Jack and Phyllis Vance of Miami, Fla. wrote to advise me that their 12-year-old son, Pete, is a constant reader of my articles. I love it! We know one thing; Pete will be well informed about the good old sports days. My thanks to the entire Vance family.
Tonight is the bewitching hour for NFL free agency. Several teams have severe salary cap problems, and are letting some highly-paid big names loose on the open market because of it. We saw it yesterday; we’ll see much more of it today.
The Indianapolis Colts have opened as early favorites to win the 2007 Super Bowl. It just ain't gonna happen! They invariably manage to fall short, just as they did last season after looking unbeatable until the very end. 2006 will be no different. The Colts are like pocket aces; they look great, but you can’t count on ‘em. If you want to lose money, bet the Colts to win it all in 2006.
There has never been a tougher NFL player than Ernie Stautner. This note pays my tremendous respect to Stautner, who passed away on February 16th. He was a defensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 50’s and 60’s. He later was defensive coordinator for Tom Landry’s Dallas Cowboys for many years. He was one of the toughest competitors ever to play and coach in the NFL. Ernie Stautner is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
I’m not one to publish non-sports jokes on this site, but I made an exception in this case. I doctored it a bit to make it sports-related............almost. Tony Carro gave me this one:
A female tennis player (now it’s sports-related) brings her pet duck into a bar. The bartender asks, “Where did you find that dog?” The woman replies, “That’s not a dog, you idiot. It’s a duck.” Responds the bartender, “No, no, lady. I’m talking to the duck.”
I wrote a quick take last week about new Saints head coach, Sean Payton. Dennis Cler responded and advised me that, of the 32 NFL head coaches, two of them are products of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, IL. Payton is one; the other is Mike Shanahan of the Broncos. That’s amazing as EIU is a small school with an enrollment of just 11,000 students. And Dennis Cler is also an alum of EIU. Apparently, EIU knows football.
Story of the Week
This week’s feature story is about a guy for whom I have great admiration and respect, unlike his son. He was one of the first major leaguers to blend home run power with base-stealing speed. That statement is justified by the fact that Bobby Bonds had five 30-homer and 30-steal seasons. And guess what……………he didn’t use steroids!
Bonds, a three-time All-Star and the MVP of that game in 1973, hit 332 home runs and stole 461 bases for several MLB teams. He will always be best remembered as a member of his first team, the San Francisco Giants. He began his career with a big bang, hitting a grand slam in his very first game on June 25, 1968.
Bobby Bonds was a dazzling player who approached every aspect of the game with aggression, for better or worse. In his first six seasons, he led the majors in strikeouts three times, setting the single-season record of 189 K’s in 1970.
“When I pitched against him, I loved to watch him swing at those high fastballs,” Hall of Famer Tom Seaver recalled. “He used to tease me and say, “Listen, when I go to the American League, you’ll lose three strikeouts a game.”
Bonds hit a career .268, had 1,024 RBI’s, a slugging % of .471. He won three Gold Glove awards as an outfielder, and his combination of power and speed was nearly unmatched. He was very often overshadowed by his close friend and long-time teammate, Willie Mays, but he became just the fourth player ever to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in the same season, in 1969 with the Giants. Mays was the only player to do it more than once before Bobby did it five times in his 14-year career. In fact, Bonds nearly became the first 40-40 player in the majors. In 1973, he hit 39 home runs and stole 43 bases.
Bobby Bonds played seven seasons with San Francisco, and spent a total of 23 years with the Giants as a player, coach, scout or a member of the front office.
Does Bobby Bonds with his specific stats belong in the Hall of Fame? I would not vote him into the Hall. However, his accomplishments were impressive, and I always admired his aggressive and exciting style of play, at bat, on the bases and in the field. He often vocalized about his great love for the game of baseball, and he showed it.
Bobby Bonds died in 2003 after a long bout with lung cancer and a brain tumor. He was just 57 years old.
Last Week’s Trivia
On November 30, 1974, in a game at the L. A. Coliseum, Notre Dame had a 24-0 lead on USC with less than a minute to go in the first half. The Trojans scored before the half ended on a Pat Haden-Anthony Davis pass with just six seconds left, making the score 24-7 Irish at the break. USC then proceeded to reel off 48 more unanswered points in the second half, winning the game 55-24. All 55 points were scored in less than 17 minutes of play. You’ll really remember that game if you were a fan of USC………and left at halftime.
Trivia Question of the Week
What head coach has the highest winning % in NFL history? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.