Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



Shohei Ohtani Latest in Evolution of Elite Athletes in Baseball 1

Posted on July 11, 2021 by Dean Hybl
There have been many great athletes in the history of Major League Baseball, but you can draw a clear line in the evolution from Ruth to Mantle, Jackson and now Ohtani.

There are quite a few exciting young players in Major League Baseball, but while most of them fit the traditional model of players in baseball history, in my opinion one stands out as part of a very elite lineage of special athletes in baseball.

Whether he is throwing a 100 MPH fastball, launching a tape measure home run or gliding around the bases like an Olympic sprinter, Shohei Ohtani is clearly a unique athlete within the current game of baseball.

In my opinion, Ohtani is the fourth player over the last 100 years who stood out from the crowd, not just in relation to their baseball production, but more specifically in how their unique level of freak athleticism allowed them to do things never seen before.

The first of these four was Babe Ruth. Though most common images of him are from later in his career when he was slightly overweight, the reality is that the young Babe Ruth was a transcendent athlete who forever changed the game of baseball.

Ruth first burst on the scene in 1914 as a 19-year-old left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. He posted an 18-8 record with 2.44 ERA as a 20-year-old in 1915 and then won 23 and 24 games respectively over the next two seasons. He also led the American league with a 1.75 ERA in 1916.

Part of three World Series Championship teams in four seasons with the Red Sox between 1915 and 1918, Ruth set a World Series record by pitching 29.2 consecutive scoreless innings (it stood until 1961).

Read the rest of this entry →

Great Sports Moments From the 4th of July 0

Posted on July 04, 2021 by Dean Hybl

It probably comes as no surprise that the 4th of July has seen a few more “special” sports moments than most other days on the calendar. As a national holiday occurring during the height of the season for baseball, there have been a significant number of special baseball moments on this date.

Lou Gehrig became the first MLB player to have his number retired during Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day on July 4, 1939.

Even though July 4th is a day that our friends in England are maybe not as enthusiastic in celebrating, July 4th does have quite a history in that country as many Wimbledon titles have been claimed on that special date.

Over the years the date has also seen special moments in boxing history and women’s golf.

Below is a chronological look at a few of those special July 4th sports moments:

1910 – In what was dubbed the “Fight of the Century”, World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Jack Johnson retains his title with a 15th round TKO against James J. Jeffries.

1911 – Ty Cobb’s pursuit of Willie Keeler’s record hitting streak of 45 consecutive games ends at 40 games when Cobb is held hitless in four attempts by Ed Walsh of the Chicago White Sox. Cobb’s streak remains the sixth longest streak in MLB history.

1914 – Dorothea Chambers claims her seventh, and final, Wimbledon Women’s Singles title, beating Ethel Larcombe 7-5, 6-4.

Read the rest of this entry →

45 Years Ago: The Billy Martin-New York Yankees Saga Begins 0

Posted on August 01, 2020 by Dean Hybl

Regardless of whether you love or hate the New York Yankees, you couldn’t help but follow the 14-year saga of Billy Martin, George Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees. Like a car accident, you just had to slow down and see what was happening.

Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner during one of the lighter moments during their 14-year relationship.

It all started 45 years ago when it was announced on August 1, 1975 that manager Bill Virdon was being replaced by the already flamboyant and controversial Billy Martin. Though owner George Steinbrenner was technically suspended by MLB at the time for making illegal campaign contributions to the campaign of President Richard Nixon in 1972, he was in reality still the top decision maker for the organization and believed that Martin would provide a fire that was lacking under Virdon.

Martin was familiar to Yankee fans from his time as part of Casey Stengel’s squad during the hey day of the 1950s. During seven seasons as an infielder with the Yankees, the scrappy Martin won four World Series rings and made one All-Star team, but was perhaps better known as a party partner for all-time great Mickey Mantle.

Many believe that it was his negative influence on Mantle that led to the Yankees trading Martin to the Kansas City Athletics during the 1957 season. He later played for the Tigers, Indians, Reds and Twins before retiring following the 1961 season.

He became a major league manager at the age of 41 in 1969 with the Minnesota Twins. He led the Twins to 97 wins and the first AL West Division title. However, the Twins lost to the Baltimore Orioles in the playoffs and a number of disagreements with management and off the field issues ultimately led to his dismissal following the season.

