Saturday, November 28, 2020

Scores On This Historic Day: November 28, 1925, The "Old" Madison Square Garden Opens

November 28, 1925: Madison Square Garden, the 3rd building with the name, opens between 49th and 50th Streets, between 8th and 9th Avenues, in Midtown Manhattan, at the northern end of the Theater District. The front entrance is on 8th Avenue, topped by a marquee that will soon be world-famous.
The 1st Garden was built at the northeast corner of 26th Street and Madison Avenue, catty-corner from Madison Square Park, in 1879. It had no roof. It was replaced in 1890 with a Moorish-style building, designed by the renowned architect Stanford White, that not only had a roof, but a tower with a roof garden where shows were hosted, and an apartment for White atop that.

(White would take showgirls up there, for a pre-movies version of a "casting couch." One was Evelyn Nesbit, whom he then made a star. She left him for a man named Harry Thaw. On June 25, 1906, jealous over Evelyn still having feelings for "Stanny," Thaw went to the roof garden during a show, and shot White. Evelyn's star faded: Late in life, she said, "Stanny White died. My fate was worse: I lived.")

The New York Life insurance company owned the mortgage on the 2nd Garden, and decided to tear it down to build their new headquarters. George "Tex" Rickard, the top boxing promoter of the era, decided to build his own arena, where he wouldn't have to worry about anybody else's whims. He was lucky that New York Life was willing to sell him the rights to the name "Madison Square Garden": It was already a valuable brand name, which is a big reason why the "new Garden" has never sold naming rights.

When his Garden proved successful, he decided to build 6 copies, all over America. It didn't work out that way: He built the Boston Madison Square Garden in 1928 -- soon, it became simply "The Boston Garden" -- but died early the next year. He had gone to Miami to escape the cold New York weather, and to make a deal on a prizefight featuring up-and-coming heavyweight Jack Sharkey (who would hold the title from mid-1932 to mid-1933), but came down with appendicitis. This was before antibiotics, and he was dead at age 59.

The 1st event at The Garden was a six-day bicycle race. It sounds ridiculous today, but this kind of competition was huge in the "Roaring Twenties," especially in Europe, where it's still popular 100 years later. Teams of 2 men take turns riding for 6 days straight, from 6:00 PM to 2:00 AM, and the winner is the team that completes the most laps.

The 1st prizefight was held on December 8, and the arena became known as "The Mecca of Boxing." Heavyweight Joe Louis, light heavyweight Archie Moore, middleweight Sugar Ray Robinson, lightweight Henry Armstrong, and more became internationally-known superstars from their fights at The Garden.

It would also be known as "The Mecca of Basketball," with collegiate doubleheaders starting in 1934. It became a secondary home court for the City's college teams: New York University (NYU), City College of New York (CCNY), Long Island University (LIU), Columbia, Fordham and St. John's.

It also hosted the annual National Invitational Tournament (NIT), starting in 1938. And it hosted what would now be called the NCAA Final Four in 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948 and 1950, the last of these won by CCNY, which also won the NIT that year, the only time this "double" was ever achieved. 

The point-shaving scandal the next year crippled college basketball in New York City, and not only led to St. John's, not accused in the scandal, being the only major program that has survived on that level, but the NCAA ruling that teams could no longer compete in both their tournament and the NIT. The Final Four did not return to the New York Tri-State Area until 1996, when it was held at the Meadowlands.

That scandal coincided with the 1st trip to the NBA Finals for the New York Knicks, who debuted at The Garden in 1946. The scandal may have saved the Knicks, and thus may also have saved the NBA: Hoop fans needed something to turn to.

Rickard, who didn't always do things on the up-and-up, offered The Garden to Big Bill Dwyer, a bootlegger, who founded a hockey team, the New York Americans. The 1st NHL team in New York debuted on December 15, 1925, losing to the Montreal Canadiens 3-1.

The "Amerks" did so well at the box office that Rickard, noting that New York had 3 Major League Baseball teams, decided that it could support 2 hockey teams. So he founded his own team, and when the media found out, they nicknamed the new team "Tex's Rangers." He decided to go with it, and the New York Rangers debuted at The Garden on November 16, 1926, beating the Montreal Maroons 1-0.

With Rickard's promotional skills, the Rangers proved even more successful than the Americans. World War II knocked the Amerks out, as the manpower drain caused by the American and Canadian military drafts forced them to suspend operations after the 1941-42 season, and they never returned.

But the Rangers, the Knicks, college basketball games, prizefights, circuses, musical performances, and an event that predated even the 1st Garden, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, continued at The Garden through the 1930s, the '40s, and the '50s. Madison Square Garden was right up there with the Empire State Building and Grand Central Terminal as the most famous building in the City.

But poor sight lines, and the need for more space and more dates, proved the arena's undoing. In 1960, the Pennsylvania Railroad, desperate for money, sold the air rights above Pennsylvania Station, between 31st and 33rd Streets and 7th and 8th Avenues, to the Madison Square Garden Corporation. The plan was to build a new station on the site, and a new arena on top of that.

On the afternoon of February 11, 1968, the Rangers played their last game at "the Old Garden," a 3-3 tie with the Detroit Red Wings, which was followed by a final skate with several NHL legends, including the Wings' still-active Gordie Howe. That night, "the New Garden" opened with "The Night of the Century," a salute to the USO, the United Service Organizations, which since 1941 has worked with the armed forces to provide supplies and entertainment. The co-hosts were old film partners and golfing buddies Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.

The last event at the Old Garden was 2 days later, February 13, the Westminster Dog Show. Demolition soon began. The site became a parking lot while various parties haggled over what to build on the site. Finally, in 1989, the 778-foot office and residential tower Worldwide Plaza opened there. The Subway station at 50th Street includes a mural dedicated to the Old Garden.
Worldwide Plaza


November 28, 1925 was a Saturday. It was the off-season for baseball. It was the 1st season for the American Basketball League, but that could hardly be called "major league," and I can't find a list of games played there that day. For all I know, there might not have been any. The NHL season hadn't started yet, either.

There was, however, 1 NFL game played on that Saturday. The Frankford Yellow Jackets beat the Green Bay Packers, 13-7 at Frankford Stadium in Northeast Philadelphia. The Jackets won the NFL Championship in 1926, but the Great Depression did them in, and they folded in 1931.

The Cleveland Bulldogs were an NFL team. The Atlantic City Roses were not: They were a semipro team run by the Melrose Athletic Club of Atlantic City, New Jersey. But the Bulldogs played the Roses on this day, winning 12-0 at Bader Field, a minor-league ballpark next to the airport of the same name, where The Sandcastle, later the home of the minor-league Atlantic City Surf, was built.

And there was college football on this Saturday after Thanksgiving. The University of Washington finished its regular season 10-0-1, by beating the University of Oregon 15-14 at Husky Stadium in Seattle. Brown University played Colgate University to a 14-14 at Brown Stadium in Providence, Rhode Island. And the Army-Navy Game was played at the Polo Grounds in New York. Army beat Navy 10-3.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Scores On This Historic Day: November 25, 1986, The Iran-Contra Scandal

November 25, 1986: Of all the scandals in the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, what already should have been the biggest one gets a lot bigger.

On the 3rd, 1 day before Congressional elections, Ash-Shiraa (Arabic for "The Sail"), a magazine based in the Middle Eastern nation of Lebanon, reported that the American government has secretly been selling weapons to Iran, in order to secure the release of 7 American hostages held in Lebanon by pro-Iranian groups.

And if this had been the extent of Reagan's involvement, it would have been bad enough, an impeachable offense. This was not the extent of it.

On November 4, the Democratic Party gained 8 seats in the U.S. Senate, enough to take control for the 1st time in 6 years. That was actually more seats than they gained in the House of Representatives, 5, but they already had control there. For the last 2 years of Reagan's 2nd term -- regardless of whether he finishes it -- Congress will be fully under Democratic control, making it more willing to investigate any misdeeds for which he and his men were responsible.

On November 25, U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese, who had worked with Reagan since the beginning of his tenure as Governor of California in 1967, publicly admitted that profits from weapons sales to Iran were made available to assist the Contras, a right-wing paramilitary group looking to overthrow the Communist government of Nicaragua.

This was prohibited by the Boland Amendment to the War Powers Act of 1973. Eddie Boland was a Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts, and he wanted to outlaw such assistance, because people from his district, aid workers in Nicaragua, had been killed by the Contras. It was unanimously passed by Congress in 1982, and Reagan himself had signed it into law.

Therefore, if it could be proven that Reagan had authorized the "Contra" part of what had now become known as "The Iran-Contra Affair," he needed to be impeached by the House, and convicted and removed from office by the Senate. This was just 12 years after Richard Nixon resigned the Presidency, rather than face that likelihood over the Watergate scandal, and many of the major players in Congress then were still there at this point, so it was fresh in people's memory. 

