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Sports Then and Now



Baseball World Says Goodbye to Several All-Time Greats 0

Posted on October 04, 2020 by Dean Hybl

There is no question that 2020 has been a tough year for everyone, but it has been an especially sad year for long-time baseball fans. Bob Gibson, who passed away this weekend, is the fourth member of the Baseball Hall of Fame to pass away in 2020. The other members of the HOF to pass away this year are Al Kaline, Tom Seaver and Gibson’s long-time teammate Lou Brock.

Bob Gibson facing Al Kaline in the 1968 World Series.

In addition, the game has said goodbye to several other notable players including Don Larsen, Jimmy Wynn, Tony Fernandez, Tony Taylor, Bob Watson and Claudell Washington. Here is the full list from Baseball Reference.

Gibson, Brock and Kaline were all part of the dramatic 1968 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers. As should be the case on the World Series stage, all three of the future Hall of Famers were at their best during the seven-game series.

For Kaline, who played his entire 22 year career with the Tigers, the 1968 World Series marked the first post-season opportunity of his career. He definitely made the most of it as he registered at least one hit in each of the first six games and finished with a team-high 11 hits and a .379 average. He also hit two home runs and drove home eight runs.

Gibson and Brock were both playing in their third World Series in five seasons in 1968. The Cardinals claimed World Series titles in 1964 and 1967. Both Gibson and Brock were key performers in both of those wins.

In the 1964 World Series against the New York Yankees, Gibson won two of three starts, including a 7-5 victory in the decisive seventh game. Brock had two hits, scored a run and drove home a run in the seventh game. Over the full seven game series, Brock had four multi-hit games and drove home five runs.

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Remembering Larry Wilson – Creator of the Safety Blitz 0

Posted on September 19, 2020 by Dean Hybl

The NFL lost a pioneering innovator this week with the passing of Hall of Fame defensive back Larry Wilson at the age of 82.

Though only 6-foot-0, 180 pounds, Wilson developed into one of the most feared defenders of his era as the first safety to regularly rush the quarterback in a play that became known as the safety blitz.

A two-way starter at the University of Utah, Wilson was selected by the Chicago Cardinals in the seventh round of the 1960 draft (which was conducted in November 1959). The team moved to St. Louis prior to the 1960 season and Wilson soon became a defensive pioneer.

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Costly Baseball Thumb Injuries, Then And Now 0

Posted on November 22, 2017 by Joe Fleming

The Los Angeles Angels could not overcome the thumb injury suffered by star Mike Trout during the 2017 season.

The Los Angeles Angels could not overcome the thumb injury suffered by star Mike Trout during the 2017 season.

Considering that the wounds are relatively minor, a blistered or sprained thumb has caused considerable consternation in baseball over the years. In the 2017 season, a sprained thumb might have cost two teams each a playoff berth, and of course, there’s also that famous thumb injury in 1986 which arguably extended the Curse of the Bambino another twenty years.

Medically, a sprained thumb affects the tissue in either the interphalangeal joint (thumb knuckle) or metacarpophalangeal joint (thumb base). In addition to physical activity, arthritis often causes either a hyperextension (when the thumb moves backward) or hyperflexion (repetitive motion). A few simple exercises, and perhaps a thumb brace and a little ice, usually cure the problem. But alas, these measures were insufficient to change the course of history for these three teams:

2017 Los Angeles Angels

The World Series Champion Houston Astros eventually ran away with the American League West title in 2017, but in May, preseason favorite Los Angeles appeared to be in the driver’s seat. Then, in a May 28 loss that brought the team’s record under .500 for one of the first times that season, MVP candidate Mike Trout sprained his thumb. Read the rest of this entry →

Welcome to the 600 Club Albert Pujols 1

Posted on June 04, 2017 by Dean Hybl

Albert Pujols became the 9th player in MLB history to reach 600 career home runs with a blast against the Twins on June 3rd.

Albert Pujols became the 9th player in MLB history to reach 600 career home runs with a blast against the Twins on June 3rd.

