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44 Years Ago: Number 44 Became Number 1 0

Posted on April 08, 2018 by Dean Hybl
Hank Aaron being celebrated after hitting career home run number 715 on April 8, 1974

Hank Aaron being celebrated after hitting career home run number 715 on April 8, 1974

It was 44 years ago today, April 8, 1974, that Hank Aaron, wearing number 44 for the Atlanta Braves, broke the seemingly unbreakable home run record of Babe Ruth with his 715th career home run.

In the decades since, the home run in baseball has lost some of its individual luster as juiced balls, juiced bats and juiced people (not to mention shrunken ballparks) have made the home run a much more common occurrence than in past generations.

However, that “cheapening” of the home run has in some ways elevated the realization of just how amazing it was for Aaron to amass more than 700 home runs despite playing much of his career during a time when baseball wasn’t geared to make it easier to hit home runs.

Few players have displayed the long-term consistency of greatness that Aaron compiled during his career. From 1955 through 1973 (19 years), he finished in the top 17 in the National League MVP voting every year, including 13 times in the top 10 and winning the award in 1957.

He led the National League in home runs four times and blasted 40 or more home runs in a season eight times. He hit a career-high 47 at the age of 37 in 1971 and two years later hit 40 home runs in just 120 games.

While his total of 755 career home runs has technically been passed, Aaron is still recognized by many as the Home Run King. His 2,297 career RBIs and 6,856 total bases are still the highest totals in Major League history. Not to mention, he finished his career with 3,771 career hits and a .305 career batting average.

In celebration of the 44th anniversary of his record-setting home run, check out videos of that blast as well as Aaron’s career.

 

Read the rest of this entry →

Premier League Forwards: Then and Now 0

Posted on February 19, 2018 by John Harris

Since 1992, the Premier League has caught the imagination of sports fans everywhere, and over the last 24 seasons, it has risen to become one of the most popular leagues in the world; indeed, by some measures, it is the most entertaining competition on the planet.

Alan Shearer scored 260 career goals in the Premier League.

Alan Shearer scored 260 career goals in the Premier League.

There are many reasons behind the Premier League’s success, but one factor has consistently helped to make it an enthralling spectacle, and that’s the number of top-class forwards who have graced the competition over the years.

From early stars such as Alan Shearer and Andy Cole to the current leading scorer Harry Kane – the favorite with sports betting companies to clinch the 2017-18 top scorer title – Premier League fans have been blessed with some prolific forwards. To celebrate the league’s heritage of top-quality strikers, we take a look at five of the all-time greats and compare them to the current season’s top five goalscorers.

Then: the all-time Premier League strikers

If there is one striker who is synonymous with the Premier League, it is the competition’s all-time leading scorer, Alan Shearer. In 441 games for Blackburn and Newcastle, Shearer scored 260 Premier League goals, topping the scoring charts for three seasons from 1995 to 1997. Strong, tireless, and dominant in the air, Shearer was the quintessential English striker.

Shearer’s main rival was the mercurial Andy Cole. A controversial figure, he moved from Newcastle to Manchester United, for whom he won five Premier League titles. Blessed with pace and a silky touch, Cole won over the Manchester United fans and formed one of the Premier League’s deadliest strike partnerships with Dwight Yorke.

There are a number of candidates for the title of the Premier League’s first overseas star, but none were as deadly as Thierry Henry. Signed by Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, Henry became a global star, mesmerising defenses as he helped Arsenal to become one of Europe’s top sides. No top ten Premier League striker scored his goals more quickly. Read the rest of this entry →

Bob Cousy: Houdini of the Hardwood 0

Posted on February 04, 2018 by Dean Hybl
Bob Cousy

Bob Cousy

The Boston Celtics traded prior to the 2017-2018 season for All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, but the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the first in a long line of superstars to play for the Boston Celtics.

Before there was Bill Russell and Larry Bird, the Boston Celtics were powered by a 6-foot-1 inch guard from Holy Cross. Bob Cousy was the on-the-court leader for the Celtics in the era during which they emerged as a basketball juggernaut. Read the rest of this entry →

Pro Football Hall of Fame Gets a Bit Closer to Legitimacy 0

Posted on February 03, 2018 by Dean Hybl
Nearly 50 years after retiring from the NFL, Jerry Kramer (#64) has finally been selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Nearly 50 years after retiring from the NFL, Jerry Kramer (#64) has finally been selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

For me and likely many other long-time lovers of the history of pro football, the relationship with the Pro Football Hall of Fame has always been a messy one.

I have enjoyed the great fortune of visiting the Pro Football Hall of Fame multiple times over the years, including taking my kids to Canton in 2015. The museum is a wonderful place to see, recall and learn about the many great moments, players and teams that have been part of the nearly 100 year history of the NFL.

However, while the Hall of Fame was created to be a historical archive to tell the story of professional football, over the years it has become more associated with the players specifically enshrined as Hall of Famers.

That is where for me the relationship starts to get a bit challenging.

While most of the 310 men who have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame through 2017 are unquestionably deserving, the process in which players are chosen has often been an uneven process in which some former players, coaches and administrators are quickly recognized while others with similar credentials either wait for many years or are totally omitted.

