Tag Archives: first

Wrigley Field – “Turn On The Lights!”

wrigley

On this day in 1988 Wrigley Field finally joined the 20th Century.  The great American ballpark that is Wrigley finally hosted a night game under the lights.  Wrigley Field was opened on April 23, 1914 under the name of Weeghman Park.  The ballpark underwent many changes through the years but the most important was installing lights.  A total of 5,687 consecutive day games where played there before they held a night game.

The Philadelphia Phillies were the Cubs opponents on this night.  The game had a scheduled start time of 7:05pm.  A pregame ceremony took place prior to the game in which a long time Cubs fan was able to hit a button to turn on the lights.  The interesting not about this game it was never an official game.  The game was halted in the fourth inning because of rain at 8:14pm.  The game was officially called off at 10:25pm.

The first full game under the light would take place the following night on August 9, 1988.  The Cubs defeated the New York Mets in that contest by a score of 6-4.  Wrigley had a deal with the city of Chicago for many years following to only play around 20 night games a season.  The reason for this was with the ballpark being located in a residential area of the city the lights would affect the local residents from sleeping at night.

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“Man Of Steal”- Rickey Henderson And His Career Stolen Bases Record

On this day in 1991, Oakland Athletics outfielder Rickey Henderson broke Lou Brock’s career stolen bases record.  This historic event happened in a day game against the St Louis Cardinals in Henderson’s home stadium in Oakland, CA.  Henderson stole his 939th career base breaking Brock’s previous record of 938.  Immediately the game was stopped and a ceremony was performed to commemorate the record breaking moment.  Henderson was given the base he stole just moments before and an address to the fans in attendance were he proclaimed “I am the greatest of all time”.

henderson

Rickey Henderson was drafted by the A’s in the 4th round of the 1976 MLB Draft.  He would make his Major League debut for the A’s after about 3 years in the Minor Leagues.  During his debut against the Texas Rangers on June 24th 1979 Henderson stole his very first base in the Majors.  It was just a preview of what would become and incredible career.

Rickey Henderson played from 1979-2003.   During his 4th season he stole a record 130 bases, it became the new record for a single season that still stands today.  Henderson stole the most bases in Major League baseball 12 different seasons. He was on two World Series Championship teams the first in 1989 (Oakland A’s) and the second in 1993 (Toronto Blue Jays).  One of his most outstanding achievements other than breaking career stolen bases record would have to be being named the American League MVP in 1990 while playing for the A’s.

Rickey Henderson’s amazing career came to an end on September 19th, 2003.  When he hung up those blazing cleats he had stolen 1,406 bases during his career.  Henderson will go down in history as the most amazing base stealer ever.  His career stolen bases record is one that will be very hard to break.

The 1933 NFL Championship Game: “The First NFL Playoff Game”

Nothing is more exciting in any professional sport than a playoff game. American’s have enjoyed the NFL playoffs for eight decades. Since the NFL’s inception there have been over 500 playoff games. That tradition did not start in 1920 with the league’s inception.  From 1920-1923 the NFL Champion was voted by the team owners.  During the 1924-1932 seasons the Championship was won by the team with the best record (win percentage) at the end of the season.

The 1932 season was the final season before a Championship Game was instituted.  The final game of the ’32 season was technically a “playoff” game. The Chicago Bears (6-1-6) and the Portsmouth Spartans (6-1-4) shared the league’s best win percentage of .857.  To settle the tie an addition game was played between the two teams. The Bears were victorious in that final contest by a score of 9-0 over the Spartans. This game was recorded as a regular season game in the record books for both teams.

At the conclusion of the the 1932 season the NFL decided that a Championship game would take place at the end of every season. The two teams holding the best record in their division (Eastern and Western) would face each other to determine a champion. Thus began what we now know as the NFL Playoffs.

