40 years later, Rangers-Bruins meet again

For the first time in 40 years, the Rangers and Bruins will do battle in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

40 years is a long time. Surprising it’s been that long since these two Original Six rivals met in a playoff series.

When the Rangers and Bruins last met in the post-season, there were only 16 teams in the NHL and half of them made the playoffs.

The year was 1973. Watergate was percolating and Richard Nixon was on the way out, the average annual income was $12,900, and Secretariat won the Triple Crown. This intrepid sportswriter was about to graduate from Holy Cross College in Worcester, Mass., a Ranger fan in a sea of Bruins black and gold.

Meeting for the third time in four years, the Rangers ambushed the Bruins in five games in their 1973 first-round clash. Goalie Eddie Giacomin’s shutout in Game 4 and Calder Trophy winner Steve Vicker’s, shown above, hat trick in the 6-3 finale at Boston Garden led the Rangers to the series win.

The Bruins, led by Conn Smythe Trophy winner Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito and a star-studded cast, beat the Rangers in six games in 1972 to win the Stanley Cup. The B’s also won the Cup in 1970, knocking off the Rangers in six games in the quarterfinals.

In total, the Rangers and Bruins have met nine times in the playoffs, with the Bruins winning six of those match-up. In 1958, the Bruins beat the Rangers in a six-game semifinal.

The rivals clashed three straight years beginning in 1927. In 1928, New York beat Boston 5-2 in a two-game, total-goal semifinal format, then beat the Montreal Maroons to win the Stanley Cup. The Bruins captured the Cup in 1929 when they beat the Rangers 2-0 in the finals.

In 1939, Mel “Sudden Death” Hill became a household name in New England when he scored three overtime goals to help the Bruins beat the Rangers in the semifinals and went on to win the Stanley Cup. The Rangers returned the favor in 1940, beating Boston in six games and then topping Toronto 4-2 in the Cup finals. It would be 54 years before they won another.


Stemkowski’s OT goal was one for the ages

Pete Stemkowski (21) scored in the third overtime to lift the Rangers past the Blackhawks.

When Marian Gaborik scored late in the third overtime to beat the Washington Capitals 2-1 in game three of their Eastern Conference semifinal the other night , it marked the fourth longest game in New York Rangers history, and the longest since 1939.

The last time Rangers skated this long into the night, Richard Milhous Nixon was President, gas cost 40 cents a gallon and the voting age in the USA was lowered to 18. It was 1971, April 29 to be exact.

That was the night when Pete Stemkowsi knocked in a rebound of a Teddy Irvine shot to beat the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2, and force a seventh game.

There were no smartphones or ESPN in 1971, and computers were bigger than dinosaurs. The Rangers-Blackhawks game was televised somewhere, but not in hockey-mad New England.

However, some enterprising students at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, an industrial city in central Massachusetts, rigged up an antenna to a hi-fi system and picked up the radio broadcast out of New York..

Two score or more students, many of them New Yorkers, crowded into the tiny dorm room, and erupted like it was  Madison Square Garden when Stemkowski beat Chicago goalie Tony Esposito  to avert elimination.

It was Stemkowski’s second game-winner of the series; he also scored an OT goal in game one.

Despite the Stemmer’s heroics, the Blackhawks went on to win the seventh game, 4-2, and advanced to the Stanley Cup finals. There they lost to the Montreal Canadiens in seven games.

The Habs, led by a rookie goaltender from Cornell named Ken Dryden, had shocked the defending Cup champion Boston Bruins in seven games in the quarterfinals, then toppled the Minnesota North Stars in the semifinals.

Longest games in Rangers history

1. Montreal 2, Rangers 1, 4 OT,  (128:52), 1930.

2. Rangers 4, Montreal 3 NY, 3OT (119;32), 1932

3. Boston 2, Rangers 1, 3 OT (119:25), 1939

4. Rangers 2, Washington 1, 3OT (114:41), 2012

5. Rangers 3, Chicago 2, 3OT (101:29), 1971


LIN-stant stardom is a rare gem

Jeremy Lin made a huge jump, graduating from Harvard to achieve NBA celebrity status.

In less than two weeks, Jeremy Lin has gone from the Erie BayHawks in the D-League to LIN-finity and beyond.

He’s burst upon the scene like a supernova, eclipsing out-of-the-box scoring records legends like Bird, Magic, Jordan, Kobe and others in the process. Jeremy is a LIN-ternational celebrity.

This kind of breakthrough is extremely rare in professional sports, where  prospects are pampered, primed and projected before they’re old enough to shave.

