Monday, October 24, 2016

Rethinking the All-Century Team

Top row, left to right: Johnny Bench, Willie Mays, Stan Musial.
Middle row: Mike Schmidt, Brooks Robinson,
Ken Griffey Jr., Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan.
Bottom row: Bob Gibson, Yogi Berra, Cal Ripken, Warren Spahn,
then-Commissioner Bud Selig, Roger Clemens and Hank Aaron.

October 24, 1999: The Yankees beat the Braves, 7-2 at Turner Field, behind the pitching of David Cone and 3 hits from Bernie Williams, and take a 2 games to 0 lead in the World Series.

Before the game, the winners in the fan balloting for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team are introduced. With some older players overlooked by young fans, some "wild cards" were added by a "select panel."

* Cy Young, several teams, 1890-1911. Died 1955.
Christy Mathewson, New York Giants, 1900-16. Died 1925. Added by panel.
Walter Johnson, Washington Senators, 1907-27. Died 1946.
Robert "Lefty" Grove, Philadelphia Athletics and Boston Red Sox, 1925-41. Died 1975. Added by panel.
* Warren Spahn, Boston/Milwaukee Braves, 1942-65. On hand, threw out the first ball before Game 1, even though he never pitched for the Braves in Atlanta. Died 2003. Added by panel.
* Sandy Koufax, Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, 1955-66. On hand, making a rare public appearance. Joked that Spahn had to be added to the All-Century Team, "because he pitched for most of the century." Still alive.
* Bob Gibson, St. Louis Cardinals, 1959-75. On hand. Still alive.
* Nolan Ryan, best years with the California Angels and Houston Astros, 1966-93. On hand. Still alive.
* Roger Clemens, best years with the Boston Red Sox, then still active with the Yankees, and would start and win Game 4. 1986-2007. On hand. Still alive.

* Lawrence "Yogi" Berra, Yankees, 1946-63. On hand. Died 2015.
* Johnny Bench, Cincinnati Reds, 1967-83. On hand. Still alive.

1st Basemen
* Lou Gehrig, Yankees, 1923-39. Died 1941.
* Mark McGwire, Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals, 1986-2001. On hand. Then still active. 1986-2001. Still alive.

2nd Basemen
* Rogers Hornsby, best years with the St. Louis Cardinals, 1917-37. Died 1963.
* Jackie Robinson, Brooklyn Dodgers, 1947-56. Died 1972. Joe Morgan, one of the finalists on the ballot, was part of the NBC broadcasting crew for this Series, and said that if he were one of the 2nd basemen chosen, and Robinson was not, he would forfeit his place to Robinson. Morgan finished 3rd in the 2B voting, so it wasn't necessary.

* John "Honus" Wagner, Pittsburgh Pirates, 1897-1917. Died 1936. Added by panel.
* Ernie Banks, Chicago Cubs, 1953-71. On hand. Died 2015.
* Cal Ripken Jr., Baltimore Orioles, 1981-2001. On hand. Still alive.

3rd Basemen
* Brooks Robinson, Baltimore Orioles, 1955-77. On hand. Still alive.
* Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia Phillies, 1972-89. On hand. Still alive.

* Ty Cobb, Detroit Tigers, 1905-28. Died 1961.
* Babe Ruth, Yankees, 1914-35. Died 1948.
* Joe DiMaggio, Yankees, 1936-51. Died earlier in 1999.

* Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox, 1939-60. On hand despite already being ill, and it turned out to be his last appearance in a big-league ballpark, following his emotional appearance at that season's All-Star Game at Fenway Park in Boston, his former home field. As he did on that occasion, he tipped his cap to the fans. Died 2002.
* Stan Musial, St. Louis Cardinals, 1941-63. On hand. Died 2013. Added by panel.
* Mickey Mantle, Yankees, 1951-68. Died 1995.
* Willie Mays, New York/San Francisco Giants, 1951-73. On hand. Still alive.
* Hank Aaron, Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves, 1954-76. On hand, and threw out the first ball. Still alive.
* Pete Rose, Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies, 1963-86. Probably better known as a 3rd baseman or a 1st baseman. On hand, despite having been banned for baseball for life, for betting on baseball games while a manager. Still alive.
* Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds, 1989-2010. On hand. Still alive.

With the steroid accusations against Clemens and McGwire, the ban on Rose, and the "kid vote" for Griffey in mind, the next-highest vote getters at the positions in question were Greg Maddux (who was on hand as an active Brave) for Clemens' spot, Jimmie Foxx (who died in 1967) for McGwire's, and Roberto Clemente (who died in 1972) for Griffey's and Shoeless Joe Jackson (who died in 1951) for, ironically, Rose's. So if Jackson, also banned permanently for gambling-related offenses, is also removed, the next-highest outfielder was Reggie Jackson (who was on hand, being a Yankee front-office man).

Which picks were right, and which were wrong? Presuming we keep the same numbers at each position...

Cy Young is a difficult case, since, like Griffey 100 years later, a turn of the Century happened right in the middle of his career. Yes, he was great from 1900 to 1911 (especially from 1900 to 1908), but was that, alone, enough to put him on this list? I don't think so. Replacement: Bob Feller, Cleveland Indians, 1936-56, then still alive, died 2010.

Clemens is a question mark, and not just because 2000 to 2005, some of his best work, came after the turn of the Century. Was he a steroid user? He is, so far, the only one to challenge the charges in court and beat the rap. (Barry Bonds challenged them, and lost.) But that doesn't mean he was innocent. The fact that his numbers are in question, and that we have to cut them off with the end of the 1999 season regardless, means he should be removed. Replacement: Whitey Ford, Yankees, 1950-67, then as now still alive.

Why not Negro League legend Satchel Paige? Because we don't have reliable numbers for what he would have done against major league pitching for a full career. The best Negro League players would have starred in the majors. We know that. We saw that with guys like Robinson, Mays and Aaron. But the average Negro League player would not have made the majors. This is also true of Japan's two top-level leagues, which is why Sadaharu Oh wasn't nominated, although Paige, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Cool Papa Bell and Oscar Charleston were among the 100 finalists for this team.

Why not Tom Seaver? As good as he was, for as long as he was, he didn't have Feller's dominance, or Ford's postseason resume. Indeed, the 1 game the Mets lost in the 1969 World Series, he lost it.

Having McGwire as one of the 1st basemen is a joke. Yes, he hit a lot of home runs. Yes, he was a good defensive 1st baseman early in his career, if not later. But Harmon Killebrew wasn't considered, and he was exactly the same kind of player, without the steroids. Replacement: Eddie Murray, Baltimore Orioles, 1977-97. A member of the 500 Home Run and 3,000 Hit Clubs, and 3 Gold Gloves.

At 2nd base, I thought about taking Hornsby off for Eddie Collins, as Collins was also a great baserunner and a great defensive 2nd baseman, and (something Hornsby fell a little short of) a member of the 3,000 Hit Club. But Hornsby did show some of what he could do in the post-1920 Lively Ball Era, whereas Collins, who played until 1930, really didn't. I don't think I could convince very many people, even those who know their history, to replace Hornsby for Collins.

I can't make Derek Jeter one of the shortstops, nor Mariano Rivera one of the pitchers, because their best work came after the dawn of the 21st Century. It's the best players of the 20th Century, not the best players who played in the 20th Century.

At 3rd base, you could make a case for Eddie Mathews (512 home runs), George Brett (3,154 hits) or Wade Boggs (a .328 lifetime batting average and 3,010 hits). But who do you take off: Brooks, a 16-time Gold Glove who had 2,848 hits; or Schmitty, a 10-time Gold Glove who had 548 home runs?

I don't care how many hits Rose had, he doesn't belong. He had a .303 lifetime batting average, less than many of the members of the 3,000 Hit Club. He hit 160 home runs, fewer than any nonpitcher on this team except Robinson, Wagner and Cobb -- and Robinson only played 10 seasons, while Wagner and Cobb played in the Dead Ball Era. And the reason Rose was named an All-Star at 5 different positions (2nd base, right field, left field, 3rd base and 1st base) was that he wasn't any good at any of them. So his removal from my "All-Century Team" has nothing to do with his crime as a manager, or his personality. Replacement: Frank Robinson, Cincinnati Reds and Baltimore Orioles, 1956-76. Then as now, still alive.

Griffey, in spite of his injuries, had a great career with big numbers. But counting only what he did until the end of the 1999 season, his place on this Team cannot be justified. Again: It's the best players of the 20th Century, not the best players who played in the 20th Century. Replacement: Roberto Clemente, Pittsburgh Pirates, 1955-72. Died in a plane crash after the 1972 season.

