Up next … Leo Lyons, co-Founder NFL
The NFL is celebrating its 100th Anniversary season and in doing so is honoring so many of the game’s greats, and the men who founded and built the league. Conspicuously absent from much of the conversation, however, is Leo Lyons, one of the NFL’s Founders and the one man who might be most responsible for the founding of the NFL. On this edition of SFH, John Steffenhagen, Leo’s great grandson, who is about to release a new book on Leo, stops by for a wonderful conversation about a man who so few have ever heard of – Leo Lyons.
1936 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team
The U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team has featured such greats as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and so many others. Until the debacle in 1972, the U.S. never lost a game. In 1936, in Berlin, amidst one of the most controversial Olympic Games ever held, basketball made its debut and the U.S. immediately established its superiority in the game. And while basketball fans worldwide can recall the Dream Teams of recent times, few know about the first team to represent the U.S., how the team was formed, who the stars were, and just how controversial the team itself was. Author Andrew Maraniss who has just released a new book, “Game of Deception,” joins SFH for a most interesting discussion about the 1936 Olympics and the 1936 U.S. Olympic basketball team.
The 2019 NFL season has been a challenging one for quarterbacks. So many have missed significant time. From Drew Brees and Sam Patrick Mahomes to Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Newton. So, backups like Teddy Bridgewater, Mason Rudolph and Kyle Allen have had to step in. The importance of the backup quarterback can not be overstated. In fact, some coaches have said the backup quarterback is the second most important position on a football team. But who was the greatest backup ever? Certainly a debatable topic and on this episode of SFH, we will discuss one of the greatest, if not the greatest backup quarterback of all time: Earl Morrall.
The NFL has been challenged by many upstart leagues. The two most successful were the AAFC (All America Football Conference) and the AFL (American Football League). In the mid-1970s the WFL (World Football League) launched with teams around the U.S. In fact, the WFL even put a team in Hawaii. While a few franchises including Birmingham and Memphis were pretty successful, there were quite a few that weren’t even close to being a success on the field – or off! One team, however, topped them all – the Detroit Wheels. The Wheels were one of the most poorly run sports franchises in history and on this episode of Sports’ Forgotten Heroes, Mark Speck, who wrote the book, “Nothing But A New Set of Flat Tires,” joins the podcast to talk about some of the crazy and zany stories of a team so few remember, so few have ever heard of, and so few knew ever existed, the Detroit Wheels.
Chuck Taylor All Stars, the most popular basketball show of all time, is still in existence today – but mostly as a fashion statement. But there was a time when nearly every college and pro team wore them. So many think Chuck Taylor was a fictional character, never existed. Well, they couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only did he exist, Chuck Taylor was a terrific basketball player who could pass the ball with the best of them … but he was even a better salesman. Abe Aamidor who wrote the book, “Chuck Taylor, All Star: The True Story of the Man Behind the Most Famous Athletic Shoe in History,” is the guest on this edition of Sports’ Forgotten Heroes.
One of the biggest rivals to the NFL was the short-lived All America Football Conference which played from 1946 through 1949. The AAFC was no joke. In fact, the AAFC gave us the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49’ers and Baltimore Colts. It’s where the original Buffalo Bills played and it’s the league that introduced professional football to the west coast and the south. It’s where Otto Graham started, where Joe Perry got his start, where Marion Motley got going and where Frankie Albert created a name for himself. So many NFL stars got their start in the AAFC – a league that challenged the NFL for the best players in the game and for fannies in the seats. Gary Webster, author of “The League That Didn’t Exist, A History of the All America Football Conference, 1946-1949,” joins Sports’ Forgotten Heroes for an in-depth look at a league so few know much about.
The last time the Cleveland Browns won the NFL Championship the man at the helm was Blanton Collier. The year was 1964 and Collier had replaced the legendary Paul Brown and was asked to rebuild the Browns into a championship contender. It didn’t take long. In 1963, Collier won 10 games with the Browns and in 1964, not only did he once again win 10 games, but he led the Browns to a 27-0 win in the NFL Championship Game against the heavily favored Baltimore Colts. Roger Gordon, who just recently released the book, “Blanton’s Browns,” returns to the podcast as we talk about the career of a coach whom most fans can’t recall – Blanton Collier.
Football season is upon us and it’s time to start thinking about the gridiron. Ernie Nevers is best remembered for what he did on the football field, but he also played baseball and as we transition from baseball to football what better way than to do it with a two-sport star like Ernie Nevers. Lee Elder returns to Sports’ Forgotten Heroes for a most interesting discussion about a guy who broke into the NFL with the Duluth Eskimos and who also played baseball with the St. Louis Browns.
Joe Brovia/Joe Bauman/Bob Crues – Bush League Heroes, Episode 64
September is call-up month in Major League Baseball. So many players have been given a shot to show their stuff in September, but many never make it despite incredible minor league numbers. On this episode of Sports’ Forgotten Heroes we’re going to learn about three of those guys: Joe Brovia, Joe Bauman and Bob Crues, three minor league legends each of whom put up incredible numbers but either never got a chance to show their stuff in the Big Show or was never even given the opportunity. Gaylon H. White author of “Left On Base in the Bush Leagues,” a compilation of short biographies on several minor league stars joins SFH for a look back at all three ballplayers.
