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Good Seats Still Available

Sports & Recreation Podcasts

“Good Seats Still Available” is a curious little podcast devoted to the exploration of what used-to-be in professional sports. Each week, host Tim Hanlon interviews former players, owners, broadcasters, beat reporters, and surprisingly famous "super fans" of teams and leagues that have come and gone - in an attempt to unearth some of the most wild and woolly moments in (often forgotten) sports history.


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“Good Seats Still Available” is a curious little podcast devoted to the exploration of what used-to-be in professional sports. Each week, host Tim Hanlon interviews former players, owners, broadcasters, beat reporters, and surprisingly famous "super fans" of teams and leagues that have come and gone - in an attempt to unearth some of the most wild and woolly moments in (often forgotten) sports history.




319: The 1994-95 Baseball Players' Strike - With Bob Cottrell

We explore the traumatic events of Major League Baseball's notorious 1994-95 players' strike - with Chico State history professor Bob Cottrell ("The Year Without a World Series: Major League Baseball and the Road to the 1994 Players' Strike"). More than 900 regular season games, the entirety of the playoffs, and, for the first time in 90 years, the sport's signature World Series - were all lost to the work stoppage, which began on August 12, 1994. The strike ended late into the 1995 preseason, when then-US District Court judge Sonia Sotomayor granted an injunction sought by the players' association to prevent club owners from using replacement players. The ruling forced both sides to come to an agreement, and regular-season play resumed with a delayed and truncated 144-game schedule at the end of April. (Ironically, MLB umpires decided to go on strike just as the two sides settled their dispute, so the 1995 season opened with regular players - but replacement umpires!) Among the strike's biggest victims (besides the fans!): The Montreal Expos had the best record in baseball when the strike was called in 1994. They were forced to dismantle their expensive squad in a fire sale before the 1995 season, a decision that ultimately led to the franchise's relocation within a decade. Tony Gwynn missed his best chance to achieve a .400 batting average in 1994. He was hitting .394 for the season and had maintained a .417 pace in the 25 games leading up to the suspension of play. Matt Williams had a legitimate opportunity to break Roger Maris' single-season home run record of 61 in 1994. Williams had hit 43 home runs when the strike halted the season, ending his pursuit of the record. The Colorado Rockies, in their final season at Mile High Stadium in 1994, were drawing impressive crowds, averaging 57,570 fans per game. They were on track to potentially break baseball's attendance record of 4.48 million, set by the team the previous year. Michael Jordan, known for his basketball career, was playing for the Double-A affiliate Birmingham Barons when the MLB strike began in 1994. There was speculation that he might have been given the opportunity to play for the Chicago White Sox, his major league parent team, that September if the strike had not occurred. The strike also marked the end of the "independent Commissioner" era, as the owners, hesitant to contend with an arbiter who might challenge their unwavering stances, opted to appoint one of their own, Bud Selig, as acting Commissioner. + + + SPONSOR THANKS: Old School Shirts (promo code: GOODSEATS): BUY/READ EARLY & OFTEN: The Year Without a World Series: Major League Baseball and the Road to the 1994 Players' Strike (2023): FIND & FOLLOW: Website: (+ Threads):


318: The WHA & Original NHL Winnipeg Jets - With Geoff Kirbyson

We head "True North" to the Canadian province of Manitoba this week in search of heretofore undiscovered historical nuggets from the WHA and original NHL versions of hockey's Winnipeg Jets - with veteran journalist/author Geoff Kirbyson. Kirbyson's accounts of the Jets' early years in the revolutionary World Hockey Association from 1972-79 ("The Hot Line: How the Legendary Trio of Hull, Hedberg and Nilsson Transformed Hockey and Led the Winnipeg Jets to Greatness"), and the club's original 17 seasons in the National Hockey League from 1979-96 ("Broken Ribs and Popcorn: How the Winnipeg Jets became the best team in the NHL's most offensive era to not win the Stanley Cup"), are must-reads for fans of either incarnation of the original team - and even for curious Arizona Coyotes or current-generation Jets (née Atlanta Thrashers) followers befuddled by the NHL's "official" history. + + + SPONSOR THANKS: DraftKings Sportsbook BUY/READ EARLY & OFTEN: The Hot Line: How the Legendary Trio of Hul, Hedberg and Nilsson Transformed Hockey and Led the Winnipeg Jets to Greatness Broken Ribs and Popcorn: How the Winnipeg Jets became the best team in the NHL's most offensive era to not win the Stanley Cup FIND & FOLLOW:


317.5: The International Volleyball Association - With Jay Hanseth [ARCHIVE RE-RELEASE]

[A scheduling snafu this week gives us a perfect excuse to re-release this hidden gem from November 2019 - enjoy!] You can be forgiven if you never heard of the International Volleyball Association – the mid-1970s co-ed pro circuit that aimed to draft off the rising popularity of Olympic and beach volleyball during America’s wildest sports decade – but the high-wattage media and entertainment moguls behind its creation at the time certainly cannot. The IVA was the brainchild of prolific Hollywood television and film producer David Wolper ("Roots," "The Thorn Birds" and "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" to name a mere few) – who became smitten with the sport while filming documentary footage of the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Wolper quickly recruited a who’s who of well-connected LA-based investors – including ABC-TV (later Paramount and Fox) chief Barry Diller, as well as Motown music studio founder/movie producer aspirant Berry Gordy – and by 1975, a five-team California and Southwest-centric league bowed before modest, but enthusiastic crowds. Ironically, with nary a television contract in sight (despite players Mary Jo Peppler and Linda Fernandez appearing on ABC’s "Superstars" competition, and coverage of 1977’s IVA All-Star Game on CBS’ "Sports Spectacular"), most of the big-name investors had pulled out by 1976. Volleyball magazine publisher Jim Bartlett stepped in to quietly stabilize the league, with legendary basketball big man and beach enthusiast Wilt Chamberlain joining for various roles as player, coach, commissioner, and publicity magnet. But neither could ultimately overcome the PR disaster of a 1979 mid-match police bust of Denver Comets owner-brothers Robert and David Casey (for drug trafficking), nor the promotion-deflating boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics where the US women’s team was expected to medal. IVA standout and beach volleyball legend Jay Hanseth joins the podcast to help “dig” into one of pro sports’ most enigmatic and endlessly fascinating leagues. FIND & FOLLOW:


317: Before the NFL - With Gregg Ficery

The National Football League is back in full swing, and what better way to celebrate than with a deep dig into the primordial ooze from which it and the broader endeavor of professional football evolved - with Gregg Ficery, author of the new and immediately essential tome "Gridiron Legacy: Pro Football's Missing Origin Story." From the revelatory new book's dust jacket: Professional football's backstory was lost, until now. In the beginning, in 1892, pro football was born. Then it effectively died in infamy in 1906. It was resurrected nearly a decade later and soon became the American Professional Football Association in 1920 (renamed the National Football League in 1922). Few are even familiar with the basics of the historical narrative: the star players, the rivalries, and the game's brutality. After its infancy in Pennsylvania, fanatic passion and media hype started exploding around the country for the greatest teams ever assembled in what became known as the Ohio League. More suddenly, the league died because of a gambling scandal. Nobody has ever been sure who was behind it or who were the heroes who saved the game. Careers and lives were ruined, and the game's legacy was left suspended in time without resolution. As of the NFL's 100th anniversary, nobody knows the true narrative that led up to its founding. Gridiron Legacy brings the story to light for the first time with a treasure trove of new research and never-before-published photographs from the career of one of the game's early champions. It is the greatest sports story never told. + + + SPONSOR THANKS: DraftKings Sportsbook BUY/READ EARLY & OFTEN: Gridiron Legacy: Pro Football's Missing Origin Story FIND & FOLLOW:


316: “A League of Their Own” - With Erin Carlson

Hollywood history maven Erin Carlson ("No Crying in Baseball: The Inside Story of "A League of Their Own": Big Stars, Dugout Drama, and a Home Run for Hollywood") stops by the podcast to help celebrate the 30th anniversary of the iconic motion picture that comically (and lovingly) brought the largely forgotten story of the World War II-era All-American Girls Professional Baseball League to the big screen - simultaneously preserving and making history in the process. + + + SPONSOR THANKS: DraftKings Sportsbook BUY/READ EARLY & OFTEN: No Crying in Baseball: The Inside Story of "A League of Their Own": Big Stars, Dugout Drama, and a Home Run for Hollywood FIND & FOLLOW:


