Sports

50 YEARS AGO serious pro basketball was born. Or at least they tried to be serious.

To Horace Albert (“bones”) McKinney, listening over the phone in his parlor on Fourth Street in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the words of Arthur Morse sounded just fine. Morse, who was part owner of the Chicago Stags franchise in the brand-new Basketball Association of America (B.A.A.), was saying, “My friend, if Yankee Stadium was built for Babe Ruth, then Chicago Stadium was built for Bones McKinney.”   Read more >>

A CENTURY AGO a tiny American team arrived in Athens drained from an awful journey and proposing to take on the champions of Europe with—among other handicaps —a discus thrower who had never seen a real discus

That’s what everyone agreed. Jim Thorpe was at the 1912 Olympics, but legend had to make him even more—and draconian rules had to take it all away

Jim Thorpe throws the discus at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden, where he was awarded the gold medal in the decathlon. Americans have always demanded that their heroes be more than human. George Washington had to have thrown the dollar across the Potomac, Davy Crockett had to have wrestled a grizzly, Babe Ruth had to have come through for a dying boy with a promised home run. We all know that these stories are Sunday truths, but somehow the men wouldn’t be the same without them. Read more >>
Some people think that the history of boxing as a glamorous business, as promotion rather than as sport, begins with Muhammad Ali and Don King. Before Ali, they say, boxing was I just a bunch of palookas punching each other. Read more >>

When you’re lining up a putt on the close-cropped green, there are ghosts at your shoulder. More than any other game, golf is played with a sense of tradition.

The oldest golf joke I know is one about the player who threw his clubs into the ocean after a terrible round and the next day was drowned trying to get them back again. To people who don’t play golf, this is a silly story; to those of us who do, it isn’t. Read more >>

Remember the excitement of the 1924 Olympics in Chariots of Fire? That was nothing compared with what the U.S. rugby team did to the French at those games.

It is springtime in post-World War I Paris, the final day of the rugby tournament at the VIII Olympiad, to be exact, and fifty thousand Frenchmen are filing into Colombes Stadium to watch the mighty French national rugby team win the first gold medal of the 1 Read more >>

SMU isn’t playing this season; men on the team were accepting money from alumni. That’s bad, of course; but today’s game grew out of even greater scandal.

During October of 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt, who had recently intervened in a national coal strike and the Russo-Japanese War, turned his formidable attention to another kind of struggle. Read more >>

In 1904 the Olympics took place for only the third time in the modern era. The place was St. Louis, where a world’s fair was providing all the glamour and glitter and excitement anyone could ask. The Games, on the other hand, were something else.

The most arresting figure in the 1904 Olympic Games was a Cuban mailman named Félix Carvajal. Read more >>

The Florida Speed Carnivals at Daytona lasted less than a decade, but they saw American motoring grow from rich man’s sport to national obsession

It has been said that motor sport was the first organized activity in America that drew all social classes together. Certainly William K. Vanderbilt, Jr., and Barney Oldfield would have been unlikely to have exchanged pleasantries otherwise. Read more >>

Forget football, basketball, and all the other sports that are artificially regulated by the clock. Only baseball can truly reveal our national character. Only baseball can light our path to the future.

It was a hundred years ago, and the game has changed a good deal since then. But there are plenty of people who still hold that cranky old Hoss Radbourn was the finest that ever lived.

Greatest Season Performance by Major League Pitcher? One hundred years ago last summer, Charles Radbourn won 60 and lost 12 for the Providence Grays of the National League. Read more >>

The largest Gothic cathedral in the Western Hemisphere has the strangest stained-glass windows in the world

TO A CASUAL OBSERVER , the first window on the north face of New York City’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine looks as traditional and reverent as stainedglass windows the world over. Read more >>

In 1984 Los Angeles will once again play host to the Summer Olympics. It’s got to be easier that the first time. That was just fifty years ago, when, in the teeth of the Great Depression, a group of local boosters boldly set about planning

March 1925. Read more >>

Was it science, sport, or the prospect of a round-the-world railroad that sent the tycoon off on his costly Alaskan excursion?

The railroad tycoon Edward Harriman was a man of large vision and mysterious ways. When, on a day in March of 1899, he strode into the Washington office of Dr. C. Hart Merriam, chief of the U.S. Read more >>

It was fifty years ago that Bobby Jones won his Grand Slam, making him the only man who ever has—or probably ever will—conquer the “Impregnable Quadrilateral” of golf

Francis Albertanti, assistant sports editor of the New York Evening Mail, considered baseball, boxing, and horse racing the meat and potatoes of the sports section. Read more >>

They went to the woods with rod and gun—and gloves, servants, caviar, and champagne

A strange word suddenly appeared in the American vernacular after the Civil War. The word was “sportsman.” It served to define a certain kind of gentleman who took his leisure with rod and gun. Read more >>

How I Beat Jess Willard

Like most authentic folk creations, baseball is deeply and obscurely rooted in the past and its moment of origin is cloaked in legend. There are innumerable threads that go back to the beginning of things, but nobody can follow them all the way. Read more >>

“Your body is a temple,” our ancestors told their pubescent youngsters. ‘Now go take a cold bath”

Standards of propriety were lofty indeed Read more >>

AN INTERVIEW WITH RED GRANGE

Riding to hounds has been as much of a sport among well-to-do Americans as among the British gentry

Ask anyone where fox hunting originated and odds are he will respond promptly, “Why, the British Isles, of course.” Indeed, the cry of “Tallyho!” conjures up visions of Lord or Lady Poddlesmere galloping across the English countryside, leaping mammoth hedges for hours on end, a Read more >>

What started as fun and games at spring roundups is now a multi-million-dollar sport called rodeo

The crowd roars. The bell clangs. The chute gate swings wide and a beleaguered animal dashes into the arena to put on an exciting exhibition of pain and panic. Read more >>

Pilgrims and Puritans, naturally, hated the water, but by the turn of the century certain pleasures had been rediscovered

For some two hundred years the Europeans who planted themselves on our Atlantic shoreline turned their backs on the sea or merely farmed it. Read more >>

Introduced not quite a century ago under a name born for oblivion, the game itself promises to last forever

Miss Mary Ewing Outerbridge was unquestionably one of New York’s most respectable young ladies. Her Staten Island family was socially impeccable and correspondingly well-to-do; she was seen in the best places at the right times. Read more >>

Concerning the long life, fast times, and astonishing fecundity of Man o’ War

In 1920 William T. Waggoner of Fort Worth, Texas, possessed a string of racehorses, hundreds of thousands of acres of prime cattle land dotted with oil wells, and the firm conviction, apparently born of experience, that everything has a price. Read more >>

They had no chair lifts, and they called their skis snowshoes, but they were the fastest men alive

What may come as a surprise is that this swell swoop has been going on for over a century. Read more >>

Baseball’s rules and rituals are much as they were fifty years ago and anything to win still goes.