Saturday, May 8, 2021

May 8, 1971: The 1st Arsenal Double, Part II

May 8, 1971, 50 years ago: Having won the Football League 5 days earlier, Arsenal Football Club of North London now prepared to take on Liverpool Football Club, at England's national stadium, the original Wembley Stadium in West London, for the FA Cup Final.

This is what the world was like at the time:

The monarch of both nations was Queen Elizabeth II -- that hasn't changed. The Prime Minister of Britain was Edward Heath, and of Canada, Pierre Trudeau. The President of the United States was Richard Nixon. The Pope was Paul VI.

The current holders of those offices? Boris Johnson was about to turn 7. Pierre's son Justin wasn't born yet. Joe Biden was in his 1st year in public office, on the New Castle County Council in Delaware. Pope Francis, then Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was teaching at a seminary in his native Argentina. There have since been 10 Presidents of the United States, 10 Presidents of the United States, and 5 Popes.

There were still living veterans of the Indian Wars and the Northwest Rebellion. Peter Mills, the last American known to have been born into slavery, was still alive. Norman Borlaug, leader of what was being called the food production revolution, was the holder of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Arsenal had dethroned Everton of Liverpool as Champions of England's Football League, and would play Liverpool to dethrone Chelsea of West London as holders of the FA Cup. The winners of Europe's other major soccer leagues that year were Celtic of Glasgow in Scotland, Olympique de Marseille in France, Valencia in Spain, Benfica of Lisbon in Portugal, Feyenoord of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Borussia Mönchengladbach in West Germany, Internazionale of Milan in Italy, Górnik Zabrze in Poland, Dynamo Kyiv in the Soviet Union, and Galatasaray of Istanbul in Turkey.

A month later, Ajax of Amsterdam in the Netherlands would win their 1st European Cup, defeating Panathinaikos of Athens, Greece. The year before, Feyenoord had become the 1st Dutch team to win it. The holders of the North American sports titles were Baltimore in both baseball (the Orioles) and football (the Colts), the Milwaukee Bucks in basketball (beating the Baltimore Bullets and denying Charm City a treble), and the Boston Bruins in hockey (but the Montreal Canadiens were about to take the Stanley Cup back). The Heavyweight Champion of the World was Joe Frazier.

The Olympic Games have since been held in America 4 times; Canada 3 times; twice each in Japan, Russia, Korea; and once each in Germany, Austria, Bosnia, France, Spain, Norway, Australia, Greece, Italy, China, Britain and Brazil. The World Cup has since been held in Germany twice, and once each in America, Argentina, Spain, Mexico, Italy, France, Japan, Korea, South Africa, Brazil and Russia.

Major novels of 1971 included The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines, Being There by Jerzy Kosinski, The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin, Honor Thy Father by Gay Talese, and The Winds of War by Herman Wouk.

Under his pen name Dr. Seuss, Theodor Seuss Geisel published his environmental allegory The Lorax. Books that were edgy about sex were still very much in, including Joan Garrity's The Sensuous Woman and Xaviera Hollander's The Happy Hooker: My Own Story.

J.R.R. Tolkein was still alive. Stephen King was a newlywed, and had yet to publish a novel. George R.R. Martin was about to get his master's degree from Northwestern University. J.K. Rowling was 5 years old.

Major films of the Spring of 1971 included Summer of '42, Melvin Van Peebles' Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, Woody Allen's Bananas, Billy Jack, The Beguiled, They Might Be Giants (inspiring the name of a band), a remake of Wuthering Heights, Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Klute, Carnal Knowledge, and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

Gene Roddenberry was kind of lost after the end of Star Trek, writing and producing the sexploitation film Pretty Maids All In a Row. George Lucas had just premiered his 1st directed film, THX 1138. Steven Spielberg's 1st, Duel, would premiere on ABC on November 13. Sean Connery had just wrapped up his last official James Bond film, Diamonds Are Forever. Jon Pertwee was playing The Doctor. George Reeves, dead for 12 years, was still the last live-action Superman, while Adam West was still a recent Batman.

All in the Family had recently debuted. The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, Columbo and Soul Train were on their way. CBS had just done its "Rural Purge," ending The Beverly Hillbillies, Mayberry R.F.D. and Green Acres. The Ed Sullivan Show had to be canceled after 23 years, because Ed was slipping into dementia, and died in 1974.

The Number 1 song in America was "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night. The Rolling Stones released their album Sticky Fingers, they introduced their lips-and-tongue logo, and lead singer Mick Jagger married model Bianca de Macias. John Denver released "Take Me Home, Country Roads," Stevie Wonder "If You Really Love Me," Jerry Reed "When You're Hot, You're Hot," Rod Stewart Every Picture Tells a Story, Johnny Cash The Man In Black, Paul McCartney Ram, Ringo Starr "It Don't Come Easy," and Elvis Presley Love Letters from Elvis. The Carpenters and The Doobie Brothers each released their self-titled debut album. 

The Temptations released "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)," and Eddie Kendricks left the group. The Doors released L.A. Woman. Within weeks, lead singer Jim Morrison was dead. The 1st Glastonbury Festival was held, and promoter Bill Graham closed the Fillmore East in New York and the Fillmore West in San Francisco. Don McLean first performed his song "American Pie," and referenced the closings in the last verse: "I went down to the sacred store, where I'd heard the music years before, but the man there said the music wouldn't play."

Inflation was such that what $1.00 bought then, $6.49 would buy now -- or, more to the point in the country in question, £1.00 then would be £15.60 now. The tallest building in the world was the Empire State Building in New York, but the World Trade Center in New York and the Sears Tower in Chicago were both under construction, and would surpass it. Mobile telephones were still in development.

There were no home video game systems. Computers could still take up an entire wall. Steve Jobs was 16 years old, and Bill Gates and Tim Berners-Lee were about to be. Apollo 14 had landed on the Moon 3 months earlier. Automatic teller machines were still a relatively new thing, and many people had never seen one. There were heart transplants, liver transplants and lung transplants, and artificial kidneys, but no artificial hearts. There were birth control pills, but no Viagra.

During the Spring of 1971, there was a military coup in Argentina. East Pakistan declared its independence, becoming Bangladesh, and suffering a war, a famine and a cyclone, which led to the charity concert at Madison Square Garden, hosted by former Beatle George Harrison.

An earthquake killed over 1,000 people in Turkey. A plane crash in Rijeka, Yugolsavia killed 78 people, mostly British tourists. Neville Bonner became the 1st Indigenous Australian to sit in his country's Parliament. And the Montreal Canadiens overcame internal strife, made worse by recent Quebec separatist terrorism, to win the Stanley Cup.

In America, on the day of the decisive North London Derby, the largest antiwar demonstration in the nation's history, 750,000 people, hit Washington; and President Nixon ordered Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, named in memory of a former political rival, to be used as a giant holding center for arrestees, who numbered over 12,000 -- about 1 out of every 62 demonstrators.

The Ed Sullivan Show aired its final episode. Lieutenant William Calley was convicted in the My Lai Massacre. Starbucks, Southwest Airlines and Federal Express were founded. The Supreme Court ruled that busing of students may be ordered to achieve racial desegregation. Amtrak took over the nation's passenger rail service. The New York Times published the Pentagon Papers. President Richard Nixon declared the War On Drugs. And the Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA Championship.

Thomas Dewey, and Igor Stravinsky, and Ogden Nash died. Ewan McGregor, and Selena Quintanilla, and David Tennant were born. So were legendary athletes Pavel Bure and Picabo Street. Pep Guardiola was born the preceding January, Neil Lennon and Fabien Barthez were both in June, Howard Webb in July, and a less important person in Manchester United's eventual success, Roy Keane, in August.


On May 3, Arsenal beat their North London arch-rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, a.k.a. "Spurs," in the final game of the League season, 1-0 on a late goal by Ray Kennedy, to win the League title.

When Spurs became the 1st team in the 20th Century -- since Aston Villa in 1897 -- to win The Double, in 1961, they had time to properly prepare: They won the League on April 17, beat Sheffield Wednesday at home, and didn't have to play the FA Cup Final for 3 weeks, beating Leicester City on May 6.

