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May 8, 1970
[Posted Sunday p.m.]
MLB Quiz: So this is an easy one…but I just have to explain. During Episode One of “The Last Dance” there was a comment about Phil Jackson and having 20 straight winning seasons, “the record,” with K.C. Jones second at ten. But in doing my own research, which I am obliged to do, I found all kinds of flaws in this, including the likes of Red Auerbach and Pat Riley, perhaps George Karl, and I spent way, way too much time on it. In case you haven’t figured it out after 21 years, I can’t waste time like this (especially with other non-site related obligations these days).
So…since I need an easier one…name the two teams, post-1950, with the best regular season winning percentages in baseball. Answer below.
--I’ve been noting for a while, Major League Baseball is messing with the draft, a pure cost-saving move, but one that will hurt the sport’s future in a big way by cutting the draft from 40 rounds to just five. As I’ve written before, this particularly hurts MLB’s efforts to make inroads in the recruitment of minorities, especially in the inner cities.
Clubs gained the ability to reduce it to five rounds with their March 26 agreement with the players’ association and MLB is going to formally announce next week that it is going ahead with this decision per the Associated Press.
Just 160 players will be drafted, and the combined value of their signing bonus pools is $235,906,800; eliminating nearly $30 million.
What it means is that those passed over are limited to signing bonuses of $20,000 or less, which will cause many of the high school players to go to college.
But, remember, baseball only has 11.7 scholarships. So they could turn to junior college, or work at Amazon (he typed half facetiously). I mean who knows…it’s all about if we get a second wave in the fall before a vaccine is available to the freakin’ world.
All but six of last year’s six-round picks signed for $200,000 or more. The Chicago Cubs’ Ethan Harris, a catcher/first baseman, had the highest bonus of the round at $950,000. Yup, he signed rather than going to Mississippi State. Smart move. I assume he deposited the check.
John McDonald, selected 326th on the 11th round, picked up $797,500.
--According to multiple sources, Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez are no longer interested in buying the Mets after negotiations with potential partners failed to materialize and it became clear that the Wilpons’ reluctance to part with SNY (the cable network) makes it almost impossible for anyone without many billions of dollars to afford owning the team.
J-Rod’s quest hit a snag when Long Island biotech billionaire Wayne Rothbaum made it clear he was only interested in acquiring an MLB franchise at a big discount. Plus Rothbaum wanted control that was over what J-Rod were willing to give up.
But now how do you value a major league franchise amidst the pandemic and the Wilpons’ unwillingness to part with SNY?
A person close to MLB told the New York Post that the Mets are going to lose about $90 million this year, if half a season is played with no fans in the ballpark.
But the Post estimates that losses for a half season at Citi Field would be around $150 million, while MLB will be paying each team $30-$40 million.
What really appears to have happened is that the Wilpons were idiots not to accept hedge-fund billionaire Steve Cohen’s proposal for $2.6 billion for the team that did not include the network. But now no one is going to accept a deal without SNY.
Aaron Elstein / Crain’s New York Business
“Once upon a time, ballparks and arenas were full of rabid fans.
“Andrea Greenberg couldn’t wait to get off the phone last week, and who could blame her?
“There was nothing good the MSG Networks chief executive could say about the state of her business, which has no live Knicks or Rangers to game for the foreseeable future. Greenberg declined to take questions from Wall Street analysts during her short-but-not-terribly-sweet quarterly earnings conference call May 1.
“ ‘Given how fluid the current environment is, today’s call will only include prepared remarks,’ an MSG official said, according to a transcript.
“Here’s what ‘fluid’ means: More than half of the sports business’s $70 billion in revenue is at risk.
“With no games scheduled, the $20 billion in gate receipts forecast for this year by PwC for Major League Baseball, the NFL, the NBA and other leagues could all but vanish. Without games, most of this year’s $22 billion in expected media-rights revenues might never be paid. Merchandising revenue – estimated at $15 billion – could disappear when people are buying almost nothing except food. Who wants to sponsor an event that isn’t happening?
“Here’s guessing the Wilpon family wishes they’d accepted Steve Cohen’s knockout $2.6 billion offer for the Mets earlier this year. The team undoubtedly is worth significantly less now….
“Even if sports come back soon to our screens, with no fans in the seats, it’s difficult to envision the business reaching its previous heights. After all, when fans get their permission to come back, how many will be able to? High unemployment doesn’t exactly correlate to robust ticket sales.
