders would take over at the Los Angeles 26. One play later Allen went on the longest run of the day with a 74 yard touchdown run and it was a thing of beauty. Allen cut left with the Redskins in hot pursuit, with the play breaking down in front of him he cut back to the right and was off to the races. The 74 yard touchdown run was a Super Bowl record and it had driven a proverbial nail into the Redskins coffin with the score now 35-9. The final quarter saw another long run by Allen that would add to his record setting total, it was a 39 yard dash that helped set up the final points of the game, a 21 yard field goal from Chris Bahr.

The game was truly a dominant performance. Allen's 191 yards came on just 20 carries, one year earlier John Riggins had set the record for rushing in a Super Bowl with 166 yards on 38 carries against the Dolphins. The Raiders held him to 64 yards on 26 carries while Allen surpassed his short lived record. To date, only the Redskins Timmy Smith has piled up more yards on the ground in the big game as he rumbled for 204 in Super Bowl XII.

Watch Allen's 74 yard run into the record books:

This is a lit of various Super Bowl records:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

January 21, 1980: Virginia Tech Rolls To Victory Thanks To "The Henson Heave"

On January 21, 1980, Virginia Tech forward Les Henson stunned the crowd in Florida when he launched a full court desperation shot as the buzzer sounded that landed in the basket and gave his Hokies a 79-77 victory over the Florida State Seminoles in Tallahassee. The shot was first estimated a to be a 93 footer but after it was reexamined it would go into the record books as a shot from 89 feet and 3 inches away, it was enough to earn Henson a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. The record has since been surpassed but those that follow the Virginia Tech basketball program will always remember the shot that became known as "The Henson Heave."

The game was a solid matchup of 10 game winners and it was a well fought battle as the final score states. With the two teams fighting for the lead and time winding down the score stood tied at 77-77. It looked like the Seminoles were going to grab the victory when Pernell Tookes drove the ball down the floor with what looked to be a game winner in his grasp. Tookes fired a jumper from the free throw line that rang off the rim and into the hands of Henson who heaved the ball with his right hand at the last second to win the ball game. Something else about the shot that was simply remarkable was Henson was a lefty and throwing with his right hand was a rarity to say the least.

Every fan in attendance as well as both benches were shocked as they watched the Virginia Tech bench storm the floor in celebration. The shot was in question at first as the announcers speculated that Henson had stepped out of bounds, however, it stood and Virginia Tech would leave victorious.

The 6 foot 6 forward was stunned just as much as anyone as he had helped his team to victory with a good ole buzzer beater. In postgame interviews he said "At first I thought it was going to hit the lights, but it just kept going and going." When it swished through the basket a stunned Henson  turned to a Florida State cheerleader and asked her if she could believe what she just saw. Henson's coach Charlie Moir said  "Just incredible. I'll probably never see a shot like that again." The coach went onto say "You go out and practice that shot for the next 12 months and you'll never make it." An equally stunned Joe Williams, who was the head coach of Florida State at the time, called it the most incredible thing he had ever seen. Williams would say "Henson hitting that miracle shot is like a golfer winning a tournament with a 100 foot putt over three mounds and two gullies."

Virginia Tech would go onto post a 21-8 record and land a spot in the NCAA tournament where they fell in the second round to Indiana. When they sat around and reflected on the season "The Henson Heave" was surely a topic of conversation as it was one of if not the most thrilling victory of the year for that squad out of Virginia.

Watch Henson's historic shot here:

Monday, January 20, 2014

January 20, 1892: Basketball's First Official Game

On January 20, 1892, the first official game of basketball was played at a YMCA gymnasium in Albany, New York. The game was born in December of 1891 after a rainy day kept Dr. James Naismith's physical education class from taking their activities outdoors.

At the time Naismith was the head of physical education department at the International Young Men's Christian Training School in Springfield Massachusetts. He started jotting down rules for this game that could be played indoors. It was a basketball constitution of sorts that marked the birth of a sport. It was a set of thirteen rules which can be viewed in a link provided below. Naismith's foundation provided the framework needed to build a sport that millions upon millions of kids, as well as, men and women alike still enjoy today.

In most of these blogs I write I have a wide variety of newspapers and other archives to refer to, not the case with the first official basketball game ever played. There is not a lot of information about that day. The court was half the size of what we are used too and in the infancy of basketball it was also a game of keep away that simply kept the opponent from scoring. The basket was an old peach basket nailed 10 feet into the air and the game was played with a soccer ball. The kids who tossed that soccer ball around could have never known that more than more than 120 years later that little game they played on that gymnasium floor would have a great historical impact as each and everyone of them were pioneers. The final score was 1-0 and was won by a 25 foot shot that landed in the peach basket. It might not have been the thriller that you will be sure to see when March Madness rolls around, but without that one game March Madness might not even exist today.