Why not Tris Speaker? .345 batting average, 3,515 hits, an all-time record 792 doubles, great defensive center fielder? Because, now that Rose and Griffey are off, I can't justify taking off any other player, and I don't think he was a better all-around player than Frank or Roberto.

For the same reason, not Carl Yastrzemski. His greatness cannot be questioned, but who could you really take off for Yaz? Or for Duke Snider, or for Lou Brock, or for Dave Winfield, or for Tony Gwynn?

Why not Reggie Jackson? Because it's not my favorite players, it's the best players, and while he had 563 home runs and was one of those guys, like Rose, about whom it could be said, "Winning teams keep following him around," after his Oakland days, at which point he was no longer a baserunning threat, he was pretty much a one-dimensional player. Great at that dimension, but that was it.

So here's my revised All-Century Team, by position, and then in chronological order:

Pitchers: Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, Lefty Grove, Bob Feller, Warren Spahn, Whitey Ford, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan.

Catchers: Yogi Berra and Johnny Bench.

1st Basemen: Lou Gehrig and Eddie Murray.

2nd Basemen: Rogers Hornsby and Jackie Robinson.

Shortstops: Honus Wagner, Ernie Banks and Cal Ripken.

3rd Basemen: Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt.

Outfielders: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Frank Robinson.

It is a bit interesting that the only players on this Team that I saw at anything close to their best were Ripken, Murray and Ryan -- and I seriously considered taking Ryan off, as, easily, he is the weak link on this staff, and would be even if Young and Clemens were still on it.


October 24, 1648: The Peace of Westphalia ends the religious wars of Europe. This includes the Thirty Years War between the Holy Roman Empire and its Protestant opponents: Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands, and, though it was also Catholic, France. It also includes the Eighty Years War between the Netherlands and Catholic Spain, which finally recognizes the Netherlands' independence after holding them as a colony for so long.

Europe has had wars since, of course, but they haven't been over religion. Modern Europe, including national teams and tournaments, is impossible to imagine without the Peace of Westphalia.

October 24, 1854: The Gotham club defeats the Eagle club 21-14‚ at the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey. The 1st attempt at publishing a play-by-play scorecard will be presented in the New York Clipper (the closest thing America had to an all-sports publication in those pre-Civil War days), and will show outs by inning and total runs scored by each player.

October 24, 1857: Sheffield Football Club, the world's first football club, is founded in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. Today, they are still in business, but are stuck in the Northern Premier League Division One South, which is the 8th level of English soccer, 7 levels below the Premier League. Sheffield Wednesday is in “The Championship,” the 2nd division; Sheffield United, in League One, the 3rd division.  

In a weird quirk, Sheffield FC wears red jerseys at home and blue on the road; United wears red and white stripes as its basic uniform, while Wednesday wear blue and white stripes.

Also on this day, Edward Nagle Williamson is born in Philadelphia.  Ned Williamson was a 3rd baseman for the Chicago White Stockings, forerunners of the Cubs. In 1884, he set a major league record with 27 home runs – mainly because the White Stockings’ home ground, Lakeshore Park, had the shortest right-field fence in the history of the game: 184 feet. The White Stockings had long led the National League in doubles, because any drive over that short fence was ruled a double instead of a home run.

But in 1884, the rule was changed and it was a home run. Williamson hit 25 homers at home, only 2 on the road. Apparently, somebody had enough, because the City of Chicago took over the ground, and the White Stockings had to move. In 1885 they built West Side Park, built another with that name nearby in 1893, and moved to what’s now called Wrigley Field in 1916.

A knee injury hampered Williamson's career in 1889, and he died of tuberculosis in 1894, aged only 36. His single-season home run record lasted until 1919, when Babe Ruth hit 29.

October 24, 1874: The Boston Red Stockings, forerunners of the team now known as the Atlanta Braves, clinch their 3rd straight championship of the 1st professional baseball league, the National Association. They beat the Hartford Blues, 11-8 at the South End Grounds in the Roxbury section of Boston. They finish the season 52-18. They won their 1st 12 games, from May 2 to 22, and had 3 other streaks of 6 wins.

The last survivor of the 1874 Red Stockings was shortstop George Wright, who was also the last survivor of the 1st openly professional team, for whom this team was named, the 1869-70 Cincinnati Red Stockings. He lived until 1937.

October 24, 1875: In the wake of the National Association Pennant having been taken by the Boston Red Stockings (forerunners of the Atlanta Braves) for the 4th straight season, and by a wider margin (in terms of winning percentage, anyway) than any major league that would come after it ever has, causing several teams to drop out of the NA, the Chicago Tribune calls for the formation of an organization of major professional teams: Chicago‚ Cincinnati‚ Louisville‚ Philadelphia‚ New York‚ Boston‚ and Hartford: "Unless the present Professional Association leadership adopts rules to limit the number of teams allowed to participate in the Championship season‚ all clubs will go broke."

Most likely, this editorial was written by William Hulbert, president of the Chicago White Stockings. Also on this day, he meets in Chicago with Boston Red Stockings pitcher, and Illinois native, Al Spalding. Hulbert stresses to Spalding that his roots are in Illinois, and that he should play for the Chicago club. He also stresses to Spalding that the current National Association is going to result in all teams going broke without tighter control, that teams must stick to their schedules and not leave opponents in the lurch, and that gambling must be driven out of the game. Spalding agrees, and signs with the White Stockings for the 1876 season.

The following winter, on February 2, 1876, he gathers some other team owners in New York and founds the National League, and remains its guiding force until his death in 1882, by which point professional baseball had been stabilized. The White Stockings, rather than the American League's Chicago White Sox, are the forerunners of the Chicago Cubs.

While the New York meeting on February 2, 1876 is, essentially, the birthdate of the National League, October 24, 1875 is its conception. Whether that makes Spalding or Hulbert "the mother," I don't know.

October 24, 1877: John Bower Hutton is born in Ottawa. Known as Bouse Hutton, he won Canadian titles in football, hockey and lacrosse at the turn of the 20th Century. Winning Stanley Cups with the Ottawa Silver Seven (later renamed the original Ottawa Senators) in 1903, 1904 and 1909, he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. He died in 1962.

Although also named John Bower and also a Hall of Fame goaltender, Johnny Bower of the 1960s Toronto Maple Leafs dynasty is not related.

October 24, 1883: George Frederick Allison is born in Darlington, County Durham, England. He played for a local amateur soccer team in nearby Stockton-on-Tees, and wrote about his team's exploits, earning him a reporter's position at a newspaper. He also served as assistant manager of nearby team Middlesbrough FC, which would be a conflict of interest today.

He moved to London in 1906, covered soccer and greyhound racing, and in 1911 became the London correspondent for the New York Post. He served in the Royal Flying Corps (forerunner of the Royal Air Force) in World War I, then joined the nascent BBC. He was the 1st radio commentator for the English Derby (thoroughbred horse racing), the Grand National (steeplechase horse racing), and, in 1927, the FA Cup Final, in which Cardiff City of Wales defeated North London's Arsenal, becoming, to this day, the only non-English club ever to win the Cup.

He had already been the editor of Arsenal's matchday programme (we'd call it a "game program" in the U.S.) since 1906. He became club secretary, and after Herbert Chapman died in 1934 and Joe Shaw finished the season as caretaker manager, he was named the full-time manager. He led the club to League titles in 1935 and 1938, and the 1936 FA Cup.

In 1939, The Arsenal Stadium Mystery was filmed, and while the Arsenal players appeared, none of them had any lines. Allison did. After Alf Kirchen scored the only goal of the game filmed for the movie -- an actual Football League Division One match, on May 6, 1939, an Arsenal win over West London club Brentford -- he said, "One-nil to The Arsenal. That's the way we like it." The phrase "One-nil to The Arsenal" became a catchphrase, and eventually a song.

He continued to manage the team through World War II, and resigned after the 1947 season, handing the reins over to Tom Whittaker, his assistant, and a former player and physiotherapist (we would say "trainer") for the team. Ironically, he outlived Whittaker, who died in office in 1956. Allison followed him a year later.

October 24, 1884: The New York Mets lose the World Series. Well, not exactly.

The Providence Grays, Champions of the National League, defeat the New York Metropolitans -- and, yes, this early franchise was called the Mets for short -- 3-1, behind the pitching of future Hall-of-Famer Charlie "Old Hoss" Radbourn, at the Polo Grounds in New York. This gives the Grays the first-ever postseason series between champions of 2 major professional baseball leagues, a series that was officially called the "World's Series."

A Game 3 was played, for charity, and the Grays won that, too. The Grays had won the NL Pennant in 1879, too, but would go out of business after the 1885 season. The last surviving Providence Gray was right fielder Paul Radford, who lived on until 1945.

