Good Seats Still Available

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“Good Seats Still Available” is a curious little podcast devoted to the exploration of what used-to-be in professional sports. Each week, host Tim Hanlon interviews former players, owners, broadcasters, beat reporters, and surprisingly famous "super fans" of teams and leagues that have come and gone…

Tim Hanlon


    • Nov 22, 2021 LATEST EPISODE
    • weekly NEW EPISODES
    • 1h 29m AVG DURATION
    • 248 EPISODES

    Listeners of Good Seats Still Available that love the show mention: sports history, could be better, leagues, tim, teams, bob, great way, stories, interviews, guests, learn, love this podcast, work, new, great podcast, fun, listening, good seats still available.



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    Latest episodes from Good Seats Still Available

    240: The USFL Returns (Sort Of) - With Scott Adamson

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 22, 2021 73:29

    After months of speculation, the first concrete pieces of confirmation of a possible return of the United States Football League were issued by Fox Sports' PR department last week. Despite a press release claiming to contain "everything you need to know" about the new USFL, a ton of important questions about the what, when, how, and even where of the proposed spring league still remain.   What is known is that Fox will be a major equity owner of the new circuit, and will contribute a number of its senior executives from its sports ranks to help run the enterprise. Brian Woods, founder of the four-year-old developmental Spring League - and recent acquirer of a bevy of original USFL league and team trademarks - will head up football operations. The new league will have eight (presumably location-branded) teams and play a ten-game season schedule in a single city - currently rumored to be Birmingham, Alabama - on weekends from April to mid-June. Other than that, it's still anybody's guess as to where players and coaches will come from (or how much they might make), what teams (and cities) will be resurrected, what rules (and potential innovations) might look like - and just what the mighty NFL (or even the still-promised XFL 3.0 in 2023) might be thinking. We check in with our man in Birmingham, episode 184 guest Scott Adamson ("The Home Team: My Bromance With Off-Brand Football") to mutually speculate about what positives might come from a reincarnated USFL - and why it's hard not to be cynical about a potential return to the "glory days" of the 1980s.

    239: The Minneapolis Lakers & the NBA's First Dynasty - With Marcus Thompson

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 15, 2021 73:25

    The NBA's 75th anniversary season is well underway, and we take a reverential look this week at some of the league's most legendary dynasties, starting with its very first - the Minneapolis Lakers of the late 1940s/early 1950s - with sportswriter Marcus Thompson ("Dynasties: The 10 G.O.A.T Teams That Changed the NBA Forever"). While the Los Angeles version of the Lakers has been pumping out iconic clusters of championships since 1971 (including the Magic Johnson-led "Showtime"-era in the 1980s, and the Shaq/Kobe-powered bookends during the 2000s) - it was the team's genesis in Minnesota's Twin Cities during the league's fledgling first years that set the template for modern-day pro hoops greatness. In fact, Minneapolis' Lakers franchise was dominating the game even before joining the NBA's inaugural season in 1949-50 as the champions of both of the circuit's predecessors - the penultimate season of the National Basketball League (1947-48) and the last season of the Basketball Association of America (1948-49). Led by pro basketball's first true national superstar George Mikan, the Lakers piled up six championship trophies across three leagues between 1948-54 - including four out of the NBA's first five titles.

    238.5: (PROMO DROP) "The Thom and Hawk Football Show"

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 11, 2021 5:11

    The Thom & Hawk Football Show is the only football podcast hosted by two long-time NFL vets, former teammates, AND current best friends. Each week, twice a week, join 10-time Pro-Bowler, Joe Thomas, and 7-year NFL vet, Andrew Hawkins as they bring you an unfiltered and insider's perspective on today's NFL that you're not gonna get anywhere else. Listen every Wednesday as they welcome in guests, play some games, and make weekly picks as they weave through the NFL slate. And on Mondays, listen exclusively on Amazon Music for the "insider minicast" where Thom and Hawk bring you football, FASTER, breaking down their five favorite stories from the weekend, in 1 0 minutes or less. Listen each week during football season, Mondays and Wednesdays here http://wondery.fm/THS_GSSA

    238: The National Women's Football League - With Britni de la Cretaz & Lyndsey D'Arcangelo

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 8, 2021 96:19

    We return to the fascinating story of the pioneering National Women's Football League (1974-88-ish) - and its overlooked role in the surprisingly resilient world of women's pro football - with sportswriters Britni de la Cretaz & Lyndsey D'Arcangelo ("Hail Mary: The Rise and Fall of the National Women's Football League") The modern women's pro game started modestly enough in 1967, when a Cleveland-based talent agent named Sid Friedman launched a barnstorming outfit known as the “Women's Professional Football League” in which a team of women (eventually nine) toured the country playing men's clubs in exhibitions and charity events – even as halftime entertainment at NFL and CFL games. Frustrated by the lack of seriousness accorded their efforts, a number of breakaway players and teams bolted from Friedman's grip in 1974 to form a decidedly (and competitively) legit seven-team league; by 1976, the NWFL had ballooned to 14 franchises from coast-to-coast, including three in football-mad Texas – led by the “Herricanes” of Houston (our Episode 154 with filmmaker Olivia Kuan). Though lacking sustainable budgets, major media coverage or appreciable crowds, the NWFL featured a passionate and determined breed of player – drawn to an unprecedented opportunity to play real men's-style tackle football for pay and buttressed by an emerging progressive era of Title IX, the Equal Rights Amendment and rampant sports league entrepreneurialism. D'Arcangelo and de la Cretaz share insight into this little-known but ultimately influential league, especially from the stories of its players - whose spirit, tenacity and simple "love for the game" helped set the template for the eventual mainstream arrival of women's pro sports in the decades that followed.

    237: Pro Sports in Atlanta - It's Complicated (With Clayton Trutor)

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 1, 2021 78:41

    By the time you hear this week's episode, the Atlanta Braves just may be celebrating their second-ever World Series trophy since moving from Milwaukee in 1956.  If so, it would be the team's first title in 26 years, and only the second time in the region's modern sports history - or fourth, if you include the titles won by the now-defunct NASL's Atlanta Chiefs in 1968 and Major League Soccer's Atlanta United three years ago - that "The ATL" has been able to boast of any true major pro sports championship.  That kind of futility can make any sports fan question their sanity, and as this week's guest Clayton Trutor ("Loserville: How Professional Sports Remade Atlanta―and How Atlanta Remade Professional Sports") tells us - in Atlanta's case, that self-doubt dates all the way back to the mid-1970s when one of its major newspapers dubbed the city "Loserville, USA". As Trutor describes it, Atlanta's excitement around the arrival of four professional franchises during a dynamic six-year (1966-72) period quickly gave way to general frustration and, eventually, widespread apathy toward its home teams.  By the dawn of the 80s, all four of the region's major-league franchises were flailing in the standings, struggling to draw fans - and, in the case of the NHL's Flames, ready to move out of town. While that indifference/malaise has dissipated somewhat in the decades since then (save for a second attempt at the NHL with the short-lived Thrashers), the dearth of team titles continues to loom over Atlanta's pro sports scene. The resurgent Braves and their paradigm-changing Truist Park complex may just help change all that.

    236: Las Vegas Motorsports & the Mob - With Randy Cannon

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 25, 2021 87:31

    It's off to Vegas this week, baby, as we dig in to the fascinating backstory of two short-lived racetracks that lived fast and died hard trying to bring top-flight motorsports to Sin City in the late 1960s and early 1980s - with all the over-the-top theatrics, gambling connotations and underworld intrigue you'd expect from the "Entertainment Capital of the World." Racing writer Randy Cannon ("Stardust International Raceway: Motorsports Meets the Mob in Vegas"; and "Caesars Palace Grand Prix: Las Vegas, Organized Crime and the Pinnacle of Motorsport") takes us behind the scenes of two of the city's most ambitious auto racing facilities - each designed to attract high-rolling visitors to both the tracks and the tables, long before it was kosher for sports and gaming to coexist.

    235: The Hartford Whalers - With Pat Pickens

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 18, 2021 101:24

    We pick up where we left off in our previous episodes 62 (with the "Whaler Guys") and 100 (featuring WHA-version franchise founder Howard Baldwin) for a comprehensive look into the former NHL franchise that regularly sells more branded merchandise than even some current league teams - the Hartford Whalers. Author Pat Pickens ("The Whalers: The Rise, Fall, and Enduring Mystique of New England's [Second] Greatest NHL Franchise") walks us through the history and ongoing mystique of one of the National Hockey League's most enigmatic clubs - one whose legacy endures some 24 years after its odd and bittersweet relocation to Raleigh (via Greensboro), North Carolina in 1997.

