Monday, November 7, 2016

Don't Let the USFL's Killer Kill America

Trump: "Welcome to the Generals, Herschel.
Together, we're gonna be huge."
Walker, under his breath: "I gotta work for this guy?"

Just a reminder: Donald Trump bought the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League from 1984 to 1986, and not only did they not win a single Playoff game under this guy who claims to know so much about winning and making deals, but he killed the entire league.

So not only does he not, as he once claimd, know more about ISIS than the Army Generals, but he didn't know more about football than the New Jersey Generals.

Hillary Clinton? She probably doesn't know a whole lot more about sports. Then again, she's never claimed to, and knows that it doesn't really help as President. After all, George W. Bush owned the Texas Rangers, and he stunk as both a baseball team owner and as the President.

America is already great. Make it greater. Don't let the man who killed the USFL kill America. Clinton-Kaine: Keep America Sane.

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November 7, 1728: James Cook is born in Middlesbrough, Yorkshire, England. The Royal Navy Captain Cook made detailed maps of Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during which he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand.

In 3 voyages, Cook sailed thousands of miles across largely uncharted areas of the globe. He mapped lands from New Zealand to Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean in greater detail and on a scale not previously achieved. As he progressed on his voyages of discovery he surveyed and named features, and recorded islands and coastlines on European maps for the first time. He displayed a combination of seamanship, superior surveying and cartographic skills, physical courage and an ability to lead men in adverse conditions.

Cook was attacked and killed in a confrontation with Hawaiians during his 3rd exploratory voyage in the Pacific on February 14, 1779. He left a legacy of scientific and geographical knowledge which was to influence his successors well into the 20th century, and numerous memorials worldwide have been dedicated to him. NASA named a space shuttle after his flagship, Endeavour, even keeping the chiefly British spelling. Also, his name has been parodied: The villain of Peter Pan was named Captain Hook, and the pirate character in the McDonald's commercials was Captain Crook.

What does he have to do with sports? Well, if he hadn't been the 1st European to discover Hawaii, the NFL's Pro Bowl wouldn't be played there. And his visits to Australia and New Zealand made those countries possible, as well as their traditions of cricket and rugby. And they've also taken to baseball in the last 25 years.

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November 7, 1811: The Battle of Tippecanoe is fought in northwestern Indiana, about 68 miles northwest of Indianapolis and 122 miles southeast of Chicago. General William Henry Harrison led U.S. Army troops to a decisive victory over Native Americans of Tecumseh's Confederacy. Tecumseh was away, trying to gain allies from other tribes, and his brother, Tenskwatawa, was in command. Known as The Prophet, he was recognized as a spiritual leader, but he was a lousy tactician. He ordered an attack on Harrison's men, and this was a huge mistake.

Two years later, as Tecumseh's Confederacy joined the British cause in the War of 1812, Tecumseh's and Harrison's troops met in battle again, at the Battle of the Thames near present-day Chatham, Ontario, and Tecumseh was killed. Tenskwatawa lived on until 1836, and Harrison was elected President in 1840, under the nickname "Old Tippecanoe" or "Tip" for short.

The Battle of Tippecanoe wasn't nearly as important as the Battle of the Thames, which eliminated Tecumseh as a threat. But because of the 1840 Presidential campaign slogan of Harrison and John Tyler -- Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too -- it is more remembered. It did, however, make it easier to settle what became the Midwest, including Chicago, thus making that city and its teams possible.

November 7, 1848: Zachary Taylor is elected the 12th President of the United States. The leading General of the recently-concluded Mexican-American War, nicknamed Old Rough and Ready by the men who served under him and revered him, had never previously run for office, and later admitted that he'd never voted in his life, not even for himself.

However, as the nominee of the Whig Party, he beat the Democratic nominee, Senator Lewis Cass of Michigan, and former President Martin Van Buren, who was running to regain the office as the nominee of the Free Soil Party, opposed to slavery.

Because of the 3-way race, Taylor was a plurality President, getting 47 percent of the popular vote, to Cass' 42 and Van Buren's 10. And Taylor and Cass split the States between them, 15 apiece. But Taylor got a majority of the Electoral Vote, 163 to 127, while Van Buren took no States and got no EVs.

Taylor was inaugurated on March 5, 1849 -- he refused to take office on the traditional day, March 4, because it was a Sunday, and so, in a way, for 24 hours, the nation was without a President -- and died on July 9, 1850, from food poisoning. (Accidental. In 1991, in response to historians' suggestions that he was poisoned on purpose, and thus assassinated, his body was exhumed from the veterans' cemetery that bears his name in Louisville, Kentucky, and tested. No traces of artificial poison were found.)

Vice President Millard Fillmore became the 13th President. No Whig was ever again elected, as the party was broken over the slavery issue. Therefore, the Whigs have the odd status as having as many Presidents rise to the office without election as with it: 2. (John Tyler had become President when William Henry Harrison died in 1841.)

November 7, 1876, 140 years ago: Samuel J. Tilden, former Governor of New York, wins the popular vote and the Electoral Vote in the Presidential election, defeating the Governor of Ohio, Rutherford B. Hayes. Tilden got 51 percent of the popular vote, to Hayes' 48; and 204 Electoral Votes, to Hayes' 165.

What's that? You've never heard of Tilden? Unless you're a history buff, or are from Brooklyn where there's a high school named for him, that's not surprising. He didn't get to become President, because the Republicans stole the Electoral Votes of Louisiana (8), South Carolina (7) and Florida (4), plus 1 in Oregon. So the final count, not made official since the Electoral Commission made its ruling on a pure party-line vote of 8-7 on March 2, 1877 -- 2 days before the Inauguration -- was Hayes 185, Tilden 184.