That Leicester team included Frank McLintock, who would also lose the 1963 FA Cup Final with them, to Manchester United; and captain Arsenal onto the Wembley pitch in the League Cup Finals of 1968 and 1969, also losing. He was winless there, about to make his 5th attempt.

Arsenal would have just 4 days to prepare. As a result, although Liverpool finished 5th in the League, 14 points behind Arsenal, some betting companies installed them as the favorites. It was not outrageous, as they had won the League in 1964 and the FA Cup in 1965, and they still had some of the players from those teams. But they were in a bit of a transition, as those players were starting to get old, and the players who would help the Mersey Reds dominate the 1970s were still working their way in.

Liverpool did have one big advantage in getting there: A home draw in every round, until the Quarterfinal, with the Semifinal and the Final being on neutral ground. Arsenal, on the other hand, had gotten away draws in every round.

May 8, 1971. An unseasonably warm day in London. For some reason, Liverpool had the choice of kit for the Final. so they wore their all-red gear, meaning Arsenal couldn't wear their usual home kit, red shirts with white sleeves, and white shorts. Instead, Arsenal wore their "change strip," yellow shirts with blue trim, and blue shorts.

Arsenal had several chances in the game. In the 1st half, Charlie George, who grew up within walking distance of the Arsenal Stadium at Highbury, and rode his local status, long hair, rebellious attitude and great ability to become the team's most popular player, blasted one just over the crossbar. This led Brian Moore, broadcasting the game for British network ITV, to say, "He really does strike those balls beautifully."

In the 2nd half, Kennedy hit a dribbler that just scurried past the goalpost, leading Moore to say, "Kennedy! Oh, what a miss!" When the 90 minutes, plus stoppage time, was over, it was 0-0. Arsenal had dominated play, but had nothing to show for it.

This was Arsenal's 66th game of the season, combining all competitions, and McLintock and played every minute of every game. Now, physically and mentally exhausted, and seeing Liverpool's Emlyn Hughes receiving treatment for a cramp, he had to convince his teammates, equally "knackered" (as they say over there), to hang on through extra time. On the video, he can be seen gritting his teeth and pumping his fist, telling them to keep going.

But right after the restart, Liverpool's Irish forward Steve Heighway fired a shot from a ridiculous angle, and put the ball past Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson. Liverpool were up 1-0, and all seemed lost for the Gunners. Yes, they had the League title, but now, it looked like the talk would be that they had "bottled" The Double.

But it wasn't sudden-death: The entirety of extra time would be played, no matter what. McLintock rallied the troops, telling them to get Bob off the hook.

They did. They stiffened up, and prevented Welsh forward John Toshack from making it 2-0 to the Scouse team. And then, in the 101st minute, there was a scramble, and the ball went past Liverpool goalie Ray Clemence. 1-1.

George Graham claimed the goal. But did he score it? Interviewed many years later, forward John Radford said, "Every time I look at the tape, he's got a guilty look on his face." Indeed, the video replay showed that Graham never touched the ball, sweeping his left foot at it, and missing. The last man to touch the ball was Eddie Kelly, who had been brought on in the 64th minute, as a substitute for midfielder Peter Storey. Substitutions had only been legal in English football since the 1966-67 season, and this made Kelly the 1st sub to score in an FA Cup Final.

In the 111th minute, Radford was on the left wing, and sidefooted a pass to George, at the edge of the penalty area. He launched a net-seeking missile. Moore had the call: "Radford. Oh, Charlie George, who can hit 'em, oh, what a great goal! Charlie George! Oh, what a fabulous goal by George! Clemence had no chance with that!"

Charlie turned, and dropped to the ragged Wembley turf, his arms spread out. No smile this time, like there was in the Manchester mud earlier in the tournament. He was as tired as anybody else.

The soundtrack to the musical Jesus Christ Superstar had been released during the season, and Charlie's raised arms reminded people of the lead character. Soon, to the theme song, people began singing, "Charlie George, superstar, how many goals have you scored so far!" (Opposing fans, noting his long hair -- though not as long as Jesus' -- sang, "Charlie George, superstar, looks like a woman and he wears a bra!")

But the celebration made him an icon, making him more famous than his talent, as great as it was, would otherwise have taken him. To the tune of the Christmas carol "The First Noel," fans went on to sing, "Charlie, Charlie, Charlie, Charlie! Born is the Ki-ing of High-igh-bur-y!"
King Charles with the FA Cup

It was 2-1. The Arsenal defense held on for another 10 minutes, and the Double was won. Although Arsenal had previously won 7 League titles and 2 FA Cups, this game would be their signature victory -- until 1989, when another 18-year League title drought came to an end. That legendary game would also be against Liverpool.

The Arsenal players climbed the steps to Wembley's Royal Box. King George V had handed the FA Cup to Arsenal Captain Tom Parker in 1930. His son, Prince Albert, Duke of York, had handed it to Alex James in 1936. In 1950, the Duke, now King George VI, handed it to Joe Mercer.

That King's daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, supposedly an Arsenal fan, hasn't attended an FA Cup Final in many years. In 1971 -- as it would be again in 1993, 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2005 -- it was the Queen's cousin, another grandchild of George V, who gave the Arsenal Captain the Cup: Prince Edward, Duke of Kent.
McLintock holds high the Cup.
Bob Wilson shakes hands with the Duke of Kent.
The woman in yellow is Katharine, Duchess of Kent.

(Charles, Prince of Wales, would give the Cup to Pat Rice in 1979. In 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2020, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, handed the Cup to Arsenal's Captains.)

McLintock later said he was so knackered, he couldn't feel anything as he walked up the steps. The ITV cameras told another story, as did their commentator, Brian Moore, who noted, "What a smile!"


In his 1992 memoir Fever Pitch, Arsenal fan Nick Hornby would call 1971 "Arsenal's annus mirabilis" -- "Miracle Year." It took Bertie Mee, Don Howe, Frank McLintock and the rest 5 years to build a dual champion, and one particularly hard year to finish the job.

But it quickly ended. Howe was offered the manager's job at his former team, West Brom. He took it, and later admitted, "That was the time that I left when I should have stayed. Because that team, the Double team, had more in it."

He was probably right. The 1971-72 season was the closest in League history. Derby County won the title, and Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester City were all just 1 point behind. Arsenal were 5th, 6 points back; Tottenham, 6, 7 points back. And Arsenal again reached the FA Cup Final, this time losing to Leeds, who got a little bit of revenge for losing the '71 title to Arsenal. (They had won the League in 1969, and would again in 1974. And they didn't walk away empty-handed in '71, winning the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.)

But without Howe, Mee had no one to rein him in, no former player in a place of some power to serve as a buffer between him and the players. Team scout Steve Burtenshaw became the assistant manager, but it ust wasn't the same. So Mee became more and more tyrannical. He had already alienated midfielder Jon Sammels, who put in a transfer request, and as sold to Leicester City.

Mee purchased Alan Ball, a member of England's 1966 World Cup-winning team. He had helped Everton win the League title in 1970. But his addition meant the end at Arsenal for George Graham, whom Mee sold to Manchester United.

Things weren't bad, but the seeds of getting worse were sown. Mee began to push McLintock out, buying centreback Jeff Blockley from Coventry City. Mee decided that buying Blockley was his biggest mistake as Arsenal manager. In 1973, Arsenal fought Liverpool for the League title all season long, including a 2-0 win away to Liverpool on February 10. They were still close on March 26. But their last 6 League games were 1 win, 3 draws and 2 losses, and they finished 2nd, 3 points behind Liverpool.

McLintock was sold to West London team Queens Park Rangers, a.k.a. QPR, and the era was over. Wilson, Radford and George Armstrong got older. Mee alienated Ray Kennedy, and sold him to, of all teams, Liverpool in 1974. He starred for them for a few years. Pretty much anybody who remembers him, unless they're an Arsenal fan, remembers him with Liverpool. His career began to decline when he developed Parkinson's disease: While still alive, he has had to leave not just football in any role, but public life entirely.

