By: Joseph C. Nichols
Date: April 24, 1950
Source: Nichols, Joseph C. "Detroit Beats Rangers in 2d Overtime." The New York Times, April 24, 1950, 28.
When the Hockey Hall of Fame identified the dynasties that have dominated professional hockey, it included the 1949–1950 to 1954–1955 Detroit Red Wings. During those six seasons, the Red Wings finished first each year, won four Stanley Cups (including three in a row, from 1953 to 1955) and solidified Detroit's reputation as "Hockeytown." Thirteen members of those Red Wings teams made it to the Hockey Hall of Fame, including Terry Sawchuk, Sid Abel, Jack Adams, Tommy Ivan, Red Kelly, Ted Lindsay, and Gordie Howe, the most famous of the group. Before the dynasty began, the Red Wings had experienced some success—winning the Stanley Cup in 1943 and back-to-back championships in 1936 and 1937—but they lacked consistency. That would change in 1950.
While the Red Wings had great success in this time period, there were many fundamental differences between the hockey of today and that of the 1950s. In the 1950s, there were only six teams in the NHL: the Montreal Canadians, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, New York Rangers, and the Detroit...
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"Two Ex-Stars Held in Basketball 'Fix' at $2,000 a Game"
By: Meyer Berger
Date: January 18, 1951
Source: Berger, Meyer. "Two Ex-Stars Held in Basketball 'Fix' at $2,000 a Game." The New York Times, January 18, 1951, 1.
About the Author: Meyer Berger (1898–1959) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times. Berger was the author of the "About New York" column in the 1950s, one of the earliest examples of the human interest reporting about the lives of ordinary people and their activities. He was also the author of the book, The Story of the New York Times, 1851–1951 (1951). He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1950 for local reporting on a mass murder in Camden, N.J.
In the 1940s and 1950s, college basketball had a growing and dedicated following of fans. While a far cry from the popular sport it is now, college basketball drew a great deal of interest from the sporting pages, and local rivalries became closely followed contests. The allure of college basketball dimmed in the minds of America's sports fans in 1951 with the revelation that two former Manhattan College stars tried to bribe a current player to fix a game. What started with a seemingly inconsequential game between Manhattan and DePaul University grew into a national...
(The entire section is 2890 words.)
"New York Giants 5, Brooklyn Dodgers 4"
By: Red Smith
Date: October 4, 1951
Source: Smith, Red. "New York Giants 5, Brooklyn Dodgers 4." New York Herald-Telegraph, October 4, 1951. Reprinted in Baseball Reader. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1983, 379–381.
About the Author: Red Smith (1905-1982) was one of the greatest sportswriters in American history. He wrote for newspapers in Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Philadelphia before
In the 1950s, professional baseball was at its peak in holding the attention and admiration of the...
(The entire section is 1866 words.)
Baseball's East-West All-Star Game
"East-West Game Faces Death in Chicago Park"
By: Johnny Johnson
Date: August 21, 1953
Source: Johnson, Johnny. "East-West Game Faces Death in Chicago Park." Kansas City Call, August 21, 1953. Reprinted in Lester, Larry. Black Baseball's National Showcase: The East-West All-Star Game, 1933–1953. Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press, 2001, 387–388.
About the Author: Johnny Johnson was a leading sportswriter for African American newspapers in the 1940s and 1950s. He was listed as the sports editor for the Call, the magazine of the Socialist Party, a group sympathetic to the needs of the African American community.
"All-Star Tilt Fails to Impress Scouts from Big Leagues"
By: Wendell Smith
Date: August 22, 1953
Source: Smith, Wendell. "All-Star Tilt Fails to Impress Scouts from Big Leagues." Pittsburgh Courier, August 22, 1953. Reprinted in Lester, Larry. Black Baseball's National Showcase: The East-West All-Star Game, 1933–1953. Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press, 2001, 388–390.
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"Trabert Takes U.S. Tennis Title by Crushing Seixas in Big Upset"
By: Allison Danzig
Date: September 8, 1953
Source: Danzig, Allison. "Trabert Takes U.S. Tennis Title by Crushing Seixas in Big Upset." The New York Times, September 8, 1953, 1, 39
About the Author: Allison Danzig (1898–1987) was a prominent sportswriter for The New York Times. She was the author of six books, including the Fireside Book of Tennis (1972) and Winning Gallery: Court Tennis Matches and Memories (1985).
The Grand Slam is one of the greatest accomplishments a tennis player can achieve. To win the Grand Slam, a player (or doubles team) has to win the four major tournaments—Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the French Open, and the Australian Open—in the same calendar year. This has been accomplished only three times in the history of women's tennis: in 1988 by Steffi Graf, in 1970 by Margaret Smith Court, and in 1953 by Maureen Connolly, nicknamed "Little Mo." In becoming the first woman to win the Grand Slam with her U.S. Open title in 1953, Connolly established a benchmark that is used for players who have dominated tennis. In 1953, Little Mo was only nineteen when she won the Grand Slam by winning her third consecutive U.S. Open championship. Connolly retired from...