“Meanwhile, Bank of America said companies are planning to cut spending on new projects and equipment, with capital-expenditure forecasts their weakest since 2009. The ‘corporate misery index’ – incorporating unit sales, selling prices and input costs – indicates profitability should decline from already depressed levels….
“BofA said sentiment is weakest among financial-services firms. As it happens, those are the companies most likely to entertain clients from the box seats or luxury suites at a Knicks or Mets game. Sounds like they’re planning to spend less.”
--In 2009, a North Carolina father and son discovered an old baseball card collection in a metal lunch pail that included Roberto Clemente and Sandy Koufax cards from the 1950s. But somehow, Ben and his dad overlooked a “Shoeless” Joe Jackson card. Ten years later, Ben decided to take inventory of the cards and realized the minor-leaguer pictured on the 1910 card was Jackson. It depicts him during his stint with the Class AA New Orleans Pelicans.
Earlier this week, the Shoeless Joe card sold at auction (Heritage) for $492,000. The card had just a 3.5 PSA grade out of 10.
Jackson, who many believe should be in the Hall of Fame, was a .356 career hitter, but he was one of the Chicago White Sox players banned for life for allegedly throwing the 1919 World Series. Many believe he was innocent and point to facts like he hit .375 in the Series (12 for 32, six RBIs).
[Shoeless Joe’s last season, 1920, he hit .382 and struck out just 14 times in 570 ABs.]
--Baseball-Reference has this cool column “This Day in Baseball,” so, for example, on May 6, 1953: “Browns pitcher Bobo Holloman throws a 5-walk, 3-strikeout no-hitter against the Philadelphia Athletics. Holloman is the last pitcher to record a no-hitter in his first major league start, although he would go on to make only 9 more starts and be out of baseball by the end of next season.”
Holloman was actually making his debut at age 30.
But as Johnny Mac reminds me, Bobo also drove in three runs in his no-no with his only 2 hits of his major-league career (2-for-19).
--Saturday would have been the late Hall of Famer and eight-time N.L. batting champion Tony Gwynn’s 60th birthday. It really is staggering how the guy never struck out, especially for a player of his era. Like six seasons, 1991-1996, when he never fanned more than 19 times in a full campaign.
Bu Johnny Mac points out Gwynn’s success against two of the best of his generation, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz.
Gwynn hit .415 (39 for 94) off Maddux, with 0…zero…strikeouts in 107 plate appearances.
Against Smoltz, Gwynn hit .444 (32 for 72), with one strikeout in 75 PAs.
--Zack Braziller / New York Post
“Trying to restart the NBA season is simply not worth the risk as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the country, Shaquille O’Neal believes.
“If it was up to him, it would already be over.
“ ‘We should scrap the season,’ the Hall of Fame center told The Post in a phone interview. ‘Continue to care about the safety of the players and the people, let the government figure out how they’re going to get rid of this thing forever. I hate hearing this statement, oh it’s going to come back, it’s going to come back.’
“It remains uncertain whether the NBA can return. On Friday the league opened practice facilities for voluntary, individual, socially distanced workouts in locations where there weren’t stay-at-home orders. Only the Trail Blazers and Cavaliers were expected to open Friday, while the Nuggets, according to ESPN, are planning to do so Monday.”
Commissioner Adam Silver had a call with the Players Association and there is still talk of operating out of two remote locations…Las Vegas and Orlando, specifically.
But Silver said that 40% of the league’s revenue comes from money built around game nights in arenas.
“This could turn out to be the single greatest challenge of all our lives,” he told the players.
Silver did say no decision on completing the season needs to be made until early June, but he did express a desire that the season end with a traditional playoff structure that includes seven-game series in each round.
Shaq says: “If we try to finish the season with no fans, you still got to bring in a camera crew, you still got to bring in the trainers, you still got to bring in other people. What if one of those guys gets it? All it takes is one.”
O’Neal said he wouldn’t refuse to play if this pandemic had occurred during his career, but he wouldn’t perform very well. Fans and large crowds motivated him.
“I would absolutely play horrible with no fans,” he said. “Oh my God, I would be the worst center in NBA history, because I need to feed off the energy of the crowd, I need to get my adrenaline boosted.”