Very few athletes slip through the cracks and become household names as quickly as Jeremy Lin.

And no, Tim Tebow doesn’t qualify. Tebow was a Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Florida, a football powerhouse. That’s a lot different than undrafted Jeremy Lin from Harvard.

Another invalid compare is Steve Nash, the veteran 16-year point guard for the Phoenix Suns. Nash, like Lin, thrived in coach Mike D’Antoni’s system. But unlike Lin, he was a first round pick in the NBA draft.

Here are some other rising sports starts through the years, LIN-instant hits so to speak. Some went on to long and glorious careers, others flamed out as suddenly as they appeared.

NBA

John Starks bagged groceries for a time after high school and played for three junior colleges. He went undrafted out of Oklahoma State, and like Lin spent one year at Golden State before signing with the Knicks in 1990,

Starks, right, broke his arm in practice attempting to dunk over Patrick Ewing. Eventually he became a starter at shooting guard and made the NBA All-Star team in 1994.

That year, the Knicks made the NBA Finals, where they lost Game 7 to the Houston Rockets when Starks shot  2-for-18.

Long-time Boston Globe sportswriter Bob Ryan, who recently announced he is retiring following the London Olympics, compared Lin to Billy Ray Bates.

A third-round pick from Kentucky State in the 1978 NBA draft, Bates was cut by the Rockets, but emerged two years later with the Portland Trailblazers.

Bates went on to have two solid seasons with Portland, but by 1983 his career was finished.

NFL

Considered one of the best undrafted players of all time, Kurt Warner was cut by the Packers in 1994 and wound up stocking grocery shelves for $5.50 an hour in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Warner also played Arena League football and was a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Northern Iowa, before joining the St. Louis Rams in 1998.

One year later, Warner passed for a record 414 yards and was named Super Bowl MVP when the Rams beat the Tennessee Titans.

Warner was a two-time NFL MVP (1999 and 2001) and was named to the Pro Bowl four times. He still holds the top three passing yardage records for the Super Bowl.

MLB

Several pitchers achieved instant star status, including Mark “The Bird” Fidrych of the 1976 Tigers and Fernando Valenzuela of the 1981 Dodgers. Valenzuela won both the National League Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards, and finished his career in 1997, 173 victories later.

Fidrych, left, won 19 games and was named American League Rookie of the Year. He would win just 10 more times before he career ended in 1980.

That same year, Joe Charboneau broke in with the Cleveland Indians, and was voted AL Rookie of the Year  after belting 23 home runs and batting .289. He wound up playing just 70 more games in the majors, his career finished in 1982 before his 27th birthday.

Kevin Mass made a big splash with the Yankees in 1990 when he hit 10 homers in his first 72 at bats, the best start in baseball history. Clearly a one-hit wonder, Maas was shuffling between the majors and minors two years later, and wound up playing in Japan.

Another Yankee outfielder, Shane Spencer, “The Home Run Dispenser,” had a brilliant September in 1998 for a World Championship team. However,  Spencer never lived up to the promise of that meteoric start.

Bob “Hurricane” Hazle had an amazing start with the 1957 Milwaukee Braves, hitting .403 as a late call-up to help his club win the National League pennant. A year later, he was out of baseball.

NHL

Don Murdoch scored eight goals for the Rangers in his first three games, including five in one game. He was on a pace to set the single-season rookie goal-scoring record when an ankle injury ended his year. During the off-season he was busted for cocaine possession, and suspended by the NHL.

Murdoch played 320 career games, but never came close to living up to the promise of  his first season,


In the 70s, These Bruins Were Kings

Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito and the rest of the Bruins were hockey royalty in the early 70s.

In the early 70s, the Boston Bruins were the kings of New England and the toasts of the hockey world. Bobby Orr and The Animals. The Big, Bad Bruins.

They won the Stanley Cup in 1970 and again in 1972, and reached the finals in 1974 before losing to the Philadelphia Flyers. In all, they played in five Stanley Cup finals between 1970 and 1978.

The Bruins are back in the finals again this year, and if they go on to beat the Vancouver Canucks, they will hoist the Stanley Cup for the first time in 39 years.

Back in the early 70s, the Bruins held their pre-season training camp in Fitchburg, a former paper, tool works and clothing milltown on the banks of the Nashua River, about an hour or so outside of Boston in Central Massachusetts.

Those were the days. Here are four tales of the Fitchburg Bruins from Septembers in the 70s.

1974: A Cherry on Top

As the leaves began to turn in September of 1974, a young cub sportswriter arrived on the scene with the Fitchburg Sentinel. It was his first real newspaper job, and one of his first assignments was to cover the Boston Bruins training camp.

