Monday, October 31, 2016

Top 10 TV Halloween Episodes

Note: This is weighted toward shows I not only saw, but liked. So if you're looking for The Simpsons and their annual "Treehouse of Horror," forget it. The sooner everyone realizes that The Simpsons is gross and sucks, the better.

Honorable Mention -- since, technically, it's not an episode of a regular series. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, October 27, 1966. This is the 1st animated depiction of 2 staples of the Peanuts comic strip: Lucy Van Pelt (voiced by Sally Dryer) pulling the football away from Charlie Brown (Peter Robbins), and Charlie's dog Snoopy (Bill Melendez) imagining himself to be a World War I flying ace.

Lucy's brother Linus (Christopher Shea), rather than Charlie himself, is the star of this episode, believing in the Great Pumpkin, apparently Halloween's answer to Santa Claus. Charlie's sister Sally (Kathy Steinberg), who has a crush on Linus, sits in the pumpkin patch with him, awaiting the Great Pumpkin's arrival. As for Charlie Brown's trick-or-treating, "I got a rock!"

Honorable Mention -- since it didn't air on or near Halloween (rather, it aired on New Year's Eve), but it does involve a costume party. The Honeymooners, "The Man From Space," December 31, 1955. Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason) and Ed Norton (Art Carney) both want to win the costume contest at their lodge, the Loyal Order of Friendly Raccoons. Their competitiveness causes a rift in their friendship. Ralph practically dismantles his apartment to build his "man from space" costume, and when Norton is called in to work in a sewer emergency, it looks like Ralphie boy has it won.

This episode would be shown in both the 1985 and the 1955 segments of Back to the Future. The Honeymooners did air on November 5, 1955, but it was a different episode, "The Sleepwalker."

10. Cheers, "Bar Wars V: The Final Judgment," October 31, 1991. Since Gary's Olde Towne Tavern, Cheers' arch-rival bar, has messed with them on Halloween before, and it appears that they have messed with Cheers on H-Day again, Sam Malone (Ted Danson) decides to go all in. It turns out that he and the Cheers Gang go too far.

9. Friends, "The One With the Halloween Party," November 1, 2001. The highlight of this episode is seeing Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow) dressed as Supergirl. But Ross Geller (David Schwimmer) dresses as "Spudnik," a potato with a silver TV antenna on his head, in tribute to the 1st artificial satellite, Sputnik 1. Except he looks like a giant turd.

8. Roseanne, "Boo!", October 31, 1989. Roseanne Conner (Roseanne Barr) likes to think she's "The Queen of Halloween." Her husband Dan (John Goodman), on the other hand, likes to think that he's "The Master." They go all-out to spook each other, and also to spook their daughter Becky (Lecy Goranson), who has lost the Halloween spirit.

7. Home Improvement, "Crazy For You," October 27, 1993. Tim "the Tool Man" Taylor (Tim Allen) is one of those perpetual kids who goes overboard for Halloween, including practical jokes, so his wife Jill (Patricia Richardson) decides to play a practical joke on him, convincing the local celebrity that he has a murderous stalker.
6. Modern Family, "Halloween," October 27, 2010. Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) is one of those perpetual kids who goes overboard for Halloween. Fortunately for him, he's married to Claire (Julie Bowen), who shares his passion for the holiday. She wants to put together the ultimate Halloween haunted house, but the rest of her family isn't exactly cooperating.
Till death do they part -- and then some.

5. Frasier, "Halloween," October 28, 1997. Dr. Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce) hosts a Halloween party, with literary characters as the theme. He's dressed as Cyrano de Bergerac, complete with exaggerated nose.

His brother, Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer), discovers that his costume, the Archbishop of Canterbury from The Canterbury Tales, is "a babe magnet," particularly attracting a bodystocking-wearing Eve (played by Camille Donatacci, whom Grammer soon married).

But the subplot is that Roz Doyle (Peri Gilpin), the producer of Frasier's radio show, is pregnant (unplanned), but Niles misunderstands, and thinks Daphne Moon (Jane Leeves), his unrequited crush, is, and that the baby's father isn't stepping up to make an honest woman of her. So he proposes to her.

Frasier and Niles' father, retired Seattle Detective Martin Crane, is dressed as the greatest detective of them all, Sherlock Holmes. At one point, Niles asks him where Frasier is. Marty: "Haven't got a clue." Niles: "Holmes, you astound me!"
4. Barney Miller, "Werewolf," October 28, 1976. Although not specifically a Halloween episode, it aired during Halloween week, and a guy turns himself in to the 12th Precinct by claiming to be a werewolf. The character would return a few years later, claiming to be possessed by a demon.
"Barney... Barney!"

3. NCIS, "Witch Hunt," October 31, 2006. A Marine's daughter is kidnapped while trick-or-treating, and Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and his Major Case Response Team have to find her.

Meanwhile, we find out that Special Agent Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly), a perpetual frat boy whom we would have expected to love Halloween, hates it. And forensic analyst Dr. Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perette) is dressed as Marilyn Monroe, and still helps to solve the case.

2. Castle, "Vampire Weekend," October 26, 2009. A college student who's into the "vampire lifestyle" is murdered in a cemetery. Mystery novelist Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) and New York Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) have to solve the murder. In so doing, they solve another murder, one from 18 years ago.

A subplot involving Castle's daughter Alexis (Molly Quinn) provides some comic relief, and finally some poignance. Castle starts out wearing what he calls a "space cowboy" costume, actually the one Fillion wore as Captain Mal Reynolds on Firefly, one of several references to that show over Castle's 8-year run. He ends it dressed as Edgar Allan Poe.
1. M*A*S*H, "Trick Or Treatment," November 1, 1982. A day late, but by no means a dollar short. The medical staff at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in the Korean War, including Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) as a longjohns-wearing Superman, tell ghost stories while working on patients, and learn the spookiest one of all.
Ken Levine and David Isaacs wrote several episodes of the series, although not this one, which features an appearance by George Wendt as a Marine who has a drunken Halloween misadventure. Andrew Clay, the future Diceman, plays another. Levine and Isaacs would go on to write many Cheers episodes, with Wendt as Norm Peterson.

The song "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett is a staple of Halloween episodes, but it wasn't recorded until 1962, 10 years after this M*A*S*H episode takes place, so it doesn't appear in the episode.

How to Be a Devils Fan In Carolina -- 2016-17 Edition

The New Jersey Devils travel to play the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh next Sunday night. The 'Canes have given the Devils fits over the years, including in the Playoffs.

They didn't seem to do so from 1982 to 1997, when they were known as the Hartford Whalers. (They were the New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association from 1972 to 1979, then were brought into the NHL and changed their name to the Hartford Whalers.) But as the 'Canes, yikes. That loss at home in Game 7 of the 1st Round in 2009, going from 3-2 up with 1:20 to go to losing 4-3, still sticks in my craw.

Needless to say, I don't like the Hurricanes. And hockey doesn't belong in the South, anyway. Y'all go back to Hartford, y'hear?

Before You Go. Being in the South, it's going to be warmer in Raleigh than in Newark. But, this being November, it won't be hot. For next Thursday, the Raleigh News & Observer is predicting high 60s for daylight, but dropping to the low 40s for night. But no rain.

Raleigh is in the Eastern Time Zone, so you won't have to fiddle with your timepieces. It is in North Carolina, a former Confederate State, but you won't need your passport or to change your money.

Tickets. The Hurricanes averaged 12,007 fans per game last season. That's only 64 percent -- averaging less than 2/3rds full. In each case, they rank 30th, dead last in the NHL. For the sake of comparison, the Whalers averaged 13,680 fans per game, or 87 percent of capacity, in their last season before the move. So tickets shouldn't be very hard to come by.

Tickets in the lower level, the 100 sections, are $136 between the goals and $96 behind them. In the upper level, the 300 sections, they're $57 between and $34 behind. Seats in the 200 section are club seats and only available to season-ticketholders.

Getting There. It's 510 miles from the Prudential Center in Newark to the PNC Arena in Raleigh. It's in that tricky range: A bit too close to fly, a bit too far to go any other way.

If you're going to drive, take the New Jersey Turnpike/Interstate 95 South all the way from New Jersey to Petersburg, Virginia. There, Interstate 85 will split off. Take that South to Exit 178. Take U.S. Route 70 South to Interstate 40 East, and Exit 289 will put you on Wade Avenue. Edwards Mill Road will be about half a mile ahead, and turn right for the arena.

Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Exit 138 will put you on Interstate 495/U.S. Route 64 West, and that will take you right into Raleigh. You'll be in New Jersey for about an hour and a half, Delaware for 20 minutes, Maryland for 2 hours, inside the Capital Beltway (Maryland, District of Columbia and Virginia) for half an hour if you’re lucky (and don’t make a rest stop anywhere near D.C.), Virginia for 3 hours, and North Carolina for an hour and a half. Throw in traffic at each end, rest stops, preferably in Delaware, near Richmond and near Raleigh, and it'll be close to 12 hours.

Greyhound has 9 buses a day leaving from Port Authority to Raleigh, but only 3 of them are no-changeover routes. It costs as much as $128 round-trip (though it can be as low as $98 on advanced purchase). The trip takes 13 hours, including a long layover to change buses in Richmond. The station is at 2210 Capital Blvd., 3 miles northeast of downtown. Take the Number 1 or 3 bus in.

Amtrak's Carolinian leaves Newark's Penn Station at 7:24 AM, and arrives at Raleigh at 4:42 PM, giving you enough time to get to a hotel and then to the game the same night. The next morning, the Silver Star leaves Raleigh at 8:45 and arrives back in Newark at 6:23 PM. Round-trip fare is $170. The station is at Cabarrus and West Streets, 8 blocks southwest of the State House. Take the Number 11 bus in.

Perhaps the best way to get from New York to Raleigh is by plane. If you fly United Airlines out of Newark, and you order your ticket online at this writing, you could get a nonstop round-trip flight for under $300.

Once In the City. Both North Carolina and South Carolina were named for the King of England at the time of their initial settlements, King Charles I. Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina, was named for Sir Walter Raleigh, the English soldier who led the early English colonization of the Atlantic Coast (Virginia and the Carolinas).

Founded in 1792, Raleigh is home to about 460,000 people, making it the 2nd-largest city in the State, behind Charlotte. The Raleigh-Durham area, known as the Triangle (or the "Research Triangle," to give it a tech-savvy nickname to suggest it's an East Coast version of the Silicon Valley) is home to a about 2.1 million people. This ranks it 25th among NHL markets, and would rank it 27th in the NBA, 29th in the NFL, and 30th in MLB, ahead of only Milwaukee. Don't expect it to ever get a team in the other markets, though.

The State House is the divider for addresses. The north-south divider is New Bern Avenue east of the State House, and Hillsborough Street west of it. The east-west divider is Halifax Street north of the State House, and Fayetteville Street south of it.
The State House

Capital Area Transit runs buses around Raleigh. The fare is $2.25. GoTriangle serves the Triangle region: Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. There is a light rail system being planned for the area, but it won't open before 2026.

The sales tax in North Carolina is 4.75 percent, but it rises to 6.75 percent in Raleigh. The sales tax in North Carolina is 4.75 percent, but it rises to 6.75 percent in Raleigh. ZIP Codes for Raleigh and Chapel Hill start with the digits 275 and 276; and for Durham, 277. The Area Code for the area is 919, overlaid by 984.

Going In. The official address of the PNC Arena is 1400 Edwards Mill Road, at E. Stephen Stroud Way, about 5 miles west of downtown Raleigh. Stroud Way separates it from Carter-Finley Stadium, home field of the football team at North Carolina State University. N.C. State also uses PNC Arena as its basketball home, succeeding the Reynolds Coliseum, where it won National Championships in 1974 and 1983.

Parking is $15. If you're using public transportation, use Bus 100. That will get you to Blue Ridge Road at the State Fairgrounds, but then you'll have to make a left on Trinity Road to the stadium and the arena.
The arena opened in 1999 as the Raleigh Entertainment & Sports Arena, and was named the RBC Center from 2002 to 2012. The name was changed when PNC bought the U.S. division of the Royal Bank of Canada.
The rink is aligned northwest-to-southeast. The Hurricanes attack twice at the southeast end, the sections with 2 and 3 as the middle digit.

Food. This is the South, tailgate party country, and North Carolina is among the places in this country particularly known for good barbecue. Tailgating is usually not done before NHL games, but there are enough options to satisfy all but the most discriminating foodie.

A bar called The Locker Room is at Section 110. Pub 300 is at, no, not Section 300, but Section 312. North Carolina BBQ Company is at 104, 115, 123, 130, 306 and 326; The Carvery sandwiches and chips (potato chips, not what the British call thick-cut fries) at 104 and 123; Metro Deli at 104 and 326; Sausage Stop at 105, 120 and 304; Rituals Coffee Company at 105 and 120; Dos Bandidos pseudo-Mexican food at 112; South Street Cheese Steaks ("cheesesteak" is one word, guys) at 123 and 324; Fire It Up! Grill Stands (burgers, chicken, fries, onion rings, corn dogs) at 130 and 301;

For dessert, there's Nutty Bavarian at 101, 116 and 316; Gourment Pretzels (as if there is such a thing) at 103, 118 and 304; Breyes Ice Cream at 105, 110, 126, 309 and 329; Dippin' Dots at 105, 110, 120, 306 and 326; Sinfully Sinnamon at 110, 128 and 304; Twisted Waffle at 116 and 322; Poppin' Plants popcorn and cotton candy at 118, 124, 130 and 324.

Team History Displays. Despite having been around for only 18 seasons (17 if you don't count the canceled 2004-05), the do have some history, which they display with banners for their 2006 Stanley Cup; their 2002 and 2006 Eastern Conference titles; and their 1999, 2002 and 2006 Division Championships.
The name banners are not in place of retired numbers.
They represent Olympians on their team.

Their retired number history is complicated. When the Whalers moved to Carolina to begin the 1997-98 season, the previously retired Number 2 for Rick Ley (defenseman, 1972-1981) and Number 19 for John McKenzie (right wing, 1977-79) were returned to circulation. The Hurricanes have never issued Number 9, which Gordie Howe wore with the Whalers (right wing, 1977-80), and consider it unofficially retired, as there is no banner to recognize it.

Number 2 has been retired anyway, for defenseman Glen Wesley (1994-2008, 1997-2008 in Carolina). Number 10 is retired for Ron Francis (center, 1981-91 in Hartford, 1998-2004 in Carolina, and now the team's general manager). Number 17 is retired for Rod Brind'Amour (center, 2000-10).
Steve Chiasson (defenseman, 1996-99, 1997-99 in Carolina) was killed in a car crash in 1999. The 'Canes have not reissued his Number 3. But they can't officially retire it, because he was driving drunk.