The original thirteen rules of the game can be viewed here:

Sunday, January 19, 2014

January 19, 1932: Charlie Conacher's 5 Goals Leads The Way In An 11-3 Romp

On January 19, 1932, Charlie Conacher became the first member of the Toronto Maple Leafs to record 5 goals in one contest. The effort was a part of an offensive explosion by Toronto that led to an 11-3 victory over the visiting New York Americans. To date, only 40 players in the history of the NHL have recorded 5 goals in one game and only eight players have accomplished the feat more than once.

The Leafs were on the board quickly after Conacher fired the puck past the New York goalie Roy Worters just 5 minutes and 33 seconds in. Later in that first period he grabbed an assist on a Hap Day goal that extended the Toronto lead to 2-0.

The second period was a wild one that had the puck end up in the net 6 times total with 4 of those going in for Toronto. The first two were notched by Conacher then things got even worse for the Amerks. Their starting goalie and future Hall of Famer, Roy Worters had to leave due to a knee injury and they turned to defenseman Allan Shields to take over in net. Shields watched Bob Gracie, Alex Levinsky, and Frank Finnagan fire the puck past him, then finally saw his team get on the board  with goals by Bert McInley and Tommy Filmore before the period came to a close.

With the score 8-2 after two periods, Conacher already had a hat trick under his belt and was ready for more when the puck dropped in the third. He rocketed a shot past Shields early in the period, then saw New York's Filmore pick up his second goal game before Baldy Cotton and Andy Blair added two more for Toronto. Conacher's fifth and historic goal capped things off for Toronto and ended the scoring rampage. Conacher's 5 goals are the reason the game will be remembered, however, the efforts of the men who surrounded him should be remembered as well. Only two of the Toronto players that stepped on the ice that day failed to get in on the scoring, and one of those two was the goalie Lorne Chabot. The other was winger Harold Darragh, he might not picked up a point but he sure did watch a show. Conacher was the only one with more than one goal in the scoring festival.

The 6 point effort by Conacher pushed him into the league lead in points with 29, he finished that season with 48 points total which was good for third. His 34 goals led the league and it is highly likely he would have gabbed the scoring title if he hadn't suffered a broken hand that cost him three weeks of the season. With the help of Conacher and his teammates the City of Toronto celebrated a Stanley Cup Championship at the end of that season. When those that sat in the stands talked about the best game during the regular season I bet they mentioned the night that the puck fond the net 11 times with Charlie Conacher leading the way.

If you would like to read more about the career of Charlie Conacher check this out: It was a remarkable career that ended with an induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Here's the list of men who have scored 5 or more goals in one game:

Saturday, January 18, 2014

January 18, 1961: Eggs Fly With the Hawks and Celtics

On January 18, 1961, eggs flew in Boston with the Celtics taking on the Hawks. The incident happened in the first half with the Celtics up 62-57. It was retaliation for an earlier incident that happened in St. Louis as the Kings of the East battled the Kings of the West. The two teams built a strong rivalry over that '60-'61 season that would end with a showdown in the Finals.

The blood began to boil in St. Louis early in the season as the fans had watched the Hawks lose to the Celtics in their first three meetings. The games were highly contested but the Celtics took the first three which led to a frustration among the St. Louis faithful. The frustration went a bit far when they met for a fourth time, that contest was held in St. Louis three days after Christmas and the Hawks were finally able to grab a game with a 105-99 victory. Before the game was decided in the final quarter a late timeout came with the fans in the stands throwing eggs on the court and at the Celtics players. There was a delay as, not only the floor needed to be mopped, but the backboard had to be wiped down as well. When the legendary coach Red Auerbach was leaving the floor after the game a fan ran up and smacked him square in the head with an egg and he had a big red mark on his head to prove it. In a postgame interview Auerbach said "This is a bush town and you can quote me" obviously fired up he went onto say "they ought to arrest people like this and charge them with peace disturbance. You learn darn well that fans get excited. But if they bring eggs in they bring'em to throw. They're not going to take'm home." He finished off with "When you play here you have to run through a gauntlet that throw programs and other things before you get off the floor." He was pissed and he had every right.

The next meeting in St. Louis came on the 8th of January. In that contest the fans behaved but the game didn't come without its own drama. Late in the second half Bob Pettit the star of the Hawks had suffered an injury above his left eye that forced him from the game. Without their star the Hawks roared to a 134-99 victory due in large part to a 37 point effort by Chuck Hagen. The next meeting for the two best teams in the league was just 10 days away in Boston and the grocery lists were made in advance with the word eggs circled.

