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No College Hall of Fame for Ealey

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Joe Montana readies himself for a pass.

College sports support a College Football Hall of Fame to specifically recognize athletes who enjoyed accomplished college sports careers before going on to pursue professions in sports, or elsewhere.

Amazingly, a dream list of quarterbacks who played professionally — Joe Namath, Joe Montana, Brady Quinn, Tyrone Wheatley, Eli Manning, Bernie Kosar, and Drew Brees — as well as (perhaps lesser known) Chuck Ealey of Portsmouth, Ohio, have not been, and likely never will be, elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

One modified rule governing that exclusive club prevents these superb QBs from attaining college hall of fame status.

Undrafted and Unrecognized 

On January 6, 2011, Ealey turned 61, and the gridiron man referred to as “The Wizard of Oohs and Aahs” said goodbye to another year that would exclude him from the College Football Hall of Fame. The University of Toledo’s quarterback from 1969 through 1971, Ealey achieved a singular record of 53 straight wins and no defeats in high school and college combined. Yet the black athlete went undrafted by the National Football League, and he can’t get into the College Football Hall of Fame.

In the College Football Hall of Fame 

In the Hall are Chuck Ealey’s playing contemporaries: The Ohio State University’s Rex Kern (27-2, 1968-1970); Jim Plunkett of Stanford (22-8-2, 1968-1970); and Archie Manning (22-10-1; 1968-1970.)

The UT Rockets won three Mid-American Conference (MAC) championships and three bowl games in their three unbeaten seasons with Ealey at the quarterback position.

No Ballot, No Election 

Ealey couldn’t get on the ballot for election to the hall of fame because of a rule implemented long after he finished his college playing days. The standard says a player must have been “named an All-American by an accepted major organization”, according to a July, 2010 Toledo Blade (newspaper) report by Matt Markey entitled “Undefeated Quarterback Still Denied Final Victory.” The article also quoted Steve Hatchell, the President & Chief Executive Officer of the National Football Foundation and the College Football Hall of Fame.

At the time, Hatchell offered this observation for Markey’s article: “…I understand he (Ealey) was a terrific player… I was in college at the time… but these lines (rules) have been drawn up, and we have to be faithful to it.”

Ealey Was Named to No Avail 

Ealey actually was named a First Team All-American by The Football News. Unfortunately, the News was not an approved entity at the time. And, sadly enough, it was later recognized as such, too late for Ealey’s case.

Markey’s article related that many voices were heard on working out a fix for Ealey and others excluded from the College Football Hall of Fame. Some suggestions included:

A) How about allowing every quarterback who goes undefeated to be nominated for the hall? (This was the suggestion of Dr. Jack Taylor, Associate Professor Emeritus of Ethnic Studies at Bowling Green State University, Ohio.)

B) Why not allow anyone who makes the Top Ten Heisman Trophy nomination list eligible for the hall ballot? (Ealey finished eighth in Heisman voting in 1971.)

“If they can’t fix that, it’s a shame,” former Purdue University Head Football Coach and Toledo native Joe Tiller was quoted in Markey’s article.

Ealey Says Records Aren’t Heroic 

When interviewed for the Markey article, Ealey appeared at the age of 61 not to lend too much importance to his not being placed on the hall ballot.

He said he believed records are not heroic and that education is what allows one to be successful, according to statements in Markey’s article.

Ealey played in the Canadian Football League before becoming a regional director for an investing company in Ontario.

“The Wizard of Oohs and Aahs” graduated from Portsmouth, Ohio’s Notre Dame High School and attended UT on a sports scholarship. In 1972, he graduated UT with a degree in Business Administration and Business Economics.

Perhaps, as Ealey claimed, records are not heroic, but they do influence others on visceral levels. Nonetheless, Ealey’s example of a life lived with excellence and humbleness has its impact, as well.

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Credit:
Photo from the cover of the book “Not Till the Fat Lady Sings — The Most Dramatic Sports Finishes of All Time”, 2003, Triumph Books, Chicago, Illinois

 

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MLB ASG Becomes A Second Home Run Derby — Kids at Home With the Stars

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Old-fashioned logos and posters and a new game format meshed beautifully in the 2018 MLB All-Star game to give fans a taste of the past and the technology of the present.

In the 2018 Major League Baseball All-Star Game July 17 played in Washington D.C. at Nationals Park, only one run of 13 resulted from a hit not referred to as a home run. Home runs pushed runs across the plate for tie scores and an extra inning, in which more home runs decided the final outcome.

This, even though pitchers combined for a total of 25 strike-outs, including 15 in the initial 4-1/2 innings. It was feast, or famine, as American and National league hitters put together an All-Star game record 10 home runs. Previously, the All-Star classic had produced six homers in 1951, 1954, and 1971.

The evening before, a record total of 226 home runs were put up in the Home Run Derby competition, won by home stadium favorite Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals.

