Jeff Harvey

I thought that I might look at sports history this week because of the fact that both the NBA and NHL championship series are in mid-series as of this writing and I don’t have a real hook to write about baseball as of now.

As for the NBA Finals, Toronto won the series opener despite a sub-par game for Kawhi Leonard, overcoming a triple-double from Draymond Green and a typical great Steph Curry game. It’s not going to be easy for either team but Toronto now holds the edge.

The Stanley Cup Finals are 2-1 in favor of Boston and I’m thinking that the Bruins will probably win in six games at the most. The only thing you hear about the St. Louis Blues is that they are 1-14 to date in Stanley Cup finals and are the oldest franchise never to win the Cup.

Getting into the subject of this week’s column, we start in 1919 with a 24-year-old pitcher/outfielder for the Boston Red Sox named George Herman “Babe” Ruth. Ruth, though a great pitcher, was displaying a hitting talent which would change his, and baseball’s, destiny by hitting 29 home runs that year.

Another incident in 1919 proved to be, next to the color bar, baseball’s lowest point as eight members of the A.L. Champion Chicago White Sox threw the World Series. The fix, which came to light late in the 1920 season, was the peak of game-fixing that plagued baseball in the early 20th Century.

Those of you who have ever seen the movie “Pride of The Yankees” should be familiar with the story of Lou Gehrig, the greatest first baseman in baseball history, whose life was cut short by ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Gehrig, who was baseball’s “Iron Man” decades before Cal Ripken, Jr.s birth, was honored in a ceremony at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939 which was marked both by his “luckiest man on the face of the Earth” speech and a reconciliation with former teammate Ruth after a long feud.

The talk about all of baseball’s young stars always brings to mind to me Jackie Robinson, who was older than all of them (28 in 1947) when he broke the major-league color barrier. Two years later, he won the N.L. MVP award.

1949 saw a baseball redemption story as the New York Yankees, managed by Charles Dillon “Casey” Stengel who had been absent from the major leagues for years and whose managerial record before then was unimpressive, won the World Series. It would be the first of five straight titles and seven in 10 years for a man derided in the media as a clown when he was hired for the Yankees job.

Twenty years later, in 1969, two New York teams won their sports’ respective titles as the New York Mets won the World Series in their eighth season and the New York Jets in their 10th season won Super Bowl III. The Mets won behind the arms of Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman and Tug McGraw while the Jets got ahead early and used their running game and defense to stifle the Baltimore Colts.

Wrapping up this look at sports history by the decades, we come to 1979 as N.L. co-MVP Willie Stargell led the “We Are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates to the World Series title and Terry Bradshaw won his fourth Super Bowl in six years with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

See you next week with more sports.

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