Mee alienated Charlie George, and ended up selling him to Derby in 1975. And replacements simply weren't forthcoming. The next-to-last game of the 1974-75 season was a Derby at home to Tottenham, and it was "a relegation six-pointer," won 1-0 by Arsenal. Spurs survived by winning the next week. But Arsenal finished 16th, and 17th in 1976. Mee was fired.

Former Arsenal centreback Terry Neill was brought in to manage, and he brought Howe back. Together, they led Arsenal to the 1979 FA Cup. Pat Rice had become Captain, and was the only 1971 regular still with Arsenal as they won the 1979 Cup. Sammy Nelson, a backup on the '71 team, started in '79. And the '79 Arsenal goalkeeper? None other than Pat Jennings, whom Spurs had let go a few years before.

But they lost the FA Cup Final in 1978 and 1980, and the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1980. Neill was fired in 1983, and Howe promoted to replace him. "Now, that was the time I stayed, when I should have left!" Howe said. After 3 years of being good, but not quite good enough, Howe resigned.


For reasons that have never been made clear to me, neither England nor Scotland gave many chances to Arsenal players. Look at these totals for Arsenal players of the 1970s:

Total caps for England: Alan Ball 72 (but only 12 after he came to Arsenal), Ray Kennedy 17 (but none until '76, after he left), Graham Rix 17, Malcolm Macdonald 14 (the last in '75, before he arrived), Brian Talbot 6, Bob McNab 4 (the last in '69), John Radford 2 (the last in '71), Brian Kidd 2 (the last in '70, before he arrived), Charlie George 1 (in '76, after he left), Alan Sunderland 1; George Armstrong, Jon Sammels, Peter Simpson, David Price and Steve Walford, between them, none. Peter Storey was an exception, getting 19.

Hell, Jeff Blockley, considered by some to be the worst Arsenal defender of the decade, got as many England caps as Charlie George, considered the most talented Arsenal player of the decade: One.

Total caps for Scotland: George Graham 12, Frank McLintock 9 (the last in '71), Willie Young (the last in '75, before coming to Arsenal), Bob Wilson 2 (the last in '71), Eddie Kelly none.

It was different for the other "nations" of the British Isles, due to manpower levels. The Republic of Ireland gave Liam Brady 72, Frank Stapleton 71 and David O'Leary 68. Northern Ireland gave Pat Jennings 119, Terry Neill 59, Sammy Nelson 51, Pat Rice 49. Wales gave John Roberts 22.


Bob Wilson, Pat Rice and George Armstrong went on to be assistant coaches for Arsenal. George Graham was named manager in 1986, and led them to the League Cup in 1987, the League title in 1989 and 1991, the 1st-ever FA Cup and League Cup "double" in 1993, and the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1994.

Arsène Wenger was named manager in 1996, and kept the '71 Double players on as coaches. In 1998, Arsenal came from 12 points back in March to defeat Manchester United for the Premier League title (which replaced the old Football League Division One in 1992), and beat Newcastle United for the FA Cup, for Arsenal's 2nd Double.

In 2000, Armstrong became the 1st player from that 1971 team to die, as he suffered a brain hemorrhage while running a training session at London Colney, Arsenal's training camp in suburban Hemel Hempstead. He was 56 years old, and a training pitch (practice field) there was named for him.

Wilson and Rice remained, and Arsenal won a 3rd Double in 2002. This time, the way the scheudule worked out, they had even fewer days to prepare than in 1971: They beat Chelsea in the Final on May 4, and Man United to win the League on May 8. They nearly won yet another Double in 2003, taking the Cup, but faltering in the League to finish 2nd. At that point, Wilson retired from coaching. Rice remained on through the 2012 season, helping Wenger guide Arsenal to an unbeaten season in the League in 2004, another FA Cup in 2005, a trip to the UEFA Champions League Final in 2006, and into the new Emirates Stadium the next year.

Bertie Mee died in 2001, at the age of 82. Don Howe died in 2015, at 80. Backup centreback John Roberts died in 2016, at 69. Backup goalkeeper Geoff Barnett died this past January 15, at 74.

Steve Burtenshaw is 85, Frank McLintock is 81, Bob Wilson is 79, Terry Neill (sold right before the Double season) is 78, Bob McNab is 77, George Graham and Peter Simpson are 76, Jon Sammels and Peter Storey are 75, John Radford is 74, Pat Rice and Sammy Nelson are 72, Peter Marinello is 71, Charlie George and Eddie Kelly are 70, and Ray Kennedy is 69.
25th Anniversary Reunion at Highbury, 1996.
Back row, left to right: John Radford, assistant coach Steve Burtenshaw,
Peter Marinello, Peter Simpson, Jon Sammels, Geoff Barnett, Bob Wilson,
John Roberts, Charlie George, David Court, Pat Rice.
(Court had played for Arsenal 1962-70,
but was already gone before the Double season.)
Front row, left to right: Bertie Mee, Bob McNab,
George Graham, Don Howe, Frank McLintock,
George Armstrong, Sammy Nelson and Ray Kennedy.

The 1970-71 Double team was, for many years, the signature Arsenal side. It was succeeded as such by the 1988-89 League title winners, and then by the 2003-04 "Invincibles." Now, with the great teams of the 1930s, '40s and '50s having passed into afterlife, they are the oldest remaining great team. They remain a precious memory for whose who are old enough to remember, and a milestone in team history for those of us who are not.

Loaisiga's Implosion Beats Yankees for Nationals

Last night, the Yankees began a 3-game weekend series with the Washington Nationals at the new Yankee Stadium. It should have been a rematch of the 2019 World Series, but, what can I say, the Nationals punished the Houston Astros for their cheating, and the Yankees didn't.

DJ LeMahieu led off the bottom of the 1st inning with a home run, but Jameson Taillon didn't keep this early lead. He gave up 2 home runs in the top of the 2nd, and fell behind 3-1. Gary Sanchez hit one out in the bottom of the 2nd, and that seemed to settle Taillon down, as he retired 15 straight batters. LeMahieu hit another homer to tie the game in the bottom of the 6th, and Taillon got out of the top of the 7th despite allowing a hit. It looked like it was going to end up as a good game.

But the bottom of the 7th was a bad omen for the Yankees. With 1 out, Sanchez drew a walk, and advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch. But Clint Frazier grounded out, and Miguel Anduar, making his season debut after coming back from injury, flew out.

That wasted chance came back to haunt the Bronx Bombers. Jonathan Loaisiga has done a terrific job in relief for the Yankees, but, this time, he gave us a total implosion. He gave up single, fielder's choice, RBI single, 3-run homer, single.

Then he got a strikeout, for the 2nd out of the inning. Only then did Aaron Boone take him out. Why would you take a pitcher out right after he got an out, especially a strikeout? Unless he was hurt? Loaisiga wasn't.

The Yankees certainly got hurt by who Boone brought in: Luis Cessa. Cessa is to relief pitching what the National Enquirer is to journalism. I honestly don't know why he is on the Yankees' roster. I don't know why he is on any major league team's roster.

The 1st batter he faced was Starlin Castro, the All-Star 2nd baseman the Yankees traded to the Miami Marlins to get Giancarlo Stanton, whose 12-game hitting streak came to an end. Cessa walked Castro. Then he gave up an RBI single, Gleyber Torres gave up an error that brought a run home, and Cessa walked the next batter, before getting 2 outs. Cliche Alert: But the damage is done: It was 9-3 Washington.

Tyler Wade drew a walk off reliever Tanner Rainey to lead off the bottom of the 8th, and there was a little bit of hope. Then Rainey struck out the side: LeMahieu, Stanton, Aaron Judge. 

Cessa was sent back out to pitch the top of the 9th. He walked the leadoff batter, Josh Harrison. Unlike with the Yankees the inning before, this walk of a leadoff batter hurt. Then Cessa hung a curveball to Juan Soto. Never, ever hang a curveball to Juan Soto. If you do, bad things will happen. 11-3. The Yankees got a meaningless run in the bottom of the 9th, after Hicks drew a 1-out walk, advanced to 2nd on defensive indifference, and was singled home by Frazier. But that was as close as the Yankees would get. 