That year, the Boston Bruins were a force to be reckoned with, picked by many experts to win the Cup as they began training camp for the upcoming 1974-75 NHL season. The nucleus of their Stanley Cup championship squads  — featuring all-time defenseman Bobby Orr, scoring machine Phil Esposito and captain Johnny Bucyk — was still intact.

Don Cherry, often called Grapes, was the Bruins new head coach, taking over for Bep Gudolin. Cherry always has an agenda, which carried through in his colorful interview sessions. He was bursting with notable quotables as he talked about his talented Bruins, the Fitchburg night life, and Blue, his bull terrier.

Known for flamboyant dress and staunch Canadian patriotism, Cherry guided the Bruins for five seasons, and took them to the Stanley Cup finals in 1977 and 1978, where they twice lost to the Montreal Canadiens. Cherry was fired after a too-many-men-on-the ice penalty late in the game enabled Montreal to tie the score and eventually knock out Boston in the seventh game of the 1979 semifinals.

Cherry, coached the Colorado Rockies in 1979-80, then went on to a highly successful career as a hockey commentator with CBC Television. He was recently voted as the seventh greatest Canadian on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s television special, The Greatest Canadian.

In goal for the Bruins that camp was young Gilles Gilbert, coming off an outstanding year in his first full season that carried all the way through the playoffs. Gilbert was valiant in defeat when the Bruins lost the sixth and deciding game to the Flyers, 1-0, in the 1974 Stanley Cup finals.

Gilles was fun to speak with, but it was difficult to understand his French Canadian accent, even for a guy who took French in high school.

And forward Terry O’Reilly was on the fast track to success with the 1974-75 Bruins. When the Sentinel reporter interviewed O’Reilly, he mentioned that his father was a milkman. Sounded familiar to the reporter, who drove a milk truck before working for the newspaper.

1975: Patty Hearst, Espo and Orr

On September 18, 1975, publishing heiress turned urban guerilla Patty Hearst, victim of a bizarre kidnap by the Symbionese Liberation Party, was found by federal US agents following one of the most extensive manhunts in history.

That same afternoon, a columnist from the Fitchburg Sentinel & Leominster Enterprise parked his car in a field on the New England farm of noted philanthropist George R. Wallace, Jr. Phil Esposito, all-star center of the Boston Bruins, pulled up next in a Mercedes.

Both were heading for a clambake at the Wallace farm, an event to fete the Bruins, who trained at the George R. Wallace Civic Center.

As they walked up to the barn to join Bruins players, coaches and local politicians and luminaries from Fitchburg, Esposito turned to the reporter and said, “Did you hear? They found Patty Hearst.”

Moments later another Bruins player, all-star defenseman Bobby Orr, emerged from an apple orchard on Wallace’s farm. Orr was limping noticeably. Espo, concerned about this teammate, asked him if he was all right. Orr smiled, but admitted the knee was bothering him.

Little did Orr — or Espo, the reporter and the clambakers — suspect it at the time, but Orr’s his brilliant career was just about over at age 27. A few days later, Orr was sidelined and had knee surgery.

He would play just 10 games for the Bruins in 1975. Orr would never skate for the Bruins again, playing 26 games for the Chicago Black Hawks between 1976-77 and 1978-79 before retiring, his brilliant career over at age 30.

Orr played a full 80 games during his final season in 1974-75, scoring a career-high 46 goals, and won his second Art Ross scoring trophy as he led the NHL in both assists with 89 and points with 135. He was never the same player after 1975,  when he won a record eighth straight Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman.

During his Koufaxian-like career which began with a Calder Trophy as an 18-year-old NHL Rookie of the Year in 1966-67, the Parry Sound, Ontario, native was the best hockey player ever. Orr redefined the position of defenseman and led the Bruins to Stanley Cups in 1970 and 1972.

In 1970 he became the only player ever to sweep the league’s top awards — Norris, Ross, Hart Memorial as regular season MVP and Conn Smythe as playoff MP — and scored the Stanley Cup winning goal in overtime, flying through the air to complete a four-game sweep of the St. Louis Blues.

The following year Orr recorded a plus/minus of 124, best in NHL history and quite likely the most unbreakable record in hockey. Only one other player, Larry Robinson of Montreal, ever had a plus/minus over 100 in a season.

Orr broke the mold of the defensive-minded defenseman, winning two scoring titles and leading the NHL in assists on five separate occasions. He won three consecutive MVPs (1970-71-72) and was also the playoff MVP in 1972, when the Bruins defeated the New York Rangers in six games to win their last Stanley Cup.