Aside from teams known as the the Providence Steam Rollers in the NFL (1920-1931, 1928 Champions) and the NBA (only the inaugural 1946-47 season), the State of Rhode Island has never had another major league sports team -- the New England Patriots, who play 25 miles from downtown Providence in Foxboro, Massachusetts, don't count.

The last survivor of the 1884 Providence Grays was outfielder Paul Radford, who lived until 1945 -- 61 years, 10 States and 11 Presidents later.

October 24, 1885: The St. Louis Browns, Champions of the American Association, defeat the Chicago White Stockings, Champions of the National League,13-4 in the 7th and last game in their series. The Browns claim the Game 2 forfeit didn't count, and therefore claim the championship. Each club receives $500.

These 2 teams would meet again the next season, forging the NL rivalry that still exists between the teams, by 1901 known as the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs.

This was the first of 4 straight AA Pennants for the Browns. The last surviving member of the 1885-88 AA Champions was 3rd baseman Walter Arlington "Arlie" Latham, who lived until 1952.

October 24, 1891, 125 years ago: Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina is born in San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic. He was his homeland's dictator from 1930 until he was assassinated in a coup in 1961, at the age of 69. During his rule, the capital of Santo Domingo was renamed Ciudad Trujillo (Trujillo City), reverting to Santo Domingo under the replacement government.

Unlike most Dominicans, and unlike later Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, he didn't like baseball. Like many dictators, however, he understood how to manipulate sports for his own purposes. He invited many black American and Caribbean players to play professionally in his country, for good pay and without segregation.

Satchel Paige was one, and remembered a 1937 game in which he saw soldiers with rifles around the field, an "encouragement" to pitch well. Fulfilling his contract at the end of the season, Satch left, later writing in his memoir, "I never did see Trujillo again, and I ain't sorry."

October 24, 1892: The Boston Beaneaters, winners of the National League Pennant, defeat the 2nd-place Cleveland Spiders, 5 games to none with 1 tie, and win the Championship Series (it wasn't called the World Series), making themselves, as they were last season, the unofficial World Champions of Baseball.

The Beaneaters would become the Braves in 1912, move to Milwaukee in 1953, and move again to Atlanta in 1966. Hall of Fame outfielder Hugh Duffy would be the last survivor of the 1892 Beaneaters, living until 1954. The Spiders would fold after the 1899 season, and the 1892 Championship Series would be the closest a Cleveland team would come to winning a World Championship until the 1920 Indians.

Also on this day, Goodison Park, the world's 1st stadium built specifically for association football (whose abbreviation "assoc." is the source of the word "soccer") is opened in Liverpool. Home to Everton Football Club, it is across Stanley Park from Anfield, home ground of Liverpool Football Club, which was built in 1884 as Everton's home before they moved across the park, and Liverpool FC was founded to take their place at Anfield.

This makes the 2 Merseyside teams in the Premiership the closest major rivals of any major sport on the planet. Imagine that, instead of being in their actual locations, the Yankees' home field was where the Metropolitan Museum of Art is, at 82nd Street and 5th Avenue on one side of Central Park, and the Mets played where the American Museum of Natural History is, on the other side of the Park at 79th Street and Central Park West. Now imagine that the Yankees and the Mets play each other as often as the Yankees and the Red Sox (or the Mets and the Phillies) do. Finally, imagine that the Yankees were only half as successful as they've actually been, and you've got Liverpool; and the Mets twice as much as you know them to have been, and you've got Everton; and that the Mets (Everton) were actually the older team. Now, you've got an idea of the intensity of "the Merseyside Derby."

Goodison Park hosted some of the 1966 World Cup matches, and even hosted a post-World War I tour by two U.S. baseball teams, the New York Giants and the Chicago White Sox. It seats 39,572. Everton would like to expand the stadium, but there's no room, so, like Liverpool, they are looking to build a new stadium; but, also like their Red rivals, the Blues haven’t gotten it past the planning stage.


October 24, 1908: Baseball's anthem, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," is introduced by singer Bill Murray -- no relation to the later actor who got his start on Saturday Night Live. At the time the song was written by composer Albert Von Tilzer and lyricist Jack Norworth (words), neither had ever seen a game. But Norworth had seen an advertising sign on the new (opened 1904) New York Subway:


And he was inspired to write a song about an Irish girl -- apparently his favorite subject, as so many of his songs had an Irish theme, not surprising for New York City at that time:

Katie Casey was baseball mad.
Had the fever and had it bad.

Just to root for her hometown crew
every sou, Katie blew.

On a Saturday, her young beau
called to see if she'd like to go
to see a show
but Miss Kate said no,
I'll tell you what you can do:

Take me out to the ballgame.
Take me out with the crowd.

Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack.
I don't care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team.
If they don't win, it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out
at the old ballgame.

Katie Casey saw all the games.
Knew all the players by their first names.
Told the umpire he was wrong,
all along, good and strong.
When the score was just two to two,
Katie Casey, she had the clue.

Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
She made the gang sing this song.

Take me out to the ballgame.
Take me out with the crowd.

Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack.
I don't care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team.
If they don't win, it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out
at the old ballgame.

A "sou" is a penny. Sometimes that archaic lyric is changed to "Every cent, Katie spent." In 1927, Norworth rewrote the song, and the girl subject became Nellie Kelly -- a better rhyme, and still Irish. But most people don't even know there are verses: They only sing the chorus.

Edward Meeker made the first recording, but Murray appears to have been the first to sing it live. Murray had also recorded "Tessie," which became a ballpark chant for Boston Red Sox fans in 1903. Ironically, Murray was a fan of the New York Highlanders, the team that would become the Yankees. In an even greater irony, Von Tilzer didn't see a live major league game until 1928, Norworth until 1940.

It apparently took until 1934 for the song to be played at a major league game. In 1976, Chicago White Sox owner Bill Veeck noticed that, while organist Nancy Faust was playing it during the 7th Inning Stretch, broadcaster Harry Caray was leaning out of the press box, and inviting fans to sing the song with him. So Veeck piped Harry and the fans into the public-address system at Comiskey Park, and a tradition was born. Harry took it with him across town to Wrigley Field, and, with the Cubs' partnership with cable-TV "superstation" WGN, made the singing of that song at that stage of the game a national phenomenon. (And probably saved Wrigley for at least 2 more generations.)

Unfortunately, Harry always got the words wrong, and, to this day, the celebrities the Cubs bring on to sing it in Harry's place (since his death in 1998) have repeated his mistakes: They sing, "Take me out to the crowd," and, "I don't care if I ever get back."

In 1994, I heard it played at Mercer County Waterfront Park (now Arm & Hammer Park), home of the Trenton Thunder of the Class AA Eastern League. The Thunder didn't do too well in that 1st season of professional baseball in New Jersey in the modern era, and it inspired me to sing, "I don't think this team's gonna come back, for it's root, root, root for the home team, if they don't win, it's the same."

October 24, 1909: William Arthur Carr is born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. In the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, Bill Carr won Gold Medals in the 400 meters and as part of the U.S. team in the 4x400 meter relay. A car accident the next year ended his career at age 23, and he lived until 1966.


October 24, 1911: A 6-day postponement due to rain is over, and the field at Shibe Park is ready to play Game 4 of the World Series. With Albert "Chief" Bender pitching, the Athletics beat Christy Mathewson and the Giants 4-2, giving the A's a 3-games-to-1 lead.

Bender, a member of the Chippewa tribe from Minnesota, frequently had to hear fans taunt him with Indian war whoops. Knowing that this was a period of great immigration from Europe, he would sometimes yell at the fans taunting him, "You lousy bunch of foreigners! Why don't you go back where you came from?" Since a lot of them were immigrants, this had the desired effect. He was elected to the Hall of Fame.

Those 6 days are still a Series record for postponement due to inclement weather. But the 1989 San Francisco earthquake resulted in a 10-day postponement.

October 24, 1914: Palmer Stadium opens in Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey. Princeton defeats Dartmouth 16-12. The 42,000 seat horseshoe will remain the Princeton Tigers' home until 1996, when, finally bowing to the reality that age has rendered it unsafe, it is demolished. Princeton played all their 1997 games on the road while Powers Field at Princeton University Stadium is built on the site, and the new 27,773-seat stadium opened on September 19, 1998.

October 24, 1915: Robert Kahn (no middle name) is born in Manhattan. Under the pen name of Bob Kane, in 1939, he and artist Bill Finger created the comic book character Batman. He lived until 1998.

October 24, 1921: Edwin George Ditchburn is born in Gillingham, Kent, England. Ted Ditchburn was the goalkeeper on the 1951 Tottenham Hotspur team that won the Football League title, the 1st for the other North London club, known that season as "the Push and Run Spurs."

