12/30/2010

item 1 >>> It is said that in 1948 Lynn became the first city in the nation to broadcast all its high school football games on TV, WNAC Channel 7. Since few homes had sets, teenagers jammed bars to watch the games, and as a result, a fundraiser was held to buy the Lynn Boys Club a television, no small expense in those days. Heck, from what I’ve heard, nobody in his right mind dared miss the grid-iron exploits of the Golden Greek Harry Agganis…

item 2 >>> Here’s something I didn’t know about the Swampscott Big Blue athletic teams…they were originally called the Sculpins. The name was changed in 1953, with the arrival of legendary coach Stan Bondelevitch, who lead the football program for over 3 decades. Apparently there are hundreds of species of Sculpin, a fish…the most common off the shores of New England is the Spiny Sculpin, seen here…

But take a look an another kind of Sculpin…and compare it to the monster featured in that genre-bending movie Horror of Party Beach from 1964…I’m just sayin’…

item 3 >>> The historic merger of the NFL and AFL was announced on June 8, 1966. Altho an interlocking schedule & standings would not begin until 1970, the agreement called for a combined college draft, a World Championship game following the 1966 season, and inter-league pre-season games beginning in 1967. Thus for 3 years, 1967-1969, exhibition games really meant something, as the upstart AFL tested its mettle against the established NFL. In fact, the first such contest was won by the AFL, as Denver beat Detroit 13-7 on August 5, 1967. Over the next 3 years, the NFL would be the overall victors, with a record of 42-29-1. Since only the AFL had the 2-point conversion, various rules were used, including the unusual experiment of 1968, when no kicks were allowed…all PATs had to be run-or-pass, and then only worth 1 point. And since the AFL used a Spaulding football, and the NFL a Wilson, the team on offense got to use their own brand.

item 4 >>> The second ever NFL-AFL pre-season matchup saw the Baltimore Colts beat the Pats at Harvard Stadium 33-3. I remember very well the extensive press coverage, especially as the Colts were touted as originally being a Boston team…I knew the Redskins were originally in Boston, but this was news to me. And it’s not entirely accurate, at least not in the modern sense of franchises moving from city to city. But it is a fascinating story, going back to the founding of the Boston Yanks in 1944. No, we must go back even further than that, for the history of the Yanks is inexorably intertwined with that of the Brooklyn Football Dodgers.

item 5 >>> Actually, it all starts in Ohio, and the Dayton Triangles, a founding member of the league in 1920. After 10 lackluster campaigns in the Buckeye State, the team moved to Brooklyn. Or did it? Consider another example: after 5 years in Boston, the Redskins moved to Washington DC in 1937…but it was the same team…same owner, same nickname of course, and plenty of roster holdovers…what we’d consider today a “franchise shift.” But there was another way it happened in the old days, what I call “fold-and-replace.” The old team simply closed up shop…sometimes selling the franchise back to the league, other times not. Its place in the league was then awarded to a different owner who essentially started from scratch. Thus, not one of the 1929 Triangle players played for the 1930 Brooklyn Dodgers, who called Ebbets Field their home. Still, you’ll often read “Dayton moved to Brooklyn.” Whichever, the team was sold 4 years later to Dan Topping, who would in the mid-1940s become president and part owner of the NY Baseball Yankees…and the plot begins to thicken…

item 6 >>> But meanwhile…in 1944 a Boston franchise was awarded to Ted Collins, an executive at Columbia Records and manager of Kate Smith. He actually wanted a team to play in Yankee Stadium, thus named his team the Boston Yanks. Their home was Fenway Park, and during their first season they managed only 2 wins…both against Dan Topping’s Brooklyn Dodgers, renamed for this one season the Tigers. The following year, the 2 teams merged…what was intended as a one-year wartime measure. But in 1946, Topping dropped a bombshell: he was quitting the NFL and joining the newly formed All-American Football Conference, with a team that would play in Yankee Stadium, the NY Yankees. All players owned by Brooklyn during the merger year were then assigned to the Boston Yanks…following this? Good, cuz it gets worse.