--We note the passing of Mike Storen, a former ABA commission, a multisport marketing whiz and the father of ESPN broadcaster Hannah Storm. He was 84, the cause complications from cancer, according to Ms. Storm.
Storen was general manager of the Indiana Pacers and Kentucky Colonels and president of the Atlanta Hawks. He owned the ABA’s Memphis Sounds with musician Isaac Hayes, worked for the Cincinnati Royals of the NBA and the Houston Astros, and was commissioner of the Continental Basketball Association.
--And Heyward Dotson died. He was 71. Some of us of a certain age remember him vividly for helping lead Columbia University’s basketball team to its only Ivy League title in 1968.
Back then, the games in New York and the immediate region, were on local television, and so you had the likes of Columbia, Manhattan, Fordham, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Princeton, Penn, Niagara, St. Bonaventure to follow and it was from these broadcasts, along with Knicks telecasts on Friday nights, and the Nets of the ABA, that I learned to become a fan of the game as a little one.
Dotson was a hard-nosed, 6-foot-4 point guard on a disciplined team, coached by Jack Rohan, that was known for its full-court pressing defense. On the 1967-68 team, Dotson averaged 13.7 points a game, third to Jim McMillian* and center Dave Newmark, and led the Lions in assists.
After graduating in 1970, Dotson went on to attend the University of Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship. He played professionally in Europe but didn’t succeed in the NBA.
*McMillian had a solid nine-year run in the NBA.
--50 years ago, May 8, 1970…the most storied moment in New York sports history occurred, completing a 15-month period of unparalleled success with Gotham’s teams never seen since. What a great time to be a young sports fan, transistor radio under the pillow to listen to west coast Knicks and Mets games.
Jan. 12, 1969, Joe Namath leads the Jets to a stunning upset of the Colts in Super Bowl III.
Oct. 16, 1969, the Miracle Mets wrap up the World Series over the Baltimore Orioles.
An then in the spring of 1970, the Knicks, who had gone 60-22 in the regular season, and then beat the Baltimore Bullets and Milwaukee Bucks in the first two rounds of the NBA playoffs, squared off against Wilt Chamberlain and the mighty Lakers.
The Knicks took a 3-2 lead in the series despite losing captain, and center, Willis Reed to a severe leg injury early in Game 5. With Reed out for Game 6, Wilt had a monster game of 45 points and 27 rebounds, the Lakers romping 135-113 over the defenseless Knickerbockers.
The scene was set for Game 7 at Madison Square Garden, but there was little hope for Knicks fans, Reed out of action again…until he wasn’t.
Marc Berman / New York Post
“In what is arguably the most significant moment in New York sports history, Reed [Ed. shot up with 44 milligrams of carbocaine and 8 cc’s of cortisone via Dr. James Parkes’ needle to mask the pain of a torn right thigh muscle], limped down the Garden tunnel 15 minutes before tip-off… The night halted and NBA history changed.
“ ‘We were all shooting around,” (Walt “Clyde”) Frazier told The Post last month. ‘When Willis came out everybody stopped. The Lakers stopped, our team stopped. The crowd went berserk. I know I was facing the tunnel. I didn’t have to turn around when he came out. I saw him right away. It was so emotional and the crowd never shup up from that point on. They were only able to sing half the anthem before (the crowd) drowned it out.’”
Reed’s status for Game 7 had been a mystery.
“ ‘When we get to the game, Willis is in the trainer’s room, everybody keeps going in, checking him out,’ Frazier said. ‘He’s in there getting the treatment. (Coach Red) Holzman said, ‘Hey close the door.’ He said ‘Whether Willis plays tonight or not, guys, we got to play. Forget about Willis. Focus on what you guys are doing.’ We’re on the court, Willis is in the trainer’s room with the door closed. We had no idea if he’s playing or not. I was thinking how are we going to do this without Willis?’
“Former Knicks forward Bill Bradley had just lifted a warmup shot when he heard thunder.
“ ‘The Garden erupts,’ Bradley told The Post. ‘It doesn’t erupt. It explodes. You look at the other end of the court and there’s Elgin Baylor, Jerry West and Chamberlain, they all stopped shooting. Chills were going up and down my spine when he came out.
“ ‘I learned later (Dave) DeBusschere was the last one to leave the locker room,’ Bradley added. ‘He said, ‘Can you give us just some minutes? We’ll be able to do the rest.’