While reaching a milestone home run number is not as earthshaking news in the world of Major League Baseball as it once was, that does little to negate the impressive achievement of longtime slugger Albert Pujols. With a grand slam home run Saturday night, he became just the ninth player in major league history to reach 600 career home runs.

When Pujols first joined the St. Louis Cardinals in 2001, Major League Baseball’s 600 home run club consisted of three members in Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714) and Willie Mays (660) and had not added a new member in 30 years.

For multiple reasons that have been well chronicled, home run production has escalated in the last two decades and thus the number of players accumulating large career totals has also risen.

Beginning with Barry Bonds in 2002 and now including Pujols, six players have reached 600 home runs in the last 15 years. Bonds, who hit 509 home runs after turning 30 years old and 340 after turning 35, finished with a modern era record of 762. Alex Rodriguez completed his career with 696, Ken Griffey with 630, Jim Thome with 612 and Sammy Sosa with 609.

What is somewhat different for Pujols than the other five recent players is that he has reached the total through a long period of consistent numbers, without having one or two huge (50+) home run seasons.

During his 11 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, which included two World Series titles, Pujols finished in the top five in the MVP voting 10 times (three MVP Awards and ninth the other year) and hit at least 32 home runs every year with six seasons above 40 and a high of 49. He also had a .328 batting average for the Cardinals and drove home more than 100 runs 10 times. Read the rest of this entry →

Bob Gibson: Big Game Hurler 6

Posted on October 04, 2015 by Dean Hybl

Bob Gibson

Bob Gibson

With the baseball playoffs upon us, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a two-time World Series MVP who hurled eight complete games in the Fall Classic and still holds the record for strikeouts in a World Series game.

Throughout his 17 year career with the St. Louis Cardinals, opponents knew they were in for a battle every time they faced Bob Gibson.   Read the rest of this entry →

6 Greatest Sports Bets of All Time 7

Posted on September 01, 2014 by Kimberly Powell

Tom Brady's safety to open the scoring in Super Bowl XLVI proved to be worth $50,000 to one sports gambler.

Tom Brady’s safety to open the scoring in Super Bowl XLVI proved to be worth $50,000 to one sports gambler.

Thousand Dollar Wager on Safety as First Score of Super Bowl XLVI

In American football, the ever elusive ‘safeties’ have only ever been achieved seven times throughout its history. This is where the ball carrier is tackled down in his own end zone; the ball becomes dead in the end zone, or the offense commits a foul in its own end zone. One American still decided to make a bet and a $1000 one at that. With the odds stacking up against him at 50-1 from the MGM Grand sports book, his chances looked bleak. The better knew his stuff, as Tom Brady of the New England Patriots was called for intentional grounding in the end zone to account for the first points of the Super Bowl and making the lucky winner  $50k richer in one night.

Betting on Cardinals to Make and to Win 2011 World Series

On September 12, 2011, the St. Louis Cardinals were five games back from a wild card spot with just 15 games left to play. An unidentified St. Louis fan staked $250 on the Cardinals making the World Series at 500-1 odds. He obviously felt optimistic, as another $250 bet was put down on his team actually winning the World Series at 999-1 odds. The Cardinals blazed through the month of September, collecting win after win. By October, they had taken down the heavily favored Phillies and eventually defeated the Rangers in seven games to win the series. The pay-out was a huge $375,000. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Stan Jones – Weight Training Trailblazer
      October 11, 2020 | 1:48 pm
      Stan Jones

      The Sports Then and Now Athlete of the Month was one of the great linemen of his era and is considered a trailblazer for using weight training and conditioning to develop his skills.

      After a standout career at the University of Maryland, Stan Jones spent nine seasons as an offensive lineman for the Chicago Bears, making seven Pro Bowl appearances and earning first team All-Pro three times.

      In 1962, assistant coach George Allen suggested Jones move to defense to help solidify that unit for the Bears. He played both ways in 1962 and then in 1963 moved permanently to the defense.

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