Sunday, October 30, 2016

Happy 80th Birthday, Dick Vermeil!

A few years ago, my father and I went to a Trenton Thunder game. There was an ad on the left-field fence, for a healthcare company. It featured Phil Simms, who Dad recognized. He didn't recognize the other guy.

I did. The Thunder recognized that they had fans from both the New York Tri-State Area and the Philadelphia-centered Delaware Valley, so they got a Philly sports legend: Coach Dick Vermeil.

October 30, 1936, 80 years ago: Richard Albert Vermeil is born in Calistoga, California, in the Napa Valley. It's hard to imagine Dick Vermeil as a quarterback, but he played the position at San Jose State University.

He coached in high school and junior college, and in 1975 he led UCLA to the championship of the league then known as the Pacific-8. On New Year's Day 1976, he led them to beat then-Number 1-ranked Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.

That got the attention of Leonard Tose, the trucking magnate who owned the Philadelphia Eagles. It took 3 seasons, but Vermeil got the Eagles into the Playoffs in 1978, in part because of a stunning last-minute comeback against the New York Giants known as "The Miracle of the Meadowlands." 
In 1979, he got them to the NFC East title. In both seasons, he was named NFL Coach of the Year.


It is appropriate that, on his 80th birthday, the Eagles are playing the Dallas Cowboys. Before he set the Eagles on a mission of winning the Super Bowl, he set them on the mission of knocking the Cowboys off their NFC Eastern Division perch. Every time they would be the Eagles' next opponent, he would begin practice by asking, "What's it going to take to beat the Dallas Cowboys?"

On November 11, 1979, the day before his 8th try, before a Monday night game, he gathered his players in their hotel, and asked the question again: "What's it going to take to beat the Dallas Cowboys?" Before they could answer it, he did: "24 more hours." They roared their approval, and proved him right.

The next season, on January 11, 1981, he got them to beat the Cowboys at Veterans Stadium to win the NFC Championship, which remains the Eagles' most celebrated victory since their 1960 NFL Championship.

But the Eagles lost the subsequent Super Bowl XV, and Vermeil became more obsessed than ever, spending pretty much all day at the Eagles' training facility, including sleeping there, sometimes falling asleep while watching film. After the 1982 season, he resigned, saying he was "burned out." Frequently seen crying tears of joy in the locker room after wins, his tearful farewell is as well-remembered in Philadelphia as that of Mike Schmidt when he retired from playing baseball.


Dick went into broadcasting, gaining a lot of respect as a color commentator on CBS' college football broadcasts, teaming with Brent Musburger. When Musburger's contract ran out in 1986, and he moved to ABC, he convinced them to take Vermeil with him.


In 1997, he felt ready to return to coaching, and was hired by the St. Louis Rams. As with the Eagles, it took 3 seasons, but he got them to the Playoffs. This time, he got them all the way to the Super Bowl in Year 3, and, with well-wishes from just about all of his old Eagles players, the Rams beat the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV. He was named NFL Coach of the Year again.

And then he resigned. It looked like he was satisfied, having finally gotten his ring. But he was quickly snapped up by the team across Missouri, the Kansas City Chiefs. Again, it took 3 years, but he turned a losing team into a Playoff team, winning the AFC West in 2003. He resigned after a difficult 2005 season, and hasn't coached since.

He has a farm outside Philadelphia, and a winery in his native Napa Valley. He has been elected to both the Eagles' and the Rams' team halls of fame, but not yet to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In 2006, he was played by Greg Kinnear in the film Invincible, about Eagles walk-on Vince Papale.

In a league where enemies are easily made, pretty much everybody likes Dick Vermeil.

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October 30, 1735: John Adams (no middle name) is born in a part of Braintree, Massachusetts that has since been separated and renamed Quincy. His son, John Quincy Adams, would be born in a house next-door in 1767.

"The Atlas of Independence" would have been one of the most important figures in early American history even if he hadn't been the 2nd President of the United States, from 1797 to 1801. And he probably would have been a lot happier.

Although he lived his entire life -- like his friend and rival, Thomas Jefferson, he died on the 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1826 -- before the rise of sports as big business, he would have understood sports in Boston. He was pompous and fatalistic at the same time, yet an intellectual like the pre-1999 image of the typical Red Sox fan. And he was as fat as David Ortiz. But he never would have cheated.
October 30, 1871: The final championship match of the season takes place on the Union Grounds in Brooklyn, between the Philadelphia Athletics and the Chicago White Stockings. Note that the former went out of business a few years later, and has no connection besides name to the team now known as the Oakland Athletics; while the latter would evolve into the Chicago Cubs, having no connection to the Chicago White Sox besides the name.

The Championship Committee decrees that today's game will decide the winner of the pennant. Chicago‚ having played all of its games on the road since the Great Chicago Fire on October 8‚ appears in an assorted array of uniforms. Theirs were all lost during the fire.


The 4-1 victory by the Athletics gives them the championship for 1871. It will be 41 years before another Philadelphia team wins a major league Pennant. The last survivor of this team was Alfred J. Reach, later (like his Chicago competitor, Albert G. Spalding) a sporting-goods magnate. He lived until 1928.

Also on this day, John Frank Freeman is born in Catasauqua, in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley. The right fielder, better known as Buck Freeman, was the 1st man to lead both Leagues in home runs: The National in 1899 with 25 for the Washington Nationals (who were about to be contracted out of the NL and are not to be confused with the current team with the name), and the American in 1903 with 13 for the Boston Americans, forerunners of the Red Sox. That season, he and the Americans won the 1st World Series.

Should he be in the Baseball Hall of Fame? He was in the Dead Ball Era, so his career home run total, while impressive for the time, was just 82. He batted .293 lifetime, with a 132 OPS+. He was a very good player in his time, but he wasn't great for long enough. So, no Cooperstown for him. But he is in the Red Sox' team Hall of Fame. He died in 1949, age 77.