“In The Post 50 years ago, Lakers coach Joe Mullaney said, ‘You could see Willis hobbling and we thought we could take advantage of it.’
“And that is now how the story went. And it never gets dusty in its retelling, especially on its 50th anniversary. Reed hit his first two shots – baskets that elevated the Knicks to a championship-level performance.
“ ‘On the first two plays, he gets an open shot around 15 feet, Chamberlain hangs under the basket,’ Bradley said. ‘He hits it. He hobbles up and down two times more. Then he gets another shot, 17 feet. He hits it – Chamberlain again backing off. After that, it was all over.’
“Reed said on MSG Network this week it was Frazier’s idea for Reed to launch early.
“ ‘Clyde wanted me to see if I could make it,’ Reed said in excerpts obtained by The Post. ‘I was surprised that he passed (to) me that first shot. But that’s the kind of team we had, open man.’
“Frazier went on to be an unstoppable force on May 8 – in 44 minutes, Frazier dropped 36 points on 12 of 17 shooting, 12 of 12 from the line with 19 assists and seven rebounds while harassing West on defense.
“Bradley calls it ‘the best seventh game of any NBA player. Frazier flew that night.’”
Frazier was actually a little pissed after the game because, Reed, not him, got Finals MVP.
“I’ve never held a grudge against him because of that. But at the time I was upset. I was trying to get on par with Oscar Robertson, West. I was 25 years old. If I could’ve been the MVP, that would’ve meant a lot at that time.”
Instead, being a Knicks champion became everlasting. “ ‘Your money is no good in here’ – I got that all over town for a long time after the championship,” Frazier said. “Free cab rides, drinks. It was really amazing. I couldn’t pay for anything.”
Bill Bradley looks back on that magical night and marvels at Willis Reed. “He put his whole career on the line for the team. That courage is what got the audience – and then got the team.”
Just a few sidebars from Game 7, which the Knicks won 113-99. Wilt was 1 of 11 from the free throw line. Reed played 27 minutes but only hit those first two shots. DeBusschere, befitting his career, was big…18 points, 17 rebounds.
Boy, new head basketball coach Steve Forbes sure has hit the ground running, as much as you possibly can during a pandemic. Some of the Wake players have now opted to return after threatening to transfer, but the Deacs lost future NBAer, center Olivier Sarr, who announced his plans to transfer to Kentucky, after Forbes dissed the school.
“Why would you go to Wake for three years, put all that time in for a prestigious degree, and end up getting your degree at a place like Kentucky?” Forbes said during an appearance on a local radio show.
Alas, John Calipari got the last laugh.
BUT…Sarr does NOT deserve to be eligible right away and no decision has been made as yet by the NCAA, at least that I’ve seen. He should be a normal transfer and have to sit out a year. Sarr has said if that ends up being the case, he’ll pursue the pros rather than wait a year at Kentucky.
--Back-to-back Sundays, May 17 and 24, we have live golf action. Next week, Rory and Dustin take on Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolf at prestigious Seminole.
Then on May 24, Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning are taking on Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady at Medalist Golf Club in Florida. It will be a Four-Ball (Best Ball) format on the front nine and a modified alternate shot format on the back nine, where each participant will tee off and then the team will play alternate shot from the selected drive.
WarnerMedia and the golfers will collectively make a charitable donation of $10 million to benefit Covid-19 relief.
NFL…College Football…and sports in general….
--Have to admit, I looked at my Jets’ schedule when it was released on Thursday night and I hope we are still in it with road games Week 14 and 15 in Seattle and Los Angeles, but it’s tough to care with all the uncertainty.
--A lot of us actually care more about whether there is a college football season at all.
Dan Wolken / USA TODAY
“For all its pageantry and popularity, college football has long been a disorganized, beautiful disaster with nobody in charge to make hard decisions or drive a meaningful agenda for improving the game.
“It is, fundamentally, a sport run by a committee of bureaucrats with little incentive to do anything but advance whatever is in the perceived competitive and financial interests of their conferences.
“When college football is viewed through that dynamic, it makes a lot more sense why it took forever just to get agreement on a four-team playoff, why conferences raid each other’s members every 20 years or so and why simple things like how to run summer camps regularly turn into food fights.
