Happy Birthday, Dad


The first college football game ever televised, Waynesburg vs. Fordham in 1939.

On a steamy August Saturday afternoon in the summer of 1938, New York right-hander Monte Pearson, shown below right, pitched the first no-hitter in Yankee Stadium history. The Yanks beat the Cleveland Indians, 13-0, that afternoon to complete a doubleheader sweep.

Pearson, who was 16-7 that year and won exactly 100 games lifetime,  faced the minimum 27 batters, striking out seven. Tommy Henrich and Joe Gordon each homered twice.

In the opener that day, Joe DiMaggio’s third straight triple of the game plated two runs in the bottom of the ninth to cap a three-run rally and give the Yankees an 8-7 victory. A crowd of 40.959 was on hand Pearson_Monteas the Yankees increased their American League lead  to 12 games en route to their third straight championship.

One year later come September, Fordham University defeated Waynesburg College of Pennsylvania, 34-7, at Randalls Island in New York. But that wasn’t the story. NBC filmed the first college football game ever televised, as Bill Stern brought the play by play to viewers.

Waynesburg’s Bobby Brooks made history with a 63-yard touchdown run, the first televised TD. Reportedly, there was no victory dance in the end zone.

The W2XBS broadcast signal had about a 50-mile radius, and there were about a thousand TV sets in the New York metropolitan area at the time. The signal didn’t even reach Waynesburg, about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh. So who saw the game? Who knows?

Columbia Shocks Army
In October of 1947, Army was a huge favorite as the Cadets brought a 32-game winning streak into New York to face Columbia’s Lions. Army had not lost since 1943; Columbia was coming off losses to Yale and Penn.

Army led, 20-7, at the half, but the Columbia combination of quarterback Gene Rossides and received Bill Swiacki brought the Lions back for a stunning 21-20 victory.

maris60And in September of 1961, Roger Maris of the Yankees, pictured left, hit a long home run into the upper deck at the old Yankee Stadium against Baltimore’s Jack Fisher. The round-tripper was Roger’s 60th of the season, equaling the mark Babe Ruth set in 1927.  Maris hit number 61 on the final day of the season, setting a record that many feel still stands.

These events, interesting in of themselves, have something else in common. My father was right there for each and every one. He was just 13-years-old at the Pearson no-hitter, a game he attended with other family members. The decision was made to leave once the Indians got their first hit. That never happened.

My Dad went to the Waynesburg-Fordham game with his cousin, who was at that time the manager of a powerful Fordham team.  By the time Maris tied the Babe in 1961, my Dad was a father of four, two boys and two girls, including me, the oldest. Of course, my Mom had something to do that.

My Dad took me to my first Yankee game nearly 60 years ago. He also brought me to my first Giants game, also at Yankee Stadium, and to my first Knicks and Rangers games at the old Madison Square Garden.

He’s always been there for me, whether it be cash, advice or a good meal. There’s still nothing I’d rather do than talk sports with my old man. I treasure the times I spend with him always.

Happy Birthday. Love you, Dad.

(Note: My father turns 92 today. World War II veteran, engineer, lifelong Yankee fan, married for 67 years, father of our, grandfather of 13, great-grandfather of 10. He’s the smartest man I’ve ever known.)

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10 Unlikely College Football Bowl Winners

Columbia used trickery to stun Stanford 7-0 in the 1934 Rose Bowl.

Way back in simpler times, long before SportsCenter, BCS and the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, there were four major bowl games. played like clockwork, year after year, on New Year’s Day. Rose, Orange, Sugar and Cotton.

The Granddaddy of them all, the Rose Bowl, began in 1902, when Michigan routed Stanford, 49-0. The following year, polo replaced football as the sports attraction. From 1904 through 1915, the Tournament of Roses held chariot races, but dwindling interest and economic factors persuaded the return to football as the main attraction in 1916.

That year, Washington beat Brown, 14-0; the following year Oregon defeated Penn by the same score.

In today’s world of major college football, Ivy League schools like Brown and Penn would never see the light of the Rose Bowl. Nor would Bucknell, which defeated Miami of Florida 26-0 in the inaugural Orange Bowl in 1935. That same year, Tulane edged Temple 20-14 in the first Sugar Bowl.

Here are 10 schools you’d never suspect once won a major bowl game”

1918 Rose Bowl
The Mare Island Marines defeated Camp Lewis Army 19-7 as service teams supplied the competition for war-time continuance of the Tournament of Roses game.

1919 Rose Bowl
The Great Lakes Navy, led by future NFL Hall of Famers Paddy Driscoll, who passed for a touchdown and George Halas, who scored twice, beat Mare Island 17-0.

1920 Rose Bowl
Unbeaten but once tied Harvard defeated Oregon by a 7-6 margin on Arnold Horween’s kick for an extra point following a 12-yard touchdown run by Fred Church.

1934 Rose Bowl
In a stunning upset, Columbia resorted to a bit of trickery, right, by legendary coach Lou Little to upset Stanford 7-0. Al Barabas skirts 17 yards completely unmolested or detected on a hidden ball play to score the winning touchdown.

1935 Orange Bowl
The first Orange Bowl game was a blowout, Bucknell defeating Miami of Florida 26-0. The game was broadcast on CBS Radio, and recognition for south Florida was amply raised during the inaugural year.

1936 Orange Bowl
Catholic University
held off a late rally by Ole Miss to prevail 20-19. Cardinal fans in D.C. managed to sweep up President Franklin Roosevelt on his way to church during a 3,000-person victory parade up Pennsylvania Avenue.

1937 Orange Bowl
A desperation 72-yard touchdown pass from tailback Boyd Brumbaugh to Ernie Hefferle spelled an end to Mississippi State’s hopes as Duquesne edged the Bulldogs 13-12.

1937 Sugar Bowl
Santa Clara
beat LSU two years in a row, 21-14 in 1937 and 6-0 in 1948. The Broncos also knocked off Babe Parilli and Kentucky 21-13 in the 1950 Orange Bowl.

1939 Cotton Bowl
St. Mary’s
20 forced eight turnovers, built up a 20-0 lead and held off the Red Raiders for a 20-13 victory.

1942 Sugar Bowl
Fordham nipped Missouri 2-0 in a game played in the rain and mud of New Orleans. The only points came in the first quarter when Fordham’s Alex Santilli blocked a punt and Stanley Ritinksi tracked it down, sliding through the end zone and out-of-bounds for a safety.

Some unlikely major bowl losers in addition to Brown and Penn in the Rose Bowl were Marquette, which lost to TCU 16-6 in the first Cotton Bowl; Carnegie Tech which lost to TCU 15-7 in the 1939 Sugar Bowl; and Georgetown, which fell to Mississippi State 14-7 in the 1941 Orange Bowl.

In the 1946 Orange Bowl, the winning touchdown for Miami of Florida came after time had expired. With the score tied 6-6, a pass by Holy Cross quarterback Gene DeFilippo was deflected into the arms of defensive back Al Hudson, who returned the ball 89 yards for the winning touchdown as the Hurricanes won 13-6.