Nationals 11, Yankees 4. WP: Kyle Finnegan (2-0). No save. LP: Loaisiga (3-2). The Yankees drop back to .500, at 16-16. That's bad, but it still beats 6-11, which they had been.

The series continues this afternoon, and it looks like a dandy of a pitching matchup: Corey Kluber for the Pinstripes, and future Hall-of-Famer Max Scherzer for Washington. Weather permitting: As I typed this, it poured for a few minutes, although it's now stopped.

Scores On This Historic Day: May 8, 1945, V-E Day

May 8, 1945: Nazi Germany surrenders to the Allies.P resident Harry S Truman makes the announcement: It is Victory in Europe Day, or V-E Day.

World War II would continue for another 3 months, until the Empire of Japan surrendered on August 14, which became known as V-J Day.

V-E Day was a Tuesday. The NFL was in its off-season. The NHL had recently completed its season. The NBA had not yet been founded. Major League Baseball had only 2 games scheduled for that day:

* The Cleveland Indians beat the Chicago White Sox, 7-1 at Comiskey Park in Chicago.

* The St. Louis Browns beat the Washington Senators, 7-1 at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Scores On This Historic Day: May 7, 1915, The Lusitania Is Sunk

May 7, 1915: The RMS Lusitania, a cruise ship of the Cunard Line, is sunk by SM U-20, a U-boat of the Imperial Germany Navy off the southern coast of Ireland. This resulted in the deaths of 1,198 people passengers and crew combined.

The German government insisted that Lusitania was carrying war munitions and ammunition, and that made the sinking justified. Most of the world, however, considered it an unfair act of war. Still, America wouldn't get into World War I for another 2 years.

U-20 went aground on November 4, 1916, off the coast of Denmark, and was scuttled by its crew. It had sunk 36 ships, including Lusitania.


May 7, 1915 was a Friday. The NFL and the NBA hadn't been founded yet. The National Hockey Association, the predecessor to the NHL, had completed its season. This was the 2nd of the 2 seasons that baseball had 3 major leagues.

In the American League:

* The New York Yankees lost to the Boston Red Sox, 5-3 at the Polo Grounds in New York. Dutch Leonard outpitched Ray Caldwell. Roger Peckinpaugh hit a home run for the Yankees, and Harry Hooper hit one for the Red Sox. Babe Ruth, in what turned out to be his 1st full season with the Red Sox, did not play in this game.

* The Philadelphia Athletics beat the Washington Senators, 4-1 at Shibe Park in Philadelphia.

* The Detroit Tigers beat the St. Louis Browns, 11-2 at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis.

* The Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians did not play that day.

In the National League:

* The New York Giants lost to the Boston Braves, 11-7 at Fenway Park in Boston, where the Braves were playing between the closing of the South End Grounds and the opening of Braves Field.

* The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-4 at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.

* The Cincinnati Reds beat the Chicago Cubs, 9-2 at West Side Park in Chicago. The following year, with the collapse of the Federal League, the Cubs moved into Weeghman Park. In 1926, it was renamed Wrigley Field.

* The Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies did not play that day.

And in the Federal League:

* The Brooklyn Tip-Tops beat the Kansas City Packers, 4-1 at Washington Park in Brooklyn. That ballpark was home to the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1898 to 1912. It was torn down after this season, although part of its outfield wall still stands alongside 3rd Avenue.

* The Newark Peppers beat the Chicago Whales, 5-4 at Harrison Park, across the Passaic River from Newark, in Harrison, Hudson County, New Jersey. It was on the opposite side of the Pennsylvania Railroad -- now Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and PATH -- tracks from where Red Bull Arena stands today.

* The Pittsburgh Rebels beat the Baltimore Terrapins, 10-9 at Terrapin Park in Baltimore. After the FL's collapse, the International League's Baltimore Orioles moved into Terrapin Park, renaming it Oriole Park, remaining there until it burned down in 1944. They moved into Baltimore Municipal Stadium, which was converted into Memorial Stadium, which became the home of the AL's version of the Orioles.

* The Buffalo Blues and the St. Louis Terriers did not play that day.

Notable Last Survivors -- 2021 Sports Other Than Baseball Division

Charley Trippi of the 1947 NFL Champion Chicago Cardinals

Notable last survivors of occurrences in sports other than baseball:

* June 4, 1939: Reginald Welch, 87, the last survivor of the winners of the 1st FA Cup Final, the 1872 Wanderers. He was also the last surviving player from the England team that played Scotland to a 0-0 draw in the 1st international football (soccer) match, the same year. 67 years.

* August 15, 1939: George H. Large, 88, the last surviving player in the 1st American football game, New Brunswick, Middlesex County, New Jersey, November 6, 1869. Nearly 70 years. The native of Readington, Hunterdon County played on the Rutgers side, and in 1888 served as President of the State Senate, making him the Acting Governor on a few occasions.

* May 24, 1942: Billy MacKinnon, 90, the last surviving player in the 1st international football match, at Hamilton Crescent in Partick, Scotland, November 30, 1872. 70 years. He and all of his Scotland teammates played their "club football" for Queen's Park of Glasgow.

* August 6, 1943: Tom Garrett, 85, the last surviving player from the 1st official cricket test match, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, on March 15, 1877. 66 years. He was a bowler, and remains the youngest Australian to play in a senior cricket match against England. Australia, which would not achieve independence for another 24 years, defeated England 245-196. Garrett is the great-grandfather of Peter Garrett, lead singer of Australian rock band Midnight Oil.

* July 14, 1951: Sammy Jones, 89, the last surviving player from the Australia cricket team that beat England in what became known as the 1st "Ashes" competition, August 29, 1882. 69 years.

* September 26, 1951: H. Montagu Allan, 90, the last surviving original inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, in 1945. 6 years. He was the only original inductee who was alive at all. A major businessman in Montreal, in the early 20th Century, he was not a player. Instead, he was elected in the "Builders" category, for his donation of the Allan Cup, awarded annually to the national senior amateur champions of Canada.

* November 17, 1955: Bob Holmes, 88, the last surviving player from the 1st Champions of England's Football League, the 1888-89 Preston North End team. 66 years.

* May 15, 1961: Tommy Gorman, 74, the last surviving original owner in the NHL, owner and general manager of the Ottawa Senators in 1917. 44 years. He managed the Senators to the Stanley Cup in 1920, '21 and '23; the Chicago Blackhawks in 1934; the Montreal Maroons in 1935; and the Montreal Canadiens in 1944 and '46.

* February 14, 1963: Billy Barlow, 92, the last surviving player from the 1st Stanley Cup winners, the 1893 Montreal Amateur Athletic Association team. 70 years.

* March 17, 1965: Amos Alonzo Stagg, 102, the last surviving member of the 1st All-American college football team, 1889, an end at Yale University. 74 years. He became better known as a coach who introduced many of the things football fans now take for granted, including the playbook, the huddle, the center snap, the placekick, the onside kick, the position of linebacker, pads (for players and goalposts), the tackling dummy, uniform numbers and varsity letters.

* January 23, 1967: Holcombe Ward, 88, the last surviving member of the U.S. tennis team that won the 1st Davis Cup, at the Longwood Cricket Club in Boston, August 8-10, 1900. 67 years. Ward also won the U.S. Open in 1904, and was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

The tournament was original known as the International Lawn Tennis Challenge, but was almost immediately nicknamed the Davis Cup, named for Dwight F. Davis, a member of that 1900 U.S. team, who came up with the idea for a U.S. selection to challenge a British team. Soon, the tournament was expanded to other countries. 

* July 1, 1968: Dr. Ernest Hildner, 94, the last surviving player in the 1st basketball game, Springfield, Massachusetts, December 21, 1891. 76 years.

* September 2, 1969: Ray Nesser, 71, the last survivor of the 6 football-playing Nesser brothers from Columbus, Ohio, playing for the Columbus Panhandles in 1915. 54 years.

* February 15, 1970: Dimitrios Loundras, 84, the last surviving competitor in the 1st modern Olympic Games, in Athens, Greece, April 15, 1896. 74 years.