And the columnist still swears that although Wayne Gretzky may have been The Great One, Bobby Orr was The Greatest

1977: George Plimpton in Goal

Two years later, in September of 1977, change was in the air in Fitchburg. The sportswriter had a daughter now. Orr was gone, finishing out his career with the Chicago Blackhawks. And Espo had been traded to the Rangers exactly 50 days after Patty Hearst was captured. In the blockbuster trade, Espo and Carol Vadnais were sent to new York for Brad Park, Jean Ratelle and Joe Zanussi.

Gerry Cheevers, the goalie hero the last two Bruins Stanley Cup championships was back. Cheevers would lead the Bruins back to the finals in both 1977 and 1978, where they would twice fall to the Montreal Canadiens.

Training camp had a different twist this year. A tall, gangly fellow arrived in camp to play goaltender. George Plimpton was his name, and he was going to mind the nets for the Bruins in an exhibition game.

Plimpton was a participatory journalist, best known for Paper Lion, a book about this attempts to quarterback the Detroit Lions in a pre-season game. He was preparing to write Open Net, a professional amateur in the world of big-time hockey.

During the first day at camp, Plimpton went through the ritual of putting on the goalie gear. He described the leg pads as each weighing “about the same as an Underwood typewriter.”

Don Cherry gave Plimpton some strange reassurance.  “You’ll be OK, I mean you’re going to live. I’ve never seen a goalie get a serious injury — even before the time of the masks.”

In a book of many great lines, one of the best lines in Open Net stemmed from a conversation Plimpton had with Bruins defenseman Rick Smith. Smith told the story of a fan in the old Boston who yelled at referee King Clancy in a foghorn voice, “We got a place here in Massachusetts, Clancy that’s named after you. It’s called Mahblehead.”

Plimpton trained with the Bruins for several weeks, the played reasonably well in a brief stint against the Flyers, even stopping a penalty shot by Reggie Leach.

As if they were intent on proving they were playing this game for real — even an exhibition game in which George Plimpton appeared — the Bruins and Flyers brawled several times and amassed 266 penalty minutes between them. Eighteen players were ejected by referee Wally Harris.

1978: The Turk in the Tank

In the early autumn of 1978, Derek Sanderson was sitting in a dark corner of the Peter Pan bar in Fitchburg. The sportswriter and his buddy could see him. He was dead drunk.

The Turk could barely stand, and between trying to pick up waitresses, pick a fight, and do more shots of tequila, Sanderson was out of it. Earlier that day he had been cut by the Bruins, his once promising hockey career finished.

Sanderson had been an integral part of the Bruins team that won the Cup in 1970 and 1972. One of the most highly regarded penalty killers and face-off men in hockey, he set up Bobby Orr’s overtime goal in 1970 against the St. Louis  Blues that gave the Bruins their first championship in 29 years.

After the 1972 season, Sanderson signed a contract with the Philadelphia Blazers of the newly-formed World Hockey Association. His $2.6 million salary surpassed that of Brazilian soccer star, Pelé, making him the highest-paid athlete in the world at the time.

Not even the Turk could live up to that billing, and before the end of the season the Blazers bought out Sanderson’s contract for $1 million.

Sanderson returned to the Bruins, and was later traded to the Rangers. Hobbled by knee injuries and frequent bouts with alcohol and drug abuse, Sanderson finished his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1978.

He tried a comeback with the Bruins that season, flunked out, and wound up drunk in the Peter Pan.

This story has a happy ending. The Turk conquered his demons. and became a popular broadcaster with the Bruins.

Today, Derek Sanderson is involved with a variety of charitable organizations and makes a number of guest appearances at charitable events to help raise awareness of alcohol and drugs.


The Top 10 List of Top 10 Lists

Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak has held up for nearly 70 years. It’s one of 10 baseball records that will never be broken.

People like top 10 lists. They’re neat and tidy. They cut to the chase. They can be controversial. And they work. Ask David Letterman.

Throughout the past three years, the SportsLifer has posted a wide variety of top 10 lists. Here’s the top 10 of top 10s.

1. 10 Baseball Records That Will Never Be Broken

SportsLifer also appears on Bleacher Report, and this blog earned a gold medal with more than 5,000 reads. And it’s been grounds for debate, soliciting 39 comments on the SportsLifer web site alone.

2. The 10 Best College Football Teams of All Time

Another Bleacher Report hit, this one led to a silver medal with 2,000 viewers.