“In other words, college football is not really built to navigate something as complicated as a pandemic. And for all the initial talk of unity behind the scenes among the commissioners of the five power conferences, cracks are already exposing themselves.
“SEC commissioner Greg Sankey has laid the groundwork in recent media appearances to argue that if his schools are ready to play football this fall, that’s what they should do – even if schools in another area of the country don’t have the all-clear to bring students back to campus and resume normal activities. Pac 12 commissioner Larry Scott has urged schools moving in concert. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby has suggested the possibility of a season that starts relatively on time but might face disruption in November or December because of a resurgence of the coronavirus.
“The mere notion that college football power brokers would be comfortable essentially leaving some schools behind because their states are not open yet, and while body bags are still piling up around the country, is both crass and entirely predictable, as institutional selfishness has long been a feature, not a bug, of this sport.
“In fact, in a Zoom session with reporters Wednesday, Penn State coach James Franklin basically said the quiet part out loud: Why should his team be handicapped in trying to compete with the SEC because Rutgers might still be too much of a hot spot to open up on time?
“ ‘I don’t think you’re going to like it and I don’t think people are going to be happy about it, but in reality, I don’t see how you’ll be able to hold up 10 or 12 schools in one conference (because of) two states that are opening up a month later,’ Franklin said. ‘And that’s the same thing by conference. I don’t think you can penalize one conference from opening because another conference is opening way ahead.’”
The thing is, the colleges really have no idea what they are doing when the fall semester opens up end of August (for most). Some schools like Purdue are hellbent on opening normally, ditto colleges in the south, but you still can’t say anything definitively as yet, though hopefully by June 1st we will know a lot more in terms of the efforts to bend the curve and the experiments in reopening.
But some schools such as Iowa are already planning on bringing players back to campus early June.
Left unsaid in Dan Wolken’s discussion, though, is the long talked of need for a college football commissioner. Years ago when the subject was first broached, former Wake Forest football coach Jim Grobe was seen as a natural for the position. Too bad the sport didn’t act when there was movement in that direction.
Thomas Boswell / Washington Post…on the real priority, fans….
“For 50 years I have heard everyone in sports – owners, players, broadcasters, merchandisers, media, gambling outlets and more – say, ‘The fans should come first. …Can’t do it without them. …The fans are the game.’
“And that mostly has been lies. No matter what players, unions and owners said, they took fans for granted as a safe, dependable food source in their ecosystem, just as birds assume there always will be trees to nest in and worms to eat until a wildfire burns down the forest and scorches the earth.
“But that is about to change. The post-pandemic pendulum needs to swing back toward fans or – given their lack of dollars and their fear of crowds, combined with a crisis-hardened view of billionaire owners and millionaire players – they won’t be back in the same numbers.
“Our major sports either can cope with a one- or two-year blow to their revenue, or they cynically can try to ‘pass along’ their billions in coronavirus losses to their fans – and risk a fundamental change that does much longer lasting damage to their environment.
“Since World War II, America has not really seen a combination of high death totals, economic damage, massive unemployment, profound worries and seismic changes that struck every segment of society.
“We have had it good in a long era of American wealth and power. Among the many beneficiaries along for the ride has been sports. Because we seem to become even more attached to our sports as the decades pass, we put up with a lot from it, including a history of greed and self-centeredness.
“But tough times for a whole society also mean rough going for those people and institutions that think they are above the general sense of loss that affects the rest of us.
“Pro sports should not want to be on the wrong side of this fundamental shift.
“For decades, fans have been at the bottom of the food chain, paying higher prices every year for tickets, beers, cable TV, merchandise and assorted junk. Meanwhile, owners are billionaires or close, or they wouldn’t buy teams. The average major league, NBA or NFL player has a multimillion-dollar annual salary.
“Yet since the 1970s, all these sports, as well as the NHL, have had work stoppages, strikes and lockouts – or threatened them. Each time, they have assumed that many fans would pick a side in the fight, thus influencing the public debate and outcome. Is this happening again?
“Right now, Major League Baseball is feeling a rise in tension between owners and players. A desperate sense is growing that if the sport’s annual revenue (more than $10 billion last year) is cut in half or even erased by the loss of an entire season, it will be time to fight over the money pile again. And because that pile is smaller, maybe fight even harder.
“Well, baseball better think again – as should players and owners in all sports.