When the incident happened in Boston, Auerbach was quick to let the fans their know that it wasn't acceptable there as it should not have been accepted in St. Louis. Auerbach took to the public address system to speak to the fans and said "please stop and show them that our fans our better than theirs in St. Louis." The words of Auerbach restored order but he was not able to guide his team to victory. The Hawks took that game 125-111 and the seed of a rivalry had been planted, not only with the teams on the floor but the fans as well.

The Celtics would get the last laugh. They went 6-3 over the Hawks during the regular season with each of the contests being hard fought, the only game that was completely lopsided was the game in early January that had the Hawks prevail. The two teams would meet in the Finals with the Celtics taking the series 4-1 for their fourth Championship title in the history of the franchise. The third Boston victory came in front of those fans in St. Louis that made them feel so welcome.

As most of you know I'm from St. Louis. I don't remember the Hawks as they came before my time but I've always have had great interest in them. I stumbled across this fact while looking up another in an old newspaper archive and ran with it. In a lot of ways I find it to be funny but I can't help but not like how it might reflect on the city. I think it is always important to remember that a group of fans that causes a disturbance or a little bit of chaos does not reflect on a group as a whole. With the statements of Auerbach it makes me realize that that group of fans that threw things at players and coaches alike were out of control. It was a different time. Today a fan that thought he could do something like that might want to retain a lawyer first because a trip to jail would definitely be in their future.

I go to my fair share of sporting events and just thinking about walking through a turnstile with a dozen eggs made me laugh. I could only imagine the reception I might get from a ticket taker.

Friday, January 17, 2014

January 17, 1988: The Fumble That Ended A Super Bowl Dream

On January 17, 1988, down 38-31 in front of 76,197 screaming fans at Mile High Stadium in Denver Colorado, Earnest Byner of the Cleveland Browns fumbled the ball at the 2 yard line with just a one minute and twelve seconds left to go in the contest essentially ending the dreams of a trip to Super Bowl XXII. The man who forced the fumble, Jeremiah Castille picked the rock up at the three. After the Broncos milked the clock down punter Mike Horan ran out of the back of the endzone giving the Browns the intentional safety with just 8 seconds to go, leading to a 38-33 Broncos victory. While the game will be remembered for the infamous fumble Byner had one helluva day in that shootout in Denver as he had caught 7 passes for 120 yards, ran for another 67, and scored a pair of touchdowns.

While the ending will be remembered much more than the beginning, a variety of miscues put the Browns in a hole early that would be hard for even the greatest team to recover from. The first 14 points of the game had Denver capitalizing on turnovers. The first started with Browns return man Gerald McNeil being tackled at his own 12 yard line then moments later Kosar threw a pick that landed in the waiting arms of  linebacker Freddie Mitchell. It took no time for Elway to capitalize on the pick as he found Ricky Nattiel on a 8 yard strike to give the Broncos the early lead. On the ensuing drive Cleveland's fullback Kevin Mack fumbled the ball then watched Denver's Gene Lang rattle off a 42 yard run on the next play that put the Broncos in a first and goal situation. It looked like the Browns had made a successful goal line stand when Elway was forced to throw it away on a 3rd and short but a penalty against the Browns gave them new life and put the ball at the 1. Running back Steve Sewell  finished it off and extended the lead to 14-0.

On the next drive Kosar and his crew looked to right the ship, there was still a lot of time to recover from the misfortune that turnovers brought and each of those players on the field knew it. Kosar hit key passes as he walked the Browns down the field including a 19 yard pass to Clarence Weathers on a 3rd and 17 to keep the drive alive. However, the drive did stall and with two minutes on the clock they had to settle for a Matt Bahr field goal to narrow the margin to 14-3. It looked like the momentum had shifted toward Cleveland until Denver's offense went back to work and moved the ball 80 yards quickly with Lang punching it in from the 1. That gave them a 21-3 edge which would stand as the teams headed to the locker rooms at the half.

When the teams returned to work in the second half a turnaround began for the Browns. This time it would be them capitalizing on a miscue as defensive back Felix Wright picked Elway off just four plays into the half. Moments later Kosar found Reggie Langhorne on a 18 yard catch and score to narrow the gap to 21-10 then Elway tried to remove the wind  from the sails by unloading an 80 yard bomb to Mark Jackson that gave them those points right back. Down 28-10 some teams might have been already planning their vacations but not that team from Cleveland. They would no go down without a fight.

