Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

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

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

Byung-Hyun Kim, a “submarine” style pitcher from Korea, tries to close the Yankees out. But Paul O'Neill singles, and, after Bernie Williams strikes out, Tino Martinez comes to the plate as the Yankees' final hope. Tino electrifies the crowd by slamming a drive toward the upper deck. On the video, a fan in the front row of the Bleachers tries to catch the ball, but it bounces off his hand. Now, imagine you’re that fan: Are you excited that the Yankees have come back in this World Series game, or are you mad that you were unable to catch this historic homer (and probably hurt your hand in the process)?

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

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

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


October 31, 1864, 150 years ago: Nevada is admitted to the Union as the 36th State. President Abraham Lincoln wanted its silver revenues to win the American Civil War. Turns out, he didn't need them.

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

October 31, 1887: Édouard Cyrille Lalonde is born in Cornwall, the easternmost city in Ontario, bordering Quebec. “Newsy” (from working in a newspaper plant) was one of early hockey’s greatest stars, winning 7 scoring titles and Captaining the Montreal Canadiens to their first Stanley Cup in 1916.
On December 29, 1917, in the 1st-ever NHL game, he scored a goal on route to the Canadiens’ 7-4 victory over the Ottawa Senators. In 1922, the Canadiens angered him and a lot of their fans by trading him to the Pacific Coast Hockey Association’s Saskatoon Sheiks, but the Habs got future Hall-of-Famer Aurel Joliat in the deal. From his retirement in 1927 until Maurice Richard surpassed him in 1954, his 455 combined goals in all leagues in which he played stood as a pro record.
He was also the best lacrosse player of his era, and in 1950, he was named athlete of the half-century in lacrosse. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1950, the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1965, and the Sports Hall of Fame of Canada. He had lit the torch when the Sports Hall of Fame opened in Toronto in August, 1955. He lived to see all of these achievements, living until 1970.
In 1998, 72 years after he played his last NHL game, he was ranked number 32 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players, making him the highest-ranking player on the list who had played in a professional league before the founding of the NHL. He was the first Canadiens player to wear Number 4, and Joliat got it after the trade, but it was retired for later star Jean Beliveau.
October 31, 1891: The University of Kansas and the University of Missouri play each other in football for the 1st time, and Kansas wins, 22-10. This becomes the most-played college football rivalry west of the Mississippi River.

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

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

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


October 31, 1900: Ban Johnson, founder and President of the American League, writes a letter to National League President Nick Young. In it, he offers a deal for peaceful coexistence: Accept the AL as a "major league," and it won't pursue NL players. This was possible because the NL had contracted from 12 to 8 teams for the 1900 season. Johnson was willing to let his 8 teams (totaling 16) leave the NL teams alone and respect their contracts.

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

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

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

October 31, 1942: David Arthur McNally is born in Billings, Montana.  Dave McNally pitched a complete game to clinch the 1966 World Series for the Baltimore Orioles, and won another game and hit a grand slam in it to help them win it in 1970. His career won-lost record was a sterling 184-119.

But he’s best known as one of the two pitchers, along with Andy Messersmith, who played the 1975 season without a contract to test the legality of the reserve clause. McNally, by then with the Montreal Expos, had been injured, had a successful ranch in his native Montana, and was ready to retire anyway, so he was an ideal player to make the test, since he didn’t need the money. The clause was overturned.
McNally retired to his ranch and a car dealership, and wrote a memoir, A Whole Different Ball Game. He died of cancer in 2002.

Also on this day, David Ogden Stiers is born in Peoria, Illinois. Best known as Major Charles Emerson Winchester III, the pompous but sometimes surprisingly human surgeon on M*A*S*H, he has spent much of the last few years doing voiceovers for PBS documentaries – in his real voice, not in Charles’ Boston Brahmin accent. I still can't believe "Chahles" wore a Brooklyn Dodger cap in one episode.