(The entire section is 2487 words.)
By: Jacques Barzun
Source: Barzun, Jacques. "On Baseball." In Barzun, Jacques. God's Country and Mine: A Declaration of Love Spread with a Few Harsh Words. Boston: Little, Brown, 1954. Reprinted in Baseball Reader. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1983, 35–39.
About the Author: French-born Jacques Barzun (1907–) is a prominent writer, educator, and historian associated with Columbia University since attending there in the 1920s, having served as the provost 1958–1967. He has written a great deal on American culture and life, as well as numerous books on education.
The 1950s were a critical time for baseball. When the soldiers came home after World War II (1939–1945), professional baseball exploded—with huge attendance increases, unprecedented minor league expansion, and greater interest in the game from the American public. Yet, early in the 1950s, the interest in baseball fell off. Minor league attendance dropped steadily during the 1950s, and Major League attendance would have dropped but for expansion into new markets, including Milwaukee, Baltimore, Kansas City, and the two crown jewels: San Francisco and Los Angeles. By the end of the decade, football, possibly through the interest garnered...
(The entire section is 2360 words.)
A Day in the Bleachers
By: Arnold Hano
Source: Hano, Arnold. A Day in the Bleachers. New York: Crowell, 1955. Excerpt reprinted in Baseball Reader. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1983, 185–193.
About the Author Arnold Hano (1922–) is a New York City writer and educator who held a variety of positions in his career, including junior reporter for the New York Daily News, editor for Bantam Books, and instructor of writing in both New York and California. He has written numerous books, including many on baseball. A Day in the Bleachers, his first baseball book, was his account of the first game of the 1954 World Series between the New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians.
The New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians could not have been more dissimilar teams when they took the field on September 29, 1954, at New York's Polo Grounds for the first game of the 1954 World Series. Going 111-43, the Cleveland Indians compiled one of the best season records in Major League history—a .721 winning percentage. The Indians became the first team since 1949 other than the New York Yankees to win an American League pennant. The Yankees had won five consecutive World Series and had last lost the American League...
(The entire section is 4324 words.)
"New York Yankees 2, Brooklyn Dodgers 0"
By: Shirley Povich
Date: October 9, 1956
Source: Povich, Shirley. "New York Yankees 2, Brooklyn Dodgers 0." Washington Post, October 9, 1956. Reprinted in Baseball Reader. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1983, 357–361.
About the Author: Shirley Povich (1905–1998) was one of the great sportswriters of the twentieth century. A writer for the Washington Post his entire career, it is estimated that he wrote over fifteen hundred columns during a nearly seventy-five year career. Washington Post Editor Ben Bradlee repeatedly said that Povich was the sole reason that many people bought that paper. The National Baseball Hall of Fame honored him in 1975 as the recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for "meritorious contributions to baseball writing."
The New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers faced off in the 1956 World Series for the second consecutive year, after the Dodgers finally won a Series title in 1955. In 1956, the Yankees once again dominated the American League and were in good position to win yet another World Series title. However, Brooklyn took the first two games of the Series. In games three and four, the Yankees rebounded to even the series at two wins apiece. With the Series...
(The entire section is 2443 words.)
"Miss Gibson Wins Wimbledon Title"
By: Fred Tupper
Date: July 7, 1957
Source: Tupper, Fred. "Miss Gibson Wins Wimbledon Title." The New York Times, July 7, 1957, sec. 5, 1, 5.
About the Author: Fred Tupper was a reporter for The New York Times. He covered tennis and other sports for that newspaper through the 1970s.
Aletha Gibson, at twenty-nine, won the 1957 Wimbledon women's singles title, becoming the first African American of either gender to win that tournament and a major tennis championship. Her ascent was difficult, but she persevered to reach the top of the tennis world. Growing up in New York City, Gibson was first pushed toward tennis by a playground superintendent who recognized her talent for the sport. Fred Johnson at the Cosmopolitan Tennis Club in New York City coached her, and Gibson later moved to Wilmington, N.C., where she played on the tennis team at Wilmington Industrial High School. In 1947, she won her first "national Negro championship." In 1950, she joined the major circuit and became the first African American player to compete at the U.S. Open at Forest Hills, nearly winning the tournament that year. From 1951 to 1955, she was ranked in the top thirteen—reaching number seven in 1953—but her game...
(The entire section is 1640 words.)
"Notre Dame Tops Oklahoma, 7-0"
Newspaper article, Table
By: Associated Press
Date: November 17, 1957
Source: Associated Press. "Notre Dame Tops Oklahoma, 7- 0." The New York Times, November 17, 1957, sec. 5, 1.
Many college football programs can stake out claims of greatness. Ohio State, Miami, Nebraska, Michigan, Alabama, Southern California, and even Chicago (if you go back far enough) have all had their moments of glory. While many college programs are cyclical depending on the strength of an individual recruiting class, some programs have remained consistently strong year after year. However, no program has matched the accomplishments of the Oklahoma Sooners between 1953 and 1957. Over those five seasons, Oklahoma won forty-seven consecutive games and the NCAA National Championship in 1955 and 1956. Although undefeated in 1954, they did not gain a share of the national championship. The Sooners had been practically unstoppable since 1947 after hiring Bud Wilkinson as their coach. He coached the Sooners until 1963 and compiled a record of 139-27-4 over those seventeen seasons.