October 30, 1875: The Boston Red Stockings beat the visiting Blue Stockings of Hartford‚ 7-4‚ to finish the season without a home defeat. Boston finishes the year at 48-7, to win their 4th straight National Association Pennant.

Only 7 NA teams finish the season, with a total of 185 games played between them. The success of the Red Stockings has led to several forfeits, and this domination and erratic scheduling is one of the reasons the NA is abandoned and the National League established for 1876. The Red Stockings will join, eventually becoming the Beaneaters, the Rustlers, the Doves and finally the Braves, before moving to Milwaukee and later Atlanta.

The last survivor of the 1875 Red Stockings, and the last survivor of the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, the 1st openly professional team, was shortstop George Wright, who lived on until 1937.

October 30, 1882: John L. Sullivan, who won the unofficial Heavyweight Championship of the World earlier in the year, defends it by knocking Charlie O'Donnell out in the 1st round in Chicago. This being the bare-knuckle era, professional boxing was still illegal in most of America, so it had to be kept underground.

October 30, 1888: Konstantinos "Kostas" Tsiklitiras is born in Pylos, Greece. He won the Gold Medal in the standing long jump (no running start) at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm. A year later, he enlisted in the Greek Army and served in the Second Balkan War against the Ottoman Empire, contracted meningitis, and, in those pre-antibiotic days, died at age 24.  

October 30, 1896, 120 years ago: Ruth Gordon Jones is born in Quincy, Massachusetts, outside Boston. (Founding Father John Adams was also born in Quincy on an October 30, in 1735.) Dropping her last name, she starred on Broadway and in silent films before becoming a major star in the "talkies" of the 1930s. She also collaborated on screenplays with her husband, Garson Kanin.

But she's best known for her role in the 1968 film Rosemary's Baby. At age 72, she got an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and said, "I can't tell you how encouraging a thing like this is." She was still acting up to the end of her life in 1985.

What does she have to do with sports? Well, in 1993, on an episode of Mad About You, Paul Reiser's character, a documentary filmmaker named Paul Buchman, told his wife Jamie, played by Helen Hunt, that he was making a movie about Yankee Stadium, using the common nickname "The House That Ruth Built." Jamie: "Ruth who?" Paul, sarcastically: "Gordon, honey. Ruth Gordon built Yankee Stadium."

October 30, 1898: William Harold Terry is born in Atlanta, but lives most of his life in Memphis, giving him the nickname "Memphis Bill." The New York Giants 1st baseman helped them win Pennants in 1923 and '24, and after succeeding John McGraw as manager, he led them to win the 1933 World Series and the '36 and '37 Pennants. In 1930, he batted .401, making him the last National Leaguer to date to bat .400 or higher for a season.

He is a member of the Hall of Fame, and the Giants retired his Number 3 (in 1984, albeit well after they had moved to San Francisco, but at least he lived long enough to see it, dying in 1989).

In his 1949 poem Lineup for Yesterday, poet and Giant fan Ogden Nash wrote:

T is for Terry
the Giant from Memphis
whose .400 average
you can't overemphis.

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October 30, 1908: Thomas Peter Bromley Smith is born in Ipswich, Suffolk, England. I don't know what makes a cricket player great, but Peter Smith played county cricket for Essex in the 1930s and '40s. While playing against Derbyshire at Chesterfield, he batted at number eleven, and came to the wicket with Essex 199 for 9 wickets -- in other words, 1 more wicket, and Derbyshire would win. He kept batting for 2 1/2 hours, hitting 163 runs, still the world record score for a number eleven batsman. He died in 1967, after a fall while on vacation.


October 30, 1916, 100 years ago: Leon Day (no middle name) is born in Alexandria, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. He pitched for the Newark Eagles and the Baltimore Elite Giants in the Negro Leagues, and was also an excellent hitter. He landed on Utah Beach on D-Day.

Although just 30 years old when Jackie Robinson debuted, he only played two seasons, 1952 and 1953, in the formerly all-white minor leagues, and was never approached by a major league team to sign. He retired in 1955.


In 1995, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, based on his Negro League service. Just 6 days later, he died, making him the only person ever to be a living Hall-of-Famer-elect, but not a living Hall-of-Famer.

October 30, 1917: Robert Randall Bragan is born in Birmingham, Alabama. Bobby Bragan was a backup catcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, but when team president Branch Rickey announced he would promote Jackie Robinson to the majors, Bragan was one of the Southern players who signed a petition opposing it, and even asked Rickey to trade him rather than make him play on a desegregated team. Rickey refused, and Bragan soon realized that he was wrong.

In 1948, Rickey wanted to promote Roy Campanella to the Dodgers, putting Bragan out of a job. To make up for this, he offered Bragan, then just 30, the post of manager of a Dodger farm team, the Fort Worth Cats of the Texas League. In 1955, Rickey, now president of the Pittsburgh Pirates, gave Bragan his 1st big-league managing job, which also made him Roberto Clemente's 1st big-league manager. When Rickey died in 1965, Bragan attended his funeral. He said, "I had to go, because Branch Rickey made me a better man."

In 1958, he was fired as manager of the Cleveland Indians, and legend has it that he walked out to the field at Cleveland Municipal Stadium and declared that the Indians would never win another Pennant. He denied this story many times, but the Indians didn’t win a Pennant from 1954 to 1995 -- by which point they had moved out of Municipal Stadium and into Jacobs (now Progressive) Field.

He was named the manager of the Braves in 1963, meaning he managed 4 Hall-of-Famers: Hank Aaron, Warren Spahn, Eddie Mathews and a young Joe Torre. He was still their manager when they moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966, but was fired in that 1st season in Atlanta. Despite being only 49, he was finished as a big-league manager.