Burleigh Grimes, Episode 63
Burleigh Grimes was the last pitcher in Major League Baseball to be legally allowed to throw a spit ball. A Hall of Fame pitcher, Grimes was as ferocious as they came and won more than 20-games five times in his career, all at a time when the National League was dominated by hitters. Joe Niese who wrote the book, “Burleigh Grimes, Baseball’s Last Legal Spitballer,” joins the podcast for a look back at a truly remarkable career.
Ray Billows, Episode 62
To make it to the finals of the U.S. Amateur you’ve got to be really good. To make it three times, you’ve got to be about the best. But to make it three times and not win it, well, that has to be one a great disappointment. Ray Billows, one golf’s great amateurs, made it to the finals of the U.S. Amateur three times but never won. He is the only man to have lost in the finals three times, this despite winning 74% of all matches he played in this major golf championship. Tom Buggy, who wrote the book, “Ray Billows, The Cinderella Kid,” joins the podcast for a look back on the wonderful, but forgotten career of one of golf’s best – Ray Billows.
Ken Williams, Episode 61
Ken Williams feared he would be forgotten. A powerful hitter for the St. Louis Browns, Williams played for one of baseball’s worst teams. But that didn’t stop him. Opposing pitchers were scared of him, but you probably never heard of him because he was overshadowed by greats like Ruth, Gehrig, Cobb and Hornsby. Even a career batting average of .319 hasn’t made this star of yesteryear a better-known name. David Heller, author of, “Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth’s Shadow,” joins the podcast for a wonderful discussion of this baseball star.
Hal Trosky, Episode 60
If any baseball player today put up the kind of numbers Hal Trosky did for the Cleveland Indians back in the 1930s, they would be considered the best in the game. They would routinely be voted to or named to the all star team. They would be contenders for the MVP Award every year. But, playing in the 1930s when there wasn’t the internet, when there weren’t all sports broadcast networks like ESPN and when you didn’t have an opportunity to see a player such as Hal Trosky on a daily basis, it’s easy to understand why you might not get the notoriety you deserve – especially when guys like Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx and Hank Greenberg were playing the same position at the same time for teams that were usually in contention. Hal Trosky was a severely overlook superstar who put fear into every pitcher he faced. Bill Johnson who wrote the book, “Hal Trosky: A Baseball Biography,” joins Sports’ Forgotten Heroes for a wonderful discussion about a superstar baseball player time has forgotten.
Ray Collins, Episode 59
Ray Collins was born in Vermont and played baseball for his beloved University of Vermont Catamounts. He parlayed his collegiate career into a terrific career for the Boston Red Sox. In fact, with the Red Sox he played seven season and in 1913 he went 19-8 and followed that with a 20-13 campaign in 1914. Not long after, though, shoulder injuries slowed Collins down and disappeared from the game. Tom Simon, who has written about several MLB stars from Vermont, stops by SFH for a terrific discussion about a pitcher with so much potential, but had a career cut short by injury.
Mungo Park/David Brown/Jack Fleck, Episode 58
The Majors in golf are in full swing and with the U.S. Open just weeks away and the British Open soon to follow, it’s time to take a look at back of the some of their forgotten heroes and/or guys we just don’t know much about. So, we are taking a deep dive back into the annals of the British Open to talk about two unknowns who won in Scotland, Mungo Park (1874) and David Brown (1886) and then we’re going to jump ahead almost 70-years to 1955 and talk about Jack Fleck and his improbable 18-hole playoff victory over the immortal Ben Hogan in the U.S. Open. Our guest is golf historian Connor T. Lewis from the podcast TalkinGolf.
Hank O’Day, Episode 57
Hank O’Day had one of the most unique careers in the history of baseball. O’Day was a player, a manager and an umpire. He played for seven years, managed for two and was an umpire for more than 30-years … and it was his work as an umpire where he made his biggest contribution to the game. O’Day was asked to train dozens of umpires and was consulted on for many of the rules by which the game is played today. Dennis Bingham who wrote a terrific piece about O’Day for the SABR BioProject joins SFH for a look back on a baseball career unlike any other.
Roy Sievers, Episode 56
Roy Sievers was one the first two players in Major League history to hit at least 300 homeruns over the course of his career and NOT be elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame. Sievers played mostly for the St. Louis Browns and Washington Senators and could hit the ball a mile. But, much of the early part of his career was affected by injury, and if not for the help of Bill Veeck, Sievers career could have been cut short. Join one of the directors of the SABR Bioproject, Gregory Wolf, as we take a look back at the career of Roy Sievers.
Seattle Pilots, Episode 55
The Seattle Mariners started playing baseball in 1977, but they were not the first to call Seattle home. In fact, the Milwaukee Brewers were the first to call Seattle home. In 1969 baseball expanded and added four teams: the San Diego Padres, the Kansas City Royals, the Montreal Expos (they’re now the Washongton Nationals) and the Seattle Pilots. However, a disastrous situation when it came to building a stadium, politics and poor finances spelled doom for the Pilots and towards the end of their second spring training, the Pilots ceased to exist and they became the Milwaukee Brewers. For the whole story, tune into SFH with special guest Bill Mullins who wrote the book, “Becoming Big League: Seattle, the Pilots, and Stadium Politics.”