The Cleveland comeback began to mount with a pair of touchdowns by Byner. The first, a 32 yard pass from Kosar and the second a 4 yard rush that suddenly narrowed the lead to 28-24. Before the third quarter came to a close Denver's kicker Rich Karlis gave them a little breathing room by tacking on a field goal from 38 yards out that pushed the score to 31-28. While some breathing room was granted there was still a full quarter to play and now was not the time to breathe.

The Cleveland team that refused to go away finally did knot things up at 31-31 with a little more than 10 minutes left to play in the fourth. The game tying drive engineered by Kosar saw him move the ball 87 yards before finding Webster Slaughter in the endzone on a four yard touchdown pass. The game had instant classic written all over it at that point and more was on the way. The winning drive for Denver covered 75 yards in 5 plays. The drive included two long catches by Nattiel, then with 4:01 left on the clock Sammy Winder caught the go ahead score. it was a 20 yard strike from Elway and it would punch a ticket to the Super Bowl after the Broncos withstood the drive that looked like would surely push the game into overtime.

With their backs against the wall much like it had been through the entire contest the Browns went back to work. They took over on their own 25 and Byner led the charge with a 16 yard run, then another two yard dash. Kosar found wideout Brian Brennan for big gains and the legs of Byner combined with a crucial penalty moved the ball to the 8 with 72 seconds remaining in regulation. The next play will never be forgotten as Byner put the ball on the turf with Denver recovering. For one team and a city it spelled heartbreak, for another it spelled Super Bowl which is where the Broncos were headed.

While the game is most remembered for that one fumble each of Byner's teammates did not look to him as the proverbial scapegoat. They knew that the earlier penalties had cost them dearly and without the efforts of Byner himself they would not had even had a chance to win that game. He had teammate after teammate come over to him in the locker room and express those feelings and at the end of the day he knew he gave all he had to bring the Browns a victory. It just wasn't in the cards.

Here's the box score:

It was the second consecutive appearance in the Super Bowl for the Broncos but their luck ran out there with the Redskins beating them 42-10.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

January 16,1972: The Dallas Cowboys Dominate In Super Bowl VI

On January 16, 1972, with more than 80,000 in the stands at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, the Dallas Cowboys beat the Miami Dolphins 24-3 in Super Bowl VI. The Cowboys were led by a defensive unit that would not bend, a running game that destroyed the Miami defense, and the arm of Roger Staubach who would earn MVP honors that brought the Cowboys their first Super Bowl title.

The Cowboys had posted an NFC best 11-3 record. One year earlier they had reached the Super Bowl but watched the dream of a championship disappear as they watched the Baltimore Colts score 10 fourth quarter points and take the title right out of their grasp as they were handed a 13-10 loss. It's hard to say but that defeat in Super Bowl V might have just lit a fire that would burn until the clock struck zero in Super Bowl VI.

The Dolphins posted a 10-3-1 record during the regular season and would play in an epic double overtime game in the first round of the playoffs that saw them prevail 27-24 over the Kansas City Chiefs. They knocked off the defending champions Colts in convincing fashion with a 21-0 victory that would lead to their first Super Bowl berth.

The Cowboys came out as a team on a mission and anything that was in there way would be run over, knocked down, and beat into submission as they held the Miami offense to the lowest scoring total in the Super Bowl history. The tale of the tape is definitive tale to say the least. The Cowboy pounded out 252 yards on the ground with the combined efforts of Walt Garrison and Duane Thomas who rattled off 169 yards put together then Calvin Hill, Bob Hayes, Mike Ditka and Staubach each had runs of their own that would add to the rushing totals.

The Cowboys picked up three points in their second possession. It came after Larry Csonka fumbled the ball on on the Dallas 47, and was recovered by linebacker Chuck Howley. Staubach took over and marched his team down the field on an 11 play drive that stalled in the red zone. Mike Clark split the uprights with a 9 yard field goal to put the Cowboys up 3-0 with 1:23 left in the first. The score stayed the same until late in the first half when Staubach and company took over on their own 24. As the quarterback handed off the ball then fired in key passes when necessary they moved right down the field until Staubach found tight end Lance Alworth on a 7 yard strike that ended in the endzone and put the Cowboys up 10-3. Following the Dallas touchdown, Miami quarterback Bob Griese looked to get things going as he found his star wideout Paul Warfield on a 23 yard gain that positioned the Dolphins at the Cowboys 24. With time winding down quickly Griese looked to Warfield again in the endzone only to have the ball hit him in the stomach. The Dolphins had to settle for a Garo Yepremian field goal and the score sat at 10-3 as the two teams headed to their locker rooms.