Josef Vasicek (forward, 2000-06, a member of their Cup team) was killed in one of the worst sports-related disasters in world history, the 2011 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl crash, carrying an entire Russian hockey team; 44 died, everyone on board except 1 member of the crew. Vasicek's Number 63 is withheld from circulation, but not officially retired, which is strange, because, A, there's no criminal reason why they can't; and, B, 63 isn't a very common number anyway.

The only Hurricanes in the Hockey Hall of Fame are Francis and Paul Coffey, who spent a year and a half with the team toward the end of his career. Chuck Kaiton, the voice of the franchise since it entered the NHL in 1979, is a winner of the Foster Hewitt Award, tantamount to election for broadcasters. He joins fellow Whalers Gordie and Mark Howe (but not Marty), Keon and Hull.

Several Whalers were named to the WHA's All-Time Team: Gordie, Mark and Marty Howe; Rick Ley, John McKenzie, Dave Keon, Al Smith, Andre Lacroix, Ron Plumb, Ted Green and Tom Webster. Despite the achievements that Ron Francis and Rod Brind'Amour had already had, and would add, when The Hockey News named its 100 Greatest Players in 1998, Gordie Howe was the only player they selected who had played for the Whalers/Hurricanes franchise, unless you count the sad last few games of Bobby Hull. (Not even Keon was named.)

Mark Johnson and Rob McClanahan, members of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team, played for the franchise when it was still the Whalers. No members of the Team Canada that beat the Soviets in the 1972 Summit Series did so.

One of the streets in the parking lot of the arena is named Peter Karmanos Jr. Drive for the team's owner.

Gordie and Mark Howe, former head coaches Larry Pleau and Paul Holmgren, former scout Bob Crocker, and Karmanos have been given the Lester Patrick Trophy, for contributions to hockey in America. But only Karmanos got it for what he did in Carolina; the rest, in Hartford.

The Arena also holds banners for the N.C. State basketball team: Their 1974 and 1983 National Championships, their 1950, 1974 and 1983 Final Four berths, their 13 regular-season conference titles, and their 17 conference tournament wins. They also have 23 "honored numbers," including 1983 heroes Dereck Whittenburg (25), Sidney Lowe (35), Thurl Bailey (41) and Lorenzo Charles (43); but only 1974 hero David "Skywalker" Thompson's Number 44 is actually retired.

UPDATE: Ron Francis was named to the NHL's 100th Anniversary 100 Greatest Players in 2017.

Stuff. Official Carolina Hurricanes merchandise is available at multiple The Eye store locations throughout the PNC Arena. For non-event hours, The Eye is located on the south end of the building, across from Carter Finley Stadium, and is accessible through an exterior entrance. 

Hockey is not exactly a glamour sport in the South. In North Carolina in particular, it trails basketball, football and NASCAR (which, of course, is not a sport). So there haven't been many books written about the 'Canes. And, since hurricanes frequently hit the Carolinas (hence the name of the team), if you type "Carolina Hurricanes" into Amazon.com, you get books about local storms.

Erin Butler recently published the Hurricanes' edition in the Inside the NHL series. And after the 2006 Stanley Cup, the sports staff of the News & Observer published a commemorative book, titled Whatever It Takes.

Commemorative DVD sets were produced for the 2006 Cup and the team's 10th Anniversary in 2007, but that's about it as far as videos go.

During the Game. A November 19, 2014 article on The Hockey News' website ranked the NHL teams' fan bases, and listed the 'Canes' fans 23rd out of 30, saying, "Canes put weak product on ice, so fans won't come even if tickets are cheap."

At least your safety is unlikely to be an issue. Unless you're going to a basketball game between Duke University and the University of North Carolina -- especially at Duke -- North Carolina fans, in any sport, don't have a rough reputation.

Amanda Bell is the regular National Anthem singer for the 'Canes. Their fans haven't yet come up with a chant more imaginative than "Let's go, 'Canes!" Their theme song is "Noise" by the Chris Hendricks Band. Their goal song is "Song 2" by Blur (a.k.a. "Whoo Hoo"), and, according to actor Liam Neeson, who, despite being from Northern Ireland, is a big hockey fan, the 'Canes have "the manliest goal horn in the league."

Their mascot is Stormy the Ice Hog. Fortunately, he's not a wild boar, a warthog, or even a Razorback hog like the University of Arkansas' mascot. He's a friendly-looking brown pig, whose jersey has Number 97 in honor of the year the team moved to North Carolina.
After the Game. Unlike Charlotte, whose sports facilities are now all downtown, Raleigh's arena and football stadium are in a suburban part of town, 2 islands in a sea of parking. Crime should not be an issue: Most likely, you will be safe, and if you drove in, so will your car.

But this setup also means you'll have a bit of a walk back to public transportation, and to any place serving late-night food and/or drinks. Backyard Bistro is across Trinity Road from the complex, and there's a Wendy's at Trinity Road and Edwards Mill Road. If those aren't good enough for you, you may have to head back downtown.

Downtown Sports Bar in Raleigh is the home of a local Giants fan club. It's at 410 Glenwood Avenue at Anwood Place. There are 2 places worth mentioning just off the N.C. State campus. Amadeo's Italian Restaurant is the home of a local Jets fan club. It's at 3905 Western Blvd. at Whitmore Drive. Fuhgeddaboudit Pizza, at 2504 Hillsborough Street and Horne Street, is said to be covered in various items of New York memorabilia.

If your visit to Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill is during the European soccer season, as we are now in, your best bets for a pub to watch your club are London Bridge Pub, at 110 E. Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh; or Bull McCabe's Irish Pub, at 427 W. Main Street across from the Amtrak and Greyhound stations in downtown Durham. I should note that the former is owned by Liverpool fans, so if you don't want to be surrounded by Scousers and wannabe Kopites, you may wish to look elsewhere; while the latter is the home of the local Arsenal supporters' club, so if you're not fond of Gooners, you may want to avoid that one.

Sidelights. Charlotte's sports history, at least at the major league level, isn't much, and Raleigh's is even less than that.

* Carter-Finley Stadium. After playing football at Riddick Stadium from 1907 to 1965 (demolished in 2005), North Carolina State moved into Carter Stadium in 1966. It was originally named for brothers Harry C. Carter and Wilbert J. "Nick" Carter, N.C. State graduates and major financial contributors. Albert E. Finley, another big contributor, had his name added in 1979. The playing surface is now named for yet another contributor: Wayne Day Family Field.
Currently seating 57,583, the N.C. State Wolfpack have won 3 Atlantic Coast Conference football titles there, in 1968, 1973 and 1979. This is in addition to the 8 titles they won in their various leagues at Riddick Stadium, for a total of 11: 1907, 1910, 1913, 1927, 1957, 1963, 1964 and 1965. Those last 3 conference titles provided the revenue for the building of a new stadium, to replace the obsolete Riddick. It features a display of 10 retired numbers, including current NFL quarterbacks Philip Rivers (17) and Russell Wilson (16), and former New York Jet Dennis Byrd (77 for them, 90 for the Jets).

It was also home to what's been called the worst team in the history of professional football: The Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks of the World League of American football. Their red, kelly green, black and white uniforms, and their jets in formation leaving vapor trails helmet logo, were weird enough. Their cheerleaders, tapping into the aviation theme and the Wright Brothers' first flight in the Outer Banks in 1903, were named the Kittyhawks. Charlotte Hornets owner George Shinn owned them, and Roman Gabriel, another N.C. State quarterback whose number has been retired (18), was their head coach.

But even with Shinn's money, Gabriel as head coach, and former pro quarterback Johnnie Walton and eventual Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Claude Humphrey as offensive and defensive coordinators, they went 0-10 in a weak league (the WLAF was nicknamed "The Laugh League") in the 1991 season. And, with no beer sold, they averaged just 12,066 fans per home game. (Even the Hurricanes can usually top that.) The team was moved to Columbus for the 1992 season and renamed the Ohio Glory.

Carter-Finley Stadium hosted a summer tour soccer game between Italy's Juventus and Mexico's C.D. Guadalajara (a.k.a. "Chivas") in 2011. It has also hosted concerts by Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd, U2 and, just this past summer, the Rolling Stones. 4600 Trinity Road at Youth Center Drive, separated from the PNC Arena by Stephen Stroud Way.

According to an article in the September 2014 issue of The Atlantic, as you might guess, the Charlotte-based Carolina Panthers, just 168 miles from the State House, are the most popular NFL team not just in Charlotte and in the Raleigh-Durham area, but in the entire State of North Carolina. However, both Carolinas have significant pockets of support for the Washington Redskins, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys, mainly due to the media saturation (and, in the Redskins' case, proximity is also a cause). In particular, these teams tend to cancel out Panther support in the ocean resort communities, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and at Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head in South Carolina.

* Reynolds Coliseum. Home to N.C. State basketball from 1949 to 1999, the William Neal Reynolds Coliseum (named for the former chief executive of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and brother of R.J. himself) hosted the Wolfpack teams that won the National Championship in 1974 and 1983, reached the Final Four in 1950, and won the ACC title in the regular season in 1950, '51, '53, '55, '56, '59, '73, '74, '85 and '89; and in the tournament in 1950, '51, '52, '54, '55, '56, '59, '65, '70, '73, '74, '83 and '87. (They haven't won either since moving into the new arena.)
The Coliseum was the home of the ACC Tournament from 1954 to 1966, and has hosted many NCAA Tournament games, and still hosts them for the women's tournament. It remains the home for N.C. State women's basketball and wrestling. It is currently undergoing a renovation that is scheduled to be completed next August, providing more space for offices and a school Athletic Hall of Fame, but also reducing the seating capacity from 9,500 to 5,600. 2411 Dunn Avenue at Jeter Drive (not named for Derek Jeter), next door to the Talley Student Union, 2 miles west of downtown.
The only Final Fours held in the Carolinas have been 1974 at the Greensboro Coliseum (N.C. State interrupting the UCLA dynasty in the Semifinal and beating Marquette in the Final) and 1994 at the 2nd Charlotte Coliseum (Arkansas beating Duke).

According to a May 12, 2014 article in The New York Times, the Charlotte Hornets' reach doesn't get much beyond the Charlotte area. Then again, it doesn't help that the Hornets play 168 miles from downtown Raleigh. The most popular NBA team in the Raleigh-Durham area, as it has been since the dawn of the 21st Century (dovetailing nicely with the post-Michael Jordan fall of the Chicago Bulls), is the Los Angeles Lakers.

* Five County Stadium. Home to the Carolina Mudcats since 1991, the original owner wanted to get as close to downtown Raleigh as possible without infringing on the territory of any other team, including the Greensboro Hornets, which he also owned. Zebulon was as close as the Durham Bulls would let him get.

The Mudcats won Pennants in the Class AA Southern League in 1995 and 2003, but have not won one since moving to the Class A Carolina League in 2012. Ironically, where they were once higher in classification than the Bulls, they are now lower. 1501 State Highway 39 at Old U.S. 264, 26 miles east of the State House. Accessible by car only: No public transportation out there.

* Durham Athletic Park. Made famous by the 1988 film Bull Durham, which jump-started the minor-league baseball craze of the late 20th Century, the Durham Bulls played at the site of "The DAP" from 1926 until 1994 (with a rebuild in 1939-40 after a fire), mostly in the Class A Carolina League. Having already won Pennants in 1924 and '25, they won them at The DAP in 1929, '30, '40, '41, '57, '65 and '67.

The film, which takes place in 1987, the year before it was released (a fact confirmed by the calendar in the manager's office), gives the impression that they weren't very good, and hadn't been for a long time, but got to 1st place by the 4th of July, and then faltered. In real life, they went 67-75 that season, But they did have 6 players who went on to reach the major leagues: Kevin Brown, Kent Mercker, Mark Lemke, Derek Lilliquist, Gary Eave and Rusty Richards. Not bad for a Single-A team that was 8 games under .500. Then again, this was before their parent club, the Atlanta Braves, got good again in 1991, so they needed whatever help they could get. But Mercker and Lemke were a part of the Braves' quasi-dynasty.

The film made The DAP the most famous minor-league ballpark ever. But the park became a victim of the film's success: Soon, people came flocking to it, and its 5,000-seat capacity was now obsolete. A new ballpark was built, but the old one was left standing, and is still used for local baseball.

428 Morris Street. Unlike the Mudcats' home, The DAP can be reached by public transit from Raleigh. Take Bus 100 to the Regional Transit Center, then switch to Bus 700, and take that to the Durham Amtrak station. Then Bus 4 or a short walk.

* Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The DBAP (pronounced DEE-bap) has been home to the Bulls since 1995, and since 1998 they've been the Triple-A farm team of the Tampa Bay Rays. The Bulls have won International League Pennants there in 2002, '03, '09 and '13, making a total of 13 Pennants in various leagues at various levels.

Although it seats twice as many, 10,000, the Bulls tried to make it as much like the old DAP as possible, including the 305-foot right-field fence, nicknamed the Blue Monster, complete with the famous bull "HIT SIGN WIN STEAK" sign that was erected for the movie and kept. Even the overhanging roof, although up to public safety code, looks pretty much the same. 409 Blackwell Street at Willard Street, a 5-minute walk from the train station.

According to an article in the April 24, 2014 edition of The New York Times, the Yankees are the most popular MLB team in the Triangle, averaging around 26 percent, with the Boston Red Sox at 20 and the Atlanta Braves at around 12. That's mainly due to the national media's exposure of the Yanks and Sox, since the Braves are easily the closest team, 265 miles away. It could also be due to the fact that UNC and Duke have a national reach with their student bodies.

Raleigh's relatively low metropolitan population means it would rank 31st and last in MLB, 29th in the NFL, and 28th in the NBA.

* Duke University. As with the Durham ballparks, reachable by taking Bus 100 to the Regional Transit Center and transferring to Bus 700. Cameron Indoor Stadium, opening in 1940 and thus celebrating its 75th Anniversary this year, is at 115 Whitford Drive. Wallace Wade Stadium, opening in 1929, is next door. Wade Stadium hosted the only Rose Bowl away from Pasadena, in 1942, because of concerns over the Pacific Coast just 25 days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Duke lost it to Oregon State. 27 miles northwest of downtown Raleigh, up U.S. Route 70.

* The University of North Carolina. About 28 miles northwest of downtown Raleigh, but in a slightly different direction, on Interstate 40. The Dean E. Smith Student Activities Center, a.k.a. the Dean Dome (where they've won National Championships in 1993, 2005 and 2009), is at 300 Skipper Bowles Drive. It's just 11 miles between the Dean Dome and Cameron.

The old court, Carmichael Arena, where the Tar Heels played from 1965 to 1986 (and won the National Championship in 1982), is at 310 South Road. Woollen Gymnasium, where they played from 1937 to 1965 (and won the National Championship in 1957), is also at South Road. And Kenan Memorial Stadium, home to Tar Heel football since 1927, is at 104 Stadium Drive.