Stats, photos, clever poster-like screen shots and speaking live-mic to players in the field as the game progressed was a hit with fans and the participating gamers. From broadcasters to ball boys, the two-night presentation was keenly enjoyed.

During both nights of action, youngsters in their own uniforms joined the towels and Gator Aide crews (Home Run Derby) and the introductory ceremonies (All-Star game.)

A number of the Derby hitters and the starting All-Stars made the kids part of their own experience on each of the two nights, speaking with them and making them feel right at home.

Young ones fist-bumping their way through the stars standing along the chalk lines of first and third bases before the All-Star game started was sweet to watch.

A homer from the Reds’ Scooter Gennett tied the game in the ninth, then the 10th frame featured back-to-back home runs by Astros Alex Bregman and George Springer. Bregman’s tie-breaker landed him the MVP award. J. A. Happ came on to finish off the National League hitters in the bottom of the 10th, and the American League walked away with its sixth straight All-Star game victory.

The two leagues were incredibly tied before the game started, dead-locked at 43 wins apiece (with two ties) in the 88 years the classic had been played. The American League win gives it the home field advantage in the World Series this Fall, while it also took a 44-43-2 lead in the classic overall.

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Credit:
Photo courtesy of http://www.pixabay.com

 

Twos Threes and Fours — TC Trivia

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Triple Crown Trivia Challenge: Can you fill in the blanks in the next paragraphs?

In decades past, American Triple Crown winners in Thoroughbred racing came in bunches, two, three, or even four, per decade.

This decade, the trend has repeated itself, as (a)_____ became the second horse in four years to win the coveted Triple Crown, a feat now completed by just (b)_____ horses in the history of the Sport of Kings. American Pharoah turned the trick in (c)_____ .

But the greatest of them all, Secretariat, still holds the (d)_____ record for all three races of the Triple Crown. He accomplished that in (e)_____ . His Belmont Stakes was a (f)_____ length triumph.

Match these Triple Crown horses with their correct years of victory:
2018 ——————– Citation
1935 ——————– Omaha
1941 ——————– War Admiral
1943 ——————– American Pharoah
1973 ——————– Seattle Slew
1977 ——————– Affirmed
1930 ——————– Secretariat
1946 ——————– Whirlaway
1937 ——————– Assault
1948 ——————– Gallant Fox
2015 ——————– Count Fleet
1978 ——————– Justify

TRUE or FALSE:
(A) — American Pharoah was named through a contest held for that purpose, and the name American Pharoah was accepted as misspelled.
(B) — The only father-son combination who both won the Triple Crown were War Admiral and Assault.

 

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ANSWERS:
Blanks = (a)-Justify; (b)-12; (c)-2015; (d)-speed; (e)-1973; (f)-31

1930 ———- Gallant Fox
1935 ———- Omaha
1937 ———- War Admiral
1941 ———- Whirlaway
1943 ———- Count Fleet
1946 ———- Assault
1948 ———- Citation
1973 ———- Secretariat
1977 ———- Seattle Slew
1978 ———- Affirmed
2015 ———- American Pharoah
2018 ———- Justify

True or False = (A) — True; (B) — False; Gallant Fox and Omaha were the only father-son combination to each win the Triple Crown

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Credit:
Book Cover Photo from the personal book collection of Barbara Anne Helberg; Walter Farley’s 1952 edition of The Black Stallion’s Filly, Random House, Inc., New York, NY

Thoroughbred Champions Earn Their Way

What? Thoroughbred Income?

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Thoroughbred racing is a serious sport, and its champions are serious money-earners.

Secretariat:
When Thoroughbred racehorse Secretariat won the first American Triple Crown (1973) in 25 years — Citation had last accomplished the feat in 1948 — he was sold into stud  syndication for a then record $6.08 Million. Today that figure would come to a comparable $35 Million.

Secretariat became an instant folklore hero, as well, when he completed the Belmont Stakes, the Triple Crown’s third leg, in record time and by a whopping, unheard of 31 lengths.

American Pharoah:
It was not until 2015 that the next, the 12th ever, American Triple Crown Champion came onto the scene. He was American Pharoah, who then took down $30 Million in stud fees in one year of service.

Tapit:
The biggest racehorse earner in the stud barn today is Tapit, a gray champion of the prestigious Wood Memorial whose progeny are earning more than he did as a track star. But he is booked to 125 mares per season at the handsome price of $300,000 per live foul result.

Seabiscuit:
Horse of the Year in 1938, Seabiscuit earned little under half a million dollars in his racing career. Today that balloons to $7.5 Million.

Seabiscuit was so revered in his racing years that an eventual book about his career and the lives of the men who owned, trained, and rode him became a bestseller on the New York Times list. A movie followed in 2003 and grossed over $120 Million.