Dolf Luque, Episode 54
The pitcher who holds the record for most wins in a season by a member of the Cincinnati Reds is Dolf Luque. Yet, so few Cincinnati fans know that. Luque was the first Latin American to ever win a game in the World Series. Over the course of a 20-year career, Luque won 194 games … and after his career was over he resurrected the career of Sal “The Barber” Maglie and several others. Baseball historian, researcher, writer and SABR member Peter Gordon returns to SFH for a wonderful conversation about one of the game’s forgotten stars of the past – Dolf Luque.
Jimmy Demaret, Episode 53
Spring has sprung and the Masters is upon us. Of course, when you think about the Masters such names as Nicklaus, Hogan, Palmer, Woods and Jones come to mind; but so few talk about the first man to win the Masters three times – Jimmy Demaret. Demaret had quite the colorful wardrobe and he was a terrific golf analyst as well … but his swing, was a thing of beauty. Smooth. Silky. Technically majestic. John Companiotte, author of the book, “Jimmy Demaret: The Swing’s the Thing,” joins us to talk about Demaret and a few other nuggets as well.
Kansas City Scouts, Episode 52
One of the most irrelevant teams in the history of sports has got to be the Kansas City Scouts … but htye certainly hand a handful of stars. Guys like Simon Nolet, Guy Charon and Wilf Paiemont. An NHL expansion team, the Scouts lasted just two years before packing up and moving to Colorado where they played as the Rockies. The Rockies later became one of the NHL’s best teams and drank from the Stanley Cup three times as the New Jersey Devils. Troy Treasure, who wrote the book, “Icing on the Plains, The Rough Ride of Kansas City’s NHL Scouts,” joins the podcast as we take a look back at the short-lived existence of the Kansas City Scouts.
Ron McDole, Episode 51
Ron McDole, who spent 18 years as defensive lineman in the AFL and NFL, mostly for the Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins, joins SFH as we take a look back at his terrific career … a career that should be topped off with enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, but to this date, has not happened. McDole, who played for such greats as Lou Saban and George Allen, played with the likes of Cookie Gilchrest, Billy Kilmer, Jack Kemp and OJ Simpson to name just a few. McDole has much to say and we have a lot of fun as we look back at his simply marvelous career.
Kentucky Colonels, Episode 50
The American Basketball Association (ABA) existed for nine years before four of their teams merged with the NBA: The New York Nets, San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers and Denver Nuggets. The one team so many had hoped would join the NBA, but didn’t was one of the ABA’s most colorful and successful franchises, the Kentucky Colonels. This was a team that once won 68 games in a season and featured such stars as Artis Gillmore, Dan Issel, Darel Carrier and Louie Dampier. Their most famous coach was Hubie Brown. But, owner John Y. Brown – the one-time Governor of Kentucky, didn’t want to pay the NBA’s entry fee and instead took a payoff to disband the Colonels. A terrible disappointment to the Colonels faithful. But, their history as one of two teams to play every season the ABA existed is filled with such color, it’s a story that has to be told; and joining SFH to talk about the history of the Kentucky Colonels is author Gary P. West who wrote the book, “Kentucky Colonels, The Real Story of a Team Left Behind.”
Cincinnati Royals, Episode 49
Long before they were the Sacramento Kings, this basketball franchise played its games in the Queen City – Cincinnati and were known as the Cincinnati Royals. Featuring such Hall of Fame players as Oscar Robertson, Jack Twyman and Jerry Lucas, the Royals were never able to climb the summit and win the NBA Championship, but they were certainly as colorful and flamboyant a team as there was during the 15-years in Cincinnati. Gerry Schultz, author of, “Cincinnati’s Basketball Royalty: A Brief History: A Look Back at 15 years of Cincinnati Royals NBA Basketball,” joins the podcast.
Red Kelly, Episode 48
Red Kelly won more Stanley Cup Championships than any other player in NHL History without ever wearing the sweater of the Montreal Canadiens. One of the greatest to play for the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, he was a Hall of Fame defenseman, but, for whatever reason, is rarely mentioned in the same breath as some of the game’s other greats. And that’s a shame, because when it comes to playing defense and winning, when it comes to versatility, and when it comes to playing the game the way it should be played, few can match the career of Red Kelly. L. Waxy Gregoire who co-authored the book, “The Red Kelly Story,” joins SFH for a terrific look back at one of the game’s greatest.
St. Louis Hawks, Episode 47
Before they were known as the Atlanta Hawks, they were known as the St. Louis Hawks and they were one of the most dominant teams in the NBA. In fact, if not for the Hawks, there might not be a Boston Celtics. Yep. Really! Had the Hawks not cooperated with the front office of the NBA, the Celtics might have folded shop. But, the Hawks did cooperate; and the NBA’s greatest dynasty followed. Ironically, the lone team to dethrone Boston during its incredible title run throughout the 1960s was the St. Louis Hawks. Greg Maracek, founder of the Missouri Sports’ Hall of Fame, St. Louis television personality and former play-by-play voice of a few St. Louis-area sports teams joins the podcast for a terrific conversation about a team long-forgotten and the many stories surrounding it.
