In my article of August 5, I wrote that I was so bitter about the trade that sent Paul LoDuca to Florida that I stopped being a Dodgers fan. The truth be known, I can’t stop being a Dodgers fan. Make no mistake about it; I still think the trade sucks. But the Dodgers will always be one of my two favorite teams; I can’t help it. There now; I’ve confessed! However, the Dodgers kept the wrong Paul; they should have kept LoDuca and dumped DePodesta, their GM.
Story of the Week
JERSEY JOE WALCOTT
Arnold Cream was 33 years old before he was given a chance to fight for the heavyweight championship. On a slow rise through the professional ranks, Cream literally outlived the color bar that kept many black boxers of the ‘30s and ‘40s from meeting their full potential. He was a fearless attacker, and never ducked a challenge. You will not know him as Arnold Cream; you will remember him as Jersey Joe Walcott. He took that name in honor of his idol who fought in Barbados.
Walcott was 16 when he fought in his first pro bout in his native New Jersey. Early in his career, Walcott trained briefly with Jack Blackburn, and was due to accompany him to Chicago when Blackburn was assigned to train Joe Louis. Walcott’s career might have been different had he gone, but he was stricken with typhoid, and never made the trip.
Walcott fought as a second-tier attraction for several years. He had the responsibility of supporting his mother and family, but pay for a black boxer was often skimpy. He sometimes simply could not afford to box, and held a variety of jobs or subsisted on welfare. He married, and over the years fathered six children. By 1941, at age 27, he was fighting only once or twice a year, and his boxing career basically came to a halt.
But in 1945, because of the loss of fighters during World War II, boxing doors started to open for Walcott. He began to be signed for bouts with better opposition. For the first time, he earned a spot in the top 10 heavyweight ratings in Ring Magazine.
In 1947, Walcott was matched against Joe Louis for the heavyweight championship of the world. The fight was held in Madison Square Garden. Walcott knocked Louis down twice, and nearly closed his left eye. At the end of the 15 rounds, referee Ruby Goldstein scored in favor of Walcott, but the two judges awarded Louis the split-decision. Jersey Joe got another chance a year later, but Louis was better prepared, and kayoed Walcott.
Ezzard Charles had become champion. Walcott’s first two attempts to dethrone Charles ended in failure. But at age 37, Walcott knocked Charles out in 1951, and finally became heavyweight champ. He won the rematch with Charles. But in September, 1952, he lost the title to Rocky Marciano via knockout, and lost the rematch the same way in 1953. Jersey Joe then retired at age 39.
After retiring from the ring, Walcott became a boxing referee, and then chairman of the New Jersey State Athletic Commission. Assessing Jersey Joe’s boxing career, esteemed trainer Eddie Futch called him "one of the finest technicians in heavyweight boxing history."
Last Week’s Trivia
Davey Johnson was on deck when Hank Aaron hit his 715th. homer for the Braves. He was also on deck when Sadaharu Oh hit his 715th. homer in the Japanese League.
Trivia Question of the Week
This one is much too easy. When there were just 16 MLB teams at one point, 11 of them were located in just five cities. Name the cities and the teams. See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.