* February 25, 1977: Billy Coutu, 84, the last surviving player from the 1st NHL game, a 7-4 win for Coutu and the Canadiens over the Ottawa Senators in Ottawa on December 22, 2017. 59 years.

* August 22, 1977: Roy Large, 84, the last surviving player from the Carlisle Indian School team, led by Jim Thorpe, that upset the Army football team at West Point, New York, November 9, 1912. 65 years.

* January 21, 1982: Edward S. "Ned" Irish, 76, the last surviving original NBA owner, the founding owner of the New York Knicks, 1946. A little more than 35 years. He also led the building of the current version of Madison Square Garden, opening in 1968.

* October 31, 1983: George Halas, 88, the last surviving original NFL owner from 1920. 63 years. As the founding owner of the Chicago Bears, and (for all intents and purposes) the founder of the NFL, he was the 1st man elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, in 1963.

* July 3, 1984: Ernesto Mascheroni, 76, the last surviving player from the Uruguay team that won the 1st World Cup Final, July 30, 1930. 54 years. He was then a left back for Montevideo team Olimpia, and later played for Internazionale Milano in Italy before coming home and playing for Montevideo team Peñarol.

* January 15, 1986: Jim Crowley, 83, the last survivor of the backfield known as the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame, winners of the Rose Bowl, January 1, 1925. 61 years. Harry Stuhldreher died in 1965, Elmer Layden in 1973, and Don Miller in 1979.

* February 22, 1986: Tom Bradshaw, 82, the last surviving player from the Scotland team, the "Wembley Wizards," that upset England at the original Wembley Stadium in London on March 31, 1928. 58 years. At the time, though, he was playing his "club football" for an English team, Liverpool.

* May 11, 1986: Frederick "Fritz" Pollard, 92, the last surviving player from the 1st NFL Champions, the 1920 Akron Pros. 66 years.

* September 6, 1989: Jimmy Ruffell, 89, the last surviving player from the 1st game at the old Wembley Stadium in London, the 1923 FA Cup Final. 66 years. He played for East London team West Ham United, who lost to Manchester area team Bolton Wanderers, 2-0.

* April 17, 1990: Angelo Schiavio, 84, the last surviving player from the Italy team that won the World Cup on June 10, 1934. 56 years. He was a forward, played his entire career for Bologna, and at the time of the World Cup was also their manager.

* January 28, 1991: Harold "Red" Grange, 87, the charter inductee into both the College and the Pro Football Halls of Fame, who was the last survivor of "The Golden Age of Sports," a group of athletes considered the best of the 1920s. 71 to 61 years. Of the others: Baseball's Babe Ruth died in 1948, tennis' Bill Tilden in 1953, golf's Bobby Jones in 1971 (the people coming up with the "Golden Age" nickname considered golf a sport, but I don't), track's Paavo Nurmi in 1973, and boxing's Jack Dempsey in 1983.

* July 18, 1991: Magnus Goodman, 93, the last surviving player from the 1st Olympic Gold Medalists in hockey, the Canada team that won in Antwerp, Belgium in 1920. 71 years.

* October 12, 1996: René Lacoste, 92, the last survivor of the "Four Muskteers" from France who, along with America's Bill Tilden, dominated international tennis in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Their 1st major title was in 1924, 72 years earlier.

Jacques "Toto" Brugnon died in 1978, Henri Cochet died in 1987, and Jean Borotra died in 1994. Lacoste was nicknamed the Crocodile, and it became the emblem of the Lacoste tennis shirt, which he introduced in 1929, expanding it into a vast sporting goods empire.

* May 26, 1997: Ralph Horween, 100, the last surviving player from the NFL's pioneer era, a fullback for the Chicago Cardinals from 1921 to 1923. 74 years. He is also believed to be the 1st former NFL player to live to be 100.

* September 23, 1998: Ray Bowden, 89, the last surviving player for Arsenal under manager Herbert Chapman, who died in 1934. 64 years. Bowden played for Arsenal's League Champions of 1934 and '35, and their 1936 FA Cup winners.

* February 23, 2000: Stanley Matthews, 85, the last surviving player from the England soccer team which, while it did not play in the World Cup, took on its winners, Italy, at the home stadium of Arsenal Football Club in North London, November 14, 1934. 65 years.

At the time, he was an outside right (today, we would call his position "right winger") for Stoke City. He would still be playing in England's top division in 1965, at age 50, and remains the only British footballer ever knighted while still an active player. He was also the last England player in their matches with Germany at White Hart Lane in North London in 1935 and in Berlin in 1938.

* September 13, 2000: Duane Swanson, 87, the last surviving player from the 1st Olympic Gold Medalists in basketball, the U.S. team that won in Berlin in 1936. 64 years.

* May 17, 2001: Murray Murdoch, 96, the last surviving original New York Ranger from 1926. 75 years. He was also the last survivor from their 1928 Stanley Cup winners. 73 years.

* February 6, 2002: Jack Hurst, 87, the last surviving player from the Burnden Park Disaster, at Bolton, Greater Manchester, where 33 people died in an FA Cup Quarterfinal between Hurst's Bolton Wanderers and Stoke City, March 9, 1946. 56 years.

* August 7, 2002: Charles "Ookie" Miller, 92, the last surviving player from the Chicago Bears team that won the 1st NFL Championship Game, regardless of whether you consider that to be the unofficial one on December 18, 1932, at Chicago Stadium, a 9-0 win over the Portsmouth Spartans (they became the Detroit Lions in 1934); or the official one on December 17, 1933, at Wrigley Field, a 23-21 win over the New York Giants. 70 or 69 years. Either way, he played the position of center.

* November 4, 2003: Philip Slone, 96, the last surviving player from the U.S. team at the 1st World Cup, in 1930. 73 years. They reached the Semifinal, making them still the most successful U.S. men's World Cup team ever. Slone attended New York's High School of Commerce right after Lou Gehrig did, and was a midfielder on such early U.S. professional teams as the All-Jewish New York Hakoah and Brookhattan. He only played 1 game for the U.S. team, but it was in the 1930 World Cup.

* November 30, 2003: Jesus Correia, 79, the last of Lisbon soccer team Sporting Clube de Portugal's Cinco Violinos (Five Violins) that won 7 League titles from 1944 to 1953. 59 years.

* April 27, 2005: George "Red" Horner, 95, the last surviving player from the Ace Bailey Benefit Game, often called the 1st NHL All-Star Game, at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, February 14, 1934. 71 years. He was also the last surviving player from the Howie Morez Memorial Game, at the Montreal Forum, November 2, 1937. 68 years. At the time of each game, he was a defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

* June 1, 2005: George Mikan, 80, the last surviving original inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, established in 1959. 46 years. (Its original building did not open until 1968.)

* October 26, 2005: George Swindin, 90, the last surviving player from George Allison's Arsenal teams, which ended with Allison's retirement in 1947. 58 years. He played for their League Champions 1938, '48 and '53, and their 1950 FA Cup winners.

* December 27, 2005: John Druze, 91, the last surviving member of the 1936-38 Fordham University line (offensive and defensive) known as the Seven Blocks of Granite, best known for their scoreless tie with the University of Pittsburgh at the Polo Grounds in New York -- which could retroactively be considered one of the periodic "Games of the Century" -- on October 16, 1937. 68 years.

* November 5, 2006: Pietro Rava, 90, the last surviving player from the "Rest of Europe" team that played England in the Football Association 75th Anniversary Game at Wembley Stadium, October 26, 1938. 68 years. A left back for Turin-based Juventus, he had helped Italy win the 1936 Olympics and the 1938 World Cup (the last survivor of each team), although he was not yet a regular for their 1934 World Cup win.

The last surviving England player was Stan Cullis, a centre-half for Wolverhampton Wanderers, who later became their greatest manager, living until February 28, 2001. 62 years.

* November 27, 2007: Bill Willis, 86, the last of pro football's "Four Jackie Robinsons" who desegregated the sport in 1946. 61 years. Willis, a guard, and Marion Motley, a running back, played for the Cleveland Browns in the All-America Football Conference, and eventually in the NFL.

Running back Kenny Washington and end Woody Strode, both of whom had played at UCLA, returned to the Los Angeles Coliseum to desegregate the NFL with the 1946 Los Angeles Rams. Washington died in 1971, Strode in 1994, Motley in 1999.