According to an April 23, 2014 article in The New York Times, the Yankees are actually the most popular MLB team in Raleigh, a little bit ahead of the Atlanta Braves, the 2nd-closest team at 408 miles away. The Washington Nationals are the next-closest, 278 miles, but are not as popular in the Triangle as either the Yanks or the Braves.

The U.S. national soccer team has only played 1 game in the Triangle, a 1-1 draw with Jamaica in 2006, at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, about 8 miles west of the State House. The nearest Major League Soccer team is D.C. United, 283 miles, and that will remain the case after Atlanta United starts play in Spring 2017: 406 miles.

* Museums. The North Carolina Museum of History and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences are next-door to each other, across Edenton Street from the State House.

The Beatles never performed together in the Raleigh-Durham area, although Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr have done so on solo tours. Elvis Presley only did so early in his career, all in Raleigh (never in Durham or Chapel Hill), at the Memorial Auditorium on May 19 and September 21, 1955; and a whopping 4 shows in 1 day at the Ambassador Theater on February 8, 1956. The Memorial Auditorium is now the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, at 2 E. South Street, 7 blocks south of the State House. The Ambassador is at 115 Fayetteville Street, just south of the State House, but was demolished in 1989.

In addition to Raleigh -- and Charlotte, which I've covered in my guides for the Panthers and Hornets -- Elvis sang at the following North Carolina locations: In New Bern, at the Shrine Auditorium in New Bern on May 14 and September 13, 1955; in Asheville, at the City Auditorium on May 17 and September 16, 1955, and at the Asheville Civic Center on July 22, 23 and 24, 1975; in Thomasville at the High School Auditorium on September 17, 1955; in Wilson at Fleming Stadium on September 14, 1955, and 3 shows at the Charles L. Coon Auditorium on February 14, 1956; in Greensboro, 4 shows in 1 day at the National Theater on February 6, 1956, and at the Greensboro Coliseum on April 14, 1972; March 13, 1974; July 21, 1975; June 30, 1976; and April 21, 1977; in High Point, 4 shows in 1 day at the Convention Center on February 7, 1956; in Williams, at the High School Auditorium on February 15, 1956; in Winston-Salem, 3 shows in 1 day at the Carolina Theater on February 16, 1956; in Lexington, at the YMCA Gym on March 21, 1956; and in Fayetteville, at the Cumberland County Memorial Arena in Fayetteville on August 3, 4 and 5, 1976.

If you're paying attention, you saw that he did 4 shows in 1 day on February 6, 7, 8 and 10, 1956. That's 16 shows in a span of 5 days. He was 21. It was easier to do that than to do 2 in 1 day when he was packing on the pounds in his early 40s in 1975, '76 and '77.

Andrew Johnson was born in the State capital of Raleigh. His birthplace was a log cabin (which didn't help him as much as it helped his predecessor, Abraham Lincoln) on the grounds of Casso's Inn, where his father worked, at Morgan Street and Fayetteville Street, across from the State House. It was moved to Mordecai Historic Park at 1 Mimosa Street, a mile north of downtown. Number 1 Bus.

He is 1 of 3 Presidents produced by the Carolinas. No one is precisely sure where Andrew Jackson was born -- not even whether it happened in North or South Carolina, only that it was in the Waxhaw region along the State Line. He was the 1st President born in a log cabin, but that cabin is long-gone. Andrew Jackson State Park, at 196 Andrew Jackson Park Road in Lancaster, South Carolina, is considered the likeliest place. It's about 33 miles south of Charlotte and not reachable by public transportation.

James K. Polk State Historical Site is in Pineville, which, like Charlotte, is in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. It's about 12 miles south, at 12031 Lancaster Highway. It's easier to reach without a car: The Number 20 bus can get you to within half a mile.

All 3 Carolina-born Presidents have their main historical sites in Tennessee: Polk is buried on the State House grounds in Nashville; Jackson's home, The Hermitage, is in the Nashville suburbs; and Johnson's Museum is in Greeneville.

Yankee Legend Jim "Catfish" Hunter was from Hertford, North Carolina, 150 miles northeast of Raleigh, in the coastal Inner Banks region, and is buried in Cedarwood Cemetery there, on Hyde Park Road. Another major baseball legend, though not a New York one, Willie Stargell, is buried at Oleander Memorial Gardens, at 306 Bradley Drive, in Wilmington, 130 miles southeast of Charlotte. (Wilmington is also the hometown of Michael Jordan and David Brinkley.) And football legend Reggie White is buried at Glenwood Memorial Park in Mooresville, 150 miles west.

PNC Plaza, at 538 feet, is the tallest building in Raleigh, and the tallest building in the Carolinas outside of Charlotte.

Bull Durham was filmed almost entirely in Durham and other North Carolina minor-league towns. Mitch's Tavern, site of the bar scenes near the beginning and the end of the film, is still in business, at 2426 Hillsborough Street in Raleigh. Other movies filmed in the area include The Handmaid's Tale (which used Duke University for some location shots) and Brainstorm (Natalie Wood's last film, which also did some filming at Duke).

A few TV shows have been filmed in North Carolina, most notably Dawson's Creek in Wilmington. But shows set in Raleigh are few and far between. The Andy Griffith Show, set in fictional Mayberry and based on Griffith's real-life hometown of Mount Airy, mentioned Raleigh a few times, but was filmed in Southern California. A statue of Griffith and Ron Howard as Sheriff Andy Taylor and his son Opie was dedicated by television network TV Land. It depicts them walking down the fishing trail, as seen in the show's famous opening. Unfortunately, the fishing poles the figures hold are frequently swiped. Pullen Park, near the carousel. 408 Ashe Avenue, a mile and a half west of downtown. The 100 bus gets you about halfway there. A copy of the statue stands outside the Andy Griffith Museum at 218 Rockford Street in Mount Airy, 139 miles to the northwest, near the Virginia State Line. Pilot Mountain (known on the show as Mount Pilot) is 16 miles southeast of Mount Airy.

*

The Raleigh-Durham Triangle isn't really big enough -- yet -- for a major league sports team. And the Carolinas are certainly no place for hockey. But, for better or for worse, the Hurricanes are there, and they have a Stanley Cup and are a perennial Playoff team. Maybe the Devils can show the fans down there -- the ones who show up, anyway -- what a real hockey team looks like.

October 31, 1936: Madison Square Garden's Greatest Moment

October 31, 1936, 80 years ago: Madison Square Garden -- the 3rd one, on 8th Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets, then still fairly knew, but known to my generation as "The Old Garden" -- hosts its greatest moment. And it had nothing to do with sports.

It is 3 days before a Presidential election. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the incumbent Democrat, is running for re-election. The Republican nominee is the Governor of Kansas, Alfred M. Landon. Landon is not the problem: His campaign was rather inoffensive.

Considerably more offensive are the charges that many have made against Roosevelt and his series of programs for lifting the country out of the Great Depression, programs he put under the umbrella term "The New Deal." FDR summarized these, in a more palatable way, in a speech to the nation over the radio networks of the time, a.k.a. one of his "Fireside Chats," on June 28, 1934:

A few timid people, who fear progress, will try to give you new and strange names for what we are doing. Sometimes they will call it "Fascism," sometimes "Communism," sometimes "Regimentation," sometimes "Socialism." But, in so doing, they are trying to make very complex and theoretical something that is really very simple and very practical.

A story FDR liked to tell as he ran for a 2nd term in 1936 was this:

A wealthy man in a fine suit and top hat fell into deep water. He didn't know how to swim, and was on the verge of drowning. Hearing his cries, another man dove into the water, and saved him, as his top hat floated away. The man who had almost drowned regained his breath, and, for a moment, seemed grateful.

Three years later, though, he returned, and denounced his rescuer for not saving his hat, too!

The very rich, and their hired spokesmen, said FDR was trying to "destroy capitalism." Sound familiar? Their successors have said it about every Democratic President since, including the current one, Barack Obama; the previous one, Bill Clinton; and his wife, now running to succeed Obama, Hillary Clinton.

Presidential candidates have frequently held rallies close to the election, sometimes in New York, sometimes in their hometowns. John F. Kennedy had his at the Boston Garden in 1960. Bill Clinton, having already had the Democratic Convention at the 4th and current version of The Garden, had one at the Meadowlands Arena 2 days before.

FDR, from Hyde Park, in Dutchess County, actually closer to Albany than to Midtown Manhattan, did have a home in Manhattan, so New York, for practical purposes, could be called his hometown. And so he had his close-to-Election Day rally at The Garden, arguably already, even though it did not use the slogan for decades to come, the world's most famous arena.

On the eve of a national election, it is well for us to stop for a moment and analyze calmly and without prejudice the effect on our Nation of a victory by either of the major political parties.

The problem of the electorate is far deeper, far more vital than the continuance in the Presidency of any individual. For the greater issue goes beyond units of humanity—it goes to humanity itself.

In 1932, the issue was the restoration of American democracy, and the American people were in a mood to win. They did win. In 1936, the issue is the preservation of their victory. Again they are in a mood to win. Again they will win...

It is needless to repeat the details of the program which this Administration has been hammering out on the anvils of experience. No amount of misrepresentation or statistical contortion can conceal or blur or smear that record. Neither the attacks of unscrupulous enemies nor the exaggerations of over-zealous friends will serve to mislead the American people...

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace -- business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me -- and I welcome their hatred.

I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master! ...

Here is an amazing paradox! The very employers and politicians and publishers who talk most loudly of class antagonism and the destruction of the American system now undermine that system by this attempt to coerce the votes of the wage earners of this country. It is the 1936 version of the old threat to close down the factory or the office if a particular candidate does not win. It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them.

FDR went on in this vein for some time. Tweaking the details, this speech could be given by Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton today, 80 years later.

Today, the forces of selfishness, of greed, and of bigotry -- against women, various religions, gay people, and the poor in general -- are united behind Donald Trump, against Hillary Clinton.

The joke was that, if Hillary runs to succeed Obama, all those people who spent 8 years being racists will suddenly become sexists. We forgot to consider the possibility that they would still be racists. That possibility has been realized.

Trump has, in the past, claimed to be a Yankee fan. Can we deport him to Red Sox Nation?

In just 8 days, we have a choice. And if the Republicans had nominated someone smart, competent and sane, Hillary would still be the better choice.

They did not nominated someone smart, or competent, or sane. Instead, they nominated someone who, as Hillary put it, can be baited with a tweet. They nominated someone with a thick gut and an incredibly thin skin. They nominated someone who not only has no experience in public service, but who has spent 70 years on this Earth serving no one but himself.

And they nominated the biggest, most-easily-proven liar in the history of Presidential elections. In contrast, not only is Hillary not "crooked," but she was the most honest candidate.

It is not enough that Hillary win. She needs to win in such a landslide that the Democrats retake both houses of Congress, so that the Republicans cannot obstruct her like they did to her husband for 6 years (1995-2000) and to Obama these last 6 years (2011-16). And she needs to win in such a landslide that Trump and his bigoted supporters -- as Hillary called them, the "Basket of Deplorables" -- can see just how much the American people want them to shut the hell up. They must be absolutely repudiated.

This is more important than sports.

*

October 31, 1517: Martin Luther, a German priest, writes "Disputation on the Power of Indulgences," challenging some Roman Catholic Church doctrines as being contradictory to Christian teaching, and sends them to Albert of Brandenburg, Archbishop of Mainz. This paper becomes known as the "95 Theses," and sparks the Protestant Reformation.

According to legend, he also nailed a copy of his paper to the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenburg, a.k.a. the Schlosskirche (Castle Church). If this happened, it was not on this date, more likely a few days later.

No account from Luther's lifetime quotes him as having admitted that the story of him nailing the Theses to the church door is true. The first written account of the story comes from a man writing after Luther's death, and who had not arrived in Wittenberg until the year after the event. (Wittenberg is in the former East Germany, about 70 miles southwest of Berlin.)

Luther is a giant of history, although he was persecuted by his superiors in the Church for years, leading to a trial in 1521, in Worms (pronounced "Verms"), outside Frankfurt. He said, "I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen." As with the nailing of the Theses to the door, there is no contemporary evidence that he also said, "Here I stand, I can do no other." He was convicted, but, essentially, this was set aside, and he lived until 1546, at the age of 62.

The era in which Luther wrote his Theses was a heady time: Among his contemporaries were the Italian Renaissance artists like Leonardo da Vinci (died in 1519) and Michelangelo (who finished painting the Sistine Chapel in 1512); King Henry VIII of England, who warred with France in the decade, and used the Reformation for his own lusts, for power and for women, in the 1530s; and Spanish explorers Juan Ponce de León, the 1st European known for certain to have set foot on what's now the continental United States, in Florida in 1513, and Hernán Cortés, who conquered Mexico in 1520.

Above and beyond the 95 Theses being the birth certificate of Protestantism, leading to my own Methodist faith, this is an important moment to me for another reason: The 95 Theses are, arguably, the first blog.

*

October 31, 1800: America holds its 4th Presidential election. John Adams, the 2nd President of the United States and the Federalist Party's nominee, becomes the 1st President ever to be defeated for re-election. He gets 65 Electoral Votes, to the 73 of the Democratic-Republican Party's nominee, his old friend from the Continental Congress, now his arch-rival, Thomas Jefferson.

Except, under the law of the time, Jefferson's Vice Presidential nominee, Aaron Burr, former Senator from New York, also got 73 Electoral Votes, and claimed an equal right to be President, since he was tied with Jefferson for 1st place.

The election was thus, as constitutionally prescribed, sent to the U.S. House of Representatives, resulting in tie vote after tie vote. Finally, Alexander Hamilton, the nation's 1st Secretary of the Treasury under George Washington (while Jefferson was the 1st Secretary of State), and the leader of the Federalists -- but, being foreign-born, ineligible for the Presidency himself -- decided that Jefferson, a man he personally liked but politically despised, was a better choice than Burr, whom he considered unsuitable on all levels. Hamilton told his supporters to support Jefferson, and they did, electing Jefferson the 3rd President on February 17, 1801.

That was not why Burr ultimately challenged Hamilton to a duel, but it didn't help. In 1804, after the 12th Amendment was ratified, and Electoral Votes for President and Vice President were counted separately, Jefferson dumped Burr from the ticket. Burr ran for Governor of New York, but Hamilton, also a New Yorker, campaigned against him, and he lost the nomination.

One thing led to another, and that's why the duel happened. It happened across the Hudson River in Weehawken, New Jersey, not far from what's now the Jersey entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel, because dueling was legal in New Jersey but not in New York. It was July 11, 1804. Hamilton didn't actually want to kill Burr, but, due to matters of honor, he couldn't refuse the duel. So Hamilton fired his shot into the air. Burr fired directly at Hamilton, who was hit, and died in agony the next day.