When play resumed the Staubach and company put together a 71 yard drive that was capped off with a three yard touchdown dash by Duane Thomas 3 yard touchdown dash that gave Dallas a 17-3 lead. Midway through the fourth quarter Chuck Howley came up with the ball once again when he picked off Griese and ran 41 yards before his own momentum sent him crashing down. After two short runs with minimal gains Staubach hit veteran tight end Mike Ditka on a 7 yard touchdown pass that finished off the scoring efforts of the Cowboys.

At the end of the day Staubach went 12 of 19 for 119 yards and 2 touchdowns. By comparison Griese went 12 of 23 for 134 yards with a pick. While Griese took home MVP honors that Cowboys defense could have won the award collectively. They blanketed Griese's favorite target Paul Warfield throughout the game limiting him to just 39 yards with 23 of those yards coming on one play. They also held the Dolphins running game in check as they limited the two headed monster known as Jim Kiick and Larry Csonka to 40 yards apiece. The running game for the Cowboys could have taken the MVP award as well, they ran the ball a total of 48 times and the 252 yards set a Super Bowl record. The list of players go on and on when it comes to that award as they played a brand of football that brought home a Championship title.

Up to that point the Cowboys carried the label "they can't win the big one" they not only won the big one they did it with pure dominance. They had reached the title game in '66 then again in '71 before they could say they definitely could win the big one. It would take some time but Staubach and the Cowboys would win it again in January of '78 when they knocked off the Vikings in Super Bowl XII.

Here's the box score:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January 15, 1939: The First Pro Bowl Is Played At Wrigley Field in Los Angeles

On January 15, 1939, the first Pro Bowl was held at L.A.'s Wrigley Field with the New York Giants knocking off the All American All Stars 13-10. The original concept for the Pro Bowl pitted the league champion against a handpicked group of men that were considered the best in the business. They might have been the best in the business on paper but that Giants squad was not about to lie down in the name of an exhibition game.

The first half was uneventful as the two teams went to their locker rooms knotted at three with the best of the game yet to come. In the third quarter, Washington's Sammy Baugh found his all star squad sitting on their own 30 and facing a second and inches situation, he hit Lions halfback Lloyd Cardwell at the 40 then Cardwell was off to the races and the finish line was the endzone. After the extra point the All Stars held a 10-3 lead that would be short lived. When the Giants quarterback Big Ed Danowski took over he walked his team down the field in quick succession on a 73 yard drive that began late in the third then would end with a game tying 22 yard pass to Chuck Gelatka. With less than five minutes to go in the contest Ed Goddard of the Cleveland Rams put the ball on the turf when he mishandled a punt, the Giants Orville Tuttle recovered and three plays later with the ball on the 17 yard line Ward Cuff  split the uprights to give the Giants a lead that would stand.

The game drew an estimated 15,000 people, it was a huge disappointment to those involved in making it happen. One reason stated was that it was a cold and foggy day in L.A. that kept the fans from filling the stands. The game was played in L.A. again the following season before being played in New York and Philadelphia in '41 and '42. While those that organized the event expected it to be an annual contest, World War II changed that as travel restrictions were put in place and the game was discontinued. It reemerged in 1950 and would take the name "Pro Bowl" with the teams being picked from the best in each of the league's two divisions.

This link will provide you with the rosters of each of the teams that took the field that day. The box score is wrong on the Wikipedia page which I confirmed through a variety of newspaper archives that I looked through to write this blog.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

January 14, 1943: The Habs Alex Smart Becomes The FIrst Rookie To Record A Hat Trick In His NHL Debut

On January 14, 1943, after being called up from the minors for a one game stint with the Canadiens, Alex Smart recorded a hat trick in a 5-1 victory over the Blackhawks in Montreal. The left winger was the first rookie to tally three goals in his NHL debut. Smart finished that day with four points as he picked up another point on an assist. As you can tell by the score it was all Canadiens in this one, Joe Benoit put the Habs on the board with a goal early in the first then Gordie Drillon added another before the period came to an end with Smart picking up the assist. The score remained at 2-0 until there was a minute to go in the second period, the 24 year old Smart lit the lamp twice in that final minute of that period and was on his way to making history. The historic third goal came midway through the third on a play that was assisted by Glen Harmon, a couple of minutes later Chicago added a goal but it was too little too late for them as Smart made a debut to be remembered. All the goals scored against the Hawks came with Bert Gardiner in net and while it was a game that Smart would be sure to remember, it was one that Gardiner would have loved to forget. This game proved to be one of the only great moments in the NHL sun for Smart who played in just 8 games with the Habs scoring a total of 5 goals and 2 assists, he would spend his career in the minors before retiring in 1951. His career might have been short but he accomplished something that had never been done before and to date only three other rookies have matched the hat trick performance of Alex Smart in their debut. It took more than 30 years for the feat to be matched for the first time, it came from the stick of Quebec Nordiques winger Real Cloutier in 1979, then Fabian Brunnstrom of the Dallas Stars did it in his debut in 2008 before Derek Steppan of the New York Rangers joined the club in 2010.