Hayes, nicknamed "His Fraudulency" and "Old 8 to 7," announced he would serve only 1 term, and kept his promise. Tilden was convinced he was robbed, but did not run again in 1880 or 1884 due to ill health, and died in 1886.

But was he robbed? The Democrats may have engaged in serious intimidation of newly-enfranchised black voters in Southern States. It's possible they tried every bit as hard to steal those States on Election Day as the Republicans did afterward. We may never know who truly deserved to win. Regardless, there is absolutely no evidence that either Hayes or Tilden participated in any election fraud.

November 7, 1885: Samuel Russell Crawford is born in Cardinal, Ontario, outside Ottawa. A left wing, "Rusty" Crawford won the Stanley Cup with the 1913 Quebec Bulldogs and the 1st NHL Champions, the 1918 Toronto Arenas (forerunners of the Maple Leafs). He was still playing pro hockey at age 44, was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1963, and lived until 1971.

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November 7, 1913: Albert Camus is born in Mondovi, French Algeria -- now Dréan, Algeria. Like many Europeans, including Frenchmen, the author of The Stranger was a soccer fanatic. He was a goalkeeper for Algiers club Racing Universitaire d'Alger (RUA, now defunct), but tuberculosis ended his athletic career.

He wrote, "What I know most surely about morality and the duty of man, I owe to sport." In his novel The Plague, he included a professional soccer player as a character, and discusses the sport in the dialogue. 

In 1957, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. At 44, he was, and remains, its 2nd-youngest recipient. (Rudyard Kipling was 42.) On January 4, 1960, he was killed in a car crash in Sens, France. He was only 46, and had already written about the wars of independence from France by Vietnam and his native Algeria. He should have lived long enough to see the revolution of 1968 and perhaps even the dawn of the European Union.

November 7, 1916, 100 years ago: America elects a President. The Democratic nominee is the incumbent, President Woodrow Wilson, campaigning against American entry into World War I. His slogan was, "He kept us out of war." The Republican nominee is Charles Evans Hughes, who had been Governor of New York and a Justice of the Supreme Court, who believes America should enter the war.

When the night is over, Hughes appears to be the winner. The problem turns out to be the communication systems of the time, with the results in rural areas not getting to the State capitals quickly. For example, New Hampshire: Wilson ended up winning it by 56 votes. Not 56,000, not 5,600, but fifty-six. That's the smallest margin ever recorded in a State in a Presidential vote.

The key State is California, then having 13 Electoral Votes (about 1/4 of what it has now). At first, Hughes is winning it, and he goes to bed. The story, perhaps apocryphal, tells of a reporter learning that Wilson has taken the lead in California, and thus won the election, and calling Hughes' home. His son, or his butler, or someone else (depending on who's telling the story), tells the reporter, "The President-elect is asleep." The reporter says, "When he wakes up, tell him he's not the President-elect anymore."

With 266 Electoral Votes then needed for victory, Wilson wins 277-254. If Hughes had won California, he would have won 267-264. Wilson won 49.2 percent of the popular vote, Hughes 46.1 percent. For both of his terms, Wilson would be a plurality President -- which had already happened to Grover Cleveland, and would happen to Bill Clinton.

By the time he is Inaugurated again on March 5, 1917, it is clear that Wilson will have to take America into the war. The war will make him beloved around the world. The peace process will make him despised at home. A stroke in October 1919 paralyzed him, and when he leaves office in March 1921, he is, physically and emotionally, a broken man. He dies in 1924. Hughes is appointed Secretary of State by Wilson's successor, Warren Harding, in 1921, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by Herbert Hoover in 1930. He lives until 1948.

In the same election, Jeannette Rankin becomes the 1st woman elected to Congress. At the time, her home State of Montana was 1 of 10 States which then had full voting rights for women – all of them West of the Missouri River.

November 7, 1917: The Winter Palace in Petrograd is stormed by Bolshevik troops, and the Bolshevik Revolution is complete. It is also known as the October Revolution, since Russia was still using the Julian Calendar, and they thought it was October 25.

Vladimir Lenin moves the capital to Moscow, and after his death in 1924, Petrograd is renamed Leningrad. After the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, that city's name is restored to what it was before the Russian Revolution of 1905: St. Petersburg.

We may never know how sports in Russia would have developed had either the Czars or the provisional government that replaced them in the February Revolution earlier in 1917 lasted. One thing is for sure: The 1972 Summer Olympic basketball tournament and the 1980 Winter Olympic hockey tournament, while still exciting, would have had far less controversy.

November 7, 1918: Frederick Michael Cusick is born in the Brighton section of Boston. He played hockey at Boston University, but became known as a broadcaster instead. In 1957, he became the 1st man to announce a hockey game on U.S. television, for CBS. In 1960, he broadcast the 1st American Football League game, as he was the lead announcer for the Boston Patriots.

But he's best known as the voice of the Boston Bruins from 1963 to 1997. While Foster Hewitt of the Toronto Maple Leafs made, "He shoots, he scores!" a catchphrase, Cusick would simply yell, "Score!" In 1984, when the Foster Hewitt Award was introduced by the Hockey Hall of Fame, tantamount to election for broadcasters, Fred Cusick was one of the charter honorees. He died in 2009, at age 90.