But it was in the minors that Bragan truly made his mark, gaining a reputation for winning, and for fairness to nonwhite players that he could not have imagined prior to 1947. He led the Fort Worth Cats to Texas League Pennants in 1948 and 1949, and the Hollywood Stars to the Pacific Coast League Pennant in 1953. As manager of the PCL's Spokane Indians, he taught Maury Wills (a black player) to switch-hit, enabling him to become a big-leaguer and to revolutionize baserunning even more than Robinson had. He was named President of the Texas League in 1969 and of the National Association, the governing body for minor league baseball, in 1975.

On August 16, 2005, Bragan came out of retirement to manage the current version of the Fort Worth Cats, of the independent Central League, for 1 game. (The original Cats, along with their arch-rivals, the Dallas Eagles, had been replaced in 1965 by the Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs, whose new Turnpike Stadium was expanded into Arlington Stadium for the arrival of the Texas Rangers in 1972.) At age 87 years, 9 months, and 16 days, Bragan broke by one week the record of Connie Mack to become the oldest manager in professional baseball annals. Always known as an innovator with a sense of humor, and an umpire-baiter, Bragan was ejected in the 3rd inning of his "comeback", thus also becoming the oldest person in any capacity to be ejected from a professional sporting event. Bragan enjoyed the rest of the Cats' 11-10 victory from a more comfortable vantage point.

He is a member of the Sports Halls of Fames of both Alabama and Texas. He died in 2010, age 92.

October 30, 1927: Joseph Wilbur Adcock is born in Coushatta, Louisiana. The 1st baseman was an All-Star slugger for the Milwaukee Braves, hitting 4 home runs in a 1954 game, and was a member of their 1957 World Champions and 1958 Pennant winners. He also briefly managed the California Angels. He died in 1999.

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October 30, 1930: Don Meineke is born in Dayton, Ohio. The forward led the University of Dayton to the Final of the 1951 and '52 NITs, and was NBA Rookie of the Year with the 1953 Fort Wayne Pistons. He moved with the Rochester Royals to Cincinnati in 1957. He died in 2013.

October 30, 1935: James Evan Perry Jr. is born in Williamston, North Carolina. Jim Perry was an All-Star pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, helping them win the 1965 Pennant. He won 215 games in the major leagues, and took the 1970 AL Cy Young Award.

Older but lesser-known than his Hall of Fame brother Gaylord Perry, they still combined for more wins and more strikeouts than any brother combination before them, and have since been surpassed in each category only by Phil and Joe Niekro. But the Perrys are still the only brothers ever to both win Cy Young Awards.

Also on this day, Robert Allan Caro is born in Manhattan. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography for The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, in which he details both the benefits and the harm the legendary bureaucrat, builder and destroyer brought the City from the 1920s to the 1960s, including standing in the way of Walter O'Malley getting a new stadium for the Brooklyn Dodgers. This led to O'Malley moving the team to Los Angeles, and to Moses building the Flushing Meadow facility that became Shea Stadium.

Incredibly, the book was published in 1974, while Moses was still alive. I can only guess the old bastard was no longer vigorous enough to mount any kind of attempt to stop it. Caro has also written a multi-volume biography of President Lyndon Johnson.

October 30, 1936, 80 years ago: Victor Benítez Morales is born in Lima, Peru. A defensive midfielder, he may have been the greatest soccer player Peru has ever produced. He won league titles in Peru with Alianza Lima in 1954 and 1955, and in Argentina with Boca Juniors in 1962.

He was snapped up by AC Milan, and helped them win the European Cup in 1963. He later helped AS Roma win the 1969 Coppa Italia, and returned to Peru and helped Sporting Cristal win the 1972 league title. He is still alive. 

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October 30, 1941, 75 years ago: Robert Primrose Wilson is born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. Bob first kept goal for North London club Arsenal in 1963, became the starter in 1968, and remained so until retiring in 1974. In between, he helped Arsenal win the 1970 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, and "the Double" of the Football League Division One and the FA Cup in 1971.

Although born in England, his parents were from Scotland, and he has always identified as Scottish. Yet he was only selected to play for Scotland twice. Despite all their talent from England and from Scotland, Arsenal players saw precious few international "caps" in that era.

Bob later became Arsenal's goalkeeping coach, with Pat Rice as defensive coach, under manager George Graham, the 3 members of the 1971 Double team taking them to the 1989 and 1991 League titles. Arsene Wenger kept Bob and Pat on, and they remained with the team through the 1998 and 2002 Doubles. Bob then retired, although Pat remained as assistant coach through 2012.

He and his wife Megs have been married for 52 years. They had 3 children, including daughter Anna, who died from cancer, leading Bob to found the Willow Foundation (the name taken from a nickname of his). In 2011, at age 70, he made a charity bicycle ride to all 20 of England's Premier League (successor to the old Division One) stadiums, and on to Hampden Park, Scotland's national stadium in Glasgow. He has since survived cancer himself, and, by all accounts (including his own Twitter account, @BobWilsonBWSC), is doing well.

October 30, 1945: Henry Franklin Winkler is born in Manhattan. Ayyyyyyyy! He's had many fine roles since Happy Days went off the air, but he will always be that show's Arthur Fonzarelli. And that is so cool. Cooler than any typecasting could ever be. You don't think that's cool? As the Fonz would say, "Sit on it!"

When Robin Williams debuted his Mork from Ork character on an episode of Happy Days, he told Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) that he wanted to take an Earth person back to Ork. He meant Richie, and the Fonz had to fight him for Richie. Before Richie realized what Mork meant, he asked Mork if he meant Milwaukee Braves star Hank Aaron. Mork said, "No, we'd have to trade the whole planet for him!"

Although Henry wouldn't seem to have much to do with sports, he recently joined legendary quarterback Terry Bradshaw, former Heavyweight Champion George Foreman, and Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, on Better Late Than Never, a 4-hour NBC reality miniseries in which these men -- 69, 67, 66 and 84, respectively, at the time -- took a tour of Asia, visiting Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand, and experienced cultures that they found very, very foreign. I had no idea that the 4 of them even knew each other, much less that they were such good friends.

