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090: The National Football League’s Origin (and Survival) Story – With John Eisenberg

12/3/2018
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Author John Eisenberg (Ten-Gallon War: The NFL’s Cowboys, the AFL’s Texans, and the Feud for Dallas’s Pro Football Future) returns, this time to guide us through the fascinating formative years of the National Football League – and the five now-legendary figures responsible for nurturing its development through tumultuous times and an often-uncertain future into what is now America’s most popular sport. In his new book The League: How Five Rivals Created the NFL and Launched a Sports...

Duration:01:26:53

089: The NBA Buffalo Braves – With Tim Wendel

11/26/2018
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The Buffalo Braves were one of three NBA expansion franchises (along with the Portland Trail Blazers and Cleveland Cavaliers) that began play in the 1970–71 season. Originally owned by a wobbly investment firm with few ties to Buffalo, the Braves eventually found a local backer in Freezer Queen founder Paul Snyder – who, by the end of the first season, had inherited a team that was neither good (penultimate league records of 22-60 in each of its first two seasons), nor easy to schedule...

Duration:03:06:06

088: The 1968-69 AFL New York Jets – With Bob Lederer

11/19/2018
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On January 12, 1969, the American Football League champion New York Jets stunned the sports world when they beat their heavily favored NFL title-winning counterparts the Baltimore Colts to win the third annual “AFL–NFL World Championship Game” – today remembered as version III of the “Super Bowl.” The key to the Jets’ ultimate success, of course, was superstar quarterback Joe Namath – whose talent, confidence and charm had already made him an instant celebrity when he first arrived on the...

Duration:01:52:52

087: New York’s Shea Stadium’s Curious 1975 – With Brett Topel

11/12/2018
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It was, unwittingly, the center of the New York professional sports universe in 1975. The official home of both Major League Baseball’s Mets and AFL-then-NFL football’s Jets since 1964, Shea Stadium was always a busy venue. But when the football Giants and baseball Yankees found themselves displaced by extensive renovations to their shared Bronx home of Yankee Stadium, Shea instantly became Mecca for Gotham sports fans – hosting all four teams over the course of their respective 1975...

Duration:01:17:47

086: The Battle for Dallas: The AFL Texans vs. The NFL Cowboys – With John Eisenberg

11/5/2018
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By the end of the 1958 NFL season – one punctuated by an iconic, nationally televised “Greatest Game Ever Played” championship – interest in professional football had risen to unprecedented levels across the country, capturing enough attention to seriously challenge baseball for America’s chief sporting interest. Nowhere was the ground more fertile than in the state of Texas, where college and even high school football had held sway for generations – but the pro game (last attempted with a...

Duration:01:26:40

085: Houston’s Iconic Astrodome – With Bob Trumpbour

10/29/2018
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When it debuted to the public on April 9, 1965 (with an exhibition Major League Baseball game featuring the newly-renamed Houston Astros and Mickey Mantle’s New York Yankees), the Astrodome – audaciously dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World” by its builders – immediately captured the attention of the sports, entertainment and architectural worlds. It was a Texas-sized vision of the future – a seemingly unimaginable feat of engineering, replete with breakthrough innovations such as...

Duration:01:39:12

084: The 1960s-Era NFL Baltimore Colts – With Jack Gilden

10/22/2018
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The third incarnation of the Baltimore Colts – the second as an official member of the NFL – produced some of the most memorable and dominant teams to ever play the pro game. Winners of impressive back-to-back NFL titles over the New York Giants in both 1958 (the December 28th Yankee Stadium sudden-death overtime final regarded as the mythic “Greatest Game Ever Played”) and 1959, the Colts and head coach Weeb Ewbank surprisingly stumbled into mid-table mediocrity in the early years of the...

Duration:01:36:42

083: The Baltimore Orioles, Boston Beaneaters & the 1897 NL Pennant Race – With Bill Felber

10/15/2018
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Career journalist and baseball history author Bill Felber (A Game of Brawl: The Orioles, the Beaneaters, and the Battle for the 1897 Pennant) joins the big show to discuss the most cut-throat pennant race in American baseball history – a multi-level study in contrast that also symbolically set the course of how the modern-day game would ultimately be played. On one side was the original incarnation of the Baltimore Orioles – a charter member of the 1882 American Association who migrated...

Duration:01:23:47

082: AFL & NFL Football All-Star Ron McDole

10/8/2018
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In a nearly 20-year playing career across the 1960s American Football League and 1970s NFL, defensive end Ron McDole (The Dancing Bear: My Eighteen Years in the Trenches of the AFL and NFL) experienced pro football’s modern-day coming-of-age from inside his old-school, two-bar helmet. From 1961-1978, McDole played in over 250 professional games, including championship runs with the AFL Buffalo Bills (1964, 1965) and a Super Bowl appearance with the NFL Washington Redskins in 1972. A cagey...

Duration:01:31:05

081: Roller Hockey International – With Richard Neil Graham

10/1/2018
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Richard Neil Graham (Wheelers, Dealers, Pucks & Bucks: A Rocking History of Roller Hockey International) joins the big show to delve into the 1990s summertime indoor league started by inveterate sports entrepreneur (and defunct sports patron saint) Dennis Murphy – designed to profit from major arena owners’ desire for summer events, minor league players looking for extra work, and a budding national craze for inline skating. Despite deep pockets from several team and arena owners from the...