October 31, 1828: Exactly 28 years to the day after his father became the 1st President to be turned out of office after just 1 term, John Quincy Adams becomes the 2nd, losing to General Andrew Jackson, 178 Electoral Votes to 83.

This was the 1st time the popular vote was counted from every available State (there were then 24), and Jackson got 56 percent to Adams' nearly 44, and was elected the 7th President of the United States.

*

October 31, 1860: Hugh Andrew Montagu Allan is born in Montreal. Like his father before him, he was a titan of business in his hometown, and upon his death in 1951, he left McGill University his home in his will to be used for their medical school, the Allan Memorial Institute.

When the Stanley Cup was restricted to competition between professional ice hockey clubs, amateur teams no longer had a championship to which they could aspire. Allan was a well-known hockey enthusiast, and in 1908 he donated the Allan Cup, a trophy that would represent the highest level of achievement for amateur hockey teams across Canada.
The Cup is awarded annually to the National Senior Amateur Men's Ice Hockey Champions of Canada, and is still competed for to this day. Like the Stanley Cup, the Allan Cup was originally a challenge trophy, meaning teams could issue challenges to the reigning champion hoping to defeat them and earn the status of champion for themselves. But when challenges for the Allan Cup grew so frequent that they became unmanageable the format was altered in 1914 so that regional champions would compete for this prestigious national trophy.
Beginning in 1920, when hockey was first introduced to the Olympic Games, the reigning Allan Cup champion was chosen to represent Canada. This continued until (Father)David Bauer introduced a National Hockey program that produced a team of selects at the Innsbruck 1964 Winter Olympics.

For his contribution to the sport of Ice Hockey, in 1945 Allan was made a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame in the Builders category.[7] His cousin, Brenda (Allan), Lady Meredith (1867–1959) donated the Lady Meredith Cup in 1920, which was the first ice hockey trophy to be competed for amongst women in Canada.

October 31, 1864: Nevada is admitted to the Union as the 36th State, a.k.a. the Silver State. President Abraham Lincoln wanted its silver revenues to win the American Civil War. Turns out, he didn't need them.

Nevada has been a part of the Union for a century and a half. But, due to gambling and other issues, no Nevada city, including Las Vegas, had ever been granted a team in any major sports league -- not even MLS or the WNBA (if you consider those "major").

That changed this past year, as the NHL granted its 31st franchise to Las Vegas and its new arena, the T-Mobile Center, to begin play in 2016-17. Their name, logo, colors and uniform design will be unveiled next month, on November 16. The name is expected to be a variation on "Knights," although the owners' 1st choice, "Black Knights," was rejected because it would be too close to that of the Chicago Blackhawks.

In addition, Mark Davis, owner of the Oakland Raiders since the death of his father Al, wants to move them to Vegas, and has already filed copyrights for the name "Las Vegas Raiders." He says he wants to "make the Silver State the Silver & Black State." So far, he hasn't yet officially applied to the NFL for the right to move.


October 31, 1887: Édouard Cyrille Lalonde is born in Cornwall, the easternmost city in Ontario, bordering Quebec. "Newsy" (from working in a newspaper plant) was one of early hockey's greatest stars, winning 7 scoring titles and Captaining the Montreal Canadiens to their first Stanley Cup in 1916.

On December 29, 1917, in the 1st-ever NHL game, he scored a goal on route to the Canadiens' 7-4 victory over the Ottawa Senators. In 1922, the Canadiens angered him and a lot of their fans by trading him to the Pacific Coast Hockey Association's Saskatoon Sheiks, but the Habs got future Hall-of-Famer Aurel Joliat in the deal. From his retirement in 1927 until Maurice Richard surpassed him in 1954, his 455 combined goals in all leagues in which he played stood as a pro record.

He was also the best lacrosse player of his era, and in 1950, he was named athlete of the half-century in lacrosse. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1950, the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1965, and the Sports Hall of Fame of Canada. He had lit the torch when the Sports Hall of Fame opened in Toronto in August, 1955. He lived to see all of these achievements, living until 1970.

In 1998, 72 years after he played his last NHL game, he was ranked number 32 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players, making him the highest-ranking player on the list who had played in a professional league before the founding of the NHL. He was the 1st Canadiens player to wear Number 4, and Joliat got it after the trade, but it was retired for later star Jean Béliveau.

October 31, 1891, 125 years ago: The University of Kansas and the University of Missouri play each other in football for the 1st time, and Kansas wins, 22-10. This becomes the most-played college football rivalry west of the Mississippi River.

Originally called the Border War, and evoking memories of proslavery raids before and during the Civil War, by the 2004 the schools agreed to rename it the Border Showdown in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and the Iraq War. (Colorado State and Wyoming, however, still call their rivalry the Border War. CSU fans would rather beat Wyoming than Colorado.)

In 2007, a T-shirt created by a Missouri alumnus gained national attention. It depicted the 1863 burning of Lawrence, seat of KU ("UK" is correct, but "KU" is preferred) following the raid of Confederate guerrilla William Quantrill and his Bushwhackers, who included Jesse and Frank James. The image of Lawrence burning was paired with the word "Scoreboard" and a Mizzou logo. On the back of the shirts, Quantrill was quoted, saying, "Our cause is just, our enemies many." Some Kansas fans interpreted these shirts as supporting slavery. KU supporters returned fire with a shirt depicting abolitionist John Brown, perpetrator of the anti-slavery Pottawottamie Massacre, with the words, "Kansas: Keeping America Safe From Missouri Since 1854."

Missouri's move from the Big 12 Conference to the Southeastern Conference (I'm guessing Colonel Quantrill and his latter-day apologists would approve) ended the football edition of the rivalry after the 2011 season. The current all-time results are disputed, due to a controversial ruling on the 1960 game: Missouri say they lead 57-54-9, while Kansas give themselves 1 more win, thus giving Kansas a lead of 56-55-9.

October 31, 1897: Wilbur Francis Henry is born in Mansfield, Ohio. Known as Pete Henry or Fats Henry, he was an All-American tackle at Washington & Jefferson University in the Pittsburgh suburbs in 1918 and 1919.

Then he became one of the 1st stars of the NFL, playing with the Canton Bulldogs as the League began in 1920, and winning the Championship with them in 1922, 1923 and 1924. He won another title with the Giants in 1927. He was named to the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame and the NFL's 1920s All-Decade Team. He was later the head coach at W&J, and died from diabetes in 1952, only 54 years old.

*

October 31, 1900: Ban Johnson, founder and President of the American League, writes a letter to National League President Nick Young. In it, he offers a deal for peaceful coexistence: Accept the AL as a "major league," and it won't pursue NL players. This was possible because the NL had contracted from 12 to 8 teams for the 1900 season. Johnson was willing to let his 8 teams leave the NL teams alone and respect their contracts.

Young refused the deal. In retaliation, Johnson authorized his teams' owners to raid any NL team for any player they wanted. These ended up including future Hall-of-Famers Cy Young, Jimmy Collins, Napoleon Lajoie, Sam Crawford, Elmer Flick, Clark Griffith, Jack Chesbro and Willie Keeler. The "war" between the Leagues will rage for 2 years, until the NL, with a new President, Harry Pulliam, accepted the AL in 1903. After this deal, Johnson agreed to accept the reserve clause and respect all NL contracts.

October 31, 1915: Luella Jane Nossett is born in Vincennes, Indiana, and grows up in Gary, Indiana. We knew her as Jane Jarvis.

She played the organ at Braves games at Milwaukee County Stadium, and was hired by the Mets, playing from Shea Stadium's opening in 1964 until 1980. She played the team's theme song, "Meet the Mets," as they took the field to start the game. Before "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and "God Bless America" (and, in the Mets' case, "Lazy Mary" by Lou Monte) became staples of the 7th inning stretch, she played "The Mexican Hat Dance" to get the fans to clap along.

Despite her advanced age, she returned for Shea's finale in 2008, and died in 2010.

October 31, 1920: Two legendary soccer players are born. Friedrich Walter (no middle name) is born in Kaiserslautern, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. With the coming of Franz Beckenbauer in the 1960s, Fritz Walter was no longer be the greatest German soccer player, but he remains the most important.

The attacking midfielder (sometimes forward) played his entire career, 1937 to 1959, for F.C. Kaiserslautern (currently in Germany's 2nd division), except for 1942 to 1945, when he was in the Wehrmacht. He was captured by the Soviets, but a Hungarian prison guard had seen him play, and lied to his superiors, saying that Fritz was actually from the Saar Territory (given to France after World War I before Germany reclaimed it), and thus not fully German, and so they didn't send him to a gulag in Siberia.

After the war, Fritz captained FCK (I know, but that's their initials) to the German championship in 1951 and 1953. He was the Captain of the West Germany team at the 1954 World Cup in Berne, Switzerland, 1 of 5 FCK players on it. Those 5 -- Walter, his brother Ottmar Walter, Werner Liebrich, Werner Kohlmeyer and Horst Eckel -- are now honored with a statue outside their home ground, which has been renamed the Fritz-Walter-Stadion. They won the Final, an upset of the Ferenc Puskas-led Hungary team, "the Mighty Magyars," a victory that became known as "The Miracle of Berne." It was said to be the first time since World War II that Germans could be proud of their country.

Fritz also helped West Germany reach the Semifinals of the 1958 World Cup, despite being 37 years old. When the Hungarian Revolution happened in 1956, their national team was caught out of the country and couldn't return, Walter paid them back for their countryman saving his life, backing them financially and even managing them for 2 years (while still an active player in Germany).

Fritz was disappointed when Kaiserslautern was not selected as one of the German cities to host the 1974 World Cup, but was overjoyed when it was selected as one for 2006. Sadly, he didn't live to see it, dying in 2002.

Kaiserslautern is home to a large U.S. military base (as seen in the James Bond film Octopussy), and FCK has signed several American players and thus has attracted many American servicemen as fans. When the U.S. played Italy at Fritz-Walter-Stadion in the World Cup on the anniversary of his death, June 17, 2006, a moment of silence was held for old Number 16. It had been 61 years since the end of The War, and America was playing one of its wartime enemies, and saluting a player from another, all now allies.

On the same day that Fritz Walter was born, Johan Gunnar Gren is born in Gothenburg, Sweden. A forward, he led hometown club IFK Göteborg to the League title in 1941, and Sweden to the Gold Medal at the 1948 Olympics in London.

That got the attention of Italian giants A.C. Milan, who signed 3 players from that Sweden team: Gren, IFK Norrköping forward Gunnar Nordahl, and Norrköping midfielder Nils Liedholm. Together, the Italian fans called them "Gre-No-Li." They led Milan to the Serie A title in 1951, and also won the Latin Cup, the closest thing then available to a continental club championship, the same year.

Gren and Liedholm would still be playing for Sweden when it hosted the 1958 World Cup, and they reached the Final, but lost. No shame in this loss on home soil: It was Brazil, led by Garrincha and the teenage Pelé, that beat them. (Ironically, both countries prefer to wear yellow shirts, and, as the home team, Sweden chosen yellow, so Brazil had to wear blue.)

Gren died in 1991. When Göteborg's stadium, the Gamla Ullevi, was reopened in 2009 after a complete reconstruction, a statue of Gren was placed outside.

Also on this day, Richard Stanley Francis is born in Lawrenny, Pembrokeshire, Wales. After serving in Britain's Royal Air Force during World War II, he returned to horse racing. For whatever reason, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother appointed him to ride the racehorses she owned, but during the 1956 Grand National, he was close to winning aboard Devon Loch when the horse fell.

A year later, he retired as a jockey, and began writing mystery novels, with his "detectives" being men who worked in the horse racing industry. There were 44 Dick Francis novels, and my grandmother, a fan of horse racing, murder mysteries, and her ancestral England (though Francis himself was Welsh), had many of them.

Dick wrote many of the novels with help from his wife Mary. After her death in 2000, their son Felix began helping, and when the father died in 2010, the son inherited the franchise, and has now published 6 Dick Francis novels.

October 31, 1924: A postseason barnstorming tour brings baseball's greatest hitter, Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees, and baseball's greatest pitcher, Walter Johnson of the newly-crowned World Champion Washington Senators, to Brea, Orange County, California.

Also making the trip: Yankees Bob Meusel and Ernie Johnson, St. Louis Browns star Ken Williams, and, since he lived nearby, retired Detroit Tigers' star Sam Crawford, who would join the Babe and the Big Train in the Hall of Fame.

Johnson, born in Kansas but raised in Orange County, pitched for a team of all-stars under the name of the Anaheim Elks. Ruth, who hadn't pitched in a major league game in 3 years, started for a team called, without much imagination, the Babe Ruth All-Stars.

Johnson was the hometown favorite, but the Bambino spoiled the party. Not only did he pitch a complete game, he hit a towering drive off Johnson, said to have gone about 550 feet. Ruth's All-Stars won, 12-1.

In the 92 years since, housing has been built on the site of the field.

October 31, 1927: Robert Miller (no middle name) is born in Macomb, Illinois. Red Miller went from coaching in high school and college to the AFL and the NFL. In 1977, he became the head coach of the Denver Broncos, and guided them to their 1st AFC Championship. Unfortunately, they lost to the Dallas Cowboys.

He didn't get them into another one, and was fired after the 1980 season. In 1983, he returned to Mile High Stadium as the head coach of the USFL's Denver Gold, but feuded with management, and resigned before the season was out. He is still alive.

October 31, 1928: José de la Caridad Méndez dies in the Cuban capital of Havana, only 41 years old. I cannot find a cause for his death. Known as El Diamante Negro, "the Black Diamond," he was a star pitcher for Havana team Almandares ("Scorpions").

He would pitch for all-black baseball teams in America, including the Brooklyn Royal Giants in 1908 (yes, a team named "Giants" in Brooklyn), the Manhattan-based Cuban Stars from 1909 to 1912, and, his longest tenure on our shores, for the Kansas City Monarchs from 1920 to 1926. In 2006, when a special committee looked for overlooked pre-integration black players who should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame, José Méndez was one of their selections.

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October 31, 1930: Michael Collins (no middle name) is born in Rome, Italy, the son of a U.S. Army General stationed there. He grew up all around the world as his father was reassigned. Michael, a brother and an uncle would also rise to the rank of General.

The others all did so in the Army, while Michael did so in the U.S. Air Force. To get there, he graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (in 1952 -- there was no separate U.S. Air Force Academy until 1954), was selected as an astronaut, flew on Gemini 10 in 1966, and was the pilot of the command module Columbia on Apollo 11. On July 20, 1969, Collins set a record: Most isolated human being who has ever lived. The next-closest people, Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, were on the surface of the Moon, and every other person was back on Earth, about 240,000 miles away.

