Of eagles and sports

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Anyone who knows me, knows that I find sports themes in common, everyday activity.

For instance, an example. Last week I attended EagleFest, a celebration of the bald eagle’s winter return to the Hudson Valley, at Croton Point Park in New York. EagleFest featured bird shows, walks and other exhibits — all in all, an amazing day.

All good stuff, natural and environmental and fun too. Yet there I was, cracking jokes about the ornithologist’s favorite basketball player — Larry Bird, who else — and baseball team — take your pick, Cardinals, Blue Jays or Orioles.

What about eagles? Funny you should ask. Well here are my top 10 eagles in sports.

1. Philadelphia — Eagles, who else. And they’re bringing shame to the name, still seeking their first NFL championship since 1960.

2. College nicknames — Eagles, by far the most popular name of all four-year teams with 76 references, 30 more than Tigers. Boston College Eagles, Marquette Golden Eagles, American University Eagles…. the list goes on an on. And War Eagle is the battle cry of Auburn University.

3. Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards — A British skier who became the first man to represent Great Britain in ski jumping in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Eddie didn’t exactly fly like an eagle, finishing last in both the 70 and 90 meter events.037

4. Good golf — every golfer knows an eagle is two strokes under par.

5. Great golf — even better, the rare double eagle, three strokes under par, also known as an albatross. Gene Sarazen had the most famous one, in the 1935 Masters.

6. Tris Speaker — Hall of Fame outfielder, known as the Grey Eagle, fifth on the all-time hit list with 3514. Speaker batted .345 lifetime and is still the MLB leader in doubles with 792. He retired in 1928.

7. Jake Beckley — another Hall of Famer, aka Eagle Eye. Once wrote a blog about this guy, He’s 34th on the all-time hit list, one behind Barry Bonds.

8. Eagle Day — his real name was Herman Sydney Day, but he is listed in NFL record books as Eagle Day.  An Ole Miss grad, he started two games with the Washington Redskins, in 1959 and 1960. Despite the fact he also punted, this Eagle was no Sammy Baugh.

9. St. Louis — a one-year entrant in the NHL, the Eagles finished 11-31-6 in 1935-36.

10. Bill Eagle — little known outfielder who appeared briefly with the Washington Senators in 1898. In fact, he was so unknown that nobody knows whether he was a righty or lefty. He never played again, and retired a .300 hitter (308 in 13 plate appearances).

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