315: The Junior Basketball Association - With Brandon Williams

While the NCAA is still the predominant pipeline for rookie basketball talent looking to break into pro hoops, the 2023 NBA Draft showed just how far legitimate alternate pathways have come - especially for eager high school players unwilling (or unable) to go the traditional college route. Three of this year's top-five first-round picks came from two relatively new entities - Overtime Elite (brothers Amen [4th overall, Houston Rockets] & Ausar [5th, Detroit Pistons] Thompson); and NBA G League Ignite (Scoot Henderson [3rd, Portland Trail Blazers]) - with three others from Ignite chosen in Round Two. Neither is more than three years old, yet their collective impact on professional player development has been immediate and undeniable. But they weren't the first to attempt the model. Brandon Williams ("The JBA League: A League of Our Own") joins the pod this week to both explain and dissect the inner workings of the true pioneer of the college-alternative route - 2018's Junior Basketball Association - the brainchild of Lonzo/LiAngelo/LaMelo-sired and Big Baller Brand founder/impresario LaVar Ball. + + + SPONSOR THANKS: DraftKings Sportsbook BUY/READ EARLY & OFTEN: The JBA League: A League of Our Own FIND & FOLLOW:


314: The UK (Hearts) the NFL - With Ben Isaacs

Domestically, American football has never been more popular (or prosperous) than it is today - yet questions continue to circle among the ownership class of the NFL as to how the pro game can continue to grow outside the confines of its current 32-team franchise structure. While the feasibility of pursuing more club expansion within the US is hotly debated, there is no denying that the true future of the league's fortunes rests on its ability to more reliably tap into the massive fan fervor for pro pigskin building in international markets. Ben Issacs ("The American Football Revolution: How Britain Fell in Love with the NFL") makes the case that the UK might be one of the most logical regions to put on the league's shortlist - buttressed by a surprisingly strong history of interest in and support for the game - especially in London, where nearly three dozen regular season games have been played since 2007. In fact, the British Isles have been fascinated with American football for much longer than that - and Isaacs takes us through some of the evidence, including: the NFL's American Bowl pre-season exhibition series during the 1980s; the post-season 1984 USFL Wembley Stadium matchup between the champion Philadelphia Stars and the Burt Reynolds/Tim Bassett-owned Tampa Bay Bandits (for the long-forgotten "Jetsave Challenge Cup"); the ill-fated NFL-sponsored World League of American Football (with the 1991 World Bowl champion London Monarchs); and the reconstituted NFL Europe/Europa and its still-revered Scottish Claymores. + + + BUY/READ EARLY & OFTEN: The American Football Revolution: How Britain Fell in Love with the NFL FIND & FOLLOW:


313.8: The Continental Basketball Association – With David Levine [ARCHIVE RE-RELEASE]

[We round out our last week of summer vacation with a re-release of this listener-favorite episode from June 2019 - enjoy!] Author and former SPORT magazine writer David Levine (Life on the Rim: A Year in the Continental Basketball Association) joins the ‘cast to give us our first taste of the quirky minor league basketball circuit that began as a Pennsylvania-based regional outfit in 1946 (predating the NBA’s formation by two months), and meandered through a myriad of death-defying iterations until whimpering into oblivion in 2009. Often billed throughout its curious history as the "World's Oldest Professional Basketball League," the colorful Continental Basketball Association rocketed into the national sports consciousness during the 1980s – when expansion into non-traditional locales (e.g., Anchorage, AK; Casper, WY; Great Falls, MT; Atlantic City, NJ); innovative rule changes (e.g., sudden-death overtime, no foul-outs, a seven-point game scoring system); and headline-grabbing fan promotions (e.g., “1 Million Dollar Supershot," "Ton-of-Money Free Throw," "CBA Sportscaster Contest") – garnered its first national TV coverage, and even grudging respect from the staid, top-tier NBA. Levine recounts his time chronicling the 1988-89 season of the CBA’s Albany (NY) Patroons, and the real-world stories of the realities of playing, coaching (including a young and hungry George Karl), traveling, and endlessly hoping in a league that sometimes rewarded its members with opportunities at the next level of pro basketball – but more often, did not. + + + BUY/READ EARLY & OFTEN: Life On the Rim: A Year in the Continental Basketball Association FIND & FOLLOW:


313.7: The Major Indoor Soccer League – With Co-Founder Ed Tepper [ARCHIVE RE-RELEASE]

[A summer vacation re-release of a fan favorite episode from March 2019!] We celebrate our second anniversary with the intriguing background story of the original Major Indoor Soccer League, with the man who started it all – Ed Tepper. A commercial real estate developer by trade, Tepper actually got his start in pro sports ownership as the owner of the original National Lacrosse League’s Philadelphia Wings – only to switch allegiances to an inchoate indoor offshoot of the world’s most popular sport after a chance exhibition (between the 1973 NASL champion Atoms and the Russian CSKA “Red Army” team) at Philadelphia’s Spectrum on February 11, 1974. Originally interested in the game’s bespoke Astroturf-covered surface as a potential improvement for his fledgling box lacrosse club, Tepper (along with 11,700+ enthusiastic curiosity-seekers) instead became instantly attracted to the fast-paced action and high scoring of “indoor soccer” – and quickly resolved to make a professional sport out of it. In this illuminating interview, Tepper recounts some of the notable events and influential people along the journey from concept to the MISL’s official debut kick (by Cincinnati Kids part-owner Pete Rose, no less) on December 22, 1978 at Uniondale, Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum – including: Convincing ABA Virginia Squires owner (and eventual MISL commissioner) Earl Foreman of the game’s potential; The instant credibility boost of signing American superstar goalkeeper Shep Messing; NASL commissioner Phil Woosnam’s on-again, off-again interest in the indoor game; How (and why) NFL owners Carroll Rosenbloom and Al Davis wanted in; AND The unsung role of TV executive Bob Wussler in garnering attention for the fledgling circuit. PLUS: The untold tale of Tepper’s very own (barely one-season long) MISL franchise – the New Jersey Rockets!


313.6: The NBA Buffalo Braves – With Tim Wendel [ARCHIVE RE-RELEASE]

[A summer vacation re-release of a fan favorite episode from September 2018!] 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 (third-choice dates for Buffalo’s venerable Memorial Auditorium behind the also-new NHL hockey Buffalo Sabres, and Canisius Golden Griffins college basketball). Snyder addressed the Braves’ on-court issues by luring head coach Dr. Jack Ramsey from the Philadelphia 76ers, while drafting key players like high-scoring (and later Naismith Basketball Hall-of-Famer) Bob McAdoo, eventual NBA Rookie of the Year Ernie DiGregorio, and local (via Buffalo State) crowd favorite Randy Smith – yielding three consecutive playoff appearances from 1973-74 to 1975-76. Off the court, Snyder looked to regionalize the team’s appeal beyond “The Aud” by scheduling select home games in places like Rochester, Syracuse and even Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens – and team attendance, TV ratings and revenues achieved league-average levels. By the summer of 1976, however, Snyder was facing severe pressure to sell the team and get it out of “The City of Good Neighbors.” Of particular consternation was Canisius president Fr. James Demske, who publicly thwarted the Braves’ attempts at decent home dates – which angered the NBA enough to force the issue with Snyder. Snyder, who said he was losing money anyway, threatened to move the Braves to suburban Miami’s Hollywood Sportatorium, a deal that collapsed after the city of Buffalo sued and secured a new 15-year Aud lease – with a provision it could be broken if the team didn’t sell 5,000 season tickets in any future season. Author and Western New York native Tim Wendel (Buffalo, Home of the Braves) joins the pod to discuss the convoluted story of what happened next, including: Snyder’s ownership sales to former ABA owner (and eventual Kentucky governor) John Y. Brown and businessman Harry Mangurian; The subsequent dismantling of the team and overt attempts to drive down attendance to break the Aud lease; The two-season coaching and player carousel that followed – including the curious six-minute career of Moses Malone; AND How the Braves’ eventual move in 1978 to become the San Diego Clippers wouldn’t have happened without the Boston Celtics. + + + BUY/READ EARLY & OFTEN: Buffalo, Home of the Braves FIND & FOLLOW:


313.5: The United Football League – With Michael Huyghue [ARCHIVE RE-RELEASE]

[A summer vacation re-release of a fan favorite episode from January 2020!] It's a return to the gridiron, and a revealing behind-the-scenes look at the brash, but ultimately ill-fated United Football League of 2009-12 – with its only commissioner, Michael Huyghue (Behind the Line of Scrimmage: Inside the Front Office of the NFL). Formed in 2007 out of big-budget dreams to establish a national top-tier, Fall-season minor league pro football circuit by high-wattage investors like San Francisco investment banker Bill Hambrecht, Google executive Tim Armstrong and Dallas Mavericks owner/firebrand Mark Cuban (who later backed out, along with initially-rumored financier T. Boone Pickens) – the UFL was also conveniently timed to capitalize on fallout from any potential labor/owner strife prior to the 2011-12 NFL season, when the league’s collective bargaining agreement with its players expired. The bet backfired when a correctly-anticipated owner lockout of players quickly ended in July of 2011, ensuring no regular season disruption or drama. Over the course of its history, five teams played in the league: the Las Vegas Locomotives, Hartford Colonials (originally the New York Sentinels), Omaha Nighthawks, Sacramento Mountain Lions (née California Redwoods), and Virginia Destroyers (successors to the Florida Tuskers). The Locomotives were historically the best of the franchises, winning two of the UFL’s three championship games, and possessing an undefeated regular season record when the league suspended operations (ultimately for good) in mid-Fall 2012. Big-name NFL coaches like Jim Haslett, Jay Gruden, Dennis Green, Marty Schottenheimer, and Jim Fassel were featured attractions, as were recognizable pro talent like Simeon Rice, Josh McCown, Daunte Culpepper, and Jeff Garcia – to name just a few. Huyghue walks host Tim Hanlon through the numerous ups, frequent downs and multiple sideways’ of the UFL’s brief lifespan, including: how early-career front office experiences in the NFL (Lions, Jaguars), WLAF (Birmingham Fire), and NFL Players’ Association uniquely prepared him to the UFL commissioner’s role; league ownership’s original intention to play as a Spring league; the allure of then-untapped pro markets like Omaha, Las Vegas Sacramento; and lessons learned that could have helped last year’s AAF and this year’s soon-to-launch XFL. + + + Support the show with Dollar Shave Club’s “Ultimate Shave Starter Set” for just $5! + + + BUY/READ EARLY & OFTEN: Behind the Line of Scrimmage: Inside the Front Office of the NFL FIND & FOLLOW:


313: The NFL's Minneapolis Marines & Red Jackets - With R. C. Christiansen

We discover the story of the Twin Cities' forgotten, but undeniably first, NFL franchise(s) with the help of football writer/historian R. C. Christiansen ("Mill City Scrum: The History of Minnesota's First Team in the National Football League"). From the "Mill City Scrum" book jacket: "In the flour milling city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, a group of first-generation American teenagers team up to play football in the sandlots. They call themselves the Marines, and with no high school or college experience, they learn to dominate their opponents using the same offense as the University of Minnesota Gophers. "The Marines later emerge as an independent professional team, and they claim city, state, and regional championship titles, but World War I sends Marines players across the globe. When they return, the Marines face player defections, bad publicity, and low fan support. "A former player and team captain and the manager of the Marines decides to bet his own fortune and the team’s future on a new National Football League. The Minneapolis Marines, later named the Minneapolis Red Jackets, play six years in the NFL and leave their mark on the history of pro football in Minnesota. "Long before Minnesota had the Minnesota Vikings, they had the Minneapolis Marines." + + + BUY/READ EARLY & OFTEN: Mill City Scrum: The History of Minnesota's First Team in the National Football LeagueBorder Boys: How Americans from Border Colleges Helped Western Canada Win a Football Championship FIND & FOLLOW:


312: The Vancouver Grizzlies - With Kat Jayme

Younger fans of today's Memphis Grizzlies can be forgiven for thinking the NBA franchise has spent the entirety of its 28-year existence playing its still-evolving brand of pro hoops in the FedExForum. But this week's guest - documentary filmmaker and Vancouver, BC native Kat Jayme ("The Grizzlie Truth;" "Finding Big Country") - is here to remind us that the "Grizz" actually got its start as one of two 1995 Canadian expansion teams (the other: the still-vibrant Toronto Raptors), scratching out its initial six seasons of chaotic existence in Cascadia country. Despite five coaches, a woeful .219 winning percentage, a raft of questionable draft picks, and an economically challenging US/Canadian exchange rate - Jayme fondly remembers a team from her late 1990s youth which Vancouver embraced with unbridled enthusiasm - yet wonders not only why they left GM Place for Beale Street, but also what might have been had they stayed put in Rain City. + + + WATCH EARLY & OFTEN: Finding Big Country The Grizzlie Truth Born Identities We the West I'm Just Here For the Riot FIND & FOLLOW:


311: Bob Whitsitt

om groundbreaking trades to team-saving negotiations, Bob Whitsitt ("Game Changer: An Insider's Story of the Sonics’ Resurgence, the Trail Blazers’ Turnaround, and the Deal that Saved the Seahawks") has been in the captain's seat for some of the most pivotal moments in Pacific Northwest pro sports franchise history. But before helping rebuild Seattle's SuperSonics into an NBA Finals team in the mid-90s, tame the combustible personalities of the late 90s/early 2000s Portland Trail Blazers, and oversee the development of soccer-inclusive Seahawks Stadium (now Lumen Field) - "Trader Bob" cut his professional sports management teeth as an intern-turned-exec with the fledgling post-ABA Indiana Pacers, as well as a stabilizing behind-the-scenes front office force that guided a tenuous Kansas City Kings NBA club to a new home in Sacramento in the mid-80s. In this first installment of an eventual two-parter, we grill Whitsitt on his early days climbing the sports exec ladder, and set the table for his eventual "game-changing" work in Cascadia country. PRE-ORDER EARLY & OFTEN: Game Changer: An Insider's Story of the Sonics’ Resurgence, the Trail Blazers’ Turnaround, and the Deal that Saved the Seahawks FIND & FOLLOW:


310: "Mallparks" - With Michael Friedman

University of Maryland physical cultural studies professor Michael Friedman ("Mallparks: Baseball Stadiums and the Culture of Consumption") cozies up to the pod machine this week for a thinking man's look into the evolution of the grand old American ballpark - and a provocative thesis of how designers of this generation of baseball stadiums are embracing theme park and shopping mall design to prioritize commerce and consumption over the game played inside them. + + + BUY EARLY & OFTEN: Mallparks: Baseball Stadiums and the Culture of Consumption (Cornell University Press: 2023) FIND & FOLLOW:


309: Minor League Monikers - With Tim Hagerty

El Paso Chihuahuas Triple-A baseball play-by-play broadcaster Tim Hagerty ("Root for the Home Team: Minor League Baseball's Most Off-the-Wall Team Names and the Stories Behind Them" and "Tales from the Dugout: 1,001 Humorous, Inspirational and Wild Anecdotes from Minor League Baseball") joins the show this week to spotlight some of the most memorable names and events in "forgotten" minor league history. When Hagerty isn't calling games for the San Diego Padres top minor league affiliate, he can usually be found digging deep down a variety of research rabbit holes, in a never-ending quest to refine his encyclopedic "double-asterisk" knowledge of baseball factoids and historical lore. For us, it's a callback to minor-league teams of yore like the: Tucson Toros, Huntsville Stars, Mobile (AL) BayBears, Portland Beavers, Hutchinson Salt Packers, Ilion (NY) Typewriters, Montpelier (VT) Goldfish, Kalamazoo Celery Pickers, Saskatoon Berrypickers, Greenville (MS) Cotton Pickers, Porterville (CA) Orange Pickers, New Orleans Baby Cakes, New Orleans Pelicans, Midland (TX) Cubs, Texarkana (TX & AR!) Casket Makers, Agua Prieta (Sonora, MX & Douglas, AZ!) Charros, Corsicana (TX) Oil Citys, Bluefield (WV) Blue Jays, Princeton (WV) Rays, and Pittsfield (MA) Astros - among others. And, of course, we get Hagerty's take on the current state of MiLB, now that Major League Baseball is fully in charge - and where it's likely headed in the years to come. BUY EARLY & OFTEN: Root for the Home Team: Minor League Baseball's Most Off-the-Wall Team Names and the Stories Behind Them (2012 book) Tales from the Dugout: 1,001 Humorous, Inspirational and Wild Anecdotes from Minor League Baseball (2023 book) FIND & FOLLOW: Website:


308: Soccer Sojourns - With Thomas Rongen

American followers of the "beautiful game" undoubtedly know the name Thomas Rongen - but can easily be forgiven for not remembering just exactly how. Of course, there's his current color commentary work for today's Major League Soccer Inter Miami CF - but fans of a certain age will recall the Dutch-born, mop-topped midfielder from his on-field (and in-arena) antics during the halcyon days of the old North American Soccer League alongside international greats like Johan Cruyff, George Best and Alan Willey on clubs like the Los Angeles Aztecs, Washington Diplomats, and two flavors of Strikers - Fort Lauderdale and Minnesota. Younger aficionados might place their earliest recollections of a fiery presence on the sidelines coaching a wide array of pro clubs ranging from successor ASL/APSL versions of the Strikers in the late 80s/early 90s, to early MLS sides like the 1996 Tampa Bay Mutiny, 1997-98 New England Revolution, 1999-2001 DC United, or even 2005's version of Chivas USA - not to mention his two stints helming the US Men's U-20 National team before and after. However, most will undoubtedly know Rongen from his memorable turn as the head coach of the American Samoa national team during FIFA World Cup qualifying in 2011 - forever immortalized in the epically joyous 2014 documentary "Next Goal Wins", and soon to be refashioned as a major motion picture drama of the same name this fall - in which he wills one of the world's perennial soccer minnows into surprising respectability. We cover all of it - and more - with one of the country's most endearing soccer personalities! BUY EARLY & OFTEN: Next Goal Wins (2014 DVD) PREVIEW: Next Goal Wins (2014 documentary) Next Goal Wins (2023 dramatic feature) FIND & FOLLOW: Website:


307: "Baseball's Wildest Season" - With Bill Ryczek

Sports historian Bill Ryczek (Blackguards and Red Stockings: A History of Baseball's National Association; Crash of the Titans: The Early Years of the New York Jets and the AFL) returns after a five-year absence to help us unpack the intriguing story of 1884 - arguably the wildest season in major league baseball history. In his latest tome, "Baseball's Wildest Season: Three Leagues, Thirty-Four Teams and the Chaos of 1884," Ryczek details a fragile professional game pioneered by a still-fledgling National League that found itself not only challenged by a two-year-old lower-priced, Sunday-playing, beer-allowing American Association - but also an upstart third circuit called the Union Association whose president just happened to also own its most dominant franchise. 1884 saw the first incarnation of an inter-league "World Series" (the NL Providence Grays defeating the AA New York Metropolitans); the majors' first-ever African-American player (the AA Toledo Blue Stockings' Moses Fleetwood Walker); a (still-standing) record start to a season (the UA's 20-0 St. Louis Maroons) - and more drunken brawls, mid-season team relocations, player league-jumping, and underhand pitching than any time in big league history. BUY EARLY & OFTEN: Baseball's Wildest Season: Three Leagues, Thirty-Four Teams and the Chaos of 1884Blackguards and Red Stockings: A History of Baseball's National AssociationCrash of the Titans: The Early Years of the New York Jets and the AFL FIND & FOLLOW:


306: Miami Fusion Roundtable - With Joe Shaw, Jim Rooney & John Trask

With the 28th season of Major League Soccer well under way - featuring the debut of the league's 29th franchise (St. Louis CITY SC) and the expansion announcement of its soon-to-be 30th (San Diego) - it's hard to believe that the entirety of MLS was on the verge of collapse after just its sixth campaign in 2001. Instead of pulling the plug entirely in 2002, two clubs - the charter 1996 Tampa Bay Mutiny and expansion 1998 Miami Fusion - were sacrificed, leaving Florida bereft of top-level pro soccer for the first time in a generation, and a league fighting to stay afloat for at least another season. We'll tackle the Mutiny story on a future show - but this week, it's all about the surprisingly important four-season life of the Fusion - a team that never played in its namesake hometown, but left an indelible mark in South Florida soccer history. Joe Shaw, host of the new podcast series "25 for 25: The Story of the Miami Fusion From Those Who Lived It", joins along with former club captain/fan favorite Jim Rooney and team assistant coach John Trask for a taste of what it was like in those exciting, but still-uncertain early years MLS's existence. If you remember the original NASL's Ft. Lauderdale Strikers, or fancy yourself a fan of today's Inter Miami CF - you will LOVE this conversation!


305: "Goodbye Oakland" - With Andy Dolich

If anyone's qualified to weigh in with authority on the current Oakland A's relocation imbroglio, it is our guest this week - long-time professional sports marketing executive and Bay Area-based industry consultant Andy Dolich ("Goodbye, Oakland: Winning, Wanderlust, and A Sports Town's Fight for Survival"). Dolich spent 15+ years in the Athletics' front office from 1980-94 during the Walter Haas era - inheriting the remnants of Charlie Finley's parsimonious ownership, helping usher in "Billy Ball", nurturing a promising farm system, and ultimately, reaping the rewards with a 1989 World Series championship over the market's "other team" - the San Francisco Giants. But before we get there, we take an important introductory detour into Dolich's other exploits, replete with notable stops of keen interest to a certain little podcast - like the NASL's Washington Diplomats, the original National Lacrosse League's Maryland Arrows, and the NBA's Vancouver Grizzlies.