    234: "Big-Time Soccer" - With Rachel Viollet

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 11, 2021 68:14

    We take another crack at the history and mythology of the late, great North American Soccer League - this time through the eyes of sports filmmaker Rachel Viollet, whose new documentary "Big-Time Soccer: The Remarkable Rise & Fall of the NASL" makes its US debut at New York's Kicking + Screening film festival later this week. If that surname sounds familiar, it won't surprise you that Rachel is also the daughter of the late Dennis Viollet - one of the legendary Manchester United "Busby Babes" of the late 1940s & early 1950s - who later went on to become one of the pioneering coaches in the 1970s-era NASL. With managerial roles overseeing Washington, DC's Diplomats and two flavors of Tea Men in both New England and Jacksonville, the elder Viollet unwittingly provided his young daughter with a bird's-eye childhood purview into a vibrant and hugely entertaining pro soccer circuit, whose influence is still felt in today's MLS and beyond. Featuring dozens of first-person interviews, rare video footage, and a mountain of exhaustive research, "Big-Time Soccer" is a love letter to both the best and the worst of the NASL - and the legacy it left behind.

    233: “The NFL Today” - With Rich Podolsky

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 4, 2021 105:37

    Veteran sportswriter and Sports Broadcast Journal columnist Rich Podolsky ("You Are Looking Live! How 'The NFL Today' Revolutionized Sports Broadcasting") joins the pod this week for an inside look at the TV pregame show that modernized how America experiences nationally televised pro football. While the concept of NFL pregame coverage dates back to the earliest days of the medium, it wasn't until 1974 that the format was produced live for the first time in full "wrap-around" fashion via the The NFL on CBS - with studio hosts Jack Whitaker and Lee Leonard providing pregame features, as well as halftime and post-game scores and highlights from around the league. But it was during the following season - when CBS Sports producers hired up-and-coming play-by-play sportscaster Brent Musburger, former Miss America winner Phyllis George, and ex-Philadelphia Eagle player Irv Cross to anchor the proceedings - that things really got interesting.  Three magnetic personalities from differing sports experiences and perspectives - soon joined by professional gambler Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder in 1976 - helped drive the now-renamed "The NFL Today" to must-watch status among both die-hard NFL fans and casual viewers alike.  And with it: sky-high ratings and Emmys for CBS' NFL coverage. Along the way, headline-grabbing drama among the show's stars became commonplace - including George's shocking departure from the show in 1978 (replace briefly by former Miss Ohio USA Jayne Kennedy) and equally surprising return two years later; a post-show, bar-room fist-fight between Musburger and Snyder in 1980; and Snyder's infamous comments about Black athletes during a 1988 Martin Luther King Day interview that immediately ended his career.

    232: DC Hoops History - With Brett Abrams

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 27, 2021 118:38

    It's a return to the Nation's Capital this week as we take a romp through Washington, DC's surprisingly rich pro basketball history with Brett Abrams (The Bullets, the Wizards, and Washington, DC Basketball). While today's astute District hoops fans know the current Washington Wizards were once known as the Bullets - the name under which the franchise won its one and only NBA title back in 1978, and from which it converted to its mystically less violence-connoted label in 1997 - lesser devotees of the team are aware of its previous home (Baltimore: 1963-73), let alone its origins as the NBA's first-ever expansion club in 1961, the Chicago Packers. Of course, true Washington basketball connoisseurs know the city's relationship with the professional game runs far deeper - dating all the way back to the mid-1920s American Basketball League "Palace Five" - owned by future Washington NFL football owner George Preston Marshall. And in between, a host of teams - all domiciled in the NE quadrant's history-drenched Washington Coliseum (née Uline Arena) - attempted to keep pro hoops in the local sports spotlight: The Red Auerbach-coached Capitols (1946-51) of the NBA-antecedent Basketball Association of America; The half-season-lasting Tapers of Abe Saperstein's not-much-longer-lasting "new" American Basketball League (1961); and The exceedingly curious single season (1969-70) American Basketball Association "Caps" - the peripatetic franchise that began its life (along with the ABA's) in 1967 as the Oakland Oaks, and ended as the regionally-oriented Virginia Squires until the league's demise in 1976. 

    231: The 1956 Los Angeles Angels - With Gaylon White

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 20, 2021 99:47

    We revisit LA's spirited pre-majors Pacific Coast League rivalry (begun in Episode 208: The Hollywood Stars - With Dan Taylor) with a look at the team ultimately responsible for the demise of both - the Los Angeles Angels. Baseball author Gaylon White (“The Bilko Athletic Club: The Story of the 1956 Los Angeles Angels”) helps us set the table for the club's background story as the city's preeminent minor league baseball franchise - seen through the lens of its triumphant pennant-winning season of 1956, its penultimate before the National League's Dodgers took over town. Comprised of major league castoffs and unproven rookies, the Angels that season were centered around a bulky, beer-loving basher of home runs named Steve Bilko - a former St. Louis Cardinal whose headline-grabbing exploits at the plate led the PCL in eight different categories and the club to a dominating 107-61 record - 16 games ahead of their nearest challenger. In addition to earning national Minor League Player of the Year honors that season, Bilko also became an instant celebrity in Los Angeles - earning as much (if not more) than some of his better-known major league colleagues, as well as unwitting fame the eponymous lead character for of the Emmy Award-winning Phil Silvers Show. When the Angels and the Stars left town in 1958, so did Bilko - this time for a few more cups of coffee in the bigs, including, ironically, the first two seasons of the major (AL) league expansion version of the Angels in 1961-62 - the inaugural season of which was played in the same Wrigley Field that housed him and its predecessor.

    230: The 1981 Springbok Rugby Union Tour - With Derek Catsam

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 13, 2021 108:50

    University of Texas Permian Basin history professor Derek Catsam ("Flashpoint: How a Little-Known Sporting Event Fueled America's Anti-Apartheid Movement") joins to delve into the intriguing story of how a relatively low-key South African rugby tour of the United States in 1981 became an unwittingly pivotal turning point in the nation's growing collective conscience against apartheid, and an influential test of American foreign policy. By the late 1970s, the US lagged significantly behind the rest of the Western world when it came to addressing the thorny moral, societal and diplomatic issues posed by the Republic of South Africa's racial policies, and its ruling National Party's obstinate defense of them despite increasing international condemnation.   The September 1981 American tour of the country's perennially world-dominant "Springbok" national rugby union team - a continuation of an already tumultuous and violent summer of matches in New Zealand - markedly changed that dynamic. Those who had been part of the US's relatively small anti-apartheid decades-long struggle opportunistically seized the visit by one of white South Africa's most cherished sporting and cultural institutions to mobilize against both the team, and the political regime it represented. American protestors confronted the Springbok team at airports, chanted outside their hotels, and openly courted arrest at matches - forcing tour organizers to hastily (and bizarrely) convert publicly announced matches into near-clandestine affairs to avoid undue attention or confrontation. What began as a modest effort to publicize an exciting but little-followed sport in the US, quickly gave rise to the solidification of the nation's soon-robust anti-apartheid movement.

    EPISODE 229: US Soccer's First Pro Leagues - With Brian Bunk

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 6, 2021 98:52

    Quiz any fan of soccer in the US as to the origin of the professional game on American soil, and you're likely to get a myriad of answers - usually rooted in generational identity.   ​If you're under 30, the 1996 launch of Major League Soccer looks like a logical starting point - 25 years old, 29 teams strong, and dozens of soccer-specific stadiums befitting a "major" sports league.   Older MLS fans in places like Seattle, Portland, and San Jose point out the original versions of their current clubs being domiciled in something called the North American Soccer League - which featured a bevy of international stars and drew huge crowds in the late 1970s/early 1980s as the then-"sport of the future."   Others with longer memories (and often soccer-playing lineages) will recall the decades-long, ethnically-flavored heartbeat of the sport known as the American Soccer League - dating back to 1933, or even 1921, depending on your guideposts.   But, as soccer historian Dr. Brian Bunk ("From Football to Soccer: The Early History of the Beautiful Game in the United States") reveals to us this week, the true birth of the pro game dates all the way back to 1894 - when not one, but two leagues sought to bring England's popular fast-growing sport to the colonies - introduced (interestingly) with the financial backing and operational resources of baseball's National League.