3. Top Ten All-Time Quarterback List

An early SportsLifer blog, posted after Brett Favre retired from the Packers. Upon further review and based on his ill-fated comebacks, Favre slips from third to fifth, behind Dan Marino and Otto Graham.

4. Lords of The Ringless: Wide Receiver Edition

One of the popular Lords of The Ringless postings, which also feature running backs, quarterbacks and MLB and NBA players.

5. 10 Things You May Not Know About Yankees Vs. Red Sox

A natural rivarly and a natural top 10. Did you know Horace Clarke knocked in the winning run in the longest game the Yankees and Red Sox ever played — 20 innings.

6. Hometown Heroes: The Best Athletes from White Plains

Art Monk, Washington Redskins wide receiver and NFL Hall of Famer, tops this homeboy list.

7. Top Ten Best NFL Championship Upsets Ever

This list was sparked by the Giants upset of the previously unbeaten Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. That epic ranks second behind the Jets win over the Colts in Super Bowl III.

8. The 10 Best Game-Winning Shots In NCAA Tourney History

GOOD! HE DID IT! BRYCE DREW DID IT! VALPO HAS WON THE GAME A MIRACLE!”  What a shot!

9. 10 Things You Never Knew About Jake Beckley

Who knew “Old Eagle Eye” had nearly 3,000 hits and and still leads all first baseman in putouts and total chances. Beckley retired after the 1907 season. Remember.

10. The SportsLifer Top 10

Bucky Dent’s home run in Boston in the 1978 Yankee-Red Sox game playoff game tops the list of games the SportsLifer has seen….in person.


Hey Joe…Malone Only Man to Score 7 Goals

 

When Ryan Callahan scored four goals against the Flyers on Sunday. he joined Marian Gaborik as the second New York Ranger to accomplish the feat this year.

Only two Rangers have ever scored five goals in a game — rookie 19-year old Don Murdoch in 1976 in just his fourth NHL game and Mark Pavelich in 1983.

And only one player in history has ever scored seven goals in an NHL game — Maurice Joseph “Phantom Joe” Malone. Malone, skating for the Quebec Bulldogs, set the record more than 90 years ago, January 31, 1920 to be exact.

Malone was the NHL’s first star in its inaugural 1917-18 season. Playing with the Montreal Canadiens on what was one of the most powerful forward lines of all time — with Newsy Lalonde and Didier Pitre — Malone shifted to left wing to accommodate Lalonde, and became the NHL’s first scoring leader.

He registered 44 goals in 20 games that year, a record total that would stand as the NHL’s single season goal scoring mark until 1945 and a record per-game average  that stands to this day. (If such an average was sustained over today’s 82-game schedule, it would result in 180 goals, nearly double Wayne Gretzky’s record of 92.)

Malone scored at least one goal (and a total of 35 goals) in his first 14 NHL games that year to set the record for the longest goal-scoring streak to begin an NHL career. This streak still stands as the second-longest goal-scoring streak in NHL history.

Scoring Machine

Malone scored the second most career goals of any player in major hockey’s first half-century, 143 goals in 126 games over seven seasons with the Canadiens, Bulldogs and Hamilton Tigers.

Less than six weeks after scoring seven gaols, Malone would score six goals in a game. Three other players would also have six-goal games over the course of the next year — Lalonde of the Canadiens in 1920, and the Denneny brothers Corb and Cy of the Toronto St. Pats, who had six-goal games less than six weeks apart in 1921.

In the 90 years since, only three NHL players have scored six goals in a game — Syd Howe of the Detroit Red Wings in 1944, Red Berenson of the St. Louis Blues in 1968, and Darryl Sittler , shown right, of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1976. Sittler added four assists that night to finish with 10 points, the most ever in a NHL game.

Only two players have registered even five-goal games in the past 15 years — Marian Gaborik, with the Minnesota Wild in 2007 and Johan Franz of Detroit on Feb. 2, 2011.

Joe Malone is the all-time leader with five games of three goals or more, including five-goal outbursts in 1917 (one) and 1918 (two) with the Canadiens. Wayne Gretzky scored five goals four times with the Edmonton Oilers, and Mario Lemieux did the same with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Lalonde scored five or more on three occasions, and Babe Dye (Toronto St. Pats) , Maurice “Rocket” Richard (Canadiens), Sittler (Leafs) and Bryan Trottier (Islanders) each did it twice.


Top 25 Triumphs: New York over Boston

The Giants stunned the Patriots on this Super Bowl TD pass to Plaxico Burress.