Also on the 25th, former U.S. Navy Admiral John Poindexter, Reagan's National Security Adviser, up to his neck in the scandal, resigned. One of his aides, Oliver North, a Lieutenant Colonel still on active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps, was discovered to have shredded documents relating to the funding of the Contras, and Reagan flat-out fired him.

An actor before going into politics, Reagan made 69 films between 1937 and 1964, 4 with his 1st wife, Jane Wyman, and 1 with his 2nd wife and eventual First Lady, then billed as Nancy Davis. In 2 of his films, he, a former football player at NCAA Division III Eureka College in Illinois, played sports legends: Notre Dame back George Gipp in Knute Rockne, All-American in 1940; and St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander (a man named for a President) in The Winning Team in 1952.

But there was no role he played better than "President Reagan." Parodying a commercial for pain reliever that debuted during his 1st term, "I'm not a doctor, but... " I said, "Ronald Reagan isn't a great President, but he plays one on TV." And no matter what bad things happened on his watch, nothing seemed to faze him.

Iran-Contra fazed Ronald Reagan. He was now approaching his 76th birthday, and, for the first time, he looked tired. The familiar smile was seen less often. There were times, especially during press conferences, where not only was his famed ability to verbally fence with, and disarm, reporters gone, but he looked like, as had often been said of boxers who had taken a beating, he didn't even know where he was.

After bad performances in his debates with Walter Mondale during the 1984 election, people began to joke that Reagan, by that point the oldest President in American history, had Alzheimer's disease. Now, it looked like it was no longer a joke. Indeed, in 1994, he revealed that he now had it, but wouldn't admit to having had it while still President.

Howard Baker, the former Senate Majority Leader from Tennessee who had been one of Reagan's competitors for the 1980 Republican nomination for President, and had been a member of the Senate Select Committee investigating Watergate, was brought in as his new White House Chief of Staff, to get the White House running properly again, and also to calm his old friends on Congress down.

By early May, when hearings were underway, it became clear that, unlike with Nixon, nobody was going to "flip" on Reagan. No Articles of Impeachment were ever drawn up against him. If he was still alive on January 20, 1989, the end of his 2nd term, he was going to serve it out.

He did, leaving office just short of turning 78. (The current President, Joe Biden, has broken his record. Despite attacks by Republicans, his mind is still sharp.) Reagan admitted to having Alzheimer's in 1994, stepped out of public life, and died in 2004, at age 93, at the time the oldest former President ever.

In 1998, with Reagan and most of the people associated with his Administration still alive, PBS aired a documentary as part of its series The American Experience: The Presidents. Nancy was not interviewed, but his children were: Sons Michael and Ronald, and daughters Maureen and Patti (who uses her mother's maiden name as her last name, Davis).

Meese was interviewed, but while he resigned as Attorney General due to his apparent role in the Wedtech scandal, he has never been indicted for any crimes, and he appears not to have committed any of the crimes connected to Iran-Contra. The major figures involved in Iran-Contra were not interviewed: Not Poindexter, not North, not Fawn Hall, the secretary he ordered to do the document shredding.

One exception was Robert C. "Bud" McFarlane, Poindexter's predecessor as National Security Adviser. In his interview, he said that, on July 18, 1985, while Reagan was hospitalized for cancer surgery, he presented the President with the plan of the arms sales to Iran and the redirection of the profits to the Contras, and that Reagan -- possibly compromised due to the drugs he was being prescribed -- approved it.

This contradicted what McFarlane had said in his testimony before Congress. He had already pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress, and was sentenced to 2 years' probation -- no jail time. Reagan's Vice President and successor as President, George H.W. Bush, made McFarlane the beneficiary of one of his "Christmas Pardons" on December 24, 1992.

If McFarlane had told Congress the truth in the Spring of 1987, Reagan could well have been impeached and removed by the end of the calendar year. Bush would have had a full year as an incumbent under his belt as he ran for President in 1988, but would have had to do a lot more defending of himself, his people, and the Republican Party in general than he actually ended up having to do. And, instead of winning in a landslide, he might have lost.

McFarlane is still alive, age 83. Lots of people were convicted in connection with Iran-Contra. Thanks to Bush, few of them really paid for it. Reagan got away with it completely.


November 25, 1986 was a Tuesday, 2 days before Thanksgiving. That made it the off-season for baseball, and an off-day for the NFL. There were 8 games played in the NBA that night:

* The New York Knicks beat the Houston Rockets, 102-93 at Madison Square Garden. Gerald Henderson came off the bench to lead Knick scorers with 21 points. Patrick Ewing did not play, for reasons I've forgotten and for which I can't find a reason online. Hakeem Olajuwon matched his uniform number by scoring 34 in defeat.

* The New Jersey Nets lost to the San Antonio Spurs, 117-99 at the HemisFair Arena in San Antonio. Orlando Woolridge led the Meadowlands team with 21 points.

* The Philadelphia 76ers beat their arch-rivals, the Boston Celtics, 102-100 at The Spectrum in Philadelphia. Maurice Cheeks led the Sixers with 23 points. A young Charles Barkley scored 17. Julius "Dr. J" Erving, in his final season, scored 16. The Celtics' Big Three? Kevin McHale 29, Larry Bird 22, Robert Parish 10.

* The Washington Bullets beat the Portland Trail Blazers, 111-99 at the Capital Centre in the Washington suburb of Landover, Maryland.

* The Atlanta Hawks beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 113-107 at the Great Western Forum in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood, California. Dominique Wilkins scored 26, while Magic Johnson had 22 and Byron Scott 20 for the Lakers. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was held to 16.

* The Golden State Warriors beat the Utah Jazz, 111-106 at what's now named the Oracle Arena in Oakland.

* The Sacramento Kings beat the Phoenix Suns, 123-102 at the ARCO Arena in Sacramento. This was the 10,333-seat original version, not its 17,317-seat successor built in 1988, later known as the Power Balance Pavilion and the Sleep Train Arena. The old arena, in California's capital city, has been converted into office space, and now houses the State's Department of Consumer Affairs. The new arena has been converted into a hospital for COVID-19 victims, and its long-term fate is uncertain.

* And the Seattle SuperSonics beat the Los Angeles Clippers, 113-103 at the Seattle Center Coliseum.

There were 3 NHL games played on the day, only 1 involving a New York Tri-State Area team:

* The New York Islanders beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, 5-1 at the Nassau Coliseum.

* The Quebec Nordiques beat their arch-rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, 2-1 at Le Colisée de Québec

* And the Vancouver Canucks beat the Los Angeles Kings, 11-5 at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver.

Diego Maradona, 1960-2020

Just 26 days ago, needing a milestone tweet for October 30, I wrote a post for the 60th Birthday of Diego Maradona. Shortly thereafter, he had heart trouble and brain surgery, and it looked like he might die. Then, it looked like he might recover.

But now, I have to re-post this, with a sad addendum.

Diego Armando Maradona Franco was born on October 30, 1960, in Lanus, Buenos Aires state, Argentina. He is regarded as one of the greatest soccer players of all time. So why did he have to cheat?

El Pibe de Oro (The Golden Boy) played for Buenos Aires (city) team Argentinos Juniors from 1976 to 1981; Buenos Aires giants Boca Juniors from the middle of the 1980-81 season, winning the league title with them, until the end of 1981-82; F.C. Barcelona in Spain until 1984, winning the 1983 Copa del Rey; S.S.C. Napoli of Naples, Italy until 1991; Sevilla Spain in 1992-93; back in Argentina with Rosario team Newell's Old Boys in 1993-94 and back to Boca Juniors from 1995 to 1997.

He played for Argentina in the 1982 World Cup, but it would be the 1986 World Cup for which he would be most remembered. He practically singlehandedly dragged La Albiceleste (The Sky Blues) to the title, with the key moment being his 2-goal game against England in the Quarterfinal.

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."
The England goalkeeper was Peter Shilton.

This came just 4 years after Britain had clobbered Argentina in the Falkland Islands War, so it was a huge boost for the Argentine people. 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 with Napoli in 1987 and 1990, the only 2 Serie A titles that team has ever won. They also won the Coppa Italia in 1987, for a Double; and the 1989 UEFA Cup (now known as the UEFA Europa League).
Despite having Spanish as its official language, Argentina's largest ethnic group is Italians, so many of its great players have done well in Italy. Besides Maradona, these include Luis Monti (Juventus of Turin in the 1930s), Raimundo Orsi (ditto), Enrique Guaita (Roma in the 1930s), Omar Sívori (Juventus and Napoli in the 1960s), Daniel Passarella (Fiorentina of Florence in the 1980s), Daniel Bertoni (ditto), Hernán Crespo (several teams in the 1990s and 2000s), Javier Zanetti (Internazionale Milano in the 1990s and 2000s), Esteban Cambiasso (Inter in the 2000s) and Diego Milito (Genoa and Inter in the 2000s). (Under the rules of the time, Monti, Orsi and Guaita were allowed to play on Italy's 1934 World Cup winners.)

Maradona took to Naples, and they took to him. "Naples was a crazy city," he said. "They were as crazy as me. Soccer was life itself."

