Tag Archives: Babe Ruth

Babe Balls

I can only imagine what went through your head when you read this title. You should be ashamed of yourself. Maybe go to confession.

Yes, it’s World Series time! I can remember in grade 5 when I brought my little red transistor radio to school and the teacher let me listen to the games, which were held in the afternoon back then, and whenever the score changed, my job was to post it on the blackboard. I was a big shot, everyone else had to do school stuff while I happily listened to the ballgame. It was one of the highlights of my schooldays.

Maybe the only highlight. I think it was all downhill after grade 5.

In honour of the World Series beginning, here’s a sampling of Babe Ruth signing baseballs, which these days can be bought for anywhere from $5000 to $25000. I wouldn’t recommend buying one though, even if you have Scott Gomez-type money. Not with forgers being so dastardly talented.

Babe died in 1948, and the second picture you see here was definitely in his final years.

A Poem To Help You

I’ve decided you need some culture. I see you galavanting around, whooping and hollering and skinny-dipping and carrying on like nobody’s business, like Prince Harry if you’re a guy, or Lindsay Lohan or Brad Marchand if you’re a gal. Your parents are probably quite upset, and I’m pretty darn concerned.

So I’m giving you a poem in the hopes that it might rub off in some small way. Kind of get you pointed towards the straight and narrow again, back to those times before you decided to go wild and embarrass your relatives.

It’s not the first time I’ve shown a hockey poem. There was “Monsieur Joliat” by Wilson MacDonald, and now this. Coincidentally, both poems are from the 1930′s.

This one’s called “I’ll Take Hockey Anytime,” written by legendary New York author and sportswriter John Kieran, and I’m hoping this newfound culture changes you somewhat. It’s just been pretty inexcusable the way you’ve been acting during this off-season.

 

Name Scribblings

Tim Thomas has just signed an exclusive autograph deal with some company which obviously has money to burn, for $300,000 for one year.

I pulled out my trusty calculator and found that if Thomas signed 8×10′s that sold for 20 bucks, he would have to sign 15,000 in one year for this company to get their money back. That’s a lot of pictures. Are there 15,000 people out there willing to buy Tim Thomas’ autograph?

That’s good work if you can get it. All that money for signing your name. As much as the Prime Minister makes. You can even write off all the pens you go through as a business expense in your Online Tax Software.

I wouldn’t spend 20 cents for a Tim Thomas autograph. In fact, if I was rich, the only autographs I would consider buying would be Babe Ruth’s, Howie Morenz, and the Beatles.

I did, however, have a look in eBay for you if you’re interested in a Scott Gomez autograph! And no, there’s no need to thank me.

I found lots stuff signed by Gomez, and they range from five bucks to thirty bucks. Can you imagine how much beer you could buy for thirty bucks? There was an 8×10 of Gomez in a Habs jersey selling for $15.32 or best offer. I don’t mind the 32 cents part.

And I noticed a Scott Gomez game-worn pair of skates from when he was a Ranger, selling for $300.00. This might be a good deal, but only because the skates might cost more than that at the local sporting goods store anyway.

And by the way, his signature sucks. Look at this mess. In my mind this is just laziness and shows no respect for the fans.

Now have a look at these that I also noticed on eBay. These are people who take their time, and show respect to the fans. Nice signatures, that you can read. Jean Beliveau, Johnny Bower, Bobby Hull, Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, and John Bucyk.

 

Introducing The Coin Collection

I ‘ve carried around a certain amount of pride for much of my life – that I was one of the youngest paperboys in Orillia with one of the biggest paper routes.

Religiously, after school, I would push and ride my bike up and down hills, putting first the Toronto Telegram and later the Toronto Star and Orillia Packet and Times, between doors. I’d collect weekly payments from the stay-at-home moms and I also enjoyed that the older women took a liking to me and gave me big tips and chocolates at Christmas as a thank you.

I also developed a habit when I was a paperboy. I began to look closely at the change, and ended up with a nice little coin collection.

In 1920, as a result of people having sex in 1919, many babies were born, including Mickey Rooney and the great saxophonist Charlie Parker. Prohibition raised its ugly head that year,and it’s a sad thing indeed when we see old clips of the feds in their fedoras pouring illegal booze down drains.

My father was also born in 1920. He’ll be 90 in October.

