Topics in the News
Antitrust, Unions and Dynasties
Organizing to Fight the Man.
On 9 November 1953 the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 against George Toolson, Walter Kowalski, and Jack Corbett, three baseball players who challenged baseball's exemption from antitrust laws. In reaching their surprising decision, the court let stand its ruling in the famous 1922 case, Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore v. National League of Professional Clubs, declaring that organized baseball did not constitute interstate commerce and was therefore outside the scope of anti-trust laws. On 12 July 1964 the players formed the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), the first truly effective sports union in America. The MLBPA would spend the next twenty-five years struggling to overturn baseball's "reserve system" that perpetually bound a player to one club. The ultimate goal of the players was "free agency," which would let them, like any other worker in America, work for whoever might hire them.
The reserve clause was simple. A club that wanted to trade a player could do so without notice. A player who wanted to move to another team could play for a year without a contract, but he could only sign with his original team, because the other teams in the league respected the right of the original team to make the first offer. This offer was also the only offer. In effect,...
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If box scores were the only clue to what happened in Major League Baseball during the 1950s, then one would have to conclude that baseball had changed little. The American League's New York Yankees remained the class outfit of the big leagues and continued their winning ways. Although by the beginning of the decade it was clear to all who followed the sport that the career of the great Joe DiMaggio, whose brilliant hitting and fielding had dazzled fans at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, was coming to an end, the team had an abundance of pinstriped talent to pick up where he left off. But, despite the Yankees' continued tradition of winning, America's favorite pastime was changing in the 1950s, and the changes were drastic in their social and cultural impact.
Baseball's Watershed Decade.
Baseball had begun to integrate in 1947, and fans in the 1950s witnessed a migration of black players from the Negro leagues and toward the big-league cities. Baseball itself migrated: in 1957 the Brooklyn Dodgers, the pride of Flatbush, did the unthinkable and headed west to Los Angeles; the New York Giants followed the Dodgers west and landed in San Francisco. Other teams had already abandoned their tired-looking East Coast ballparks, where attendance was falling, and had gone to faraway places such as Kansas City and Milwaukee, where...
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Basketball: From NCAA Fast Times to NBA Fast Breaks
At the start of the 1950s Basketball was a local and regional spectator sport in America. While it is true that this distinctly American game (invented
College basketball saw perhaps both its finest and its worst hour of the decade in 1950. In the spring City College of New York (CCNY), which had gone 17-5 during the regular season pulled off the singular feat of winning both the National Invitational Tournament (NIT)—CCNY 69, Bradley 61—and the National Collegiate Athletics Association...
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The Birth of Sports Illustrated
A Sports Magazine.
On 16 August 1954 sports journalism in America was changed forever when Sports Illustrated hit the newsstands. The first issue's cover showed Milwaukee Braves slugger Eddie Matthews taking one of his enviable home-run swings. Two major differences would separate this magazine from all the other sports journals. First, Sports Illustrated was directly aimed at the American middle-class consumer and budding television-sports spectator; second, and perhaps more important, SI was a property of the Henry Luce media empire that included Time and Life, and so SI was guaranteed the financial backing and time required to find its audience.
During the 1950s Sports Illustrated was casting about for its readership; and at the end of the decade it was still sorting out exactly what sports to cover. For the first five years just about anything could and would appear in its pages: women's sports and rodeo, hunting and fishing, travel, track...
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King and Queen.
Marion Ladewig and Don Carter were queen and king of the country's most popular participation sport. With the advent of automatic pinsetters and more-predictable wood oils, bowling became a game that was fun, accessible to all, and fairly easy to master. It was not surprising then that champions came from common origins. A truly middle-class sport for middle-class people, bowling was, in its own way, the greatest success story of the decade.
Bowling tournaments were televised locally all across the country. Handicap tournaments which allowed lesser bowlers an advantage calculated on the basis of previous performances, were popular in bowling alleys all over the country. Ordinary Joes could battle professionals such as the great Don Carter, with a reasonable expectation to make the pros at least sweat. By the end of the decade, the ABC television network was preparing to begin its long and profitable relationship with bowling.
