Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



Philadelphia Phillies: The Yankees in Disguise 8

Posted on July 25, 2011 by Jeremy Brundage
It was payday...

It was payday....

What’s in a rivalry? Hatred? Two very good teams in the playoff hunt?

The Philadelphia Phillies are a very good team, worthy of contending year in and year out. They’re also very good at paying attention, you got something going for you Philly. They watched the Yankees buy pennants for years, and decided to follow the pattern. They are number two behind the Yankees with a payroll of just under $173 million. Their average player is paid over $5.7 million. That’s what I call buying wins. Maybe that is why you are one of nine MLB teams in debt.

Now for my favorite part, the Braves payroll comes in at just over $87 million. Now lets do some math, for you Philly fans out there, I will help you out.

Phillies payroll $172,976,381
Braves payroll $87,003,192
Difference- $85,973,189

Read the rest of this entry →

Turner Field Creates Special Memories for a First-Time Visitor 0

Posted on April 17, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Nate made lots of friends during his first Major League baseball experience.

As a lifelong baseball fan I know that while it is great to watch the game on television or listen to a radio broadcast, there is nothing quite like going to a ballpark to experience it in person.

No matter how many games you have attended, there is something special about being in one of baseball’s grand cathedrals to watch the best players in the world participate in America’s Pastime.

However, there is nothing like experiencing the thrill for the first time.

I have been blessed over the years to have spent many great days at ballparks with my parents, brothers and other friends, so I was thrilled this week to have the opportunity to share my passion for baseball with my five-year-old son Nate as he made his first trip to a Major League Stadium on April 16th to see the Atlanta Braves host the New York Mets at Turner Field.

Thanks to great hospitality from a long-time friend and the wonderful atmosphere, amenities and staff at Turner Field, his first Major League experience was an amazing day that he thoroughly enjoyed at the time, but I expect he will appreciate even more as he gets older and realizes just how special his day was.

Even though I have had the great fortune to work at professional stadiums on a regular basis during my career, it is still a neat experience to be driving down a road and suddenly have a grandiose stadium emerge from seemingly out of nowhere.

Since this was Nate’s first trip to Atlanta, just seeing all the big buildings and extravagant roadways was excitement enough, but to see such a large stadium suddenly appear along the road was quite exciting. Nate has been to the very nice minor league stadium in Greenville, South Carolina, but Turner Field takes the experience to a completely new level. Read the rest of this entry →

37 Years Ago: Hank Aaron Becomes Baseball’s Home Run King 5

Posted on April 08, 2011 by Dean Hybl
It was 36 years ago this week that Hank Aaron became the all-time home run king.

It was 36 years ago this week 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 37 years ago today, 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 →

Happy 77th Birthday Hank Aaron! 3

Posted on February 05, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Hank Aaron is an American icon.

There are some special names in sports that when you read them on a page or see an image on television, it immediately brings memories flooding through your head. Hank Aaron is one of those names. He isn’t just one of the greatest baseball players of all-time, he is an icon, albeit probably one of the most under-appreciated icons in the United States.

When I saw that today (February 5th) is Aaron’s 77th birthday, I immediately took note.

Whether right or wrong, we rarely take time on the Sports Then and Now site, or in the sports world in general, to recognize and celebrate the birthdays of sports greats. Maybe we should do it more often, but it seems we spend much more time writing about players who have recently passed away than celebrating those who are still with us.

I guess there isn’t really anything wrong with that and with a limited amount of time available to write, celebrating the careers of those who recently have left us certainly isn’t a bad thing.

But knowing that Hank Aaron is now 77 years old reminded me that we need to be sure and celebrate those who are still here while they are here. It is part of why I created Sports Then and Now nearly two years ago. To provide a place where sports fans could go and remember the greats of the sports world when they were in their prime while also connecting that by-gone time with today’s sports world. So while we aren’t able to write a feature each day on a sports star who is celebrating a birthday (though I pledge to do it more often), beginning today we are starting a new side column below our regular “On This Date” feature that celebrates the birthdays of our sports stars.

I recently was going through boxes of things I have amassed over the years (I am a huge pack rat) and in one of the boxes found a program from the first game of the 1990 season for the Richmond Braves, which at the time served as the Triple-A affiliate for the Atlanta Braves. I was an intern for the Braves during that season. Read the rest of this entry →

Celebrating the Greatness of Hank Aaron 1

Posted on April 05, 2010 by Dean Hybl
It was 36 years ago this week that Hank Aaron became the all-time home run king.

It was 36 years ago this week 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 36 years ago this week, 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 →

Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas: When Will They Be Cooperstown Bound? 9

Posted on February 14, 2010 by Dean Hybl
Will Frank Thomas and Tom Glavine enter the Hall of Fame when they become eligible in 2014?

Will Frank Thomas and Tom Glavine enter the Hall of Fame when they become eligible in 2014?

Now that Frank Thomas and Tom Glavine have both officially retired from Major League Baseball, it is time for that time honored tradition of debating whether they are Hall of Fame bound.

In both cases, I don’t think it is a matter as much of ‘if” they will get the call from Cooperstown, but instead “when” they will actually receive the prestigious honor.

With first-year nominee Roberto Alomar just missing selection in 2010, it served as a reminder that not everyone who seems a lock to get into the Hall of Fame will receive enough support in their initial year of eligibility.

In fact, when you look at players with comparable careers to both Thomas and Glavine, it might actually be considered a surprise if either of these great players actually reach the 75% mark during their first year of eligibility.

Given that he eclipsed the magical 300-win plateau, it might be a bit of a surprise to suggest that Glavine is not a first ballot lock.

However, both the history of similar candidates and the other candidates on the ballot in 2014 could conspire to hurt Glavine’s chances of first time induction.

Of the 20 pitchers with 300 or more victories and who are now eligible for the Hall of Fame, all 20 have plaques in Cooperstown.

However, of the eight pitchers who have reached 300 victories since 1950, only three (Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton and Nolan Ryan) reached the Hall of Fame in their initial year of eligibility. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rocky Colavito: Super Slugger
      March 30, 2020 | 7:24 pm
      Rocky Colavito

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was just the fifth player in Major League Baseball history to have 11 straight seasons with 20 or more home runs, yet could not sustain that greatness long enough to earn a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      In some sense, the legend of Rocco “Rocky” Colavito Jr. began long before he ever started pounding home runs at the major league level.

      Born and raised as a New York Yankees fan in The Bronx, Colavito was playing semipro baseball before he was a teenager and dropped out of high school at 16 after his sophomore year to pursue a professional career. The major league rule at the time said a player could not sign with a pro team until his high school class graduated, but after sitting out for one year, Colavito was allowed to sign at age 17.

      Read more »

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