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

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

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

October 31, 1946: Stephen Rea is born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He starred in The Crying Game and was nominated for an Oscar for it. He’s best known in the U.S. as Inspector Eric Finch, a good guy who figures out, to his horror, that he’s really working for the bad guys, in V for Vendetta. It was because of that film that he was the only actor besides Colin Firth that I recognized from the original, British soccer, version of Fever Pitch.

October 31, 1947: Frank Charles Shorter is born in Munich, Germany, where his father was serving with the U.S. Army. He grew up in Middletown, Orange County, New York, won the Olympic marathon in 1972, and finished second in 1976. Thanks to his ’72 win, the Boston Marathon was reborn as an event the whole country wanted to watch, and the New York City Marathon, which started the year before, took off.
Along with Jim Fixx and his Jim Fixx's Book of Running, Shorter is probably more responsible than anyone for the rise of recreational running in America. I leave it to you to decide whether that’s a good thing.
October 31, 1950: John Franklin Candy is born in Newmarket, Ontario, outside Toronto. In the closing minutes of Super Bowl XXIII, when the Cincinnati Bengals had just scored to take the lead, the San Francisco 49ers were nervous, when quarterback Joe Montana pointed out of the huddle to the stands and said, “Isn’t that John Candy?” The question relaxed the players, and Montana drove them for the winning touchdown.

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

Also on this day, Margaret Jane Pauley is born in Indianapolis. Dropping her first name, she was the longtime co-host of The Today Show on NBC, and is married to Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau.

October 31, 1951: Nicholas Lou Saban Jr. is born in Fairmont, West Virginia. The son of legendary football coach Lou Saban, Nick hasn’t yet moved around to as many coaching jobs, but he has moved around with considerably less ethics than his father.
He did, however, lead Louisiana State to the 2003 National Championship, and Alabama to the 2009 and 2011 editions. He and Bear Bryant, with Kentucky and Alabama, are the only coaches to win SEC Championships at 2 different schools.

October 31, 1953: John Harding Lucas II is born in Durham, North Carolina. He played both basketball and tennis professionally, and was a member of the Houston Rockets’ 1986 NBA Western Conference Champions. His overcoming of drug addiction led him to become an NBA head coach and an addiction counselor. He is currently an assistant coach under Mike Dunleavy of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Like Dunleavy, he has a namesake son who played in the NBA, John Lucas III, who, unlike his father whose 1974 Maryland team was prevented under the rules of the time from playing in the NCAA Tournament due to its loss in the ACC Final, went to the 2004 Final Four with Oklahoma State. John III played in the NBA with the Rockets, played last season with the Utah Jazz, was just waived by the Washington Wizards without playing a game for them, and is currently a free agent. Another son, Jai Lucas, is now an assistant coach at his alma mater, the University of Texas.

October 31, 1959: Mats Torsten Näslund is born in Timra, Sweden. The 5-foot-7 left wing was known as Le Petit Viking (the Little Viking) when he played for the Canadiens, a tenure that included the 1986 Stanley Cup, in which he became the most recent Canadien to score 100 or more points in a season. He helped Sweden win the 1994 Olympic Gold Medal, and as general manager of the team he built their 2006 Gold Medal team.

October 31, 1960: Michael Anthony Gallego is born in Whittier, California. Mike Gallego was the starting 2nd baseman on the Oakland Athletics’ 3 straight Pennants of 1988-90. In 1993, he was voted the 2nd baseman on their 25th Anniversary team (25 years since they’d moved to Oakland). He briefly played for the Yankees in the early 1990s, and is now back with the A’s as their 3rd base coach.

