Little Bits of History

February 6

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 6, 2017

1958: British European Airways flight 609 crashes at it attempts to take off. Manchester United football (soccer) team had been playing in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia) against Red Star Belgrade. They were flying home in an “Elizabethan” class Airspeed Ambassador. The plane needed to refuel, as the distance between Belgrade and Manchester was beyond its range. They stopped in Munich for this. James Thain, pilot, and Kenneth Rayment, co-pilot attempted takeoff at 14.19 GMT. They aborted takeoff due to issues in the left boost pressure gauge along with an odd sound from the engine. Three minutes later, a second attempt was made and again they had the same issues. They offloaded all the passengers and began to troubleshoot the issues. It began to snow, heavily. There was talk of the plane remaining in Germany for the night, but Thain knew that would put the team behind schedule.

Elizabethan planes had a known issue with the boost surging and it was noted that a slower opening of the throttle could lessen impact. Munich had an exceptionally long runway of about 1.2 miles. This would have been enough space to slow the throttle increase and gain enough momentum for takeoff. Thain made the call to fly. The plane was deiced and the passengers reboarded. They were given clearance for takeoff at 15.02 and agreed to watch instruments carefully. They pulled back on the throttle and began their drive down the runway. They called out speeds at 10-knot increments and had a slight problem at 85 knots. After a quick correction they pushed forward. At 117 knots, Thain called “V1” which meant it was no longer safe to abort takeoff. They were committed. But just at that point, speed began to drop.

The plane skidded at the end of the runway, crashed through a fence, crossed a road, and clipped a house with the left wing, sheering it from the aircraft. Everyone in the house was able to escape safely. Not so, for the passengers of the plane. The plane continued to rip apart. Twenty of the passengers died aboard the plane and three more died later at the hospital. Rayment was trapped in his seat, but Thain was able to escape. As flames crept closer to the engine filled with 500 imperial gallons of fuel, Thain warned everyone away from the soon to explode plane. He grabbed fire extinguishers and attempted to keep the flames from the engine while goalkeeper Harry Gregg regained consciousness inside the plane. He was able to escape and brought out some of the passengers with him.

Two crew members, Rayment and a cabin steward, were killed. Eight of the Manchester United players and three staff members were killed. Eight journalists and two other passengers also perished. Four of the crew survived as did nine footballers, two of whom never played again. Matt Busby, the team manager, survived and was eventually able to rebuild the team. Six other passengers survived. The cause of the crash was at first assumed to be pilot or mechanical error. But the real cause was the runway. Most planes took off with less distance, as the aircraft could have without the problems. But at the end of the runway, slush was accumulating and as they reached this portion just before takeoff, the drag from the slush slowed the aircraft, making takeoff impossible. German authorities took action against Thain, but he was cleared of all charges.

A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water. – Carl Reiner

The snow itself is lonely or, if you prefer, self-sufficient. There is no other time when the whole world seems composed of one thing and one thing only. – Joseph Wood Krutch

Even in winter an isolated patch of snow has a special quality. – Andy Goldsworthy

And finally Winter, with its bitin’, whinin’ wind, and all the land will be mantled with snow. – Roy Bean

Under the Lights

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 21, 2015
1902 Athletics football team*

1902 Philadelphia Athletics football team*

November 21, 1902: The Kanaweola Athletic Club loses to the Philadelphia Athletics 39-0. Kanaweola Athletic Club began as a bicycling club and was based in Elmira, New York. They boasted an indoor bicycling track located within the Steele Memorial Library building. They were also able to pull together a football team. On this date, a game began at 8 PM at the Maple Avenue Driving Park in Elmira. The locale is today known as Dunn Field. They met their superior opponents and failed miserably. The next day, the local newspaper simply printed the score. What was not touted then, and wasn’t realized for quite some time, was the significance of the game rather than just the score. It was the first pro football game to be played at night.