Bowling Proprietors' Association of America (BPAA) Championship (Men's Division)
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In many ways boxing in the 1950s had changed little since the era of John L. Sullivan: it was a sport that drew its participants from mostly urban lower-class black, Italian, and Irish neighborhoods—yet was avidly followed by both the poor and the blue bloods. The American public celebrated boxing's champs as the true sports kings, the ultimate athletes competing in the most violent sport. Yet sportswriters and fight fans, who looked to the heavyweight division to determine boxing's king of kings, feared that there was no one fighter among the ranks to assume the lofty place that Joe "The Brown Bomber" Louis had held in the 1940s.
After Joe Louis.In the immediate post-Louis years Ezzard Charles and Jersey Joe Walcott fought three times for the heavyweight championship, with Walcott taking the crown from Charles in their third fight in June 1952. The public was unimpressed. Neither man had the punching power and ring savvy that had made Louis in his prime the greatest ringmaster since Jack Dempsey. Jersey Joe held on to his title for only three months before being knocked out in Philadelphia's Municipal Stadium on 23 September by the Brockton Blockbuster, Rocky Marciano. But boxing pundits were quick to point out that Rocky was no Joe Louis, either. Marciano was slow and clumsy looking. His punches were powerfully thrown, but...
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Making New Fans.
Television brought sports to millions of new fans in the 1950s. Since 1921, when the first baseball game was broadcast on radio, avid sports fans had become accustomed to following the fortunes of their teams as play-by-play announcers vividly described the action. Baseball lent itself particularly well to radio reporting, and fans became as attached to their team's announcer as to the team itself. The announcer was the voice of the team, the narrator of the sports drama: as the decade began. Curt Gowdy announced for the Boston Red Sox, By Samm for the Philadelphia Phillies, Bob Prince for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Waite Hoyt for the Cincinnati Reds, Harry Caray for the Saint Louis Cardinals, Russ Hodges for the Giants, Mel Allen for the New York Yankees, and Red Barber for the Brooklyn Dodgers. They were celebrities and they were paid well. Red Barber earned $50,000 per year from the New York Yankees in 1954 after the Dodgers left Brooklyn,
Sports for Television.
At the beginning of the decade, television was best equipped to handle sports that required little space and delivered plenty of action—wrestling, boxing, and roller derby, for example. Early in the decade, more than two hundred television stations carried at least one wrestling match per week. They were easy to stage, because the matches were really...
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Cold War Olympics
The Pride of Nations.
The leaders of the Olympic Games have always insisted that the Olympics are above politics, that the nations of the world can meet on the field of sport and allow political differences to be over-shadowed by the spirit of competition and fair play. Unfortunately it has never happened. When matters of national pride are displayed on a public stage for the whole world to see, even athletes become political tools. Avery Brundage himself, in the 1950s the president of the International Olympic Committee, had outraged many Americans when he chose to replace several talented Jewish sprinters in 1936, so as not to further embarrass the leader of the host German state, Adolf Hitler, when black American athletes, led by Jesse Owens, dominated the Munich Games.
Turned Away at the Gates.
In 1952 the world was facing the possibility of full-scale nuclear war. The United States and the Soviet Union were bitterly competing for world domination, at least ideologically, in Europe, Asia, and Africa. The Soviet Union participated on the field in Helsinki, but the team refused quarters with other nations in the Olympic Village. In fact, the Soviet Union and its satellite nations housed their athletes in their own quarters and enclosed the quarters with barbed wire. No outsider was welcome at the Otaniemi camp. Even news reporters, no...
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Football: The Fields of Friendly Strife
Professional Football's Increasing Popularity.