* October 27, 2008: Vladimir Savdunin, the last survivor of the Dynamo Moscow team that dominated Soviet soccer in the 1940s, and toured England in 1945 after World War II. 63 years.

* December 17, 2008: Sammy Baugh, 94, the last surviving original inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, September 8, 1963. 45 years. He played quarterback, cornerback and punter for the Washington Redskins from 1937 to 1952.

* January 27, 2009: Aubrey Powell, 90, the last surviving player from the Wales soccer team that beat England at the Hawthorns on October 20, 1945. 63 years.

* September 10, 2009: Lou Bender, 99, the last surviving player from "The Original Celtics," the 1st great pro basketball team, which dominated the sport in the 1920s. They were disbanded in 1927, so, 82 years.

* November 22, 2009: Juan Carlos Muñoz, 90, the last survivor of the Buenos Aires, Argentina team River Plate known as La Maquina (The Machine) that revolutionized South American soccer, winning league titles in 1941, 1942, 1945 and 1947. 68 years.

* January 21, 2010: Irwin Dambrot, 81, the last surviving player from the 1950 City College of New York basketball team, 60 years. They are the only team from New York City ever to win the NCAA Championship. They are also the only team ever to win the NCAA and the NIT in the same season. But he was also part of the point-shaving scandal that insured that such a "double" would never happen again, and ended New York basketball's glory days.

* December 23, 2011: James "Pappy" Ricks, 68, the last surviving player from the New York Renaissance Five, or "the New York Rens," the legendary all-black pro basketball team of the 1930s. He last played for them in 1936, so, 55 years.

* February 28, 2013: Ford "Moon" Mullen, 96, the last surviving basketball player from the 1st NCAA Tournament Champions, the University of Oregon, March 27, 1939. 74 years.

* July 22, 2013: Lawrie Reilly, 84, the last survivor of the "Famous Five" for Edinburgh team Hibernian, a.k.a. Hibs, winning the Scottish league title in 1951 and '52. 62 years.

* July 30, 2013: Oscar "Ossie" Schechtman, 94, the last surviving player from the 1st NBA game, the New York Knicks' 66-64 win over the Toronto Huskies at Maple Leaf Gardens, on November 1, 1946. 67 years.

* January 11, 2015: Jenő Buzánszky, 89, the last surviving player from Hungary's "Magnificent Magyars" that stunned England at the old Wembley in 1953, and then advanced to the 1954 World Cup Final before losing. 64 and 63 years.

* February 26, 2015: Earl Lloyd, 86, the last of the NBA's "Three Jackie Robinsons" at the start of the 1950-51 season. Almost 64 years. Chuck Cooper of the Boston Celtics was the 1st black player drafted by an NBA team, and he died in 1984. Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton of the New York Knicks was the 1st black player signed, and he died in 1990. But, as it worked out, Lloyd was the 1st player to get into a game, with the Washington Capitols.

* May 27, 2015: John Siegal, 97, the last surviving player from the Chicago Bears team that beat the Washington Redskins 73-0, the biggest blowout in NFL history, in the NFL Championship Game, at Griffith Stadium in Washington, December 8, 1940. 75 years. He played end on both offense and defense.

* July 16, 2015: Alcides Ghiggia, 88, the last surviving player from the Uruguay team that won the World Cup, shocking Brazil in the Final at the Estadio do Maracana, an event remembered in Brazil as the Maracanazo, July 16, 1950. 65 years.

* March 14, 2016: Davy Walsh, 92, the last surviving player from the Republic of Ireland team that upset England at Goodison Park in Liverpool, home of Everton Football Club, September 21, 1949. 66 years. At the time, he was a forward for Birmingham-area team West Bromwich Albion.

* October 21, 2016: Jerry Rullo, 93, the last surviving member of the 1st NBA Champions, the 1947 Philadelphia Warriors. 69 years.

* June 18, 2018: Walter Bahr, 91, the last surviving player from the U.S. soccer team that defeated England at the World Cup in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, June 29, 1950. 68 years. His sons Matt and Chris went on to become Super Bowl-winning placekickers. He barely outlived the last England player from that game, Roy Bentley, who died on April 20.

* September 19, 2019: Barron Hilton, 92, the last survivor of "The Foolish Club," the 8 rich men who decided to blow their fortunes on teams in the American Football League, at the AFL's founding meeting in Chicago, August 14, 1959, 60 years. He named his team the Los Angeles Chargers, but has always denied that he named them after the credit card he'd founded, Carte Blanche. (Why didn't he named them the Barons?)

He was a son of hotel magnate Conrad Hilton. And he was a brother of Conrad Nicholson Hilton Jr., a.k.a. Nicky Hilton, making him briefly a brother-in-law of Elizabeth Taylor.

Even weirder: His mansion in the Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena, California -- not far from the Rose Bowl, the house used as Wayne Manor on Batman, and the house used as the Governor's Mansion on Benson -- was used for exterior shots of the Carrington Mansion on Dynasty. That show was set in Denver. The main character, Blake Carrington, played by John Forsythe, was based on oil tycoon Marvin Davis. In 1978, and again in 1980, Davis tried to buy the Oakland Athletics and move them to his hometown of Denver. Davis' grandson was Brandon Davis, who, for a time, dated Barron's granddaughter Paris Hilton.

* January 15, 2020: Bobby Brown, 96, the last surviving player from the Scotland team that beat England 1-0 at Hampden Park in Glasgow on April 13, 1946. 74 years.

* May 16, 2020: Gene Rossides, 92, the last surviving player from Columbia University's 1947 upset of Army, which hadn't lost in 4 years, a game nown as "the Miracle of Morningside Heights." 73 years.

* August 8, 2020: Gabriel Ochoa Uribe, 90, the goalkeeper and last surviving player from Colombian soccer team Millonarios de Bogotá's Ballet Azul (Blue Ballet) that won league titles in 1949, '51, '52 and '53. 71 years.

* November 8, 2020: Howie Meeker, 97, the last surviving player from the 1st official NHL All-Star Game, at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, October 13, 1947. 73 years. He was a right wing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and is also the last surviving player for their Stanley Cup-winning teams of 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1951. At the time of his death, he was also the earliest surviving player for a Stanley Cup winner. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, as a broadcaster.

* December 5, 2020: Viktor Ponedelnik, 83, the last surviving player from the Soviet Union soccer team that won the 1st European Championship, beating Yugoslavia 2-1 at Parc des Princes in Paris, on July 10, 1960. 60 years.

* December 24, 2020: Jack Myers, 96, the last surviving player from the Philadelphia Eagles' 1948 and 1949 NFL Champions. 72 and 71 years.

* April 19, 2021: Viktor Shuvalov, 97, the last surviving player from the 1st Soviet team to win an Olympic Gold Medal, at Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy in 1956. 65 years.


Alive as of May 6, 2021:

* Steve Wochy (born Wojciechowski), 98, is the oldest and earliest surviving NHL player. A right wing, he played 49 games for the Detroit Red Wings in the 1944-45 season, and 5 more in 1946-47. He had a much longer career in the minor leagues during the comparatively closed "Original Six" era.

* William "Dub" Jones, 96, is the last surviving player from the All-America Football Conference, which ran from 1946 (75 years) to 1949. He's also the last surviving player from the 1950 Cleveland Browns vs. Philadelphia Eagles "merger game," the last survivor of the Browns' 1950 NFL Champions, 1 of 3 from their 1954 NFL Champions, 1 of 5 from their 1956 NFL Champions, and the father of 1970s Baltimore Colts All-Pro quarterback Bert Jones.

* Johnny Lujack, 96, is the earliest surviving Heisman Trophy winner, for Notre Dame in 1947. 74 years. He's also the last surviving player from the 1946 Army-Notre Dame "Game of the Century" at the old Yankee Stadium, a 0-0 tie between the teams then ranked Number 1 and Number 2 in the country. 75 years.

* Charlie Trippi, 99, is the earliest surviving player for an NFL Championship team, the Chicago Cardinals, who beat the Philadelphia Eagles 28-21 at Comiskey Park, December 28, 1947. 73 years. He's also the last survivor of the Cardinals' "Million Dollar Backfield" of the late 1940s. Quarterback Paul Christman died in 1970, halfback Pat Harder in 1992, halfback Elmer Angsman in 2002, halfback Marshall Goldberg in 2006.

* Walter Hirsch, 93, is the last surviving member of the University of Kentucky basketball program's "Fabulous Five" that won the 1948 National Championship. He and Joe Hall, who went on to coach Kentucky to the 1978 National Championship, are the last 2 survivors from Kentucky's 1949 National Champions. Hirsch, Cliff Hagan and Guy Strong are the last 3 survivors from Kentucky's 1951 National Champions.

* Neil Harvey, 90, is the last surviving player from the 1948 Australia cricket team that beat England in their regular "Ashes" series, known as "The Invincibles" because they are the only cricket team ever to tour England without losing a test match. June 10 to August 18, 1948. 71 years.

While Donald Bradman, often regarded as the greatest batsman in cricket history, was undergoing his farewell tour, Harvey was a rookie, on his 1st tour. Domestically, he played for Victoria (the State of Australia that includes Melbourne) from 1946 to 1957, and for New South Wales (the State that includes Sydney) from then until his retirement from the sport in 1963.

* Arnie Ferrin, 95, is the earliest surviving player for an NBA Championship team, the Minneapolis Lakers, who beat the Washington Capitols in 6 games, April 13, 1949. 72 years. He's also the earliest surviving player for an NCAA Championship team, the University of Utah, beating Dartmouth College 42-40 at the old Madison Square Garden on March 28, 1944. 77 years.

* Cecil Souders, 100, is the oldest living former NFL player. And end, he played for the Detroit Lions from 1947 (74 years) to 1949.

* Marty Pavelich, 93, is the earliest surviving player for a Stanley Cup winner, the 1950 Detroit Red Wings. 71 years. He is also 1 of 4 survivors from the Wings' 1952 Cup winners, 1 of 4 from their 1954 Cup winners, and 1 of 5 from their 1955 Cup winners.

* Bob Cousy, 92, is the last surviving player from the 1st NBA All-Star Game, at his home court, the Boston Garden, March 2, 1951. 68 years.

* Tony Marchi, 88, is the earliest surviving player for a Football League title team, Tottenham Hotspur of North London, who clinched at home at White Hart Lane against Yorkshire team Sheffield Wednesday, April 28, 1951. 68 years. He was also the only player to still be there in 1961, when they won their only other League title, also against Wednesday, on April 17, 1961.

Ágnes Keleti, 100, is the earliest surviving Olympic Gold Medalist. A gymnast competing for Hungary, she won 1 in Helsinki in 1952, and 4 in Melbourne in 1956.

* Vic Seixas, 97, is the earliest surviving winner of a tennis major. He won Wimbledon in 1953 and the U.S. Open in 1954.

* Horst Eckel, 89, is the earliest surviving player for the West Germany team that beat Hungary at the Wankdorf Stadium in Berne, Switzerland, to win the World Cup, on July 4, 1954. 65 years.

* Hugh McElhenny, 92, is the last surviving player from the San Francisco 49ers' 1954-56 "Million Dollar Backfield," the only entire backfield elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 67 years. He was a halfback. Fullback Joe "the Jet" Perry and halfback John Henry Johnson died within a few weeks of each other in 2011. Quarterback Y.A. Tittle died in 2017.

* Bill Leivers, 89, is the earliest surviving player for an FA Cup winner, Manchester City, who beat Birmingham City at Wembley Stadium, 3-1, on May 5, 1956. 65 years.

* Francisco Gento, age 87, is the last surviving player from the 1st European Cup Final, at Parc des Princes, Paris, June 13, 1956. 65 years. He is also the last survivor from the 1957 Final, and remains the only man to win 6 European Cups, all with Real Madrid.

* There are 2 surviving players from the Arsenal teams managed by Tom Whittaker, who died in office on October 24, 1956. 65 years. Cornelius "Con" Sullivan and Ray Swallow. Neither won a trophy with Arsenal.

* There are 3 surviving players from the New York Giants' 1956 NFL Champions: Sam Huff, Rosey Grier and Henry Moore.

Grier, a defensive tackle, is also the last survivor of the Los Angeles Rams' 1960s defensive line known as the Fearsome Foursome. End Lamar Lundy died in 2007, Tackle Merlin Olsen in 2010, and end Deacon Jones in 2013.

* There are 5 living survivors of the Munich Air Disaster that killed 23 people, including 8 members of the Manchester United soccer team on its way back from a European Cup Quarterfinal in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia), February 6, 1958, 61 years: United player Bobby Charlton (81); stewardess Rosemary Cheverton; Eleanor Miklos, wife of travel agent Bela Miklos, who was killed; Vera Lukić, the wife of a Yugoslav diplomat; and her daughter, Vesna Lukić.

As Vesna was a baby, she is likely to end up as the last survivor. Vera was pregnant with her son Zoran, and some sources list him as one of the survivors as well.

* There are 2 surviving players from the Brazil team that won the World Cup, beating host Sweden at Råsundastadion in the Stockholm suburb of Solna on June 29, 1958: Mario Zagallo and Pelé. Dino Sani, Moacir, José Altafini and José "Pepe" Macia are still alive, but did not play in the Final.

* Carlos Ortiz, 86, is the earliest surviving World Champion in boxing. The Puerto Rican was Light Welterweight Champion in 1959 and '60, Lightweight Champion from 1962 to 1965, and Lightweight Champion again 1965 to 1968.

* There are 3 surviving players from the Brazil team that won the World Cup, beating Czechoslovakia at the Estadio Nacional de Chile in Santiago on June 17, 1962, 59 years: Mario Zagallo, Pelé and Amarildo. Pepe, Altair, Mengálvio and Jair da Costa are still alive, but did not play in the Final.

* Jerry Lucas, 81, is the earliest surviving Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. He won in 1961, for helping Ohio State's basketball team to the 2nd of 3 straight NCAA Finals (but they only won the 1st, in 1960), and for being a scholar-athlete. He went on to a Hall of Fame career in the NBA.

* There are 4 surviving players from the England team that won the World Cup, beating West Germany at the old Wembley on July 30, 1966: George Cohen, Bobby Charlton, Geoff Hurst and Roger Hunt. Jimmy Greaves, Ron Flowers, Terry Paine, Ian Callaghan and George Eastham are still alive, but did not play in the Final.

* There are 7 surviving participants in "The Cleveland Summit," gathered in support of Muhammad Ali after he was stripped of the Heavyweight Championship of the World for refusing to be drafted, June 4, 1967, 52 years: Football players Jim Brown, Curtis McClinton, Jim Shorter, John Wooten and Walter Beach, all of whom were current or former Cleveland Browns; and basketball players Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then still using his birth name of Lew Alcindor).

* George Foreman, 72, is the earliest surviving Heavyweight Champion of the World, first winning the title on January 22, 1973.

* Go for Gin, 30, is the earliest surviving horse to have won the Kentucky Derby, having won it in 1994.

Difficult to Process

When you get to a certain point in life, you realize certain things. Yesterday, I had beautiful weather, a good day the supermarket, I got to see one of my nieces, and I got talk to the other 2 on the phone. Last night, I got to see some decent television. I've had one of my COVID vaccinations, and am currently awaiting the other. And Donald Trump is no longer occupying the Presidency.

Based on that, I had a good day.

However, the Yankees lost the finale of their home series against the Houston Astros, in ignominious fashion. And Arsenal were knocked out of Europe, possibly for the long term.

Sports-wise, yesterday was a very bad day. But, with what was going on a real life, I can see that it wasn't the end of the world.

Whoever said sports, or any sport, was life and death was wrong. Whoever said sports, or any sport, is a microcosm of life had a point, but wasn't completely right.


Before this series with the Asterisks started, if you had told me that the Yankees would take 2 out of the 3, I would have taken that. But if you had told me the 1 they would lose would be the 1 that Gerrit Cole started, I would have been stunned.