New York and Boston have been battling for bragging rights since the early days of America, when the Knickerbockers and the Pilgrims squared off in the feats of strength. Here are New York’s top 25 wins over its sporting rival to the North:

1. Giants 17, Patriots 14, Super Bowl XLII, 2008 — The unbeaten Patriots were huge 12-point favorites over the Giants, who had to win three playoff road games just to get to the Super Bowl. But the New York pass rush battered Tom Brady all game, and after a miracle connection with David Tyree, Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning hit Plaxico Burress with the winning touchdown with just 35 second remaining.

2. Yankees 5, Red Sox 4, AL East playoff, 1978 — In 1978, the Yankees trailed the Red Sox through most of the summer, at one point trailing by 14 games in July. But the Yanks caught fire, buoyed by September’s Fenway massacre, and the two times wound up tied. In the one-game playoff, Bucky Dent hit a three-run homer just over Fenway’s wall, and Goose Gossage preserved New York’s win.

3. Mets 6, Red Sox 5, 10 innings, Game Six, World Series, 1986 — The Red Sox were within one strike of their first World Championship in 68 years, when the Mets roared back. Two-out singles by Gary Carter, Kevin Mitchell and Ray Knight plated one run, a wild pitch let in the tying run, and then Mookie Wilson’s dribbler went through the legs  of first baseman Bill Buckner as Knight raced home with the winning run.

4. Yankees 6, Red Sox 5, 11 innings, Game Seven, ALCS, 2003 — The Red Sox took a 5-2 lead into the bottom of the eighth, but manager Grady Little left Pedro Martinez out to dry and the Yankees rallied to tie the score. The game remained tied into the last of the 11th, when Aaron Boone hit knuckleballer Tim Wakefield’s first pitch into the lower stands in left field to give the Yankees the pennant.

5. Yankees 5, Red Sox 3, 1949 — The Red Sox needed only a split in the final two games of the season at Yankee Stadium to win the AL pennant. In the Saturday game, the Yankees came back from a 4-0 deficit to win 5-4 on Johnny Lindell’s home run in the eighth. The next day, Jerry Coleman’s bases-clearing double helped the Yankees to a 5-0 lead in the eighth, and they held on to win the pennant.

6. Knicks 94, Celtics 78, Game Seven, NBA Eastern Conference finals, 1973 — The Celtics had never lost a Game Seven anywhere, let alone home, and had clawed back from a 3-1 deficit to force the decisive showdown in Boston. Behind a 16-point third period by Walt Frazier and the defensive work of Dean Meminger, the Knicks pulled away to advance to the NBA finals, where they beat the Los Angeles Lakers.

7. Jets  28, Patriots 21, AFC divisional round playoff, 2011 – Following a 45-3 loss to the Patriots in the regular season, the Jets were dbig underdogs against the top-seeded Pats going into the AFC divisional round playoff in Foxboro. But Mark Sanchez threw three touchdown passes — to LaDainian Tomlinson, Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes — to lead the Jets to the upset victory.

8. Yankees 15-3, 13-2, 7-0, 7-4, Fenway Massacre, 1978 — The surging Yankees had already shaved 10 games off Boston’s one-time 14-game lead when they arrived in Boston in early September. Four days later the two teams were tied after the Yankees hammered out 42 runs and 77 hits against Boston’s beleaguered staff.

9. Knicks 121, Celtics 114, Game Five, first round, NBA Eastern Conference playoffs, 1990 — The Celtics and Larry Bird won the first two games in the best-of-five series, including a 157-128 win in Game Two. But the Knicks behind Patrick Ewing , left, rebounded to win two games at home and the decisive final game in the Boston Garden.

10. Rangers 6, Bruins 3, Game Five, first round, NHL playoffs, 1973 — The Rangers avenged a loss to the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals the previous season. Rookie Steve Vickers scored a hat trick to lead the Blueshirts. These two Original Six franchises haven’t faced off in the playoff since.

11. No-Hitters — Yankees pitchers have thrown thee no-hitters at the Red Sox: George Mogridge in 1917 (first no-no in Yankee history); Allie Reynolds in 1951 (his second of the year); and Dave Righetti in 1983, on the Fourth of July, George Steinbenner’s 53rd  birthday. (Cy Young pitched the only Red Sox no-hitter against New York, back in 1908, when they were known as the Highlanders.)

12. Knicks 113, Celtics 104, 2 OTs, 1985 — The Miracle on 34th Street, as the Knicks came from 25 points down to beat the Celtics in double overtime…on Christmas Day.

13. Yankees 4, Red Sox 1, 1923 — Yankee Stadium opens to pomp, circumstance and the first home run in the new yard — by Babe Ruth fittingly enough in the house that he built.