During the 1950s college football was surpassed in popularity by professional football. With the increased number of games on television and the growing efficiency of air transportation, regionalism became less of a factor in attracting fans. Pro teams could play throughout the country and fans could follow the fortunes of their favorite teams on television; like most pro sports, football promoted individual sports heroes. College athletes had a maximum of four years' exposure to a team's fans. Pro athletes could attract the fans' attention for their entire careers.
Colleges had always been able to maintain the interest of alumni, but they had to rely on other, largely symbolic attractions for other fans. Colleges often battled for prestige and superiority, based on team rivalries between states and regions, and among ethnic groups, religious and political beliefs, and ways of life. Of all the teams in college football, it was the "Fighting Irish" of Notre Dame that during the 1920s and 1930s built a fame based on winning football and a spirit of Roman Catholicism that transcended even ethnicity. This small, midwestern, Catholic liberal-arts college became the focal point of the lives of sports fans who had never left the city or even graduated from high school. Notre Dame...
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A Game with an Elitist Reputation.
Like tennis, golf in America was a game that had grown around the nation's country clubs. Its participants were white and affluent—men and women of leisure who could afford to spend four hours of their day touring the lush, rolling links that were cared for by those who could not afford to play the game.
The Hogan Era.
In the 1950s, however, golf was no longer just a game for the idle rich: the game became a sport. This transformation had much to do with a wiry, poker-faced Texan—Ben Hogan. Hogan attacked the golf course with a single-minded ferocity that came closer to evoking an image of a linebacker than that of a golfer. His mental and physical toughness were beyond question. After suffering serious injuries in a 1949 car crash, he came back to win the 1951 Masters. His win at the 1951 U.S. Open, however, was the one that stunned sports fans. That year the Open was held at long and treacherous Oakland Hills in Birmingham, Michigan. After shooting an unheard-of final-round score of three-under-par sixty-seven, Hogan announced with the grim arrogance of a pugilist, "I'm glad that I brought this course, this monster, to its knees."
Changing of the Guard.By the mid 1950s it had become clear that the era of Hogan was approaching an end. With...
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Horse Racing Near Misses
Horse as Symbol.
Easily the most popular spectator sport in the United States during the 1950s was horse racing. Perhaps as a result of attention directed to the war effort, the quality of race horses declined sharply in the 1950s. But then the great horses of the 1940s had set a standard difficult to match. Horses of the 1950s were measured against four Triple Crown winners from the 1940s: Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), and the magnificent Citation (1948), who in 1951 became the first horse in racing history to earn $1 million.
The 1950s was a decade of near misses in horse racing. The most famous miss was when Willie Shoemaker misjudged the finish line of the 1957 Kentucky Derby to allow Iron Liege to nose out Gallant Man. The result of Shoemaker's miscalculation is the universal bullseye symbol that now marks the finish line.
More Near Misses.
The Triple Crown—the designation reserved for winners of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes—was nearly won—which is to say was nearly missed—five times in the decade. Middleground (1950), Native Dancer (1953), Nashua (1955), and Needles (1956) all lost either the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness. Tim Tam in 1958 won the first two legs, only to lose the Belmont Stakes, All...
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Canada's National Sport.
In the 1950s the National Hockey League (NHL) simply stayed put. There were no franchise changes, few television contracts, and for most people in the United States the NHL remained invisible. There were only six franchises, with four in the United States: Boston, New York, Detroit, and Chicago. The only Canadian teams were Toronto and Montreal. Americans outside of the Northeast paid little attention to hockey.
To the dismay of Canadians an American team, the Detroit Red Wings, dominated the sport from the late 1940s through the middle of the 1950s, and Red Wing offensive star Gordie Howe was the league's preeminent player. Howe may have played for an American team, but he was, like every other player in the NHL, a Canadian. Tommy Williams of Minnesota joined the Boston Bruins in the later part of the decade and was, for a long time, the only American in the league. During the later part of the decade...
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Integration at What Cost?