item 7 >>> After struggling in Beantown for 4 years, Ted Collins moved the Boston Yanks to New York City in 1949, renaming them the NY Bulldogs. They played at the Polo Grounds. 1949 was also the final year for the AAFC…it merged in 1950 with the NFL, the Cleveland Browns, SF 49ers, and Baltimore Colts joining the established league. As part of the merger agreement, the NY Giants got to pick 6 NY Yankees players, the rest being assigned to, you guessed it, the NY Bulldogs, along with the lease to Yankee Stadium. At last! Collins renamed his team the NY Yanks, but after 2 seasons in the shadow of the mighty Football Giants, he sold his franchise back to the league for $100,000.

item 8 >>> In 1952, the NFL awarded that franchise to a group in Dallas. Franchise shift or fold-and-replace? Well, roster turnover year-to-year in those days was 30-50%. Turnover from the Yanks to the new Dallas Texans was 70%. You make the call. But after 7 games, including 4 home contests at the Cotton Bowl, the franchise was returned to the league, which essentially operated it for the rest of the season as a road team…they practiced in Hershey, PA, and their only remaining “home game” was at Akron’s Rubber Bowl. (Yup, we’re back in Ohio…but not for long!) In 1953, the vagabond franchise was awarded to Carroll Rosenbloom and became the new Baltimore Colts…the original AAFC Colts having quit after just one year in the NFL. This was also fold-and-replace, with again a 70% roster turnover. And there you have it. The Colts started in Boston, said the newspapers in August of 1967. Well, kinda, sorta. But for the record, the Dallas Texans were the last team in the NFL to go belly up, as stability, and unprecedented success, was just around the corner.

item 9 >>> Now you may recall this whole thing got started yesterday, when it was noted that the last Tuesday game in the NFL was back in 1946, when the Giants at the Boston Yanks was postponed a day due to heavy rainfall. The New York Times gave the Yanks’ home as Braves Field, altho all the sources I’ve checked say they played at Fenway Park. But here’s an interesting mystery for North Shore folks: Uncle Wikki claims that for the 4 years Ted Collins had his team in Boston, they would play at the Manning Bowl in Lynn when dates conflicted with the Red Sox. Now I have checked sources that list every venue that ever hosted an NFL game, and I mean, every venue, right down to the Eagles versus the Cleveland Rams at Broadmoor Stadium in Colorado Springs, Dec. 3, 1939. No mention of Lynn. Maybe we’re talking about pre-season games? Something to investigate, but even so…an excellent, extremely detailed history of the Manning Bowl I found on the web has absolutely no mention of any NFL games played there.

item 10 >>> But here’s something interesting about the Manning Bowl…it was where the Rolling Stones kicked off their 30-date US tour in the Summer of 1966. Opening acts were the Standells, the McCoys, and the Tradewinds. Tickets cost $5. Now you may have heard that despite their Beantown anthem “Dirty Water,” the Los Angeles-based Standells had never been to Boston. Well, as far as I can determine, they never played there. Lynn was as close as they got, on June 24, 1966. It was a rainy night, and after 10 songs, a downpour sent the Stones scurrying from the stage, with rabid fans in hot pursuit. Lynn police lobbed in tear-gas, and the fracas made world headlines. Oh yeah, and the Beatles, who were considering the Manning Bowl for a concert stop in August, decided instead on Suffolk Downs.

Wicked Ballsy

Almost Christmased out, but not quite. Here are my family’s Christmas stockings, each knitted by my Mom when a new member arrived. You’ll notice that they are really big socks…not the boot-like affairs we think of as Christmas “stockings” today. We were all angels, except for Santa Dad…

shameless plugs hung by the chimney with care…

Podcasts at http://stolfpod.podbean.com and   http://thewholething.podbean.com

Daily blogs at http://stolf.wordpress.com and  https://deepfriedhoodsiecups.wordpress.com

More bloggage at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com and  http://www.examiner.com/retro-pop-culture-in-watertown/mark-john-astolfi

Resume and audio samples at http://home.rr.com/mastolfi

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