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

He now lives in Potomac, Maryland, outside Washington. He is the founder and leader of the Iran National Council, a government-in-exile, having gotten a degree in political science from the University of Southern California. Unlike his father, who ran a brutally repressive, unofficially fascist regime, he has been an outspoken supporter of human rights, saying that in order to bring freedom to his homeland, “Idealism and realism, behavior change and regime change do not require different policies but the same: empowering the Iranian people.”
On his website, he calls for a separation of religion and state in Iran and for free and fair elections "for all freedom-loving individuals and political ideologies." A follower of Shia Islam, he has stated that he believes that religion has a humanizing and ethical role in shaping individual character and infusing society with greater purpose.
His supporters have referred to him as “His Imperial Majesty Reza Shah II” since his father’s death on July 27, 1980, but he officially calls himself “the former Crown Prince,” and admits he has no realistic hope of the monarchy being restored, even when the Ayatollahs are finally and rightfully toppled. Although he has been married for 28 years, he has no children, and a cousin is next in line to the throne.

October 31, 1961: A federal judge rules that laws in the city of Birmingham‚ Alabama against integrated playing fields are illegal‚ eliminating the last barrier against integration in the Class AA Southern Association. Rather than allow black players, the SA team owners vote to shut the league down.
In 1964, the original South Atlantic League (a.k.a. the SAL or "Sally League") filled the void, renaming itself the Southern League, and allowed integration. The Western Carolinas League became the new South Atlantic League. Charlie Finley, a Birmingham native who, by this point, owned the Kansas City Athletics, put a new team in Birmingham's historic Rickwood Field, and named them the Birmingham A's. Many of the players who became part of the "Swingin' A's" dynasty of the early 1970s played in Birmingham, including Reggie Jackson, who says it was his first exposure to full-scale racism. The A's won the Pennant in 1967, but, by that time, Reggie had been promoted to the big-league club, which moved to Oakland the next season
In 1976, the A's contract with Birmingham ran out, and baseball did not return to Rickwood Field until 1981, when the Detroit Tigers brought a team in, and brought back the Barons name.
Built in 1910, Rickwood is the oldest standing baseball stadium in the world, and still hosts games, including annual "throwback" games by the Barons and Negro League reenactors. Because of its old-time architecture, the films Cobb, Soul of the Game and 42 have all used it (the last of those using it as the CGI-aided base for all the 1947 National League parks, including Ebbets Field).
The Barons moved into suburban Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in 1988. While it still hosts the SEC baseball tournament, the Barons moved again in 2013, to Regions Field downtown. They have won 13 Pennants: In the old Southern League in 1906, 1912, 1914, 1928, 1929, 1931 and 1958; in the new Southern League as the A's in 1967, and in 1983, 1987, 1993, 2002 and 2013. The Birmingham Black Barons, who also played at Rickwood, won Negro League Pennants in 1942 and 1948, the latter with a 17-year-old kid from the neighboring town of Fairfield, named Willie Mays.

October 31, 1963: Fredrick Stanley McGriff is born in Tampa. In 1982, the Yankees traded 1st baseman Fred McGriff, young pitcher Mike Morgan and outfielder Dave Collins to the Toronto Blue Jays for pitcher Dale Murray and 3rd baseman Tom Dodd. Dodd did play 1 year in the majors, but for Baltimore, and is not the man for whom the ballpark belonging to the Norwich Navigators, a former Yankee farm team, is named. (That was Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut, whose son Chris Dodd also served in the Senate.) Murray got hurt and never contributed to the Yankees, either. Collins was pretty much finished.

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

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

McGriff was involved in some other big trades: The Jays traded him to the San Diego Padres in 1990, a trade which brought them Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar, key figures in their 1992 and ’93 World Champions; and the Padres sent him to the Atlanta Braves as part of their 1993 “fire sale,” a pure “salary dump.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dunga was a member of Brazil’s 1994 World Cup winners, but bombed as manager of the national team at the 2010 World Cup. Then he flopped as manager of Internacional. But when Brazil was slaughtered by Germany in the Semifinal of this year's World Cup, on home soil, the CBF (the Brazilian answer to the USSF or England's FA) hired him back. He is 3-0 since, having beaten fellow South Americans Colombia, Ecuador, and arch-rival Argentina.