    228: Candlestick Park - With Steven Travers

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 30, 2021 103:54

    Described as a "festive prison yard" by famed New Yorker baseball essayist Roger Angell during the 1962 World Series, San Francisco's famed Candlestick Park was equally loved and hated by sports teams and fans alike during its 43-year-long run as the dual home of baseball's Giants and the NFL's 49ers.   ​Curiously (and perhaps illegally) built on a landfill ​atop​ a garbage dump ​at the edge of San Francisco Bay, the "'Stick"​ was notorious for ​its​ tornadic winds​, ​ominous fogs​​ ​and uncomfortably chilly temperatures - especially in its first decade as an open-facing, largely baseball-only park.   ​Though fully enclosed in 1971 to accommodate the arrival of the football 49ers (replacing the stadium's grass surface with the more-dual-purpose Astroturf to boot), the aesthetics changed little - made worse by the elimination of the park's previously lovely view of San Francisco's downtown.   B​ut there were sports to ​be had.  While the Giants only won two NL pennants during their time at Candlestick (despite some huge talent and multiple future Hall of Famers), the 49ers brought perennial playoff-caliber football to the venue - including five NFL titles and a record 36 appearances on ABC's "Monday Night Football" - before leaving for Santa Clara in 2014.   Sportswriter Steven Travers ("Remembering the Stick: Candlestick Par​k: ​1960–2013​")​ takes us back in time to recount the good, bad and downright bizarre of one of the Bay Area's most unique sports venues.

    227: "Alliances Broken" - With Steven Potter

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 23, 2021 86:41

    It's been more than two years since we last checked in on the spectacular flame-out of the Alliance of American Football back in April 2019 - enough time, perhaps, to begin the process of dissecting how something so fresh and innovatively promising went so speedily to hell in a hand-basket.   Documentary filmmaker Steven Potter ("Alliances Broken") joins this week's 'cast to discuss his brand new movie - the first extended look at the dramatic and ultimately catastrophic story arc of a league that seemingly had everything going for it (charismatic founder, solid venture investors, big-name coaches, pedigreed football administrators, national television contracts, even a supposedly ground-breaking mobile betting app) - until all of a sudden, it didn't.   Originally hired by the AAF's Orlando Apollos to help with video content creation and local market social media promotion, Potter unwittingly became an inside chronicler of a league that rapidly (and bizarrely) went from a legitimate beacon of hope for players looking to extend their chances at pro football careers to a gargantuan debacle that hundreds of former employees and a litany of creditors are still trying to process the ramifications of.   The evolving "history" of the Alliance is still relatively new, and Potter helps us get the first few chapters solidified while the memories of those who were there are still fresh.

    226.5: Kyle Rote, Jr. (Archive Re-Release)

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 16, 2021 147:23

    [A re-release of a fan favorite episode from July 2017!] National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee and three-time ABC-TV “Superstars” champion Kyle Rote, Jr. joins Tim Hanlon from his home in Memphis for an in-depth and wide-ranging conversation about his trailblazing journey as America's first true native-born professional soccer star.  Along the way, Rote, Jr. reveals: How a fortuitous heart-to-heart with his famous football star-father helped convince him to choose soccer over football for his pro career; How a standout Rookie of the Year season with the 1973 Dallas Tornado helped thrust him into the North American Soccer League's national marketing spotlight; The remarkable impact of winning a made-for-TV athletic competition against the biggest stars of the “traditional” sports world; The unique relationship he developed with the New York Cosmos' international legend Pelé,  and the public relations narrative the NASL built around them; How lucrative marketing endorsements made up for embarrassingly low-paying player contracts; The serendipitous story of how he helped rescue an MISL team from the “hell” of Hartford; AND The unmistakable higher power that continually guided him through the ups and downs of professional athletics – both on the field and off.

    226: The New York Cosmos - With Steve Hunt

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 9, 2021 114:35

    Your humble host does his best this week to tamp down his inner fanboy as he sits down for a bucket-list conversation with one of his favorite players from the legendary New York Cosmos of the original NASL - winger extraordinaire Steve Hunt ("I'm With the Cosmos: The Story of Steve Hunt").   Abruptly transferred into the star-studded orbit of North America's burgeoning super-club at the tender age of 20 from his hometown (Birmingham) England First Division Aston Villa side in the spring of 1977, Hunt unwittingly arrived just in time to grab a seat on the rocket ship breakout season that vaulted the Cosmos into the stratosphere of soccer not only across the US, but also worldwide.   Joining an array of international greats like Franz Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto, Giorgio Chinaglia, and the incomparable Pelé, the speedy Hunt quickly became an instant sensation and vital offensive cog - not to mention a huge fan favorite - for a Cosmos unit that would soon break records both on and off the field, including an iconic MVP star turn in the club's historic Soccer Bowl '77 championship-winning match.   While he only played three seasons in Gotham, Hunt was a crucial component of NASL championships achieved in each of them (1977, 1978 & 1982) - a springboard to a triumphant return to England's top tier and national team caps. 

    225: The Cleveland Barons - With Gary Webster

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 1, 2021 120:35

    We close the gap between our previous explorations of the National Hockey League's former California Golden Seals and Minnesota North Stars with a deep dive into the two-year curiosity that bridged between them - the unforgettably forgettable Cleveland Barons.   Episode 111 guest and WKKY-FM/Geneva (OH) radio jock Gary Webster ("The NHL's Mistake By the Lake: A History of the Cleveland Barons") returns the 'cast - this time to go deep into the baffling prelude, chaotic operations, and historically debatable termination/relocation of a franchise that was seemingly snakebitten even before its hasty arrival in Northeastern Ohio in the summer of 1976.   Named for a decades-old, nine-time minor league AHL championship-winning team that preceded it until 1973 - which itself had been replaced by the struggling "major league" Crusaders of the wobbly World Hockey Association - the Barons came close to folding in both of its two NHL seasons, despite the frantic efforts of two separate ownership groups, a brand-new state-of-the-art arena, and at least one league bailout.   Along the way, attendance was meager, media coverage was scant, and on-ice play was woeful - the perfect ingredients for an episode sure to please!

    224: "The Football Odyssey" - With Aron Harris (Vacation Special)

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 26, 2021 95:04

    We're absconding for a few days of summer vacation this week - but not before taking time to sit down for a thoroughly enjoyable interview with pro football enthusiast and friend-of-the-show Aron Harris - as a guest on his popular Sports History Network podcast "The Football Odyssey." Tim and Aron obsess about all things defunct football - including spring circuits of the past (and still); challenger league rules innovations; sharing stadiums with baseball - and of course, the incomparable and incomprehensible World Football League. Please enjoy this conversation we recorded a few weeks back - and be sure to check out all the other great podcasts across the Sports History Network!

    223.5: Dennis Murphy, RIP (Archive Re-Release)

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 18, 2021 101:40

    We mourn last week's passing of legendary sports entrepreneur and challenger-league impresario Dennis Murphy with a special archive re-release of our two previous interviews from September 8, 2019 (Episode 129) and August 30, 2020 (Episode 179).   The brainchild behind some of modern-day sports' most audacious, convention-challenging "alternative" leagues - the American Basketball Association (1967-76), World Hockey Association (1971-79), World Team Tennis (1974-78), and Roller Hockey International (1992-2001), among others - "Murph" was a one-of-a-kind hustler/pioneer who leaves a lasting mark on today's pro sports landscape.   Obits: "Dennis Murphy, Co-Founder of Pro Sports Leagues, Dies at 94" (Beth Harris, Associated Press) "Dennis Murphy, Impresario of Alternative Leagues, Dies at 94" (Richard Sandomir, New York Times) "As a Promoter, Dennis Murphy Was in Several Leagues of His Own" (Mark Whicker, Los Angeles Daily News) Biography: Murph: The Sports Entrepreneur Man and His Leagues (Richard Neil Graham)

    223: ABA Hoops & More - With Jim O'Brien

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 12, 2021 72:56


    Pittsburgh's dean of sportswriters Jim O'Brien (Looking Up: From the ABA to the NBA the WNBA to the NCAA - A Basketball Memoir; Looking Up Again - A Basketball Memoir) has seen it all in his more than 50 years of chronicling stories across the pro and collegiate sports landscape - but perhaps no more deeply than in basketball, and in more detailed fashion than during the old American Basketball Association.   Throughout the life of the league, you could find O'Brien's reliable ABA reportage and musings seemingly everywhere: essential weekly columns in The Sporting News; meticulous pre-season team & player profiles in the annual Complete Handbook of Pro Basketball; and the hugely influential Street & Smith's Basketball Yearbook (which he co-founded in 1970) - where he strove to ensure the challenger circuit's coverage was equal to that of the legacy NBA's.   We merely scratch the surface of O'Brien's treasure trove of stories from the old "red-white-and-blue" in this week's episode - where you'll hear personal reminiscences of legendary ABA figures like Connie Hawkins, Julius Erving, and (Episode 132 guest) Dan Issel; the significance of the former league's recent fiftieth anniversary; and why Pittsburgh was (both in the antecedent American Basketball League, and thrice-versioned in the ABA), and then wasn't a great pro hoops city.