The 1933 NFL Championship Game played at Wrigley Field in Chicago. (Getty)

The 1933 NFL Championship Game played at Wrigley Field in Chicago. (Getty)

On December 17,1933 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, IL the first NFL Championship Game took place. The Western Division’s Chicago Bears (10-2-1) went to battle with the Eastern Division’s New York Giants (11-3). This game featured two of the NFL’s all-time greats, Red Grange and Bronco Nagurski both playing for the Bears.

The Bears drew first blood with a Jack Manders 16-yard field goal in the 1st quarter. In the 2nd quarter the Bears would receive another field goal from Manders, while the Giants QB Harry Newman threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Red Badgro. The Giants led 7-6 going into halftime.

When the second half began the Bears would retake the lead with another Manders field goal. The Giants quickly responded with a 1-yard touchdown run by Max Krause, the Giants now held the lead by a score of 14-09. The Bears scored their first touchdown of the game Bronco Nagurski touchdown pass to Bill Karr before the 3rd quarter concluded.

The 4th and final quarter began with the Bears holding a 16-14 lead over the Giants. The lead would change early in the final quarter when the Giants QB Harry Newman completed his second touchdown pass for the day to Ken Strong to take a 21-16 lead. The Bears came through in the final two minutes to take the lead and the win with a Bill Karr 19-yard touchdown reception. The Bears defeated the Giants 23-21 on that day. The Bears became the first NFL team to capture a championship via a “playoff” game.

Many people debated whether the first NFL game was in 1932, 1933 of 1967. The 1932 game was not officially scored as a “playoff” game while the 1933 game was. The semifinal playoff games did not begin until the 1967 season so some consider it to be the first season with a playoff. I feel that the 1933 game was a playoff game and has even officially been regarded as that by the NFL. With that being said, the first ever NFL Championship game was the first playoff game ever.

The History Of The 1st Overall Pick In The NFL Draft

Getty Images

Getty Images

The tradition that is known as the NFL Draft came into existence in 1936.  The first player ever taken in the NFL Draft was Running Back Jay Berwanger.  The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Berwanger, unfortunately he would never play a pro football game due to salary disputes with multiple teams

Since then the NFL Draft has involved thousands of players, many of which have gone on to become all time greats.  Many more however went on to have careers that would earn them the dubious distinction of being called a “Draft Bust”.  The most coveted position for any team is the first overall pick.  The team that holds this position is usually in desperate need of a break out rookie that can turn their franchise around.  There is only one chance for first overall greatness every year.

There have been only 78 men who can call themselves the first overall pick in the NFL draft.  The positions picked the most may not surprise you but the positions that were picked the least  might shock you.

The quarterback position has the title of the most popular first overall pick in draft history.  Twenty seven QBs have been nabbed by teams with the most coveted draft spot.  Ten of those twenty seven became pro bowl players, names like Eli Manning (2004), Peyton Manning (1998), Drew Bledsoe (1993) and Vinny Testaverde (1987) just to name a few.  Only Troy Aikman (1989), John Elway (1983) and Terry Bradshaw (1970) had careers so great they were inducted into the Hall Of Fame.

Twenty five Running Backs have been picked first overall.  Seven of them became Pro Bowlers including Bo Jackson (1986), Billy Sims (1980) and Tucker Frederickson (1965).  The Running Backs hold the record of most Hall Of Fame inductees with five.  Running Back Bill Dudley (1942) was the first player at any position drafted first overall to become a Hall Of Famer.  The most recent Running Back to be inducted into the Hall Of Fame is Earl Campbell (1978) who was drafted by the Houston Oilers.

Defensive End’s have also been a very popular choice with eleven picked first overall.  Defensive Ends Mario Williams (2006), Ed “Too Tall” Jones (1974), Dave Parks (1964) and Leon Hart (1950) were all voted to the Pro Bowl.  Bruce Smith (1985) and Lee Roy Selmon (1976) were the only Defensive End’s to be inducted into the Hall Of Fame.