On June 15, 1952, he played for Tottenham in a 7-1 victory over Manchester United (the winners of the last 2 League titles playing each other) at Yankee Stadium. On June 18, 1953, he played for England as they beat the U.S. 6-3 at the Polo Grounds. He lived until 2005.

October 24, 1925: Kenneth Donald MacKay is born in Windsor, Queensland, Australia. A star batsman and bowler (hitter and pitcher) for the Australia cricket team in the 1950s and early 1960s, he only lived until 1982. In Australian Cricket, the Game and the Players, Jack Pollard wrote, "While cricket is played in Australia, he will be fondly remembered."

October 24, 1926, 90 years ago: Yelberton Abraham Tittle is born in Marshall, Texas. Y.A. Tittle was a sensational quarterback at Louisiana State University, where one of his receivers was future big-league baseball player and manager Alvin Dark.

He starred for the San Francisco 49ers, joining with running backs Hugh McElhenny, Joe "the Jet" Perry and John Henry Johnson to form "the Million Dollar Backfield" in 1954 – the only season in which one team had an entire backfield that went on to reach the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Tittle has joked about the nickname, though: "They should have called us the Hundred Dollar Backfield, because that’s about what they paid us." ($1 million in 1954 would be about $8.8 million in today's money.)

Despite all that talent, which also included Hall-of-Famers Bob St. Clair at offensive tackle and defensive end Leo Nomellini, the 49ers only reached the Playoffs once during Tittle's tenure, tying with the Detroit Lions for the 1957 Western Division title, and losing a Playoff for the right to face the Cleveland Browns for the NFL Championship. (The Lions won that one, too – and haven’t won an NFL Championship since.) The 49ers would not reach an NFL Championship Game until Super Bowl XVI, in the 1981-82 season.

In 1961, the New York Giants traded for Tittle, despite his being 35 years old. He helped them win 3 straight Eastern Division titles, but they lost all 3 NFL Championship Games, all in miserably cold weather: 1961 to the Green Bay Packers on a snowy New Year's Eve at Lambeau Field, 1962 to the Packers on a frozen field at Yankee Stadium, and 1963 to the Chicago Bears on an equally-rock-hard gridiron at Wrigley Field, with the Bears winning 14-10 with the clock winding down, but an already-injured Tittle leading the Giants on a desperate drive that ended with an interception.

In 1964, hit hard in a game in Pittsburgh, his helmet knocked off, his bald head dripping blood as he knelt on the field, a photograph of this scene won a Pulitzer Prize. Tittle retired after the season. Despite never winning a title, he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the Giants have retired his Number 14. He is still alive, at age 90, but is stricken with Alzheimer's disease.

October 24, 1928: George Donald Bullard is born in the Boston suburb of Lynn, Massachusetts. A shortstop, he played 4 games for the Detroit Tigers at the end of the 1954 season. He died in 2002.

October 24, 1929: The New York Stock Exchange is hit with "Black Thursday," a crash that will last until the following "Black Tuesday." Calendars aside, Black Thursday is the effective end of the Roaring Twenties; Black Tuesday is the beginning of the Great Depression and the Dirty Thirties. It will be 25 years, until 1954, before the Dow Jones Industrial Average tops its September 3, 1929 peak.

Also on this day, James Patrick Brosnan is born in Cincinnati. A pitcher, he debuted with the Chicago Cubs in 1954. In 1959, he was traded from the St. Louis Cardinals to his hometown Cincinnati Reds, and chronicled the season in a diary, published as The Long Season. It was the first autobiographical baseball book to not be excessively sanitized, and he was criticized not so much for specific passages but for "violating the sanctity of the clubhouse." It was, however, tame in comparison to Ball Four, the diary another pitcher, Jim Bouton, kept 10 years later.

In 1961, as Brosnan kept another diary, he had his best season in the major leagues, and the Reds won their only Pennant between 1940 and 1970. This book was titled Pennant Race, and was better received. The Reds traded Brosnan to the White Sox in 1963, and he retired after the season. He later became sportscaster, continued writing, and lived until 2014.


October 24, 1931: The George Washington Bridge opens to traffic, connecting the Washington Heights section of Manhattan with Fort Lee, Bergen County, New Jersey. Today, it carries U.S. Routes 1 and 9 and Interstates 95 over the Hudson River. Until the Golden Gate Bridge opened in San Francisco 6 years later, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world.

The GWB is the gateway for Yankee Fans driving from New Jersey into Yankee Stadium, as it was for the old Stadium, and for baseball Giants fans going to the Polo Grounds. Many was the time that Phil Rizzuto, living in Hillside, Union County, New Jersey during his time as a Yankee broadcaster, would talk about leaving a game early by saying, "I gotta get over that bridge!"

October 24, 1937: John Hardy Goetz is born in Raber Township, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, in a section named Goetzville for his family. A pitcher, he appeared in 4 games for the 1960 Cubs. He died in 2008.

October 24, 1948: Phillip Bennett (no middle name) is born in Felinfoel, Wales. A legend of Welsh rugby, Phil Bennett helped his country-within-a-country win the Five Nations Championship (the Six Nations Championship with the addition of Italy in 2000) in 1969, 1970 (shared with France), 1973 (a 5-way tie), 1975, 1976 and 1978.

As Captain of the Wales side, he told his teammates before a 1977 match, "Look what these bastards have done to Wales. They've taken our coal, our water, our steel. They buy our homes and live in them for a fortnight every year. What have they given us? Absolutely nothing. We've been exploited, raped, controlled and punished by the English – and that's who you are playing this afternoon."

He now commentates on the game for Welsh television.

October 24, 1949: Czesław Bolesław Marcol is born in Opole, Poland. He was a soccer player until age 14, when a tragedy forced the family to move to the Detroit suburb of Imlay City, Michigan. There, he was taught how to kick an American-style football.

It paid off. The Green Bay Packers drafted him in 1972, and as a rookie he helped them win the NFC Central Division, setting team records that still stand for most field goals attempted (48) and made (33) in a season.

In the opening game of the 1980 season, the Packers played their arch-rivals, the Chicago Bears. Marcol attempted a game-winning field goal in overtime, but it was blocked, and the ball came right back to him, and he took it and ran for a 25-yard touchdown, giving the Pack a 12-6 win.

He later overcame alcohol and cocaine addictions, and is now an addiction recovery counselor in Dollar Bay, Michigan, across the Upper Peninsula from the aforementioned Goetzville. He was elected to the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.


October 24, 1950: Rawlins Jackson Eastwick is born in Camden, New Jersey, across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, and grows up in neighboring Haddonfield. "Rawly" was a relief pitcher who helped the Cincinnati Reds win the 1975 and 1976 World Series, but after being acquired by the Yankees in 1978, he was injured, and only played 8 games for them before they traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies in midseason for Jay Johnstone. Eastwick hardly played again after that, retiring after being cut by the Cubs in spring training in 1982.

He now runs office buildings in Boston, and was scheduled to be at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, but was delayed, and avoided injury in the explosions.

October 24, 1952: Omar Renán Moreno Quintero is born in Puerto Armuelles, Panama. A center fielder, he led the National League in stolen bases in 1978 and 1979, and helped the Pittsburgh Pirates win the 1979 World Series. In 1980, he stole 96 bases, a team record -- but didn't lead the NL, because Ron LeFlore stole 97.

He played for the Yankees from 1983 to 1985, and he and his wife Sandra now run a youth baseball charity in Panama.

Also on this day, Reginald Sherard Walton is born in Kansas City, Missouri. An outfielder, he appeared in 43 games for the Seattle Mariners and 13 for the Pirates in the early 1980s, making him a teammate of Moreno.

Also on this day, Ángel Rafael Torres Ruiz is born in La Ciénaga, Dominican Republic. He pitched in 5 games for the Cincinnati Reds at the end of the 1977 season.

Also on this day, Christoph Paul Daum is born in Olesnitz, East Germany. A midfielder, he was signed by 1. FC Köln (usually listed as FC Cologne in English), and thus defected to the West. But he is better known as a manager, having taken Stuttgart to the 1992 Bundesliga title, winning the Austrian Bundesliga with Austria Wien in 2003, and winning the Turkish Süper Lig with Istanbul clubs Beşiktaş in 1995 (also winning the Turkish Cup in 1994) and Fenerbahçe in 2004 and 2005. He now manages the national team of Romania.

October 24, 1954: President Dwight D. Eisenhower pledges U.S. support to South Vietnam. This is the beginning of a 20-year mistake.

