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Sports Then and Now



Bo Jackson: The Best Dual Sports Athlete Ever 3

Posted on January 04, 2016 by Mike Raffone

MIKE Comic 132 Bo JacksonNow, he’s the most entertaining star of television’s Heisman House football commercials.

But, back then, this fabulous football and baseball player was all the rage. Many sports fans regard him as the greatest dual sport athlete ever.

A 1985 Heisman Trophy winner, Bo Jackson not only dominated on the football field for the Auburn University Tigers. He also excelled at two other sports – baseball and track.

Voted #8 on ESPN’s list of the top 25 NCAA football players ever, Jackson dazzled as a fast and powerful running back while at Auburn. The 6’1” and 230 lb. Jackson rushed for an amazing 6.6 yards per carry. He amassed a staggering 4,575 career yards and scored 45 total touchdowns (43 rushing and 2 receiving).

This Heisman Trophy winner became the number one overall pick in the 1986 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

However, because the Bucs inappropriately contacted Jackson outside of NCAA rules and regulations, the running back became ineligible for baseball during his senior season in 1986. As a result, Jackson chose not to sign with Tampa Bay and agreed to play professional baseball with the Kansas City Royals organization instead.

While at Auburn, Bo Jackson starred in two other sports. The football star qualified for the United States Summer Olympic Trials twice in the 100 yard dash. Jackson’s incredible speed became extremely evident during the spring of 1985 when he recorded the fastest 40-yard dash time ever at 4.12 seconds at the NFL Combine.

In addition to track, the former Auburn Tiger excelled on the baseball diamond. In 1985 he batted .401 with 17 home runs and 43 runs batted in while starring defensively in the outfield as well.

After graduating from Auburn, Jackson played eight years in Major League Baseball with the Kansas City Royals, the Chicago White Sox and the California Angels. He also left his mark in the NFL while playing four seasons with the Oakland Raiders.

This phenomenal athlete is still the only athlete ever to be voted an all-star in two different professional sports – Major League Baseball and National Football League – and NOT be voted into either sport’s Hall of Fame.

Sadly, Bo Jackson’s brief but memorable dual-sport career ended prematurely.

Without his hip injury, he undoubtedly could have been a Hall of Famer in two professional sports…..

…..a fact, thanks to the 2012 ESPN Films 30 for 30 “You Don’t Know Bo” documentary, that every sports fan now knows. And not just Bo!

MIKE – on sports!

 

Baseball Playoffs Have Feel of the 1980s 12

Posted on September 28, 2014 by Dean Hybl
With their first playoff appearance in 29 years, the Kansas City Royals are partying like it is 1985.

With their first playoff appearance in 29 years, the Kansas City Royals are partying like it is 1985.

If you followed baseball in the late 1970s and early 1980s and then haven’t paid attention for the last 30 years, the teams appearing in the 2014 baseball post season probably don’t seem that strange to you.

Included amongst the squads that will be battling for the World Series Trophy are the World Series Champions from 1979 (Pittsburgh Pirates), 1981 & 1988 (Los Angeles Dodgers), 1982 (St. Louis Cardinals), 1983 (Baltimore Orioles), 1984 (Detroit Tigers), 1985 (Kansas City Royals) and 1989 (Oakland A’s).

Of course, what those of us who have been following baseball for the last 30 years know, is that of these teams only the Cardinals have won another World Series since the 1980s (2006 and 2011) with the 2006 victory coming over the Tigers, who also appeared in the World Series in 2012.

With the exception of the Dodgers, who have made the playoffs seven times since winning the 1988 World Series, and the A’s, who have made eight playoff appearances since losing the 1990 World Series, the other teams in that group have seen some pretty lean times since the 1980s.

No team has waited longer to get back to the post season than the Kansas City Royals.

After making the playoffs seven times and finishing no worse than second during a 10-year stretch from 1976-1985 that culminated with their World Series Championship, the Royals went into a nearly three decade tailspin.

After winning the World Series, the Royals were still generally competitive for the next decade as they had a winning record six times and finished second in their division three times between 1986 and 1995.

However, their second place finish in 1995 came despite a losing record and from that season through 2012 the Royals had only one winning season and five times had a season winning percentage below .400. Despite going from a seven team division to a five team division with realignment in 1995, Kansas City finished as high as third place only three times in 17 seasons. Read the rest of this entry →

30 Years Ago: George Brett Erupts During “Pine Tar Game” (VIDEO) 6

Posted on July 24, 2013 by Dean Hybl
After having his home run reversed, George Brett had to be physically restrained from umpire Tim McClelland.

After having his home run reversed, George Brett had to be physically restrained from umpire Tim McClelland.


It is hard to believe that it was 30 years ago, July 24, 1983, when New York Yankees manager Billy Martin set off “Volcano Brett” after Kansas City Royals star George Brett launched what appeared to be a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning of the final game of a four-game series between the two teams at Yankee Stadium.