George Taliaferro, Episode 46
Jackie Robinson was the first African-American to break to the color-barrier in Major League Baseball, but do you know who was the first African-American to be drafted by an NFL team? Did you know he turned his back on the NFL and opted to play in the AAFC instead? Who was he and why? George Taliaferro was drafted by the Chicago Bears and later started and played in the NFL in seven different positions including QB, RB, kicker and DB. Author Dawn Knight makes her first appearance on SFH for a conversation about George Taliaferro the first African-American drafted by an NFL team.
George H.W. Bush, Episode 45
George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, was not only a man who devoted his life to serving his country; but before he dedicated his life to such service, he studied at Yale University and while there, played firstbase for the Eli’s. While he wasn’t necessarily the greatest of hitters, in fact, he was what you would call a “light-hitting first baseman”, he did put the ball in play. His main contribution, however, was with his glove. In fact, his career fielding percentage is nearly 20-points higher than the first basemen he played against. Bush’s career at Yale spanned three seasons, 1946, 47 and 48, and the Yale teams of 47 and 48 played in the first two editions of the College World Series. Joining Sports’ Forgotten Heroes for this look at the college baseball career of Bush 41 is Herman Krabbenhoft, the author of a terrific and extremely in-depth biography of the President. Krabbenhoft, who self-published a quarterly baseball research journal for 10 years, has written many articles for SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) of which he joined in 1981. In fact, Krabbenhoft’s research is so detailed, Baseball Weekly had to correct its own research to match that of Krabbenhoft’s after Baseball Weekly discovered that Krabbenhoft’s research was much more thorough and accurate. Listen to Sports’ Forgotten Heroes to hear just how in-depth Krabbenhoft’s research is, and for a terrific retrospective on the baseball career of President George H.W. Bush.
Lord Stanley, Episode 44
The oldest trophy handed out in sports is the Stanley Cup. But what are its origins and who was Lord Stanley? Why did he decided to donate a “Cup” to the amateur champions of hockey in Canada? Kevin Shea, one of hockey’s foremost authorities, returns to Sports’ Forgotten Heroes for a conversation about a figure who looms large over one of our major sports, but who was not a star on the playing field (or ice).
Gus Dorais, Episode 43
The name Gus Dorais might not be familiar to many, but it should be. He was one of college football’s earliest innovators. In fact, had he made the decision to coach at his alma matter instead of taking the job at Dubuque, the legend of Knute Rockne might not be what it is today. Dorais and Rockne were teammates and best-of-friends; and helped to vault the University of Notre Dame into the national spotlight. Author Joe Niese of the book, “Gus Dorais, Gridiron Innovator, All-American and Hall of Fame Coach,” along with Gus’s grandson Bob Dorais are guests on this terrific look back at a truly forgotten sports’ hero, Gus Dorais.
Archie Moore, Episode 42
Archie Moore was one of boxing’s most popular champions. But climbing the ladder and being given an opportunity to box for a championship was not an easy road … and the fact that he never won a heavyweight title, only a light heavyweight championship, has certainly affected his legacy. But Moore was good. He knocked down the great Rocky Marciano and later stepped into the ring with a young Cassius Clay. Boxing aficionado George Thomas Clark returns to Sports’ Forgotten Heroes for a look back at the 28-year career of Archie Moore.
Joe “The Jet” Perry, Episode 41
Joe “The Jet” Perry was the first player in the history of the NFL to rush for over 1,000-yards in back-to-back years. In fact, until Frank Gore passed him by in 2011, Perry was the leading rusher in the history of the San Francisco 49’ers. Yet, you would be hard-pressed to find many who could tell you anything about “The Jet”. Lee Elder from the Professional Football Researcher’s Association returns to SFH for a terrific conversation about Joe “The Jet” Perry.
Joe Kapp, Episode 40
Joe Kapp spent just three years with the Minnesota Vikings, but what a time he had. Basically shunned by the team that drafted him, the Washington Redskins, Kapp took his game north to the Canadian Football League where he played for legendary GM Jim Finks for the Calgary Stampeders and then the BC Lions. Finks moved on to the NFL and the Vikings along with another legend, Bud Grant. When Kapp decided to make a go of it in the NFL, Finks and Grant recruited him to Minnesota, where in his third year, Kapp led the Vikings to a Super Bowl appearance agains the Kansas City Chiefs. Edward Gruver from the Professional Football Researcher’s Association, writer and co-author of the soon to be released, “Hell With the Lid Off: Inside the Steelers-Raiders Rivalry That Changed Pro Football,” joins the podcast for a wonderful conversation about “Injun” Joe Kapp.
Duke Slater, Episode 39
Duke Slater is one of the most overlooked superstars in the history of professional football; partly because he was an offensive lineman … partly because the teams he played for did not win championships. But if you ask his contemporaries who the best in the game was and whether or not he should be in the Hall of Fame, to a man, they’d all say Duke Slater was the greatest. Author Neal Rozendaal Neal who authored the book, “Duke Slater: Pioneering Black NFL Player and Judge” joins the podcast for terrific discussion about one of football’s greatest lineman – ever!
Tinker and Evers and Chance, Episode 38
If you’re a baseball fan or just a fan of sports, chances are, you’ve heard one of the most famous lines ever written about sports: Tinker to Evers to Chance. But, most probably don’t know much more about that famous double-play combination that was so crucial to the success of one of baseball’s greatest teams, the Chicago Cubs of the early 1900s. On this episode of Sports’ Forgotten Heroes, we take a look back at their terrific careers, discover who they were and uncover many stories that have been forgotten over the decades with two terrific authors, David Rapp who wrote the book, “Tinker to Evers to Chance” and Dennis Snelling who wrote the book, “Johnny Evers A Baseball Life.”