Also on this day, Malcolm Bligh Turnbull is born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Since September 15, 2015, following a no-confidence vote in his party's previous leader, Tony Abbott, the former Rhodes scholar, journalist and merchant banker has been his homeland's Prime Minister. He led the Liberal Party to victory in a general election this past July 2. (Among the many weird things about Australia: Their conservative party is called the Liberal Party, while their liberal party, like Britain's and Israel's, is called the Labour Party.) Unlike Donald Trump, he actually is a self-made tycoon.

As far as I know, aside from watching Australia compete at the highest levels in cricket and rugby, he has nothing to do with sports. Through his Scottish mother, he is a cousin of actress Angela Lansbury.

October 24, 1956, 60 years ago: Tom Whittaker dies of a heart attack in London, only 58 years old. He is 1 of only 2 men to die in office as manager of North London's Arsenal Football Club, the 1st being his former boss, Herbert Chapman, in 1934.

Born in Aldershot, Hampshire on July 21, 1898, where his father was stationed in the British Army, Tom grew up in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and thus was a "Geordie." He served first in the Army, then in the Royal Navy, during World War I. He played as a "wing half," a position that became obsolete as fullbacks became more defensive, from 1919 to 1925, all for Arsenal. In 1925, on a tour of Australia as part of a Football Association all-star team, he broke his kneecap, and his playing career was over.

But his service to Arsenal was far from over. Chapman, who had led Huddersfield Town to the League title, became manager, and, when Tom's attempt to come back from injury led him to want to study to become a physiotherapist, thinking he could do it better, Chapman encouraged this. He was the club's head trainer from 1927 until 1947, first under Chapman, then under George Allison, taking time off in World War II to be an air raid warden.

When Allison retired in 1947, Tom was named manager. In his 1st season, 1947-48, he took them to the League title. He led them to the FA Cup in 1950 (beating Liverpool in the Final), to the FA Cup Final but lost in 1952 (ironically, to his hometown side, Newcastle United), and winning the closest League title race ever, beating Burnley by goal difference on the last day of the 1953 season. In total, he was a part of the club's 1st 7 League titles, their 1st 6 FA Cup Finals, and their 1st 3 FA Cup wins. (There were no European club tournaments until the 1955-56 season.)

The club's last game with Tom in charge was on October 20, a 3-1 home win over arch-rival Tottenham. It should surprise no one that they lost their next game badly, on October 27, 4-0 to Everton at Goodison Park.

October 24, 1957: Ronald Clyde Gardenhire is born at a U.S. Army base in Butzbach, Hessen, Germany, and grows up in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. A good-field-no-hit shortstop for the early 1980s Mets, he managed the Minnesota Twins to 6 American League Central Division titles between 2002 and 2010, and was named AL Manager of the Year in 2010.

His son Toby was drafted by the Twins, but never made the big club, and is now head coach at a small college.

October 24, 1959: The greatest player in the history of basketball makes his NBA debut. If you're paying attention to the date, you will notice that Michael Jordan hasn't been born yet, and neither have LeBron James' parents.

The place is the old Madison Square Garden. The home team is the New York Knicks. The visiting team is the Philadelphia Warriors. Unfortunately for the Knicks, it is the Warriors who have the player in question: West Philadelphia native Wilton Norman Chamberlain.

Wilt, at this point a 23-year-old 7-foot-1-inch center, scores 43 points. Kenny Sears scores 35 for the Knicks, but it's nowhere near enough, as the Warriors beat the Knicks, 118-109. Basketball will never be the same again.

A little more than 2 years later, on March 2, 1962, these teams will play at the Hershey Arena outside Harrisburg, and Wilt will score 100 points in a 169-147 Warriors victory.

Also on this day, Michael Quinn Brewer is born in Shreveport, Louisiana. A right fielder, he played 12 games for the Kansas City Royals in 1986.


October 24, 1960: Ian Michael Baker-Finch is born in Nambour, Queensland, Australia. He won 18 PGA Tour events, including the 1991 British Open. Now living in Florida, he is a golf commentator for CBS.

October 24, 1962: Eugene Thomas Larkin is born in Flushing, Queens. A 1st baseman, he went to Columbia, where he broke several school records set by an earlier 1st baseman from New York, named Lou Gehrig.

He was 1 of 7 players to be a part of both of the Minnesota Twins' World Series titles, in 1987 and 1991. In Game 7 in 1991, he had the bases-loaded single in the bottom of the 10th that clinched the title, 1-0 over the Atlanta Braves. He still lives in the Minneapolis suburbs, and runs a baseball school.

Also on this day, Jay McKinley Novacek is born in Martin, South Dakota. The All-Pro tight end from the University of Wyoming (whose teams are also called the Cowboys) helped the Dallas Cowboys win 3 Super Bowls. The 5-time Pro Bowler was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2012, but, as yet, has not been elected to the Pro Football Hall. He and his wife Amy star on the reality-TV series Saddle Up With Jay Novacek.

Also on this day, Biggie Mbasela (his real, full name) is born in Kitwe, Northern Rhodesia, the British colony that became the independent nation of Zambia. Better known as Gibby Mbasela, he was a forward who won 2 league titles in his country, and was named Zambian Footballer of the Year in 1990.

He was not among the 18 members of the Zambia national team killed in a plane crash off the coast of Gabon on April 27, 1993. He was, however, among those who took Zambia to the Final of the 1994 African Cup of Nations, losing to Nigeria. Shortly after retiring as an active player, he fell ill, and died on May 1, 2000, only 37 years old.

October 24, 1963: Mark Andrew Grant is born in the Chicago suburb of Aurora, Illinois. He was Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year in 1985, but his big-league career never really worked out. He was one of the players the San Francisco Giants traded to the San Diego Padres to get Kevin Mitchell, leading him to miss out on the 1987 and 1989 postseasons. Bad luck befell him again when the Braves traded him before their 1991 Pennant run. He is now a broadcaster for the Padres.

October 24, 1966, 50 years ago: Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich is born in Saratov, Russia. He turned an investment into the Russian black market into oil and aluminum empires, and developed a close relationship with then-President Boris Yeltsin, and has worked with Yeltsin's successors, Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev.

He has been indicted on numerous corruption charges, but has never been convicted. It’s good to have friends in high places. His fortune has gone up and down, but is now believed by Forbes
magazine to be about $8.4 billion. Two divorce settlements and his sports investments have not helped in this regard, as you'll see below.

In 2003, he bought Chelsea Football Club of West London, leading to its new nickname of "Chelski," or "Chavski," as the club's popularity with London's tracksuit-wearing, baggy-pantsed, jewelry-flashing, cap-turned-sideways, foul-mouthed juvenile delinquents (we don't really have a single name for such in the U.S.) has led to them being called "The Chavs."

In 2004, he hired manager Jose Mourinho away from the Portuguese club F.C. Porto, and together they built a team that won the Premier League title in 2005 and again in 2006 – this after winning just 1 title in the team's 1st 99 seasons, in 1955 (and that with a former Arsenal player as their manager, Ted Drake). Early in the 2007-08 season, Mourinho decided he'd had enough of Abramovich's meddling and left for Internazionale in Milan, Italy, and that for Real Madrid in Spain, returned to Chelsea in 2014-15 and won another League title, but crashed and burned the next season. He now manages Manchester United, but Chelsea embarrassed them 4-0 yesterday.

Despite winning the FA Cup in 2007 and 2009, both the Premier League and the FA Cup (a.k.a. "winning The Double") in 2010, the UEFA Champions League in 2012, the Europa League in 2013, and the League again in 2015, Chelsea is believed to be heavily in debt under Abramovich's ownership, due to the high sums paid in wages, transfer fees, and upkeep of the aging home ground, Stamford Bridge. He is believed to have sunk over 1.25 billion pounds – about $1.6 billion – into the club in his 13 years of ownership.

In 1999, he was elected to the Russian Parliament, the Duma, from the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, the oil-rich easternmost oblast (what they call a "state" of Russia, and from 2000 to 2008 served as its Governor, making him a "neighbor" of 2007-09 Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska, as this is the part of Russia that she claimed could be seen from her home State. (But she never actually said, "I can see Russia from my house" – that was Tina Fey doing the impersonation.)

Twice divorced, the 50-year-old "Mad Russian" is now married to Darya "Dasha" Zhukova, a 35-year-old fashion designer known on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption as "Marat Safin's Girlfriend" – while she was dating the Russian tennis star, the show's co-host Tony Kornheiser slobbered over her so much it made my feelings for Catherine Zeta-Jones look mature by comparison. They are parents of 2 children, and Abramovich has 5 others with his 1st 2 wives.

October 24, 1967: Ian Raphael Bishop is born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. A star bowler for the West Indies cricket team from 1989 until succumbing to injuries in 1998, he is now a TV commentator for the sport, frequently waxing poetic about the decline of his former "national team."