“Here’s why: Fans, as a group, have far more urgent issues on their minds than sports – including desperately serious subjects concerning their health and their wallets. They aren’t in a mood to put up with being taken for granted by the rich (players) and the richer (owners).
“In addition to our pandemic mood of disorientation, anger and fear, all of which leave us short of patience with complaints from the entitled, the average fans is poorer now, too….
“So memo to every pro league: You are about to enter a different world. And it probably will be an eat-the-pandemic-loss-and-be-good-to-your-customers world.
“It may be a year or more before fans feel safe in large crowds, especially those over age 60. If you give fans any reason to stay away, I suspect they are more likely to do so than at any point in my life….
“Most important, if owners or players think that they are the victims in this nightmare…they are delusional….
“Share the pain – within the sport. But don’t try to pass that on to your hard-pressed fans.
“They are the losses sports can’t afford. The ecosystem will be truly ravaged without them.”
--Since I last posted before details emerged, I just have to note us Jets fans aren’t happy that the team essentially got fleeced by receiver Quincy Enunwa.
We learned that Enunwa is out for the entire 2020 season, and probably forever, having been placed on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, because of a neck injury.
The injury cost him the entire 2017 season. In 2018, he played 11 games and had 38 catches for 449 yards and one touchdown, and then he played just one game last season.
But late in the 2018 campaign, the Jets gave Enunwa a four-year deal, a godawful decision in hindsight.
So they’re stuck with him for 2020, because it would cost $11.4 million in a dead money salary cap hit to cut him – compared to $7.8 million if he sticks around.
So Enunwa’s entire 2020 salary ($6 million) is fully guaranteed, as of mid-March. The rest of his 2020 cap hit ($1.8 million) is his prorated $9 million signing bonus, which was stretched over a five-year period (2018-222) for cap purposes. He earned $1 million in salary last season.
The bottom line is the Jets have sunk $16 million into Enunwa for just one game, in which he had one catch for minus-4 yards. [Darryl Slater / NJ.com]
One other…I failed to mention the signing of running back Frank Gore to a one-year contract, a great move IF we have a season as he’ll be able to spell Leveon Bell
The ageless Gore, 37 on May 14, has 3,548 carries for 15,347 yards and 79 touchdowns, third all-time in both carries and rushing yards.
Yes, he only averaged 3.6 per carry with Buffalo last season, but he’s still dependable.
--Plans to restart the Premier League season are being met by fierce opposition from the bottom six teams, who feel they will be at a distinct disadvantage if the remaining games are planned at neutral sites to avoid large groups of fans outside the otherwise empty stadiums.
Under the league’s constitution, 14 of the 20 teams must approve a plan to resume the season.
Again, it’s about the bottom three being relegated and losing a tremendous amount of money, with no guarantee they’ll be good enough to regain top tier status in the following years. So the bottom three want relegation to be waived for one season, or the season to be declared void, but the suggestion of no relegation, with the league expanded to 23 teams to include three promoted from the second tier, was largely rejected by the chairman of the three professional leagues below the Premier League.
--Roy Uwe Ludwig Horn, half of Las Vegas icons Siegfried & Roy, died from complications stemming from Covid-19.
“Today, the world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend,” Siegfried Fishbacher, Horn’s collaborator, said in a statement provided to the New York Post.
The German-born Horn met Siegfried on a cruise ship and bonded over Roy’s pet cheetah, Chico, which he had smuggled on board.
The duo’s act, which blended big-cat-taming with David Copperfield-esque spectacle, began in Vegas in 1967. But it was their $30 million, 14-year run at the city’s Mirage theater, beginning in 1989, that turned them into global stars at the height of Vegas’ glitzy excesses.
I wish I had seen them.
Dr. Bortrum did, however, in Puerto Rico one year. I was just checking the facts on the story today and he said was standing at the elevator in the resort lobby and who should walk up but Muhammad Ali and Roy Horn!
So Bortrum goes to the show that night, and he said what amazed him was there was no barrier whatsoever, Ali in the front row, Siegfried and Roy doing their act with the tigers, and while Bortrum was in the back he was more than a bit concerned for Ali’s, as well as his own safety.
--Matt Hamilton / Los Angeles Times
“A 26-year-old died Saturday after being attacked by a shark while surfing off the coast of Santa Cruz County, according to state parks officials.
