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80 Years Ago: NFL Action on “A Day That Will Live in Infamy” 3

Posted on December 07, 2021 by Dean Hybl

The first Sunday in December of 1941 began much like Sundays have for years prior and for the 80 years since.  The morning for many included a church service and then was followed by Sunday afternoon National Football League action.

December 7, 1941 was Tuffy Leemans’ Day at the New York Giants football game.

Though the NFL in 1941 was not the Sunday national obsession that it has become over the past 80 years, there was still excitement for the final three games of the regular season.

In New York, a crowd of 55,051 packed the Polo Grounds for “Tuffy Leemans’ Day” as the New York Giants were recognizing their All-Pro running back in the final regular season game of his sixth NFL season. Leemans had led the NFL in rushing with 830 yards as a rookie in 1936 and as was common during the era, he was a multi-threat who also could be a passer, receiver, punt returner and play defense. He would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1978.

The Giants entered the game with an 8-2 record and having already clinched the East Division title. Their opponents, the cross-town rival Brooklyn Dodgers (yes the Brooklyn Dodgers was also the name of an NFL team from 1930-1943) entered the game with a 6-4 record.

Brooklyn had defeated the Giants 16-13 earlier in the season, but a recent loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers had knocked the Dodgers out of contention for the division title.

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Four Cowboys Among Twenty-Eight Inductees Set to be Recognized at the Pro Football Hall of Fame 1

Posted on August 04, 2021 by Chris Kent
Football fans from everywhere will be flocking to the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the annual induction ceremonies and festivities taking place August 5-9.

With 17 enshrinees in the Pro Football Hall of Fame among players, coaches, and executives who spent their whole careers or made their primary contribution with the franchise, the Dallas Cowboys have always been well represented in Canton, Ohio. This coming weekend of Aug. 7-8, three more primary Cowboys and a fourth who spent only one season in Dallas will be enshrined in the hallowed hall where their busts and bios will be preserved forever. These four Cowboys are part of 19 individuals who will be officially inducted this year. Dallas is one of several franchises with multiple enshrinees this year. Other franchises with multiple inductees who have at least some ties to them include the Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, and Green Bay Packers among others. Both the classes of 2020 and 2021 are being inducted this summer due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that forced the 2020 enshrinement to be cancelled. The two classes total 28 inductees, nine who were elected posthumously. Special video tributes of these nine will be shown between the live speeches during the two enshrinement ceremonies. Each of them were enshrined in a separate ceremony on April 28 at the Hall of Fame.

Jimmy Johnson, Harold Carmichael, Cliff Harris, and Drew Pearson are the four former Cowboys being inducted this weekend who played or coached in Dallas. Harris and Pearson played their entire careers with the Cowboys and were teammates for much of the 1970s when Dallas appeared in five Super Bowls and won two. Johnson made his mark as head coach of the Cowboys for five seasons from 1989-93 leading them to the franchise’s only back-to-back Super Bowl Championships following the 1992 and ’93 seasons. Johnson also was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 1996-99. Carmichael played only one season for Dallas which came in 1984, his final season as a pro after playing 13 years for the Philadelphia Eagles.

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Shohei Ohtani Latest in Evolution of Elite Athletes in Baseball 1

Posted on July 11, 2021 by Dean Hybl
There have been many great athletes in the history of Major League Baseball, but you can draw a clear line in the evolution from Ruth to Mantle, Jackson and now Ohtani.

There are quite a few exciting young players in Major League Baseball, but while most of them fit the traditional model of players in baseball history, in my opinion one stands out as part of a very elite lineage of special athletes in baseball.

Whether he is throwing a 100 MPH fastball, launching a tape measure home run or gliding around the bases like an Olympic sprinter, Shohei Ohtani is clearly a unique athlete within the current game of baseball.

In my opinion, Ohtani is the fourth player over the last 100 years who stood out from the crowd, not just in relation to their baseball production, but more specifically in how their unique level of freak athleticism allowed them to do things never seen before.

The first of these four was Babe Ruth. Though most common images of him are from later in his career when he was slightly overweight, the reality is that the young Babe Ruth was a transcendent athlete who forever changed the game of baseball.

Ruth first burst on the scene in 1914 as a 19-year-old left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. He posted an 18-8 record with 2.44 ERA as a 20-year-old in 1915 and then won 23 and 24 games respectively over the next two seasons. He also led the American league with a 1.75 ERA in 1916.

Part of three World Series Championship teams in four seasons with the Red Sox between 1915 and 1918, Ruth set a World Series record by pitching 29.2 consecutive scoreless innings (it stood until 1961).

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Great Sports Moments From the 4th of July 0

Posted on July 04, 2021 by Dean Hybl

It probably comes as no surprise that the 4th of July has seen a few more “special” sports moments than most other days on the calendar. As a national holiday occurring during the height of the season for baseball, there have been a significant number of special baseball moments on this date.

Lou Gehrig became the first MLB player to have his number retired during Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day on July 4, 1939.

Even though July 4th is a day that our friends in England are maybe not as enthusiastic in celebrating, July 4th does have quite a history in that country as many Wimbledon titles have been claimed on that special date.

Over the years the date has also seen special moments in boxing history and women’s golf.

Below is a chronological look at a few of those special July 4th sports moments:

1910 – In what was dubbed the “Fight of the Century”, World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Jack Johnson retains his title with a 15th round TKO against James J. Jeffries.