In Ball Four, his diary of the 1969 season with baseball's ill-fated Seattle Pilots, Jim Bouton quoted fellow pitcher John Gelnar as musing that NASA should have "provided three germ-free broads" for the Apollo 11 crew.

Collins, now 86, later served as the director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, which has the command module Columbia. His daughter Kate Collins played Natalie Marlowe on the soap opera All My Children.

October 31, 1931: Daniel Irvin Rather Jr. is born in Wharton, Texas, outside Houston. The longtime CBS News reporter, anchor of The CBS Evening News from 1981 to 2004, walked off the set on September 11, 1987, Rather walked off the set in anger just before a remote broadcast from Miami, where Pope John Paul II had begun a rare U.S. tour, when a U.S. Open tennis match was being broadcast into the time scheduled for the newscast. He was upset that the news was being but into to make room for sports, and discussed it with the sports department.

The match, between Steffi Graf and Lori McNeil, ended at 6:32 PM, earlier than expected, but Rather had disappeared. So over 100 affiliates were forced to broadcast 6 minutes of dead air. The next day, Rather apologized for leaving the anchor desk.

The following year, when Rather asked then Vice President George H.W. Bush about his role in the Iran-Contra Affair during a live interview, Bush responded by saying, "Dan, how would you like it if I judged your entire career by those 7 minutes when you walked off the set in New York?"

October 31, 1932: Upon the request of Arsenal Football Club manager Herbert Chapman, the Gillespie Road station, the closest London Underground station to the club's Highbury stadium, is renamed Arsenal. "The Gunners" are the only one of London's 12 clubs whose closest "tube" stop is named for the team.


October 31, 1933: Phillippe Joseph Georges Goyette is born in Lachine, now a part of the city of Montreal. Apparently, Halloween is a good day to be born if you want to become a Canadiens legend. Phil Goyette was a center who won Stanley Cups with Les Habitantes in 1957, '58, '59 and '60.

He was the 1st coach of the New York Islanders in 1972-73, but was fired due to a poor record midway through the season. He has never coached again, but is still alive.

October 31, 1935: Dale Duward Brown is born in Minot, North Dakota. From 1972 to 1997, he was the basketball coach at Louisiana State University, succeeding Press Maravich, who'd recently coached his son, Pistol Pete, there. Brown guided LSU to Southeastern Conference Championships in 1979, 1981, 1985 and 1991; and to the Final Four in 1981 and 1986.

The NCAA investigated the program for infractions, finding only minor things that could not be connected to Brown, who called them "The Gestapo" for their intensity, and "hypocrites" for making massive sums off players who weren't allowed to receive a cent in pay. Lester Earl, the player whose 1997 admission that he had been paid $5,000 by an LSU booster led to the investigation that forced Brown (who had nothing to do with it) intro retirement, later publicly apologized to Brown, admitting that he was pressured into participating in what Brown had already called "a witch hunt."

Brown has been married to his college girlfriend since 1959, and has a daughter and 3 grandchildren. The basketball court at LSU is named the Dale Brown Court at Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Also on this day, John B. Barrow (I can find no reference to what the B. stands for) is born in Delray Beach, Florida. A 2-way tackle, he was an All-Southeastern Conference selection at the University of Florida, and was drafted by the Detroit Lions. But the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League offered more money, and he signed with them.

A mistake? Maybe: The Lions won the NFL Championship in 1957, his rookie season. But the Ticats also won their League that season, and again in 1963, 1965 and 1967. That last year, as the nation celebrated its Centennial, Barrow was named Canadian football's Lineman of the Century. He made 6 CFL All-Star Teams, and later served as general manager of the Toronto Argonauts.

He was named to the University of Florida Athletic and Canadian Football Halls of Fame, and to the CFL's 50 Greatest Players by TSN (The Sports Network, Canada's version of ESPN) in 2006. He died in 2015, at age 79.

October 31, 1936, 80 years ago: Eugene Maurice Orowitz is born in Forest Hills, Queens, and grows up in the Philadelphia suburb of Collingswood, Camden County, New Jersey. He was a track star at Collingswood High School, with the longest javelin throw by any high schooler in the country in 1954. He won a track scholarship to the University of Southern California.

But he hurt his shoulder, ending his track career. Already in Los Angeles anyway, he became an actor. We tend not to remember who won the Gold Medal in the javelin at the Olympics in 1956 (Egil Danielsen of Norway) or 1960 (Viktor Tsybulenko of the Soviet Union), but we remember "Ugy" Orowitz by the name he adopted by then: Michael Landon. Funny, but Little Joe Cartwright, Charles "Pa" Ingalls and angel John Smith didn't look Jewish!

He was also a frequent panelist on the original Match Game on NBC in the 1960s, and when it was revived on CBS, he was the 1st panelist introduced on the 1st show, on July 2, 1973. It was a bit odd to see his nameplate read "Mike." I'd never heard anyone call him "Mike Landon." Then again, I'd never heard anyone call him "Ugy Orowitz," either!

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October 31, 1941, 75 years ago: Edward Wayne Spiezio is born outside Chicago in Joliet, Illinois. A 3rd baseman, he was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals' World Series winners of 1964 and 1967 and their Pennant winners of 1968. He was left unprotected in the 1969 expansion draft, and hit the 1st home run in San Diego Padres history. He remained with the Padres until 1972, and then finished his career that year with the Chicago White Sox.

His son Scott Spiezio was an infielder who won World Series with the 2002 Anaheim Angels and the 2006 Cardinals.

Also on this day, Ronnie Wickers is born in Chicago. He's been going to Chicago Cubs games since he was a boy, and around 1958 or so, he started his familiar, "Cubs, woo! Cubs, woo!" chant. He has become known as Ronnie Woo Woo, and is a Chicago icon. I suspect he is very pleased that his Cubs are finally in the World Series, and that they won last night, to extend it to a Game 6.

October 31, 1942: Maurice Richard makes his NHL debut. Wearing Number 15 for the Montreal Canadiens -- just like Gordie Howe with the Detroit Red Wings 4 years later, each taking on their iconic Number 9 in their 2nd season -- he plays in the Habs' 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins at the Montreal Forum.

The man eventually known as the Rocket would score the 1st of his 544 goals 8 days later, against the New York Rangers. Playing from 1942 to 1960, h held the NHL career scoring record from 1952, when he passed Nels Stewart with 325, until 1963, when Gordie Howe surpassed him, and his 801 was surpassed by Wayne Gretzky in 1994, and he finished with 894. However, it's important to note that Gretzky played in seasons of 80 to 84 games. Richard began playing 50-game seasons, going to 60 in 1946-47, and going to 70 in 1949-50. He died in 2000, age 78.


Also on this day, David Arthur McNally is born in Billings, Montana. Dave McNally pitched a complete game to clinch the 1966 World Series for the Baltimore Orioles, and won another game and hit a grand slam in it to help them win it in 1970. His career won-lost record was a sterling 184-119.


But he's best known as one of the two pitchers, along with Andy Messersmith, who played the 1975 season without a contract to test the legality of the reserve clause. McNally, by then with the Montreal Expos, had been injured, had a successful ranch in his native Montana, and was ready to retire anyway, so he was an ideal player to make the test, since he didn't need the money. The clause was overturned.

McNally retired to his ranch and a car dealership, and wrote a memoir, A Whole Different Ball Game. He died of cancer in 2002.

Also on this day, David Ogden Stiers is born in Peoria, Illinois. Best known as Major Charles Emerson Winchester III, the fabulously wealthy, pompous but sometimes surprisingly human surgeon on M*A*S*H, he has spent much of the last few years doing voiceovers for PBS documentaries – in his real voice, not in Charles' Boston Brahmin accent.

The 1980 episode "A War for All Seasons" depicted life at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital from December 31, 1950 to January 1, 1952 -- not the only episode to wreak havoc with the show's continuity. One plot was a bet that Corporal Max Klinger (Jamie Farr), the company clerk, had with the commanding officer, Colonel Sherman Potter (Harry Morgan), that Klinger's favorite major league team, the Brooklyn Dodgers (not to be confused with his hometown minor-league team, the Toledo Mud Hens), would win the National League Pennant, rather than Potter's favorite team, his fellow Missourians the St. Louis Cardinals. Since they hope the Korean War will be over by the 4th of July, the bet is that the Dodgers will be ahead of the Cards on that date.

They were. Indeed, Dem Bums led the whole NL by 8 1/2 games. Properly paid, but acknowledging that they'd still be in Korea by October, Klinger then offers Potter 2-1 odds, the Dodgers against the entire League for the Pennant. Potter offers a bet that Klinger can't cover. Winchester, having no interest in baseball despite being a Bostonian, does have an interest in money, and notes that Klinger's predictions have come true thus far. So he covers Klinger's bet. Which becomes bets with several other soldiers in camp.

As the Dodgers stretch their lead to 13 1/2 games on August 11, Winchester gets greedy, raising the odds to 6-1. Potter raises his bid to $100, or $600 to Winchester -- about $5,600 in today's money, so this was a tidy sum. And that was just to Potter. When the New York Giants catch the Dodgers and force a Playoff, everyone's listening to Armed Forces Radio, and Winchester paces the compound wearing a Brooklyn Dodger cap -- not an easy thing for a soldier stationed overseas to get in 1951, even a rich one, and rich men tended not to be Dodger fans. After Bobby Thomson hits the home run that means, "The Giants win the Pennant!" Winchester swears revenge on Klinger. We never find out of if he gets it.

October 31, 1943: Louis Brian Piccolo is born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Dropping his first name, the All-American running back from Wake Forest overcame his natural prejudice to help his black Chicago Bears teammate Gale Sayers come back from a devastating knee injury, then developed lung cancer and died at age 26.

Shortly before Piccolo's death, Sayers was given the NFL’s most courageous man award for winning the 1969 rushing title on a knee with no cartilage in it. At the award ceremony, he said he didn't deserve the award, because Piccolo was showing more courage. "I love Brian Piccolo," he said, "and tonight, when you get down on your knees to pray, I want you to ask God to love him, too."

The Bears retired Piccolo's Number 41. In the 1971 film Brian’s Song, Piccolo was played by James Caan, and Sayers by Billy Dee Williams, career-making roles for both men.

October 31, 1946, 70 years ago: Stephen Rea is born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He starred in The Crying Game and was nominated for an Oscar for it. He's best known in the U.S. as Inspector Eric Finch, a good guy who figures out, to his horror, that he's really working for the bad guys, in V for Vendetta

It was because of that film that he was the only actor besides Colin Firth that I recognized from the original, British soccer, version of Fever Pitch. He played a school governor who was, as he is in real life, an Arsenal fan.

October 31, 1947: Frank Charles Shorter is born in Munich, Germany, where his father was serving with the U.S. Army. He grew up in Middletown, Orange County, New York, won the Olympic marathon in 1972, and finished 2nd in 1976. Thanks to his '72 win, the Boston Marathon was reborn as an event the whole country wanted to watch, and the New York City Marathon, which started the year before, took off.

Along with Jim Fixx and his Jim Fixx's Book of Running, Shorter is probably more responsible than anyone for the rise of recreational running in America. I leave it to you to decide whether that's a good thing.

October 31, 1948: John Milton Rivers is born in Miami. We know him as Mickey Rivers. Roger Kahn, the English major at New York University who became one of the greatest sportswriters of the 2nd half of the 20th Century, and wrote October Men about the 1977 and '78 Yankees, of whom Mick the Quick was such a big part, wrote that Rivers might be the only man named for John Milton who has never heard of Milton's epic poem, Paradise Lost.

Like his coach Yogi Berra, Mickey is something of a wacky philosopher. His best known line is, "Ain't no sense worrying 'bout things you got control over. 'Cause, if you got control, ain't no sense worrying. And ain't no sense worrying 'bout things you got no control over. 'Cause, if you got no control, ain't no sense worrying." I can't argue with that. I wouldn't know how.

At 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds, he was a prototypical 1970s baseball speedster. In the 1978 edition of The Complete Handbook of Baseball, which he produced annually from 1971 to 1997, Zander Hollander wrote that he "walks like an old man, but runs like a scared rabbit." He was right on both counts.

There were 2 MLB amateur drafts in 1968, and Mickey was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the one in January and the Mets in the one in June. There were 2 in 1969, and he was drafted by the Washington Senators in the one in February and the Atlanta Braves in the one in June. Playing for Miami-Dade College, Mickey finally signed with the Braves, but they traded him to the team then known as the California Angels after the 1969 season, before he could reach the majors.

He debuted for the Angels in 1970. In 1974, he led the American League in triples. In 1975, he led in triples again, and also in stolen bases, swiping 70. That remains the highest total of any player for a California-based baseball team other than Maury Wills and Rickey Henderson. He also led the AL in triples in 1974 and '75.

On December 11, 1975, general manager Gabe Paul pulled off one of the greatest trades in Yankee history, sending unhappy superstar Bobby Bonds to the Angels, and getting Rivers and Ed Figueroa. Instantly, he'd gotten rid of a malcontent and gained a superb leadoff man who would bat .299 with 93 stolen bases in nearly 4 years as a Yankee, and a solid starting pitcher who would win 55 games over the next 3 years. The same day, Paul swung Willie Randolph, Dock Ellis and Ken Brett from the Pittsburgh Pirates for Doc Medich. Good day for the Yankees.

Mick batted .312 with 8 homers and 67 RBIs in 1976, and finished 3rd in the AL Most Valuable Player voting, behind teammate Thurman Munson and the Kansas City Royals' George Brett. He batted .348 in the AL Championship Series against the Royals, sparking the Yankees to their 1st Pennant in 12 years.

He hit .326 with 12 home runs and 69 RBIs in 1977. That's an average of 68 ribbies as a leadoff man. He hit .391 in the ALCS, also against the Royals. He tailed off in 1978, but hit .455 in yet another ALCS against Kansas City, making 3 straight Pennants. And this time, unlike in the '76 and '77 Fall Classics, he batted .333 in the '78 World Series, to get the Yankees to back-to-back titles.

If the ESPN miniseries The Bronx Is Burning, about the 1977 Yankees, in which he was played by standup comedian Leonard Robinson, is any indication, Mick had serious money problems, due to lavish spending and gambling. If this had been publicly known at the time, it could have been very bad. He was frequently hitting his teammates up for money, particularly highly-paid star Reggie Jackson.

The miniseries mentions one of his pithier quotes about Reggie. He said, "Reginald Martinez Jackson. A white man's first name, a Spanish man's middle name, and a black man's last name. No wonder you don't know who you are." It doesn't mention another: When Reggie claimed he had an IQ of 160, Mickey said, "Out of what, a thousand?"

The Yankees may finally have had enough of "Ol' Gozzlehead," because, on July 30, 1979, in spite of his batting .287 and being only 31 years old, they traded him to the Texas Rangers for lefty slugger Oscar Gamble, who had been with the Yankees in their '76 Pennant season, but was traded right before the '77 season started as part of the Bucky Dent deal. (There were several players to be named later on both sides, none as consequential as Mick the Quick or the Big O.)