    222: The Inaugural International Race of Champions - With Matt Stone

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 4, 2021 94:05


    As the debut season of the surprisingly entertaining Tony Stewart/Ray Evernham-led Camping World SRX Series nears its conclusion next week, we dive deeper into the rabbit hole of one of its major influences - the legendary International Race of Champions (IROC) - with longtime automotive journalist and former Motor Trend magazine Executive Editor Matt Stone (“The IROC Porsches: The International Race of Champions, Porsche's 911 RSR & the Men Who Raced Them”).   As table-set in our previous Episode 173 with former Indianapolis and Ontario Speedway exec Dave Lockton, IROC was envisioned as the American motorsports equivalent of a major “all-star” showcase - pitting twelve of the world's best professional drivers from racing's top competitive circuits in a series of races in identically prepared and maintained cars, in an effort to test participants' pure driving ability and determine the sport's true “champion.”   Stone helps us with the backstory of IROC's operational formation - brought to life in late 1973 by racing executives Roger Penske, Les Richter and Mike Phelps in the form of an initial four-race roadcourse series across Riverside international Raceway (three qualifying races: 10/27-28, 1973) and Daytona International Speedway (final: 2/14, 1974) - all televised in tape-delayed glory on ABC's then-dominant sports anthology series Wide World of Sports.   Inaugural invitees: NASCAR Winston Cup champions Bobby Allison, Richard Petty & David Pearson; SCCA Can-Am road-race standouts Mark Donohue, Peter Revson & George Folker; USAC Champ (Indy) Car winners Bobby Unser, A.J. Foyt, Gordon Johncock & Roger McCluskey; and Formula One stars Denis Hulme & Emerson Fittipaldi.   And the now-iconic sports car initially selected to challenge them all: the purpose-built, virtually identical 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 - all 16 originals of which are still alive, well, hugely revered, and highly sought-after today.


    221: Can the MASL Recapture Indoor Soccer's Glory Days? - With Michael Lewis

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 28, 2021 96:23


    FrontRowSoccer.com's Michael Lewis returns after a two-year absence to help us dig into the news of the Major Arena Soccer League's hiring of three marquee names from pro indoor soccer's 1980s heyday - as it attempts to translate the sport's past glory into interest for a new generation of fans.   The additions of Shep Messing (Chairman), Keith Tozer (Commissioner) and Episode 66 guest JP Dellacamera (President, Communications/Media) to the MASL executive suite signals a major effort to stabilize the long-wobbly league and elevate the indoor game back to the level of its legendary predecessors - like the original Major Indoor Soccer League and even the old North American Soccer League.   Besides weighing in on what might happen in the months ahead, Lewis  mines nearly forty years of soccer reporting to recount some of the most memorable indoor matches from his sportswriting career, including: The MISL's epic 1981 "Championship Weekend" at the St. Louis Checkerdome, where the hometown Steamers outlasted the Wichita Wings in a logic-defying 8-7 shootout semifinal, but lost a nail-biting 6-5 final to the New York Arrows two days later; 1975 NASL indoor tournament matches at Rochester's War Memorial, where goals measured only four feet high x 16 feet long; The MISL's 1981 All-Star Game - played at the World's Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden; A January 1985 Cosmos MISL home loss to the San Diego Sockers that portended the team's folding just two weeks later; and US National Team goalie Tony Meola's indoor debut with the New Jersey Ironmen of the one-year Xtreme Soccer League in 2008.


    220: The National Girls Baseball League - With Adam Chu

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 21, 2021 96:18

    Most baseball fans are familiar with the World War II-era All-American Girls Professional Baseball League from the hit 1992 movie "A League of Their Own" - but most do not know that there was another pro women's circuit that played only in the greater Chicago area at around the same time.    Documentary filmmaker Adam Chu ("Their Turn At Bat") joins the pod to discuss the fascinating story of the National Girls Baseball League (1944-54) - formed out of the city's amateur softball talent-loaded Metropolitan League in 1944 - from which the AAGPBL had recruited many of its initial players a year earlier.   Co-founded by area roofing company owner Emery Parichy, Chicago Cardinals NFL football team owner Charles Bidwell and city politician/softball enthusiast Ed Kolski, the NGBL consisted of six heavily sponsored teams (originally the Bloomer Girls, Bluebirds, Chicks, Queens, Cardinals, and Music Maids) - playing in neighborhood baseball parks across Chicago and its nearby suburbs, including Parichy's purpose-built showcase Memorial Stadium in Forest Park.   The league regularly drew over half-a-million fans annually with its exclusively underhand-pitching format (the AAGBPL allowed for overhand), and even featured football legend Red Grange as its commissioner for its first three seasons.   Although the NGBL and AAGPBL never directly competed against each other on the diamond, they did battle fiercely for players - ultimately leading to a pact between the two to not raid each other's talent - and even a truce of sorts when players from both circuits joined together in the four–team International Girls Baseball League (IGBL) in Miami during the winter of 1952–53.

    219: Graham "Buster" Tutt

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 14, 2021 92:21

    We knock out a bunch of previously unexplored US soccer franchises of yore with the delightful Graham "Buster" Tutt ("Never Give Up: The Graham 'Buster' Tutt Story") - whose tragically derailed, but ultimately persevering pro soccer journey across three continents serves as the backdrop for intriguing tales of the modern-day American pro game's formative years.   A promising young goalkeeper for England's Charlton Athletic in the early 1970s, Tutt turned pro with the London club the day after graduating high school at age 17, ultimately making 78 first-team appearances and helping the Addicks vault from the FA's Third Division to the precipice of the First in just three seasons. However, during a promotional bid game against Sunderland in 1976, Tutt suffered a brutal kick to the face that broke his cheekbone and nose, internally damaged his right eye, and permanently damaged his right eye - effectively ending his playing career.   Yet, after two eye operations and 18 months of difficult recovery, Tutt found redemption as a two-time Goalkeeper of the Year in the rough-and-tumble South African League - before springboarding to the burgeoning American pro soccer scene in 1980.   Join us for Tutt's Stateside adventures with the ASL Columbus Magic, outdoor/indoor NASL Atlanta Chiefs, ASL Georgia Generals & the AISA/NPSL indoor Atlanta Attack.

    218: Baseball Goes to War - With Gary Bedingfield

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 7, 2021 86:22


    In our Episode 104 with David Hubler & Josh Drazen, we examined the existential crisis faced by organized baseball during the first half of the 1940s, when America's heightened involvement in World War II threatened to shut down pro leagues entirely as the country focused its attention elsewhere.   While President Roosevelt's now-famous "Green Light Letter" to MLB Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis on January 15, 1942 ensured the game would continue unimpeded Stateside, hundreds of major-league and thousands of minor-league players soon found themselves drafted into, or even volunteering for active wartime duty abroad - including some of baseball's biggest stars of the era, like Joe DiMaggio, Pee Wee Reese, Ted Williams, and Stan Musial.   Baseball-in-wartime expert Gary Bedingfield ("Baseball in Hawaii During World War II") joins the 'cast to discuss the travails of these professional players across the war's Pacific and European theaters, who balanced combat-related "day jobs" with surprisingly competitive military league play - especially in Hawaii, where many of the game's best found themselves stationed at one point or another.


    217: The Other Side(s) of Wilt - With Robert Cherry

    Play Episode Listen Later May 31, 2021 97:43

    We dial up Robert Cherry, author of the definitive biography of legendary pro basketball great Wilt Chamberlain ("Wilt: Larger Than Life"), to delve into the lesser-known (but enormously fascinating) aspects of the "Big Dipper"'s athletic career - including intriguing stops and stints with: The Harlem Globetrotters (1958-59) - where Chamberlain effectively played out his senior college year after two years (and an NCAA Tournament Final) with Kansas, before becoming age-eligible for the NBA Draft; The Philadelphia Warriors (1959-62) - "Mogul" Eddie Gottleib's burgeoning NBA franchise where Chamberlain was preordained to join by way of the league's territorial rights framework, and where he quickly shattered all kinds of scoring records - including a history-making 100-point game against the NY Knicks on 3/2/62; The San Diego Conquistadors (1973-74) - the rival ABA's first (and only) expansion franchise that lured Chamberlain away from his remaining option year with the LA Lakers (after two consecutive NBA Finals appearances and a title in 1972) with a $600,000 offer to be the Qs' combo player/coach; and The International Volleyball Association (1974-79) - where Chamberlain wore a myriad of hats as a founder, investor, owner, player (Southern California Bangers, Orange County Stars, Seattle Smashers), coach, and even league Commissioner. 