In the news that year, Babe Ruth was sold by the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees for $125,000 which must have sucked in a big way for Red Sox fans, and Canada introduced a 1% Federal sales tax.

In hockey, the Ottawa Senators beat the Seattle Metropolitans in 1919-20 to win the Stanley Cup, and in 1920-21, those same Senators won the Cup again by beating the Vancouver Millionaires.

The 1920 Montreal Canadiens iced a fairly respectable team with Newsy Lalonde, Georges Vezina, and Didier Pitre in the lineup, but they ended up third overall behind the Ottawa Senators and Toronto St. Pats and didn’t make the playoffs.

Curiously, I could only find three Montreal Canadien players born in 1920 – Jack Adams, who played just one year in the NHL in 1940-41, Marcel Dheere, a left winger who managed 16 games for the Habs in 1942-43, and the great Emile “Butch” Bouchard. (Although there seems to be some confusion with both Dheere and Bouchard, who may have been born in 1918 and 1919 respectively. My dates come from Claude Mouton’s book, The Montreal Canadiens.)

Breakfast Of Champions

Joey “Jaws” Chestnut came from behind yesterday at the Coney Island Hot Dog-Eating Contest and gobbled up 54 hot dogs in ten minutes to capture his fourth consecutive July 4th championship. There’s a possibility I’ve eaten three hot dogs in ten minutes but maybe not. Maybe it’s just two.

Whatever it is, it’s more than 50 shy of Chestnut’s deed.

Good old Joey Chestnut just ate 54 things that consist of intestines, brain, skin, bones, and other things including feet and heads of chickens, and then the fine ingredients have some sort of gooey stuff and pink dye added to them and  forced through tubes and voila - delicious hot dogs.

He ate 54 of these. How do all of these fit in his stomach? Does he pause for a big dump at the five-minute mark? Whatever, this should be an Olympic sport. Imagine medal winners throwing up on the podium! Best of all, one can train while sitting on one’s ass at a baseball game.

Joey Chestnut. The king. The best. The Bobby Orr of hot dog eating. We can mention him in the same breath as other sporting greats - Air Jordan; Gretzky – The Great One; Babe Ruth - The Sultan of Swat. And now Joey, The Sultan of Stomach. 

Forget about Kobayashi, he’s finished. Hasn’t won in four years. The ex-champ’s been in so many contract disputes with Major League Eating that he’s out of shape. Washed up. A has-been. And he’s always been a bit of a hot dog.

It’s all Chestnut now. A hero for young kids everywhere who stuff their faces and dream about some day hoisting the cherished hot dog-eating  Cup.

It Would’ve Been Good, But We Still Need Defence

When you think back to before and during the Canadiens’ season, the sheer volume of players bandied about who might come to Montreal was staggering; Teemu Selanne, Ilya Kovalchuk, Todd Bertuzzi, Olli Jokinen, Ryan Smyth, Marian Hossa, Jay Bouwmeester, Marion Gaborik, Brendan Shanahan, Bill Guerin, Patrick Marleau, and of course, Mats Sundin and Vincent Lecavalier. All of these players were talked about in length about how they would help the Habs. It was serious business. Especially when it came to Mats Sundin and Vinny Lecavalier.

Have I missed anybody?

The juiciest of the juicy wasn’t about any of these players. For about 48 hours, there was speculation that Alex Ovechkin, believe it or not, was interested in joining the Habs because he’s apparently great friends with Andrei Markov. Then, as quickly as the story appeared, it ended like a speeding car hitting a brick wall. Ovie signed his big 124 million dollar contract and that was that. But imagine if it would’ve actually happened. Ovechkin is the closest thing to Rocket Richard as there is in recent memory. He’s a right-handed shot playing left wing. Rocket was a left-handed shot who played right wing. Both are considered as explosive as any who ever played the game. Both were blessed with wicked wrist shots. Ovechkin plays with unparalleled passion, just as the Rocket did. In fact, there was no one like the Rocket for fire, and Ovechkin is showing he’s the modern day version. And the Rocket was as dangerous as a live grenade from the blueline in, just as Ovie is now. The big difference is Ovechkin’s a ham and likes to showboat, and Richard was never into that stuff.

Just imagine if Washington had made the biggest blunder of their franchise history and let Ovechkin go to the Habs. It might’ve been something like the Boston Red Sox selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees. But it didn’t happen. Wasn’t in the cards. Washington is too smart to give up a guy like that, regardless of cost. So now we sit back and watch this young Russian play with joyous and controlled abandon in a barn-burner of a series against Pittsburgh.