The Philadelphia Athletics were a member of the National Football League which is totally different from the NFL today. The earlier league was a mixture of both professional baseball and football and was only in existence for a year. The football team was formed as part of the baseball wars between the National League and the American League which began the year before. Teams from one side or the other attempted to lure players away from opposing teams. The Philadelphia Phillies owner decided to start a football team and so the Philadelphia Athletics owner decided to go along. Both teams used many of their baseball players on their football teams. In order to be a World Champion football team, they would need to play a team from Pittsburgh where football was king.

The Philadelphia Athletics had a great left-handed pitcher – when he was in the mood. But he had mood swings. The papers of the day noted his erratic behavior. The coaches felt that including Rube Waddell in their football lineup would give them a few more months of trying to control his performance and he was signed as an extra lineman. They failed miserably at trying to control their star baseball player who had no interest in football. The team lost their first championship game and out of defeat scheduled a second. They won that and then called the first a Stars Game to explain how their loss could turn into a win. The team had a second season in 1903 before collapsing.

A night game played outdoors after sunset. While technically true to call any sporting event after sunset a night game, it is realized that sports played indoors are always played with artificial lighting. The significance of a night game is that it is played “under the lights”. The lights can be floodlights or low-light conditions, depending on the sport. Baseball was first played under the lights back in the 1880s but it was thought of as a gimmick and not appreciated. Their first big game under the lights came in 1935 when the Philadelphia Phillies played the Cincinnati Reds on May 24. Cricket was late to the night game party with the first lighted game in 1952. The idea finally really took off in 1977 and international interest in the sport increased dramatically. Motorsports come with their own lights since endurance races can continue after sunset. But it is also possible to light the track for races. This innovation was brought to the public in 1992 when Charlotte Motor Speedway lit their 1 mile track.

 All sports are time control demonstrations. – Buckminster Fuller

In the field of sports you are more-or-less accepted for what you do rather than what you are. – Althea Gibson

As best as I can tell, God was undefeated in all sports last year. Anybody who won thanked Him, and I never heard a single loser blame Him. – Lewis Grizzard

Unlike any other business in the United States, sports must preserve an illusion of perfect innocence. – Lewis H. Lapham

Also on this day: Missing Link – In 1953, the Piltdown Man was declared a hoax.
North, to Alaska – In 1942, the Alaskan Highway’s completion was celebrated.
Senator Rebecca – In 1922, the first female US Senator took her seat.
Revolting – In 1910, the Revolt of the Lash took place.
Terrorism – In 1974, two Birmingham, England pubs were bombed.

* “1902 Athletics Football” by Unknown – Licensed under PD-US via Wikipedia –

Professional Football

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 15, 2014
Canton, Ohio's football team in 1906

Canton, Ohio’s football team in 1906

November 15, 1914: Harry Turner’s injuries prove fatal, the first from the Ohio League to do so from game sustained injuries. Little is known of the Canton Professionals’ early life. He began playing professional football in 1907 when he joined the Canton (Ohio) Indians. The name changed in the following years first to Canton Cohen Tigers (1908), then to Canton Simpson Tigers (1909), and then Canton Professionals (1911). Turner played center and was the team captain in 1911. The team was part of the Ohio League, a forerunner of the National Football League. One of their biggest rivals was the Shelby Blues captained by George Watson (Peggy) Parratt. Parrett was quarterback for the Shelby, Ohio team. Before signing on with Shelby, Parratt was captain of the hated Massillon (Ohio) Tigers.

During the 1911 season, Turner pulled his entire team from the game in protest to a referee call favoring the Akron (Ohio) Indians. After the game, Turner held a press conference and vowed to quit the game on November 26, 1911. Instead, he returned to the game and played the rest of the season as well as the next three seasons as well. By 1914, Parratt was with the Akron Indians and they met the Canton team who had home field advantage. There were 3,000 people watching the big rivals at Lakeside Park even though the weather was bad. The game was rough but clean. Just before the end of the first half, Harry suffered a serious back injury and was taken from the field. At the end of the game, Canton took the win with a score of 6-0.