Duration:01:21:27

080: The AAFC, AFL & the NFL’s Formative 1950s – With Economist David Surdam

9/24/2018
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After barely surviving World War II, the National Football League of the late 1940s was not only on tenuous financial footing, but also facing an existential threat from an ambitious new challenger with deep-pocketed owners ready take advantage of America’s growing interest in professional football, a newfound surplus of playing talent, and a tantalizing return to economic prosperity. While the All-America Football Conference lasted for only four seasons (1946-49), its mere presence...

Duration:01:39:30

079: The NHL’s New York/Brooklyn Americans – With Dale Morrisey

9/17/2018
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On September 21, 2013, a crowd of 14,689 Brooklyn hockey fans cheered when the NHL’s New York Islanders played a pre-season exhibition against the New Jersey Devils in the sleekly modern Barclays Center – the first-ever contest of its kind in New York’s most populous borough, and one that set into motion the eventual relocation of the team from Long Island to Kings County. What few in the stands realized, however, was that the borough, technically, was the home to a professional hockey...

Duration:01:36:41

078: The United States Football League – With Jeff Pearlman

9/10/2018
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Multiple New York Times bestselling sports book author Jeff Pearlman (Gunslinger; Boys Will Be Boys; The Bad Guys Won!; Sweetness) joins the pod this week to promote his latest literary treasure – a deeply personal devotional about the wild and ultimately misbegotten United States Football League. Crafted from over four hundred interviews and borne of a childhood fascination/obsession, Football For a Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL is a narrative tour de force that...

Duration:01:20:50

077: Before the NHL’s “Original Six” – With Andrew Ross

9/3/2018
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When quizzed on the historical origins of the National Hockey League, most fans reflexively default to the hagiographic construct known as the “Original Six” – the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Detroit Red Wings – as the seminal franchise lineup from which the modern-day NHL was ultimately built. In fact, the league traces its official roots to a much friskier start dating back to 1917 – when, out of the ownership discord...

Duration:01:18:22

076: Gordon Jago

8/27/2018
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We continue our march towards the upcoming 50th anniversary reunion of the North American Soccer League (as part the rechristening of the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco, TX on October 19-21, 2018), with one of the coaching pioneers from the league’s heyday, Gordon Jago (A Soccer Pioneer: The Autobiography of Gordon Jago). After a sparkling youth career with England’s Charlton Athletic and the national Under-20s, Jago quickly segued to coaching in the mid-1960s as an assistant...

Duration:01:38:31

075: The World Hockey Association Hall of Fame with Tim Gassen

8/20/2018
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Buckle up for our sophomore excursion into the legendary World Hockey Association, as we chat with the passionate founder and meticulous curator of the short-lived but influential league’s official Hall of Fame, Tim Gassen. Physically ensconced inside the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth, MN, as well as an expansive online digital presence, the WHA Hall of Fame is the undisputed historical authority on the brief seven-season life and wild times of the iconic 1970s-era challenger...

Duration:01:24:00

074: Clive Toye

8/13/2018
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Soccer America columnist (and Episode #6 interviewee) Paul Gardner summed up this week's Hall of Fame guest in his May 2015 commentary: “The debt owed by American soccer to Clive Toye is a vast one. It is not too much of an exaggeration to say, flatly, that without Toye’s blind faith in the sport in the 1970s, pro soccer in the USA would have withered and died. Yes, Phil Woosnam and Lamar Hunt and Bob Hermann were there too. But in those unpromising years it was Toye’s voice -- it came in...

Duration:01:45:04

073: The Union Association’s Wilmington Quicksteps – with Jon Springer

8/6/2018
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Professional baseball was barely into its adolescence in 1884 when a hard-playing, hard-drinking minor league club out of tiny Wilmington, Delaware―the Quicksteps―got the opportunity of a lifetime. Led by prototypical early era stars like loud-voiced outfielder/team captain Tommy “Oyster” Burns (aka the “Wilmington Growler,” who sold shellfish in the off-season), and Canadian-born curveball pioneer Edward “The Only” Nolan (who was briefly blacklisted from the National League for lying about...

Duration:01:35:03

072: Baseball’s “Miracle” Boston Braves with Historian Charlie Alexander

7/30/2018
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When you’re the oldest continuously operating franchise in baseball (or in all of American professional sports, for that matter), you’re bound to have some stories – and the proverbial dusty boxes of history sitting in the attic of the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park are certainly full of them. This week, we rope in noted baseball historian Charlie Alexander (The Miracle Braves, 1914-1916) to delve into one of the more interesting and oft-forgotten periods of Braves baseball history, when the...

Duration:01:19:52

071: National Soccer Hall of Fame Coach Al Miller - Part Two

7/23/2018
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We conclude our conversation with National Soccer Hall of Fame coach Al Miller, who shares a wide array of additional recollections, anecdotes, musings, and insights from a legendary career across US outdoor and indoor soccer, including: Please check out our great sponsors Podfly, SportsHistoryCollectibles.com and Audible!

Duration:01:28:35