October 31, 1964, 50 years ago: Marcel van Basten is born in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Better known as Marco van Basten, the striker starred for Ajax Amsterdam, winning League Championships in 1982, ’83 and ’85 and the Dutch Cup in ’83, ’86 and ’87 – meaning they won “The Double” in 1983. He moved on to AC Milan in Italy, winning Serie A in 1988, ’92 and ’93, and back-to-back European Cups (now the Champions League) in 1989 and ’90. He led the Netherlands to the European Championship in 1988.

Despite an ankle injury that essentially ended his career at age 28, 3 times he was named European Player of the Year, and the magazine France Football placed him 8th in a poll of the Football Players of the Century. He has managed both Ajax and the Netherlands national team. He is now the assistant manager of Dutch top-flight club AZ Alkmaar.
October 31, 1966: Michael Edward O’Malley is born in Boston. Mike, a comedian and actor, formerly star of Yes, Dear, is a tremendous Boston Red Sox fan. But he’s funny, so I forgive him.

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

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


October 31, 1970: Stephen Christopher Trachsel is born in Oxnard, California. In 1996, the Chicago Cubs pitcher was named to the All-Star Team. On September 8, 1998, Steve gave up Mark McGwire’s steroid-aided 62nd home run.  But just 20 days later, he was the winning pitcher for the Cubs over the San Francisco Giants in the Playoff for the NL Wild Card berth. Since the Cubs only made the Playoffs 4 times in the 61 seasons between 1946 and 2006, this makes him a Wrigleyville hero for all time.

He also pitched for the Mets, winning the NL East with them in 2006. He last pitched for the Baltimore Orioles in 2008, and now lives outside San Diego.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

An NFL Films documentary from 1977 showed Halas walking through the Bears’ practice facility at Lake Forest, Illinois (the main building is now named Halas Hall), and announcer John Facenda said it was “like visiting Mount Vernon and seeing George Washington still surveying the grounds.” The NFC Championship Trophy is named for him, and, after his death, the Bears put the initials GSH for George Stanley Halas on their left sleeves. Unique among NFL teams, they have retained this tribute to their founder on their uniforms. (Even the Pittsburgh Steelers didn't keep Art Rooney's initials on a patch for more than one season.)

He had planned to hand the team over to his son George Jr., but “Mugs” predeceased him in 1979. His daughter Virginia handed control to her husband, Ed McCaskey. Unfortunately, Big Ed handed a lot of control over to his and Virginia’s son, George’s grandson, Mike McCaskey, who ran the franchise into the ground before Big Ed took it back and handed it over to another son, George Halas McCaskey. Big Ed has since died, but Virginia is still alive, and is the sole owner of Da Bears. At 93, she is, as was her father before her, the oldest owner in the NFL.

October 31, 1987: Nicholas Foligno is born in Buffalo, New York, where his father Mike was an All-Star right-winger for the Sabres. Nick, a center, now plays for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Brother Marcus is now a left wing for the Sabres.

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

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


October 31, 2002: The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association votes 9-6 to prohibit the use of metal bats in the state high school tournament in 2003. Twenty-five of 40 leagues will switch to wood for the regular season. The State is the 1st to outlaw metal bats. In this particular case, Massachusetts is ahead of the curve in baseball.
October 31, 2004, 10 years ago: The Minnesota Timberwolves offer Latrell Sprewell a 3-year, $21 million contract extension, substantially less than what his then-current contract paid him. Claiming to feel insulted by the offer, he publicly expressed outrage, declaring, "I have a family to feed ... If Glen Taylor wants to see my family fed, he better cough up some money. Otherwise, you're going to see these kids in one of those Sally Struthers commercials soon."