Bob Allison, Episode 37
Playing in the shadow of the great Harmon Killebrew was not an easy task for any member of the Minnesota Twins. But Bob Allison did the best he could and it was pretty damned special. Allison was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1959, made three all-star teams and eight times hit 20+ homeruns in a season. But outside of Minnesota, so few remember the slugger. Greg Wolf, director of SABR’s Bio Project, returns to SFH as we remember the career of Bob Allison.
Lefty O’Doul, Episode 36
Lefty O’Doul was one of baseball’s greatest hitters. Heck, his .349 career batting average is the fourth highest of all time! However, he only played six full seasons because he first tried to make it as a pitcher … but when he turned 31 the New York Giants called him up and in 114 games he hit .319. A year later he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies hit .398 with 32 home runs and 122 RBI. As good as he in the batter’s box, his contributions to game off the field might even be more remarkable – particularly in Japan. Author Dennis Snelling who wrote the book, “Lefty O’Doul: Baseball’s Forgotten Ambassador” is the guest on this edition of Sports’ Forgotten Heroes.
Sal “The Barber” Maglie, Episode 35
Sal “The Barber” Maglie started his Major League career late at the age of 28. But, when he finally got going he was as tough as they came. The last man to play for the New York Giants, Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees, Maglie was also a key cog in three of the most memorable games in the history of baseball. Peter Gordon who has written several biographies about for SABR about players from the old New York Giants joins the podcast for a look back at a most dominant pitcher.
Kiki Cuyler, Episode 34:
Kiki Cuyler is, perhaps, one of the most obscure names in the baseball Hall of Fame. Yet, he was one of the game’s most popular players and a true-5-tool superstar during his playing days in the 1920s and 1930s for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs. Amazingly, he led the Pirates to the World Championship in 1925 and most Pittsburgh fans have never heard of Kiki Cuyler. Gregory Wolf who has edited and written several books on baseball and has written over 150 biographies on baseball players for SABR joins the podcast for a in-depth look back at one of this forgotten hero of Major League Baseball.
Lyman Bostock, Episode 33:
Lyman Bostock was one of Major League baseball’s up and coming stars. Having established himself with the Minnesota Twins in his rookie year of 1975, Bostock went on to enjoy two more terrific season with Minnesota in 1976 and 1977 batting .323 and .336 respectively. He parlayed those two seasons into a big contract with the then California Angels as a free agent. After a slow star in 1978 with the Halo’s, Bostock caught fire and was leading the time when his life was tragically cut short in a case of mistaken identity. Joining SFH for a look back at the promising career and horrific death of Lyman Bostock is the author of the book, “Lyman Bostock, The Inspiring Life and Tragic Death of A Ballplayer,” K. Adam Powell.
Ralph Guldahl, Episode 32:
Ralph Guldahl was one of golf’s best, winning back-to-back U.S. Open Championships in 1937 and 1938 … and then the Masters in 1939. He won 16 tournaments in 10 years. But then he suddenly upped and left the game. Tony parker from the World Golf Hall of Fame returns to SFH to take a look back at the career of Ralph Guldahl.
Giorgio Chinaglia, Episode 31:
He was the most electrifying goal scorer in the history of the NASL (North American Soccer League) and once scored 7 goals in a single game for the New York Cosmos. But his story is so much more than just the best striker in American soccer history, he had to leave his homeland of Italy because of threats to himself and his family – and this after leading his team and Serie A in goals scored. Kartik Krishnaiyer, author, and host of the World Soccer Talk podcast is back to talk about Giorgio Chinaglia.
Dolph Schayes, Episode 30:
Dolph Schayes was named as one of the 50 greatest players in the history of the NBA. A star for long-forgotten Syracuse Nationals (now known as the Philadelphia 76’ers), Schayes was once the league’s all-time leading scorer and top rebounder. Yet, when the name Schayes is mentioned, most think of his son Danny who enjoyed an 18-year career, but never reached the heights of his father – Dolph. Joining the podcast to talk about is Dolph Grundman, author of the book, “Dolph Schayes and the Rise of Professional Basketball.”
Gottfried von Cramm, Episode 29:
In 1937, Gottfried von Cramm was considered to be the No. 2 ranked tennis player in the world; and in a particular Davis Cup match against the world’s No. 1 player, Don Budge, von Cramm was facing pressure unlike any player before him or any player since! Yes, a loss by von Cramm and the Gestapo was there to greet him and possibly take him for a most unpleasant visit with the furor himself – Adolf Hitler. Special guest Marshall Jon Fisher, author of “A Terrible Splendor” is back with one of the most fascinating stories yet on Sports’ Forgotten Heroes.
Urban Shocker, Episode 28:
Urban Shocker is not a name most baseball fans are familiar with. But they should be. Shocker won 187 games for the St. Louis Browns and New York Yankees – and he owned Babe Ruth. In fact, it was Ruth who campaigned to trade for Shocker. A simply marvelous pitcher, Shocker dealt with health issues that ultimately – and tragically – led to his death while he was still on the roster of the Yankees. Steve Steinberg, author of “Urban Shocker: Silent Hero of baseball’s Golden Age,” is our special guest.