October 30, 1953: Paul Power (no middle name) is born in Manchester, England. A left back, he helped hometown club Manchester City win the 1976 League Cup and reach the 1981 FA Cup Final.

But he was sold to Everton of Liverpool. In the 1986-87 season, en route to winning the League title, he scored against Man City at their old ground, Maine Road, and notably refused to celebrate the goal out of respect to his childhood club. He has returned to them, and is a coach in their youth system.

October 30, 1954: Mahmoud El Khatib is born in El Dakhalia, Egypt. In a career that ran with Cairo club El Ahly -- voted in a newspaper poll as African soccer's "Club of the Century" -- from 1972 until injuries led him to hang up his boots in 1988, "Bibo" won the Egyptian League title 10 times, the Egyptian Cup 6 times, the African Cup Winners' Cup 3 times, and the African Champions League twice.

He led Egypt to win the 1986 African Cup of Nations, and was voted "Arab Sportsman of the Century" in 1999. He is now a vice president at his former club.

October 30, 1956, 60 years ago: Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley sells Ebbets Field to a real estate group. He agrees to stay until 1959‚ with an option to stay until 1961. Then again, as one of the most unscrupulous lawyers in New York, what the hell is a legally binding agreement to Lord Waltermort?

October 30, 1958: Joe Alton Delaney is born in Henderson, Texas, and grows up outside Shreveport, Louisiana. He was a sensational running back for the Kansas City Chiefs in 1981 and '82, but his career was cut short when he attempted to save 2 drowning boys in a lake near his Louisiana home, and ended up drowning as well. He was just 24.

The Chiefs have removed his Number 37 from circulation, although they have not officially retired it. They have also elected him to their team Hall of Fame, and placed him on their Ring of Honor at Arrowhead Stadium.

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October 30, 1960: Diego Armando Maradona Franco is born Lanus, Buenos Aires state, Argentina. He led his homeland to the 1986 World Cup, thanks to a 2-goal game against England. The 2nd goal has been regarded as one of the greatest goals ever scored. But the 1st goal was scored when he punched it into the net, an obvious handball -- or, as he called it, "The Hand of God." This came just 4 years after Britain had clobbered Argentina in the Falkland Islands War, so it was a huge boost for Argentina, but it made the English really mad, and it infuriated everybody else who hates Argentina (which includes most of South America).

He won league titles in Argentina with his hometown club, Boca Juniors of Buenos Aires in 1981; and in Italy with Napoli of Naples in 1987 and 1990, the only 2 Serie A titles they have ever won. However, the club narrowly missed winning in 1989, and for 25 years rumors have been floated that Maradona, already addicted to cocaine, was, shall we say, enticed to throw some matches.

After years of dealing with drug addiction, his weight and debt from unpaid taxes during the Italian phase of his playing career, Maradona managed of the Argentina team in the 2010 World Cup, just barely qualifying. He got them to the Quarterfinals before losing, and was fired. He then managed Al-Wasl in the United Arab Emirates, and was fired after the 2011-12 season. He has not been hired to manage again.

He has been married once, and is divorced. He has 2 sons, one of whom, who goes by Diego Sinagra, plays in Italy for A.S.D. San Giorgio. He also has 2 daughters, one of whom, Giannina, married Sergio Agüero, the Argentine striker whose last-minute-of-the-season goal won the 2012 Premier League title for Manchester City. They have a 6-year-old son, Benjamin. However, they have separated. And, in 2014, Maradona was caught on tape hitting his girlfriend and latest baby-mama, who has since left him. "El Diez" has been treated like a god for over 30 years. Gods do not like to not get their way.

October 30, 1961: Scott William Garrelts is born in Urbana, Illinois. The All-Star pitcher led the National League in ERA in 1989 and helped lead the San Francisco Giants to the Pennant. The following year, he took a no-hitter into the 9th inning against the Cincinnati Reds, but it was broken up with one out to go by future Yankee legend Paul O’Neill. His career record was 69-53.

October 30, 1962: Courtney Andrew Walsh is born in Kingston, Jamaica. He starred for the world-famous West Indies cricket team from 1984 to 2001, captaining them in 22 Test matches from 1996 onward.

October 30, 1963: Michael Robert John Veletta is born in Perth, Western Australia. A longtime star for the Western Australia cricket team, he was a member of the Australia team that won the 1987 Cricket World Cup.

October 30, 1964: Buffalo Wings are invented. Frank and Teresa Bellissimo opened a bar on Main Street in Buffalo, New York in 1939. Because it was near the Buffalo River, they named it the Anchor Bar. Because it was just 5 blocks from War Memorial Stadium, then home of the 1964 season's eventual American Football League Champions, the Buffalo Bills, it became a hangout for Bills fans.

Legend has it that, on October 30, 1964, a Friday night, Dominic Bellissimo, son of the owners, came by with some friends, looking for a late-night snack. Teresa was there, preparing to make chicken stock with a bunch of wings. Improvising, she stuck them under the broiler (later they switched to deep frying), sprinkled them with a hot sauce she concocted from a commercially available base (Frank's Hot Sauce), took some celery sticks off the antipasto dishes, put some blue cheese dressing (the house dressing) in a small bowl, and served them to the boys. They loved it, and the word of this new concoction spread.

Dom Bellissimo took over the bar after his parents died, and, still alive, he tells a different story. In 1980, he was interviewed for The New Yorker by Calvin Trillin. It wasn't until 1966 that the Catholic Church allowed its members to eat meat on Fridays. On this Friday night, since people were buying a lot of drinks, he wanted to do something nice for them at midnight, when the mostly Catholic patrons would be able to eat meat again. It was still Teresa who came up with the idea, he said, but Dom's friends weren't there.