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

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

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

Things would soon get worse for the NBA as this new season dawned: The Malice at the Palace was coming, and the Finals would be played by, perhaps, the last 2 teams that Commissioner David Stern wanted in them: The defending champions and Malice participants, the Detroit Pistons; and the San Antonio Spurs, whose Tim Duncan may be the most boring superstar in American sports history. Detroit and San Antonio: 2 “small markets” who did very little to boost TV ratings, although the Finals, won by the Spurs, was very well-played. Gee, maybe Stern didn’t fix as many titles as we thought he did.

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

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

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

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

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

How Long It's Been: The New Jersey Devils Won a Shootout

The New Jersey Devils have won a regular-season NHL game in a shootout.

Would a "Hell freezes over" joke be appropriate? It's my blog, so I'm saying it is.

The Devils trailed the Winnipeg Jets 1-0 at the Prudential Center in Newark last night, when Michael Ryder forced home the equalizer with 3:27 left in regulation. There was no overtime winner for either side, so it went to a shootout.

Damien Brunner went first for the Devils, and was stopped by Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec. But Cory Schneider, finally living up to the mantle of Martin Brodeur, stopped Blake Wheeler to keep the shootout level. Jacob Josefson put one through to give the Devils the edge, and then Schneider stopped Andrew Ladd. Patrik Elias could have clinched it, but couldn't. So it was up to Schneider to stop Bryan Little. He didn't have to: Little shot wide of the net. You might even say Little came up small.

(Yes, you might say that, if you were a wiseass like me.)

A "crowd" of 12,837 erupted, because they knew that the Devils winning was a big deal, and that the Devils winning a game by shutout was a huge deal.

The Devils had lost 18 straight games that had gone to a shootout. It was an NHL record. This included all 13 that they had played in the entirety of last season. The last such win was on March 10, 2013, also against the Winnipeg Jets at the Prudential Center.

March 10, 2013. That was 1 year, 7 months and 20 days earlier -- or, if you prefer, 599 days. How long has that been?


This was also a shootout in which the Devils got only 1 goal -- unlike last night, Patrik Elias came through. It was also a shootout in which the Devils' goalie stopped all 3 Winnipeg shots. But it wasn't Cory Schneider, who wasn't even on the Devils yet. And it wasn't Martin Brodeur, who had a sore back. It was the Moose, Johan Hedberg.

Ryan Carter and Stephen Gionta scored the regulation goals for the Devils. Missing shootout shots were Ilya Kovalchuk and David Clarkson. Kovy, Clarky and Carter are all now playing for other teams.

The defending World Champions were the Los Angeles Kings (as is the case now), the San Francisco Giants (as is the case now), the Miami Heat (which was almost the case now) and the Baltimore Ravens.

At the time, Ravens running back Ray Rice was considered a hero. So was Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. The New York Rangers hadn't been to the Stanley Cup Finals since 1994. The Seattle Seahawks had never won a Super Bowl. The Boston Red Sox hadn't clinched a World Series win at home since 1918.

John Tortorella was the head coach of the New York Rangers, Mike Woodson that of the New York Knicks, and Jason Kidd that of the Brooklyn Nets. The San Francisco 49ers were playing home games at Candlestick Park. The idea of LeBron James ever playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers again was laughable.

All of those facts have now changed.

New Jersey had not won the Stanley Cup since 2003, and no team from the city of Winnipeg had won it since 1902. That's right: Nineteen aught two. Neither of those facts has changed.

The Olympic Games have since been held in Russia, and the World Cup in Brazil. The President of the United States (Barack Obama), the Governor of New Jersey (Chris Christie) and the Governor of New York (Andrew Cuomo) have not changed, but the Mayor of New York City has: It was Michael Bloomberg, and it is now Bill de Blasio. There was no Pope, as Benedict XVI had abdicated. Three days later, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected, and took the name Pope Francis.

The last survivor of the 1934 fire aboard the SS Morro Castle, Jerry Edgerton, was still alive. So was David Stoliar, the last survivor of the 1942 torpedoing of the refugee ship MV Struma. So was Theodore Van Kirk, the last surviving crewmember of the Enola Gay.