Ovechkin in Montreal. It kind of dwarfs the whole Sundin, Lecavalier saga.

Because I don’t know how to do this, you’ll have to pretend there’s a picture of Ovechkin wearing a Canadiens’ sweater inside this frame.

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And then Gillis sent me this!

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Guest Writer Has His Say About Roy’s Sweater Being Raised

A guest writer delves into the ‘Patrick Roy’s sweater being retired’ saga. 

 

Take it away, Jim.

 

“Pro sports are sexy for a variety of reasons, but perhaps their most attractive quality is that they are so readily apprehended. Things are pretty straightforward, excluding the usual geeky obsession with stats – God bless The Schwab, a brilliant trivia geek, but frankly I have to agree with Noam Chomsky here when he says in effect that the brains of such people could be put to much better use.

 

A simple concept that I’m interested in touching on here is that of the relationship between team and player and championships. In all team sports, WINNING CHAMPIONSHIPS is the ultimate goal, the ultimate measure not only of the team but of the individual player. Aguably, winning the Stanley Cup is the most demanding, most arduous, most difficult championship to capture, and being a member of a Stanley Cup championship team is the crown glory of any player. This simple fact is born out by the players themselves who to a man agree that they would trade any number of individual achievements, any amount of accolades just to win one cup – to my knowledge, no player has yet declared they preferred being a star to winning a cup.

 

In this respect, Lanny McDonald and Dave Andreychuk spring immediately to mind.

 

Are individual stats relevant?

 

Of course they are. For example, Marcel Dionne and Mike Gartner were great players and derserved to be in the Hall of Fame even though they did not win any cups. Conversely, many players such as Mario Tremblay and Rejean Houle, who won several cups with the Habs, do not, in my mind, belong in the Hall.

 

In other words, membership in the Hall is very much a function of individual accomplishments in the game, although inductees who have won cups are, I believe, a cut above those who did not – the single most significant yardstick for measuring the greatness of a player is how many cups he has won. Period.

 

However, being inducted into the Hall is not the same as having one’s sweater retired by le Canadien. The Habs are not only the greatest team of all time, they are one of the greatest sports teams of all time. What this means is quite simply that the standards and expectations that apply to other teams and their players are not applicable to the Habs.

 

My point re Roy? Winning a mere two cups hardly qualifies Patrick Roy to be placed in the company of greats such as Beliveau, the Richards, Cournoyer, Plante, Lafleur, – who each has great stats as well as multiple cups. Note that they are all Hall Of Famers, unlike Houle and Tremblay. And the argument that Roy single-handedly won the two cups and therefore merits special treatment not only flies in the face of the win-as-a-team/lose-as-a-team maxim but it is insulting to the great players on those cup teams – look ‘em up!

 

It’s a cliche, which doesn’t mean it isn’t so, to say that teams only go as deep into the playoffs as their goalies take them. Of course goalies are crucial components on any cup-winning team, but this sure doesn’t lead to the conclusion that all cup-winning goalies should have their sweaters retired. But if we assume that Roy did literally win the cup by himself, then, applying the same logic, it’s reasonable to to assume that he therefore lost many more cups than he won. Hey, isn’t Price getting heat for ‘losing’ to the Flyers? Never mind the goalposts and poor shooting of the rest of the team. Hmmm, makes Roy a big choker rather than a big hero, n’est-ce pas?

 

Put him in the Hall, sure. Roy was a good goalie and he did have an impact on the game. But he definitely did NOT accomplish enough as a Canadien to warrant having his sweater retired. It’s a cynical marketing play that diverts attention from the fact that we have not won a cup in 15 years! And please, spare me the bs about the modern game and parity.  The Wings have won 3 in 11 years and could easily have won more and we’re supposed to be happy to make the playoffs. What a shameful betrayal of all the great Hab players and builders who triumphed regardless of the era in which they played. Hell, mug shots of Sammy Pollock and Scotty Bowman belong up there, not Roy’s sweater.

