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Sports Then and Now



Yogi Berra Transcended Baseball 2

Posted on September 23, 2015 by Dean Hybl
Yogi Berra made his major league debut in 1946 and reached his first World Series in 1947.

Yogi Berra made his major league debut in 1946 and reached his first World Series in 1947.

Yogi Berra, who has passed away at the age of 90, wasn’t just a baseball legend, but also an American hero, cultural icon and national treasure. Not too bad for the son of an Italian immigrant who grew up in St. Louis.

Growing up across the street from another future baseball icon Joe Garagiola, Berra was an American Legion standout before signing with the New York Yankees in 1942.

Starting his career with the Norfolk Tides, who were a member of the Class B Piedmont League, Berra once drove in 23 runs in a doubleheader.

Like many other future baseball stars, Berra served in World War II. As a gunner’s mate, Berra served on the USS Bayfield during the D-Day invasion of France.

Following the war, Berra returned to baseball and despite not possessing great size or athleticism, soon began turning heads with his baseball abilities. He was tutored as a catcher by Hall of Famer Bill Dickey and eventually followed in Dickey’s footsteps wearing number 8 for the New York Yankees.

After appearing in seven games at the major league level in 1946, Berra appeared in 83 games in 1947 and was on his way to a long and illustrious major league career.

Berra made the first of his record 14 World Series appearances in 1947 and earned his first championship ring despite hitting only .158 with a home run and two RBI in six games against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The following season Berra made the first of 15 straight All Star appearances while hitting .305 with 14 home runs and 98 RBI.

One of the elements that made Berra such an iconic baseball figure was that he served as a bridge between generations of Yankee greatness. He played five seasons with the legendary Joe DiMaggio and then spent more than a decade with the next iconic Yankee Mickey Mantle. While Berra didn’t necessarily have the physical talents of either of those stars, he ended up matching the Yankee legends  as three-time winners of the American League MVP award. Read the rest of this entry →

17 Most Valuable Sports Teams in the World 3

Posted on November 07, 2014 by Dean Hybl
Th Staples Center is home to two valuable basketball franchises.

Th Staples Center is home to two valuable basketball franchises.

You already know how great your favorite sports team is, but do you how much they’re actually worth? The following list is a pretty simple ranking sheet based entirely on the monetary value of each of the individual teams on the list, regardless of sport. Most of the teams on this list will be familiar to people who aren’t even familiar with the sport because they dominate the headlines of their respective sports year after year. Here goes:

17. Philadelphia Eagles
I bet if you asked anyone in the broader sports world if the Eagles were the sixth most valuable American Football team they would say no. The truth is, the market is deep as the $1.314 billion valuation proves. Eagle fans are avid and are being rewarded with stadium renovations that make it more enjoyable to continue to support their team. These guys are proof that it matters when people love and support their teams.

16. Arsenal F.C.
Arsenal is arguably the most successful club in British Premier league history, particularly because of their reliability. They’re a contender every year. For an American comparison, they’re basically the Yankees. Rich, based in a big city, London, and regularly in the running for the pennant. That’s probably why they’re worth $1.331 billion.

15. Los Angeles Lakers
This list is quickly becoming one of teams that you love to hate. The Lakers are a dynasty franchise that has had periods of dominance every decade since the seventies. With that in mind it’s surprising they’re only valued at $1.35 billion considering Ballmer just bought the Clippers for $2 billion.

14. New York Jets
The Jets have struggled to fill MetLife stadium the past two years and stand at 26th in NFL attendance rankings but they have a slice of one of the largest markets in football so they’re worth $1.38 billion.

13. New York Knicks
The Knicks had the biggest average audience in the NBA this past season with 163,000 viewers per game. It’s pretty astonishing considering they were losing more than 50 percent of their games at that time. Those masochistic fans have made the Knicks worth $1.4 billion.

12. Houston Texans
Texas is one of the most avid football states in America, so much so that there is a TV series AND a movie about how important High School football is to its residents. Although these depictions were fictionalized, that really speaks to the markets yearning for more ever football. $1.45 billion.

11. Boston Red Sox
Now that they’ve broken the curse, they can’t seem to stop breaking it. They’re making up for lost time with a third World Series title in ten years. That’s especially amazing since this is the sport with the second fewest repeat champions in the four major North American sports. $1.5 billion.

