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America’s Storyteller Vin Scully Passes Away at Age 94 0

Posted on August 03, 2022 by Dean Hybl
Vin Scully has been an icon since announcing his first major league game in 1950.
Vin Scully was one of America’s great storytellers of the 20th Century.

Legendary sports announcer Vin Scully has passed away at the age of 94. Scully began his broadcast career as the third announcer along with Red Barber and Connie Desmond for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950 and spent 67 years broadcasting baseball for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers before retiring in 2016.

Listening to a Vin Scully broadcast was not just an afternoon enjoying live baseball. It was an afternoon remembering both legendary and relatively obscure players from baseball’s past while also likely having American culture and history woven into the conversation.

Scully was not just a walking baseball encyclopedia, he was a walking American history book.

Having grown up in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, Scully spent two years in the U.S. Navy before attending Fordham University. During his college career, Scully played on the baseball team while writing for the school newspaper and broadcasting football and basketball games on the radio.

Following his graduation, Scully was a fill-in announcer for CBS Radio station WTOP in Washington, DC. It was during this time that Red Barber, the Sports Director for the CBS Radio Network, recruited him to broadcast college football games.

After joining the Dodgers broadcast team in 1950, Scully continued to learn his craft from the legendary Barber. In 1953, Barber got into a salary dispute with World Series broadcast sponsor Gillette, propelling the 25-year-old Scully into the broadcast booth for his first World Series. He still holds the record as the youngest broadcaster to announce a World Series game.

He eventually became the lead announcer for the Dodgers and stayed with the team when they moved to Los Angeles following the 1957 season.

Though he was originally a New Yorker, it was in California where Scully truly became a broadcasting legend. Announcing Dodger games during the era of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Maury Wills, Scully became a fan favorite as many would bring transistor radios to the stadium just to hear Scully call the action.

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Elite Eight Battle Between Duke and Kentucky in 1992 was a Classic Thriller 0

Posted on March 24, 2022 by Chris Kent

I

t was a game that epitomized March Madness. The 1992 East Regional Final of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament between Duke and Kentucky was as thrilling a game as one can imagine. Basketball pundits and fans everywhere witnessed a game for the ages. It was an instant classic packed with as much drama as a play on broadway in New York City.

Actually, it was played in Philadelphia, PA at The Spectrum and featured the east region’s top two seeds. On Saturday March 28, 1992, the Blue Devils and the Wildcats battled in a game that is remembered as a theatrical masterpiece. Veteran broadcasters Verne Lundquist and Len Elmore called the game for CBS Sports and did a masterful job. With a trip to The Final Four on the line, the two nationally ranked powers went back-and-forth much of the game leading up to a frantic, thrilling, and dramatic finish.

Having just fallen behind by one point on a Kentucky basket after which they used their final timeout with 2.1 seconds left in overtime, Duke inbounded the ball under the Wildcats’ basket. Sophomore forward Grant Hill prepared to make the long inbounds pass which was nearly the full length of the court. The call by Lundquist sounded like this:

“There’s the pass to Laettner…puts it up…(Buzzer sounds) Yessssssssssss!

Hill’s long inbounds pass was caught by 6-11 senior forward/center Christian Laettner just outside the top of the foul line where he made a turnaround jumper as time expired. Echoes of Lundquist’s call have lingered on for decades since this fabled play.

Christian Laettner makes a turnaround shot to beat the final buzzer lifting Duke over Kentucky in the 1992 East Regional Championship Game of the NCAA Tournament. The win sent the Blue Devils to their fifth straight Final Four. Click on the above photo to watch a replay of this full game, one of the best basketball games ever played.

Ecstasy resulted for the Blue Devils while Kentucky was left in anguish. Laettner’s basket, a swish, lifted Duke to an improbable 104-103 win and sent the Blue Devils to The Final Four for the fifth straight year. Wildcat senior forwards John Pelphrey and Deron Feldhaus, each standing 6-7, defended Laettner on the final play. Pelphrey made a reach for the ball before backing off to avoid fouling for Kentucky. Feldhaus was closer and raised both arms up on Laettner as he took the epic shot.

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Larry “The Zonk” Csonka 0

Posted on January 29, 2022 by Dean Hybl
Larry Csonka

The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the leader of a running attack that was the cornerstone of two Super Bowl Championship teams, including the only undefeated squad in NFL history.

With his distinctive headgear and a body suited for punishing contact, Larry Csonka looked the part of a fullback and for 11 NFL seasons delivered and took regular punishment on his way to the Hall of Fame.

Following in the great tradition of Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Jim Nance and Floyd Little, Csonka earned All-American honors at Syracuse while rushing for 2,934 yards.  He began earning a name for himself as the Most Valuable Player of the East–West Shrine Game, the Hula Bowl, and the College All-Star Game.

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Report: Tom Brady Retiring From the NFL 1

Posted on January 29, 2022 by Dean Hybl

Less than a week after leading a spirited, but ultimately unsuccessful comeback in the NFC Playoffs, multiple sources are reporting that 44-year-old quarterback Tom Brady is retiring from the NFL.

Multiple sources are reporting that Tom Brady is retiring after 22 seasons in the NFL.

If the reports are accurate, it is truly the end of an amazing era in NFL history. Not only has Brady played in more Super Bowls (10) and has more Super Bowl rings than anyone else (7), but he holds the NFL records for most passing attempts, most passing yards, most touchdown passes and most passing yards in NFL history.

However, unlike some of the quarterbacks he overtook for the all-time passing records (Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, and Dan Marino), Brady’s legacy is truly less about the statistics than it is about his winning history.

In the 20 seasons in which Brady was the full-time starting quarterback, he led his squad to the playoffs 19 times, including the last 18 years in a row. His career playoff record of 35-12 in 47 games represents nearly three full regular seasons worth of postseason performances.

When describing great coaches, they often use the adage that he could take his team and beat your team and then take your team and beat his team. Tom Brady is one of a handful of football players for which you could make the same comment. If Brady was the quarterback of the team, you knew they always had a chance to win.

Few (okay, no one, except maybe him) predicted such lofty greatness when Brady was drafted by the New England Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 draft with the 199th overall pick.

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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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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Hall of Famer Tony Oliva
      July 17, 2022 | 2:15 pm
      Tony Oliva

      After waiting for 45 years after his retirement, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is finally taking his rightful place as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

      Discovered on the baseball fields of Cuba by a Minnesota Twin scout, Oliva came to the United States in 1961 and within three years the American League Rookie of the Year. There have been many great MLB players from Cuba, including a new generation of stars today, but it is hard to argue that there has been a better player from the island in MLB than Oliva.

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