The next day, it was learned that Harry’s injury was far more serious than immediately realized. His back had been broken and his spinal cord severed. There was nothing to be done with this type of injury in 1914. All that could be done was wait for him to die. His last words, according to his friend and team manager was that he was glad to know the team had at least beaten Peggy Parratt. The news of Harry’s death was distressing to the team and many other players quit soon after. While Canton was able to continue play and even get a win the next week, they played Akron once again at the end of the season, on Thanksgiving Day. This final game was lost and ended their season 9-1.

The Ohio League began in 1903 and had 23 teams included, most of them located in Ohio. They remained active until 1919. Massillon took the championship for the first six years with Akron taking that spot in 1908 and 1909. Shelby won the next two championships with the Elyria Athletics top dog in 1912. Akron was back on top for the next two years with Youngstown taking over in 1915. The Canton team, now the Bulldogs, won in 1916 and 1917 with Dayton taking the penultimate championship game. The Canton team was the final champion in 1919. In 1920, more Ohio teams as well as teams from other states formed the American Professional Football Association which in 1922 became the NFL.

He showed a rare type of courage and spirit. I was at his bedside when he died. He was conscious almost to the end, and his last words left an indelible imprint on my memory. – Jack Cusack

I know I must go but I’m satisfied, for we beat Peggy Parratt. – Harry Turner’s last words

I played football for a huge portion of my life, all the way through college actually. – Matthew Fox

When you go out on a football field, you are responsible for taking care of yourself. The more rules you get, the less players truly take care of themselves. – Jim Brown

Also on this day: The King – In 1956, Love Me Tender, Elvis Presley’s first movie, was released.
Clutter Family – In 1959, Herb and Bonnie Clutter and their two children were murdered.
Where’s the Beef? – In 1969, Dave Thomas founded Wendy’s.
Remember – In 1939, the cornerstone for the Jefferson Memorial was laid.

Going Pro

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 3, 2014
John Brallier

John Brallier in uniform

September 3, 1895: John Brallier becomes the first professional American football player. The Latrobe Athletic Association in Latrobe, Pennsylvania had their schedule set when disaster struck. The YMCA club was formed with Russell Aukerman as player-coach (he had been a halfback at Gettysburg College previously) and with David Berry (local newspaper editor and publisher) as the team’s manager. Their quarterback, Eddie Blair, also played baseball in Greensburg. The opening season game was scheduled for this day and Blair discovered he had a prior commitment to play baseball. Berry was left trying to replace the quarterback for the game scheduled against the Jeannette Athletic Club.

Berry learned of a quarterback in Indiana and contacted him. Brallier was playing for Indiana Normal but was set to start playing for Washington & Jefferson College in just a few weeks. He was offered expenses to get to Pennsylvania but was still hesitant. Berry sweetened the deal. He would pay Brallier $10 plus expenses and give him opportunities to play more games in the future. Brallier accepted and became the first openly paid football player. The new professional arrived the night before the game and practiced with the team. While his status of first professional football player was hailed over his lifetime, it was found out after his death that William Heffelfinger of the Allegheny Athletic Association actually took money to play prior to Brallier, but on the sly.

The first game of the Latrobe 1895 season was played on this day, a Tuesday. Before the game, a parade formed and traveled down Ligonier Street, a newly paved thoroughfare. Leading the parade was Billy Showalter’s Cornet Band and then followed both the Latrobe and Jeannette teams dressed in their full uniforms. Stores were closed and the mines declared a half-day holiday so locals could watch their maroon and orange clad team play. The game began at 4 PM. Latrobe trounced the opposition. Auckerman made two touchdowns which were worth four points each at the time Brallier kicked two extra points which were each worth two points at the time. The final score was 12-0.