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November 7, 1920: Edward S. Steitz (I can't find any reference as to what the S stands for) is born in Brooklyn, and grows up in Beacon, in Dutchess County in the Hudson Valley. He served as head basketball coach and athletic director at Springfield College in Massachusetts, the birthplace of basketball, and the location of the sport's Hall of Fame.

He also worked with the NCAA Men's Basketball Rules Committee, and led them to institute the 45-second shot clock in 1986 and the 3-point field goal the next year. He was elected to the Hall of Fame, and lived until 1990.

November 7, 1922: Sam Thompson dies of a heart attack at age 62, while working as an election inspector in Detroit. The right fielder had won the National League batting and RBI titles in 1887, helping the Detroit Wolverines win the Pennant. When they went bankrupt just a year later, he starred for the Philadelphia Phillies. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1974, over half a century after his death.

November 7, 1932: Richard Lee Stuart is born in San Francisco, and grows up in nearby Redwood City, California. In 1956, playing for the Lincoln Chiefs, a Nebraska-based Class A farm team of the Pittsburgh Pirates, 23-year-old Dick Stuart hit 66 home runs. This was the absolute worst thing that could have happened to him, as people expected him to be one of the great sluggers of his generation. He even signed autographs, "Dick Stuart 66."

He debuted with the Pirates in 1958, and he certainly could hit the ball over the fence, far and frequently. On June 5, 1959, he became the 1st player to hit a home run over the center field fence at Forbes Field, over 457 feet away. That earned him a place on the 1960 TV show Home Run Derby. That year, he helped the Pirates win the World Series, and was on deck when Bill Mazeroski hit the winning home run.

The problem was, he couldn't play any position. His manager at Lincoln, Bobby Bragan, said, "Dick Stuart is the worst outfielder I ever saw in my life." In those pre-designated hitter days, they put him at 1st base, where they figured he could do the least damage. But he was horrible, worse than Marv Throneberry of the Mets. One time, Art McKennan, the Pirates' long-time public address announcer, said, "Anyone who interferes with the ball in play will be ejected from the ballpark," manager Danny Murtaugh was overheard saying, "I hope Stuart doesn't think he means him."

They called him The Ancient Mariner -- not because he played for the Seattle Mariners (he was long retired by the time they debuted), but because the opening line in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem is, "It is an ancient mariner, and he stoppeth one of three." Another literary allusion, to Alexandre Dumas' The Man in the Iron Mask, got him nicknamed The Man in the Iron Glove.

He also struck out more often than Mickey Mantle, which caught people's attention. He was also slow: Twice, he grounded into more than 20 double plays in a season.

In 1963, despite his having hit 117 home runs for them in less than 5 full seasons, and making the All-Star Team in 1961, the Pirates had had enough. They traded him to the Boston Red Sox, who spent the last 2/3rds of the 20th Century looking for a great righthanded slugger who could send enough balls over the Green Monster in Fenway Park's left field to lead them to the Pennant. Stuart became the latest in that long line, and in 2 seasons with them, he hit 75 home runs and had 232 RBIs, including leading the American League in 1963, when he set career highs with 42 homers and 118 RBIs.

But his fielding got worse. In 1963, he made 29 errors, still a record for a major league 1st baseman. In 1964, he made 24. He killed so many games for the Sox, he was nicknamed the Boston Strangler. Two movies released in 1964 would give him more nicknames: Dr. Strangelove led to him being called Dr. Strangeglove, and Goldfinger would brand him Stonefingers. Pitcher Dick Radatz said his license plate should read, "E-3." One time, the swirling Fenway wind sent a hot-dog wrapper toward the field, and he made a diving catch of it, and got the biggest ovation of his Boston tenure.

For 1965, the Sox traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies. In 1966, the Phils traded him to the Mets. In June, the Mets released him. In July, the Los Angeles Dodgers picked him up, and he did help them win the Pennant, and he played in another World Series. The Dodgers released him, he played the 1967 and 1968 seasons in Japan, he was signed by the California Angels in 1969, and released. At 37, he was done.

He hit just 228 home runs in the major leagues. He wasn't a bad guy -- though managers like Murtaugh and the Red Sox' Johnny Pesky might have disagreed -- he was just a one-dimensional player. But sometimes, that one dimension was amazing.

He moved to Stamford, Connecticut, making him a neighbor of Jackie Robinson, and made quite a bit of money (by the standards of retired ballplayers in the 1970s) in the financial sector. He died of cancer on December 15, 2002, in his hometown of Redwood City, at age 70.

November 7, 1938: Jerry Dean Gibbs is born in Grenada, Mississippi. Jake Gibbs was the 1st great quarterback at the University of Mississippi, before either Archie Manning or his son Eli. He led them to a 10-0-1 record in 1960, with only a tie against Louisiana State spoiling their record. They won the 1961 Sugar Bowl. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

But he never played a down in the NFL, probably because he thought he could make more money playing baseball. He was a Yankee from 1962 to 1971, a backup catcher to Yogi Berra and Elston Howard on the 1962 World Champions, of which he is 1 of 10 surviving players. He was the starter in the 1967, '68 and '69 seasons, but lost his job to Thurman Munson.

He returned to Ole Miss, coached their baseball team to the 1972 Southeastern Conference Championship and into the College World Series, and was named Coach of the Year, winning that award again in 1977. He later coached in the Yankees' system.

Also on this day, James Lee Kaat is born in Zeeland, Michigan. Jim Kaat debuted for the Washington Senators in 1959, and was the last active player who had played for the original version of that franchise. The lefthanded pitcher moved with them, and as the Minnesota Twins he helped them win the 1965 American League Pennant and the 1969 and '70 AL Western Division titles. He won 25 games in 1966, and probably would have been named the AL's Cy Young Award winner, except that this was the last season in which it was given only to the most valuable pitcher in both Leagues.