October 24, 1970: Graham Charles Stuart is born in Tooting, South London. A midfielder, he helped Everton win the 1995 FA Cup. He is now a commentator for Sky Sports.

October 24, 1971: After playing their 1st home game of the season at their original home, the Cotton Bowl, the Dallas Cowboys open Texas Stadium in the suburb of Irving, Texas. They beat the New England Patriots 44-21. They will go on to win Super Bowl VI at the end of the season. It will remain their home through the 2008 season, including 7 Super Bowl berths, winning 5.

Also on this day, Caprice Bourret (no middle name) is born in the Hacienda Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. In the mid-1990s, she moved to London to further her modeling career, and became a star there, using just her first name. In America, she is best known for appearing on VH1's The Surreal Life in 2005. In England, she is best known for being a former girlfriend of Arsenal Captain Tony Adams.

October 24, 1972: Jackie Robinson dies. The 1st black player in modern baseball had been suffering from diabetes, which had robbed him of most his eyesight, caused such poor circulation in his legs that amputation was being considered, and damaged his heart to the point where it killed him at age 53.

Just 10 days earlier, he had flown from his home in Stamford, Connecticut (his wife Rachel, now 93, now lives near their old house), and was a special guest at Game 2 of the World Series between the A's and Reds in Cincinnati. It had been 25 years since the great experiment that he and Brooklyn Dodger president Branch Rickey (who died in 1965) had reached its successful conclusion with the Dodgers winning the Pennant and Jackie making it through the season, not just surviving but excelling. His former teammate, Pee Wee Reese, was on hand, and former Dodger broadcaster Red Barber introduced him. Jackie said, "I'm extremely pleased to be here, but I must confess, I'm going to be even more pleased when I see a black face managing in baseball."

Jackie's eulogy was delivered by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and his funeral was attended by most of his surviving teammates. Roy Campanella was there in his wheelchair. Among his pallbearers were former Dodger pitcher Don Newcombe and basketball legend Bill Russell.

Earlier in the year, in Los Angeles, Jackie's hometown (if not the team's), the Dodgers retired uniform numbers for the first time, packing away Jackie's Number 42, Campy's Number 39 and Sandy Koufax' Number 32. Jackie was the 1st black player in the Hall of Fame, Campy the 2nd, and Koufax had been newly elected at the time of the ceremony.

It would be 2 more years, on October 3, 1974, before Frank Robinson, no relation, was hired as Major League Baseball's 1st black manager, with the Cleveland Indians, the team that had been the first in the American League to add black players with Larry Doby and Satchel Paige.

Oddly, Frank beat Jackie to being the 1st black player to get his number retired: The Orioles let him go before the 1972 season, and, though he was still active, announced the retirement of his number on March 10 of that year.

Ironically, while black Hispanics are now the leading presence in the game, very few black Americans are in the major leagues. Jackie would probably be disturbed by that, but not puzzled, as he would surely factor in the rise of pro football and basketball as sports preferred by African-Americans, especially since he played those, in addition to baseball, at UCLA.

Of the 30 current MLB franchises, 10 have never had a nonwhite manager, including the Yankees. It took until this season, with former Red Sox star Dave Roberts, for the Dodgers to have their 1st black manager. Currently, of the 28 MLB teams that don't have vacancies, only 2 have a black manager: The Dodgers, and the Washington Nationals with Dusty Baker. Jackie would not be happy about that. One other has a white Hispanic: The Chicago White Sox with Rick Renteria. 

In 1997, on the 50th Anniversary of Jackie's arrival, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced that Jackie's Number 42 would be retired for all of baseball, as yet a unique honor. All players then wearing it would be allowed to continue to do so for the remainder of their careers, but no new players could wear it, and no current players could switch to it.

The last remaining Number 42 in baseball was Mariano Rivera of the Yankees; the Yankees appeared to have been waiting for Mariano to retire before retiring the number for both him and Jackie, but in 2007, on the 60th Anniversary of Jackie's arrival, they retired it for Jackie, and did so again for Mariano when he hung 'em up in 2013, just as they retired Number 8 for both Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra.

Also on October 24, 1972, Patrick Williams (no middle name) is born in Monroe, Louisiana. He was a 3-time Pro Bowler at defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings. He is now an assistant coach at a high school in his home State.

October 24, 1973: Jackie McNamara is born in Glasgow, Scotland. He won 4 Scottish Premier League titles and 3 Scottish Cups with Glasgow’s Celtic Football Club, serving as their Captain in 2005. He was recently fired as manager of another Scottish club, Dundee United.

Also on this day, Jeffrey William Wilson is born in Invercargill, New Zealand. Jeff Wilson starred in rugby union, rugby league (playing for his country in both codes, making him a rare "Double All-Black") and basketball. He was a member of the New Zealand team that lost to host South Africa in the 1995 Rugby World Cup immortalized in the film Invictus. He now commentates on rugby for Sky Sports.

October 24, 1974: The expansion New Orleans Jazz play their 1st home game, the 1st NBA game played in New Orleans. It doesn't go so well: Pete Maravich is held to just 11 points, while Freddie Boyd drops 35, and the Jazz hit a sour note, losing to the Philadelphia 76ers 102-89.

The game is played at the Municipal Auditorium, where they played their 1st season, until the Superdome opened, going from a building that opened in 1930 with 7,853 seats to one brand-new with a basketball capacity of 47,000. The Auditorium was damaged in Hurricane Katrina and, 10 years later, its future remains in doubt.

Also on this day, Corey James Dillon is born in Seattle. He set single-season rushing yardage records for the University of Washington, the Cincinnati Bengals and the New England Patriots. On October 23, 2000, he rushed for 278 yards against the Denver Broncos, breaking Walter Payton's 1977 record of 275. Dillon’s record has been surpassed by Jamal Lewis and Adrian Peterson. In the 2004 season, he was a member of the Patriot team that won Super Bowl XXXIX. (By cheating?) He rushed for 11,241 yards, but, as yet, has not been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Also on this day, Wilton Alvaro Guerrero is born in Don Gregorio, Dominican Republic. The older brother and former Montreal Expo teammate of Vladimir Guerrero, he is best known for a 1997 incident with the Dodgers, where he was found to have a corked bat. He is now a scout with the Dodgers.

Also on this day, Jamal David Mayers is born in Toronto. One of the few black players in the NHL, the right wing was an Alternate Captain for his hometown Maple Leafs, and retired after winning the 2013 Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks. He is now an analyst for the NHL Network.

October 24, 1975: Juan Pablo Ángel Arango is born in Medellín, Colombia. He began his soccer career in his hometown, at Atlético Nacional . He later played for River Plate in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Aston Villa in Birmingham, England, before starring for the New York Red Bulls. He retired in 2014. 

October 24, 1981: The Dodgers tie the World Series up at 2 games apiece, 8-7, thanks to some poor Yankee fielding. Reggie Jackson and Willie Randolph hit home runs for the Bronx Bombers -- Reggie's last in a Yankee uniform, as it turned out -- but Jay Johnstone, who'd helped the Yankees beat the Dodgers in the 1978 World Series, returns the favor.

Johnstone would later write, in his memoir Temporary Insanity (a title based on his quirky personality), that George Steinbrenner stormed into the locker room and demanded that Ron Davis (Yankee reliever and Ike's father) tell him why he threw Johnstone a fastball.

October 24, 1982: Joseph Macay McBride is born in Augusta, Georgia. Dropping his first name, Macacy McBride pitched for the Atlanta Braves in 2005, '06 and '07, and for the Detroit Tigers in '07, with a 6-2 career record, his career ending due to nagging injuries.

October 24, 1983: Christopher Adrian Colabello is born in the Boston suburb of Framingham, Massachusetts. A 1st baseman, he reached the ALCS with the Toronto Blue Jays the last 2 seasons.

October 24, 1985: Richie Evans is killed in a crash while practicing for the Winn-Dixie 500 Modified Feature, at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. He was 41, and had won 17 professional races.

Also on this day, Wayne Mark Rooney is born in Liverpool, England. Because England needs to believe that its soccer players are the best in the world, "Wazza" was their great hope in the 2000s, starring at hometown club Everton for 2 seasons, and saying, "I'll always be a Blue."

Then Manchester United shoveled a lot of money at him, and he jumped ship. His name is mud on Merseyside now, not just among the Everton fans whom he betrayed, but also among the Liverpool F.C. fans, who never liked him in the first place because he was an Evertonian, but now despised him for going to the team they really hate the most, Man U. With Rooney, Man U have won the Premier League in 2007, '08, '09, '11 and '13, and the UEFA Champions League in 2008. 

