Tag Archives: Major League Baseball

Sports: Jim Thorpe

Jin Thorpe is in the hall of fame of professional football, college football, the US Olympics, and track & field. Uploaded to photobucket by Greg Bauch.

Jim Thorpe called football his favorite sport. And he certainly excelled at it, both at the collegiate and professional levels. But he excelled in everything he tried. Track and field. Baseball. Lacrosse. And get this – Jim Thorpe won the 1912 intercollegiate ballroom dancing championship. So you think you can dance?

Thorpe’s early life was beset by tragedy. He was a twin, but his brother died of pneumonia at age nine. His mother died in childbirth. His father died of gangrene following a hunting accident. So Thorpe, a Native American from Oklahoma, wound up at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. It happened that Carlisle had a tremendous coach at the time – “Pop” Warner. He not only recognized Thorpe’s talent (who wouldn’t have?), but knew how to develop it.

Little Carlisle rode Thorpe’s strong shoulders to a national collegiate championship in football in 1912, highlighted by a 27-6 victory over Army. Thorpe was named an All-American in 1911 and 1912.

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Oh, and between those two seasons, Thorpe decided to try out for the US Olympic team. He went to Sweden, where he competed in the pentathlon and decathlon. He participated in several field events he had virtually never tried before, such as the pole vault and javelin throw. He won the gold medal in both events. His medals were presented by King Gustav V of Sweden, who told Thorpe, “You, sir, are the greatest athlete in the world.” To which Thorpe replied, “Thanks, King.”

Thorpe played Major League Baseball for the New York Giants and Boston Braves. In the league that was to become the NFL, he won three championship titles. And he barnstormed for a couple of years with the “World Famous Indians” basketball team.

Jim Thorpe is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the College Football Hall of Fame, the United States Olympic Hall of Fame, and the National Track & Field Hall of Fame. He was named the number three athlete of the 20th century by the Associated Press, behind only Babe Ruth and Michael Jordan…

Sports: Robin Roberts

At one time or other during his career, Robin Roberts led the league in shutouts, strikeouts, complete games, wins, and innings pitched. He pitched 28 complete games - IN A ROW. Uploaded by s7d2.scene7.com.

No. 36 made it to 83. Today, Hall-of-Fame Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Robin Roberts left the game. He was my boyhood hero and the man whose name inspired my own.

Robin is probably best known for two things. He led the Phillies to the World Series in 1950 as part of the young team immortalized in baseball lore as “The Whiz Kids.” And he gave up more home runs than any pitcher in Major League history.

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That World Series took place in October, 1950, and a month later I was born. My father liked the name Robin, and gave it to me. As a result, I followed Robin Roberts’s career, though he had his very best years before I became a fan.

And what years, and career accomplishments, he had. He won 20 or more games six straight years, and led the National League in victories between 1952-1955. He once pitched 28 complete games in a row.

As an adult, I always wanted to meet my hero, and I came very close in 1993. The MLB All-Star Game was held in Baltimore that year, and I wrote to Robin Roberts and asked if my sons and I could meet him during the weekend. He wrote back and told me to meet him at his hotel, but somehow our signals got crossed, and we missed him. Then a few years later he was to sign autographs at a memorabilia show in Chantilly, Va. My good friend Todd Marcum pulled some strings, and I got to sit with Robin while he signed baseball cards and other items for his fans. Today I’m so glad I had that moment.

People who knew him say he was a gentleman, and he always followed his Phillies right up till his passing. Here’s an interesting piece of trivia about my favorite player – he is the only pitcher to have victories against the Boston Braves, the Milwaukee Braves, and the Atlanta Braves…

Sports: Hank Aaron

Hank Aaron is Major League Baseball’s legitimate all-time leader in home runs. Of course I say “legitimate” because he has since been passed by Barry Bonds, who took advantage of baseball’s passive acceptance of steroids to…but wait, I don’t want to get distracted from the achievements of Aaron.

Aaron never really had the spotlight that his remarkable career deserved. All he did was play baseball the way it was meant to be played for 23 seasons. While he played he was overshadowed by flashier stars such as Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle. When he finally found the spotlight near the end of his playing days, he was reviled for having the nerve to break the career home run record set by baseball’s greatest icon, Babe Ruth (Great American Thing No. 117).

Though he dealt with physical intimidation and death threats, Aaron endured with grace and dignity. Now we can look back and see both his accomplishments and his character in a fresh light.

He not only held the record for the most home runs, but probably more significantly, still has the most RBIs in history. He hit more than 30 home runs for 15 seasons. He has the most extra base hits ever. He’s in the Hall of Fame, of course. But here’s an interesting factoid – of his 755 home runs, 70 came off of pitchers who are fellow Hall of Famers. Tell that to today’s stars who are hitting against essentially minor league pitchers in the big leagues because of the dilution of talent.

Aaron is the last Negro League player to move to the Majors, having played one season for the Indianapolis Clowns. Following that year, he was offered contracts by the New York Giants and the Boston Braves. He later said, “I had the Giants’ contract in my hand. But the Braves offered fifty dollars a month more. That’s the only thing that kept Willie Mays and me from being teammates — fifty dollars.”