    216: Auto Racing's "Indy Split" - With John Oreovicz

    Play Episode Listen Later May 24, 2021 94:44

    The starting grid is set for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 this Sunday, and what better way to get ready than with a look back at the divisive battle between two competing sanctioning bodies that almost decimated the sport of open-wheel IndyCar racing - and even "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" itself. Veteran motorsports reporter John Oreovicz ("Indy Split: The Big-Money Battle That Nearly Destroyed Indy Racing") joins the podcast to help us better understand the political infighting that has plagued the sport since the late 1970s - most notably the schismatic 12-year "split" from 1996-2007 between CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) and the Indy Racing League - the lingering effects of which still threaten to undermine the sport's future. At the heart of all of it has been the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway - open-wheel's undisputed center of gravity for more than a century - and now, along with a recombined IndyCar Series, boasts new ownership (racing industry legend Roger Penske) that aims to again harmonize the sport into a viable and vibrant future.

    215: "Toffee Soccer" - With David France & Rob Sawyer

    Play Episode Listen Later May 17, 2021 91:45

    We admit that when our friends at Liverpool's deCoubertin Books reached out recently with an advance look at their upcoming title devoted to the history of one of England's most venerable top-flight soccer clubs, we weren't immediately sold on the premise, nor its applicability to our (admittedly) odd brand of sports curiosity. But after just a few minutes with the meticulously detailed "Toffee Soccer: Everton and North America," we became not only intrigued by the rich, storied saga of Everton F.C.'s 143-year journey into what is now known as the English Premier League - but downright fascinated with its surprising contributions to the development of the game in North America. Toffee co-authors David France and Rob Sawyer join the podcast this week to shine light on the little-known, but undeniable connection between the "Blues" and the rise of the modern-day pro game in the US & Canada. From the club's unexpected 1961 runner-up finish in the influential International Soccer League, to its subsequent supply of dozens of top players to the foundational North American Soccer League of the 70s/80s, to its recent embrace of world-class American players like Landon Donovan and Tim Howard - the "People's Club" has been an unwittingly integral part of soccer's Stateside history - far beyond Goodison Park.

    214: The Boston Minutemen & New England Tea Men - With Steve Gans

    Play Episode Listen Later May 10, 2021 105:29

    American soccer insiders know Steve Gans as one of the sport's leading domestic corporate attorneys, with a long track record of legal representation from all sides of the ball - including as a former candidate for the US Soccer Federation's highly contentious presidential election in 2018. Few, however, are aware that the Boston-born-and-raised Gans - who also spearheaded the Foxborough, MA venue bid for the US-hosted 1994 World Cup - began his long professional association with the 'beautiful game" as a teenaged marketing/PR intern with two of the most regionally peripatetic franchises in North American Soccer League history: the Boston Minutemen (1974-76) and the New England Tea Men (1978-80). The Minutemen played two successful and one dismal outdoor seasons in the NASL spread across six different home fields - including a hodgepodge of 1976 venues completely outside of Boston proper (Quincy, Foxborough, New Bedford).  Star players like brash American goalkeeper Shep Messing and Portuguese international legend Eusebio dotted early lineups, but team owner John Sterge's sketchy and ultimately criminal business dealings soon undermined the club's fledgling success. After a year's absence, the NASL returned to the area in 1978 with the expansion New England Tea Men - owned by the Lipton Tea Company and domiciled in Foxborough's Schaefer Stadium.  The composition of the team belied its nickname, as a largely British-flavored roster - led by Charlton Athletic loanee and eventual league MVP Mike Flanagan - topped its division and even knocked off the mighty Cosmos twice.  But the wheels started coming off in 1979, when Charlton refused to loan Flanagan again, and a dispute with nearby Foxboro Raceway forced the club to hastily move to Boston University's Nickerson Field, where attendances dropped precipitously. By 1981, the club had fled to Jacksonville, and the region was bereft of pro soccer until the MLS Revolution in 1996.

    213: European Soccer's (Not So) "Super League" - With Ian Plenderleith

    Play Episode Listen Later May 3, 2021 82:26

    Soccer America columnist and Episode 49 guest Ian Plenderleith ("Rock 'n' Roll Soccer: The Short Life and Fast Times of the North American Soccer League") returns to the show for our initial hot take on the ill-fated "Super League" - a long-rumored, big-money elite European club tournament concept that is already being left for dead a mere two days after its official  launch on April 18th. Stealthily announced on the eve of a UEFA Executive Committee meeting set to revamp and expand an already-lucrative Champions League competition, the breakaway Super League aimed to expedite the process by way of a new 20-team circuit featuring 15 permanent "founding clubs" (supplemented by five annual qualifiers), each guaranteed bankable spots in each season's competition. Among the twelve announced at launch were some of the richest soccer clubs on the planet: La Liga's Atlético Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid; Serie A's Inter Milan, Juventus and A.C. Milan; and six from the English Premier League: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.   The reaction from the world's soccer establishment was swift in its condemnation and ferocious in its hostility - with some of the hottest protestations coming from the very fans of the proposed league's charter members, already wary of foreign investment in their domestic leagues.   Plenderleith helps us understand how we got here, what happens in the immediate aftermath (especially to the "Treasonous Twelve") - and why the "Super League" will likely not be the last of efforts to squeeze more corporate riches from the peoples' "beautiful game."

    212: Horace Stoneham & the New York Giants - With Steve Treder

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 26, 2021 91:36

    Baseball historian Steve Treder ("Forty Years a Giant: The Life of Horace Stoneham") steps up to the plate this week to delve into the oft-overlooked contributions of influential San Francisco (née New York) Giants owner Horace Stoneham - who quietly stewarded the storied National League franchise through four turbulent decades of baseball history (1936-76). Inheriting the club at the tender age of 32 from his father after his death in 1936, Stoneham actually began his tenure with the Manhattan-based Giants (and its sprawling multi-sport Polo Grounds venue) twelve years earlier as an apprentice - working his way up from lowly ticketing assistant to (legendary field manager) John McGraw confidante by the early 1930s. Despite winning only four NL pennants (including the famous 1951 "Shot Heard 'Round the World") and just one World Series title (1954) while in New York, Stoneham more significantly impacted the team's legacy and the game's future off the field.   In the mid-1940s when the Pacific Coast League was angling to gain Major League status, few except Stoneham and Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey took it seriously; twelve years later, the Giants and Dodgers became the first teams to boldly relocate westward.   Stoneham was also an early pioneer in racial integration: he signed Negro League stars Monte Irvin and Hank Thompson in 1949 (enabling the Giants to become the second-ever MLB club to break the color barrier); and he hired the majors' first-ever Spanish-speaking scout to help find and develop Latin American players.

    211: The Short Life of Hughie McLoon - With Allen Abel

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 19, 2021 88:54

    The Roarin' Twenties was a time of Prohibition, jazz, gangland murder - and, for baseball, an age of superstitious magic - when even future Hall of Fame players believed that rubbing the hump of a hunchback would guarantee a hit at the plate. Irreparably disfigured by a childhood playground seesaw accident, South Philadelphia teenager Hughie McLoon never grew taller than 49 inches; but in an era when baseball club mascots were chosen with as much care as starting pitchers(!), McLoon prevailed upon legendary Philadelphia Athletics owner Connie Mack to hire him as the team's lucky charm in 1916. Reeling from an unfamiliar last-place finish in 1915 (after winning four American League pennants and three World Series titles between 1910-14), Mack's A's needed all the help they could get - including a replacement for their previous humpbacked batboy/mascot/star Louis Van Zelst, who had died prior to the season's start.     Although McLoon couldn't help the A's escape the AL basement during his three seasons, he still became a local celebrity much like his "more successful" predecessor; he loved the crowds at Shibe Park, and they loved him back.   McLoon became the toast of the town, parlaying his fame with the A's into a bevy of law-bending ventures, including boxing manager/promoter, speakeasy owner, and booze runner - all while serving as a secret agent for Philly's police chief.  Gunned down in a gang-style confrontation outside his tavern one summer night in 1928, McLoon's death rocked the city - and throngs of well-wishers came out for his wake. Veteran political journalist Allen Abel ("The Short Life of Hughie McLoon: A True Story of Baseball, Magic and Murder") joins us to recount this very curious story of 1910s baseball, its odd superstitions and one of its most unique characters.