But after a good showing for England in Euro 2004, he's been a total bust for the national side. He lashed out against Portugal in the 2006 World Cup Quarterfinal and got himself sent off, leading to England's defeat on penalties (where his talents really could have been used). He was a big reason why England didn't even qualify for Euro 2008. England washed out in the Round of 16 at the 2010 World Cup, and Rooney was caught on camera cursing out his own country's fans. England lost in the Quarterfinal to Italy on penalties, and while Rooney made his, he didn't score in regular time or in extra time. England was actually knocked out of the 2014 World Cup after just 2 games of the Group Stage, their 3rd game meaningless. And they got knocked out of Euro 2016 in the Quarterfinal -- by Iceland.

Why has Rooney done so well for club, and so badly for country? Because Man United cheat. Dives, dirty tackles, goals given when they are clearly offside, opposing goals rules offside when they are clearly not. Between them, Man U, Chelsea and Liverpool have made up the bulk of the England side for over 10 years, and -- Liverpool less so than the other 2, but hardly innocent -- they are known cheaters, but their players almost never do well in international tournaments. Rooney has become England's all-time leading scorer, breaking the record of 1960s Man U legend Bobby Charlton, but that's been built up in friendlies and tournament qualifiers against small countries like San Marino and Montenegro.

Rooney is a dirty player. (He doesn't just cheat on the field: He was caught cheating on his wife, TV personality Colleen Rooney. While she was pregnant.) And his most infamous dirty play, at least for club (if not country), also took place on an October 24, as you'll see shortly.

Point-blank: If the rules were applied correctly, Manchester United would not have won a single trophy in the last 30 years, and the people of England would see Wayne Rooney for what he truly is: Incredibly average. Come to think of it, Rooney is an Irish name, and he was born in Liverpool, across the Irish Sea from Dublin. If he'd been born there -- perhaps while his mother was visiting relatives? -- and was playing for the Republic of Ireland, the people of England wouldn't think he was so great.

October 24, 1986, 30 years ago: John Thomas Gordon Ruddy is born in St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, England. A national side teammate of Rooney's, he is the starting goalkeeper for Norfolk side Norwich City.

Also on this day, Aubrey Drake Graham is born in Toronto. Like Robyn Rihanna Fenty, the rapper uses his middle name.

October 24, 1987: Game 6 of the World Series. Don Baylor and Kent Hrbek back Dan Schatzeder with home runs, and the Minnesota Twins beat the St. Louis Cardinals 11-5, tying up the Series, and setting up a Game 7 tomorrow.

Also on this day, Anthony Henri Vanden Borre is born in Likasi, Zaire, once the Belgian Congo, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The right back won Belgium's League with RSC Anderlecht in 2013 and '14, and was a member of the Belgium team that knocked the U.S. out of the 2014 World Cup. He is on a season-long loan with French club Montpellier.

October 24, 1989: Eric John Hosmer is born in the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Cooper City, Florida. The 1st baseman for the Kansas City Royals has won 2 Pennants, including the 2015 World Series, has 3 Gold Gloves, and was the Most Valuable Player of this year's All-Star Game.


October 24, 1990: The Boston Red Sox announce they will not renew the contract of former All-Star Dwight Evans, a.k.a. Dewey. Evans signs a 1-year contract with the Baltimore Orioles, plays the 1991 season for them, and retires with 385 home runs and a reputation as one of the best-fielding right fielders ever.

In that 1991 season, I visited Boston for the first time, and watched the Red Sox without Evans beat the Orioles with him at Fenway Park. Coming out of South Station, one of the city's two major rail terminals, I saw that the street area around it was called Dewey Square. Forgetting about Admiral George Dewey, the naval hero of the Spanish-American War, I thought, "Wow, this city is so crazy about its Red Sox, they named a square after Dwight Evans!"

Also on this day, İlkay Gündoğan is born in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. A German of Turkish descent, the midfielder started out in the youth system of Gelsenkirchen club Schalke 04, but would star for their arch-rivals, Borussia Dortmund. He helped them win the German version of the Double, the Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal, in 2012, and reach the 2013 Champions League Final.

He was selected to play for Germany in Euro 2012, but injuries kept him out of the the 2014 World Cup (which Germany won) and Euro 2016. He now plays for Manchester City.

October 24, 1991, 25 years ago: David Justice, Lonnie Smith and Brian Hunter hit home runs to back Tom Glavine, and the Atlanta Braves beat the Minnesota Twins 14-5. The Braves need 1 more win to clinch their 1st title in Atlanta -- but Game 6 and, if necessary, Game 7 will be at the Metrodome.

This was the only game of the Series that was not close.

October 24, 1992: For the 1st time, a World Series is won by a team from outside the United States of America. The Toronto Blue Jays clinch their 1st World Championship with a 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 6.

Dave Winfield's 2-out‚ 2-run double in the top of the 11th gives Toronto a 4-2 lead. The Braves score 1 run in the bottom half of the inning, and have the tying run on 3rd when the final out is made. Jimmy Key wins the game in relief‚ and Candy Maldonado homers for the Blue Jays.

Toronto catcher Pat Borders‚ with a .450 BA‚ is named Series MVP. Winfield, derided as "Mister May" by Yankee owner George Steinbrenner for his poor performances in the 1981 World Series and subsequent Pennant races, finally has his ring, in his 20th season in the majors.

October 24, 1993: Cloyce Box dies in the Dallas suburb of Frisco, Texas. He was 70. A 2-time Pro Bowl end, he helped the Detroit Lions win the NFL Championship in 1952 and 1953. He later opened a ranch, which was the stand-in for the Southfork Ranch on the 1st 5 episodes of Dallas in 1978.

Also on this day, Heinz Kubsch dies at age 63. A goalkeeper for FK Pirmasens, he was the backup goalie on the West German team that won the 1954 World Cup.

October 24, 1996, 20 years ago: Game 5 of the World Series. Andy Pettitte, in just his 2nd season in the majors, opposes seasoned veteran John Smoltz, who is pitching in his 4th World Series. The Yankees take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 4th, thanks to an error by Marquis Grissom and a double by Cecil Fielder.

In the bottom of the 6th, the Braves put 2 runners on with nobody out. A bunt is attempted by Mark Lemke, but Pettitte snares it, and throws lefthanded to Charlie Hayes at 3rd base, nailing the lead runner. The next batter, Chipper Jones, hits a comebacker to Pettitte, who throws to Derek Jeter covering 2nd base for one, over to Fielder on 1st, and it's an inning-ending double play.

That's the Braves' last threat until the last out, when John Wetteland comes on to face once and future Yankee Luis Polonia, who lines a shot into the gap, which an injured Paul O'Neill somehow catches, to save the 5-hit shutout.

The Yankees have taken all 3 games in Atlanta, and take a 3 games to 2 lead back to Yankee Stadium, just as former Brave, now Yankee, manager Joe Torre predicted to owner George Steinbrenner. This is the last game ever played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, after 30 major league seasons (plus 1 preceding season in the minors), as the Braves move into Turner Field for the next season.

Also on this day, Kyla Briana Ross is born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and grows up in the Los Angeles suburb of Aliso Viejo, California. She was one of the "Fierce Five" U.S. Olympic team that won the women's gymnastics Gold Medal at the 2012 Olympics in London.


October 24, 2000: Game 3 of the World Series at Shea Stadium. The Mets defeat the Yankees‚ 4-2‚ behind the pitching of Rick Reed and their bullpen. Benny Agbayani's 8th inning double is the key hit for the Mets as they cut the Yankees Series lead to 2-games-to-1. Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez strikes out 12, a Series record for a Yankee pitcher, but loses a postseason game for the 1st time after 8 wins.

The loss ends the Yankees' record streak of 14 consecutive wins in World Series action. This would be the last World Series game won by the Mets until Game 3 in 2015.

October 24, 2002: Game 5 of the World Series at Pacific Bell Park (now AT&T Park) in San Francisco. Jeff Kent hits 2 home runs, and the Giants pound the Anaheim Angels 16-4. (Only once, the 1936 Yankees against the New York edition of the Giants, has a team scored more than 16 runs in a Series game.)

The Giants now need to win just 1 of the possible 2 games in Anaheim to take their 1st World Championship in 45 seasons in San Francisco. They, and their long-suffering fans, will have to agonize through the next 2 games, and then wait 8 more years.

Also on this day, the Boston Bruins retire the Number 24 of 1970s star and former Captain Terry O'Reilly, before their home opener at the Fleet Center (now the TD Garden). The game, against the Ottawa Seantors, ends in a 2-2 tie.