However, Napoli narrowly missed winning Serie A in 1989, and for over 30 years, rumors have been floated that Maradona, already addicted to cocaine, was, shall we say, enticed to throw some matches. A photograph taken of Maradona in a hot tub with 2 men later identified as being with the Naples Mafia, the Camorro, didn't help.

The 1990 World Cup was played in Italy, and the Semifinal between Argentina and Italy was set for Naples. Maradona publicly asked the people of Naples to cheer for Argentina, so they would be cheering for him.

Instead, a banner was hung in the Stadio San Paolo, reading, "MARADONA WE LOVE YOU BUT ITALY IS OUR HOME." The game ended 1-1, and Maradona took the last penalty, to send Argentina to the Final. In a reverse of the 1986 Final, Argentina were beaten by West Germany.

It was his last hurrah as a player. He was suspended for the 1991-92 season for a positive drug test, ending his tenure in Italy. After Argentina's 1st 2 games of the 1994 World Cup, he was suspended for a year for another positive drug test, ending Argentina's chances for that tournament. He never played for the national side again.

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 has managed in Argentina, the United Arab Emirates and Mexico, and was managing Gimnasia in La Plata, Argentina before his health went downhill one last time. 

He was married once, and ivorced. He had 2 sons, one of whom, who goes by Diego Sinagra, plays in Italy for A.S.D. San Giorgio. He also had 2 daughters, Dalma and Giannina. Giannina married
Sergio Agüero, the Argentine striker whose last-minute-of-the-season goal won the 2012 Premier League title for Manchester City. They have a 11-year-old son, Benjamin. However, they have separated.

Maradona was a political leftist. He became friends with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez, and had tattoos of both Castro and his former partner in revolution, Maradona's fellow Argentine Che Guevara. 

And, in 2014, Maradona was caught on tape hitting his girlfriend and latest baby-mama, who then left him. "El Diez" was treated like a god for nearly 40 years. Gods do not like to not get their way.

Nevertheless, like fellow soccer legend, and fellow Number 10 of South America, Brazil's Pelé, he used his combination of a poor upbringing and athletic skill to produce a man-of-the-people image, and become the most popular person his country has ever produced.

In the leadup to the 2010 World Cup, Ken Bensinger wrote in the Houston Chronicle

To understand the gargantuan shadow Maradona casts over his football-mad homeland, one has to conjure up the athleticism of Michael Jordan, the power of Babe Ruth – and the human fallibility of Mike Tyson. Lump them together in a single barrel-chested man with shaggy black hair and you have El Diego, idol to the millions who call him D10S, a mashup of his playing number and the Spanish word for God. 
But God does not have to cheat. Diego Maradona will forever go down as the most famous cheater in the history of sports.

On November 3, 2020, 4 days after his 60th birthday, he underweight emergency brain surgery in La Plata, to treat a subdural hematoma. He was released on November 12. But, today, November 25, just 13 days after that, he died of a heart attack in Tigre, Buenos Aires Province.

Just as with Kobe Bryant and his 2003 Colorado rape case, the crimes and cheating of Maradona are being glossed over in the wake of his death:

Eric Cantona, Manchester United star of the 1990s: “Some say Pele was the greatest player of all time, but not me. Maradona will always be the greatest."

Jürgen Klinsmann, German star of the 1990s, and manager of the U.S. team in the 2014 World Cup: "Diego, we will miss you! You were an artist, we all admired you! RIP!"
Francesco Totti, who starred at AS Roma from 1992 to 2017: "You wrote the story of football... Ciao Diego."

Jürgen Klopp, manager of Liverpool: "Diego was a sensational guy and Maradona had some struggles, let me say it like this. I will miss them both."

Lionel Messi, Barcelona star who played under him for Argentina at the 2010 World Cup: "A very sad day for all Argentines and for football. He leaves us but does not leave, because Diego is eternal.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Portuguese star currently with Juventus: "Today I'm saying goodbye to a friend, and the world says goodbye to an eternal genius."

Pelé: "I have lost a dear friend, and the world has lost a legend. One day, I hope, we will play soccer together in the sky."

There are no drugs in Heaven, and no drug tests. But there may be referees, with yellow and red cards. I guess we'll find out how good Diego Maradona really was.

Scores On This Historic Day: November 25, 1976, Rutgers Completes an Undefeated Football Season

November 25, 1976, Thanksgiving Day: Rutgers University, which played and won the 1st college football game in 1869, completes an undefeated football season. This followed, earlier in the year, the school's basketball team nearly doing the same, going 31-0 and reaching the NCAA Final Four, before losing.

By no means were they a "big-time" college football team in those days. Rutgers Stadium, built in 1938 in Piscataway, Middlesex County, New Jersey, across the Raritan River from the school's main campus in New Brunswick, seated only 23,000 people, with grassy berms on either side of the north stand that could fill up with people and raise capacity to about 30,000. And they were playing other small Northeastern schools as well.

Here's the slate: 

1-0: September 11, beat the U.S. Naval Academy, 13-3 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland.

2-0: September 18, beat Bucknell University, 19-7 at Memorial Stadium in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. That stadium would later be renamed for Bucknell's most famous graduate, Christy Mathewson, 1 of the 1st 5 members of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

3-0: September 25, beat Princeton University, 17-0 at Palmer Stadium in Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey. Not only were Princeton their arch-rivals, but they were also their opponents in the 1st college game in 1869. (Rutgers won that, 6 goals to 4.)

4-0: October 2, beat Cornell University, 21-14 at Rutgers Stadium.

5-0: October 9, beat the University of Connecticut, a.k.a. "UConn," 38-9 at Rutgers Stadium.

6-0: October 16, beat Lehigh University, 28-21 at Taylor Stadium in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

7-0: October 23, beat Columbia University at Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, Bergen County, New Jersey. This was the 1st college game played at the Meadowlands, which is closer to Columbia's campus than to Rutgers'.

8-0: October 30, beat the University of Massachusetts, a.k.a. "UMass," 24-7 at Rutgers Stadium.

9-0: November 6, beat the University of Louisville, 34-0 at Rutgers Stadium.

10-0: November 13, beat Tulane University, 29-20 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Olreans. This was the 1st game Rutgers had ever played indoors.

11-0: November 25, beat Colgate University, 17-9 at Giants Stadium.

Like Rutgers, Navy was not what it once was, but did join NCAA Division I-A, now known as the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). So did Louisville and Tulane.

The Ivy League, including '76 Rutgers opponents Princeton, Cornell and Columbia, joined Division I-AA, now known as the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). So did '76 Rutgers opponents Bucknell, Lehigh, UMass and Colgate. So did UConn, although they eventually moved up to D I-A/FBS.

This schedule was so lightly regarded that only after Week 10 was Rutgers ranked by the Associated Press' poll, Number 19. And they only got up to Number 17, because they turned down an invite to the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, thinking they would get an invite to a bigger bowl, but that invite never game. And so 11-0 they remained.

And let's be honest: If there had been a Big East Conference, as Rutgers eventually joined in 1991, RU would have been slaughtered by the University of Pittsburgh, led by Heisman Trophy winner and eventual Dallas Cowboys Hall-of-Famer Tony Dorsett, who went 12-0 and won the National Championship.

Bret Kosup passed for 1,098 yards, Glen Kehler rushed for 764, and Mark Twitty had 514 receiving yards. The head coach was Frank Burns. No, not the incompetent right-wing surgeon then being played by Larry Linville on the TV show M*A*S*H
This Frank Burns was a native of Roselle Park, Union County, New Jersey. He had been a quarterback for Rutgers from 1945 to 1948, was an assistant coach "On the Banks of the Old Raritan" in 1949 and '50, served as head coach at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in 1951 and '52, coached at Rutgers again in 1955 and '56, spent 4 years as head coach at Chatham High School in Morris County, New Jersey, returned to Rutgers as an assistant in 1961, was named head coach in 1973, and remained through 1983, the early years of Rutgers' attempts to become "bigger time" in football. His career record was 84-52-2, 78-43-1 at Rutgers. He died in 2012, at age 84.


As I said, November 25, 1976 was Thanksgiving Day, therefore a Thursday. Major League Baseball was in its off-season. But there was 1 other significant college football game played that day, instead of on the Friday or Saturday of Thanksgiving Weekend: Before 75,000 at Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas, and millions more watching in prime time on ABC, Number 11 Texas A&M beat arch-rival Texas 27-3. Texas would rebound the next year, led by Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell, and win the Southwest Conference, and nearly the National Championship.

And there were 2 NFL games played that day:

* The Detroit Lions beat the Buffalo Bills, 27-14 at the Silverdome in the Detroit suburb of Pontiac, Michigan. In a losing effort for the Bills, O.J. Simpson rushed for 273 yards, a new single-game NFL record. Walter Payton would break that record the next season. O.J., of course, would go on to have a very different kind of "record."

* And the Dallas Cowboys beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 19-14 at Texas Stadium in the Dallas suburb of Irving, Texas.