The scene of a totally unhinged Brett erupting out of the dugout and having to be restrained from home plate umpire Tim McClelland by the other umpires and his teammates is a familiar one that has been replayed extensively over the last three decades.

However, the entire incident is an amazingly interesting time capsule for baseball from an era before steroids, corked bats and other unlawful tricks to get an edge completely changed the game of baseball.

In re-watching the video, it is almost comical to think anyone would take Martin’s argument seriously and legitimately consider that having a little pine tar more than 18 inches up the handle of the bat would play any role in Brett’s home run off Goose Gossage.

However, after Martin spent time pointing out the indiscretion to McClelland and the other umpires, they actually measured the bat against the plate and then McClelland famously signaled that Brett was out, thus launching one of the most famous tirades in baseball history.

Of course while the Yankees technically “won” the game on that afternoon with Brett being the third out, the victory was overruled by American League President Lee MacPhail. He ordered the game to continue following the Brett home run with the Royals now leading 5-4.
Read the rest of this entry →

25 Years Ago: The Kansas City Royals Rule Baseball 4

Posted on October 27, 2010 by Dean Hybl

In 1985 the Kansas City Royals took advantage of some amazing fortune to win the World Series title.

While it is just about impossible in today’s baseball landscape to imagine the Kansas City Royals being among the dominant teams in the game, that was indeed the case in the 1970s and 1980s when the Royals were perennial contenders. Their run of glory culminated 25 years ago when they claimed their one and only World Series title.

After entering the American League as an expansion franchise in 1969 (two years after the Kansas City Athletics left for Oakland), it took only three seasons for the Royals to post a winning campaign and in 1976 earned the first of three straight division titles under the guidance of future Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog.

Unfortunately, each season ended with an American League Championship loss to the New York Yankees.

After faltering slightly in 1979 and replacing Herzog with Jim Frey, the Royals won their fourth division title and again faced the Yankees in the post season in 1980.

This time, the Royals swept the Yankees and earned their first World Series appearance in only their 12th season. By comparison, it took the Texas Rangers (who entered the league as the expansion Washington Senators in 1961) 36 years to make a playoff appearance and 50 years to reach the World Series.

Though Kansas City lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series, the core nucleus of players, including George Brett, Frank White and Willie Wilson was young enough that additional series appearances seemed likely.

However, the Royals in the early 1980s struggled slightly. After earning a playoff spot in the strike-shortened 1981 season despite having an overall losing record, the Royals didn’t again reach the playoffs until 1984 when they won the AL West with a pedestrian record of 84-78.

To no surprise, the Royals were swept in the playoffs by the Detroit Tigers.

By 1985 many recognized that the Royals, now under the guidance of manager Dick Howser, were reaching the end of their championship window. Read the rest of this entry →

Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium Chosen to Host 2012 All Star Game 3

Posted on June 16, 2010 by Don Spieles

Kauffman Stadium

Wednesday evening in a live event at Kansas City’s Kauffman Memorial Stadium, home of the Royal’s, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig announced that the 2012 All-Star game would be played there.

Standing at a podium located at home plate, Selig awarded Kansas City it’s third All-Star game since the Mid-Summer’s Classic was introduced in 1933. That inaugural game, played at Comiskey Park in Chicago, began one of the most beloved traditions in all of sports.

Back in 2006, Selig had told KC that, should a tax referendum for stadium renovations get passed, an All-Star Game would land at Kauffman Stadium between 2010 and 2014. Many expected KC to have to wait until a bit later, as 2012 marks the 100 year anniversary of Boston’s Fenway Park. Fenway would have been an obvious choice, but Selig is anything but predictable. Read the rest of this entry →

Through The Eyes of…Buddy Biancalana: Forever A World Series Hero 4

Posted on September 07, 2009 by Todd Civin

The following is part of a weekly series called “Through the Eyes of…” In each segment, I share interviews with or stories about those I view to be the “Good Guys.”

“Through the Eyes of…” is a part of my personal crusade to present baseball in all its beauty, splendor, and goodness, instead of through hashing and rehashing all that is broken with our national treasure.

1983 Baseball Card of our hero, Buddy Biancalana

1983 Baseball Card of our hero, Buddy Biancalana

After spending twenty minutes and twenty dollars in the batting cage with my son this weekend, I exited the cage with several quarter sized blisters on my Avon Skin So Soft hands and a case of heartburn after ingesting a huge dose of humility.

I came to several conclusions as I tossed my batting helmet and bat in disgust.

Aging is a cruel, cruel reality that I simply haven’t yet come to grips with. How a man can get winded, while swinging and missing at a slow pitch softball is beyond me.

Second, when your wife tells you that she’s not laughing at you, she’s laughing with you, she’s only being kind.

Third, hitting a round object with a wooden stick that is hurled in your direction at 90+ miles an hour, must be the most difficult accomplishment in sports. For those of us who sit at home cursing at any of these athletes who still manage to hit one ball in four, should take a few cuts in their cleats before playing arm chair manager. Read the rest of this entry →

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