Also on this day, Hermán Gaviria and Giovanni Córdoba are struck by lightning in training with Deportivo Cali in Cali, Colombia. Gavriria, a midfielder who had played for Brazil in the 1994 World Cup, dies instantly, at the age of 32. Córdoba died 3 days later, at 24.

To make matters worse. Córdoba's brother, Hernan Córdoba, a striker for Atlético Huila, was killed in a car crash 7 years later. He was only 19.

October 24, 2004: The Boston Red Sox take a 2-games-to-0 lead in the World Series with a 6-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals at Fenway Park. Curt Schilling, again wearing the Bloody Sock, gets the win. Orlando Cabrera‚ Mark Bellhorn‚ and Jason Varitek each drive in a pair of runs.

But, as disgusting as the Red Sox cheating their way to another World Series is, that wasn't the most disgusting sporting event that happened on this day. Not by a long shot.

Arsenal had gone 49 straight Premier League games without a loss, a record streak for top-flight English "football" dating back to the founding of The Football League in 1888. Arsenal hadn't lost since Leeds United beat them on May 7, 2003 -- 536 days.

Making it 50 straight games without a loss would have been great semantically, but more important was who they were playing in Game 50: They went into Old Trafford, home of the other dominant team of the era, Manchester United.

The game was scoreless going into the 72nd minute (out of 90, so 80 percent done), mainly because United's players, particularly the Neville brothers -- right back Gary and midfielder Phil, not the singing Neville brothers of New Orleans -- were kicking Gunners forward Jose Antonio Reyes into oblivion, rendering him too timid to shoot -- he was, literally, intimidated. In addition, United's Dutch striker, Ruud van Nistelrooy -- nicknamed Van Horseface due to an uncanny facial resemblance to Seattle Slew -- had a challenge on Arsenal defender Ashley Cole that was clearly worthy of a straight red card. So the Red Devils should have been down to no more than 10 men, possibly as few as 8.

But the referee was Mike Riley, and he hates Arsenal. (Not to be confused with the Mike Riley who is currently head football coach at the University of Nebraska.) He gave only 2 cards to United all match, a yellow each to the Neville brothers. Indeed, van Nistelrooy was retroactively given the penalty he would have gotten if, in fact, he had received a straight red during the game: 3 domestic games. (2 yellows, which equal 1 red, would have been a mere 1-game suspension.)

In that 72nd minute, United's young striker, Wayne Rooney, on his 19th birthday, executed a blatant dive in the 18-yard box. Instead of properly giving him a straight red card and sending him off, Riley called a foul on Arsenal defender Sol Campbell, who never even touched Rooney. It was a completely bogus call, and he awarded a penalty, which van Nistelrooy converted. Rooney added another goal that he didn't deserve in the 90th minute, and United had unfairly won, 2-0.

In contrast to the 2 yellow cards on United, Riley had actually given Arsenal 3 yellow cards -- and the alleged penalty foul by Campbell wasn't one of them.

The fireworks for this most dubious of games in the long and dubious history of Arsenal-Manchester United matches were hardly over at the final whistle. Despite being teammates on the national side, Campbell refused to shake Rooney's hand, a deserved mark of disrespect. Entering the tunnel to head to the locker rooms, United manager Alex Ferguson was hit in the face by a slice of pizza from the postgame spread in Arsenal's locker room.

The game becomes known as the Battle of the Buffet, and, as it turned out, the Arsenal player who threw the slice was 17-year-old Spanish midfield wizard Cesc Fàbregas. As it also turned out, this, not anything he did on the field from 2003 to 2011, was the best thing Fàbregas did in an Arsenal uniform, the traitorous bastard.

October 24, 2006, 10 years ago: Game 3 of the World Series, at the brand-new 3rd ballpark to be named Busch Stadium. The St. Louis Cardinals follow the 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates, the 1911 New York Giants, the 1923 Yankees, and the 1970 Cincinnati Reds in hosting a World Series in their 1st year in a new ballpark. (They have since been followed by the 2009 Yankees.)

Chris Carpenter pitches brilliantly, and Braden Looper closes out the 3-hit shutout in the 9th, as the Cardinals defeat the Detroit Tigers 5-0, and take a 2-1 Series lead. This was Carpenter's World Series debut, as he had been injured for the 2004 Fall Classic, in which the Cards were swept by the Boston Red Sox. Would he have made a difference, thus extending the Curse of the Bambino to at least 2007? We'll never know, but he made a difference in 2006.

Also on this day, Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, sells the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics to Clay Bennett. He'd bought them in 2001, but he didn't run the team like a sports team, he ran it like a business, and, in so doing, alienated a lot of people, including their best player, Gary Payton, driving him away.

Whatever persuasive techniques he used to build Starbucks were ineffective in convincing the local governments to help him build a new arena or expand the old one. Since he was worth about $3 billion, and a new arena would have cost about $500 million, he could have afforded to build 6 new arenas for the team. But ask a billionaire to pay out of his own pocket for something that would help the community? "That's socialism!"

He sold the Sonics to Bennett, taking him at his word (Schultz said) that he wouldn't move the team, when everybody in Washington State and his dog knew that the team would be moved to Bennett's hometown of Oklahoma City.

Schultz might be a genius when it comes to running and marketing Starbucks, but all his business sense seemed to desert him when it came to running a major league sports team. He, not Clay Bennett, is the reason the Seattle SuperSonics are, officially, in limbo. And most former (and future?) Sonics fans get that: Some hate Bennett, but most blame Schultz.

And if there is ever a new Sonics -- an expansion team or a moved team -- Schultz won't be asked to be a part of the ownership group. I doubt they'll even negotiate to put a Starbucks stand in KeyArena or its replacement.

October 24, 2007: Game 1 of the World Series, the 1st Series game for the Colorado Rockies. They had won 21 of their last 22, counting both the regular season and the postseason. But Dustin Pedroia puts an end to that early, leading off the game with a home run. This is only the 2nd time this has been done in a Series game, after Don Buford of the Baltimore Orioles off Tom Seaver of the Mets in Game 1 in 1969.

The Sox run away with this game, 13-1, and, after doing spectacularly well for the last month, the Rockies will not win another game that counts until April 1, 2008.

October 24, 2011: Game 5 of the World Series. Mitch Moreland and Adrian Beltre back the veteran Darren Oliver with home runs, and the Texas Rangers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2. The Rangers need 1 more win to take their 1st-ever World Championship.

They're still looking for that 1 more win. Indeed, this remains the last World Series game played in the State of Texas.

October 24, 2012: Babe Ruth, Babe Ruth again, Reggie Jackson, Albert Pujols… Pablo Sandoval? Yes, Pablo Sandoval hits 3 home runs in a World Series game, helping the San Francisco Giants beat the Detroit Tigers 8-3 in Game 1. 

Also of note was Gerry Davis becoming the umpire with the most postseason games worked: He would finish the Series, which was swept by the Giants, with 115.

Also on this day, Jeff Blatnick dies -- not from Hodgkin's lymphoma, which he had battled in the early 1980s, but from complications from heart surgery. He was only 55.

After beating cancer, the Albany-area native won America's 1st-ever Olympic Gold Medal in Greco-Roman wrestling, in 1984 in Los Angeles. (Steve Fraser won the 2nd the same day.) Interviewed afterward, through tears of joy, he yelled, "I'm a happy dude!" His cancer returned, but he beat it again, and served as a commentator for NBC at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.

From 1994 onward, he was involved in Ultimate Fighting, helping to standardize its rules and broadcasting the sport. When he died, it was for announcing UFC bouts, not his wrestling title, that he was best known.

Also on this day, Margaret Osborne duPont dies in El Paso, Texas. She was 94. The top female tennis player in the world in the late 1940s, she won the U.S. Open 3 times, the French Open twice, and Wimbledon in 1947.

October 24, 2013: Game 2 of the World Series. Despite another steroid-aided home run by David Ortiz, Michael Wacha outpitches John Lackey, and the Cardinals beat the Red Sox 4-2, to tie the Series up heading to St. Louis.

After their sweeps of 2004* and 2007*, this was the 1st World Series game lost by the Sox since... Game 7 in 1986.

October 24, 2014: Game 3 of the World Series. After 11 seasons in the major leagues, Jeremy Guthrie of the Kansas City Royals makes his 1st World Series start. After 16 seasons, so does Tim Hudson of the San Francisco Giants. Guthrie gets the key hits he needs, Hudson doesn't, and the Royals beat the Giants 3-2, and take a 2-1 lead in the Series.

Also on this day, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi dies in a car crash in Witbank, South Africa. He was 34 years old. He won a Silver Medal in the 800 meters at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, and Gold Medals at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and the 2009 World Championships of Track & Field.

No comments: