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Sports Then and Now

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Remembering College Football’s “Galloping Ghost” Red Grange 1

Posted on September 21, 2015 by Mike Raffone

MIKE Comic 72 Galloping GhostToday’s Sports Then and Now blog features an incomparable college football player with the unforgettable nickname – The Galloping Ghost.

In 2008, called this electrifying running back and kick returner the greatest college football player ever.

However, nearly 90 years earlier it was Chicago sportswriter Warren Brown who attributed The Galloping Ghost name to Harold Edward “Red” Grange.

Grange earned the moniker because of his race horse speed and quick, ghostlike movements that avoided tacklers in the open field.

Tackling Grange was like trying to lasso a fast moving cloud driven by a strong wind in a large open field. Few defenders ever succeeded.

A three-time All American at the University of Illinois, the 5’11″ and 175 lb. Grange led the Illini to an undefeated season and college football’s national championship in 1923.

The Galloping Ghost’s best college game was against Michigan on October 18, 1924. Most college football fans called it the greatest individual performance in the history of college football.

Against the Illini’s fiercest rival, Grange spooked the Wolverine defense by racing the game’s opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. He scored three more times on runs of 67, 56 and 44 yards – all within the first 12 minutes of the game.

There was no television or internet back in The Galloping Ghost’s era. Instead, TIME Magazine highlighted Grange’s amazing college career by including The Galloping Ghost on the cover of its October 1925 issue. It was a huge national honor.

An original member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame, Grange signed with the Chicago Bears immediately after college. Grange is also a history maker for the professional sport of football. Back in the 1920s, professional football was only beginning to form nationally, and Grange became instrumental in its initial success.

Grange participated in a 67 day, 19 game cross-country series of exhibition games. For his efforts, The Galloping Ghost pocketed an incredible $100,000 for his role. The other players were paid only $100 per game.

Chicago Bears Hall of Fame owner George Halas called Grange the greatest running back he had ever seen. Unfortunately, The Galloping Ghost suffered a terrible knee injury in 1927 that inevitably shortened his professionally career.

The highlight of #77′s NFL career came in 1933. Grange made a heroic game saving play on defense in the closing seconds of the NFL’s first ever Championship Game held at Wrigley Field.

The spirit of this Galloping Ghost will always live on. And, today’s Sports Then and Now’s blog rekindles the fiery spirit of this amazing college football player.

Red Grange passed away in 1991, but today let’s remember the elusive, fast gridiron great whom recognized as the best college football player of all time.

MIKE on sports!


20 Years Ago: Cal Ripken Jr. Passes the Iron Horse 1

Posted on September 05, 2015 by Dean Hybl
It has been 20 years since Cal Ripken Jr. became baseball's career iron man.

It has been 20 years since Cal Ripken Jr. became baseball’s career iron man.

It is hard to believe that 20 years have passed since Cal Ripken Jr. put Major League Baseball on his back and helped it get past one of the darkest periods in its illustrious history.

On September 5, 1995 Ripken matched the seemingly unbreakable record of Lou Gehrig by playing in his 2,130th consecutive game. After the game became official and the streak numbers on the B&O Warehouse turned to 2,130, he punctuated the night with a sixth inning home run.

The drama was even better the following night as Ripken hit a home run in the fourth inning. Then, with Baltimore leading 3-1 midway through the fifth inning the game was halted for the dramatic unveiling of the number 2,131.

Following the unveiling, the full house at Camden Yards remained on their feet and millions of fans around the world watched as Ripken took several curtain calls and then circled the stadium in a victory lap that became a healing moment for a sport still reeling from the cancellation less than a year earlier of the World Series.

The ovation and lap lasted 22 minutes and was part of the most watched baseball game since the seventh game of the 1986 World Series.

While coming to work every day may not seem as glamorous as a record based more on performance, there was something about the ironman streak that resonated with baseball fans (and still does).

Certainly, part of that is because of the history and heritage from Lou Gehrig, the Iron Horse. The New York Yankees first baseman played in 2,130 consecutive games between 1925 and 1939 with the streak ending only because Gehrig was diagnosed with an incurable disease that ultimately would become known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Read the rest of this entry →

75 Years Ago: The Iron Horse Says Goodbye 1

Posted on July 03, 2014 by Dean Hybl
Lou Gehrig said goodbye to his fans on July 4, 1939.

Lou Gehrig said goodbye to his fans on July 4, 1939.

Imagine if one of the most iconic athletes of the current era suddenly retired, announced he had an incurable disease and within two years was dead. That is exactly what happened in 1939 when iconic New York Yankees star Lou Gehrig pulled himself out of the lineup after 2,130 consecutive games and then 75 years ago, on July 4, 1939, said goodbye to New York fans with his famous “luckiest man on the face of the earth” speech.

For 13 years, Gehrig was baseball’s most durable player as he famously was in the lineup every day. But durability wasn’t his only strength, he was also the best first baseman of his generation and was a run-producing machine.

Only Gehrig could push the Sultan of Swat, Babe Ruth, into the number three spot in the batting order. He drove in 140 or more runs nine times during his career, including 185 RBI during the 1931 season. In 1934 he claimed the triple crown as he hit .363 with 49 home runs and 166 RBI.

Interestingly, likely because the Yankees did not reach the World Series that season, he finished only fifth in the MVP voting as Mickey Cochrane earned the award. Read the rest of this entry →

Daredevil Days: The 6 Most Outrageous Evel Knievel Stunts of All Time 6

Posted on April 11, 2014 by Dixie Somers
Evel Knievel was one of the most famous sports personalities of the 1970s.

Evel Knievel was one of the most famous sports personalities of the 1970s.

Inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999, Evel Knievel was dubbed “one of the greatest American icons of the 1970s” by The Times. He held the Guinness World Record for the “most broken bones in a lifetime” with 433 over the course of his career. Of more than 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps between 1965 and 1980, here are the most outrageous stunts he ever attempted.

Caesar’s Palace
Outrageous doesn’t begin to describe Evel Knievel’s jump of the fountains at Ceasar’s Palace in Las Vegas, and how he got there was even more unbelievable. In 1967, Evel created a fictitious corporation called Evel Knievel Enterprise, three fictitious lawyers to present his ‘case’, and even made fake calls to the casino’s CEO claiming to be from ABC-TV and Sports Illustrated. That was only the beginning of Knievel’s Caesar’s Palace fiasco, and even though he crashed during the jump, the ordeal, and his recovery, made him as famous as ever.

Ontario, California
On February 28th, 1971, riding his Harley-Davidson XR-750, Evel Knievel successfully jumped 19 cars to set the new world record. Filmed for the movie that held his name, Evel Knievel held that record for 27 years, until it was eclipsed by Bubba Blackwell. Bubba jumped 20 cars in 1998, also using an XR-750.

Los Angeles, California
In November of 1973 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Knievel successfully jumped 50 stacked cars. After that jump, he held the record for jumping the most stacked cars on a Harley-Davidson XR-750 for 35 years, until it was broken in October of 2008. His beloved 300lb, fiberglass and aluminum XR-750 is currently a part of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Read the rest of this entry →

40 Years Ago: Hank Aaron Becomes Baseball’s Home Run King 9

Posted on April 07, 2014 by Dean Hybl
It was 36 years ago this week that Hank Aaron became the all-time home run king.

It was 40 years ago that Hank Aaron became the all-time home run king.

Given how much emphasis sports put on championships, it may seem a little strange that the most significant home run in Major League Baseball history was not hit during the month of October, but instead was struck in early April by an aging player on a team that wouldn’t come close to reaching the postseason.

Such was the case 40 years ago, on April 8, 1974, when Hank Aaron forever cemented a place for himself in baseball lore with his record breaking 715th home run.

Every die-hard sports fan has a number of moments that are forever etched in their subconscious memory – to the point that even years after the fact they can recall not just the special moment, but also where they were and what they were doing at the time.

Though I was only six-years old, the night when Aaron set the home run record is one of those moments for me.

My family was paying special attention to the record because we had family friends who were from Atlanta and thus big fans of Aaron and the Braves. “Hammerin’ Hank” had tied the record during the season opener in Cincinnati and there seemed to be little doubt that he was going to set the record during the home opener, which was being shown on national television by ABC. However, for a while there was some doubt whether we would be able to see it.

It was a stormy Monday night in my hometown of Keysville, Virginia, thanks to a powerful early spring thunderstorm that brought lightning, thunder and heavy rains. There was no such thing as cable television in our town in 1974 and because we were about 75 miles from the closest television station, even with having an antenna on the roof we never really had crystal clear reception. The general practice at that time was also to unplug the television during electrical storms so that the TV wouldn’t get zapped. Read the rest of this entry →

Boston Red Sox Finish Improbable Season With World Series Title 1

Posted on October 31, 2013 by Dean Hybl


The Boston Red Sox slid past the St. Louis Cardinals to win Game Six and the 2013 World Series.

The Boston Red Sox slid past the St. Louis Cardinals to win Game Six and the 2013 World Series.

After a 2012 season filled with internal bickering, a trade that removed three of the best players from the roster and a record that was the third worst in the American League, who could have predicted that just 12 months later the Boston Red Sox would be the 2013 World Series Champions?

Yet, despite basically starting from scratch with a roster that included a dozen new faces, there were the Red Sox defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1 in game six to claim their third World Series title in a decade and first being clinched at Fenway Park since 1918.

The final game was perhaps the least dramatic of a World Series that had two “first ever” endings.

Game three, a 5-4 Cardinals victory, was the first World Series game ever ended on a fielder obstruction play. Then the next night, the Red Sox tied the series at two games each when Koji Uehara picked off Kolten Wong with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to preserve a 4-2 victory.

As was the case throughout the season, the key for the Red Sox against the Cardinals was timely hitting, strong starting pitching and a lights out bullpen. Read the rest of this entry →

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