He won National League Eastern Division titles with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1976, '77 and '78, and the AL East with the Yankees in 1980. Finally, in 1982, his 24th season in the majors, a record wait, he won the World Series, with the 1982 St. Louis Cardinals.

He close his career with the Cards in 1983, with a record of 283-237, 3 All-Star berths, and 16 Gold Gloves. (Admittedly, the Gold Glove is not a big deal for a pitcher, but 16!) And yet, he is not in the Hall of Fame. The only eligible-but-not-in pitcher in the post-1920 Lively Ball Era with more wins is his 1979-80 Yankee teammate, Tommy John.

Like TJ, "Kitty" became a broadcaster, for the Yankees, the Twins and CBS, and was one of the most astute in the business, winning 7 Emmy Awards. Maybe he can get into the Hall of Fame that way.

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November 7, 1944: President Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected to an unprecedented 4th term, defeating Thomas E. Dewey, who held FDR's former post of Governor of New York. FDR won 432 Electoral Votes to Dewey's 99, and 53 percent of the popular vote to Dewey's 46.

FDR was not well, and the Republicans began a whispering campaign, saying that the Democratic titan was too old and tired to handle the Presidency, and possibly dying. To counter this, he held a parade up Broadway in Lower Manhattan. In the rain. Not good for his health.

The parade went over the Manhattan Bridge into Brooklyn, and he held a rally at Ebbets Field. "I've got a confession to make," he said. "I come from the State of New York, and I've practiced law in New York City. But I have never been in Ebbets Field before." It was one of the few times in his career that FDR got booed. He brought the crowd back by saying, "I've rooted for the Dodgers" -- even though he had, on numerous occasions, been to Yankee Stadium to cheer on the Yankees and the Polo Grounds to cheer on the Giants, and saw them both at the Polo Grounds in Game 2 of the 1936 World Series. "And I hope to come back someday and watch 'em play." Huge roar.

FDR would be unable to keep that promise. He had not been to a major league game since before Pearl Harbor, and died at the dawn of the next season, of a stroke brought on by heart disease and terribly high blood pressure. He had worked himself to death to save civilization from fascism.

On a related subject, in 2016, there was no "whispering campaign": The Republicans have said this year's Democratic nominee from the State of New York, Hillary Clinton, is "dying" and "doesn't have the stamina to be President." She did 3 90-minute debates where she kicked Donald Trump's ass, so you tell me!

Also on this day, Luigi Riva is born in Leggiuno, in Lombardy in the Italian Alps. "Gigi" Riva was a forward for his hometown soccer team Legnano when, in 1963, he was sold to Cagliari, on the island of Sardinia. Based on what he had heard of this island backwater, he thought he was going to Africa. (Sicily is closer to the African continent.)

He became the greatest player Cagliari have ever had, nicknamed Rombo di Tuono (Roar of Thunder). Three times, he was the leading scorer in Serie A (Italy's national league). In 1969, he was voted 2nd in the Ballon d'Or (Golden Ball) for World Player of the Year, behind fellow Italian Gianni Rivera of AC Milan. In 1970, he led them to their one and only Serie A title, bringing them enough revenue that they could build a new stadium, and finishing 3rd in the Ballon d'Or voting behind Gerd Muller of Germany and Bobby Moore of England. He also helped Italy win Euro 1968 and reach the Final of the 1970 World Cup.

He later became an executive with Cagliari, which has retired his Number 11, and is now a consultant to the Italian national team.

November 7, 1945: Joseph Franklin Niekro is born in Martins Ferry, Ohio. He pitched in the major leagues from 1967 to 1988, and won 221 games. He combined with his brother Phil (who was only his teammate on the 1973 and '74 Atlanta Braves and the 1985 Yankees) for 539 wins, a record for a pair of brothers. Both had the knuckleball as their main pitch. In 1976, he hit his only major league home run, off Phil.

Joe led the National League in wins in 1979, and reached the postseason with the 1972 Detroit Tigers, the 1980 and '81 Houston Astros, and the 1987 Minnesota Twins, finally winning a World Series in his 21st season, just before turning 42. He died of a brain aneurysm in 2006. His son Lance Niekro also played in the major leagues.

November 7, 1948: John Albert Martinez is born in Redding, California. Unlike most people with the name, who pronounce it "Mar-TEE-nez," Buck Martinez pronounces it "MAR-tin-ez." He played in the major leagues from 1969 to 1986, reaching the Playoffs as a backup catcher with the Kansas City Royals in 1976 and '77, and the Toronto Blue Jays in 1985.

He later managed the Jays, and the U.S. team at the 1st World Baseball Classic in 2006. He later broadcast for the Baltimore Orioles, and is now in the Jays' booth.

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November 7, 1951: John Felix Tamargo is born in Tampa. The Yankees drafted him in 1969, but he chose to go to college instead. He played in the major leagues as a backup catcher from 1976 to 1980, mostly with the St. Louis Cardinals. He now manages in the Seattle Mariners' organization.

November 7, 1952: Valeriy Zuyev is born in Kiev, Ukraine. The centreback was part of the Dynamo Kiev team that dominated Eastern European soccer in the 1970s, winning the Soviet Top League in 1974, '75, '77 and '83; the Soviet Cup in 1974, '78 and '81; and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1975. He died this past May 6, at 63.