 

In Habland, cups first and persoanl stats a distant second – gotta luv Gainey and Harvey and Robinson and Savard, eh? And yes, the criteria that qualify a player of Hall of Fame induction do apply. As well, intangible considerations other than cup wins are also relevant.: leadership (suck it up, dig down, and play even better), charisma (Morenz, Richard, Beliveau, Lafleur), grit and determination (not a quitter among the sweaters up there now), loyalty (Roy? hmm..), et al.

 

Re Morenz, okay, I’ll be arbitrary here and say 3 cups is the minimum necessary to qualify to even be considered for having one’s sweater retired. I’ll also point out that Morenz, aka the Statford Streak, was called the Babe Ruth of hockey and as such he transcended the sport in much the same way Ruth did baseball, something that Patrick can not lay claim to. Morenz was a star whose brilliance far exceeded that of Roy. Also, unlike Roy, Morenz did not quit the Habs in the throes of a hissy fit over a chilish spat with a patently hostile and incompetent coach who would have clearly been turfed in favour of Roy. Morenz was a true Hab who died well before his time from an injury sustained while wearing the bleu, blanc, et rouge.

 

PS  No player will ever publicy say that other players do not deserve whatever honours team and league choose to bestow on them.

Mothers Throw Things Out. It’s Just What They Do. No One Knows Why… Plus… A Boston Bruin Behaving Badly.

Even in 1934 the Boston Bruins were a dastardly bunch. Of course, that’s not anything new. Every year they’re a dastardly bunch.

 

Why is that? Does it have something to do with the Babe Ruth curse, or trading Bobby Orr to Chicago?  I think it’s something only schooled professionals might be able to figure out.

 

For example, in 1934, Bruins defenceman Eddie Shore clubbed Toronto’s Ace Bailey over the head. In fact, he clubbed him so hard, he ended Bailey’s career by fracturing his skull.  But worse than that, he almost ended the poor guy’s life.

 

It was such a terrible situation that later that same year, a charity game between the Leafs and the league’s best players was held in Toronto to help the Bailey family, and $23,000 was raised.

 

And this was the beginning of the annual NHL all-star game. 

 

When Shore did this to Bailey, my father was 14 years old, and he felt bad about what had happened. So he wrote a little get-well letter to Bailey while the player lay between life and death in a Toronto hospital.

 

A while later, a letter arrived for my dad, and it was from Bailey’s wife, thanking him for his kind thoughts.

 

And what happened to the letter?

 

It disappeared when he went into the army, never to be seen again, he explained. Must have got thrown out by his mother, he added.

 

Why do mothers throw out their kids’ good stuff, like hockey cards, baseball gloves, favourite t-shirts that might only have a few holes in it, and letters from Ace Bailey’s wife?

 

Mothers might not be as dastardly as the Bruin Bruins, but they throw out good stuff.

Like A Good Boomerang, Fascinating Facts Keeps Coming Back!

Fascinating Fact #1.  I asked my wife who the most handsome player in the NHL is, and she said it’s a tie between Jose Theodore and Sheldon Souray. She also said, however, that Max from Dancing With The Stars beats everybody. Everybody but me, I think she said.

 Fascinating Fact #2.   Babe Ruth transcends all sports, so he gets in Fascinating Facts.  Ruth was notorous for not paying attention to the fringe players on his team, the Yankees. One day Tony Lazzeri introduced, for fun, a relief pitcher to Ruth who had been with the team for four years already, only Lazzeri said this was a new player just out of Princeton. Ruth was impressed about the Princeton part and welcomed the “new” player with open arms.

 Fascinating Fact #3.    In the early 1910′s, Lester and Frank Patrick pioneered professional hockey on Canada’s west coast, and the first two artificial rinks built in Canada were in Victoria and Vancouver.

 Fascinating Fact #4.     Defenceman Noel Price, an important member of the early and mid-1960′s Montreal Canadiens, now lives in Ottawa. He was one shy of playing 500 games, and is also a member of the American Hockey League Hall of Fame. Price won a Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1966.

 Fascinating Fact #5.    Toe Blake, a man of great words, once said, “if my son ever decides to become a goalie, I’m going to hit him over the head with a goalie stick.”

 Fascinating Fact # 6.    My midget coach was a man named Jack Dyte. In 1943 he played 27 games with the Chicago Blackhawks, and that was it for his NHL career. He managed one goal and no assists during this stint. But the thing was, he chewed tobacco at our practices and spit the juice on the ice. So the surface had dozens of brown spots all over it. I always wondered how he got away with that.