Monday, May 19, 2008
Baseball is a game with a history of players overcoming adversity. Diamond heroes include Jackie Robinson and Henry Aaron, who overcame racial barriers (many don't realize that Henry Aaron broke the color barrier in the Southern League when he played minor league ball). Players with disabilities have also featured prominently in the national pastime, such as Jim Abbott, a one-armed pitcher that threw a no-hitter in the majors; Curtis Pride, a deaf man who played for the Montreal Expos; and Dave Dravecky, who recovered from cancer in his pitching arm, only to have one of the most horrific comebacks in sports history.
Lost to history, however, is the inspiring story of Bill Burns, a journeyman pitcher who played professional baseball from 1908-1912. Perhaps his story was tainted because he was involved in the Black Sox scandal of 1919, when he approached the first Chicago White Sox players on behalf of mobster, Arnold Rothstein (Burns later went on to become the key witness for the prosecution. His trial testimony can be found here).
What is his inspiring story? His official nickname was "Sleepy Bill," but his friends probably knew him as "Lefty." Why? As this 1910 T-206 tobacco card illustrates, Bill Burns was born with two left hands:
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
After reading Leslie's piece about due dates, I pulled this from my stock:
Published in 1924, it took 15 years for one brave girl at Galena Park High School to check out this gem. Only one.
At least she learned how to mop (and dress):
And she knew how to recognize a "variety of home laundry equipment, from which good selection may be made."
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
If you grew up in the 1970's and collected sports trading cards, you were probably aware of Sportscaster cards. They were the large cards that came by subscription only, with their own storage box. Only the rich kids had them.
Now I feel rich because I found a massive stack of them in a ziplock bag at a thrift store for only $3.00.
Below are some of my favorites from the collection which brought me some nice flashbacks.
My real-life heroes:
I think I found the retro look every hep-cat college kid is going for these days. Meet the 1977 Hungarian water polo champions:
Classic shot of Wilt Chamberlain scoring against a hapless Walt Frazier while Senator Bradley looks on, hoping for a cloture vote. Also, great pic of Dr. J in his Bicentennial glory days:
Teutonic beauties: half-elf, Ingemar Stenmark and half-man, Kornelia Ender. How did those East German women set so many records swimming in the Olympics? I guess the secret was lost forever when the Berlin Wall came down and the DDR crumbled. (sorry this photo is a little blurry. I was probably trembling at Frau Ender's beauty while holding the camera).
Inspiring female Olympic gold medalists in precarious positions. They spawned millions of bad haircuts and horrid musical tributes:
A tribute to the old geezers of hockey. If you're not doing anything after the game, Gump Worsley would like to talk to you about some whole life policies and variable annuities.
Inspiring Olympians with multiple gold medals: Swimmer Freddy Mercury and Ali's communist evil twin, Teofilo Stevenson. Could Stevenson have knocked out Ali, Frazier and Foreman if Fidel Castro ever let him out from behind the iron curtain? We kids thought so.
Every child's sports inspirations in the 1970's - Earl "White Shoes" Anthony and Dr. Csaba Fenyvesi, who fenced only in his grandfather's bathrobe:
The inventor of the Fosbury Flop (which method garnered many a ribbon in elementary school field days), and the inventor of the inverted track and field crotch shot (this is for a specific reader who requested another porn-related blog entry):
Here kid. Smell my feet:
Who knew that Ireland's national pastime was the form of hurling in which Catholics and Protestants whacked each other with sticks? I always thought it was the form of hurling that took place in alleyways after 7 pints of Guinness.
WTF sports I still have never heard of - Korfball vs. Faustball. I would sell my soul to the devil to own those cool leather watch bands (side note: these cards reminded me of one of my favorite videos from The Onion. Do yourself a favor and watch "Just Give Me the Damn Sepak Takraw Ball"):
And finally, the card every boy wanted - Avery Brundage. He truly was "beyond sports." (the back of the card says Mr. Brundage passed away on May 8, 1975, so look for many tributes tomorrow).