Mickey played for the Rangers through the 1984 season, and retired. Since then, he has turned his love of betting on racehorses into training them. He and his wife Mary had a son, Mickey Jr., who played in the Rangers organization, and a daughter, Rhonda, who's a teacher. He still comes back to Yankee Stadium for Old-Timers' Day nearly every season, and remains a fan favorite.

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October 31, 1950: The Rochester Royals defeat the Washington Capitols, 78-70, at the Edgerton Park Arena in Rochester. (It was demolished in the late 1950s.) Arnie Risen scores 20 for the home team, as they begin a season that will bring their 1st NBA Championship.

(They had previously won the title in the National Basketball League in 1945. They will become the Cincinnati Royals in 1957, the Kansas City Kings in 1972, and the Sacramento Kings in 1985. Their long-term future in Sacramento is now settled, as they've just opened a new arena.)

Earl Lloyd, a forward wearing Number 11, scores 2 baskets and 2 free throws for the Capitols, for a total of 6 points. It doesn't sound like much, but his mere presence in the game makes him the NBA's 1st black player.

Chuck Cooper had been the 1st black player drafted, by the Boston Celtics, but, the way the schedule worked out, Lloyd beat him to the court by 1 day. He should not be confused with another early black star, Charles "Tarzan" Cooper, who played for the New York Renaissance (a.k.a. the Rens) in the 1930s. Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton, formerly of the Rens and the Harlem Globetrotters, had been the 1st black player actually signed, by the New York Knicks, but Lloyd beat him to the court by 4 days.

Born in 1928 in Alexandria, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., Lloyd's hometown team, having fired coach Red Auerbach in 1949, was 10-25 on January 9, 1951, and folded, leaving the nation's capital without an NBA team for the next 22 years. Lloyd was then drafted, and served in the Korean War.

Discharged in 1952, "the Big Cat" (also the nickname of Baseball Hall-of-Famer Johnny Mize, then wrapping up his career with the Yankees) played for the Syracuse Nationals until 1958, and the Detroit Pistons from then until his retirement in 1960. He averaged 8.4 points per game in his 9 NBA seasons. The Pistons then hired him as a scout. In 1968, they named him the 1st black assistant coach in the NBA, and the 2nd black head coach (after Bill Russell of the Celtics) and 1st non-playing black head coach in 1972. But the Pistons were awful then, and his career coaching record was just 22-55.

He worked for the Detroit school system, helping students find jobs, then did the same thing for a company run by Pistons Hall-of-Famer Dave Bing. He retired to Tennessee. In 2003, the Basketball Hall of Fame elected him as a "contributor," for his historical prominence. In 2007, T.C. Williams High School, the integrated Alexandria school into which his former all-black school, Parker-Gray, had been consolidated (a tale told in the football-themed film Remember the Titans), named their new gym's court after him. He was also elected to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, and died last year, a few weeks short of his 87th birthday.

Also on this day, John Franklin Candy is born in Newmarket, Ontario, outside Toronto. In the closing minutes of Super Bowl XXIII, when the Cincinnati Bengals had just scored to take the lead, the San Francisco 49ers were nervous, when quarterback Joe Montana pointed out of the huddle to the stands and said, "Isn't that John Candy?" The question relaxed the players, and Montana drove them for the winning touchdown.

Candy played Cubs broadcaster Cliff Murdoch in Rookie of the Year, and I give him a lot of credit for playing someone similar to, but not a total caricature of, Cubs broadcasting legend Harry Caray. On the other side of Chicago, he shot a scene at the old Comiskey Park in its closing days for Only the Lonely. Considering his weight, I'm not surprised that he died young (43), but I'm still sorry about it. He gave us a lot, but he had a lot more to give.

Also on this day, Margaret Jane Pauley is born in Indianapolis. Dropping her first name, she was the longtime co-host of The Today Show on NBC, and is married to Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau. She recently took over for the retiring Charles Osgood as the host of CBS Sunday Morning.

October 31, 1951: Nicholas Lou Saban Jr. is born in Fairmont, West Virginia. The son of legendary football coach Lou Saban, Nick hasn’t yet moved around to as many coaching jobs, but he has moved around with considerably less ethics than his father.

He did, however, lead Louisiana State to the 2003 National Championship, and Alabama to the 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2015 editions. He's won 6 Southeastern Conference Championships, in 2001 and 2003 at LSU; and in 2009, 2012, 2014 and 2015 at Alabama. (Alabama lost, oddly, to LSU in 2011, thus denying them a place in the SEC Championship Game, but because they were Number 2 in the final rankings, they still got into the National Championship Game.) He and Bear Bryant, with Kentucky and Alabama, are the only coaches to win SEC Championships at 2 different schools.

His career record currently stands at 199-60-1. Alabama has this weekend off, and is currently 8-0, holding the Number 1 ranking all season long thus far. The closest they've come to losing so far is a 48-43 thriller to Mississippi, which was also the only team to beat them last season. Which means that if the next SEC team with a coaching vacancy is smart, they'll hire Ole Miss' current head coach, Hugh Freeze, in the hope that he can once again put Saban and the Crimson Tide on ice.

Also on this day, David Michael Trembley is born in Carthage, Jefferson County, New York, up by the St. Lawrence River. He never played in the major leagues. His 1st coaching job was at a Catholic school in Los Angeles, Daniel Murphy High School. (No, it was not named for the Washington Nationals star formerly with the Mets.)

He was first hired by a major league team in 1984, by the Chicago Cubs, as a coach at their lowest farm team. He worked his way up to the majors, and managed the Baltimore Orioles from 2007 to 2010. He is now director of player development for the Atlanta Braves.  

October 31, 1952: Joseph Henry West is born in Asheville, North Carolina, and grows up across the State in Greeneville. "Cowboy Joe" was a quarterback at North Carolina's Elon College, and also played baseball. He started umpiring while still in college, and was hired for the National League staff in 1976, remaining for the combined MLB staff in 2000.

The high points of Joe West's 40-year big-league umpiring career: He was on the field for Willie McCovey's 500th home run in 1978. He was behind the plate for Nolan Ryan's 5th career no-hitter in 1981. He worked the 1987 All-Star Game. He ejected the Dodgers' Jay Howell from a 1988 NLCS game against the Mets, for having pine tar on his glove. He worked the 1992 World Series, throwing Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox out of a game for throwing a batting helmet onto the field. He worked Kent Mercker's no-hitter in 1994. He worked the 1997 World Series.

He worked both the All-Star Game and the World Series in 2005, as crew chief for the latter. He worked the 2009 World Series. He worked Felix Hernandez' perfect game and the World Series in 2012. He worked the NL Wild Card Game in 2013 and 2014. He has worked 7 Division Series, 9 LCS and 5 World Series, and is now the longest-serving umpire ever, current or otherwise. And he designed the West Vest, the chest protector now approved by MLB for all umpires.

The low points: In 1983, he pushed Atlanta Braves manager Joe Torre during an argument. In 1990, he threw pitcher Dennis Cook to the ground while attempting to break up a fight. In 2010, after a Yankees-Red Sox game, he publicly complained about the slow pace of the game -- something about which he could have directly done something. In 2014, he ejected Jonathan Papelbon, then grabbed Papelbon's jersey, claiming that Papelbon had touched him first, something video replay proved didn't happen, thus earning him a 1-game suspension.

In Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS, with Torre managing the Yankees, West was chief of the crew that initially ruled in the Yankees' favor on the Alex Rodriguez "Slap Play," then correctly enforced the interference rule by calling A-Rod out -- but then screwed up by sending Derek Jeter, who would have reached 2nd base no matter what, back to 1st base, thus helping to kill a Yankee rally that would have tremendously changed the baseball history that we know from the last 11 years.


In a 2011 poll of players, West was named the best umpire by 5 percent of players -- and the worst umpire by 41 percent of players. Both Yankee Fans and Met fans tend to think he's a lousy umpire. That can't be good. Aside from Mike Bloomberg and Osama bin Laden, there aren't many people who are that hated by both the Bleacher Creatures and the 7 Line Army.


October 31, 1953: John Harding Lucas II is born in Durham, North Carolina. At the University of Maryland, he was an All-American in both basketball and tennis. He was a member of the Houston Rockets' 1986 NBA Western Conference Champions. His overcoming of drug addiction led him to become an addiction counselor. He coached the San Antonio Spurs into the 1993 and '94 NBA Playoffs, and has also been head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers. He is now the Rockets'
player development coach.

Like Dunleavy, he has a namesake son who played in the NBA, John Lucas III, who, unlike his father whose 1974 Maryland team was prevented under the rules of the time from playing in the NCAA Tournament due to its loss in the ACC Final, went to the 2004 Final Four with Oklahoma State. John III played in the NBA for several teams, and is now with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Another son, Jai Lucas, is now an assistant coach at his alma mater, the University of Texas.


October 31, 1959: Mats Torsten Näslund is born in Timrå, Sweden. The 5-foot-7 left wing was known as Le Petit Viking (the Little Viking) when he played for the Canadiens, a tenure that included the 1985-86 Stanley Cup, in which he became the most recent Canadien to score 100 or more points in a season and helped them win the Stanley Cup.

He was named to 4 NHL All-Star Games, won the 1988 Lady Byng Trophy, and scored 251 goals in NHL play. He helped Sweden win the 1994 Olympic Gold Medal, and as general manager of the team he built their 2006 Gold Medal team.

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October 31, 1960: Michael Anthony Gallego is born in Whittier, California, outside Los Angeles. Mike Gallego was the starting 2nd baseman on the Oakland Athletics' 3 straight Pennants of 1988-90. In 1993, he was voted the 2nd baseman on their 25th Anniversary team (25 years since they'd moved to Oakland). He briefly played for the Yankees in the early 1990s, and is now the director of baseball development for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Also on this day, Reza Pahlavi is born in Tehran. He was 18 years old and the Crown Prince of Iran when his father, the Emperor, Mohammed Reza Shah, was overthrown in the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Luckily for him, he was already in the U.S., training as a fighter pilot (much as was his cousin and fellow heir to a throne, now King Abdullah II of Jordan).

He now lives in Potomac, Maryland, outside Washington. He is the founder and leader of the Iran National Council, a government-in-exile, having gotten a degree in political science from the University of Southern California. Unlike his father, who ran a brutally repressive, unofficially fascist regime, he has been an outspoken supporter of human rights, saying that in order to bring freedom to his homeland, "Idealism and realism, behavior change and regime change do not require different policies but the same: Empowering the Iranian people."

On his website, he calls for a separation of religion and state in Iran, and for free and fair elections "for all freedom-loving individuals and political ideologies." A follower of Shia Islam, he has stated that he believes that religion has a humanizing and ethical role in shaping individual character and infusing society with greater purpose.

His supporters have referred to him as "His Imperial Majesty Reza Shah II" since his father's death on July 27, 1980, but he officially calls himself "the former Crown Prince," and admits he has no realistic hope of the monarchy being restored, even when the Ayatollahs are finally and rightfully toppled. He has written 3 books about his homeland, and in 2014 he founded OfoghIran, a television and radio network.

Although he has been married for 29 years, his 3 children are all girls, so an older cousin, Patrick Ali Pahlavi, is next in line to the throne.

October 31, 1961: A federal judge rules that laws in the city of Birmingham‚ Alabama against integrated playing fields are illegal‚ eliminating the last barrier against integration in the Class AA Southern Association. Rather than allow black players, the SA team owners vote to be cowardly bastards and shut the league down.

In 1964, the original South Atlantic League (a.k.a. the SAL or "Sally League") filled the void, renaming itself the Southern League, and allowed integration. The Western Carolinas League became the new South Atlantic League.

Charlie Finley, a Birmingham native who, by this point, owned the Kansas City Athletics, put a new team in Birmingham's historic Rickwood Field, and named them the Birmingham A's. Many of the players who became part of the "Swingin' A's" dynasty of the early 1970s played in Birmingham, including Reggie Jackson, who says it was his first exposure to full-scale racism. The A's won the Pennant in 1967, but, by that time, Reggie had been promoted to the big-league club, which moved to Oakland the next season.

In 1976, the A's contract with Birmingham ran out, and baseball did not return to Rickwood Field until 1981, when the Detroit Tigers brought a team in, and brought back the Barons name.

Built in 1910, Rickwood is the oldest standing baseball stadium in the world, and still hosts games, including annual "throwback" games by the Barons and Negro League reenactors. Because of its old-time architecture, the films Cobb, Soul of the Game and 42 have all used it (the last of those using it as the CGI-aided base for all the 1947 National League parks, including Ebbets Field).

The Barons moved into suburban Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in 1988. While it still hosts the SEC baseball tournament, the Barons moved again in 2013, to Regions Field, downtown. They have won 13 Pennants: In the old Southern League in 1906, 1912, 1914, 1928, 1929, 1931 and 1958; in the new Southern League as the A's in 1967, and in 1983, 1987, 1993, 2002 and 2013. The Birmingham Black Barons, who also played at Rickwood, won Negro League Pennants in 1942 and 1948, the latter with a 17-year-old kid from the neighboring town of Fairfield, named Willie Mays.

October 31, 1962: William P. Fralic Jr. is born in the Pittsburgh suburb of Penn Hills, Pennsylvania. Bill Fralic was named by the Pennsylvania Football News as an offensive tackle on their All-Century Team of high school football players.

He starred at the University of Pittsburgh, blocking for quarterback Dan Marino, and was converted to a guard by the Atlanta Falcons, making All-Pro 4 times and being named to the NFL's 1980s All-Decade Team. He later broadcast for the Falcons and then Pitt, and runs an insurance company.

Also on this day, John Manfredo Giannini is born in Chicago. He coached Rowan University (formerly Glassboro State College) to the Division III National Championship in 1996. That got him hired as head coach at the University of Maine, and he is now the head coach at La Salle University, one of Philadelphia's college basketball "Big 5."

October 31, 1963: Fredrick Stanley McGriff is born in Tampa. In 1982, the Yankees traded 1st baseman Fred McGriff, young pitcher Mike Morgan and outfielder Dave Collins to the Toronto Blue Jays for pitcher Dale Murray and 3rd baseman Tom Dodd. Dodd did play 1 year in the majors, but for Baltimore. Murray got hurt and never contributed to the Yankees, either. Collins was pretty much finished.

In contrast, in 2001, 19 years after the trade, Morgan pitched against the Yankees in the World Series for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and McGriff was also still active. By trading him, the Yankees essentially traded 493 home runs for nothing. It was a horrible trade.

Or was it? McGriff was 19 at the time, and did not reach the majors for another 4 years. Had he done so with the Yankees, he would have smacked right into Don Mattingly at his peak. And the Yankees seemed to be loaded with designated hitters and pinch-hitters at that time. They may not have had any place to put him.