Of course, buffaloes don't have wings. Chickens have wings... but they don't have fingers. Nevertheless, "Buffalo wings" and "chicken fingers" have become standard pub grub in America.

In 2004, I visited Buffalo, and had to stop by the Anchor Bar. I can't stand spicy food, so I didn't order the original Buffalo wings. But they make a fantastic Monte Cristo sandwich.

October 30, 1967: Arthur Allyn, owner of the White Sox, announces that they will play 9 "home" games at Milwaukee County Stadium in 1968 -- 1 against every other team in the League, just as the National League's Brooklyn Dodgers did at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City in 1956 and '57.

The ChiSox will become the 1st AL team to play regular season games outside its own city since 1905. This was occasionally done in that era, to get around "blue laws" prohibiting sporting events on Sundays in some cities.

What Allyn really wants is to scare the City of Chicago into thinking he wants to move the team to Milwaukee full-time, thus building him a new ballpark, to replace Comiskey Park, at the edge of the South Side ghetto. Ordinarily, Mayor Richard J. Daley was a hard man to scare -- especially since he'd just gotten re-elected in the spring. However, Daley was a White Sox fan, who'd lived most of his life in the Bridgeport neighborhood, within walking distance of Comiskey. Allyn thought he could roll Daley.

He didn't -- and the "Milwaukee White Sox" ploy did more to bring Major League Baseball back to Milwaukee (in 1970, with the Brewers) than it did for Allyn or the White Sox. Once the Milwaukee hole in MLB was filled, Allyn was left with a choice: Find another way to bluff Daley, or actually move. In 1972, he nearly moved them to Seattle. In 1975, he prepared to move them to Denver.
Then Bill Veeck, owner from 1959 to 1961, came back and bought the Sox, and canceled the intended move to Denver. But he couldn't afford to keep them, and sold them in 1980 to Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn.

"The Reinhorn Twins" then blackmailed the State of Illinois into building them a new ballpark, or else they would move to Tampa Bay for 1989. Governor James Thompson, a White Sox fan, lobbied for the new Comiskey Park, what's now U.S. Cellular Field, and the Sox stayed.

Also on this day, Ty Hubert Detmer is born in San Marcos, Texas. His father, Sonny Detmer, was a high school football coach. As a result, the family moved around South Texas, until he went to Southwest High School in San Antonio, playing for his father. In 1990, one in a long line of great quarterbacks at Brigham Young University, he won the Heisman Trophy.

His pro career was a bust, however, as he became a career backup, as did his brother Koy Detmer, who played at the University of Colorado. Both brothers played for the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1997 season.

Ty is now the offensive coordinator at BYU. Koy is an assistant to his father at Somerset High School in Texas, where Koy Detmer Jr. had been a quarterback. Koy Jr. is now at BYU.

Also on this day, Fernando Muñoz García is born in Seville, Spain. Known as Nando, the centreback is a very cheeky player. (Those of you from Britain will get that joke.) After playing for hometown club Sevilla, he helped Barcelona win La Liga in 1991 and 1992, and their 1st European Cup in 1992.

He then crossed the Barca/Madrid divide, and helped Real Madrid win the Copa del Rey (King's Cup, Spain's version of the FA Cup) in 1993 and La Liga in 1995. He went to Español, the "other club" in Barcelona, and won the Copa del Rey in 2000.
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October 30, 1971: Fredi Bobic (his full name) is born in Maribor, Slovenia, and grows up in Stuttgart, Germany. A forward, he won Euro 1996 with the German national team, the DFB-Pokal (German Cup) with VfB Stuttgart in 1997, the Bundesliga (German national league) with Borussia Dortmund in 2002, and the Croatian Cup with NK Rijeka in 2006. He later worked in VfB Stuttgart's front office.

October 30, 1974: Former Heavyweight Champion of the World Muhammad Ali defeats the undefeated current Champion, George Foreman, in "The Rumble in the Jungle" in Kinshasa, in the former colony of Belgian Congo, at this point called Zaire, and since 1997 called the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Foreman was heavily favored to defeat Ali. Ali was talking his usual trash, but most people thought Ali would lose. Indeed, there were some who feared that Ali would be killed in the ring.

Ali fooled them all. People who say Ali just leaned against the ropes in his "rope-a-dope" strategy and let Foreman tire himself out with punches are fools. I've seen the tape of the fight: Ali got in a lot of punches, enough to win every round except for the 2nd and the 6th. Foreman would later say that, at the end of the 6th, Ali yelled at him, "Is that all you got, George?" Years later, Foreman told an interviewer he had to admit, "Yup, that's about it."

Through a months-long psychological campaign, including practically the entire black population of the continent of Africa in his favor and against the equally black Foreman – he had done something similar to Joe Frazier, who was puzzled by it: "I'm darker than he is!" – Ali had gotten into Foreman's head, just as he had done to Sonny Liston, Floyd Patterson, and just about everybody else he’d ever fought.

In the 8th round, backed up against the ropes, Ali managed to turn an exhausted Foreman around, toss a few jabs, and knock him on his can. Foreman tried to get up, but he ran out of time, and Ali was the winner by a knockout.

When David Frost went to interview him for the BBC after the fight, he pointed at the camera and said, "Is this thing on? I told you all that I was the greatest of all time when I beat Sonny Liston! I am still the greatest of all time! Never again doubt me! Never again make me an underdog until I’m about 50 years old!"

He was off a bit, as he probably should have quit at 36, after losing the title to Leon Spinks and then regaining it from him. But, by far more than his boxing prowess, by the force of his personality, and by the example he set as a man of (at least, in America) a minority race and a minority religion, making him, somewhat contradictorily, the champion of the underdog, he proved that he really was The Greatest... Of All Tiiiiiiiime! Though he died this year at age 74, he still is.