There were 3 NBA games played that day:

* The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Detroit Pistons, 111-105 at The Coliseum in the Cleveland suburb of Richfield, Ohio. Austin Carr led the Cavs with 23 points.

* The Houston Rockets beat the New Orleans Jazz, 105-99 at the Superdome. In a losing cause, "Pistol" Pete Maravich scored 35 points. The Jazz moved to Salt Lake City in 1979, becoming the Utah Jazz.

* And the Phoenix Suns beat the Washington Bullets, 104-98 at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. Elvin Hayes scored 31 for the Bullets, the team now known as the Washington Wizards, but it wasn't enough.

There were 2 NHL games played that Thanksgiving, 1 involving a New York team:

* The New York Islanders lost to the Detroit Red Wings, 3-1 at the Nassau Coliseum. New York Rangers legend Eddie Giacomin was the winning goaltender for the Wings.

* And the Boston Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks, 4-2 at the Boston Garden.

And there were 2 games played that day in the World Hockey Association:

* The Quebec Nordiques beat the Indianapolis Racers, 5-0 at Colisée de Québec.

* And the New England Whalers beat the Birmingham Bulls, 5-3 at the Jefferson County Civic Center in Birmingham, Alabama. 

Scores On This Historic Day: November 25, 1920, The 1st Thanksgiving Day Parade

Judging by the cars in the background,
this is an old parade, but not the first one.

In the modern era, the parade begins on John F. Kennedy Boulevard at 20th Street, goes down JFK Blvd. to Penn Square, around City Hall, then up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. (You know: The Rocky Steps.) That's where the "big production numbers" are held for the TV broadcast.

Gimbels would sponsor the parade every year until 1986, going out of business the next year. WPVI-Channel 6, Philadelphia's ABC affiliate, which had broadcast the parade since 1966, took over sponsorship, partnering with another department store, Boscov's.

Boscov's is still in business, but ended their co-sponsorship after the 2007 Parade. IKEA did it the next 3 years. Since 2011, "6abc" has done it with Dunkin'. Being a restaurant chain, Dunkin' teams with 6abc to run a holiday food drive every year.

Tomorrow, due to COVID, the Parade will "go virtual." This will be the 1st cancellation of a full parade: Even the Great Depression and World War II couldn't stop it. Fortunately, last year, the 100th Parade was celebrated, so the 100th Anniversary was not ruined.

New York would get into the act in 1924, with Macy's holding the Parade. It starts at 77th Street and Central Park West, across from the American Museum of Natural History, goes down Central Park West to Columbus Circle, then down Central Park South (59th Street), then down 6th Avenue to Macy's flagship store at Herald Square: 34th Street, 6th Avenue and Broadway. (It used to turn from Central Park South to 7th Avenue, then down Broadway at Times Square, to Herald Square. The route was changed in 2009, to provide more room for the floats and balloons.)

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade became a legend in 1947, with the release of the holiday film Miracle On 34th Street, which has been remade in 1973 and 1994. In the 1st 2 versions, Macy's and Gimbels permitted the use of their names, because it was good publicity. By 1994, Gimbels was gone, and Macy's did not give permission, so fictional store names were used.

NBC has broadcast the Macy's Parade nationally since 1953. Like the one in Philadelphia, it features high school marching bands from around the country. Since the Parade is literally on Broadway, stars of Broadway musicals participate, doing their production numbers in front of Macy's front entrance.

Large balloons in the shape of popular children's characters are used, including, at various times, cartoon characters like Popeye and Underdog,  Peanuts characters Charlie Brown and Snoopy, Muppet characters like Kermit the Frog and Big Bird (even when characters from Sesame Street, including the Muppets used on the show, participate), and superheroes like Superman and Spider-Man.

The Macy's Parade always begins with a large animatronic turkey, flapping its wings and raising and lowering its head and eyelids; and, like the one in Philadelphia, always ends with a float containing Santa Claus' sleigh, to signal that, yes, the Christmas season -- and, more importantly from the sponsors' standpoint, the Christmas shopping season -- has begun in earnest. In New York, a small building representing Santa's Workshop is part of the float, and Mrs. Claus waves from it. In Philadelphia, Mrs. Claus rides in the sleigh with Santa.

McDonald's, headquartered in Chicago, sponsors that city's Thanksgiving parade. Other cities with them include Detroit, Houston and Seattle. Pittsburgh hosts a Celebrate the Season Parade on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.


November 25, 1920, like all Thanksgiving Days, was a Thursday. Up until 1938, it was celebrated on the last Thursday in November, which might be the 4th one in the month, or the 5th one. Since 1939, it's been officially the 4th Thursday in November, meaning it can fall on the 22nd, the 23rd, the 24th, the 25th, the 26th, the 27th or the 28th.

The American Professional Football Association was founded in 1920, and became the National Football League in 1922. Games on Thanksgiving Day are almost as old as the sport of American football itself, although the tradition of doing so in high school has significantly shrunk, due to State governing bodies wanting to make more money by expanding State Playoffs.

But on that 1st Thanksgiving Day in what is now NFL history, there were 6 games involving teams in the league:

* The Decatur Staleys beat the Chicago Tigers, 6-0 at Cubs Park. The Decatur Whats? The Chicago Who? Which Park? The Tigers went out of business after that 1st season. The Staley Starch Company sponsored a football team, and got former University of Illinois end George Halas to play, coach and manage it. The following season, he moved it to Cubs Park, renamed it the Chicago Staleys, and won the NFL Championship. The season after that, he renamed them the Chicago Bears. In 1926, Cubs Park was renamed Wrigley Field.

* The Chicago Boosters beat the Hammond Pros, 27-0 at DePaul University Field in Chicago. The Pros, from the Chicago satellite city of Hammond, Indiana, went out of business after the 1925 season. The Boosters were never an APFA/NFL member, were playing their 1st season, played 1 more, and folded.

* The Dayton Triangles beat the Detroit Heralds, 28-0 at Triangle Park in Dayton, Ohio. Both of these teams, despite Detroit being in Michigan, were members of the Ohio League, the NFL's predecessor as the leading league in professional football. The Heralds played 1 more year and folded. In 1934, the Portsmouth Spartans of southern Ohio became the Detroit Lions, and founded the tradition of Detroit playing at home on Thanksgiving.

The Triangles were charter APFA/NFL members, and folded after the Crash of 1929. But, in a way, they still exist. Bill Dwyer, a Prohibition bootlegger who owned the NHL's New York Americans, bought the rights to the Triangles, and established a football team named the Brooklyn Dodgers.

That team lasted until 1945, merging with the team with the oddest name in NFL history: The Boston Yanks. In 1949, that team became the New York Bulldogs. In 1951, they became the New York Yanks (not "Yankees," although they did play at Yankee Stadium).

They folded, but the rights to their players were bought by a Texas group that moved them, to become the Dallas Texans. No, this is not the team that founded the AFL and became the Kansas City Chiefs. This Texans team lasted just 1 season. Their rights were sold to the men who owned the Baltimore Colts from 1947 to 1950, and they became the new Baltimore Colts. In 1984, they became the Indianapolis Colts.

So, while the NFL, and the Colts themselves, do not consider them to be a corporate continuation of the Dayton Triangles -- which would lead them back to 1913, making them the 2nd-oldest franchise in the League, behind the Arizona Cardinals, who trace themselves back to Chicago in 1898 -- they are now playing just 117 miles from their "birthplace." And they've never missed a season, which is not something that can be said by the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Philadelphia Eagles (who merged for the 1943 season), the Los Angeles Rams (who suspended operations for 1943), or the Cardinals (who merged with the Steelers for 1944).

* The Akron Pros beat the Canton Bulldogs, 7-0 at League Park in Akron. Both of these teams came from the Ohio League. The Pros, led by player-coach Frederick Douglass "Fritz" Pollard, the 1st black head coach in any sport, and the only one until 1966 and the only one in the NFL until 1989, won the league's 1st title in 1920.

The Bulldogs were led by Jim Thorpe, who soon left to start a team of all Native Americans in Marion, Ohio: The Oorang Indians. Without him, the Bulldogs won the title in 1922, 1923 and 1924. However, the Pros folded after the 1926 season, and the Bulldogs only lasted 1 more year. 

* The Columbus Panhandles and the Elyria Athletics played to a 0-0 tie, in Elyria. Both teams came from the Ohio League, which Elyria won in 1912. But the Athletics never joined the proto-NFL, and folded after this season. The Panhandles joined the NFL, but folded after 1926.

* And the All-Tonawanda Lumberjacks beat the Rochester Jeffersons, 14-3 at the Bay Street Baseball Grounds in Rochester, New York. The Jeffersons were charter APFA/NFL members, but folded after the 1925 season.

The Lumberjacks, employees of American Kardex, based on Tonawanda, outside Buffalo, joined the APFA in 1921, under the name Tonawanda Kardex, but only played 1 game before dropping out, making them the briefest-existing team in NFL history.