Monday, January 13, 2014

January 13,1965: The Sixers Trade For Wilt

On January 13, 1965, following a 124-123 victory for the East in NBA All Star game that was held in St. Louis, it was announced that San Francisco Warriors had traded Wilt Chamberlain to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Warriors received Connie Dierking, Paul Neumann, Lee Schaffer and an estimated $300,000 in cash. By today's standards that would be $2.2 million. Out of the players shipped to the Warriors, only Neumann had seen real playing time as he was averaging 14 points per game. It was a far cry from Wilt's dominance on the court, he was a perennial all star, had led the NBA in scoring for 5 consecutive years and was on his way to another scoring title as he was averaging nearly 40 points per game in his sixth year in the league. With the trade announced it ended weeks of speculation as to where the 7 foot 1 big man would play next. The Knicks and the Lakers made offers that were rejected before the 76ers made an offer that the Warriors accepted. It proved to be a great deal as it helped bring a championship to the Sixers in '67. It was his only title in Philly through three and a half seasons of play. I'm sure those that followed that team were glad to see him play in their city and many of them hated to see him go to Los Angeles in the Summer of '68 where he would win another title in '72.

Here's a link to a neat little side story from the night Chamberlain was traded to the Sixers. It was said that the Chamberlain trade happened at a little restaurant that was known as Stan Musial and Biggie's, which was owned and operated by Stan The Man Musial and his partner Biggie Garagnani.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

January 12, 1975: The Steelers Win The Big One

On January 12, 1975, with a 16-6 victory in Super Bowl IX, the Pittsburgh Steelers ended 42 years of frustration as they laid claim to their first title in franchise history. The Steelers were led by a record breaking 158 yard MVP effort by running back Franco Harris and the defensive dominance of "Mean Joe" Greene and company that put to bed any dream of a Super Bowl parade through the streets of Minneapolis. The first points of the game came on a safety, it happened midway through the second quarter when Minnesota's signal caller Fran Tarkenton was pinned deep and when he pitched the ball to running back Dave Osborn the ball was mishandled and ended up on the turf. An alert Tarkenton pounced on the ball in his own endzone as the Steelers defense came swarming in on him. It was the first time in Super Bowl history that a safety had been recorded and it was the only 2 points as the only score as the teams headed to the locker rooms at the half. To look up at that scoreboard as the two teams headed off had to be something as 2-0 is hardly what a fan of the game would expect. Neither of the offensive units could find their footing in the first half but that was about to change for the squad from Pittsburgh as they took the field in the third. The second half started off with Minnesota's Bill Brown fumbling the kickoff with the Steelers recovering on the Vikings 30. For a team that was struggling offensively it spelled disaster as Pittsburgh would employ a strategy that would produce points. That strategy was hand the ball off to Franco. On the first play following the fumble recovery, Harris took the ball and rumbled 24 yards to the Vikings 6, he was knocked back three yards on the next play but made up for it quickly when he punched it in with a 9 yard run that extended the Steelers lead to 9-0. The lead stood until a fourth quarter Steelers punt was blocked by Minnesota's Matt Blair who watched his teammate Terry Brown recover it for a touchdown in the endzone. It seemed like the Vikings had new life but Fred Cox missed the extra point and instead of a two point lead the Steelers were up by three. It really did not matter as that Steelers defense had no give in them that day. The proverbial nail would be driven after Terry Bradshaw led the Steelers on an 11 play 66 yard drive that included three third down conversions and was capped off with a 4 yard touchdown pass to Larry Brown. After Tarkenton was intercepted as he desperately tried to lead his team to a score the Steelers would become Super Bowl Champions. It was a long time coming.

Here's the box score:

The 158 yards on 34 carries by Harris surpassed Miami's Larry Csonka's total of 145 yards on 33 carries in Super Bowl VIII. It was a record that would be surpassed but Harris' 354 yards in four different Super Bowls stand as the most any rusher has picked up in the history of the big game. Harris made Bradshaw's job easy, he only passed the ball 14 times and completed 9 of those attempts, the strategy of handing the ball to the big man in the backfield was a sound strategy to say the least. On the flip side Tarkenton was beaten, battered, bruised, and banged up by the Steelers defense. He threw three picks and completed 11 passes on 26 attempts. The Steelers defense not only kept Tarkenton from having success, they also crushed any semblance of a running game by holding them to just 17 yards on the ground. Simply put, it was a dominant performance by those Steelers who had waited so long to bring their city a title. It was also the beginning of something special in Pittsburgh as more titles and glory were on the way.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