November 7, 1959: Billy Clyde Gillispie is born in Abeilene, Texas, and grows up in Fort Worth. BCG was head basketball coach at Texas-El Paso, Texas A&M, Kentucky and Texas Tech. Although he won the Western Athletic Conference title at UTEP in 2004, he was a flop at Kentucky, and has battled alcoholism. He is now dry, and head coach at his alma mater, Ranger Junior College in Fort Worth.

November 7, 1961: Orlando Mercado Rodríguez is born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. A weak-hitting catcher for several teams, he was Terry Steinbach's backup on the 1988 Pennant-winning Oakland Athletics. He is now a catching instructor in the Los Angeles Angels' organization.

November 7, 1963: John Charles Bryan Barnes is born in Kingston, Jamaica. His father was an officer in the newly-formed Jamaican Army (independence had been gained the year before John was born), and in 1976, the British Commonwealth called Colonel Ken Barnes to London, where John finished his education and turned professional in soccer, which his father had played at the semi-pro level.

He helped Hertfordshire club Watford rise to 2nd place in the Football League in 1983, and to the FA Cup Final in 1984, where they lost to Merseyside club Everton. He was soon snatched up by the bigger Merseyside club, Liverpool FC. The forward helped them win the League in 1988 and 1990, the FA Cup in 1989 and 1992, and the League Cup in 1995. He also played for England in the 1986 and 1990 World Cups, and later managed the Jamaica national team to the 2008 Caribbean Cup.

He is famous for 2 things. In 1987, at a point when Liverpool were embracing the rise of black players in the British Isles, Everton were not, and their fans were proud of the club's all-white status. (That is no longer the case: Everton would have been relegated long ago if not for many fine black players, including New Jersey native goalkeeper Tim Howard.) One Everton fan threw a banana onto the field, an overt suggestion that black people are apes. Noble in the face of darkness, Barnes backheeled it off the pitch, and a picture of it became one of the iconic photos of English football.

That's the sublime. The ridiculous is his music career, including the songs that Liverpool recorded as the FA Cup Final songs for 1988, "Anfield Rap (Red Machine In Full Effect)"; and 1996, "Pass & Move (It's the Liverpool Groove)." To be fair, he was hardly the only offender, and the other players in the videos, all white, looked even more ridiculous.

November 7, 1966, 50 years ago: Raymond "Rube" Bressler dies in Cincinnati, at age 72. He had recently been interviewed by Lawrence S. Ritter for The Glory of Their Times, his book about baseball players of the early 20th Century.

Bressler had started as a pitcher, but had converted to an outfielder. He had a 26-32 career record, and a .301 lifetime batting average. He won the Pennant with the 1914 Philadelphia Athletics and the World Series with the 1919 Cincinnati Reds. Like most of that 1919 Cincy team, he maintained to the end of his life that the Reds would still have won even if the 8 players on the Chicago White Sox who were accused of "throwing" the Series had played on the level.

Also on this day, Calvin H. Borel is born in St. Martinville, Louisiana. The jockey has won over 5,000 races, including the 2007 Kentucky Derby aboard Street Sense, the 2009 Kentucky Derby on 50-1 longshot Mine That Bird, the 2009 Preakness on Rachel Alexandra (making him the 1st hockey to win both races in the same year but on different horses), and the 2010 Kentucky Derby on Super Saver.

November 7, 1968: Russell Paul Springer is born in Alexandria, Louisiana. The pitcher began his career with the Yankees in 1992, and reached the postseason with the California Angels in 1995, the Houston Astros in 1997, the Atlanta Braves in 1998 and '99, the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001 (beating the Yankees in the World Series), the Houston Astros in 2004 and '05, and the Cincinnati Reds in his final season of 2010. He was 36-45 for his career.

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November 7, 1972: President Richard Nixon is re-elected in one of the biggest landslides ever. He wins 60.7 percent of the vote to the 37.5, a record low for Democratic nominees in 2-horse races, of Senator George McGovern of South Dakota. Nixon wins 49 States for 520 Electoral Votes, McGovern just 17, winning only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

If McGovern had taken every State in which he had at least 47 percent, he still would have lost 520-17. Counting every State where he won at least 45 percent would add only Rhode Island, Minnesota and South Dakota, making it 502-35.

McGovern ran a great campaign in the primaries, but was a disaster in the general election, making all kinds of mistakes. When Nixon's campaign announced a peace deal in Vietnam 3 weeks before the election, it removed the biggest argument in McGovern's favor. Watergate? The Washington Post was investigating it, but most people didn't yet realize how big that would become.

On August 9, 1974, just 21 months later, Nixon resigned due to his role in Watergate. Someone took a poll, asking how people would have voted in 1972, had they known then what they know now. McGovern got 56 percent in that poll. Begging the question, What were the other 44 percent waiting for?

And didn't they already suspect? How could McGovern have gone, as an episode of The Wonder Years that focused on this election put it, from landslide to mudslide?

Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame George McGovern for Losing 49 States in the 1972 Presidential Election

5. Old-Line Democrats. The activists and hippies showed terrible disdain for the union leaders and big-city bosses, such as AFL-CIO President George Meany and Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley. They should have showed that they were "the adults in the room." Instead, they were every bit as immature as the "kids," and didn't support McGovern.

4. Thomas Eagleton. The Senator from Missouri should have told McGovern about his psychiatric treatment when he was first told he was being considered for the Vice Presidential nomination. He didn't. Once it got out, he had to go.