There were also college football games played on this Thanksgiving Day:

* Georgia beat Clemson, 55-0 at Sanford Field in Athens, Georgia. Georgia Tech beat Auburn, 34-0 at Grant Field in Atlanta. Usually, Georgia plays Georgia Tech during Thanksgiving Weekend, although the day varies from year to year.

* Virginia beat North Carolina, 14-0 at Lambeth Field in Charlottesville, Virginia. Usually, Virginia plays Virginia Tech during Thanksgiving Weekend, while North Carolina wraps up its schedule against Duke the preceding Saturday.

* Alabama beat Mississippi A&M, later known as Mississippi State, 24-7 at Rickwood Field in Birmingham. Usually, Alabama plays Auburn during Thanksgiving Weekend, although the day varies from year to year. Mississippi State plays the University of Mississippi, a.k.a. Ole Miss, usually on Thanksgiving night. Ole Miss did not play on Thanksgiving in 1920.

* Tulane beat Louisiana State, 21-0 at State Field in Baton Rouge.

* The Big Ten wrapped up its games the preceding Saturday but one of its teams was in action: Michigan Agricultural College, who became Michigan State in 1925, lost to Notre Dame, 25-0 at College Field in East Lansing.

* Washington State beat Nebraska, 21-20 at Nebraska Field in Lincoln.

* Oklahoma beat Drake University of Des Moines, Iowa, 44-7 at Boyd Field in Norman, Oklahoma.

* USC beat Oregon, 21-0 at Tournament Park in Pasadena, where the Rose Bowl was played before the stadium of the same name was built.

Back East:

* Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh played to a tie, 0-0 at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.

* Maryland beat Johns Hopkins, 24-7 at College Field in College Park.

* Penn beat Cornell, 28-0 at the original Franklin Field in Philadelphia.

* And Rutgers went to the University of Detroit, and lost, 27-0 at Drinan Field in Detroit.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Scores On This Historic Day: November 22, 2000, The Brooks Brothers Riot

November 22, 2000: An election that began to be stolen on Election Day itself, November 7, takes a big step closer to being stolen, with "The Brooks Brothers Riot."

The Republican nominee for President, Governor George W. Bush of Texas, lost the national popular vote to the Democratic nominee, Vice President Al Gore. But he appeared to have won enough Statewide popular votes to win 271 Electoral Votes to Gore's 269.

In dispute was Florida, where Bush was originally certified to have won by 1,784 votes. It's important to note that the Governor of Florida was his brother, John Ellis "Jeb" Bush. Through his Secretary of State -- and, it was rumored, his mistress -- Katharine Harris, Jeb had the Florida vote fixed for his brother, including the deletion of the names of 55,000 people, nearly all black men, from the voter rolls. In other words, there was no way Gore wouldn't have gotten enough of those 55,000 votes to offset a 1,784-vote lead for "Dubya."

A clause in Florida's State Constitution mandated that, since the election was so close, a Statewide recount had to be done. The recount for Dade County, including the City of Miami, was done at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center, at 111 Northwest 1st Street in downtown Miami. (Clark was Mayor of Miami from 1967 to 1972, and again from 1993 to 1996.)

The re-count began, but Representative John E. Sweeney, then a freshman Congressman from New York's Capital Region, including the State capital of Albany, told an aide to "Shut it down." And so dozens of people, many of them wearing sharp suits typical of Republican staffers at the time -- hence the name of the demonstration, as Brooks Brothers is a popular store chain with them -- found their way into the building, and pounded on the doors of the room where the recount was being done, making it unsafe for the counters.

They got what they wanted. Bush's lead got down to 537 votes, when a local court ordered that the recount be stopped. In other words, some votes were never counted, not even once. The State Supreme Court ruled that the recount had to resume.

But on December 12, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the recount had to stop. And so, Bush's 537-vote win in Florida was certified by the State of Florida, and later by Congress.

Did Democratic protestors try to stop Congress from certifying this apparently stolen election, as Republican ones tried 20 years later? No. Every Democratic demonstration, including outside Bush's Inauguration as the 43rd President of the United States on January 20, 2001, was peaceful.

Many of the Miami demonstrators later took jobs in the Bush Administration. One of them was Roger Stone, a self-described "GOP Hitman," with a history of Republican dirty tricks going back to his work for Richard Nixon's Committee for the Re-Election of the President, the group behind the Watergate burglary of 1972.

Nobody was ever charged with a crime in connection with the Brooks Brothers Riot -- not with election fraud, not with property damage, not with assault, not even with trespassing, of which they were all guilty.


November 22, 2000 was a Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. As was tradition in my family, I spent Thanksgiving weekend at my grandmother's house, including the Thursday night with my parents and sister, and we sat transfixed at the TV, watching not football games -- the Detroit Lions beat the New England Patriots 34-9 at the Silverdome in suburban Pontiac, Michigan; while the Dallas Cowboys lost to the Minnesota Vikings, 27-15 at Texas Stadium in suburban Irving, Texas -- but footage of the Brooks Brothers Riot, on a seemingly endless loop, as talking heads on CNN and MSNBC tried to make sense of the most blatant election theft in American history.

Other Presidential elections have had accusations of fraud. But this was on television. Even the alleged theft of Illinois' votes by Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago in 1960 -- the overturning of which wouldn't have swung the election from John F. Kennedy to Nixon anyway -- wasn't caught by TV or film cameras. The Brooks Brothers Riot was, and the news networks were all too happy to show it over and over again, refusing to say that it was wrong.

The fact that Al Gore's rightly-won Presidency was being assassinated on November 22, the anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, seemed not to have occurred to most people. Certainly, I didn't think of it at the time. With the chaos of the election, the JFK anniversary may have been mentioned less than on any November 22 since 1963.

As I said, it was a Wednesday in November, midweek for the NFL, and the off-season for baseball. There were 11 games played in the NBA that night:

* The New York Knicks lost to the Atlanta Hawks, 78-74 at the Philips Arena in Atlanta. It's now named the State Farm Arena. Allan Houston led the Knicks with 21 points, but it wasn't enough.

* The New Jersey Nets lost to the Phoenix Suns, 97-85 at the AmericaWest Arena in Phoenix. (At the moment, the building's naming rights are unowned, and it's officially just "The Phoenix Suns Arena.") Stephon Marbury scored 30 for the Meadowlands team, and Jason Kidd 8 for the Suns.

At the end of the 2000-01 season, they would be traded for each other, a classic "My headache for your headache" trade. Marbury did little for the Suns, while Kidd singlehandedly turned the Nets from a terrible team to back-to-back NBA Finalists.

* The Boston Celtics beat the Houston Rockets, 96-81 at the FleetCenter in Boston. (It's now the TD Garden.)

* The Charlotte Hornets beat the Philadelphia 76ers, 88-73 at the Charlotte Coliseum.

* Elsewhere in Miami that day, the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Miami Heat, 86-67 at the American Airlines Arena. (It's now the FTX Arena.) Eighty-six to sixty-seven? I know this was a defensive era in the NBA, especially with a post-Lakers Pat Riley coaching the Heat, but it looks like votes weren't the only thing being undercounted in Miami!

* The Portland Trail Blazers beat the Milwaukee Bucks, 93-84 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee.

* The Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Vancouver Grizzlies, 101-100 at the Target Center in Minneapolis. This would be the Grizzlies' 6th and last season in Vancouver, as they moved to Memphis for 2001-02.

* The San Antonio Spurs beat the Seattle SuperSonics, 112-85 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

* The Utah Jazz beat their arch-rivals, the Denver Nuggets, 116-78 at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City. (It's now the Vivint Arena.)

* The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Golden State Warriors, 111-91 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. At the time, the Warriors thought of the Lakers as their arch-rivals, but the feeling was not reciprocated. Despite the Warriors' success of the 2010s, it still isn't.

* And the Sacramento Kings beat the Chicago Bulls, 100-71 at the ARCO Arena in Sacramento. (It's now the Sleep Train Arena.)

There were 12 NHL games that night. All 3 New York Tri-State Area teams were in action, including 2 of them against each other:

* The New Jersey Devils, defending Stanley Cup Champions (and also my team, so it's my prerogative to list them first if I want to), beat the team then known as "The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim," 5-2 at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim. (The team is now the Anaheim Ducks, and the arena is the Honda Center.) The Devils got goals from Patrik Elias in the 1st period, Jay Pandolfo and Scott Gomez in the 2nd, and Jason Arnott and Pandolfo again in the 3rd.

* In an arch-rivalry game, the New York Rangers beat the New York Islanders, 4-3 at the Nassau Coliseum. Theoren Fleury got the winner for the Broadway Blueshirts, with 35 seconds left in overtime.

* The Washington Capitals beat the Vancouver Canucks, 3-2 at the MCI Center in Washington. (It's now the Capital One Arena.) Andrei Nikolishin scored the winner in overtime.

* The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Atlanta Thrashers, 8-2 at the Ice Palace in Tampa. (It's now the Amalie Arena.)