January 11, 1976: The Broad Street Bullies Battle The Red Army

On January 11, 1976, in an internationally televised contest, the Philadelphia Flyers lived up to their nickname "The Broad Street Bullies" in an exhibition 4-1 beating of the Soviet Central Army team. They didn't just beat them on the scoreboard they came onto the ice and brought about an aggressive play that the Russian squad had not seen before. They were known as a "finesse" team and were about to experience an American brand of hockey that had led to back-to-back titles for the Flyers. That team from Philly was not about to modify their style of play in the name of diplomacy. Before a goal was even produced Flyers defenseman Ed Van Impe leveled one of the Russian's highest scorers Valeri Kharlamov from behind, it left him down on the ice for more than a minute. When the referees failed to call a penalty after the incident, the head coach of the Soviet team Konstantin Loktev pulled his goalie from the ice. The officials responded with a delay of game penalty against the Soviet squad and Loktev responded to that by pulling his entire team off the ice in protest. It would take 16 minutes for them to return, one motivating factor was they were informed by NHL President Clarence Campbell that it was likely that they would forfeit their fee of $25,000, by today's standards that would top more than $100,000.  Loktev stated that they simply didn't want to play "animal hockey" he was concerned with his players health with the Olympics on the horizon and in his eyes he was doing what he had to do to protect them. Once play resumed with the Flyers on the powerplay it only took them 17 seconds to capitalize with a Reggie Leach goal. It was followed with goals by Rick MacLeish and Joe Watson before the Russians answered with a goal by Victor Kutyergin. The Flyers wrapped things up with a Larry Goodenough goal in the third period. The score was far from the story. Although, many thought the Russian team would handle the Flyers easily. Instead, the Flyers manhandled them into near submission. The Soviets had a passing game and an offensive attack like no other, but it was no match for that bruising style that they would encounter the moment they took the ice against that team they called the Broad Street Bullies.

You can watch the incident here:

I would also highly recommend the documentary "The Broad Street Bullies" it gives an absolute great look at that team that was known for pummeling the opponents that were put in front of them as they became one of the best teams in all of hockey.

Friday, January 10, 2014

January 10, 1982: Dwight Clark Makes "The Catch"

On January 10, 1982, with just 51 seconds to go in the NFC Title game at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Dwight Clark made the place erupt when he made a leaping fingertip grab in the back of the endzone that came his way from quarterback Joe Montana to give the Niners a 28-27 lead over the Dallas Cowboys after a Ray Wersching extra point. It was a lead that would stand and Clark's catch was one that would punch a ticket to Super Bowl XVI. The game was a battle for the ages that saw the lead exchange six times. It was that last lead change that will never be forgotten as Montana rolled out to his right and after not being able to hookup with his primary receiver he found a waiting Clark who made the catch of a lifetime. The seesaw battle had San Fran on top early after Freddie Solomon snagged an 8 yard touchdown pass from Montana. It was a short lived lead, before the first quarter was in the books Dallas' kicker Rafael Septien booted a 44 yard field goal and Danny White found Tony Hill on a 26 yard touchdown grab to put the Cowboys up 10-7. Montana answered with a touchdown pass to Clark in the second before a controversial interference call nullified a Ronnie Lott interception and gave Dallas the ball at the Niners 12. Three plays later Tony Dorsett put the Cowboys back on top with a 5 yard run that gave them a 17-14 lead. In the third San Fran jumped back in front with a 2 yard touchdown run by Johnny Davis that gave them 21-17 advantage, but it quickly shrank to a one point lead when Septien kicked a 22 yard field goal early in the fourth. The hopes and dreams of a Super Bowl berth for the 49ers looked to be in peril when Danny White put the Cowboys back in front with a 21 yard touchdown pass to Doug Cosbie that gave them a 27-21 lead with just 4:54 left on the clock. When Montana and company took over, they had 89 yards in front of them, they had been stopped dead in their tracks on their last two drives and with time winding down the hill that was in front of them loomed large. It was a hill that would be climbed in a methodical motion. Running back Lenvil Elliott ran the ball twice for 17 yards. Montana passed to Solomon for six yards and Earl Cooper for another five that positioned his team at the Dallas 49. Solomon  moved the ball 14 more yards on a reverse around the left side then Montana found Clark with a 10 yard pass before hitting Solomon on a 12 yard gain that put them on the Cowboys 13. A sweep by Elliott put the ball at the 6 and history was about to be made. The call came on third down, it was the same play that Solomon had scored on in the first quarter, this time Montana had to improvise as the Cowboys secondary were blanketing his receivers, as he rolled out the Cowboys defense crashing in around him and Montana sailed a high pass to the endzone towards Clark, it was said that Clark jumped higher than he had ever jumped before to make the catch and once it was in his hands that the Richter scale broke as the cheer of the crowd shook California. With 51 seconds left on the clock the Cowboys went into desperation mode, Danny White found Drew Pearson on a pass play that nearly ended up in the endzone only to have Niners cornerback Eric Wright make a huge tackle that denied the score. Two plays later, Lawrence Pillers sacked White causing a fumble that was picked up by Niners lineman Jim Stuckey and victory was theirs. The excitement in San Francisco was like nothing they had seen before. This was the first time the Niners would have a shot at a Championship Title since they had joined the NFL in 1950. It was the beginning of one of the finest dynasties that the NFL has ever seen as they traveled to Detroit, Michigan and toppled the Cincinnati Bengals 26-21 to become Super Bowl Champions. With the Candlestick Park era coming to a close "The Catch" was recently ranked #1 as the best football game ever played in that stadium. It was a moment in time that will stand the test of time.

