Thanks to Bob Hubeny for this one. Three proud mothers were talking about their sons. One stated, “My son is a very successful attorney, and he makes $1 million a year.” Another stated, “My son is a brilliant surgeon, and he makes $2 million a year.” Focus was on mom #3 who responded with, “My son is a repairman, and he makes $10 million a year.” The first two mothers seemed bewildered, and asked, “$10 million a year for a repairman! What in the world does your son fix?” Mom #3 answered, “He fixes football and basketball and baseball and hockey and boxing. He fixes lots of things.”
There’s a rule in the NFL that teams must interview a minority candidate (a is the operative word here) for a vacant head-coaching job before filling the position. Any team that does not do so is fined severely. So NFL teams follow this Paul Tagliabue ruling by inviting a black candidate for an interview, and then they hire the Caucasian coach they wanted in the first place. It’s ridiculous and insulting to the minority candidates who are not seriously considered to begin with. Tagliabue should do away with this stupid rule. Let the teams hire whatever retread coaches they want; it’s their right to do so. But don’t insult black candidates by making them feel they have a chance to get those jobs. And once this idiotic rule is done away with, when a black candidate does get a phone call that invites him to interview for the job, he’ll then know that he’s being seriously considered.
Leonard Adams responded to my article of 2/9 re: my opinion that Sandy Amoros’ catch of 1955 being the best I’ve ever seen, and more important than Mays’ catch of 1954. He noted the great catch made by Al Gionfriddo that took a homer away from Joe D. in Game 6 of the 1947 Series, enabling Brooklyn to win that game. Len is right on; it was a great play. However, I still maintain that Amoros’ catch (and ensuing double play as a result) was far more important because the Dodgers conceivably would have lost the 1955 Series without it. The Dodgers did lose the 1947 Series to NY despite Gionfriddo’s great catch. Neither Gionfriddo’s catch in 1947 nor Mays’ catch in 1954 (the Giants swept Cleveland in the Series; it was no contest) had any bearing whatsoever on the final outcome of those respective Series. Amoros’ catch had a direct and positive bearing on the outcome of the 1955 Series.
I’m really impressed with Sean Payton, newly-named head coach of the New Orleans Saints. I heard him interviewed by Jim Rome recently. He is articulate and very bright, and his years with Bill Parcells will be an immense advantage as he attempts to build the Saints. I love New Orleans, and I certainly hope he succeeds and the Saints remain in New Orleans long-term.
Story of the Week
Henry Armstrong was a physical marvel who adopted the strategy of imposing his will on his opponents, suffocating them with his swarming style before running over them like a freight train. But the perpetual motion machine might have been a mere footnote had his manager not been one of the greatest entertainers of all time, Al Jolson.
Until 1934, Armstrong was a struggling featherweight, fighting around Los Angeles with mixed results against relative unknowns. During one weekly Hollywood Legion Auditorium fight night, Armstrong distinguished himself before a star-studded crowd that included Jolson. Jolson liked the human hurricane so much that he underwrote the purchase of Henry Armstrong’s contract.
Armstrong remembered the meeting between himself, manager Eddie Meade, Jolson, and another famous Hollywood celebrity and financial backer, actor George Raft. It was there that someone hit upon an idea that was in equal parts colossal, stupendous and history-making. It was determined that Armstrong should go after not one but three different weight titles.
His eye now on three championship belts, Armstrong won the first in 1937, beating featherweight champion Petey Sarron in six rounds. Despite a 13-pound disadvantage to welterweight champion Barney Ross, he took that crown from Ross, thus winning his second title. Armstrong then dropped to the 135-pound lightweight class and defeated its champion, Lou Ambers. It was an incredible boxing feat that will never again be replicated. What made it all the more unique is the fact that boxing at the time had a mere eight weight classes, and Armstrong simultaneously held world titles in three of them.
Born in Columbus, Mississippi in 1912 as Henry Jackson, Armstrong moved to St. Louis with his family when he was four. He decided to defeat poverty by becoming a fighter at a young age. He finished high school in St. Louis. He fought as an amateur as Melody Jackson. He subsequently moved to Los Angeles. He then fought as Henry Armstrong, and officially turned pro after failing to make the 1932 Olympic boxing team.
Henry Armstrongs’ pro ring record was 151-21-9 with 101 knockouts. He passed away in 1988. Unfortunately, he did not live long enough to enjoy his induction into the Hall of Fame in 1990. It is a travesty of justice that the Hall waited so long before inducting this magnificent fighter.
Bert Sugar is the foremost historian on the subject of boxing. Sugar ranks Henry Armstrong the second greatest fighter of all time, behind only Sugar Ray Robinson.
Last Week’s Trivia
His was a truly amazing feat. I’m not referring to his 56 consecutive game hitting streak in 1941, a record that still lives. It’s another one. Joe DiMaggio just didn’t strike out often. He has the lowest strikeout:home run ratio in MLB history. He banged out 361 homers during his illustrious career, but he struck out only 369 times in the process. His K:HR ratio is just 1.02:1. That’s a record!
To illustrate how unique Joe D’s accomplishment was, home run hitters are known to strike out often. I pulled up a few great hitters to compare to DiMaggio’s tremendous and most unique K:HR ratio. After you see the following, you'll then appreciate Joe D's accomplishment even more:
Ted Williams 1.36:1
Stan Musial 1.47:1
Henry Aaron 1.83:1
Babe Ruth 1.86:1
Willie Mays 2.31:1
Mickey Mantle 3.19:1
I don’t recognize stats and records of steroid users, but suffice it to state that the K:HR ratios of Barry Bonds and his druggie counterparts are huge.
Trivia Question of the Week
This one was given me by my long-time and very good friend, Jules Rothman. We go way back to high school days (daze may be even more appropriate) together. In a 1974 football game, USC beat Notre Dame. Why is that game so memorable and unique? Give me all the details. See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.