Positions that were drafted the least with the top pick are Defensive Tackle (4), Offensive Tackle (4), Line Backer (3), Center (2) and Wide Receiver (2).  Eight different positions have all seen the top choice.  Wide Receiver, Defensive Tackle and Line Backer are the only positions to never have a first overall player reach the Hall Of Fame.

A few of the players drafted in the last decade will more than likely find a home in the Hall Of Fame.  As of now the first overall pick has only been a future Hall Of Famer twelve of the seventy seven times.  Who knows, we might see the next great NFL player drafted with the first pick tonight in the 2014 NFL Draft.

1983 NFL Draft – “The Best NFL Draft Ever”

The first ever NFL Draft took place in 1936. That draft only consisted of 81 players. Four of those players would become Hall Of Famers. Since then the NFL has developed the draft into a giant event. Another one of the players selected in that draft, Paul “Bear” Bryant would later give up playing football to become a coach. He would become one of the greatest college football coaches ever while at the University of Alabama. There have been many great draft classes in the years since but they all pale in comparison to one in particular.

The 1983 NFL Draft took place on Arpil 26th and 27th of that year in New York City. It included twelves rounds and 335 players were selected. Over 30 of those players selected would go to the Pro Bowl. Eric Dickerson, Jim Kelly, John Elway, Dan Marino, Bruce Matthews, Darrell Green and Richard Dent who were all selected that day would later be inducted into the Hall Of Fame. Other than all of the things I have mentioned the draft is remembered for another reason, the Quarterbacks.

This was the best draft class of quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. It also holds the record for most quarterbacks selected in the first round with six. Three of those six would make it into the Hall Of Fame. The standout quarterbacks of the class were by far John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.

John Elway (Getty Images)

John Elway (Getty Images)

John Elway was taken with the first overall pick by the Baltimore Colts. He was eventually traded before the season to Denver due to his unwillingness to play for the Colts head coach Frank Kush. During his career he established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the league. When his career was over he won two Super Bowl Championships and was inducted to the Hall Of Fame in 2004.

Jim Kelly (Getty Images)

Jim Kelly (Getty Images)

With the fourteenth overall pick the Buffalo Bills selected Jim Kelly. Kelly played the season prior in the United States Football League after leaving the University Of Miami. Of the quarterbacks drafted that day Kelly made more Super Bowl appearances than any one else. Kelly lead the Buffalo Bills to the Super Bowl from 1990 through 1993. Unfortunately the Bills never won any of those Super Bowls. Nonetheless Kelly proved himself to be a great quarterback and was Inducted to the Hall Of Fame in 2002.

Dan Marino (Getty Images)

Dan Marino (Getty Images)

The final legendary quarterback taken in this draft was Dan Marino. He was projected to go early in the first round but fell back on a lot of teams boards due to reports of him using marijuana in college. The Miami Dolphins were willing to take a chance on this young man with a powerful arm and selected him with the twenty seventh overall pick. Marino played 17 season but only made one trip to the Super Bowl, the Dolphins lost that game to the San Fransisco 49ers. Marino did however finish career holding almost every quarterback record that existed. He was inducted into the Hall Of Fame in 2005.

An interesting note about this draft is all of the first round quarterbacks went to AFC teams. Also the three half Of Fame quarterbacks all played for only one team during their NFL career.

The Draft is such an intriguing event. Full of Pro Bowlers, Busts and Hall Of Famers. There will probably never be a quarterback class this good again. Some might argue that the 2012 class will stand the test of time but until it does the 1983 Draft will remain the best ever.

Marion Motley: Breaking The Color Barrier In Football

In 1947 Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball.  It was a historic happening that changed professional sports forever.  However Robinson was not the first African-American athlete to break the color barrier in American professional sports.

In 1946 a year before Jackie Robinson made history, four African-Americans became the first to play professional football since the NFL became segregated in 1933.  Those four players were Marion Motley, Bill Willis, Woody Strode and Kenny Washington.  Both Motley and Willis signed with the Cleveland Browns who played in the All-American Football Conference.  While Strode and Washington were signed by the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League.  Those four Men all made history that year but one man’s carrier would stand out more than all of the others, that man was Marion Motley.