14. Jets Rout Patriots — Throughout their years in the AFL and AFC, the Jets have had some huge routs of the Patriots, most notably 48-14 in 1968, 42-7 in 1990, and 45-7 in 1993.

15. Yankees 15, Red Sox 10, 1950 — Opening Day at Fenway Park, Red Sox take a 9-0 lead. But the Yanks explode for nine runs in the eighth — rookie Billy Martin had two hits and three RBIs in the inning — and spoil the opener for Boston.

16. Yankees 1, Red Sox 0, 1961 — On the final day of the season, a sunny Sunday at Yankee Stadium, Roger Maris belted his 61st home run against Tracy Stallard to break Babe Ruth’s record.

17 . Rangers 4, Bruins 1, Game Six, NHL semifinals, 1940 — The Rangers eliminate the Bruins in six games, right, and go on to win the Stanley Cup. It would be 54 years before they won another.

18. Knicks 111, Boston 103, Game Five, NBA Eastern Conference finals, 1972 – The Knicks finish off the Celtics, 4-1, and move on to face the Los Angeles Lakers.

19. Yankees 12, Red Sox 11, 10 innings, 1996 — The Yankees rally from behind three times and finally win it in the 10th on rookie Derek Jeter’s two-out single to score Wade Boggs.

20. Yankees 4, Red Sox 3, 10 innings, Game One, ALCS, 1999 — Bernie Williams takes Rod Beck deep, and send the Yankees on their way to another pennant….and World Series.

21. Rangers 7, Bruins 4, 1979 — Traded from the Bruins to the Rangers four years earlier for a package that included Brad Park and Jean Ratelle, Phil Esposito returns to burn Boston with four goals.

22. Yankees 22, Red Sox 1, 2000 — The Yankees scored 16 runs in the last two innings and handed the Red Sox their most lopsided home loss ever.

23. Jets 34, Patriots 31, OT, 2008 —  This may have been Brett Favre’s signature moment as a Jet. He was brilliant in the fourth quarter and overtime, displaying the old Favre magic, to give the Jets the win. .

24. Rangers 9, Bruins 0, 1969 — The Rangers erupt at Madison Square Garden, scoring three goals within 38 seconds in the final period to punctuate the romp.

25. Knicks 82, Celtics 75, Game Four, NBA Eastern Division finals, 1953 — Knicks finish off Celtics, 3-1, and move on to face the Minneapolis Lakers.

A familiar scene in the rivalry – New York on top, Boston trailing.


1964: NY World’s Fair, Beatles and Yankees

IMG_0170

A few days aqo, I was clearing out a few things in my aunt’s basement when I stumbled upon a New York State license plate. Not just any New York license plate, a NY WORLD’S FAIR 64 plate with orange letters on a black background.

1964. The year the World’s Fair came to New York. Conjures up memories of class trips and family visits. Exhibits like General Motors, Johnson’s Wax and the State of Illinois. And Michelangelo’s Pieta. The Unisphere, shown below.

I became a teen-ager that year, entered eighth grade and discovered girls, not necessarily in that order. In 1964, the nation was dealing with the pain of JFK’s assassination. LBJ was President. The Civil Rights Act was signed.

In 1964, a gallon of gas cost 25 cents, and postage stamps were a nickel. My Fair Lady was the best picture and The Munsters premiered on CBS-TV.

The Beatles came on the scene in 1964. A huge earthquake rocked Alaska. Barry  Bonds and Jose Canseco were born in 1964; so were Sandra Bullock, Nicholas Cage and Lenny Kravitz.

End of A Dynasty
In sports, the great Yankee dynasty was coming to an end….although few saw it coming. The Yankees would win their fifth straight American League before losing to St. Louis and a gritty Bob Gibson in the seventh game of the World Series in October, 1964. All that after Mickey Mantle’s walk-off homer in Game Three gave the Yankees a 2-1 win…and a lead in the series.

The Mets, meanwhile, had a new home, Shea Stadium, right next to the World’s Fair in Flushing. Phillies’ outfielder Johnny Callison hit a  three-run home run to lift the National League to an All-Star win at Shea. And in September, the Phillies would blow the pennant, blowing a 6 1/2 game lead with 12 games remaining.

The Giants, tumbled to a 2-10-2 record in 1964, this after winning five conference titles — and no championships — in the previous six years. The Cleveland Browns demolished the Giants, 52-20, on a rainy Saturday at Yankee Stadium in the final game of the regular season and went on to beat the Baltimore Colts, 27-0, for the NFL championship.

The Jets didn’t fare much better at 5-8-1. Another New York team, the Buffalo Bills, would defeat San Diego 20-7 for the AFL title.