10. New York Giants
The more loved of the two New York teams at the moment, the Giants, have a better winning record these days to be happy about. Thus, they get all of the New York bandwagon to tune in. It’s made them $200 million wealthier than their counterparts. $1.55 billion. Read the rest of this entry →

35 Years Ago: Yankees Lose Captain in Shocking Accident 6

Posted on August 02, 2014 by Dean Hybl
It was 35 years ago that New York Yankees captain Thurman Munson died in a plane accident.

It was 35 years ago that New York Yankees captain Thurman Munson died in a plane accident.

While current New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter has spent much of this season saying good bye to baseball fans across the country, it was 35 years ago that another Yankees captain left the game in a sudden and tragic manner.

On August 2, 1979, the two-time defending World Series Champion New York Yankees were struggling to stay in contention in the American League East. Despite having completed a must-needed three game sweep the day before with a 9-1 win over the Chicago White Sox, the Yankees stood in fourth place in the division 14 games behind the first place Baltimore Orioles.

A much needed off day, it would prove to be one of the toughest in team history.

After the three game series in Chicago, Yankee captain and veteran catcher Thurman Munson chose to spend the off-day in his hometown of Canton, Ohio, rather than travel back to New York.

An 11-year veteran, Munson had been the fourth pick of the 1968 MLB Draft and in 1970 was named the American League Rookie of the Year. Over the next decade, Munson was considered the “heart and soul” of the Yankees as they looked to regain the glory of past decades.

In April of 1976, a season that would end with the first World Series appearance for the Yankees in a dozen years, Munson became the first New York player to be designated as team captain since the retirement of Lou Gehrig in 1939.

Munson was a seven-time All-Star and in 1976 was named the American League MVP. He posted three straight seasons of 100+ RBIs from 1975-77 and had five seasons with a .300 or higher batting average. Read the rest of this entry →

75 Years Ago: The Iron Horse Says Goodbye 2

Posted on July 03, 2014 by Dean Hybl
Lou Gehrig said goodbye to his fans on July 4, 1939.

Lou Gehrig said goodbye to his fans on July 4, 1939.

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 75 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.

Interestingly, likely because the Yankees did not reach the World Series that season, he finished only fifth in the MVP voting as Mickey Cochrane earned the award. Read the rest of this entry →

2014 Major League Baseball Preview: Is Money the Answer? 10

Posted on March 30, 2014 by Dean Hybl
Despite hitting 86 home runs the last two seasons, Chris Davis is still one of the most underrated players in baseball.

Despite hitting 86 home runs the last two seasons, Chris Davis is still one of the most underrated players in baseball.

Several major league baseball teams spent the winter spending money like a drunken sailor in hopes of moving to the top of the league. Yet, as we prepare for the 2014 season the teams expected by many to contend are a combination of big money and middle payroll teams.

For now, the Los Angeles Dodgers have surpassed the New York Yankees as the team with baseball’s highest payroll. However, that doesn’t mean the team in the Bronx is suddenly being frugal. The suspension of Alex Rodriguez hacked a large salary off their payroll, but the Yankees made up for that by signing Japanese pitching star Masahiro Tanaka and high money free agents Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann.

While several teams in recent years have been able to make the playoffs without high payrolls, once the playoffs begin the higher payrolls have generally had an advantage. That was quite obvious last season in the two playoff series that went to a decisive game. The higher payroll Cardinals and Tigers each started a seasoned veteran in the fifth game of their division round playoff series (Adam Wainwright and Justin Verlander, respectively). Their opponents, the Pirates and A’s, each started a rookie who wasn’t even in the major leagues when the 2013 season started.

Having a high payroll is no guarantee that a team will make the playoffs, but big off-season spending has certainly put several teams in a position to contend.