Marion Motley (Getty Images)

Marion Motley (Getty Images)

Marion Motley was born in 1920 in Leesburg, GA.  He grew up in Canton, Oh and was an excellent High School football player.  He would play his college career as a Full Back at the South Carolina State and the University of Nevada, Reno.  He entered the US Navy in 1944 during World War II before beginning his professional carrier with the Cleveland Browns.

Marion Motley stood at 6’1” and weighed 240 pounds in his prime.   Regarded as the first real power back in the NFL Motley punished opposing defenses, pummeling any defender that got in his way.  Many who played during his time have regarded Motley as being the best football player they have ever seen.  It has also been said that he was an even better player than the Hall Of Fame running back Jim Brown.  Like brown he was an excellent back that could push for extra yards but he could block better than Brown, these skills made him a complete player.

Marion Motley played a total of 9 seasons from 1946-1955.  During this time he amassed 4,720 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns.  As a receiver he had 1,107 yards and caught 7 touchdown passes.  Motley was a 1950 Pro Bowler as well as a champion with the legendary Cleveland Brown’s teams of 1946-1950.  He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in 1968, forever immortalized in his home of Canton,OH.

Marion Motley was one of the greatest football players of his era and quite possibly of all time.  He endured the same hate and discrimination as Jackie Robinson and was able to prove that he belong with the best.  He is a true American Hero and should be known and remembered by all sports fans.

The History Of The Three-Point Line In The NBA

The NBA had long been the leader in American basketball.  However they were slow to introduce a popular part of the game already being used in other professional leagues.  The three-point line was first dreamed about in the 1930’s. By the end of the 1960’s the three-point line was being used in the American Basketball League, The Eastern Professional Basketball League and the American Basketball Association.  It was not until the late 1970’s that the NBA gave in and decided to use this new rule that they had previously viewed as gimmicky.

On October 12, 1979 history was made when the Washington Bullets Kevin Grevey made the first three-pointer in an official NBA game. Grevey would retire after the 1984-85 season with 145 career three-point shots made.  From this point on the game would never be the same. This addition to the game added a new level of excitement and suspense.  Many NBA games over the last three decades have been ultimately decided by this dreaded shot.

From the 1979-80 season to the 1993-94 season the three point line was 23 feet 9 inches from the front of the basket and 22 feet at the corners.  The NBA would try to address lower scoring games by bringing the line closer to the basket from the 1994-95 season through the 1996-97 season. At that time three-point line was 22 feet around the entire basket.  The league brought back the three-point line back to its original dimensions in the 1997-98 season and it has remained there since.

Ray Allen shooting a crucial three-pointer in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals. (Getty Images)

Ray Allen shooting a crucial three-pointer in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals. (Getty Images)

Ray Allen is a player that has had a Hall Of Fame career mostly based on the fact he has been an excellent three-point shooter.  His most recent heroics came from his favorite position on the court when he made a game tying 3-pointer in Game 6 of the NBA finals.  His team the Miami heat won that game and later won Game 7 of the Finals to be three time NBA Champions. Allen is the all time leader in three-pointers with 2,963 at the time of this article. Ray Allen was also at one point in time the single season leader in this statistical category when he broke Dennis Scott’s record in the 2005-06 season with 269 three-pointers that year. 

Stephen Curry is now the current single season record holder.  He broke Allen’s record at the end of the 2012-13 season when he made his final three-point in the last game of the season, putting the new record at 272 three-pointers. Curry would break his own record two seasons later during the 2014-15 canpaign with 286 three-pointers. The story of Curry’s dominance does not end there. As of February 27, 2016 Curry has made 288 shots from the behind the arch setting a new record and with about two months remaining in the season that mark will continue to rise.

The three-point shot has been such a special part of the game since its creation.  It is hard to even imagine the sport without it.  It will forever be one of the most revolutionary parts of the game of Basketball.