Roberto DeVicenzo, Episode 27
Roberto DeVicenzo thought he had done it. Thought he had won the Masters and was going to don the Green Jacket. But a scoring error squashed that dream and cruelly, DeVicenzo – a fabulous champion, winner of 8 PGA Tournaments and the 1967 Open Championship – would never come close again at Augusta. Golf historian Peter Kessler is here to talk about Roberto DeVicenzo, his great career and the scoring gaffe that cost him the Masters.
Gene Conley, Episode 26
Gene Conley is the only player in history to win championships in two of the major four sports – MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA. Conley pitched for the Milwaukee Braves in 1957 and helped the team defeat the New York Yankees in that year’s World Series. Overall, Conley won 91 games in the majors pitching for the Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox. He also played for the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks, and while with the Celtics he came off the bench and helped the team win the NBA Championship in 1959, 1960 and 1961. John Husman, team historian for the Toledo Mud Hens, a minor league team that Conley played for, joins the podcast to talk about his longtime friend.
Vic Hadfield, Episode 25
Vic Hadfield was, you could argue, the heart and soul of the great New York Rangers teams of the early 1970s. In fact, he was so respected by his teammates he was named captain at a time when New York had such stars as Jean Ratelle, Rod Gilbert and Brad Park. Hadfield was also the first player in Rangers history to score 50 goals in one year. Team historian George Grimm who wrote the book, “We Did Everything But Win” joins the podcast to take a look back at the terrific career of Vic Hadfield.
Dave DeBusschere, Episode 24
Every once in a while, an athlete comes along who is a stud in more than one sport. Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders are two of the most recent. But long before Jackson and Sanders showed us what they could do in football and baseball, Dave DeBusschere, best remembered for his exploits on the court with the New York Knicks, was a pitcher with the Chicago White Sox and a bright future ahead of him on the diamond. Writer/researcher Bill Pruden discusses DeBusschere’s baseball career and more on the next episode of SFH.
Johnny Blood, Episode 23
The New England Patriots are in the midst of one of the greatest runs in football history. One of the earliest dynasty teams of the NFL were the Green Bay Packers of the late 1920s and early 1930s; and a key component to that team was Johnny Blood. Author/writer/reporter Ralph Hickok who spent years on the road with Johnny to write his biography is here to talk about this Hall of Fame member.
Don Budge, Episode 22
Men’s professional tennis has taken a back seat to almost every sport played in the U.S. But there was a time when it ruled. It was the biggest thing going, and the man at the top of the sport was Don Budge. In 1938, Budge did the impossible, he won each of game’s four major tournaments. We’ll take a look back at his career and talk about, perhaps, the greatest match ever played. Author of the book, “A Terrible Splendor” Marshall Jon Fisher joins the podcast for a look back at the phenomenal career of Don Budge.
Frank Ryan, Episode 21
The Cleveland Browns won the NFL Championship in 1964. The man who led the Browns to that title, their last, was Frank Ryan. A lightly-regarded quarterback out of Rice, Ryan spent the first four years of his career on the sidelines for the Los Angeles Rams. Demanding a trade, Ryan was shipped to Cleveland, took over the Browns offense, and led the team to their last championship. On this edition of SFH, Frank Ryan joins the podcast to talk about his career and his remarkable career after his playings ended. Roger Gordon, author of many books on the Browns and other Cleveland teams, also joins the podcast to talk about that 1964 championship team.
John Heisman, Episode 20
Every December college football heroes gather in New York City and are on hand for the announcement of the winner of one of the most, if not the most, iconic trophies in all of sport – The Heisman Trophy. Who was the man for whom the trophy is named, and what made him so special? John M. Heisman, the great-nephew of the man for whom the trophy is named – John W. Heisman, joins the podcast. John M. Heisman, along with Mark Schlabach, co-wrote a book, “Heisman, The Man Behind The Trophy”, and he shares many stories about John W. with me on this edition of Sports’ Forgotten Heroes, including his on-the-field innovations, and some incredible stories from off-the-field too!
Ernie DiGregorio, Episode 19
Ernie DiGregorio was drafted No. 3 by the Buffalo Braves in the 1974 NBA Draft. The Braves were on the verge of becoming a competitive team when they drafted Ernie D. Coach Jack Ramsay knew the Braves were not a strong defensive team; but on offense, if they could get the one piece, the one man – a point guard – who could speed up the pace of play and deliver the ball where it needed to be and the exact second it needed to be there, the the Braves “O” could be devastating. Ernie D. delivered. For the first time in franchise history the Braves made the playoffs, and Ernie D. was named NBA Rookie of the Year. Tim Wendel, author of “Buffalo, Home of the Braves” joins the podcast for a look back at the career of Ernie DiGregorio.