Below are a few thoughts heading into the 2014 season:

Baseball’s Most Underrated Player
In the last two seasons Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis has hit 86 home runs, driven in 223 runs and scored 178 runs, yet ESPN’s recent player rankings didn’t have him listed among the top 25 players in the game. The Sybermetrics disciples have become so enamored with WAR and other made-up stats that they have forgotten that driving in and scoring runs is the name of the game. As a team, the Orioles have been generally dismissed despite having two consecutive solid seasons, but they have a very potent offensive and if David has another strong season the O’s could again be in contention throughout the season.
Read the rest of this entry →

Actor Peter Scolari Turns In His Red Sox For Yankees’ Pinstripes In “Bronx Bombers” On Broadway 10

Posted on February 06, 2014 by Joe Gill

hk6T8NG49bGkaEPb8IvRO10OivKBOfWs2I6-l7Ctiu4Most people know Peter Scolari from some of his older work on TV shows like “Bosom Buddies,” or that old New England favorite “Newhart,” or younger people know him as the dad in HBO’s popular series “Girls.” Theater goers may know him from his recent role in “Lucky Guy” with longtime colleague Tom Hanks.  However sports fans, even those in Boston, may know him for the crack Red Auerbach  role he played in “Magic/Bird,” and now as gasp, a Yankee, playing Yogi Berra in the new play that opens in New York this week, “Bronx Bombers.”

 Why would those around Boston flock to New York to see a play about the Yankees?
We asked Scolari, who has some surprising answers that may be of interest.

 

The new play is about the Yankees, why would those fans in Boston be interested?

 

PS: Well, the first act actually takes place in a Boston hotel, the day after the famous 1977 game where Billy Martin pulled Reggie Jackson out of the game. Yogi Berra, my character, summons the parties together to try and solve what’s wrong with the team, and as you can imagine it is quite chaotic, so some Red Sox fans should revel in that memory.

 

You grew up a Yankees fan but did follow the Red Sox for quite a while correct?

 

PS: That is right. During my teen years and into my early ‘20’s the Yankees were not what they were later on, and I loved the Red Sox of the late 1960’s’ Yaz and Tony Conigliaro and Jim Lonborg had such a great run, they were so much fun to watch I was really taken by them and followed them religiously.

 

Your dad actually had some pretty strong baseball ties as well?

 

PS: yes that how I really came to love baseball. He was an accomplished player when he was young, an All-American shortstop at Drew University in New Jersey, and then he became an attorney and represented several athletes, including Rocky Graziano and Elston Howard, in some business dealings, so I always had a love for the game. It’s also ironic because Elston is one of the players who comes back to life in the second act of the play to help Yogi fix the Yankees.

 

7moNzlj64kvf714bfUGep-eZxqRerOAUMYXe41OkLPUDid you get to meet Yogi?

 

Yes, actually during the World Series, he and I and my wife, who plays Carmen Berra (Tracy Shayne), sat and watched one of the Red Sox-Cardinals games together and talked about his time with the team and where the game is today. It was quite an amazing evening and a great help in forming the character.

 

How is the role of Yogi different or similar to that of playing Red Auerbach?

 

PS: I loved playing Red, and some of that yelling he was famous for comes out in my Yogi portrayal, as he was not always the quiet guy that most people see; he has a very strong personality  and that comes across in the play. They were both strong leaders, and had the respect of everyone around them and were very, very driven to win and were highly successful. I think that is probably the trait that comes across in both.

 

It’s a Yankees play, but is it for other fans as well?

 

PS: I think so, because it shows how teams and personalities can help lift us to new heights. By the way Babe Ruth is also in the play, and we know where he started as well, so there is another tie to Boston, albeit probably not a great one for red Sox fans, and Derek Jeter is in the play, who I believe has the respect of Red Sox Nation as well. The story is really about the beauty of the game and its personalities more than wins and losses, and it has great lessons for fans of all ages, so I think people can relate to it no matter who they root for. It’s not as much a Yankees play as it is a play about overcoming obstacles and dealing with life’s curveballs.

 

Any plans on maybe a hockey play down the line for you?

 

Hey maybe I can play Don Cherry somewhere…right now we are hoping for a long run with “Bronx Bombers,” and I will continue the work with “Girls,” that’s good for me right now.

 

Bronx Bombers opens February 6 at Circle in the Square in New York. For all the details visit http://www.bronxbombersplay.com/
  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Luis “El Tiante” Tiant
      April 6, 2021 | 1:52 pm
      Luis Tiant

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the ace of the Boston Red Sox staff when they reached the 1975 World Series and is considered by many to be someone worthy of induction in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      Luis Tiant, known as “El Tiante”, spent 19 years in the majors between 1964 and 1982.

      Though he was 75-64 with a 2.84 ERA in six seasons with the Cleveland Indians and then helped the Minnesota Twins reach the playoffs in 1970, it appeared that Tiant’s career might be over following the 1970 season.

      Read more »

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