* In an All-Canadian matchup, the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Edmonton Oilers, 4-3 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. (It's now the Scotiabank Arena.)

* The Philadelphia Flyers beat the Buffalo Sabres, 3-1 at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo. (It's now the KeyBank Center.)

* The Carolina Hurricanes beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-1 at the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh. (It had previously been known as the Civic Arena.)

* In an Original Six matchup, the Boston Bruins beat the Detroit Red Wings, 5-4 at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

* The Calgary Flames and the Minnesota Wild played to a tie, 1-1 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

* The Dallas Stars beat the Nashville Predators, 1-0 at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville. (It's now the Bridgestone Arena.)

* The Colorado Rockies beat the Columbus Blue Jackets, 5-2 at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (It's now the Ball Arena.)

* And the San Jose Sharks beat the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-1 at the San Jose Arena. (It's now the SAP Center.)

How to Be a Rutgers Fan at Purdue -- 2020 Edition

The Gateway to the Future Arch

Rutgers was supposed to travel to West Lafayette, Indiana to play Purdue University in football on October 10, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 shutdowns, that game was postponed until November 28. And, due to the restrictions, no fans will be permitted to attend.

The schools are not scheduled to play each other again until 2025, at Rutgers. Big 10 schedules only go that far ahead.

Therefore, this is the one Rutgers game this season for which I'm going to do a Trip Guide, because I literally don't know when I'll get another chance, unless I just want to do their "Old Oaken Bucket" game against cross-State rival Indiana, which will be at Purdue next season.

Also next season, Rutgers visits Northwestern, the last remaining Big Ten school that I have not done a Trip Guide for. Their visit to Evanston will complete the circuit.

Before You Go. Despite being in the Midwest, and on the Wabash River, West Lafayette is not on a Great Lake, bringing strong winds and "lake effect snow." So the weather won't be substantially different from what we get in the Middle Atlantic States.

The website of the Indianapolis Star is predicting mid-40s for next Saturday afternoon, and low 30s and rain -- but not snow -- for the evening. Bring a Winter jacket, and you may need an umbrella.

Indiana used to be 1 of 2 States, Arizona being the other, where Daylight Savings Time was an issue; however, since 2006 -- 4 years after a West Wing episode lampooned this -- the State has used it throughout. There will be no need to adjust your timepieces.

Tickets. Obviously, this won't be an issue in 2020. For 2019, ticket prices were as follows: Midfield, $42; ends, $34; end zones, $26. They may be the same, or a little more, for 2021 -- presuming things are back to normal by then.

Getting There. It's 760 miles from Times Square in Manhattan to downtown West Lafayette, Indiana, and 752 miles from SHI Stadium in Piscataway to Ross-Ade Stadium. Knowing this, your first reaction is going to be to fly out there.

Except you're not going to fly directly to West Lafayette. The University is 70 miles northwest of Indianapolis International Airport, and 144 miles southeast of O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. It may be the least accessible school among the original 10 members of the Big Ten. (Still a little easier to reach than Penn State.)

Despite this being Thanksgiving week, you could get nonstop flights on United Airlines from Newark to Indianapolis International Airport for a round-trip fare of just $321. So even if you have to rent a car for the last 70 miles, that's cheap.

Amtrak goes to Lafayette, Indiana. The station is at 200 N. 2nd Street. The problem is, the Cardinal only runs 3 times a week. You would board it at Penn Station on Friday at 6:45 AM, arriving at Lafayette on 7:35 AM on Saturday; and then you wouldn't be able to leave until Monday, and then you'd have to go to Chicago and change trains there, and that's just too complicated. Let's move on.

Greyhound goes to Lafayette, although you'd have to change buses in Indianapolis with a 3-hour-plus layover, and that's no fun. It's $344 round-trip. And you'd still have to take Bus 4B from Lafayette the last 1 mile, over the Wabash River, to the main campus, and another mile to the stadium. The Greyhound Station is at 316 N. 3rd Street, 3 blocks from the train station.

If you decide to drive, it's far enough that it will help to get someone to go with you and split the duties, and to trade off driving and sleeping. You'll need to get on the New Jersey Turnpike, and take Interstate 78 West across New Jersey, and at Harrisburg get on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which at this point will be both I-70 and I-76. When the two Interstates split outside Pittsburgh, stay on I-70 West.

You'll cross the northern tip of West Virginia, and go all the way across Ohio (through Columbus), and halfway through Indiana to Indianapolis. Then take I-65 North to Exit 175, an dhead west on Indiana Route 25/Schuyler Avenue. Make a right on Sagamore Parkway West, then a left on Yeager Road and a quick left on Northwestern Avenue. No, that street won't get you to the Northwestern University campus, it will get you to the Purdue Univesrity campus. 

If you do it right, you should spend about an hour and 15 minutes in New Jersey, 5 hours in Pennsylvania, 15 minutes in West Virginia, 3 hours and 45 minutes in Ohio, and 2 and a half hours in Indiana. That's going to be 12 hours and 45 minutes. Counting rest stops, preferably 6 of them, and accounting for traffic in both New York and Indianapolis, it should be about 15 hours.

Once In the City. Like anyplace else in America with the name, Lafayette and West Lafayette were named for Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette, hero of both the American and the French Revolutions.

Lafayette, founded in 1825, is home to about 67,000 people; and West Lafayette, founded in 1888, about 30,000, not counting Purdue students. State Street divides building addresses into North and South, and the River into East and West. The area is about 72 percent white, 16 percent Hispanic, 11 percent black, and 1 percent Asian. 

The sales tax in the State of Indiana is 7 percent. ZIP Codes in The Lafayette area start with the digits 479, and the Area Code is 765. The fare on GoCity Bus is just $1.00. The Journal & Courier is the local newspaper.

Purdue University was founded in 1869, and was named for its original benefactor, local businessman John Purdue. Since 2013, the school's President has been Mitch Daniels, a former Governor of Indiana, and Budget Director in the 1st term of President George W. Bush. He, however, is not a Purdue graduate: He got his bachelor's degree from Princeton, and his law degree from Georgetown.

Purdue specializes in science and engineering. As a result, it has produced more astronauts than any other school except the U.S. Naval Academy: 23, including Moonwalkers Neil Armstrong (Apollo 11) and Gene Cernan (Apollo 17); Mercury 7 astronaut Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee, both killed in the Apollo 1 fire; and Jerry Ross, whose 7 spaceflights are a U.S. record. The school also produced Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot who had to land an airliner on the Hudson River in 2009. Among its other alumni:

From the arts: Writers Booth Tarkington, George Ade and Kate Collins; actress Callie Khouri; comedian Jim Gaffigan; Little Orphan Annie creator Harold Gray; and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy panelist Ted Allen.

From politics: Controversial Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz; Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana; Governors Harry Leslie of Indiana and Kirk Fordice of Mississippi; and former Second Lady Marilyn Quayle.

From business: Popcorn magnate Orville Redenbacher.

From other sports other than football: 1950s Yankee 1st baseman Bill "Moose" Skowron and 1960 Pittsburgh Pirate World Series-winning pitcher Bob Friend; basketball legends John Wooden, Terry Dischinger, Rick Mount, Billy Keller, Herm Gilliam, Jerry Sichting, Brad Miller, and Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson; and Olympic Gold Medalists Ray Ewry, David Boudia and Amanda Elmore.

Going In. The official address of Ross-Ade Stadium is 850 Steven Beering Drive. If you drive in, parking is $20. The stadium is a horseshoe, with the open end to the south. It seats 57,236, but there is a plan to put an upper deck on the stadium, greatly increasing capacity. In the Big Ten, a league full of architectural marvels, it is not one. But is the only stadium in the league that has always had natural grass.
Opened in 1924, it was named for its principal benefactors. David E. Ross (1871-1943) was an engineer and inventor, who also funded the Purdue Memorial Union in tribute to graduates who'd died in World War I, and its former basketball facility, Lambert Fieldhouse. He later served on the University's Board of Trustees. George Ade (1866-1944) was a Chicago-based newspaper columnist, novelist and humorist, and his success led him to donate to his alma mater, Purdue.
A few weeks ago, the playing surface was renamed Rohrman Field, in memory of Bob Rohrman, an owner of local auto dealerships and a Purdue graduate, who had donated over $15 million to the school. In March 2019 it was announced that a memorial for superfan Tyler Trent, who died on January 1, 2019, at the age of 20 from cancer, would be placed at Student Section Gate entrance in his honor.
Food. Indiana is in the heart of the Midwest, right-smack-dab in the middle (or what used to be the middle, before Penn State, and then Nebraska, Rutgers and Maryland, were admitted) of Big Ten Country, where tailgate parties are practically a sacrament. So tailgating is permitted outside RAS.

Inside the stadium, however, you may be disappointed. Your best options are before the game (tailgating) and after (which I'll get to). Inside, as says:


Team History Displays. Purdue has won 12 Conference Championships: 1891, 1892, 1893 and 1894 in the long-defunct Indiana Intercollegiate Athletic Association; and 1918, 1929, 1931, 1932, 1943, 1952, 1967 and 2000 in the Big Ten.