    210: An Unlikely Negro League Story - With Cam Perron

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 12, 2021 86:25

    There’s one question Cam Perron ("Comeback Season: My Unlikely Story of Friendship with the Greatest Living Negro League Baseball Players") has heard over and over again: “How does a white kid from a suburb of Boston become friends with all of these former Negro League baseball ­players?” An ardent Red Sox fan, Perron grew up during the '00s loving history, and from an early age, had a knack for collecting. But when he was twelve and bought a set of Topps baseball cards featuring several players from something called "the Negro Leagues," his curiosity was piqued. In 2007, while still in middle school, Perron started writing letters to former Negro League players, asking for their autographs and a few words about their careers. What he got back was much more than he expected.    The former players responded with detailed stories about their glory days on the field, as well as disconcerting descriptions of the racism they faced - including run-ins with the KKK.  They explained how they were repeatedly kept out of the major leagues and confined to the lower-paying and lesser-publicized Negro Leagues - even after Jackie Robinson had supposedly broken the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.   By the time Perron started high school, letters had turned into phone calls, and he was spending hours a day talking with dozens of seemingly forgotten ex-players. Many of them professed ignorance as to the existence or whereabouts of any records of their play, and sadness at how they'd lost touch with their former teammates.   In 2010, with the help of a small group of fellow researchers, a then-15-year-old Perron helped organize the first annual Negro League Players Reunion in Birmingham, Alabama, where he finally got to meet his new friends - all of them 50-to-70 years his senior - in person. Their bond was natural and instant.   In between subsequent reunions, Perron has become deeply involved in an ever-expanding mission to help ex-players get rightly-owed pension monies from Major League Baseball, while simultaneously working to get the Negro Southern League Museum in Birmingham opened in 2015. Support the show by trying one month of BlueChew for FREE (just pay $5 shipping) with promo code GOODSEATS at checkout!

    209: The Eastern Professional Basketball League - With Syl Sobel & Jay Rosenstein

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 5, 2021 97:43

    Founded as the "Eastern Pennsylvania Basketball League" for its first season in post-war 1946 - and later (1970-78) known as the Eastern Basketball Association before eventually morphing into the NBA's semi-official minor-league Continental Basketball Association - the Eastern Professional Basketball League was the probably greatest pro hoops circuit you've never heard of. The EPBL was a fast-paced and physical affair, often played in tiny, smoke-filled gyms across the northeast and featuring standout players who found themselves "boxed out" of the NBA for a variety of reasons - unspoken quotas on Black players (like Hal “King” Lear, Julius McCoy, & Wally Choice), collegiate point-shaving scandals (e.g., Sherman White, Jack Molinas, Bill Spivey), or simply the harsh math of a 1950s/60s NBA that counted less than 100 roster slots total across its 8-10 franchises. Syl Sobel and Jay Rosenstein ("Boxed Out of the NBA: Remembering the Eastern Professional Basketball League") join the show to delve into the fascinating story of a league that, for over 30 years, was the next-best professional league in the world after the NBA. And featured a bevy of eventual basketball luminaries - like Syracuse University coach Jim Boeheim, former Temple University coach John Chaney, former Detroit Pistons player & coach Ray Scott, former NBA coach & TV analyst Hubie Brown, and former NBA player & coach Bob Weiss - who went on to make their marks upon the modern game.   If you remember teams like the Scranton Milers, Wilkes-Barre Barons, Sunbury Mercuries or Allentown Jets - this is the episode for you! Support the show by trying one month of BlueChew for FREE (just pay $5 shipping) with promo code GOODSEATS at checkout!

    208: The Hollywood Stars - With Dan Taylor

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 29, 2021 103:03


    Author Dan Taylor ("Lights, Camera, Fastball: How the Hollywood Stars Changed Baseball") joins the pod for an in-depth look at one of baseball's most uniquely inventive teams - known for its star-studded celebrity ownership structure (including the likes of Bing Crosby, Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, George Burns, and Cecil B. DeMille) - and warm embrace of movie industry publicity during the 1940s/50s heyday of Hollywood's "Golden Age." Long before Brooklyn's relocated Dodgers colonized Los Angeles with "major league" status in 1958, the Hollywood Stars (along with its fierce cross-town rival LA Angels) pioneered a host of innovations with a promotional flair that was the envy of its "near-major" Pacific Coast League competitors. Led by Robert Cobb, owner of the legendary Brown Derby restaurant chain (and Cobb salad namesake), the Stars routinely challenged baseball conventions with a litany of paradigm-changing initiatives such as: uniforms with short pants, in-stadium cheerleaders and movie star beauty queens, between-innings infield-dragging (to boost concession sales), high-end ballpark food, and professional baseball's first regularly broadcast televised home games.   Support the show by getting two free months of NordVPN - plus a FREE GIFT - when you use promo code GOODSEATS at checkout!


    207: Basketball's Philadelphia SPHAs - With Doug Stark

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 22, 2021 88:46

    International Tennis Hall of Fame Museum director Doug Stark (The SPHAs: The Life and Times of Basketball's Greatest Jewish Team) joins this week's 'cast for an authoritative exploration of one of his first loves - pro basketball's pioneering Philadelphia SPHAs.   Originally organized in 1918 as a local amateur team by South Philadelphia High School grads Eddie Gottlieb, Harry Passon and Hughie Black - and acronymically named for their early uniform sponsors, the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association - the SPHAs rose from a regional amateur league power in the 1920s to become an early avatar for professional basketball dominance in the 1930s & 40s.   With home games played in the ballroom of Philly's Broadwood Hotel (replete with customary singles dances afterwards), the SPHAs became a sensation in the local Jewish social scene, and soon graduated (under the guidance of Gottlieb) to winning titles in various early pro hoops leagues like the Eastern League and Abe Saperstein's American Basketball League - while beating legendary teams like Boston's Original Celtics and New York's Renaissance Five along the way.  In the ABL alone, the SPHAs captured seven titles in their 13 years of play between 1933-45, and were runners-up twice.   In 1946, the NBA-forerunning Basketball Association of America debuted, and the ABL ceased to be a major league. With Gottlieb establishing the Philadelphia Warriors as his BAA franchise, the SPHAs continued with the minor league ABL and as a touring opponent of the Saperstein's barnstorming Harlem Globetrotters. Gottlieb sold the team in 1950 to former SPHAs star Red Klotz, who changed the name to the Washington Generals.   Support the show by trying one month of BlueChew for FREE (just pay $5 shipping) with promo code GOODSEATS at checkout!

    206: The Life & Teams of Johnny F. Bassett - With Denis Crawford

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 15, 2021 131:56

    Youngstown State professor Denis Crawford ("The Life and Teams of Johnny F. Bassett: Maverick Entrepreneur of North American Sports") joins the 'cast for a jam-packed deep dive into the life of one of the most underrated, yet enormously influential pro sports figures of the 1970s/80s.   A third-generation scion of a prominent Canadian industrialist family steeped in both media and sports team ownership, John F. (Johnny) Bassett distinguished himself from his elders as a marketing-savvy showman with a P.T. Barnum-esque flair for spectacle and a penchant for challenging the traditional conventions of professional sports - notably with teams in leagues predicated on bucking the establishment: The World Hockey Association's Toronto Toros and Birmingham Bulls; The World Football League's Toronto Northmen/Memphis Southmen; World Team Tennis' Toronto-Buffalo Royals; AND The United States Football League's Tampa Bay Bandits   Through all his adventures, Bassett catered to the common fan, demanded fair treatment of athletes, and forced traditionalist sports owners to take hard looks at the way they did business.   Crawford helps us unpack some of Bassett's most notable escapades, including: a quixotic attempt to compete with the NHL's Maple Leafs; raiding the NFL for Miami Dolphins stars Larry Czonka, Jim Kiick and Paul Warfield; battling the Canadian government over American football; an audacious attempt at marketing pro hockey in the Deep South; and his bitter rivalry with a greedy Donald Trump for the soul of the USFL.   Support the show by downloading the DraftKings app NOW and using promo code GOODSEATS to join the free One Million Dollar College Hoops Survivor Pool!

    205: Philly's "Vet" - With Tom Garvey

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 8, 2021 76:04

    We fire up the GPS for a trek back to the City of Brotherly Love this week for a fond - but decidedly one-of-a-kind - remembrance of Philadelphia's oddly beloved "octorad"-styled outdoor sports mecca known as Veterans Stadium.   Memoirist, Philly native and actual (Vietnam War) vet Tom Garvey ("The Secret Apartment") joins us to delve into his incredible story of living in a self-fashioned apartment underneath the seats of the old Vet's left-field Section 354 (above the visiting team's baseball bullpen) in the early 1980s:   From the opening chapter of "The Secret Apartment":   "Let's begin an implausible story with a seemingly simple yet complex question: If you were single, never married with no children or dependents, would you, if you had the opportunity, have lived 'on the down low' in a secret apartment in Veterans Stadium?    "In this proposal, we have an off-the-wall South Philly version of 'Phantom of the Opera,' but the larger notion this question begs could easily challenge the inner demons of sports fans anywhere. If you had an opportunity to live in a major sports stadium of a team you grew up loving, what would you have done?   "In my case: I could, so I did."