You can watch the famous grab here:

Here is a top 10 list of the greatest football games ever played at Candlestick:

Here is the Box score:

On that same day the Chargers and Bengals played in the "Freezer Bowl" which was an epic contest that saw the temperature plummet below zero. You can read about it here:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

January 9, 1963: The Paul Brown Era In Cleveland Comes To A Close

On January 9, 1963, an era came to an end Cleveland when Art Modell released a statement that said "Paul E. Brown head coach and general manager of the Cleveland Browns, will no longer serve the team in those capacities. Brown will remain as vice president. He will finish out the balance of his six-year contract at the same compensation and continue to be a stockholder." Some of that statement was true as Brown would relinquish his duties as coach and GM altogether. However, he would not remain with the team in any capacity. Brown had been with the team since they had began playing ball 1946 as a member of the now defunct All American Football Conference, in fact the name Browns came from Brown himself. He quickly molded the team into a championship caliber squad, in fact they won four consecutive titles in the AAFC before moving onto the NFL in 1950. He continued his winning ways in the NFL, he guided the Browns to a Championship title in that 1950 season, then would repeat the feat with back to back titles in '54 and '55. Following the championship seasons the relationship between his players would decline. When Jim Brown emerged on the scene in 1957 he helped the team reach the Championship game but were destroyed by the Lions 59-14 in the title game. He was particularly critical of the star running back following that run which led many of his players to questioning his leadership. The '58 season ended in disastrous fashion, with the Browns needing a win or tie to make the title game. They were down 10-3 against the Giants in the third quarter and had driven the ball all the way to the 16, when they lined up to kick a field goal Brown called a timeout, some players thought it alerted the Giants to a fake that Brown called then watched fail essentially costing them another shot at a title. As you and I both know us sports fans can be a fickle bunch and that one moment probable stuck out a little more than others. All of this led to great dissention between his players though and Brown did not help things by being critical of players as they continued to fall short. When Art Modell took over the team in 1961 things changed, the new owner was a hands on kind of guy which did not go over well with Brown who was used to having the majority of control in player and personnel decisions. While Modell had immediately given Brown an 8-year contract extension when he took over as majority owner and promised a working relationship with the coach it was a relationship that deteriorated as the players voiced their opinions about the coach that they no longer believed should lead the team. The straw that seemed to break the camel's back came before the '62 season when Brown traded star running back Bobby Mitchell to the Washington Redskins for the rights to Ernie Davis. Davis had won the Heisman Trophy at Syracuse and looked to have a promising career ahead of him only to be stricken by leukemia and passing away before he could ever take a snap as a pro. A year later the Paul Brown era would come to an end in Cleveland. While Jim Brown had been a very vocal critic he acknowledged that it was Paul  Brown that integrated the game without even mentioning the fact he was doing so, he just went out and signed the best talent no matter what race they might be. Along with the championships in the early days it was part of a legacy that would be carried throughout his entire life. Brown stayed away from the game for 5 years following the divorce then when the AFL granted the City of Cincinnati a franchise in 1968 the Bengals were born and a new journey would begin for Paul Brown as he was the majority shareholder in the new franchise. He would guide the Bengals as head coach until 1975, the team made the playoffs three times but never did get past the first round. With that said, he has a legacy in Ohio that extends down many avenues, he had great success as a high school coach, then led the Ohio State Buckeyes to a National Championship in 1942 before turning to the professional level. While his legacy had its fair share of ups and downs he is and always will be a legend of the game that had a long lasting impact in the game football and it will forever be remembered in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.