1911 – Ty Cobb’s pursuit of Willie Keeler’s record hitting streak of 45 consecutive games ends at 40 games when Cobb is held hitless in four attempts by Ed Walsh of the Chicago White Sox. Cobb’s streak remains the sixth longest streak in MLB history.

1914 – Dorothea Chambers claims her seventh, and final, Wimbledon Women’s Singles title, beating Ethel Larcombe 7-5, 6-4.

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Al Bumbry: From Bronze Star to AL Rookie of the Year 0

Posted on May 31, 2021 by Dean Hybl

The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month won a Bronze Star in Vietnam before going on to win American League Rookie of the Year honors and playing 14 seasons in the Major Leagues.

Though only 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds, Al Bumbry was a four-year basketball player at Virginia State College (now University). The school restarted its baseball program during his career and Bumbry hit .578 during his senior season to earn notice from the Baltimore Orioles, who picked him in the 11th round of the MLB Draft.

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History of the Sports Apparel Industry 0

Posted on May 18, 2021 by Martin Banks

What’s game day without your favorite jersey? Have you ever wondered why and how the industry got to where it is today?

People have clad themselves in their favorite team’s colors since time immemorial. What was once a symbol of your loyalty remains today — but you have more colorful choices. Here is a brief history of the sports apparel industry so that you can wow your friends on trivia night at the pub.

The Popularity of Sports Apparel Today

Walk down nearly any city street, and you’ll spy at least one person decked out in a football jersey or ready to hit the basketball court. Sports apparel offers multiple advantages, not the least of which is comfort. While such garb comes in a wide range of fabrics, all of them allow you to move your body freely like an athlete. 

Athletic apparel also works for every member of the family. The popularity means you can find gear for your favorite team regardless of your age or where you fit on the gender continuum. You can even deck out your infant in hopes they will grow up a Phillies fanatic or cheesehead. 

Sports apparel isn’t without controversy. Perhaps you are one of many who wondered, for example, if you can get away with leggings or your favorite team’s T-shirt at the office. In general, career experts advise you to stay away from printed shirts, lest you accidentally offend someone. However, few folks outside of diehard Red Sox fans will take umbrage at your Yankees jersey on casual Friday. 

How the Sports Apparel Industry Evolved Through Time 

Even though the concept behind athletic apparel probably existed since human beings first figured out that banding together accomplished more than going solo, the industry as you know it has a brief history. However, you must recall that people didn’t start playing sports for fun until the late 19th century or so. 

Before that, people played countless games, but they often had a secondary purpose — like training for war. The ancient Greeks may have invented the Olympics, but they played the games nude. Perhaps it was better for preparing for hand-to-hand combat?

Early athletes wore a version of street clothes to compete. Males might make do with a T-shirt and a pair of slacks. Women often wore a smaller version of their daily attire, too, which made things downright cumbersome. It wasn’t until brave pioneers like Gertrude Eberle and Alice Marble, respectively, made strides with modern bathing suits and tennis shorts that women could move freely. 

During the 1940s and 50s, synthetic fabrics started evolving athletic gear from cotton jerseys to wear adapted for specific sports. Weather-resistant clothing with concealed pockets and hoods delighted everyone from runners to golfers. 

As fabrics changed, so has the fit of various apparel pieces. Early cotton-based jerseys hung loosely to allow for freedom of movement. However, by the 1970s,  top athletes gravitated toward elastane and polyester, which fit snugly, keeping them from getting tangled in their tops. 

Tips for Wearing Sports Apparel

Today, athletes wear uniforms of all fabrics to take the field, and armchair varieties stock their closets with replicas. Likewise, you can find gear designed to support any sport in which you participate. 

Modern trends allow wearing athletic apparel just about anywhere — you’ll even see it in church. If you take advantage of this trend, here are some tips to make it look appropriate for various settings.

  • Consider the occasion: If you merely need to run to the grocery store, there’s nothing wrong with pulling on a tee over a pair of leggings. However, if you are headed to the office, topping the look with a sleek button-down and a blazer elevates them to workplace-appropriate. 
  • Mind your silhouette: Pairing a baggy sweatshirt over an equally slouchy pair of comfy pants looks sloppy. Save your looser items for the top or mix and match oversized with fitted. 
  • Accessorize: Athletic gear can look too casual with a pair of worn sneakers. However, if you pair a neat tee with a crisp pair of trousers and loafers, you’ll look polished. 

The Fascinating History of the Sports Apparel Industry

People have long worn various colors to show affiliation — sports apparel elevated the practice to an art form. Now that you know the history, get ready to show your team spirit by rocking the right look. 

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Drew Pearson: Mr. Clutch
      August 7, 2021 | 6:59 pm

      Drew Pearson

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former NFL wide receiver know as “Mr. Clutch” for his penchant for making big receptions at crucial moments of the game. After waiting for more than 30 years, he is finally earning his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2021 Hall of Fame Class.

      During his decade with the Dallas Cowboys, Drew Pearson had a habit of making the big catch at the right moment to help the Cowboys time and again snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

      The favorite target of Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, Pearson was widely recognized as one of the great receivers of his era. Though at the time of his retirement many expected Pearson to easily breeze into the Hall of Fame, his enshrinement was derailed by changes to the game which artificially inflated receiver stats and made the numbers he produced during a time when wide receivers weren’t catching 100 passes a season seem inferior.

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