Dennis Maruk, Episode 18
Dennis Maruk was one of the first hockey players to score 60 goals in a season and he joins Sports’ Forgotten Heroes to talk about his magical year, career and more. There was a time when scoring 60 goals in a season in the NHL was a very rare accomplishment. Phil Esposito was the first to break the barrier when he scored 76 in 1970-71. Guy Lafleur reached the 60-goal mark, so did Steve Shutt and Mike Bossy. Those guys were the NHL’s big guns. Few, though, had ever heard of Dennis Maruk … and even today very few recall Maruk. But he was one of the first to do it when he lit the lamp 60 times in 1981-82 for the Washington Capitals. Since then, the magical number 60 has been broken many times. But when Dennis did it, it was a huge accomplishment and hardly anyone noticed! Dennis just released a book, “Dennis Maruk, The Unforgettable Story of Hockey’s Forgotten 60-Goal Man,” where he talks about his career, playing in the shadows of some of the game’s greatest players ever, and his life afterwards.
Bob Waterfield, Episode 17
In 1945, Bob Waterfield led the Cleveland Rams to the NFL Championship. A terrific quarterback who played college ball at UCLA, Waterfield was thrilled when the Rams moved to Los Angeles, and he proceeded to lead the team to another championship and ultimately was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And not only did he have a great career, he married his high school sweetheart, the fantasy of many – Jane Russell. Author Jim Sulecki returns to Sports’ Forgotten Heroes for a look back on the career of Bob Waterfield.
The Buffalo Braves, Episode 16
Before they were the Los Angeles Clippers, they were the Buffalo Braves. And, for a time, they were one of the most exciting teams on the floor. Stars the likes of Bob McAdoo, Adrian Dantley, and Randy Smith could fill the bucket, but the fans just didn’t fill the seats. Why? Join author Tim Wendel as we look back at one of the NBA’s forgotten teams, the Buffalo Braves, and the love affair between a city and team that keeps growing.
Justin Fashanu, Episode 15
He was young. He was fast. He scored an incredible incredible goal against Liverpool. He was controversial. He was openly gay. He left the game too soon, and tragedy followed shortly thereafter. The story of Justin Fashanu with Kartik Krishnaiyer from World Soccer Talk.
The Cleveland Rams, Episode 14
80 years ago, 1937, a new team took the field in the NFL – the Cleveland Rams. Yes, the Rams called Cleveland home through the 1945 season before leaving for Los Angeles immediately after capturing their first NFL Championship. One of the game’s least talked about, and forgotten teams, Jim Sulecki, author of The Cleveland Rams, The NFL Champs Who Left Too Soon, joins the podcast to talk about the fascinating history of the Cleveland Rams.
Amos Otis, Episode 13
Prior to the 1970 baseball season, the New York Mets traded Amos Otis, along with Bob Johnson, to the Kansas City Royals for third baseman Joe Foy. Years later, the Mets were crucified for making such a trade while the Royals were applauded for pulling off such a lopsided deal. Otis went on to become one the great players to ever wear a Royals uniform. An all star center fielder, Otis played for the Royals from 1970 through the 1983 season and to this day is top-3 in a multitude of offensive categories for Kansas City. Bill Lamberty, a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) joins the podcast for a look back on the terrific and overlooked career of Amos Otis.
Benny Friedman, Episode 12
Long before Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Joe Montana, Terry Bradhsaw, and Joe Namath there was Benny Friedman. At a time when throwing the football was frowned upon and thought of a “sissy” way of playing the game, Friedman revolutionized the position of quarterback. He was completing more passes, throwing for more touchdowns and throwing for more yards than the rest of the quarterbacks combined! Next on Sports’ Forgotten Heroes the incredible story of Hall of Fame quarterback Benny Friedman.
Hal Newhouser, Episode 11
During the three-year stretch of 1944, 45 and 46, Hal Newhouser of the Detroit Tigers put together three of the most dominant seasons any pitcher has ever enjoyed. Overall he went 80-27 with a 1.98 ERA. He completed 83 games and tossed 20 shutouts. He won the MVP Award in 1944 and 1945 (the only pitcher to ever win back-to-back MVP Awards) and finished second in 1946. Overall, he was 207-150. Overlooked for Hall of Fame honors, noted author David M. Jordan penned the book, “A Tiger in His Time: Hal Newhouser and the Burden of Wartime Baseball,” and after it was published, the very next year, Hal Newhouser was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame. Join Warren Rogan and David M. Jordan as they look back on the career of one of baseball’s best – Hal Newhouser.
Nate Colbert, Episode 10
Nate Colbert played first base for the San Diego Padres during the early 1970s. Very few fans turned out to see him play. The Padres weren’t that good. In fact, they were one of the worst teams the game has ever seen. But, the few fans that did go out to see Nate Colbert play saw one of the game’s most feared sluggers. In fact, he is still the team’s all-time leader in home runs. But it was one day, August 1, 1972, that catapulted Colbert into the same conversation as one of baseball’s all-time greats – Stan Musial. Playing a in a doubleheader in Atlanta against the Braves, Colbert hit five home runs, knocked in 13 runs and had 22 total bases. A day for the ages, only Musial, who hit five home runs in a doubleheader back in 1952, had a day to rival that of Colbert. Joining host Warren Rogan on this episode of Sports’ Forgotten Heroes is San Diego baseball historian Bill Swank as they talk about that special day and the career of Nate Colbert.