Brallier played for Latrobe once more, on September 14. Not quite as spectacularly since on that day, Latrobe lost with a score of 7-0. Latrobe’s season had them playing 11 games and their first season record was 7-4. Brallier left for Washington & Jefferson where he was their varsity quarterback. His first game there was a spectacular 32-0 win. Late in the season, Brallier was injured which didn’t stop six colleges from offering him a spot on their teams the following year. Eventually, after serving in the US Army during the Spanish American War, he returned to college play and after wending his way through several options, returned to Latrobe as a player-coach in 1902. His life outside of football found him practicing dentistry as well as serving for twenty years as a school director. He died in 1960 at the age of 83, the last surviving member of the Latrobe team. He was finally elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.

The game of life is a lot like football. You have to tackle your problems, block your fears, and score your points when you get the opportunity. – Lewis Grizzard

Football is like life – it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority. – Vince Lombardi

Don’t walk through life just playing football. Don’t walk through life just being an athlete. Athletics will fade. Character and integrity and really making an impact on someone’s life, that’s the ultimate vision, that’s the ultimate goal – bottom line. – Ray Lewis

There’s two times of year for me: Football season, and waiting for football season. – Darius Rucker

Also on this day: Terror at Beslan School – In 2004, the Beslan School takeover comes to a bloody end.
Left; Right – In 1967, Sweden switched which side of the street they would drive on.
Republic – In 310, San Marino was founded.
Poetry – In 1802, William Wordsworth wrote a poem.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 22, 2012

1927 Arsenal FC met Sheffield United FC

January 22, 1927: The first radio commentary of an association football match is broadcast. Arsenal Football Club (FC) also called The Gunners met Sheffield United FC (the Blades, United, or Red & White Wizards) at Highbury, home field of the Arsenal. Association football (a.k.a. soccer in the US and football in the UK) has been around in one form or another for centuries. Played in China as early as the 3rd century BC, the current rules were set down by Cambridge University in 1848. Rules were modified and an overseeing governing body was established as time went on.

Arsenal FC was founded in 1886 as Dial Square. They are a member of the Premier League and are one of the most successful clubs in English football with thirteen First Division and Premier League titles and ten FA Cups. Their home field was at Highbury, London from 1913-2006. The new Emirates Stadium open on July 22, 2006. The new venue cost £430 million to build and seats 60,355. The name came from the sponsorship of Emirates Airline who donated £100 million to the club. The Emirates name may be changed after 15 years according to the deal made.

Sheffield United FC was founded in 1889. Home for the club is Sheffield, South Yorkshire and they play at Bramall Lane. The stadium was built in 1855 to host cricket matches. It is the oldest still-in-use major stadium in the world. It has been renovated several times and expanded twice. It now seats 32,609. The team is a member of the Championship League and brought home the League championship once, in 1898. They won the FA cup four times.

The Arsenal has had a number of firsts. This first radio broadcast (tied at 1-1) was followed a decade later with the first football match televised live. On September 16, 1937 an exhibition game between the first team and the reserve team was filmed. The first edition of BBC’s Match of the Day aired on August 22, 1964 and featured highlights of the Arsenal and Liverpool match. Today, football is played professionally around the world, millions of fans attend games while billions watch on television or the Internet. A 2001 survey reported over 240 million people in more than 200 countries regularly played the sport.

To say that these men paid their shillings to watch twenty-two hirelings kick a ball is merely to say that a violin is wood and catgut, that Hamlet is so much paper and ink. – J.B. Priestley

A sport where the players actually enjoy getting hit in the head by a ball. – Soccer advertisement

If you’re attacking, you don’t get as tired as when you’re chasing. – Kyle Rote, Jr.

The goalkeeper is the jewel in the crown and getting at him should be almost impossible.  It’s the biggest sin in football to make him do any work. – George Graham

Also on this day:

Roe v. Wade – In 1973, the Supreme Court decided on the abortion issue, assuring all women a right to privacy.
Bloody Sunday – In 1905, a Russian uprising took place in St. Petersburg.
Pontifical Swiss Guards – In 1506, the first of the Swiss Guards come to protect the Pope.