Charles Howard, who owned Seabiscuit, thought of his champion almost as a family pet. He never offered Seabiscuit to stud service. Instead, he let his favorite Thoroughbred retire to enjoy a life of leisure in green pastures on his farm.

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Credit:
Roughcraft Art drawing from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

 

A Little Slew Legacy

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Nicknamed “Baby Huey” because of his small size and illness, Seattle Slew, America’s 10th Triple Crown winner in Thoroughbred racing in 1977, eventually became a “big daddy”.

After frail beginnings, Seattle Slew followed his track success by siring such greats as Swale, Slew O’ Gold, and A.P. Indy. Seattle Slew’s daughter Solar Slew foaled the champion Cigar.

SOLAR SLEW and CIGAR:
Retired in the Fall of 1978, Seattle Slew began just as quickly to establish a solid stud career. His triple classic championship and his $1.2 million in earnings commanded breeding attention.

Slew’s unbeaten daughter, Landaluce, and Swale both died unexpectedly at two and three, respectively. Cigar, foaled by another Slew daughter, Solar Slew, captured many titles in the 1990s. Cigar also ranked as the leading money winner in North America with over $10 million in racing earnings before Curlin and California Chrome came on the scene.

Cigar triumphed in the Dubai World Cup, and he equaled 1948 Triple Crown champion Citation’s 16-straight win streak.

SWALE and A.P. INDY:
Syndicated for $12 million (twice as much as Secretariat in 1973), Seattle Slew began his stud service at Spendthrift Farm, then went to Three Chimneys Farm, Lexington, Kentucky, where he stayed. He was 1984’s leading sire.

Swale, of Claiborne Farm, trained by Woody Stephens, won the 1984 Kentucky Derby, putting Seattle Slew on the short list of Derby champions who sired Derby champions. Swale was named 1984 Three-year-old Champion Male, as he also won the Belmont Stakes that year.

A.P. Indy was successful in the 1992 Belmont Stakes and that year’s Breeders Cup World Championships Classic, and earned HOY (Horse of the Year) hardware. He sired many stakes winners himself.

ON THE TRACK
After breaking his maiden at Belmont Park in New York on September 20, 1976, in his very first race, Seattle Slew raced an allowance contest on October 5th of that year.  He was timed at six furlongs in an incredible 1:10-1/5.

Just 11 days passed before Slew stepped onto a track again. His trainer, William H. (Billy) Turner, Jr., entered the bay colt in his first graded one stakes race, the Champagne Stakes.

Responding like the champion he was to become, Slew dumped the favorite two-year-old, For the Moment, by nine lengths! His time, clocked at 1:34-2/5, was the fastest mile ever run by a juvenile.

That performance, combined with an unbeaten record, albeit in a modest three races, earned the Slew the 1976 Eclipse Award as Champion Two-year-old Colt.

Soon after, in 1977, Slew captured the Triple Crown championship with speed and late charge ability, earning him HOY honors a second consecutive year, to go with the Champion Three-year-old Colt trophy.

AGAINST AFFIRMED
In 1978, Slew, older and wiser, convincingly beat the year’s Triple Crown champion, Affirmed, by 3 lengths in the Marlboro Cup. The race marked the only time in history that two Triple Crown champions faced off.

The effort put yet another piece of hardware in Slew’s trophy case — the 1978 Handicap HOY Eclipse Award.

Baby Huey survived adversity to rise to every occasion and was a champion to cheer to every finish.

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Credit:
Photo of Thoroughbred racing courtesy of http://www.pixabay.com

 

LJFF Helps Keep Kids in School

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LeBron James, (whether he gets Cleveland to a second straight NBA title, or not), was chosen this season as the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award winner, voted by the Professional Basketball Writers Association. The award is named after J. Walter Kennedy, who served as the NBA’s second commissioner.

The award’s recipient is held to a standard of outstanding service and dedication to the community. Twenty-six nominees for the award are annually submitted to the PBWA, then honed down to five final candidates. Among this season’s other possible recipients were Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls; Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies; CJ McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers; and Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks.

James, at 32, is approaching his twilight in playing time, but one of his legacy’s lasting movements will be his efforts on the behalf of disadvantaged kids, something James himself grew up around.

Improving the educational opportunities of these under-privileged kids is something James emerged himself in after learning the horrendously bad percentages of children in Akron, Ohio, his hometown, completing school.

The LeBron James Family Foundation (LJFF) motivates kids in crisis to stay in school and aspire to college educations, as well. And James is a hands-on, tireless agent for their success.

Sports hero? Role model? LeBron James absolutely fills the role!

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Featured Photo is from a portion of the cover of the book “Tournament Crisis”, a Chip Hilton Sports Story, by Claire Bee, 1957, by Mary M. Bee, Grosset & Dunlap Publishers, New York, (from the blog author’s personal copy of the book.)