So were writers Richard Matheson, Elmore Leonard, Doris Lessing, Amiri Baraka, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Frederik Pohl, Nadine Gordimer, Tom Clancy and Maya Angelou.

So were film director Paul Mazursky; special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen; movie theater sound genius Ray Dolby; actors Cory Monteith, Dennis Farina, Paul Walker, James Avery, Maximilian Schell, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Harold Ramis, Bob Hoskins, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Eli Wallach, Rik Mayall, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Richard Kiel, Peter O'Toole, Mickey Rooney, Sid Caesar and Robin Williams; and actresses Jean Stapleton, Esther Williams, Eileen Brennan, Karen Black, Julie Harris, Ruby Dee, Elaine Stritch, Polly Bergen, Jan Hooks, Joan Rivers, Lauren Bacall and Shirley Temple.

So were musical personalities Ray Manzarek, Bobby "Blue" Bland, JJ Cale, Eydie Gorme, Ray Price, Bobby Womack, Tommy Ramone, Johnny Winter, Jack Bruce, Lou Reed and Pete Seeger. So were disc jockeys Casey Kasem and Frankie Knuckles.

So were journalists Helen Thomas and David Frost. So were astronaut Scott Carpenter, Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs, AK-47 designer Mikhail Kalashnikov,  and fashion designer Oscar de la Renta.

So were Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap, Polish dictator Wojciech Jaruzelski, Haitian dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, Republic of Georgia President Eduard Shevardnadze, Northern Irish statesman (and homophobic anti-Catholic bigot and minister) Ian Paisley, Australian Prime Minister Edward Gough Whitlam, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and South African President Nelson Mandela.

So were NFL owners Malcolm Glazer, Bud Adams, Ralph Wilson and William Clay Ford, and NBA owner Jerry Buss. So were football legends Clarence "Ace" Parker, Frank Tripucka, Pat Summerall, Art Donovan, Deacon Jones, Chuck Fairbanks and L.C. Greenwood.

So were baseball legends Ralph Kiner, Jerry Coleman, Don Zimmer, Frank Cashen and Tony Gwynn. So were basketball legends Bill Sharman, Bob Kurland, Vern Mikkelsen, Tom Gola, Dr. Jack Ramsay, Sam Lacey, Lou Hudson, Walt Bellamy and Sergei Belov.

So were soccer legends Bert Trautmann, Djalma Santos, Nilton Santos, Bill Foulkes, Tom Finney, Alfredo di Stefano and Eusebio. So were boxing champions Emile Griffith and Ken Norton, and boxing challenger turned convict turned civil rights activist Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. So was professional wrestler James Hellwig, a.k.a. "the Ultimate Warrior."

So were 4 New Jerseyans who mattered: Sportscaster Bill Campbell, Senator Frank Lautenberg, Sopranos star James Gandolfini, and my father.

All of those people were still alive the last time the Devils won a shootout. Now, none of those people is.

The TV shows Hannibal, Da Vinci's Demons, Mistresses, The Fosters, Graceland, Devious Maids, Ray Donovan, Drunk History, Orange Is the New Black, Sleepy Hollow, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Blacklist, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Goldbergs, Trophy Wife, Masters of Sex, Reign, Ravenswood, Almost Human, Bitten, Wahlburgers, Resurrection, Turn: Washington's Spies, Fargo, Gang Related, Crossbones, The Last Ship, You're the Worst, The Mysteries of Laura, Madam Secretary, Forever, Black-ish, How to Get Away With Murder, Selfie, Jane the Virgin, The McCarthys, NCIS: New Orleans, The Flash, Gotham and Girl Meets World have since premiered.

Fringe, Private Practice, Attack of the Show!, 30 Rock, CSI: NY, Southland, Happy Endings, Vegas, the new 90210, The Office, The Cleveland Show, The Big C, Body of Proof, Merlin, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Army Wives, Futurama, Judge Joe Brown, Burn Notice, What Not to Wear, Nikita, Dexter and Breaking Bad all aired their last first-run episodes.