McGriff was involved in some other big trades: The Jays traded him to the San Diego Padres in 1990, a trade which brought them Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar, key figures in their 1992 and '3 World Champions; and the Padres sent him to the Atlanta Braves as part of their 1993 "fire sale," a pure "salary dump."

McGriff hit the 1st home run at the Rogers Centre (then called the SkyDome) in 1989. With the Jays that season and the Padres in 1992, McGriff became the 1st player in the post-1920 Lively Ball Era to lead both leagues in home runs. He helped the Braves win the World Series in 1995, and later played for his hometown Tampa Bay Rays. He served as the head baseball coach at Jesuit High School in Tampa, Lou Piniella's alma mater, and now works in the Rays' front office and hosts a sports-themed radio show in Tampa.

He has been eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame since the election of January 2010. He has not yet made it. He fell just 7 homers short of the magic 500 Club, and has a career OPS+ of 134. He has never been seriously suspected of steroid use. Baseball-Reference.com's Hall of Fame Monitor, on which a score of 100 is a "Likely HOFer," has him at exactly 100, meaning he should make it. Their Hall of Fame Standards, on which a score of 50 matches the "Average HOFer," has him at 48, meaning he falls slightly short.

According to B-R, his 10 Most Similar Batters (weighted toward players of the same position) includes 4 HOFers: Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, Frank Thomas and Billy Williams; 1 guy who absolutely should be in, Jeff Bagwell; 2 guys not yet eligible who have decent shots, Paul Konerko and Carlos Delgado; and 3 guys who would probably make it if they weren't tainted by steroids: David Ortiz, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield. (At this point, Ortiz may make it in even though everybody knows he's a big fat lying cheater.)

He was always popular – ESPN's Chris Berman took the public-service-announcement character of "McGruff the Crime Dog" and nicknamed McGriff "Crime Dog." And he was on winning teams. So why hasn't he been elected? His son Erick McGriff played wide receiver at the University of Kansas.

Also on this day, Carlos Caetano Bledorn Verri is born in Ijui, Porto Alegre, Brazil. The soccer player was nicknamed "Dunga" by an uncle, Portuguese for "Dopey," since he was short and was expected to stay that way.

But the midfielder grew to 5-foot-9-1/2, and, being Brazilian by birth but Italian and German by ancestry, could have been expected to star in soccer. He did, for several Brazilian teams, with his longest tenure at Internacional (like the Milan club known as "Inter" for short) of Porto Alegre; for Fiorentina in Italy and Stuttgart in Germany.

Dunga was a member of Brazil's 1994 World Cup winners, but bombed as manager of the national team at the 2010 World Cup. Then he flopped as manager of Internacional. But when Brazil was slaughtered by Germany in the Semifinal of the 2014 World Cup, on home soil, the CBF (the Brazilian answer to the USSF or England's FA) hired him back. He washed out of the 2015 and 2016 Copa America tournaments, and has been fired again.

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October 31, 1964: Marcel van Basten is born in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Better known as Marco van Basten, the striker starred for Ajax Amsterdam, winning League Championships in 1982, '83 and '85 and the Dutch Cup in '83, '86 and '87 – meaning they won "The Double" in 1983. He moved on to AC Milan in Italy, winning Serie A in 1988, '92 and '93, and back-to-back European Cups (now the Champions League) in 1989 and '90. He led the Netherlands to the European Championship in 1988.

Despite an ankle injury that essentially ended his career at age 28, 3 times he was named European Player of the Year, and the magazine France Football placed him 8th in a poll of the Football Players of the Century. He has managed both Ajax and the Netherlands national team, for whom he is now the assistant manager.

October 31, 1965: Theodore Edwards (no middle name) is born in Washington, D.C. A guard, "Blue" Edwards played 10 seasons in the NBA, mainly for the Utah Jazz and the Milwaukee Bucks.

Also on this day, Denis Joseph Irwin is born in Cork, Ireland. A left back, he was a typically dirty Manchester United player, taking advantage of their foul play (including his own) to win 7 Premier League titles from 1993 to 2001, 3 FA Cups including "Doubles" in 1994 and 1996, the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1991, and the UEFA Champions League in 1999, making England's only European "Treble."

Since 2004, he has been back at Man U, working as a presenter at MUTV, has covered soccer with Irish TV network RTÉ, and writes a column for Ireland's Sunday World newspaper.
October 31, 1966, 50 years ago: Michael Edward O’Malley is born in Boston. Mike, a comedian and actor, formerly star of Yes, Dear, is a tremendous Boston Red Sox fan. But he's funny, so I forgive him.

October 31, 1967: After 11 seasons of the Cy Young Award being given to the most valuable pitcher in both Leagues, each League has a winner. The NL winner is announced as Mike McCormick of the San Francisco Giants. The AL's winner will be Jim Lonborg of the Pennant-winning Red Sox.

October 31, 1968: Antonio Lee Davis is born in Oakland, California. After going undrafted out of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), he played pro basketball in Athens and Milan before signing with the Indiana Pacers. He was an All-Star for the perennial Playoff contenders and Knick nemeses, although they didn't reach the NBA Finals until after he left. He played for the Knicks in the 2005-06 season. He is now an NBA studio analyst for ESPN.

His daughter Kaela played basketball at Georgia Tech, and his son Antonio Jr. plays at Central Florida.

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October 31, 1970: Stephen Christopher Trachsel is born in Oxnard, California. In 1996, the Chicago Cubs pitcher was named to the All-Star Team. On September 8, 1998, Steve gave up Mark McGwire's steroid-aided 62nd home run.

But just 20 days later, he was the winning pitcher for the Cubs over the San Francisco Giants in the Playoff for the NL Wild Card berth. Since the Cubs only made the Playoffs 4 times in the 61 seasons between 1946 and 2006, this makes him a Wrigleyville hero for all time. He also pitched for the Mets, winning the NL East with them in 2006. He now lives outside San Diego.

October 31, 1971: Ian Michael Walker is born in Watford, Hertfordshire, England. The goalkeeper was a mainstay for North London soccer team Tottenham Hotspur, and kept a clean sheet in their win over Leicester City in the 1999 League Cup Final. He is now the goalkeeping coach for a team in China's league.

Only 1 "Spurs" goalie has won a trophy for them since, Paul Robinson in the 2008 League Cup.

October 31, 1972: The Philadelphia Phillies trade 3rd baseman Don Money and 2 others to the Milwaukee Brewers for 4 pitchers‚ including Jim Lonborg and Ken Brett. This was one of those rare baseball trades that works out well for both teams.

Lonborg was a key cog in the Phillies developing a pitching staff that would reach the Playoffs 6 times in 8 years from 1976 to 1983, though Lonborg retired after 1978. Money helped stabilize the Brewers and make them a contender by 1978 and a Pennant winner in 1982, and trading him allowed the Phillies to make room for the best player in the history of Philadelphia baseball, Mike Schmidt.

Also on this day, Gaylord Perry of the Cleveland Indians is named AL Cy Young Award winner. His brother Jim, of the Minnesota Twins, had won it 2 years earlier. The Perrys remain the only brothers to both win the Cy Young.

Also on this day, Bill Durnan dies of diabetes-induced kidney failure. He was only 56. He won 6 Vezina Trophies as the NHL's top goaltender, played in the 1st 3 official NHL All-Star Games starting in 1947, and won the Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens in 1944 and 1946.

He lived long enough to be elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame while still alive. In 1998, The Hockey News named him Number 34 on their list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.

Also on this day, Matthew James Sutherland Dawson is born in Birkenhead, Merseyside, England. He played club rugby for Northampton Saints, and was a member of the England side that won the 2003 Rugby World Cup. He is now a pundit for the BBC.

October 31, 1973: David Michael Dellucci is born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The outfielder was a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks team that beat the Yankees in the 2001 World Series, and of the Yankee team that won the 2003 American League Pennant. He was released by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2009 and retired. He now works as a color commentator on baseball broadcasts, and is married to The Price Is Right model Rachel Reynolds.

Also on this day, Timothy Christopher Byrdak is born in the Chicago suburb of Oak Lawn, Illinois. He pitched for both teams involved in the 2015  World Series, debuting for the Royals in 1998 and concluding with the Mets in 2013. In between, he pitched for the Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros. He has now returned to the Chicago suburbs, and teaches at Bo Jackson's baseball school.

October 31, 1976, 40 years ago: José María Gutiérrez Hernández is born in Torrejon de Ardoz, Spain. "Guti" was a midfielder who starred for Real Madrid as they won Spain's La Liga in 1997, 2001, '03, '07 and '08; and the Champions League in 1998, 2000 and '02. He is now seeking to become a coach, and says his dream is to manage Real Madrid's youth team.

October 31, 1979: Simão Pedro Fonseca Sabrosa is born in Constantim, Portugal. Better known by just his first name, pronounced like "Simon," Simão is a winger who led Lisbon's Benfica to the Taça de Portugal (Portuguese Cup) in 2004 and the Primeira Liga in 2005, Spain's Atlético Madrid to the UEFA Europa League in 2010, and Istanbul's Beşiktaş to the Turkish Cup in 2011.

He represented Portugal at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups. After playing last season in India's league, he is currently without a team.

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October 31, 1981: Michael Anthony Napoli is born in the Miami suburb of Hollywood, Florida. Now the 1st baseman is best remembered for his time with the Red Sox, with whom he made the 2012 All-Star Game and won * the 2013 World Series. He also won an AL West title with the 2009 Los Angeles Angels, a Pennant with the Rangers in 2011, and a Pennant with the Indians this year.

So if you're looking for a reason to root for the Cubs, the Indians have 2: Napoli, and former Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

October 31, 1982: Tomáš Plekanec is born in Kladno, Czech Republic. A center, he has been with the Montreal Canadiens since 2004. In 2014, he was named Captain of the Czech team at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

October 31, 1983: George Halas dies at age 88. He was the founder of the Chicago Bears, for all intents and purposes the founder of the NFL, formerly the winningest coach in NFL history (324), and no coach in the history of professional football has won as many league championships, 8: 1921, 1932, 1933, 1940, 1941, 1943, 1946 and 1963.

To put it another way: When he was first involved with the NFL, the President was Woodrow Wilson, Chicago was best known as the site of America's most famous fire, most people didn't yet have cars or telephones, there were no objects being launched into space by any nation, radio broadcasting was a few weeks away from being introduced, movies were silent, the Yankees had never won a Pennant, the NHL was new, there was no professional basketball to speak of, and professional football was a small-time thing.

When he was last involved with the NFL, the President was Ronald Reagan, there had been 4 different British monarchs and 7 different Popes, Chicago was known as the home of Al Capone and Mayor Richard J. Daley and his demonstrator-beating cops, pretty much everybody had telephones, pretty much everybody who didn't live in a city where it wasn't necessary had a car, many even had personal computers, space shuttles were being launched and returned, the Yankees had won 33 Pennants, the and NFL was a titan of television and America's favorite pro sports league.

One of his last acts as owner was to hire former Bears star Mike Ditka as head coach, and Ditka would lead them to a 9th World Championship in 1985. When asked by Bob Costas in the locker room after that Super Bowl XX if he thought of "Papa Bear," he said, "I always think of Coach Halas."

This was in spite of Halas having a reputation for being cheap, which led a younger Ditka to say, "George Halas throws nickels around like manhole covers." It was also Halas' cheapness that kept the Bears in Wrigley Field, with a football capacity of just 47,000, in spite of Soldier Field having over 65,000 seats and lights, because he didn't want to pay the rent the City of Chicago was demanding. The Bears didn't move there until 1971, when the money available to teams on Monday Night Football, which couldn’t be played at then-lightless Wrigley, more than offset the cost of the rent.

In spite of his infamous penuriousness, when the aforementioned Brian Piccolo got sick, Halas paid all his medical expenses and for his funeral. He died on what would have been Piccolo's 40th birthday.

An NFL Films documentary from 1977, Their Deeds and Dogged Faith, showed Halas walking through the Bears' practice facility at suburban Lake Forest, Illinois (the main building is now named Halas Hall), and announcer John Facenda said it was "like visiting Mount Vernon and seeing George Washington still surveying the grounds."

The NFC Championship Trophy is named for him, and, after his death, the Bears put the initials GSH, for George Stanley Halas, on their left sleeves. Unique among NFL teams, they have retained this tribute to their founder on their uniforms. (Even the Pittsburgh Steelers didn't keep Art Rooney's initials on a patch for more than one season.)

He had planned to hand the team over to his son George Jr., but "Mugs" predeceased him in 1979. Upon Papa Bear's death, his daughter Virginia handed control to her husband, Ed McCaskey. Unfortunately, Big Ed handed a lot of control over to his and Virginia's son, George's grandson, Mike McCaskey, who ran the franchise into the ground before Big Ed took it back and handed it over to another son, George Halas McCaskey.

Big Ed has since died, but Virginia is still alive, and is the sole owner of Da Bears. At 93, she is, as was her father before her, the oldest owner in the NFL. She and son George McCaskey have entrusted team president Ted Phillips with operational control.

October 31, 1986, 30 years ago: East Brunswick High School plays John P. Stevens High School of Edison in football. The last 2 years, Stevens had beaten EB in the Central Jersey Group IV Championship Game. EB had won the Conference title in 1984, Stevens in 1985. This game would go a long way toward deciding the 1986 edition.

Stevens went into the game with a 22-game winning streak, and it was their Homecoming, on Halloween, with 5,000 green & gold fans baying for our Green & White blood. It was not to be, as Da Bears spoiled the Halloween party 17-12. What a fantastic game. What a fantastic night.

EB won its last 2 games, then waited for the results on Thanksgiving, as we wrapped up our season earlier. Stevens lost to crosstown rival Edison, thus throwing the title to us. They then lost the State Final to Middletown North, ending their bid for 3 straight.

Stevens had long been our most difficult opponent, but, historically, have been succeeded by Piscataway. Conference realignment means we don't even play them every season anymore. This photo is from a much more recent game between the teams.


October 31, 1987: Nicholas Foligno is born in Buffalo, New York, where his father Mike was an All-Star right-winger for the Sabres. Nick, a center, is now the Captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and was not only named to last season's All-Star Game, but was named one of its Captains. Brother Marcus is now a left wing for the Sabres.

October 31, 1988: Cole David Aldrich is born in Burnsville, Minnesota, and grows up in Bloomington, both suburbs of Minneapolis. A member of the University of Kansas team that won the 2008 National Championship, the center was Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year the following season. He spent the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons with the Knicks, and now plays for his hometown team, the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Also on this day, Jack Riewoldt (no middle name) is born in Hobart, Tasmania. He plays for Richmond Football Club in the Australian Football League, and has twice been named All-League. No, he is not nicknamed "The Tasmanian Devil."