Willie Anderson, Episode 09
Willie Anderson was one of the top golfers in the world during the early 1900s. Of course, this was at a time when professional golf tournaments were few and far between and amateur golfers were held in higher regard. Nonetheless, Anderson was as good as anyone. In fact, he was dominant and became the first golfer to hold two Major U.S. titles at one time, the U.S. Open and the Western Open (the Western Open was considered a Major back in the early 1900s). More impressively, though, Anderson won the U.S. Open in 1901, 1903, 1904, and 1905. He is still the only golfer to ever win three straight U.S. Open Championships and he won four overall. And, if not for a fourth place finish in 1902, he would have won five straight. Tony Parker, historian and researcher at the World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum joins us to take a look back at one of Sports’ Forgotten Heroes.
Dean Chance, Episode 08
Dean Chance enjoyed a terrific career while playing mostly for the California Angels and Minnesota Twins. He won the Cy Young Award in 1964, started two all star games, and is the author of two no-hitters. In high school, Chance threw 17 no-hitters! And while his career in baseball is somewhat overlooked, fellow pitchers like Denny McLain knew just how good he was. McLain joins the podcast to talk about Chance and his career on the mound. After his playing days were over, Chance turned his attention to the world of boxing and made an incredible mark on that sport too. Joining the podcast to talk about Chance’s career in the squared-circle are two members of the Boxing Hall of Fame, Bill Caplan and Don Chargin.
Tony Lema, Episode 07
Tony Lema was one of the best golfers in professional golf. In 1964 he won the British Open, and was knocking at the door of the Big 3 of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. He was as tough as the came, as evidenced by his 8-1-2 record in Ryder Cup play. But he was also one of the most fun-loving guys on the PGA TOUR, and the media loved him too! They loved the fact that they were treated to a round of champagne after every one of his victories. Injuries affected his play in 1965 and early on in 1966. But as the 1966 season progressed, Lema got his game back on track and then tragedy struck. He was killed, along with his wife, on a chartered flight from Akron, OH to just outside Chicago. Bill Roland a close friend of the Lema family, and the author of “Champagne Tony Lema; Triumph to Tragedy” joins the podcast for a look back at the terrific life and career of Tony Lema.
Teofilo Stevenson, Episode 06
Many say the Golden Age of boxing was during the 60s, 70s and 80s. The names, especially the heavyweights, are legendary beginning with Muhammed Ali. But let’s not forget Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Ken Norton, Larry Holmes, and towards the end of the Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield. But the one name few mention along with these greats is that of Teofilo Stevenson … and the reason is simple – he only fought as an amateur. He never stepped into the ring against any of the aforementioned greats; and many wish they could have seen him go toe-to-toe against them. Stevenson hailed from Cuba, but what he did in amateur boxing is nothing short of incredible. Not only did he compile an overall record of 302 wins against just 20 losses, he is the only boxer to win three gold medals in his weight division in the Olympics. He won gold in Munich in 1972, Montreal in 1976, and Moscow in 1980. Many think he would have won a fourth straight gold in Los Angeles in 1984. However, Cuba boycotted the ’84 Olympics in support of Russia (the USSR). Stevenson had a devastating right-hand, stood at 6-foot-5 and defeated future World Heavyweight Champions such as John Tate (knockout), Tony Tubbs (decision) and Michael Dokes (decision). Joining me on Sports’ Forgotten Heroes to look back at the career of this forgotten hero is George Thomas Clark (Tom Clark) who has written several articles on boxing, and is the author of the terrific book, “Death in the Ring”, where he writes about fictional matchups and what might have happened. You can check out Tom’s work at georgethomasclark.com. Here are some links to Stevenson fights:
Ed Delahanty, Episode 05
In the early 1900s the biggest star in baseball, arguably, was Ed Delahanty. A powerful outfielder for Philadelphia of the National League, “Big Ed” was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945. He hit over .400 on three occasions, once hit four homeruns in one game, led the league in stolen bases, doubles, hits, RBI, and more. He had a gun for an arm, and just might have been baseball’s first 5-tool player. But Delahanty was caught right in the middle of a battle for player services between the National League and the upstart American League. Ultimately, Delahanty left Philadelphia and signed on to play with Washington of the American League. But, baseball’s biggest star struggled financially and his contractual status left him in a desperate state to the point where he left his team in the middle of a road trip, and what happened afterwards is still one of the biggest mysteries in baseball history. Some said it was suicide, others said it was an accident. John Saccoman, a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) joins me on Sports’ Forgotten Heroes for a conversation about Ed Delahanty – his hall of fame career, and the tragedy that followed.
Bill Barilko, Episode 03 and 04
Bill Barilko played only five years in the NHL for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but those were five phenomenal years. Barilko debuted towards the end of the 1946-47 season and helped lead Toronto to the first of three straight Stanley Cup Championships – the first team in NHL to do so. He won a fourth Cup with the Leafs in his final season 1950-51 and scored the winning goal in overtime to win the Cup for Toronto against the Montreal Canadiens. Here’s the radio call of that famous goal … and here’s video of the goal.
Billy Cannon, Episode 01 and 02
Billy Cannon is one of, if not, the most celebrated player in the history of LSU Football. His return of a punt for a touchdown on Halloween in 1959 is one of the most remarkable plays in the history of college football. In fact, Cannon’s return is still played regularly on the big scoreboard at LSU at every home game – especially when Ole Miss comes to town. Cannon scored 65 touchdowns during his professional career (17 rushing, 47 receiving, 1 kickoff return).