On 9 April 1947 the Brooklyn Dodgers became the first modern team in Major League Baseball to employ a black man as a player. When Branch Rickey hired Jackie Robinson, it was trumpeted as a major breakthrough in the integration of the "separate but equal" world of sports and as a signal that all of America was ready to move toward integration. Jackie Robinson would become a hero for black Americans even more important than Jesse Owens or Joe Louis. The National League teams seemed to see the direct impact of signing black stars. Roy Campanella won the 1951 NL MVP and a black won the MVP award every other year in the decade except 1952: Campanella won two more (1953 and 1955), Willie Mays won in 1954, Don Newcombe in 1955, Hank Aaron in 1957, and Ernie Banks won in 1958 and 1959.
Brother Against Brother.
The decade of race relations in America was exemplified by what Jackie Robinson was called on to do in the name of patriotism. In 1950 the House Un-American Activities Committee was at the peak of its power, holding hearings to investigate the infiltration of communism into American institutions. Paul Robeson, a former black college football and track star for Rutgers and in 1950 an actor living in Europe, had denounced the racist society of America in 1949 and had defected to the Soviet Union. In 1950 Robinson, at the...
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Little League Big Men
The President's Council on Youth Fitness (PCYF) was established in 1957 because Eisenhower was shocked to learn that American youth fared miserably in fitness tests when compared to youth in Europe. The council was hastily established so that the government could demonstrate support for preparing its children, especially boys. Vice-president Nixon was the first chairman of the council, but soon this largely symbolic role was given over to sports leaders. Bud Wilkinson, Oklahoma's football coach, took over leadership. The PCYF was another way to fight the cold war. Its impact was negligible largely because America was quickly moving toward being a sedentary society and because the focus of the movement fell not on fitness but sports. The PCYF was more intent on moral character than physical fitness, and it was during the 1950s that youth sports, particularly Little League Baseball and Pop Warner Football, taught boys how to become men.
Rise of Little League.
The original intentions of Little League Baseball were local, grass roots, and good. It started in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to provide boys with something clean and fun to do after school. Little League, however, quickly became an institution that rivaled the Boy Scouts for fostering political ideology. Little boys were not just playing baseball, they were becoming...
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The Olympics for All
The Olympic Spirit Reclaimed.
After the end of World War II the International Olympic Committee (IOC) consciously attempted to return to the principles upon which the modern Olympic Games were based: "To the Glory and Honor of Youth"; "Higher, Faster, Stronger"; "It's not the winning, but the taking part." The IOC entered the 1950s with genuine eagerness to celebrate the spirit of amateurism.
A Self-Made Leader.
Avery Brundage, long-time leader of the Olympic movement in America, became president of the IOC in 1952. Brundage had himself been on the 1912 U.S. Olympic team and participated in Stockholm in the decathlon and pentathlon, only to be overshadowed by Jim Thorpe. Later in life, having earned a fortune in construction, Brundage had the resources to retire from his business and lead the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) from 1928 to 1935 and the U. S. Olympic Committee from 1929 to 1953. Brundage always approached sports as he had his business career, with a firm belief in self-determination and the positive effect of hard work. The success of the Olympic Games of the 1950s allowed him to lead the movement into the age of television and worldwide audiences in the billions.
1952 Winter Games—Oslo, Norway.
An unheralded American, Andrea Mead Lawrence, surprised observers by winning...
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Gibson, Althea 1927-
Born in Silver, South Carolina, in 1927, Althea Gibson became the dominant female athlete of the late 1950s in a sport well known for its custom of racial segregation. Tennis was not Gibson's first sport; instead, she shot pool, bowled, and played basketball. She even boxed a little.
Childhood in Harlem.
During the Depression the Gibson family moved north to Harlem. When she was ten years old, Gibson became involved with the Police Athletic League (PAL) movement known as "play streets." Essentially, PAL was an attempt to help troubled children establish work habits they would use later in life. In 1940 in Harlem, PAL promoted paddleball. After three summers of paddleball competition Gibson was so good that the Cosmopolitan Tennis Club sponsored her to learn the game of tennis and proper social behavior.
In 1942 Gibson began winning tournaments sponsored by the American Tennis Association (ATA), the black counterpart to the United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA). In 1944 and...
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Hogan, Ben 1912-
The Greatest Golfer?
It is impossible to certify the claim that Ben Hogan is the greatest golfer who ever lived. Certainly there have been others who have won more money and titles, others who have greater natural ability, and others who have more charisma. Yet none worked as hard, has overcome greater obstacles, or has been as dominant during his hey day as Ben Hogan.
Career in Jeopardy.
In 1949, while driving to a golf appointment, Hogan's car was hit head on by a bus. Remarkably, Hogan lived, but he suffered fractures of his left collarbone, pelvis, left ankle, and a rib. Doctors were certain that Hogan would never be able to play world-class golf again; they questioned whether he would ever walk. Amazingly, less than a year and a half later, in great pain and his legs wrapped in bandages, Hogan again won the U.S. National Open.
His Greatest Year.
In his career Hogan won over sixty tournaments, including the U.S. Open four times (1948, 1950, 1951, 1953), the Professional Golf Association (PGA) tournament twice (1946, 1948), the Masters twice (1951, 1953), and the British Open once (1953). The most incredible performance of Hogan's career, however, was in 1953, when he almost became the first golfer to win the "new" Grand Slam of golf. Hogan...
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Mantle, Mickey 1931-
A brief summary of Mickey Mantle's record would read something like this: New York Yankee outfielder who was one of the dominant power hitters of the 1950s and early 1960s. Blended a rare combination of speed and switch-hitting power. Won the American League Triple Crown in 1956, was three-time American League Most Valuable Player (1956, 1957, 1962), led the league in home runs four times, and played on seven World Series winning teams.
This summary, however, would not tell the whole story. The truth is that Mantle may have been, during the 1950s, better than any player in history. At this time Mantle was a far better performer than his great National League contemporary, Willie Mays.
Researchers who study baseball are known as sabermetricians. These researchers have more mathematical means...
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Marciano, Rocky 1923-1969
HEAVYWEIGHT BOXING CHAMPION
Holding the Throne.
In 1951 Jersey Joe Walcott knocked out Ezzard Charles to become the oldest heavyweight boxing champion of the world. But the real story of the year was that he was simply holding onto the crown until Rocco F. ("Rocky") Marciano assumed his rightful place as king of boxing. After three years of obligatory tuneup fights, Marciano, then an old rookie at twenty-nine, sent the boxing world a message with his cold-blooded and efficient pummeling of Joe Louis in 1951. If Marciano could render the former-best helpless, it was clear that he was only marking time before he took Walcott out.
On 23 September 1952 Marciano got to meet Walcott, and knocked him out in the thirteenth round. On 15 May 1953, in his first title defense, a rematch, Marciano knocked out Walcott in the first round. For the next three years Marciano fought and won twice a year; only his 17 June 1954 victory over Charles was difficult—a...
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Mays, Willie 1931-
The Rookie Year.
When Willie Mays reported to the New York Giants in 1951 to play centerfield, it was his good fortune that there were two black outfielders, Monte Irvin and Hank Thompson, already on the team. The Giants were, along with the Brooklyn Dodgers, the only team really serious about desegregation. Perhaps because he felt relatively safe or because he had Irvin to mentor him, Mays's impact on the Giants was tremendous. His first and only hit in his first twenty-seven at bats was a home run that many claimed traveled six hundred feet; seven of his first ten hits were home runs. In Mays's rookie year the Giants made their remarkable comeback against the Dodgers; Mays was on deck when Bobby Thomson hit his famous home run, called "The shot heard 'round the world."
Mays's career was put on hold in 1952 when he went into the army. Without him the Giants fell to second in 1952 and fifth in 1953; when Mays returned in 1954, the Giants won the pennant again. In the eighth inning of game one of the 1954 World Series against Cleveland with the score tied, Mays made his famous back-to-the-plate catch of Vic Wertz's 440-yard blast with two men out. After the Giants won the World Series, Mays was featured on the cover of Time magazine. Mays was the first player to hit 30 home...
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Robinson, Sugar Ray 1921-1989
The Greatest Ever.
Sugar Ray Robinson is said to be pound for pound the greatest boxer who ever lived. In the world of professional boxing, although hardly anyone can agree on anything, there is general agreement among those who know the sport that Sugar Ray Robinson was the greatest ever. His boxing record is not spotless. He lost nineteen times and had six draws. He was briefly suspended from boxing in 1947 when he failed to report a bribery attempt. He also had trouble holding onto his money outside the ring, blowing most of his fortune several times.
Yet Robinson dominated boxing for over twenty years, an eternity in a sport that rewards a young man's legs and reflexes. He started his professional career in 1940 and ended it in 1965. During this quarter century Robinson rose in the black community to the status of Jesse Owens and Joe Louis; he was a genuine hero.
Struggle to the Top.
Robinson was, in effect, denied the opportunity to fight for the title contention for over a decade. James Norris, the president of the International Boxing Club, prevented Robinson from a shot at the championship until Valentine's Day, 1951, when Robinson beat Jake LaMotta with a TKO in the thirteenth round to win the middleweight championship; but,...
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Russell, Bill 1934-
A Collegiate Winner.
Bill Russell came into the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a proven winner. He had played in just one losing game in his entire career at the University of San Francisco (USF). His team had won two National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships in 1955 and 1956. After his sophomore year (his first as a varsity basketball player) at USF, the NCAA widened the foul lane from six to twelve feet. This rule change was widely assumed to be as a direct result of Russell's overwhelming rebounding skill: the narrow lane allowed him to control the boards completely. Russell also led the 1956 U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal in Melbourne.
Dominance in the NBA.
Throughout his NBA career Russell dominated the game and pioneered advances in rebounding and defense. His Boston Celtics team won eleven championships in his thirteen years as a player, a basketball dynasty unmatched in American professional basketball. Yet Russell encountered resentment. He was perceived by many in the basketball world to be too cocky and arrogant—especially for a black man.
The Sport's Racist Elements.
In 1958, even though he was the NBA's Most Valuable Player, Russell was not named to the All-NBA team by sports writers. Russell...
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People in the News
Henry ("Hank") Aaron (baseball) Played entire career for Braves (Milwaukee/Atlanta); National League Most Valuable Player in 1957; league leader in hitting, 1959.
Tenley Albright (Olympic sport) Two-time world ladies' figure-skating champion (1953, 1955); won Olympic silver medal in 1952 and gold medal in 1956.
Forrest ("Phog") Allen (basketball) One of the great college-basketball coaches, coaching for forty-eight years; his Kansas team won the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship in 1952.
Red Auerbach (basketball) Coach of the Boston Celtics (1950-1966); his Celtics teams won nine National Basketball Association (NBA) titles in ten years, including eight in a row (1959-1966); NBA Coach of the Year Award is named after him.
Ernie Banks (baseball) Hall of Fame second baseman who played entire NL career with the Chicago Cubs; NL MVP in 1958 and 1959.
Chuck Bednarik (football) Two-time Ail-American college player at University of Pennsylvania and seven-time All-Pro in National Football League (NFL); led Philadelphia Eagles to NFL title in 1959.
Bert Bell (football) NFL team owner and second commissioner (1946-1959) who oversaw the league's entrance into national television; his most significant contributions...
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Major League Baseball World Series—New York Yankees (American League), 4 vs. Philadelphia Phillies (National League), 0
National Football League Championship—Cleveland Browns, 30 vs. Los Angeles Rams, 28
Heisman Trophy, Collegiate Football—Vic Janowicz (Ohio State)
National Basketball Association Championship—Minneapolis Lakers, 4 vs. Syracuse Nationals, 3
National Collegiate Athletic Association Basketball—City College of New York, 71 vs. Bradley, 68
National Hockey League Stanley Cup—Detroit Red Wings, 4 vs. New York Rangers, 3
Kentucky Derby, Horse Racing—Middleground (Bill Boland, jockey)
Masters Golf Tournament—Jimmy Demaret
U.S. National Tennis Tournament—Art Larsen; Margaret du Pont
Athletes of the Year—Jim Kostanty (Baseball)—Mildred ("Babe") Didrikson Zaharias (Golf)
Major League Baseball World Series—New York Yankees (American League), 4 vs. New York Giants (National League), 2
National Football League Championship—Los Angeles Rams, 24 vs. Cleveland Browns, 17...
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Grover Cleveland Alexander, 63, Major League Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, won thirty games for three straight years, 4 November 1950.
Max Baer, 50, won heavyweight championship of the world in 1934 from Primo Camera, 21 November 1959.
Bert Bell, 65, commissioner of NFL from 1946 to 1959, largely responsible for reshaping professional football to the medium of television, 11 October 1959.
Edward Trowbridge Collins, 63, Major League Baseball Hall of Fame second baseman, lifetime batting average of .333, coach, manager, general manager, vice-president of the Boston Red Sox, 25 March 1951.
Hugh Duffy, 87, won first-ever Major League Baseball Triple Crown (.438 batting average, eighteen home runs), his .438 batting average is the highest in baseball history, 19 October 1954.
Clark Calvin Griffith, 85, Major League Baseball player, union leader, general manager and owner of the Washington Senators (1921-1955), largely responsible for the formation of the American League, 27 October 1955.
James Jeffries, 77, heavyweight champion of the world (1899-1905), only loss to Jack Johnson, 3 March 1953.
Napoleon Lajoie, 83, Major League Baseball Hall of Famer (1937), player-manager for Cleveland Indians,...
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Ethan Allen, Winning Baseball (New York: Ronals, 1956);
Lee Allen, The Hot Stove League (New York: Barnes, 1955);
Mel Allen, It Takes Heart (New York: Harper, 1959);
Tommy Armour, A Round of Golf with Tommy Armour (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1959);
Armour, How to Play Your Best Golf All the Time (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1953);
Edward Barrow with James M. Kahn, My 50 Years in Baseball (New York: Coward-McCann, 1951);
C. W. Caldwell, Modern Football for the Spectator (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1953);
Bob Cousy, Basketball Is My Life (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1958);
Parke Cummings, American Tennis: The Story of a Game and Its People (Boston: Little, Brown, 1957);
Arthur Daley, Times at Bat: A Half Century of Baseball (New York: Random House, 1950);
Everett Sterling Dean, Progressive Basketball: Philosophy and Methods (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1950);
Jerome H. (Dizzy)Dean, Dizzy Baseball: A Gay and Amusing Glossary of Baseball Terms Used by Radio Broadcasters, with Explanations to Aid the Uninitiated (New York: Greenberg, 1952);
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Important Events in Sports, 1950–1959
- On February 7, Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox enters spring training as baseball's highest-paid player, with a $125,000 contract.
- From April to May, American sports continue to desegregate when the Boston Celtics of the NBA draft the league's first African American player, Charles Cooper in the second round, and the American Bowling Congress ends its white-male-only policy.
- On April 23, the Minneapolis Lakers defeat Syracuse Nationals in the first National Basketball Association (NBA) championship.
- On June 11, Ben Hogan completes a courageous comeback from a near-fatal auto accident to win the U.S. Open and earns "golfer of the year" honors.
- On July 11, Red Schoendienst of the St. Louis Cardinals goes five for five and hits the game winning home run in the fourteenth inning in the All-Star baseball game. The National League beats the American League 4-3.
- On August 8, Florence Chadwick swims the English Channel in thirteen hours and twenty minutes, a women's record.
- On August 25, Sugar Ray Robinson is crowned world middleweight champion after knocking out Jose Basora in fifty-two seconds of the first round.
- On August 30, Althea Gibson becomes the first African American woman to compete in a national tennis tournament....
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