And while the Knickerbockers (last) and Rangers (next to last) were languishing, the Boston Celtics were in the midst of an eight-year championship run. And the Toronto Maple Leafs were winning their third straight Stanley Cup.

UCLA won its first NCAA title in 1964; the Bruins beat Duke in the final. And Bear Bryant’s Alabama Crimson Tide were national champions in football.

1964 was an Olympic year, and Billy Mills made his mark in the Summer Games in Tokyo when he became the only American ever to win the 10,000 meters. Bob Hayes won the 100-meter race, and Joe Frazier won gold in the heavyweight boxing division.


Streaking — Most Wins in A Row

The term “streaking” was popularized by a reporter for a local Washington, D.C. news station as he watched a “mass nude run” take place at the University of Maryland in 1973. That nude run had 533 participants.

As the collected mass of nude students paraded past, the reporter exclaimed… “they are streaking past me right now. It’s an incredible sight!” The next day, the Associated Press reported the “streaking” incident and it generated nationwide coverage.

Although many streakers have used sporting events over the years to display their talents, the term has a different meaning in sports, referring to a hot team, or a club on a winning streak.

The most recent example of streaking in sports occurred last month, when Stanford defeated Connecticut, 71-59, and put an end to UConn’s 90-game winning streak, an NCAA women’s basketball record.

UConn fans accustomed to watching coach Geno Auriemma’s team blow past opponents hadn’t seen a loss since the 2008 NCAA semifinals — Stanford got the Huskies that time, too, 82-73 in the 2008 national semifinals.

The Wayland Baptist University women’s team actually achieved a 131-game winning streak from November of 1953 to March of 1958 before losing 46-42 to Nashville Business School. However, women’s basketball was not sponsored by the NCAA at that time, so Wayland Baptist played in the Amateur Athletic Union.

UCLA established the NCAA men’s basketball record by winning 88 straight games between January of 1971 and January of 1974. Like the UConn women, UCLA’s streak was sandwiched by losses to the same opponent, in this case Notre Dame, which came from behind to knock off the  Bruins, 71-70, right.

On November 16, 1957, Notre Dame defeated streaking Oklahoma 7-0, ending the Sooners’ NCAA football record 47-game winning streak. Oklahoma’s streak began on October 10, 1953, when they defeated Texas 19-14 — two weeks after losing to Notre Dame and a week after a 7-7 tie with Pitt.

Professional Winning Streaks
The New England Patriots won 21 straight games between October of 2003 and October of 2004 before losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 34-20, to set the NFL record.

Excluding playoff games, the Indianapolis Colts won 23 consecutive regular season games between November of 2008 and December of 2009 before the Jets knocked them off, 29-15.

During the 1971-1972 NBA season the Los Angeles Lakers ran off a NBA record 33-game winning streak. The Milwaukee Bucks ended the run with a 120-104 win over the Lakers on January 7, 1972.

On September 7, 1916, the New York Giants defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers, 4-1. The Giants would run off a 26-game winning streak, still the longest in baseball history, before losing to the Boston Braves, 8-3, on September 30. Included in that streak was a 1-1 tie with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second game of a doubleheader on September 18.

The MLB record for consecutive wins (without ties) was set by the Chicago Cubs with 21 straight wins in 1935. The Oakland A’s established the American League record with 20 wins in a row in 2002.

Towards the end of the 1992-93 season, the Pittsburgh Penguins won 17 straight games to set the NHL record. The Penguins tied the New Jersey Devils 6-6 in the final game of the regular season that year, and won three playoff  games before losing to New Jersey, 4-2.

The Philadelphia Flyers strung together a 35-game unbeaten streak, including 10 ties, in the 1979-80 NHL season. The streak was snapped in a 7-1 loss to the Minnesota North Stars on January 6, 1980.


10 Things That Make Me an Old Guy

The Polo Grounds:  Been there, done that.

1. I went to a baseball game at the Polo Grounds

2. I saw Ted Williams, Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle homer…in the same game

3. I saw an NBA doubleheader…at the old Madison Square Garden

4. I remember when New York Football Giants games — even championship games – were blacked out at home

5. I saw Lew Alcindor play…in high school

6. I watched the Giants play at Yankee Stadium….and the Yale Bowl too

7. I saw the Rangers face off against the  Bruins at the old Garden in the days of the Original Six

8. My Dad saw Babe Ruth play

9. I remember goalies without masks and canvas Cons.

10. I saw Honus Wagner play shortstop. NOT. I may be old….but not that old. Wanted to see if you were paying attention lol