    204: WHA Hockey Completism - With Scott Surgent

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 1, 2021 91:07

    Arizona State calculus professor Scott Surgent ("The Complete World Hockey Association, 11th Edition"; "The World Hockey Association Fact Book") joins this week to discuss his personal passion project of documenting everything statistical from the fascinatingly ephemeral World Hockey Association - despite never having witness a single game during its brief seven-year run (1972-79).   Like many young sports fans of the 70s living outside of actual WHA markets (for as long as they lasted), Surgent's first introduction to and ongoing understanding of the upstart WHA was by way of laboring through the tiny catch-all "scoreboard" agate of local newspaper sports sections - where league standings, player transactions and a random box score or two would qualify as "coverage."   Surgent would squint hard to literally and figuratively read between the lines as to what the WHA was all about - supplemented by an occasional wire service article, usually about a team (or the league itself) in financial trouble. Imagination and hearsay filled in the rest - until the league's "merger" with the NHL in 1979, when everything WHA-related seemingly vanished with it, as if nothing had ever transpired.   By the early '90s, Surgent was perplexed as to the continued absence of anything historical - let alone definitive - from the league's statistical existence.  So he struck out on his own to literally set the record straight - resulting in the first edition of "Complete" in 1995.   25 years and ten editions later, Surgent's reference opus - all 526 glorious pages of it - is now the go-to resource for anyone seeking authoritative certitude about anything WHA.   Support the show by getting two free months of NordVPN - plus a FREE GIFT - when you use the promo code GOODSEATS at checkout!

    203: Seattle's Once (+ Future?) SuperSonics - With Jon Finkel

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 22, 2021 88:24

    After a severely challenging, COVID-hampered 2020, it wasn't altogether surprising to hear NBA Commissioner Adam Silver openly muse with reporters at year's end about the potential for adding a new franchise or two to help shore up the league's finances.   "I'd say it's caused us to maybe dust off some of the analyses on the economic and competitive impacts of expansion," Silver said back in December. "We've been putting a little bit more time into it than we were pre-pandemic."   While not necessarily a fait accompli, it is still a remarkable turn of strategic thinking that immediately sent local tongues wagging in multiple North American cities from Las Vegas to Louisville to even Mexico City and Montreal.    But few would argue that the aggrieved city of Seattle - losers of the much-beloved SuperSonics in the summer of 2008 to a carpet-bagging ownership group from Oklahoma City - should be the first in line for a new club when the NBA is officially ready.   Author Jon Finkel ("Hoops Heist: Seattle, the Sonics and How a Stolen Team's Legacy Gave Rise to the NBA's Secret Empire") helps us bolster the case for big-time basketball's return to the Emerald City - through the eyes of both Sonics' legends like Lenny Wilkens, Spencer Haywood, Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp & Ray Allen, as well as via home-grown players like Isaiah Thomas, Brandon Roy, Doug Christie, Jason Terry, Nate Robinson & Jamal Crawford - who all came of age in the Sonics' shadow and now define the modern-day NBA.   Support the show by getting two free months of NordVPN - plus a FREE GIFT - when you use promo code GOODSEATS at checkout!

    202: The Hilldale Club - With Neil Lanctot

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 15, 2021 94:42

    We continue our dogged pursuit of the history of baseball's Negro Leagues with a stop this week in the suburban Philadelphia borough of Darby, PA - for a look at the famed Hilldale Club with SABR Seymour Medal-winning historian Neil Lanctot ("Fair Dealing and Clean Playing: The Hilldale Club and the Development of Black Professional Baseball").   Established as an amateur boys team in 1910 by a moonlighting civil servant named Ed Bolden, the club incorporated in November 1916, as the Hilldale Baseball & Exhibition Company - and developing into a professional Negro League powerhouse in the 1920s.   Along with Atlantic City's Bacharach Giants, Hilldale played as eastern "associates" of the predominantly midwestern Negro National League in 1920-21 - before becoming charter members of a full-fledged Bolden-founded rival Eastern Colored League in 1923.   Immediately, Hilldale's "Darby Daisies" became the team to beat - winning the ECL's first three league pennants, and earning two trips to the first-ever Colored World Series against the NNL's powerhouse Kansas City Monarchs - barely losing a best-of-nine series in 1924, but dominating in a five games-to-one title in 1925.   Darby lineups were frequently stocked with some of the top players of the era - including six eventual baseball National Baseball Hall of Famers: Oscar Charleston, "The Immortal" Martin Dihigo, "Pop" Lloyd, "Judy" Johnson, "Biz" Mackey, and Louis Santop.   ​Hilldale also made waning appearances in 1929's one-year American Negro League and 1932's East-West League ​as the economic strains of the Great Depression ultimately pushed the club into extinction.

    201: Eddie "The Mogul" Gottlieb - With Rich Westcott

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 8, 2021 84:01

    Philadelphia's dean of baseball writers Rich Westcott ("The Mogul: Eddie Gottlieb, Philadelphia Sports Legend and Pro Basketball Pioneer") steps outside the batter's box this week to help us go deep into the story of one of pro basketball's most foundational figures, Eddie Gottlieb. Armed with a great smile and a razor-sharp memory, the Ukranian-born and South Philly-raised Gottlieb was a multi-faceted hoops pioneer - rules innovator, successful coach, masterful promoter, and logistics wizard - whose tactical talents and business acumen gave rise to what would ultimately evolve into today's NBA. In 1918, Gottlieb organized and coached a social club-sponsored amateur team for the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association (SPHA) that he grew into a regionally dominant and ultimately professional powerhouse; from the late 1920s to early 1940s, the SPHAs dominated the original Eastern and American Basketball Leagues, winning multiple championships and regularly beating prominent touring clubs like the Original Celtics and the New York Renaissance Five (Rens). In 1946, Gottlieb helped establish a new professional league - the Basketball Association of America. As owner, general manager, coach, and "promoter-in-chief" of the league's Philadelphia Warriors, he won the BAA’s first championship in 1946-47. Three seasons later, Gottlieb played a pivotal role in the merger of the BAA with the National Basketball League to form the National Basketball Association, where his Warriors would win a second league crown in 1956, and to which he would later add the groundbreaking talents of one Wilt Chamberlain in 1959. After selling the team in 1962, Gottleib became the NBA's "Mr. Basketball" - the definitive and authoritative resource spanning league rules, history, scheduling, and operations - until his death in 1979.  He is immortalized not only as a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, but also as the name on the trophy given annually to the NBA's Rookie of the Year.

    200: C.C. Pyle's "Bunion Derby" - With Geoff Williams

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 1, 2021 97:26

    Author Geoff Williams (C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America) joins for the stranger-than-fiction story of the cross-country long-distance running event/endurance contest that only the Roarin' 20s could have spawned.   On March 4, 1928, a motley assortment of nearly 200 marathon pros, amateur sports enthusiasts and random publicity-seekers took to the starter's pistol from Los Angeles' Legion Ascot Speedway to begin an incredible 3,423-mile trek (half of it on a brand-new Route 66 highway) to New York's Madison Square Garden as part of the "C.C. Pyle International Transcontinental Foot Race of 1928" dubbed the "Bunion Derby" by the sports press - in pursuit of their share of a combined $48,500 in cash prizes offered by archetypal sports promoter Charles C. ("Cash & Carry") Pyle.   Pyle was the P.T. Barnum of sports promotion, who first came into prominence by convincing collegiate football standout Red Grange to turn pro. Grange helped Pyle make a fortune, which he later parlayed into a similar turn promoting the first professional US tennis tour, converting top amateurs like Suzanne Lenglen.   But it was the transcontinental ultra-marathon concept that would be Pyle's legacy: "It will be the greatest free show ever offered the American public," Pyle boasted. "The runners will go through hundreds of towns, each of which will be assessed for advertising. Thousands will flock to these towns to see the runners. We'll sell them programs and tickets to our traveling side show." On May 26, just 55 survivors stumbled into the Garden, where a 19-year-old Oklahoma Native American named Andrew Payne crossed the finish line to win - an 84-day journey comprising a total running time of 573 hours, 4 minutes and 34 seconds - a roughly 16-hour lead over second-place finisher John Salo of Passaic, NJ. The prize money was held up for a week, but was finally doled out by fellow promoter Tex Rickard, who bailed out Pyle from an estimated $150,000 loss on the endeavor.  Incredibly, Pyle came back for a second (and ultimately final) run in 1929 - with similar results.