Ironically, the streak started in 1953, after Oklahoma suffered an opening season loss to Notre Dame, followed by a tie with Pittsburgh. Over the next forty-seven games, they were...
(The entire section is 1908 words.)
"Palmer's 284 Beats Ford and Hawkins by a Stroke in Masters Golf"
By: Lincoln Werden
Date: April 7, 1958
Source: Werden, Lincoln. "Palmer's 284 Beats Ford and Hawkins by a Stroke in Masters Golf." The New York Times, April 7, 1958, 29.
Arnold Palmer was born on September 10, 1929 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, a few days before the great stock market crash that year. Latrobe is in the green foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, near Pittsburgh. Palmer's childhood house sat just a few feet from the sixth hole of the Latrobe County Golf Course. Caddying and playing golf at an early age, Palmer learned a great deal from his father, the golf professional at the club. Palmer won a number of Western Pennsylvania amateur championships in high school, and he played collegiate golf at Wake Forest College in North Carolina. After serving in the Coast Guard, Palmer returned to the amateur golf circuit and won the U.S. Amateur Championship in 1954. Later that year, Palmer turned professional and made an immediate impact on the tour. From 1958 to 1964, Palmer won seven major championships (the major tournaments being the U.S. Open, the British Open, the Masters, and the PGA Tournament). The majors have greater significance because all of the best golfers participate in these events, whereas other tournaments...
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"Overtime at the Stadium"
By: Arthur Daley
Date: December 29, 1958
Source: Daley, Arthur. "Overtime at the Stadium." The New York Times December 29, 1958, 25.
About the Author: Arthur Daley (1904–1974) was born in New York City. A baseball player at Fordham University, Daley turned to writing and was sports editor of the college newspaper. After graduation, he joined The New York Times in 1926, which became his lifelong job. He took over the "Sports of the Times" column in 1942 "until further notice," which lasted nearly thirty years until his death. Daley was a well-prepared interviewer who predicted the rise of professional basketball and football as major spectator sports. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1956, the first sportswriter to do so, and wrote five books and numerous magazine articles.
By all accounts, professional football became the game it is now on Sunday, December 28, 1958. It was not when the game incorporated the forward pass, or first witnessed a rising superstar. It was, however, one of the greatest championship games ever played, and the first game ever to go into overtime. But what happened on that cold day in Yankee Stadium was that the fans finally accepted professional football, and turned...
(The entire section is 1629 words.)
"Beauchamp Wins 500-mile Stock Car Race at 135 M.P.H. Average"
By: Frank M. Blunk
Date: February 23, 1959
Source: Blunk, Frank M. "Beauchamp Wins 500-mile Stock Car Race at 135 M.P.H. Average." The New York Times, February 23, 1959, 30.
In 1959, Bill France, the father of NASCAR (National Association of Stock Car Racers), opened the Daytona International Speedway for the inaugural Daytona 500. He had come quite a long way since starting NASCAR in 1949, and his proposal for the asphalt speed-way in 1954. Stock car racing was a distant cousin of the far more popular Indy car racing (from the name of the cars that race in the Indianapolis 500). The stock cars were raced primarily in the South and the Midwest, and incorporated standard car bodies with modified engines and safety measures to make them faster and safer. In Daytona, the big stock car race every year was one that was driven half on the beach and half on asphalt. In 1954, Bill France conceived of a giant super speedway that would rival the Indianapolis speedway as the best racetrack in the country. While being ridiculed by the Indianapolis press, France persevered and opened this two-and-one-half-mile high-banked track in the resort town of Daytona Beach. Like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the track was two and a half miles. However,...
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The Chavez Ravine Agreement
By: City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles Dodgers
Date: June 3, 1959
Source: The Chavez Ravine Agreement. Reprinted in Sullivan, Neil. Dodgers Move West. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987, 220–227.
In the period after World War II (1939–1945), Major League baseball attendance jumped to unprecedented levels. While only a few teams ever drew over a million fans before the war, fan interest in baseball exploded after soldiers came home; and teams consistently drew near or over one million fans in the late 1940s. However, in the early 1950s, the attendance at Major League games started to drop. Complicating matters was that a number of cities had two baseball teams, one in each league. Cities with two teams included Chicago, Boston, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and New York—home to three teams, the Dodgers, Giants and the Yankees. In Boston, St. Louis, and Philadelphia, there was a clear fan favorite, and a team that did not draw very well. These teams—the Boston Braves, the St. Louis Browns and the Philadelphia Athletics—became the teams that first tested expansion in Major League baseball. The American and National Leagues were primarily in the Northeast, going as far west as Chicago and St. Louis. But when the teams moved west, it...
(The entire section is 3696 words.)