Certainly, it wasn't Cole's fault. He breezed through the 1st 3 innings, before allowing a home run to Yordan Alvarez in the top of the 4th. He shrugged it off, and was fine through 6. But in the top of the 7th, he gave up another home run to Alvarez.

That made it 3-2 in the Yankees' favor. Giancarlo Stanton had hit another home run, this time leading off the bottom of the 3rd, to the opposite field. Aaron Hicks, hitting so poorly until this series began, continued his comeback with 3 hits and a walk. He was hitting below .150, now he's at .202. His single in the 4th was followed by a home run by Clint Frazier.

But in the 8th inning, Aaron Boone brought Chad Green in to pitch, and he had nothing. Cliche Alert: Walks can kill you, especially the leadoff variety. He allowed a walk and a single, before getting a strikeout. And then, of all people, it was Jose Altuve -- the midget at the heart of the Astros' 2015-19 cheating, turning 31, and facing chants from Yankee Fans of, among others, "Fuck your birthday!" -- who hit a home run, making it 5-3 Astros.

The bottom of the 8th featured a wild play that sure seemed like an omen that the Yankees would come from behind and win. Gleyber Torres led off with a single. Mike Ford struck out. Then Hicks singled, against the shift. Torres was running all the way, and noticed that the Astros' positioning meant that he could score. And he did. 

The run against the shift was reminiscent of Johnny Damon's double steal in Game 4 of the 2009 World Series. Scoring from 1st on a single was reminiscent of Enos Slaughter's "Mad Dash" in Game 7 of the 1946 World Series, giving St. Louis the title over Boston.

It was now 5-4 Astros, and easy to believe that the Yankees would get it done. But Kyle Higashioka, who has done so well this season, grounded into a rally-killing double play.

Cliche Alert: Walks can kill you. Justin Wilson (no relation to the late famous Cajun chef of the same name) gave up a walk and a homer in the top of the 9th. In the bottom of the 9th, Brett Gardner led off with a single, but DJ LeMahieu struck out, and Stanton grounded into a double play.

Astros 7, Yankees 4. WP: Andre Scrubb (1-0). SV: Ryan Pressly (5). LP: Green (0-3).

I hate losing. I hate losing in ignominious fashion. I hate the Astros. This was all 3. Still, taking 2 out of 3 against the Astros is a good thing.


But Arsenal...

Based on Premier League position, Arsenal would, for the 1st time since the 1994-95 season, fail to qualify for Europe. They would have to finish at least 7th to qualify for the UEFA Europa League for the 2021-22 season. They are currently 5 points short of 7th place, and both of the teams ahead of them have a game in hand.

There was still a chance that they could win this year's Europa League, and thus qualify for next season's bigger tournament, the UEFA Champions League. But to do that, they would have to win the Semifinal against Spanish team Villareal, and then win the Final.

Villareal are managed by Unai Emery, who had previously won the Europa League 3 times with Sevilla, before winning the EL automatically qualified a team for the CL. In 2018, Arsenal hired Emery to replace Arsène Wenger. It was a horrendous decision: Emery was completely out of his depth in the Premier League, alienated Arsenal's best players, employed pathetic tactics, got Arsenal to the 2019 Europa League Final against Chelsea but hopelessly botched it, and had to be fired midway through the 2019-20 season.

Mikel Arteta, who had captained Arsenal to FA Cup Final wins under Wenger in 2014 and '15, was hired, and somehow took a team built by Emery to the 2020 FA Cup Final, and did what Emery couldn't do in his Final the year before: Beat Chelsea. It looked like Arteta was the spiritual successor to Wenger.

That idea has completely evaporated, along with the ability to take the slogan "Trust the process" seriously. Arsenal ended up losing at home to teams that hadn't beaten them in North London for decades. Arsenal were now in what the idiots who demanded Wenger's firing lied and said Wenger had brought the team into: "Midtable mediocrity."

Arsenal reached the Semifinal of the EL, but lost the 1st leg to Villareal 2-1. Having an away goal was supposed to give Arsenal hope for the 2nd leg. But it ended 0-0, and Arsenal were so weak throughout, they never looked like scoring. Arsenal go out of Europe by losing to Unai Emery. That's pretty low.

Team owner Stan Kroenke is the new target of hate by the idiots and their protests. He didn't cause any of this, unless you want to blame him for hiring managing director Vinai Venkatesham and technical director Edu Gaspar, a former player on Wenger's 2002 "Double" and 2004 "Invincible" teams. They hired Arteta, and also made some transactions that cannot be rationally defended.

Arsène Wenger never had a loss as damaging as the knockout given to Arsenal yesterday by Vinai, Edu and Arteta. Until all 3 are fired, and another visionary takes his proper place on Arsène's throne, Arsenal will be one of those teams that must measure itself by derby results.

Jim Steinman, the pianist and composer who wrote Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and most of Meat Loaf's hits, recently died. I wanted Arteta to be Wenger's rightful successor. But it's just not going to happen. Looking at Arsenal's "process," I'm reminded of what Steinman wrote in Meat Loaf's song "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad":

You'll never find no gold on a sandy beach.
You'll never drill for oil on a city street.
I know you're looking for a ruby in a mountain of rocks
but there ain't no Coupe de Ville lying at the bottom
of a Cracker Jack box.

I can't lie.
I can't tell you that I'm something I'm not.
No matter how I try
I'll never be able to give you something
something that I just haven't got.


"Trust the process." I seem to be rooting for teams that all currently use that expression: The New York Yankees, the New Jersey Devils, the Philadelphia 76ers and The Arsenal. (The Devils and the Sixers are owned by the same people. I haven't yet noticed the New York Red Bulls or the Rutgers University football team using the expression, but it wouldn't surprise me if they started using it.)

How long is the process supposed to take? The Yankees haven't won a Pennant, let alone a World Series, in 12 years. The Devils have made the Playoffs once in the last 9 years, and are currently 1 of the 3 worst teams in the NHL. The Sixers have been in "the process" for 8 years, and have won just 2 Playoff rounds. Arsenal are wrapping up Season 3 since parting ways with Arsène Wenger, and each one has been worse than the one before, in terms of League performance.

Thomas Boswell, the great baseball writer for The Washington Post, said, "Life can't be all big issues and heart surgery. Something has to bring joy into the day. And baseball provides this."

Sometimes. Other times, it's more like what Arsenal fan Nick Hornby put it, in his screenplay for the movie based on his memoir Fever Pitch:

Football has meant too much to me, and has come to represent too many things. See, after a while, it all gets mixed up in your head. You can't remember whether life's shit because Arsenal's shit, or if it's the other way around.

I've been to watch far too many games, and spent far too much money, fretted about Arsenal when I should have been fretting about something else. I've asked too much of the people I love.

Okay, I accept all that. Perhaps it's something you can't understand, unless you belong...

Processes begin. Some have a measure of success. A few of those ultimately succeed. Most of them end up failing. Some have hardly anything that can be defined as "success." It's then that you realize that Franz Kafka, a writer whose very name has become identified with surrealism, wrote a story titled The Trial, and its original German title is Der Process.

Life is difficult to process. Ideally, sports should make life easier to process. But we don't live in an ideal world. Hell, if we lived in an ideal world, we wouldn't need sports. As Yankee Legend Yogi Berra taught us, "If the world were perfect, it wouldn't be."

But sports is not life. Good things can happen in life, even when things are bad in sports. If life is "shit," then a team you love being "shit" doesn't help, but it's not the reason. Some of the best times in my life came when the Yankees weren't doing well. It's even true in sports: On some big days for the Yankees, or the Devils, or The Arsenal, another of my teams lost. You win some, and you lose some.

And, for as long as you live, there's another chance. As Hornby also put it:

The great thing is, it comes again and again. There's always another season. You lose the Cup Final in May? Well, there's the 3rd Round to look forward to in January. And what's wrong with that? It's actually pretty comforting, if you think about it.

We have to process it all. But that doesn't mean we have to trust the process.

This concludes today's Philosophy 101 lecture. Tonight, the Yankees begin a home weekend series against the Washington Nationals. Jameson Taillon starts against Patrick Corbin.