Read the rest of this entry →

Lefty Gomez: First All-Star Starter 1

Posted on July 11, 2020 by Dean Hybl
Lefty Gomez

The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the American League starting pitcher for the first three All-Star Games and five times in a six-year stretch.

It didn’t take long for Vernon “Lefty” Gomez to become established as one of the top pitchers in Major League Baseball.

After posting a 2-5 record in 15 starts in 1930, Gomez quickly became the staff ace. In 1931, at the age of 22, Gomez posted a 21-9 record and 2.67 ERA.

Read the rest of this entry →

80 Years Ago: The Iron Horse Says Goodbye 0

Posted on July 04, 2019 by Dean Hybl

Imagine if one of the most iconic athletes of the current era suddenly retired, announced he had an incurable disease and within two years was dead. That is exactly what happened in 1939 when iconic New York Yankees star Lou Gehrig pulled himself out of the lineup after 2,130 consecutive games and then 80 years ago, on July 4, 1939, said goodbye to New York fans with his famous “luckiest man on the face of the earth” speech.

For 13 years, Gehrig was baseball’s most durable player as he famously was in the lineup every day. But durability wasn’t his only strength, he was also the best first baseman of his generation and was a run-producing machine.

Only Gehrig could push the Sultan of Swat, Babe Ruth, into the number three spot in the batting order. He drove in 140 or more runs nine times during his career, including 185 RBI during the 1931 season. In 1934 he claimed the triple crown as he hit .363 with 49 home runs and 166 RBI.

Read the rest of this entry →

The Incredible Value of the 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle Baseball Card 1

Posted on May 02, 2017 by Ross Uitts

It’s considered the most iconic post-War baseball card in the hobby yet it’s also commonly mistaken as his rookie card.

That’s right, the 1952 Topps #311 card is actually not Mickey Mantle’s rookie card.

That distinction would belong to the 1951 Bowman #253 card.

But even though that one is Mickey Mantle’s true rookie card, it’s actually his 1952 Topps #311 that is the more valuable of the two.

1951-Bowman-253-Mickey-Mantle-rookie-card

And as you might often expect, Mantle is a rare case where a player’s rookie card isn’t his most valuable.

So, why is that?

Well, the story is actually quite fascinating.

Topps has been the biggest name in sports cards since 1952 when they released their first official baseball card set.

And that’s the first of several factors that make’s Mantle’s 1952 Topps card so valuable: he was the most popular player in the industry juggernaut’s first set.  This immediately sends the card’s historical value through the roof. Even common cards of this set can fetch hundreds of dollars in top condition.

The second reason for its high value is because it’s way scarcer that you might expect.

To understand how scarce it is, you’ve got to remember that Topps and other manufacturers released baseball cards in multiple series. At the beginning of the 1952 baseball season, kids were chasing cards in Series 1, tearing through the 5 cent packs in search of their heroes. But Mantle was nowhere to be found. Series 1 only included cards #1-310, and Topps had earmarked Mantle to be card #311.

Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Drew Pearson: Mr. Clutch
      August 7, 2021 | 6:59 pm

      Drew Pearson

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former NFL wide receiver know as “Mr. Clutch” for his penchant for making big receptions at crucial moments of the game. After waiting for more than 30 years, he is finally earning his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2021 Hall of Fame Class.

      During his decade with the Dallas Cowboys, Drew Pearson had a habit of making the big catch at the right moment to help the Cowboys time and again snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

      The favorite target of Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, Pearson was widely recognized as one of the great receivers of his era. Though at the time of his retirement many expected Pearson to easily breeze into the Hall of Fame, his enshrinement was derailed by changes to the game which artificially inflated receiver stats and made the numbers he produced during a time when wide receivers weren’t catching 100 passes a season seem inferior.

      Read more »

    • RSSArchive for Vintage Athlete of the Month »
  • Follow Us Online

  • Check out the best free bets at freebets4all. Learn how to convert online bookmakers free bets into guaranteed cash using the matched betting technique.

  • Current Poll

    Who is the Greatest Men's Tennis Player of This Era?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...
  • Post Categories



↑ Top