Made up of sports media professionals, the Hall of Fame selection committee has a long history of personal vendettas and bias.

Longtime committee member Paul Zimmerman reportedly said that Ken Stabler would never get inducted in his lifetime and sure enough Stabler was not inducted until the year after he died in 2015.

My greatest frustration with the Hall of Fame selection committee stems from their regular practice of making players and coaches who clearly have Hall of Fame credentials wait extended periods of time before being inducted.

Among the clearly deserving Hall of Famers who have been forced to wait beyond their initial year of eligibility were Fran Tarkenton, Shannon Sharpe, Derrick Thomas, Hank Stram, Willie Lanier, Tom Mack and Willie Wood.

The one position that has historically been treated with limited respect by the selection committee is position of wide receiver. Entering 2018, 25 modern era wide receivers have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, but only four of them (Jerry Rice, Raymond Berry, Paul Warfield and Steve Largent) were selected in their first year of eligibility. Read the rest of this entry →

50 Years Ago: The Ice Bowl 0

Posted on December 30, 2017 by Dean Hybl
It was 50 years ago that the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers met in the Ice Bowl.

It was 50 years ago that the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers met in the Ice Bowl.

There have been a lot of iconic games during the nearly 100 year history of the NFL, but no game has quite combined championship drama with unprecedented weather conditions like the 1967 NFL Championship Game between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers. Played fifty years ago on December 31, 1967, the game has become known simply as “The Ice Bowl.”

The buildup to the 1967 NFL Championship Game actually started a year earlier when the Packers made a late goal line stand to preserve a 34-27 victory over the Cowboys in the 1966 NFL Championship Game played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

Neither team had an easy path through the 1967 season. In actuality, the two best teams in the NFL during the regular season were the Los Angeles Rams and Baltimore Colts. However, they were in the same division and only one of the two teams could make the playoffs in an era before the wild card.

Baltimore entered the regular season finale in Los Angeles with a 11-0-2 record, including a 24-24 tie with the Rams during their earlier meeting. Not only did the Colts lose their chance at an undefeated regular season during their 34-10 loss, they also lost a chance at reaching Super Bowl II. Instead, the Rams earned the Coastal Division title and a spot in the playoffs.

Even though the Rams had a better record (11-1-2) than the Packers (9-4-1), their divisional playoff game was played in Green Bay on December 23, 1967. The Rams had defeated Green Bay 27-24 in a hard fought regular season game two weeks earlier, but this time the Packers dominated. Read the rest of this entry →

Trade You for a Catfish – the Most Bizarre Deals in Sporting History 0

Posted on December 12, 2017 by Rik Snuiverink
Ken Krahenbuhl was part of one of the most unusual trades in baseball history.

Ken Krahenbuhl was part of one of the most unusual trades in baseball history.

Ah, the sporting trade – it conjures images of wholesome children in the sun-kissed days of yesteryear trading their baseball cards, or high school teams negotiating over the star soccer players, piles of sweaters at the ready as makeshift goalposts. Of course, in the world of professional sports, trading players is deadly serious, involving multi million dollar transactions.

At least, you might reasonably think so, but there have been some truly surreal sporting trades over the years.

Fighting over the best and betting on the outcomes

Whether it is draft picks in the NFL or European soccer stars in the transfer window, professional sports team love to negotiate with each other. Sometimes those negotiations can get intense – perhaps this is why, with the rise in online betting, the topic of who will complete what deal is becoming as popular a wager as the games themselves. The UK casino sites at TheCasinoDB.com are no strangers to sports betting, and if you take a look when January comes around and the transfer window opens, they will all be discussing the odds of potential trades.

Usually the who and the where are the focus of the average sporting trade, but sometimes it is the “for what,” as the following examples demonstrate.

The Pitcher and the Catfish

Poor Ken Krahenbuhl. First, the Pacific Suns traded him to the Greenville Bluesmen without even having the good grace to tell him about it, but regardless, he went out and pitched a perfect game in his very first outing for his new team. Yet despite his achievements against the odds, he has gone down in history as the man who was traded in exchange for 10lb of catfish.

Bussey Martin

Tom Martin was a journeyman NHL winger who served time with the Winnipeg Jets, the Hartford Whalers and the Minnesota North Stars in a seven-year career that was solid but unremarkable. However, before turning pro, he had the singular experience of being traded by the Seattle Breakers to the Victoria Cougars in exchange for a new team bus. As you might guess, there is more to the story than meets the eye, but the nickname Bussey lived with him for his entire career. Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Mike Gminski: Four-Year Duke Star
      March 10, 2018 | 11:05 am
      Mike Gminski

      Mike Gminski

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was a star big man who achieved great success at Camden Indoor Stadium in the era before Coach K and the One-and-Done big men became the norm at Duke University.

      Much like recent Duke big men Marvin Bagley III, Jayson Tatum and Jahlil Okafor, Mike Gminski made an immediate impact for the Blue Devils. However, because he played 40 years earlier at a time when few players left college early, Gminski spent four years racking up stats and success in Durham.

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