However, the 1929 season remains the only time they have won the Big Ten outright. To make matters more frustrating, the 1967 title was shared with arch-rival Indiana and Minnesota. (Purdue beat Minnesota but lost to Indiana, but Indiana lost to Minnesota, forging the 3-way tie.) The 2000 title was shared with Michigan and Northwestern. Purdue has yet to appear in the Big Ten Championship Game since its 2011 start.

Due to the Big Ten's rules regarding Bowl games, Purdue never appeared in one until the 1966 season: Because Michigan State had won the title and gone to the Rose Bowl the year before, they couldn't go to it again, so 2nd-place Purdue did, and beat USC in the 1967 Rose Bowl. But the next season, Purdue was prohibited from going, not because they lost a tiebreaker, but because of the back-to-back seasons rule, and Indiana went (and lost).

Purdue went to the Rose Bowl again in the 2000 season, losing the 2001 Rose Bowl to the University of Washington. Those 2 Rose Bowls remain their only appearances in any of the traditional New Year's Day bowl games. Purdue has also won the 1978 Peach Bowl, the 1979 Bluebonnet Bowl, the 1980 Liberty Bowl, the 1997 and 1998 Alamo Bowls, the 2002 Sun Bowl, the 2007 Motor City Bowl, the 2011 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (same game as the Motor City Bowl), and the 2017 Foster Farms Bowl.

Purdue was retroactively awarded a share of the 1931 National Championship, with the University of Pittsburgh None of the preceding achievements are noted with a sign or a flag in the fan-viewable areas of Ross-Ade Stadium. Nor do they have any retired uniform numbers.

There are 17 Purdue players in the College Football Hall of Fame: 1910s back Elmer Oliphant, 1930s back Cecil Isbell, 1940s guard Chalmers "Bump" Elliott, 1940s guard Alex Agase, 1960s quarterback Bob Griese, 1960s running back Leroy Keyes, 1960s quarterback Mike Phipps, 1970s running back Otis Armstrong, 1970s defensive tackle Dave Butz, 1970s quarterback Mark Herrmann, and 1980s safety Rod Woodson. 

Also elected as members have been head coaches Andy Smith (1913-15), Jim Phelan (1922-29), Jack Mollenkopf (1955-69) and Jim Young (1977-81). Oddly, Noble Kizer (1930-36), head coach of their 1931 National Champions, is not in the Hall. Agase also served as head coach (1973-76). William "Lone Star" Dietz, Hall of Fame coach at Washington State, and John McKay, Hall of Fame coach at USC, also played at Purdue.

Griese and Woodson are also in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. So is Len Dawson, who quarterbacked Purdue in the 1950s, before winning 3 AFL Championships and Super Bowl IV with the Kansas City Chiefs. His Chiefs coach, Hank Stram, was also a Purdue player, and an assistant coach while Dawson played there, and is also in the Pro Football Hall.

Starting with Bob DeMoss -- later their head coach and their longtime athletic director -- in the 1940s, Purdue became known for a string of fine quarterbacks: DeMoss, Dale Samuels, Dawson, Griese, Phipps, Gary Danielson, Herrmann, Scott Campbell, Jim Everett, Drew Brees, Kyle Orton and Curtis Painter. 

So, notable Purdue players include:

* 1910s: Oliphant.

* 1930s: Isbell, back Johnny Drake, 1930s tackle Joe Mihal.

1940s: Elliott, Agase, DeMoss, guard Dick Barwegan, back John Petty.

* 1950s: Samuels, Dawson, guard Abe Gibron, offensive end Pete Brewster (they weren't called "tight ends" yet), defensive ends Lamar Lundy and Leo Sugar, defensive back Erich Barnes, offensive tackle Ken Panfil.

1960s: Griese, Keyes, Phipps, center Ed Flanagan, center Larry Kaminski, receiver Jim Beirne, defensive end Don Brumm, defensive tackle Joe Krupa, safety Tim Foley.

* 1970s: Danielson, Armstrong, Butz, Herrmann, ill-fated receiver Darryl Stingley, running back Mike Pruitt, linebacker Keena Turner.

* 1980s: Everett, Woodson, running back Mel Gray, cornerback Cris Dishman.

* 1990s: Brees, guard Denny Chronopoulos, running back Mike Alstott, linebacker Jim Schwantz.

* 2000s: Tight end Matt Light, center Nick Hardwick, defensive end Shaun Phillips.

* 2010s: Running back Kory Sheets, defensive tackle Kawann Short, and linebacker Ryan Kerrigan.

In 2004 -- not quite in time for the 100th Anniversary, a limestone and brick tunnel was dedicated to the memory of the 17 people -- players, coaches and fans -- killed in what became known as the Purdue Wreck, on October 31, 1903. The Boilermakers were on their way to play arch-rival Indiana at Washington Park, the minor-league ballpark in Indianapolis, when their train crashed into a coal train on the outskirts of downtown Indianapolis. That game, and the 4 Purdue games scheduled for after it, were canceled.

Purdue has 3 rivalries where trophies are awarded to the winner. The Boilermakers and the Fighting Illini of the University of Illinois, 91 miles to the southwest, play for the Purdue Cannon. In 1905, a group of Purdue students took a little cannon, only a few inches long, with them to Champaign, intending to fire it if Purdue won. They did, 29-0, but some Illinois fans found it and took it.

Among the students who found it was Quincy Hall, who took it to his family's farm near Milford, Illinois. In 1943, when the teams began laying each other again after an 11-year gap, he suggested it as a trophy between the teams. 

The series, which was first played in 1890, could not be any closer: It is tied, 45-45-6, following Purdue's win earlier this season. But, just in games played for the Cannon, Purdue leads 37-30-4.
Purdue and Notre Dame, 113 miles to the northeast in South Bend, Indiana, play for a Shillelagh Trophy, as do Notre Dame and the University of Southern California. For the winner of a game first played in 1896, Joe McLaughlin, a merchant seaman and a Notre Dame fan, donated a shillelagh he had bought in Ireland in 1957.
Overall, Notre Dame leads the series 56-26-2. Since the trophy was first presented, the Fighting Irish lead it 37-19. Due to conference commitments, they haven't played each other since 2014, with Purdue's last win coming in 2007. However, they are scheduled to play each other again in 2021, in West Lafayette.

But the rivalry that means the most to Purdue fans is the one with in-State rival Indiana University -- and vice versa. Bloomington is 99 miles due south on U.S. Route 231, although a faster route is usually the 113 miles down Interstate 65 to Indianapolis, and then down Interstate 69 to Bloomington (or the reverse).

It's a nasty rivalry -- nastier still in basketball, the most popular sport in the State. As Purdue fans enjoy reminding people, the incident where legendary Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight threw a chair across the court came in a 1985 game where Purdue was beating Indiana in Bloomington.

They first met in 1891. In 1925, Indiana graduate Dr. Clarence Jones and Purdue graduate Russel Gray met to select a trophy for the game. They chose "The Old Oaken Bucket," named for an 1817 poem by Samuel Woodworth. As Gray put it: 

An old oaken bucket as the most typical Hoosier form of trophy, that the bucket should be taken from some well in Indiana, and that a chain to be made of bronze block "I" and "P" letters should be provided for the bucket. The school winning the traditional football game each year should have possession of the "Old Oaken Bucket" until the next game and should attach the block letter representing the winning school to the bail with the score engraved on the latter link.
It is the habit of the winning team to put it on display with the chain hanging in such a way that their letter far outnumbers the other. This is considerably more difficult for Indiana: Overall, Purdue leads the rivalry 74-42-6, and 60-32-3 since the Bucket was first awarded. However, Indiana won last year, and has won 5 of the last 7.
Stuff. The Purdue Team Store is located in the northeastern corner of Ross-Ade Stadium, the round end of the horseshoe. Among the items sold are black, and gold, Boilermaker hard hats. A block from Ross-Ade, the Stadium University Book Store is at 720 Northwestern Avenue. A block away, at 1400 W. State Street, is Follett's Purdue West Bookstore. The main Purdue bookstore is at 360 W. State Street, closer to the main campus.

In 2008, Tom Schott published Purdue University Football Vault: The History of the Boilermakers. In 2006, a DVD was released, titled The Legends of the Purdue Boilermakers.

During the Game. Because of their Midwestern/Heartland image, Purdue fans like a "family atmosphere." As long as you don't say anything bad about their team, or anything kind about IU, especially Bobby Knight, you should be okay.

Answering the question, "So, what's a Boilermaker?" isn't as hard as the one for their rivals at IU, "So, what's a Hoosier?" because there is a definitive definition, and a definitive origin story. The definition: A boilermaker is "a tradesperson who fabricates steel, iron, or copper into boilers and other large containers intended to hold hot gas or liquid, as well as maintains and repairs boilers and boiler systems."