October 30, 1975: The New York Daily News, responding to President Gerald Ford's statement that he wouldn't allow the federal government to bail out New York City's desperate finances, prints the most famous newspaper headline ever.
Ford didn't actually say that, but that was the message he sent, intentionally or otherwise. Both sides compromised, as the City did a few more things to try to get its financial house in order, and this satisfied Ford to the point where he changed his mind and signed a bailout bill.

But Ford was damned when he did, and damned when he didn't. The bailout he actually did sign infuriated many conservatives, who already had a few problems with the mildly conservative Ford, and they voted for former Governor Ronald Reagan of California in the Republican primaries, and Reagan very nearly won the GOP nomination, and when Ford won the nomination anyway, many of those conservatives stayed home on Election Day, November 2, 1976.

This may have made the difference in throwing some States, including New York, to the Democratic nominee, former Governor Jimmy Carter of Georgia. White conservatives in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Long Island and Westchester abandoned him. Not that they voted for Carter (Southern or not, conservative by Democratic standards or not, they still viewed all Democrats as "socialists"), but they didn't vote at all.

It also upset undecided voters and disaffected Democrats. A lot of people remembered only the headline, and forgot that Ford changed his mind about the bailout, and held it against him, and a lot of people in the City who might not have been comfortable with Carter either voted for Carter or stayed home, enough to throw the State of New York to Carter. It may have made, literally, all the difference in the world.  Had Ford simply won the State, he would have won a full term.

True, the Nixon pardon, lingering feelings over Watergate, the shaky economy, his debate gaffe about Eastern Europe, and conservatives issues with him over things like foreign policy and federal spending also hurt him.

But the day after the '76 election, Mayor Abe Beame posed in front of City Hall with the headline, as if to say, "City to Ford: Don’t tell someone to drop dead unless you can make him drop dead. We just made your campaign drop dead."
Beame outside Gracie Mansion on November 3,
a year and 4 days after the headline,
and the day after the election.

A year later, with the City's finances still not fully straightened out, and crime seemingly out of control, the City’s voters told Beame to "drop dead," and elected Congressman Ed Koch as its Mayor.


The City's finances made a lot of people angry that it was spending so much money on renovating the old Yankee Stadium. But within a year of the headline, which came at a dark time for sports, as well as most other things, in The City, the Yankees had started a new dynasty, and the Rangers had begun to build a team that would reach the Stanley Cup Finals. It would take some time for other teams to rebuild, including the football teams that ended up leaving The City.

Also on this day, Marcos Scutaro (no middle name, very odd for a Latino) is born in San Felipe, Venezuela. Going by "Marco," the infielder debuted with the Mets in 2002, reached the American League Championship Series with the Oakland Athletics in 2006, and won the World Series with the San Francisco Giants in 2012 (when he was National League Championship Series MVP) and 2014 (reaching the All-Star Game in between, in 2013).

He missed the entire 2015 season due to injury, and it is unlikely that he will ever play in the majors again, although he remains under contract with the Giants. He stayed with them to use their fitness facilities, to keep himself in shape, but soon retired.

October 30, 1976, 40 years ago: Stern Christopher James John is born in Trincity, Trinidad and Tobago. He is known as Stern John, which sounds like a great nickname, but is, in fact, his real name. In 1998, the forward helped the Columbus Crew reach the Final of the U.S. Open Cup, and was the Major League Soccer scoring leader.

In 1999, he was signed by Nottingham Forest, and he remained in England through the 2010 season, playing for Forest, Birmingham City, Coventry City, Derby County, Sunderland, Southampton, Bristol City, Crystal Palace and Ipswich Town. In 2002, he helped Forest get promoted. In 2007, he did the same for Sunderland.

He is once again playing in his home country, with WASA FC of St. Joseph. He represented his country at the 2006 World Cup.

October 30, 1979: Jason Alan Bartlett is born in Mountain View, California, in the Bay Area. A shortstop, he reached the Playoffs with the Minnesota Twins in 2004 and '06, the World Series with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, and the All-Star Game with the Rays in 2009. He retired due to injury early in 2014.

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October 30, 1981: Ian Dante Snell is born in Dover, Delaware. A pitcher, he had a 38-59 record for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Seattle Mariners from 2004 to 2010. He now plays for the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League.

Also on this day, Ivanka Marie Trump is born in Manhattan, the daughter of Donald and his 1st wife, the former Czech model Ivana Zelníčková. She is executive vice president of The Trump Organization, and may be the smartest one in the family. Then again, that's not setting the bar very high.

She was 4 years old when her father, then the owner of the New Jersey Generals, killed the United States Football League. I suspect she could run a team, a casino, a Presidential campaign, or anything better than her father.

October 30, 1982: Andrew Greene (no middle name) is born in the Detroit suburb of Trenton, Michigan. Since 2006, Andy Greene has been a defenseman for the New Jersey Devils. Before the start of this season, he was named team Captain. Along with Alternate Captain Travis Zajac, he is 1 of the last 2 Devils to have been with the team in the Meadowlands Era. (1982-2007 -- the other Alternate Captain, and the next seniormost player, 2012 Playoff hero Adam Henrique, arrived in the 1st Prudential Center season, 2007-08.)

Also on this day, Manuel Alex Parra is born in the Sacramento suburb of Carmichael, California. In 2007, he pitched a perfect game for the Nashville Sounds, earning him a callup to the Milwaukee Brewers. He was 10-8 for the Brewer team that beat the Mets out for the 2008 National League Wild Card, and 11-11 in 2009.

But he fell apart in 2010, got moved to the bullpen, and finished 3-10. He did not play on their 2011 postseason team, spending the entire season in the minors. He was promoted back up in 2012, but traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 2013, helping them win the NL Central Division. They released him after the 2015 season, and he washed out with the Chicago Cubs this past Spring. His major league career may be over, at 29-41, even though he's only 34 years old.

October 30, 1983: On the 33rd birthday of its most famous player, Diego Maradona, Argentina holds a national election that ends its 8-year military dictatorship, which cast a pall over the 1978 World Cup.

The 2nd-largest country in South America, and the 3rd-largest Spanish-speaking country behind Mexico and Spain, has been free ever since, although not free of corruption. When they won the World Cup again, led by Maradona, in 1986, and reached the Final in 1990 and 2014 (both times losing to Germany), it was as a free country.

October 30, 1985: Ragnar Klavan is born in Viljandi, Estonia. The centreback may be the best soccer player his country has ever produced. He helped AZ Alkmaar with the Dutch league (the Eredivisie) in 2009. He now plays in England, for Liverpool.

October 30, 1989: Anastasia Valeryevna Liukin is born in Moscow, the daughter of champion Soviet gymnasts, an Olympic Gold Medalist father and a World Championship-winning mother. They left after the USSR's breakup, and she grew up in Texas. Known as Nastia Liukin, but not nasty at all, she won the Gold Medal in the all-around gymnastics competition at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, also winning 3 Silver Medals and a Bronze.

She graduated from New York University this past Spring, and is engaged to former college hockey star Matt Lombardi. In 2010, she founded the Nastia Liukin Cup for young gymnasts.

October 30, 1993: Marcus Ardel Tafuna Taulauniu Mariota is born in Honolulu. He quarterbacked the University of Oregon to a 36-5 record, reaching the National Championship Game and winning the Heisman Trophy for the 2014 season. He was the 1st Oregon player, the 1st Hawaii native, and the 1st player of Samoan ancestry to win the Heisman. In his honor, UO named its new training facility the Marcus Mariota Sports Performance Center.

Having just turned 23, he is already making a mark on the NFL as the starting quarterback of the Tennessee Titans.

October 30, 1995: The Quebec sovereignty referendum fails by a razor-thin margin, with 50.58 percent voting "Non" and 49.42 percent voting "Oui." The number of "spoiled ballots," unusable for whatever reason, is said to be greater than the margin of victory.

Despite the anger of the separatists, angry over their perception of victimization at the hands of the federal government in Ottawa and the English-speaking establishment – an absolutely ridiculous notion, since the Provincial government has been dominated by the ethnic and linguistic French for most of the last 100 years – the Province will remain a part of Canada, but there is still bitterness on both sides.

It's just as well: Would you be the one who has to tell the Montreal Canadiens, the greatest cultural institution in Quebec, that they had to change their name?

October 30, 1998: The Chicago Fire complete the greatest debut season in the history of North American major league sports. Just 5 days after winning the MLS Cup, they defeat the Columbus Crew, 2-1 at Soldier Field. They have "done the Double."

Polish striker Jerzy Podbrożny converts a penalty just before the half. Columbus' wonderfully-named Trinidadian midfielder Stern John equalizes in the 53rd. As with the MLS Cup, the U.S. Open Cup -- America's answer to England's FA Cup -- has a "golden goal" rule, meaning whoever scores 1st in the extra period wins the game. Frank Klopas, a Greek-born, Chicago-raised midfielder, wins the game in the 99th minute.

October 30, 1999: Max Patkin dies of an aneurysm in the Philadelphia suburb of Paoli, Pennsylvania. He was 79. A sore-armed minor-league pitcher, he joined the U.S. Navy in World War II, and in a game between service teams in Hawaii in 1944, he gave up a home run to an Army Air Force player named Joe DiMaggio. He threw his glove on the ground, and the audience laughed. "The Clown Prince of Baseball" was born.

Bill Veeck, ever the showman, hired him as a coach for the Cleveland Indians, and they won the World Series in 1948 -- meaning that Max Patkin got a World Series ring, and Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, Ernie Banks and Don Mattingly didn't. After that, Max barnstormed the country, mostly the minor leagues, until old age caught up with him, retiring in 1995.

In 1988, he played himself in the film Bull Durham, saying of Kevin Costner's hard-hitting but much-traveled catcher, Crash Davis, "This guy's been in more ballparks than I have."

*

October 30, 2000: Having finished off the Mets in the World Series 3 1/2 days earlier, the Yankees have their ticker-tape parade up the Canyon of Heroes, their 4th parade in the last 5 years.

October 30, 2001: Game 3 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium. The flag found at the World Trade Center on September 11, with some of the stripes having come apart, is flown at the flagpole in Monument Park. This is an honor.

George W. Bush throws out the ceremonial first ball. This is not an honor, it is a desecration: By ignoring the August 6 national-security briefing that told of Osama bin Laden's plan to hijack American airliners, Bush allowed New York City to be attacked. Stand on the mound to throw out the first pitch? He shouldn't have even been allowed inside the hallowed House That Ruth Built, no matter how much he was willing to pay for a ticket. (Not that the son of a bitch would have been willing to pay. Has he ever done anything in his life, without somebody doing it for him?)

The somewhat more honest and somewhat less egotistical born-elsewhere-but-calls-himself-Texan, Roger Clemens, does some of his best postseason work, and the Yankees ride a Jorge Posada homer and a Scott Brosius single to take a 2-1 win over the Arizona Diamondback, and close to within 2 games to 1.

October 30, 2002: Jason Mizell, a.k.. Jam Master Jay of Run-D.M.C., is murdered, shot at his recording studio in Jamaica, Queens. He is 37 years old. Although suspects have been questioned, the case remains unsolved.

Also on this day, the New Orleans Hornets making their debut, after 14 seasons as the original Charlotte Hornets. Ironically, it's against the last team to represent New Orleans in the NBA, the Utah Jazz, who left in 1979.

The Hornets win, 100-75 at the New Orleans Arena (now named the Smoothie King Center). Karl Malone scores 20 points for the visitors, and John Stockton 14. But Baron Davis of the Hornets leads all scorers with 21 points, while Courtney Alexander scores 19 off the bench.