3. McGovern's Supporters. As with the crazies on the right supporting Barry Goldwater in 1964, George H.W. Bush in 1992, John McCain in 2008 and Donald Trump today, McGovern's activists made their man look further from the political center than he actually was. They favored legalization of marijuana, abortion, and amnesty for draft evaders, but he didn't. They, not he, were the people of, as the other side put it, "Acid, Abortion and Amnesty" -- or "Grass, Ass and Amnesty."

2. The Supposedly Liberal Media. There was plenty they could have said about Nixon, from his hideous career in Congress in the late 1940s and early 1950s to the way he conducted the Presidency from January 1969 onward.

They let him off the hook for the war still going, nearly 4 years after he ran saying he would end it. They let him off the hook for the Cambodian Incursion. They let him off the hook for the Kent State Massacre. They let him off the hook for the ITT-Vesco Scandal. And, so far, they had let him off the hook for Watergate. That didn't change until his 2nd term began.

1. Richard Nixon. To his credit, he ran a great campaign, one in which he could run as a unifying figure who understood both the country and the world, and deserved a 2nd term on that basis. Indeed, he hardly had to mention his opponent. Which probably drove him nuts, because he loved to slam his opponents.

And yet, for all he put America through, Nixon "got away with it," because President Gerald Ford pardoned him. That angered so many people. But was it the right thing to do?


Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame Gerald Ford for Pardoning Richard Nixon

5. The Constitution. It gives the President the power, and the right, to pardon people for violating federal law.

4. Friendship. Ford and Nixon had served together in the House of Representatives, and remained allies until August 9, 1974. They had helped each other. Their families were friends. Ford didn't want to see his friend suffer any further.

3. The Nixon Family. Whatever Tricky Dick did, there was no reason to make Pat, Tricia, Julie, and the rest suffer through a criminal trial.

2. Our Long National Nightmare. Ford knew that extending the Watergate story would place an even greater strain on the country. He wanted it over. Which is totally understandable.

1. Confirmation of Guilt. Nixon could have refused the pardon. Instead, he accepted it. By doing so, Nixon essentially pled guilty. He never served a minute in prison. But he is the only President ever remembered as a criminal. Not a "crook," the word he used to defend himself on November 17, 1973. (His 1st Vice President, Spiro Agnew, was a crook.) As an actual criminal.

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Also on November 7, 1972, Hasim Sharif Rahman is born in Baltimore. He was recognized by the WBC and the IBF as the Heavyweight Champion of the World from April 22, 2001, when he knocked Lennox Lewis out in South Africa, until November 17 of that year (meaning through 9/11), when Lewis avenged that defeat in Las Vegas.

He was recognized by the WBC again from August 13, 2005, when Vitali Klitschko retired and he defeated Monte Barrett at the United Center in Chicago in the last elimination bout, until August 12, 2006, when Oleg Maskaev beat him in Las Vegas. His career record is 50-9-2, but he hasn't fought in 2 1/2 years.

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November 7, 1974: Kristin James Benson is born in Superior, Wisconsin, and grows up in Milledgeville, Georgia. Despite a major league career that ran from 1999 to 2010, going 70-75, Kris Benson is best known for his ex-wife, supermodel Anna Benson, who got him into some hot water while he was with the Mets in 2004 and '05.

Also on this day, Christian Gómez is born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The midfielder, now back with his original neighborhood club, Nueva Chicago, helped D.C. United win the MLS Cup in 2004, and was named MLS Most Valuable Player in 2006.

November 7, 1978: Gene Tunney dies of a circulatory ailment in Greenwich, Connecticut. He was 81. The boxer went 65-1-1 in his career, the only blemishes being a loss to Harry Greb and a draw with Tommy Loughran, both in 1922. Both of those men would become Light Heavyweight Champion of the World.

Tunney, who learned to box while in the U.S. Marine Corps in World War I, was nonetheless a very cultured man, who refused to call what he did "boxing." Instead, he called it "pugilism." He avenged his loss to Greb twice.

On September 23, 1926, he defeated Jack Dempsey at Sesquicentennial (later Municipal and John F. Kennedy) Stadium in Philadelphia to become Heavyweight Champion of the World. Tunney's "scientific fighting" style made him the ideal man to take on the free-swinging Dempsey. He would also have been good as someone like Sonny Liston, George Foreman or Mike Tyson. Not so much against Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano or Muhammad Ali, who were capable of adapting to the fighter at hand.

A year later, on September 22, 1927, he fought Dempsey again, at Solder Field in Chicago. It was the "Long Count" fight, where Dempsey knocked Tunney down -- the only time in his career that the strong-chinned Tunney was ever floored -- but forgot the new rule (for which he had advocated) that the still-standing fighter had to go to a neutral corner before the referee could start the count. The film of the fight shows Tunney carefully watching the ref's count, and getting up at 9 -- what should have been 14. Could he have gotten up at 4 (what should've been 9)? Certainly. Would he have been steady enough to avoid one of Dempsey's legendary knockouts? We'l never know. Tunney hung on, and won the fight. In spite of the controversy, the 2 men stayed friends for the next 51 years.

He fought once more, taking on New Zealander Tom Heeney at Yankee Stadium on July 26, 1928. When Tex Rickard, the great fight promoter who had recently built what would later be known as "the old Madison Square Garden," told Tunney his take for the fight would be a record $970,000, Tunney wrote him a check for $30,000, just so that he could then legitimately receive a check for an even $1 million (about $14.1 million in today's money), and hang the canceled check on his wall.