    199: The 1974 "Forgotten" Summit Series - With Craig Wallace

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 25, 2021 104:01

    After overwhelming response to our Episode 194 exploration ​of hockey's epic 1972 "Summit Series," we gas up the Zamboni for a return visit into Canada/Russian competition lore - this time for the equally intriguing (but often overlooked) sequel Summit Series of 1974 - with sports author/historian Craig Wallace (The Forgotten Summit: A Canadian Perspective on the 1974 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series).   While ostensibly a "round two" between the world's top national hockey programs, the 1974 Series differed in that the Canadian side was comprised exclusively of players from the World Hockey Association (WHA) - a major preseason promotional boost for the fledgling two-year-old circuit still struggling to gain a pro foothold against the mighty NHL.   As a result, wildly popular Canadian WHA stars like Winnipeg's Bobby Hull, Houston's Gordie Howe and Cleveland's Gerry Cheevers - each forbidden by the NHL from playing two years earlier - saw their first national team action, joined by returning series veterans Paul Henderson, Frank Mahovlich and Pat Stapleton.   Despite a strong start in the first two games, Team Canada could not replicate its trailblazing success from their 1972 exploits; the Soviets won the series (4 wins, 3 ties, 1 loss) - but as Wallace reveals, the games were close, extremely competitive and wildly entertaining - replete with just as much drama and excitement as its predecessor (and even better uniforms).

    198: Johnny Buss

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 18, 2021 154:09

    We sit down with the eldest scion of Los Angeles' legendary Dr. Jerry Buss family sports empire for a wide-ranging discussion about its early construction, day-to-day operations, eventual unwinding - and its ongoing legacy via the current NBA World Champion Lakers, of which (along with his five siblings) he is a part-owner.   Along the way, Johnny takes us through his personal adventures in places like: The original mid-1970s World Team Tennis (the Los Angeles Strings, Jerry's first pro sports ownership endeavor); Inglewood's "Fabulous" Forum (the eventual hub for Buss family-owned assets acquired from Jack Kent Cooke in 1979); The MISL's Los Angeles Lazers (where Johnny was president for the team's first three seasons); The WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks (again president, from the team's/league's inception in 1997 until 2006 - including back-to-back league titles in 2001 & 2002) Buss also sheds some light on the often-challenging family dynamics both under father Jerry's watch and even more so after his passing - as well as hints at the sport that still intrigues him enough to potentially come out of retirement to make another go at it. Support the show by getting four free months of NordVPN when you use promo code GOODSEATS at checkout!

    197: Colorado "Rocky Hockey" - With Terry Frei

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 11, 2021 97:20

    Former Denver Post columnist and long-time sports writer/author Terry Frei (“Third Down and a War to Go;” “'77: Denver, the Broncos, and a Coming of Age” + plenty more) joins to discuss the briefly curious life (1976-82) of NHL hockey's Colorado Rockies - Frei's first-ever professional newspaper beat assignment back in the day. As originally recounted in his eyebrow-raising 2010 memoir Playing Piano in a Brothel: A Sports Journalist's Odyssey, Frei helps us better understand the events, personalities and hijinks that comprised the six-year Denver incarnation of the former Kansas City Scouts and future New Jersey Devils franchise - with some perspective on its under-appreciated history and legacy. It's a story that traverses four separate owners, six different coaches, a constant threat of relocation, a terrible lease arrangement in a state-of the art (McNichols) arena, one meager (1978) playoff appearance (despite finishing 21 games under .500), a legendary logo - and a bombastic season of sour "Grapes." If you're a fan of the Devils or today's Colorado Avalanche, consider this your hockey history lesson for the week! Support the show by getting four free months of NordVPN when you use promo code GOODSEATS at checkout!

    196: Baltimore's "Ghosts of 33rd Street" - With Troy Lowman

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 4, 2021 92:43

    Filmmaker and Maryland-native Troy Lowman ("The Ghosts of 33rd Street") helps us kick off the new year with a look back at the pro football franchise that still looms large over the city of Baltimore's sports exploits - the Colts. While the Ravens have been carrying the region's modern-day NFL torch since their messy arrival/conversion from the original Cleveland Browns franchise in 1996, few residents of Charm City would dispute the deep roots and lasting contributions of the legendary club that preceded them from 1953-83 - including three memorable NFL championships and a Super Bowl [V] title. Before surreptitiously absconding for the greener financial pastures of Indianapolis in the snow-whipped overnight/morning hours of March 28-29, 1984, the Colts had largely been the darlings of Baltimore sports fans for much of their 30 years - only to be undone by a long-festering brew of owner greed, stadium economics and political miscalculation. Lowman helps us unravel the elongated story arc of the once-beloved Baltimore Colts franchise, why the club ultimately left, and how that which has replaced it since will never fully equal what once was. Support the show by getting four free months of NordVPN when you use promo code GOODSEATS at checkout!

    195.5: Musician Steve Ferrone (Archive Re-Release)

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 28, 2020 76:09

    [A re-release of fan favorite episode from January 2020!] Prolific rock/R&B drummer/musician Steve Ferrone (Average White Band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) joins to delve into the backstory of helping write/craft the official theme song for the New York Cosmos – the latest chapter in our irregular series devoted to Tim’s longstanding fascination with the North American Soccer League’s most famous franchise. Pop music aficionados know Ferrone as part of the “classic” mid-70s lineup of AWB (along with Hamish Stuart, Alan Gorrie, “Onnie” McIntyre, Roger Ball, and “Molly” Duncan); as a two-decade+ member of the Heartbreakers (1994-2017); and from a prodigious body of studio session work with a literal who’s-who of pop music’s biggest talent (Chaka Khan, Rick James, Eric Clapton, Stevie Nicks, and the Bee Gees, just to name a few).  But long-time Cosmos soccer fans may also remember Ferrone’s semi-invisible hand in the creation and performance of the club’s rhythmic anthem that blared from the Giants Stadium PA system after goals and anchored the team’s WOR-TV telecasts – recorded under the AWB nom de plume of the “Cosmic Highlanders” via Warner Communications corporate sister Atlantic Records. Besides the circumstances of the song’s origins, Ferrone regales Tim with stories of: how he stepped into the Average White Band during a critical time in the group’s then-young life; the musical magic of Atlantic and its founder-brothers Ahmet & Nesuhi Ertegun; how the “Cosmos Clap” came about; and the original song idea Cosmos management had in mind for the club’s official theme!

    195: Second-Annual Year-End Holiday Spectacular!

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 21, 2020 131:52


    We bid an emphatic good riddance to a crappy 2020 with our second-annual holiday roundtable spectacular featuring the return of fellow defunct sports enthusiasts Andy Crossley (Fun While It Lasted & Episode 2); Paul Reeths (OurSportsCentral.com, StatsCrew.com & Episode 46); and Steve Holroyd (Episodes 92, 109, 149 & 188) – for a spirited roundtable discussion about the past, present and potential future of “forgotten” pro sports teams and leagues. It's a look back at some of the year’s most notable events, including: COVID-19's wrath across the entirety of pro sports;  The mid-season implosion of the reincarnated XFL; Premier League Lacrosse's absorption of 20-year-old Major League Lacrosse; New names for the NFL's Washington and Raiders franchises; AND Major League Baseball’s RSVP approach to contracting the minors. Plus, some predictions on what might transpire in 2021, as: Major League Cricket gears up for launch; The Rock cooks up a resuscitation recipe for the XFL; Cleveland's baseball club ponders a new nickname - and the others likely to follow; Adidas unevenly tries to cash in on NHL retro jerseys; Soccer expansion in Louisville (NWSL), Austin (MLS) and NISA; AND We continue to search for anyone with updates about Mark Cuban’s Professional Futsal League! Support the show by getting four free months of NordVPN when you use promo code GOODSEATS at checkout!


    194: Hockey's 1972 "Summit Series" - With Rich Bendell

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 14, 2020 139:49

    Just about any Canadian of a certain age will be able to tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing on September 28, 1972. That's the day when "Team Canada" (and Toronto Maple Leaf) forward Paul Henderson scored a dramatic and decisive late-third-period "goal heard around the world" to clinch the eighth and final game of an epic month-long hockey series against a similar professional all-star team from the Soviet Union - in what is today remembered as simply the "Summit Series." Hockey historian Rich Bendell ("The Summit Series: Stats, Lies & Videotape - The Untold Story of Hockey's Series of the Century") joins us this week for a deep dive into the curious, yet now-iconic battle between the sport's two top superpowers at the time - played against the backdrop of global 1970s-era Cold War tensions - that morphed from a relatively unassuming cultural exchange-oriented "exhibition" into the defining hallmark of each country's rich hockey heritage.

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