October 30, 2005: Alfonso Ramón "Al" López, not only the oldest living member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, but, to that point, the oldest Hall-of-Famer ever, dies at age 97. He had been an All-Star catcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he caught more games in the major leagues than anyone until Bob Boone surpassed him 1987, and more than anyone in the NL until Gary Carter surpassed him in 1990.

(Boone's achievement was spread over both leagues; Boone's record was surpassed in 1993 by Carlton Fisk, and Fisk's last season by Ivan Rodriguez, if you cant count anything that steroid user does as legitimate.)

From 1949 to 1964, Al López was the only manager to take a team other than the Yankees to an American League Pennant, in 1954 with the Cleveland Indians and in 1959 with the Chicago White Sox. He dies just 4 days after the White Sox won their 1st Pennant since '59.

Like another catcher who became famous in another sphere of baseball, Tim McCarver, he had outlived a minor-league ballpark that had been built in his home town. Al López Field opened in Tampa in 1954 and was demolished in 1989. It stood in what is now the south end zone at the Buccaneers' Raymond James Stadium. Just north of the stadium, Horizon Park was renamed Al López Park, and a statue of him stands there.

October 30, 2007: The Yankees sign Joe Girardi to a 3-year deal worth a reported $7.5 million to replace popular manager Joe Torre, who left earlier in the month, rejecting a 29 percent pay cut after guiding his club to their 12th postseason appearance in 12 years.

The 43-year old former catcher and broadcaster, the NL manager of the year with the 2006 Marlins, beat out coaches Don Mattingly and Tony Pena to become the team's 32nd skipper.

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October 30, 2010: For the 1st time, a team based in Texas wins a World Series game. The Texas Rangers, hosting a Series game for the 1st time in their 39 years in the Dallas area, beat the San Francisco Giants, 4-2, at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (now named Globe Life Park), and close the gap to 2 games to 1. Previously, the Rangers (in this Series) and the Houston Astros (in their only appearance, in 2005) had been 0-6.

October 30, 2013: The Boston Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1, to take Game 6 of the World Series, and capture a World Championship at Fenway Park for the 1st time since 1918. After not winning a Series for 86 years, they have now won 3 in 10 seasons.

Of course, the Most Valuable Player of the World Series was given to David Ortiz, the only man on all 3 title teams. Which means that all 3 titles are bogus, and the Red Sox still haven't won the World Series honestly since 1918.

Also on this day, 11 years to the day after their 1st game in their new city, the former New Orleans Hornets debut under their new name, the old name of the Crescent City's minor-league baseball team: The New Orleans Pelicans.

They aren't so lucky this time, losing to the Indiana Pacers, 95-90. Paul George scores 32 points for the Hoosier State club, while Eric Gordon leads the Pels with 25.

October 30, 2015: Game 3 of the World Series, the 1st ever played at Citi Field, the new home of the Mets. It includes one of the great oddities in baseball history. In the top of the 5th inning, Raúl A. Mondesí, a 20-year-old 2nd baseman, and the son of former All-Star outfielder Raúl R. Mondesí (now the Mayor of San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic), pinch-hits for Danny Duffy. He was the 1st player to make his major league debut in the World Series: Although he had not played in the major leagues during the regular season, the NLDS or the NLCS, Royals manager Ned Yost included him on the World Series roster. That's very odd, but it is legal. Noah Syndergaard strikes him out.

The Royals score a run in the top of the 1st. David Wright hits his 1st World Series home run in the bottom of the 1st, but the Royals take a 3-2 lead in the top of the 2nd -- meaning the Mets have now blown leads in all 3 games of the Series so far, and in their last 4 Series games (dating to 2000).

But the Mets take the lead back in the 3rd, as Curtis Granderson hits a home run. They add a run in the 4th, and 4 more in the 6th, and win 9-3. The Mets close the Series gap to 2-1 -- just like they did in 2000. But, just as they did in 2000, they will lose in 5.

Syndergaard is the winning pitcher. Since the Mets won by 6 runs, there was no save. Here is every winning pitcher for the Mets in World Series games:

* Jerry Koosman, 1969, Games 2 and 5; 1973 Game 5
* Gary Gentry, 1969 Game 3
* Tom Seaver, 1969 Game 4
* Tug McGraw, 1973 Game 2
* Jon Matlack, 1973 Game 4
* Bob Ojeda, 1986 Game 3
* Ron Darling, 1986 Game 4
* Rick Aguilera, 1986 Game 6 (despite nearly being the goat)
* Roger McDowell, 1986 Game 7
* John Franco, 2000 Game 3
* Noah Syndergaard, 2015 Game 3

There have been fewer saves, since the Mets have won some of these games by more than 3 runs: Ron Taylor saved 1969 Game 2, Nolan Ryan 1969 Game 3, George Stone 1973 Game 2, Ray Sadecki 1973 Game 4, McGraw 1973 Game 5, Jesse Orosco 1986 Games 4 and 7, and Armando Benitez 2000 Game 3.

Also on this day, Mel Daniels dies of complications from heart surgery in the Indianapolis suburb of Sheridan, Indiana. He was 71. The center, a Detroit native, never played in the NBA, but he was one of the best players in the ABA, winning 3 titles with the Indiana Pacers , in 1969, 1972 and 1973. He was named ABA Most Valuable Player in 1969 and 1971, was a 7-time ABA All-Star (including All-Star Game MVP in 1969), and was the league's all-time leading rebounder.

His only NBA playing experience was in the Nets' disastrous 1st season in the league, 1976-77. Afterward, he joined Bob King, who had been his coach at the University of New Mexico, on the staff of Indiana State, where they coached Larry Bird into the 1979 NCAA Final. In 1986, he joined the Pacers' front office, where he stayed until 2009, through the entire career of Reggie Miller, including a stint as interim head coach in 1988 and the team's only NBA Finals berth so far, in 2000.

The Pacers retired his Number 34, he was named to the ABA All-Time Team, and he was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012, so he did live to see it.

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