Tunney then retired as champion, and, unlike most great boxers, stayed retired. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in World War II, despite already being past draft age. He saw no combat, and instead became a boxing instructor. Among his acts in The War was to swear baseball pitcher Bob Feller into the Navy. Other than The War, he lived a quiet life in Connecticut with his wife and 4 kids. Gene's son, John Tunney, served California as a Democrat in both houses of Congress.

Also on this day, Rio Gavin Ferdinand is born in Denmark Hill, South London. The centreback was typical of soccer players at East London club West Ham United: Hard-working, but not as good as the hype would have you believe. He helped them win their most recent trophy, the 1999 Intertoto Cup.

Then he became typical of players at Manchester United: Going to them for the money, and being a dirty player. He famously missed a drug test, and got suspended for it; ever since, he has been called a "cokehead" and an "addict," which probably isn't true. He was also grossly overrated, but his teammates' dirty play allowed him to win 6 Premier League titles, 3 League Cups and the 2008 UEFA Champions League -- but never the FA Cup, as United only won it once while he was with them, in 2004, while he was serving his drug suspension.

He played for England in the 1998, 2002 and 2006 World Cups, never getting closer than the Quarterfinals, typical of England's failed "Golden Generation." He's also had his driver's license suspended twice, once for drunk driving, once for repeated speeding offenses. He retired from laying in 2015, and is now a studio analyst. His brother Anton and his cousins Les and Kane all played professionally.

Also on this day, Johannes Vennegoor of Hesselink is born in Oldenzaal, the Netherlands. In this case, "of" doesn't mean "from," it's Dutch for "and." It's like if he were English, and his name were "John Gore-Hess." Instead, it's "Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink," and when he played with his name on the back, it was, in full, "VENNEGOOR OF HESSELINK."

The striker won the KNVB Beker (Dutch Cup) with Twente Enschede in 2001, and with PSV Eindhoven in 2005 and 2012. He won the Eredivisie (Dutch league) in 2003, 2005 and 2006. And he won the Scottish Premier League with Glasgow Celtic in 2007 (also the Scottish Cup, for a Double) and 2008. He played for the Netherlands in the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2008.

November 7, 1979: Michael W. Commodore is born in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. The defenseman debuted with the New Jersey Devils in 2001, but was traded before they could win the 2003 Stanley Cup. He did, however, win the Cup with the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes. He last played professionally in Russia in 2014, and famously feuded with Mike Babcock, his coach with the Detroit Red Wings.

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November 7, 1981: The Washington Capitals retire their 1st number, the 7 of Yvon Labre. They lose to the New York Rangers, 3-1 at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland.

November 7, 1983: Esmerling Vásquez is born in Tenares, Dominican Republic. He had a 5-12 record pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Minnesota Twins from 2009 to 2012.

November 7, 1984: Jonathan Rey Bornstein is born in the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance, California. The son of a Romanian Jewish father and a Mexican mother, he naturally became an American soccer player. A centreback, he played for Chivas USA in Los Angeles, before winning the Liga MX in Mexico with Monterrey club Tigres UANL and the Copa MX with Querétaro this year. He helped the U.S. team win the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and also played in the 2010 World Cup.

November 7, 1986, 30 years ago: East Brunswick High School defeats Cedar Ridge of Old Bridge, 28-0. I was a senior at EBHS in the 1986-87 schoolyear, and this was the one football game I missed that season. I was with my family in Central Florida. We went to Walt Disney World, Sea World, Cape Canaveral, and to visit relatives in the Tampa Bay area.

On this night, I called the sports department at The Central New Jersey Home News, as the New Brunswick paper was then known (prior to its 1995 merger with the Perth Amboy-based The News Tribune, making it The Home News Tribune), from my hotel room in Kissimmee. Sports editor Gene Haley, who I knew a bit (his son John now holds that post at the combined paper), and asked him for the result. He recognized my voice, and couldn't believe that I was calling for the result of a high school football game from 1,064 miles away.

In 1994, due to declining enrollment, Cedar Ridge was merged with the other Old Bridge school, Madison Central, to form a combined Old Bridge High School.

November 7, 1990: David de Gea Quintana is born in Madrid, Spain. The goalkeeper won the 2010 UEFA Europa League with Atlético Madrid, before being bought by Manchester United, with whom he has now won the 2013 Premier League and the 2016 FA Cup. Don't let anyone tell you he's "world-class," thought: Hit it anywhere but right at him, and he can't stop it.

He wasn't yet ready to play for the Spain teams that won Euro 2008 and 2012 or the 2010 World Cup, but he did play for them at the 2012 Olympics, the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 -- none of which they won. Typical Man United player: In international play, without English referees to fix things for them, they win nothing.

November 7, 1991, 25 years ago: Earvin "Magic" Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers stuns the world: He announces that he has contracted HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, through sex -- and he's heterosexual. Along with Ryan White, the teenage boy who fought the disease for himself and others, Magic changes the face of AIDS: No longer is it presumed to be a promiscuous gay man: It could be any of us, even a world-famous multi-millionaire athlete.

The announcement also makes fellow Los Angeles Laker legend Wilt Chamberlain's book, Wilt: A View From Above, containing a claim about 20,000 women, one of the most ill-timed books ever.

The next day, Magic appears on The Arsenio Hall Show, to further explain, because he doesn't want anyone else to have to go through what he's going through.

A few weeks later, Magic appears in an Ancient Egypt-themed scene in Michael Jackson's video "Remember the Time." Eddie Murphy plays the Pharoah. And Eddie's pal Arsenio says, "I hope Magic lives a long time, so, someday, we can go up to him, and say, 'Hey, Magic: Remember the Time?'" It wasn't the only way we dealt with it through laughter: People joked that Magic was the only man who had HIV and gained weight.