Notable people who have made a living this way include U.S. Army General Omar Bradley, automaking brothers Horace and John Dodge, actor-comedian Billy Connolly, and James J. Jeffries, Heavyweight Champion of the World from 1899 to 1904, and "The Boilermaker" became his nickname.

The origin story: Purdue began playing football in 1887. In 1889, they played Wabash College in nearby Crawfordsville, Indiana, winning 18-4. A newspaper account called the Purdue players, among other things, "foundry hands."

In 1891, Purdue went to Wabash again, and won 44-0. The Crawfordsville Daily Argus News carried a big headline: "Slaughter of Innocents." And a small headline: "Wabash Snowed Completely Under by the Burly Boiler Makers from Purdue."

The University decided they liked it, and went with it, sometimes shortening it to "Boilers." In the 1970s, when another football team wearing black and gold, the Pittsburgh Steelers, started winning Super Bowls as their fans chanted, "Here we go, Steelers, here we go!" Purdue fans took up the chant, as, "Here we go, Boilers, here we go!"

Since 1940, Purdue Pete has been a mascot, with a costumed performer since 1956, wearing a hard hat and carrying a hammer, and currently appearing to wear a football jersey Number 00. 
But Pete is only the official mascot of the Athletic Department, not the University as a whole. The University mascot is The Boilermaker Special, a truck decorated to look like a railroad locomotive from the late Victorian (or, in America, Gilded Age) period that included the dawn of Purdue football. They chose a train because of Purdue's background in teaching railroad technology. As with Pete, the 1st Special was introduced in 1940.
The Boilermaker Special VII

In 1979, a smaller version, the Boilermaker X-tra Special, was introduced, to be used on surfaces that the main Special would ruin, like the basketball court at Mackey Arena or on carpets. It included a removable smokestack, to make it easier to move. This was the 4th overall "train," so it got the Roman numeral IV, as the main Special then was III. The current versions, introduced in 2011 and 2017, respectively, are the Boilermaker Special VII and the Boilermaker X-tra Special VIII.
Purdue Pete hanging off the Boilermaker X-tra Special VIII,
2019, with the University's 150th Anniversary logo on it

The Purdue All-American Marching Band (AAMB) created the 1st known football field formation in 1907, a block P. Before every game, instead of "The Star-Spangled Banner," they play "America the Beautiful" while Elias Lieberman's 1916 poem "I Am an American" is recited. Their fight song is "Hail, Purdue!"

In 1954, when quarterback Len Dawson was known as "The Golden Boy," the band selected Juanita Carpenter, a blonde who was an expert baton twirler, to be "The Golden Girl." Ever since, the AAMB has had a blonde twirler with the title.
Since Purdue's colors are black and gold, and it didn't seem fair to exclude an expert twirler just because she might be a brunette, in 1962 "The Girl In Black" was introduced.
But this wasn't the first addition. That was in 1960, when a pair of twin sisters who both twirled became "The Silver Twins." It hasn't always been twin sisters: Sometimes, they're just women who seem to look like each other. Hair color doesn't matter, as long as each has the same color.
The AAMB was the 1st college football marching band to play the opposing school's fight song (1920), wear their hats backward (1963, doing it after Conference wins), play at Radio City Music Hall in New York (also in 1963), and, at least the 1st from the Big Ten, to perform in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (2010).

They feature what they call "Monster, the World's Largest Drum." It's not -- I once saw a Rose Bowl halftime show in which fellow Big Tenners Iowa performed with a bigger one -- but it's pretty big, over 10 feet high.
Neil Armstrong, the 1st man on the Moon, played baritone horn in the AAMB in 1952. Popcorn magnate Orville Redenbacher played tuba in the AAMB in 1928.

After the Game. Big Ten fans like to drink, but you're not going to be in Indianapolis, let alone Chicago. The safety of you and, if you drove in, your car, should not be an issue.

To the north of the Stadium is parking; to the east, athletic facilities, including Mackey Arena; to the west, student housing. Your closest immediate postgame food options will be to the south and the southeast.

These include: The Cary Knight Spot Grill, in Cary Quadrangle Residence Hall at 1016 W. Stadium Avenue; Amelia's, at 701 W. Stadium Avenue, in the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering (a statue of the Moonwalker is outside); and chains along Northwestern Avenue, including a McDonald's and a Jimmy John's.

Notable West Lafayette eateries including Triple XXX Family Restaurant, considered the best breakfast stop in town despite a seemingly contradictory name, 2 N. Salisbury Street; and Harry's Chocolate Shop, which is a bar first and a dessert place second, 329 W. State Street.

If your visit to Purdue is during the European soccer season, as we are now in, your best bet to see your club is at Nine Irish Brothers, 119 Howard Avenue, 2 blocks east of Triple XXX. Each of these locations is downtown, just to the east of the main campus.

Sidelights. As with any other college in Indiana, except Notre Dame, Purdue's favorite sport is basketball. Since 1967, they have played at Mackey Arena, at 900 John R. Wooden Drive, at the southeast corner of Ross-Ade Stadium. For 30 years before that, they played just to the south, at Lambert Fieldhouse, at 800 W. Stadium Avenue.
Mackey Arena, with Lambert Fieldhouse to the right

Ward "Piggy" Lambert was the basketball coach at Purdue from 1916 to 1946. He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame, and was awarded a retroactive National Championship for 1932, when his star player was John Wooden, later to lead UCLA to 10 National Championships from 1964 to 1975. Guy "Red" Mackey was Purdue's longtime athletic director. The playing surface at Mackey Arena is named Keady Court, for Gene Keady, the head coach from 1980 to 2005.

Purdue's men's team has won 24 Big Ten regular-season titles: 1911, 1912, 1921, 1922, 1926, 1928, 1930, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1938, 1940, 1969, 1979, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2010, 2017 and 2019. So far, only once have they won the Big Ten Tournament, in 2009. They made it to the NCAA Final in 1969, with some irony losing to Wooden's UCLA; and got to the Final Four again in 1980, again losing to UCLA, this time coached by Larry Brown.

In recent years, their women's basketball team has done better, winning 7 regular-season Big Ten titles, most recently in 2002; 9 Big Ten Tournaments, the last in 2013; winning the National Championship in 1999, reaching the Final in 2001, and also reaching the Final Four in 1994.

Elvis Presley performed many concerts at college sports arenas, but Mackey Arena was not one of them. He sang at IU's Assembly Hall, Notre Dame's Joyce Center, Indiana State's Hulman Civic Center, even the University of Evansville's Roberts Stadium, but not Mackey. His last concert was at the Market Square Arena in Indianapolis on June 26, 1977, so that would have been as close as Purdue students would have gotten.

The Purdue campus is 65 miles northwest of Indianapolis, 122 miles southeast of Chicago, 177 miles northwest of Cincinnati, 238 miles west of Columbus, 270 miles northeast of St. Louis, and 278 miles southwest of Detroit.

Although they are slightly closer to Guaranteed Rate Field than to Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs are the most popular Major League Baseball team in the Lafayette area, with 36 percent of the fandom, to 11 percent for the Chicago White Sox, and the St. Louis Cardinals trail well behind.

Despite only having been nearby since 1984, and only regularly better about 10 years fewer, the Indianapolis Colts are more popular there than the Chicago Bears. Despite a disparity in success, the Indiana Pacers are more popular there than the Chicago Bulls. But, with the next-closest NHL team, the St. Louis Blues, being considerably further away, the most popular is the closest, the Chicago Blackhawks. And the Chicago Fire are the most popular MLS team.

The Indiana Historical Society has a museum at 810 David Ross Road, about half a mile west of Ross-Ade Stadium. The Haan Museum of Indiana Art is at 920 W. State Street. Imagination Station, a science museum, is downtown at 600 N. 4th Street.

William Henry Harrison, 9th President of the United States and former Territorial Governor (died just 1 month after his 1841 Inauguration), became nationally famous after the Battle of Tippecanoe, on November 7, 1811, defeating a force of Tecumseh's Confederacy, led by Tenskwatawa, Tecumseh's brother.

Although this battle was far less significant that others in the coming War of 1812, including the Battle of the Thames in 1813, at present-day Chatham, Ontario, which Harrison also won and in which Tecumseh was killed, it was the most-talked-about land battle on American soil since the end of the American Revolution.

It even gave Harrison his best-known nickname: "Old Tippecanoe," or "Old Tip" for short. Even when he ran for President in 1840, with John Tyler as his running mate, it became his supporters' rhyming slogan: "Tippecanoe and Tyler, too!"

The Tippecanoe Battlefield Museum is at 200 Battleground Avenue, in a town named Battle Ground, 7 miles northeast of the Purdue campus. (Don't laugh at the town's name: The location of England's most famous battle, the Battle of Hastings in 1066, is named simply "Battle.") There is no public transportation available.


Indiana is the most basketball-crazy State of them all. But they like football, too. And since Notre Dame seeks a national student body, and doesn't really identify with the Hoosier State, Purdue is the biggest "Indiana football school."