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October 31, 1992: Rutgers plays Virginia Tech in a Halloween Homecoming thriller, in the next-to-last game at the old Rutgers Stadium. The stars were quarterback Bryan Fortay of East Brunswick, running back Bruce Presley of Highland Park, tight end Jim Guarantano of Lodi, and receiver Chris Brantley of Teaneck. RU won on the final play, 50-49. Yes, that score is in football, not basketball.

Rutgers also played on October 31, 2015, but weren't so lucky, losing 48-10 to Wisconsin. Who's the money-grubber -- or the masochist -- who thought that RU joining the Big Ten was a good idea?

October 31, 1994: The NFL's oldest rivalry is played in a chilly, windy Halloween rainstorm at Soldier Field in Chicago. ABC's announcers got it right:

Frank Gifford, former New York Giants running back: "Fellas, we've got some weather here. This is about as bad as I've ever seen it."

Al Michaels, never a pro athlete, acknowledging the holiday: "I don't know if we should've dressed up as the Three Stooges or the Three Frozen Turkeys!"

Dan Dierdorf, former offensive tackle for the St. Louis Cardinals, 2 years away from joining Gifford in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: "Some people think we're the Three Blind Mice. Tonight, I think it's the Three Drowned Rats!"

Both teams wear "throwback uniforms" (with modern protection, of course) as part of the NFL's 75th Season celebration. The Chicago Bears, the 1925 uniforms made famous by Red Grange; the Green Bay Packers, the  1936 uniforms of Cal Hubbard and Don Hutson.

The Packers lead 14-0 at halftime. Then, a long-overdue ceremony, as the Bears retire the Number 40 of running back Gale Sayers and the Number 51 of linebacker Dick Butkus, who were both drafted by the Bears in 1965, and played into the early 1970s, and sometimes looked as if they were the only decent players on the team, but both became all-time legends. Walter Payton, who succeeded Grange and Sayers as the Bears' greatest running back, was also on hand.

Introducing the honorees was Mike McCaskey, grandson of Bears founder George Halas and son of owners Virginia and Ed McCaskey, who was seen as having broken up the great Bear team of the 1980s. He was heavily booed.

After the ceremony, the crowd, held to 47,381 due to the weather, almost disappeared, not wanting to stick around to see a mediocre Bears team get beat. Which they did, as the Packers won, 33-6.

October 31, 1997: The Washington basketball team makes its debut under the Wizards name, having dropped "Bullets" because of the District of Columbia's reputation as "the murder capital of America."

Chris Webber and Juwan Howard, formerly of the University of Michigan's "Fab Five," combine for 32 points, but it's not enough, as the Wiz fall to the Detroit Pistons, 92-79 at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Grant Hill leads all scorers with 25 points, and Lindsey Hunter adds 23.

Also on this day, Marcus Rashford (no middle name) is born in Manchester. The forward helped Manchester United win the FA Cup this past May, and, within days, scored on his England debut, and became the youngest England player ever to do so. Already, Man U's idiot fans are calling him "the next Thierry Henry."

October 31, 1998: Elmer Vasko dies at age 62. "Moose" was an All-Star defenseman for the Chicago Blackhawks, winning the Stanley Cup with them in 1961. Despite playing 13 seasons in an era where hockey team owners wouldn't spring for mouthguards, let alone team dentists, he never lost a tooth in an NHL game.

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October 31, 2000: Ring Lardner Jr. dies in New York at age 85. The son of the legendary sportswriter Ring Lardner, and brother of sportswriter John Lardner, was the last survivor of the Hollywood Ten, screenwriters blacklists for their Communist ties in 1947.

Ring Lardner Jr. was not a threat to America's national security. He worked on the screenplays for Woman of the Year, Laura, Brotherhood of Man and Forever Amber. Eventually, his reputation was restored, and he won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, for turning Dr. Richard Hornberger's 1968 novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors (published under the name Richard Hooker) into the 1970 film M*A*S*H.

He had nothing to do with the TV show based on it that debuted in 1972. He did, however, get a tribute on an episode of The West Wing that aired a few months after his death.

October 31, 2001, 15 years ago: Game 4 of the World Series. It's not just Halloween -- the 1st time a Major League Baseball game has been played on the day, due to the 9/11 postponements -- it's also a night of a full moon. During batting practice at Yankee Stadium, Arizona Diamondbacks 1st baseman Mark Grace, who so long played for the Chicago Cubs without winning a Pennant and is enjoying his 1st World Series, can be seen on the official Series highlight film looking up, and saying, "Full moon! You know what that means: Strange things happen!"

The Yankees trail the Diamondbacks 3-1 in the bottom of the 9th, and are about to fall behind in the World Series by the same margin of games. This is due in large part to the fine pitching of Curt Schilling, who was asked about the "mystique" of Yankee Stadium. He said, "Mystique, Aura, those are dancers in a nightclub." (Three years later, pitching for Boston, he would prove he was still not intimidated by Yankee Stadium, saying, "I can't think of anything better than making 55,000 Yankee fans shut up.") Schilling had outpitched the Yankees' Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez. Grace had homered for the Snakes, Shane Spencer for the Yankees.

Byung-Hyun Kim, a "submarine" style pitcher from Korea, tries to close the Yankees out. But Paul O'Neill singles, and, after Bernie Williams strikes out, Tino Martinez comes to the plate as the Yankees' final hope. Tino electrifies the crowd by slamming a drive toward the right-center-field Bleachers. The home run ties the game, and sends it into extra innings.

On the video, a fan in the front row of the Bleachers tries to catch the ball, but it bounces off his hand. Now, imagine you are that fan: Are you excited that the Yankees have come back in this World Series game, or are you mad that you were unable to catch this historic homer (and probably hurt your hand in the process)?

As the clock strikes midnight, for the 1st time ever, Major League Baseball game is played in the month of November. It is the bottom of the 10th, and Derek Jeter steps to the plate against Kim. A fan holds up a sign saying, "Mr. November." Michael Kay, broadcasting this game for the Yankees, has asked, "How did he know to hold up that sign for Jeter?" The answer is easy: He didn’t hold it up specifically for Jeter. Jeter was just the batter when the clock struck 12, making him the first batter for whom it could be held up.

At 12:03 came a typical Jeter hit, an inside-out swing to right-center, and it just... barely... got over the fence for a game-winning home run. Kay yells out, "See ya! See ya! See ya!" Yankees 4, Diamondbacks 3. The Series was tied. The old ballyard was shaking. The "Yankee Mystique" had struck again. It is hits like this that got Jeter the nickname "Captain Clutch."

The next night, the 1st game to officially be played in the month of November, a fan made up a sign that said, "BASEBALL HISTORY MADE HERE" on what looked like an ancient scroll. Another fan made up a sign that said, "MYSTIQUE AND AURA APPEARING NIGHTLY." (Two years later, in what became known as the Aaron Boone Game, that same fan made up one that said, "MYSTIQUE DON’T FAIL ME NOW." It didn't.)

Also on this day, French skier Régine Cavagnoud dies, 2 days after a training accident in Pitztal, Austria. Although she had competed in 3 Winter Olympics, she had never won a medal. However, just 7 months before her death, she won the World Championship in the women's super giant slalom, or Super-G, in St. Anton, Austria. She was 31.

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October 31, 2002: The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association votes 9-6 to prohibit the use of metal bats in the state high school tournament in 2003. Twenty-five of 40 leagues will switch to wood for the regular season. The State is the 1st to outlaw metal bats. In this particular case, Massachusetts is ahead of the curve in baseball.

October 31, 2003: The Chicago Bulls honor former general manager Jerry Krause with a banner at the United Center, as if they were retiring a uniform number for him. They beat the Atlanta Hawks, 100-94.

October 31, 2004: The Minnesota Timberwolves, owned by Glen Taylor, offer Latrell Sprewell a 3-year, $21 million contract extension, substantially less than what his then-current contract paid him. Claiming to feel insulted by the offer, he publicly expressed outrage, declaring, "I have a family to feed ... If Glen Taylor wants to see my family fed, he better cough up some money. Otherwise, you're going to see these kids in one of those Sally Struthers commercials soon."

He declined the extension, and, having once more drawn the ire of fans and sports media, had the worst season of his career in the final year of his contract -- maybe the worst "contract year" in the history of sports.

In the summer of 2005, the Denver Nuggets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets all expressed interest in signing Sprewell, but no agreements were reached. Spree never played again, and the former All-Star has never been hired in any capacity by any basketball team since. By 2008, through his own stupidity, he had fulfilled his own prophecy: He was bankrupt, his mansions foreclosed on and his yacht repossessed.

Sprewell’s contract rejection was the last notable event of October 2004, a truly futzed-up month in sports, following the Boston Red Sox cheating their way to a World Series win and the delay (and eventual cancellation) of the new NHL season.

Things would soon get worse for the NBA as this new season dawned: The Malice at the Palace was coming, and the Finals would be played by, perhaps, the last 2 teams that Commissioner David Stern wanted in them: The Detroit Pistons, the defending champions and Malice participants; and the San Antonio Spurs, whose Tim Duncan may have been the most boring superstar in American sports history. Detroit and San Antonio: 2 "small markets" who did very little to boost TV ratings, although the Finals, won by the Spurs, was very well-played.

Gee, maybe Stern didn't fix as many titles as we thought he did.

October 31, 2008: Louis "Studs" Terkel dies in his Chicago house, a few days after a fall there. He was 96. The legendary lawyer, actor, radio host and writer did not quite live long enough to see fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama elected as the 1st black President, but had spoken with him a few days before, and had publicly said he was sure Obama would win.

Studs played legendary Chicago Herald-Examiner sportswriter Hugh Fullerton, one of the men who helped expose the Black Sox Scandal emanating from the 1919 World Series, in the film dramatization of Eliot Asinof's book about it, Eight Men Out. He also did voiceovers for the work of Fullerton and other sportswriters, and sat for an interview, in Ken Burns' 1994 Baseball miniseries, mentioning that, at age 17, he was at Wrigley Field for Game 1 of the 1929 World Series, when Connie Mack surprised everybody by starting Howard Ehmke over Lefty Grove, getting 13 strikeouts from him, to lead the Philadelphia Athletics over the Chicago Cubs. Studs called it "a rueful memory of loss."

October 31, 2009: Game 3 of the World Series, at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Alex Rodriguez's fly ball in the right-field corner becomes the subject of the 1st instant replay call in World Series history. The Yankee 3rd baseman's hit, originally ruled a double, is correctly changed by the umpires to a home run after the replay clearly shows the ball going over the fence before striking a television camera and bouncing back to the field.

It figures that A-Rod's 1st World Series home run would be controversial. But it does help make the difference, as the Yankees win, 8-5, and take a 2-games-to-1 lead in the Series, retaking home-field advantage after the Phillies won Game 1.

October 31, 2010: Game 4 of the World Series. Southpaw pitcher Madison Bumgarner and catcher Buster Posey of the Giants become the 1st rookie battery to start a World Series game since Spec Shea and Yogi Berra appeared together for the Yankees in Game 1 in 1947.

The freshmen do not disappoint, as Bumgarner, just 21, becomes the 4th-youngest pitcher to post a Fall Classic victory, limiting the Texas Rangers to 3 hits while throwing 8 strong innings; and Posey contributes to the Giants' 4-0 win in Arlington with an 8th-inning home run.

Bumgarner and Posey. Two young men with a lot of promise in baseball. I wonder whatever happened to them...

Also on this day, Maurice Lucas dies of cancer at age 58. The power forward was known as "The Enforcer" to his Portland Trail Blazer teammates, as they won the 1977 NBA Championship. He would walk up to center Bill Walton and said, "Who do you want me to kill tonight?"

It was a joke, of course, but Walton admired him so much, he named his own son Lucas. Like his father, Luke Walton would win 2 NBA titles as a player, and another as an assistant coach with last season's Golden State Warriors. He was named interim head coach as Steve Kerr took time off for a non-life-threatening medical reason, and is now the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

A Pittsburgh native, Maurice Lucas had reached the 1974 NCAA Championship game with Marquette University, and after leaving the Blazers, played a season each with the Nets and the Knicks, before returning to the Blazers and retiring in 1988. A 4-time All-Star, the Blazers retired his Number 20. He lived long enough to see that, but has not yet been elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. He should be.

October 31, 2013: Johnny Kucks dies of cancer at a hospice in Saddle River, Bergen County, New Jersey. He was 80. Born in Hoboken and raised in Jersey City, he pitched 5 seasons for the Yankees, winning 4 Pennants and the 1956 and 1958 World Series, including pitching a shutout against the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 7 in 1956. In that game, he became the last pitcher to pitch to Jackie Robinson, who retired in the ensuing off-season. He later became a stockbroker, living in Hillsdale, Bergen County.

October 31, 2014: Brad Halsey dies from a fall from a cliff near his home in New Braunfels, Texas, outside San Antonio. He was only 33, and had been dealing with mental health issues and drug abuse, although an autopsy showed no drugs or alcohol in his system. 

Halsey pitched for the Yankees in 2004, was included in the trade that brought Randy Johnson from the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2005, and pitched for them for a year, and then the Oakland Athletics in 2006. He's remembered as the starting pitcher in the July 1, 2004 13-inning classic between the Yankees and Red Sox, and for giving up Barry Bonds' 714th home run, tying him with Babe Ruth on the all-time list.

He was sent down to the minors to start the 2007 season, and injuries short-circuited his career. His career record was 14-19. He pitched in independent leagues in 2009 and 2010. The Yankees re-signed him for 2011, but he washed out in Double-A. He never threw another professional pitch, and began his figurative descent, which ended in a literal descent. A sad story.

October 31, 2015: Game 4 of the World Series at Citi Field. Tim McGraw, country music superstar and son of Met legend Tug McGraw, both sings the National Anthem and throws out the ceremonial first ball. Michael Conforto's home run gives the Mets a 2-0 lead in the 3rd inning, and another Conforto homer in the 5th makes it 3-1. He is the only Met ever to hit 2 home runs in a World Series game. As late as the top of the 8th, they lead the Kansas City Royals 3-2.

But for the 4th straight game -- actually, the 5th, since they did it in Game 5 back in 2000 -- the Mets blow a lead in a World Series game. Tyler Clippard walks the 1st 2 Royals in the 8th. With Jeurys Familia brought in to pitch, Daniel Murphy, the Mets biggest postseason hero thus far, makes a key error that allows the tying run to score. Mike Moustakas singles home the go-ahead run, and the Royals tack on another. Yoenis Cespedes, the other big Met hero of the season, gets doubled off 1st base following a soft line drive to end it, in a 5-3 Royals win.

The Mets had thrilled the baseball world the last 3 months. Now, they were clowning their way to an ignominious defeat.