“The attack occurred about 1:30 p.m., about one mile south of Manresa State Beach (an area also known as Dollar Sand Beach)….
“The man, whose identity was not released, was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities said it was unclear which type of shark species fatally mauled the surfer….
“Under Santa Cruz County’s most recent public health order, beaches are closed to the public from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., but people are allowed to cross beaches to swim, kayak, surf and paddle-board.”
--We note the passing of a rock ‘n’ roll legend, Little Richard. He was 87, the cause lung cancer.
It’s amazing how influential he was, given these are his only major hits, all between 1956-58.
1956 - #17 “Tutti-Futti”
1956 - #6 “Long Tall Sally”
1957 - #22 “Lucille”…startling it didn’t chart higher
1957 - #10 “Jenny Jenny”
1957 - #8 “Keep A Knockin’”
1958 - #10 “Good Golly Miss Molly”
But it was really about his live performances.
Larry McShane / New York Daily News
“The wildly influential singer and pianist established rock ‘n’ roll as a genre with just one rule – there are no rules… He was a member of the Hall of Fame’s inaugural class in 1986, and was also an inductee of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
“His stage show, with the rocker vaulting atop his piano and howling like a banshee, became a template for artists from James Brown, to the Beatles, the Stones, Bruce Springsteen and Prince.
“His unrestrained and unapologetic attitude helped shape rock and roll, and he was happy to take the credit: ‘I am the architect of rock ‘n’ roll. I am the creator, the originator, the emancipator, the quasar.’”
Born Richard Penniman, he was one of 12 children, in Macon, Ga. His father was a bootlegger, and his grandfather a preacher. He started out like everyone of his era in the church choir.
Little Richard would flip back and forth between the secular and spiritual worlds his entire life, recording extensively through the years in both.
In the early 1960s, his reformed rock ‘n’ roll band included a young Jimi Hendrix. He lent his songs to all manner of projects, but he would also make hundreds of appearances as his own character, popping up everywhere from “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” to “The Young and the Restless” and Geico commercials.
As a preacher he presided over numerous celebrity weddings, including Tom Petty’s nuptials, and delivered a eulogy for Ike Turner.
Little Richard’s influence on future greats, however, was immeasurable. Mick Jagger said he never realized what an artist could do to a crowd until he saw Little Richard on a 1963 British tour where the Stones were the opening act.
But let’s face it…for decades, Little Richard was kind of a symbol…and he could build as much of a case as being ‘first’ as anyone (though Chuck Berry and Fats Domino reached the top 10 the year before, 1955). Elvis hit the scene the exact same time, 1956, and James Brown didn’t come along until 1960.
To be fair, I should really say Chuck Berry is first. But it was Little Richard’s energy level that, as Tim Weiner writes in the New York Times, “created something not quite like any music that had been heard before – something new, thrilling and more than a little dangerous.”
--Lastly, Jamaican singer Millie Small died. She died at the age of 73, after suffering a stroke.
Small was most famous for her 1964 hit, “My Boy Lollipop,” LT’s favorite. This tune sold seven million records!
The song peaked at No. 2 the week of 7/4/64, with The Beach Boys’ “I Get Around” beating her out.
Top 3 songs for week of 5/7/77: #1 “Hotel California” (Eagles…we’ll leave the lights on for you…) #2 “When I Need You” (Leo Sayer…you go to #1…) #3 “Southern Nights” (Glen Campbell)…and…#4 “Sir Duke” (Stevie Wonder) #5 “Don’t Leave Me This Way” (Thelma Houston) #6 “Right Time Of The Night” (Jennifer Warnes) #7 “So In to You” (Atlanta Rhythm Section…this one was good…) #8 “I’ve Got Love On My Mind” (Natalie Cole…and this was OK…little rally goin’ on…) #9 “Couldn’t Get It Right” (Climax Blues Band…huh…this was not bad either…) #10 “I Wanna Get Next To You” (Rose Royce… B- week…and I did just fine my freshman year at Wake…but then came Armageddon….)
MLB Quiz Answer: Two highest regular season winning percentages since 1950…
1954 Cleveland Indians, 111-43, .721…swept by NY Giants in four in World Series
2001 Seattle Mariners, 116-46, .716…lost to Yankees in ALCS
Next Bar Chat, Thursday…or sooner.