Jay Leno retired as host of The Tonight Show (no, no, really, he means it this time), Jimmy Fallon took his place, and Seth Meyers took Fallon's place on Late Night. A new edition of Cosmos aired. Game of Thrones aired "The Red Wedding," and then gave Joffrey and Tywin what they deserved.

The Number 1 song in America was "Harlem Shake," by Harry Bauer Rodrigues, who records under the name Baauer -- and while he has lived in Harlem, he sure didn't grow up there. (Philadelphia.)

In the late Winter of 2013, Russia annexed the Crimea from Ukraine. Rebel forces took the Central African Republic. The European Union economically bailed out Cyprus. And 2 Chechen brothers set off bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Van Cliburn, and Hugo Chavez, and Margaret Thatcher died. Sebastian Taylor Tomaz (son of Wiz Khlaifa & Amber Rose), and Margaret Lawrence Hager (1st grandchild of George W. Bush), and North West were born. (Prince George of Cambridge came along a little later.)

March 10, 2013. The New Jersey Devils won a regular-season (not an exhibition) NHL game through a shootout. It seemed like it would never happen again.

Now, it has. Maybe this is the turnaround that the Devils are looking for, and it will send them onward to the Playoffs. And then, who knows... a 4th Stanley Cup, tying the Rangers and the Islanders, and doubling the Flyers?

Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

October 30, 1974: 40 Years Since the Rumble In the Jungle

October 30, 1974, 40 years ago: "The Rumble in the Jungle" is held in Kinshasa, in the former colony of Belgain Congo, at this point called Zaire, and since 1997 called the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

George Foreman was the undefeated Heavyweight Champion of the World, and heavily favored to defeat former champion Muhammad 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 tell an interviewer that, at the end of the 6th, Ali yelled at him, "Is that all you got, George?" And Foreman 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!

At age 72, he still is.


October 30, 1871: The final championship match of the season takes place on the Union Grounds in Brooklyn, between the Athletics and the Chicago White Stockings. 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 October 8 fire‚ 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.

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 first 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.

October 30, 1896: 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).


October 30, 1916: 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 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 one 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.

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 ‘60s, 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 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, 1941: 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 them 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 50 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 is currently battling prostate cancer himself, but 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!”

October 30, 1956: 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 two 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.


October 30, 1960: Diego Armando Maradona 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 Aguero, the Argentine striker whose last-minute-of-the-season goal won the 2012 Premier League title for Manchester City. They have a 5-year-old son, Benjamin. However, they have separated. And, this week, Maradona was caught on tape hitting his current girlfriend. "El Diez" has been treated like a god for 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 helped lead the San Francisco Giants to the National League Pennant in 1989. 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, 1964, 50 years ago: 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 that season's eventual American Football League Champions, the Buffalo Bills, it became a hangout for Bills fans.

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 and, improvising, 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 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 Terressa 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.
 October 30, 1967: Arthur Allyn, owner of the White Sox, announces that they will play 9 "home" games at Milwaukee County Stadium in 1968. They will become the first 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 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. In 1972, and again in 1975, they nearly moved. Then Bill Veeck came back and both 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.


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 TO CITY: DROP DEAD.” 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 to the Democratic nominee, former Governor Jimmy Carter of Georgia.

In addition, a lot of people in New York City 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. 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.” 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.


October 30, 1982: Andy Greene is born in the Detroit suburb of Trenton, Michigan. He is a defenseman for the New Jersey Devils. Not a very good one.

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 the ethnic and linguistic French for most of the 20th Century – 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, 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 pitch. 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, 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.

October 30, 2005: Al Lopez, not only the oldest living member of the Baseball Hall of Fame but 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 this past season by Ivan Rodriguez, if you cant count anything that steroid user does as legitimate.)

From 1949 to 1964 ,he 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 win their first 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 Lopez 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 Lopez 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.

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, 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 first 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.