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Vintage Video: George Springer Channels Joe Rudi With Playoff Catch 0

Posted on October 21, 2017 by Dean Hybl
The catch by Astros outfielder George Springer in the 2017 ALCS was remeniscent of the grab by Joe Rudi of the Oakland A's in the 1972 World Series.

The catch by Astros outfielder George Springer in the 2017 ALCS was reminiscent of the grab by Joe Rudi of the Oakland A’s in the 1972 World Series.

When Houston Astros outfielder George Springer raced to the wall and made a crucial catch of a Todd Frazier blast in game six of the 2017 American League Championship Series it brought back memories of another great catch by the wall in a previous post season.

In game two of the 1972 World Series, Catfish Hunter and the Oakland A’s were clinging to a 2-0 lead when the Cincinnati Reds batted in the bottom of the ninth inning. Future Hall of Famer Tony Perez led off the inning with a single. The next batter, third baseman Denis Menke, hit a long blast to leftfield that looked destined for extra bases. However, lanky outfielder Joe Rudi raced to the wall and made a backhanded catch at the wall to secure the out and force Perez back to first base. At the time, the catch was considered one of the greatest postseason catches of all-time and was an iconic moment of that seven-game series.

It also proved critical, as Hal McRae eventually drove home Perez with a single, but Rollie Fingers came in to get the final out in a 2-1 Oakland victory. Had Rudi not made the catch off Menke’s blast, the Reds would have likely tied the game and had an opportunity to win it in regulation. Given that the A’s ultimately won the Series in seven games, that moment was certainly pivotal to Oakland winning the first of their three straight World Series.

While it is yet to be determined whether Springer’s catch will help propel the Astros into the World Series, it certainly was important in game six as it came with two runners on and only one out in the seventh inning. Had Springer not made the catch, Justin Verlander would likely been pulled from the game and the Yankees could have been poised for another big inning as they have done several times throughout the 2017 playoffs.

Instead, Verlander eventually finished the inning without giving up a run and the Astros went on to win 6-1 and force a decisive seventh game.

Below are videos of Rudi’s catch in 1972 and Sprringer’s in 2017. You can see that they each made a long run to grab the ball at the wall and help save victories for their teams.

Vintage Video: Michael Jordan Becomes MICHAEL JORDAN 1

Posted on May 07, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Lifting the Bulls over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1989 NBA Playoffs helped propel Michael Jordan to NBA Super stardom.

Lifting the Bulls over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1989 NBA Playoffs helped propel Michael Jordan to NBA Super stardom.

Prior to the 1989 NBA playoffs, Michael Jordan was already known as one of the best players in the NBA.  He was a three-time NBA scoring champion and had already earned his first NBA MVP Award. However, Jordan didn’t yet have a signature playoff moment. That all changed 28 years ago on May 7, 1989.

After first round playoff exits in each of Jordan’s first three playoff appearances, the Bulls had finally advanced to the second round in 1988. However, they lost in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Detroit Pistons.

Facing the Cleveland Cavaliers in the opening round of the 1989 playoffs, the Bulls were on the brink of being eliminated in the first round for the fourth time in five years. The best-of-five series was tied at two games each and the Cavaliers led by a single point (100-99) when Jordan and the Bulls broke the huddle with three seconds remaining.

It was in those three seconds that Jordan started his rise from NBA star to all-time legend.

Taking the inbounds pass, Jordan drove to the foul line and then took a jump shot over the outraced arm of Cleveland guard Craig Ehlo. As the ball fell through the next, Jordan jumped in joy and pumped his fist as the Bulls celebrated.

Though they eventually lost in the Eastern Conference Finals, Jordan was now established as a clutch player and the legend continued to grow.

Two years later the Bulls won their first NBA title and Jordan was on his way to being known as the greatest of all-time.

Conversely, the shot by Jordan proved to be a dagger for the Cavaliers. The struggled the next two seasons before reaching the Eastern Conference finals in 1992 (losing to Jordan and the Bulls). While the Bulls went on to win six NBA Championships, the Cavaliers never advanced out of the Eastern Conference while losing in the opening round six times between 1989 and 1998.

Check out video from the first defining playoff shot of Jordan’s career.
Read the rest of this entry →

Vintage Video: 1970 NBA Championship – Game 7 9

Posted on May 20, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Despite being injured in game five of the NBA Finals, Willis Reed made a dramatic appearance in the decisive 7th game to help lead the Knicks to victory.

Despite being injured in game five of the NBA Finals, Willis Reed made a dramatic appearance in the decisive 7th game to help lead the Knicks to victory.

As the current NBA season heads towards what promises to be an exciting conclusion, we are starting a new Sports Then and Now series looking at vintage sports videos by remembering one of the most dramatic moments in NBA Playoff history.

Heading into the decisive seventh game of the 1970 NBA Finals, the big question was whether New York Knicks center Willis Reed would be able to play against Wilt Chamberlain and the Los Angeles Lakers.

After averaging 32 points per game in the first four games of the series, Reed suffered a leg injury early in game 5. Fortunately for Knicks fans, Walt Frazier scored 21 points and Cazzie Russell 20 as New York rallied from a fourth quarter deficit to win the pivotal game 107-100.

With Reed out of the lineup in game six, Chamberlain scored 45 points to lead the Lakers to a dominating 135-113 win to force a decisive seventh game.

Entering the final game, there was great question as to whether Reed would be able available to play.

In a famous scene, announcers Chris Schenkel and Jack Twyman are talking about the availability of the 6-foot-11 center when he suddenly emerges through tunnel to roaring applause from the Madison Square Garden squad.

Reed then set the tone for the game by drilling two early baskets to give the Knicks a quick lead. Though he did not score again, Reed’s early presence lit the fire in the Knicks and Frazier took control of the game with 36 points, 19 assists and five steals.

New York went on to win 113-99 to claim their first NBA Championship.

Below is the YouTube video of the game broadcast. Enjoy!

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Joe Cronin: Player-Manager
      October 1, 2017 | 8:21 am
      Joe Cronin

      Joe Cronin

      In recognition of the start of the baseball playoffs, we recognize as the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month a man who managed pennant winning teams in Washington and Boston and spent more than decade as a player-manager.

      When the Boston Red Sox acquired Joe Cronin following the 1934 season they didn’t just get an All-Star player, they also got a new manager.

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