It is 25 years later. A lot of progress has been made in preventing and treating HIV and AIDS. And Magic Johnson is alive, one of the richest men in the world, and the owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Magic is alive... and Michael Jackson is dead. Not from AIDS.

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November 7, 2000: Vice President Al Gore wins the Presidential election, defeating Governor George W. Bush of Texas. Bush's brother, Governor John E. "Jeb" Bush of Florida, sees how close the vote is in his State, and tampers with the voting process, and that one State holds everything up for 5 weeks. When the U.S. Supreme Court finally rules on December 12 that the recounts must stop, and Bush be accepted as the winner, it is the ghastliest decision in the Court's history, aside from the Dred Scott decision that said black people weren't citizens (a decision remedied by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution).

Independent candidate Ralph Nader, the legendary consumer advocate who was appealing to leftists who felt betrayed by Bill and Hillary Clinton and Gore over the last 8 years, won 97,488 votes in Florida. Bush's final lead in Florida was 537 votes. Nader won 22,198 votes in New Hampshire, which Bush won (as far as we know, without cheating) by 7,211 votes. If Gore had won either State, he would have won, and it couldn't have been stolen. But Nader's voters wanted their "pure" candidate, and the result was the most under-Nader-like Administration ever.

So if you don't like Hillary Clinton, and you think she's too moderate, or a "neocon," and you're thinking of Jill Stein, consider what would happen if Stein costs Hillary even one State, and that makes Trump the winner. Do you really think Trump will be better on your issues than Hillary? Do you think it will have taught the Democrats a lesson for the next election? If Trump "wins" this time, what makes you think there will even be a next election? A vote for Jill Stein, or a vote for Gary Johnson, or a vote for anybody but Hillary Clinton is a vote for Donald Trump, and everything he represents -- which you, if you are a liberal, leftist or Progressive voter, should oppose.

Since the Democratic Convention, Hillary has been good enough for Bernie Sanders. If that's not good enough for you, then your support for Bernie was never about Bernie, and you deserve whichever candidate wins tomorrow night.

Or maybe it wasn't Nader's fault:


Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame Ralph Nader for Al Gore Losing the 2000 Presidential Election

5. Joe Lieberman. He was a terrible Vice Presidential nominee. He had no enthusiasm for either Gore or the Democratic campaign. And he let Dick Cheney walk all over him in their debate.

4. George W. Bush. There are many occasions on which he looked stupid. But he handled his campaign like a genius, even brushing aside the drunk-driving revelation as if it didn't matter, much like Donald Trump would do with his scandals 16 years later.

3. Al Gore. He ran a weak campaign. And he pushed Bill Clinton, the most popular living American politician, away, because he didn't want to be tarred with the "immorality" tag. It was a cowardly thing to do. One joint appearance in Miami, and, quite literally, it would have made all the difference in the world.

2. The Supreme Court. John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer were always going to vote to continue the recount, which was absolutely the moral thing to do, regardless of who it would have helped; and almost certainly would have helped Gore. William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas were always going to vote to stop the recount, thus absolutely helping Bush.

So while the Democrats needed either Sandra Day O'Connor or Anthony Kennedy to break with the Republican Party, whose President Ronald Reagan appointed them, the Republicans needed both of them to stay loyal. They stayed loyal. So over 100 million Americans – Bush's voters, as well as Gore's – essentially had their votes canceled by 2: O'Connor and Kennedy.


1. The Bush Machine. Jeb Bush, Katherine Harris, Tom DeLay… They could have accepted the truth, which is that Gore won Florida, despite Bush and Harris having purged 55,000 people from the State's voter rolls, nearly all of them black men who'd been convicted of crimes, all of whom should still have legally had the right to vote. Instead, they needed to steal it, culminating in the Brooks Brothers Riot.

If not for that, there would now be a Gore Presidential Library in Carthage, Tennessee; Dubya would have gone back to Midland and had as much to drink as he wanted, and nobody outside his family would have cared; the World Trade Center would still stand; and if Iraq were in chaos after Saddam Hussein's overthrow by rebels, or after his natural death, it would be something that America would need to watch, but not something that America caused.

November 7, 2006, 10 years ago: Johnny Sain dies in the Chicago suburb of Downers Grove, Illinois. He was 89. A 3-time All-Star pitcher who won 139 games, he won the Pennant with the Boston Braves in 1948, and the World Series with the Yankees in 1951, '52, and '53. He may have been the greatest pitching coach ever, winning Pennants with the Yankees in 1961, '62 and '63; the Minnesota Twins in 1965; and the Detroit Tigers in 1968.

November 7, 2011: Joe Frazier dies of liver cancer in his adopted hometown of Philadelphia. The 1964 Olympic Gold Medalist boxer, Heavyweight Champion of the World from 1968 to 1973, was 67. It appears that he and his arch-rival, Muhammad Ali, had patched things up by the time he died.

November 7, 2012: Darrell Royal dies in Austin, Texas, from complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 88. A quarterback at the University of Oklahoma, he turned their arch-rivals, the University of Texas, into one of the great college football programs, using the wishbone formation to win 11 Southwest Conference titles from 1959 to 1975, and the National Championship in 1963, 1969 and 1970.

Also on this day, Carmen Basilio dies in Rochester, New York. He was 85. Welterweight Champion of the World in 1955-56 and again in 1956-57, and Middleweight Champion in 1957-58, the Marine Corps veteran famously stood up to the Mob men who controlled boxing in New York and Chicago in the 1950s.

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