Tag Archives: Sports History

A Tumultuous History of Long Island Ducks Hockey


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Long Island DucksFrom 1959 to 1973, the Long Island Ducks brought their signature style of hockey to the Long Island Arena in Commack. Aggressive, hard-nosed, and always entertaining, they remain a point of local pride. They’ve also entered the popular culture. Paul Newman’s character in the 1977 movie Slap Shot was based on Duck’s captain John Brophy.

Chris Vaccaro, director of the Sufolk Sports Hall of Fame, relates the history of the Duck franchise within the context of the Eastern Hockey League and the sports cutlure of the time. As an added bonus, Connie Currie shares her own first-hand experiences attending Ducks games in the 1960s.   Continue reading

Boxer Carmen Basilio: Thunder from the North


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Carmen BasilioIn a stellar career which lasted thirteen years (1948-1961), Canastota boxing champion Carmen Basilio established himself as a multiple world title holder in two different weight classes, and he competed against some of the greatest fighters ever to step inside of a boxing ring: Kid Gavilan, Tony De Marco and Sugar Ray Robinson to name just a few.

Basilio endured truly humble beginnings (his family were poor onion farmers who lived in upstate New York) and long work hours to establish himself as a top-notch athlete. Continue reading

Brooklyn Dodgers Lecture at Old Stone Fort Museum


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young Marv Parshall Sr. (front left) poses with the members of the 1950 Brooklyn Dodgers.The next lecture in the Old Stone Fort Museum Winter Lecture Series has been set for Sunday, March 25th at 1 pm, with “A Night with the 1950 Brooklyn Dodgers of Old”, presented by local attorney and former Dodgers ball boy Marv Parshall Sr.

Parshall will share his recollections, stories and anecdotes of his time sharing a dugout with baseball legends such as Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese, Gil Hodges and Duke Snider. Continue reading

Historians: Baseball Players Turned Actors, Amsterdam Jewish Merchants


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The Historians LogoThis week on The Historians Podcast, film historian Rob Edelman discusses the new book he has edited From Spring Training to Screen Test: Baseball Players Turned Actors Rob’s wife and retired film professor Audrey Kupferberg has stories of Jewish merchants in the thriving downtown of the 1950s in her native Amsterdam, New York, where the couple lives.

Listen to the podcast here. Continue reading

Jack Lagree: Dannemora’s Bobsled Guru


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Long before the 2015 escape of Richard Matt and David Sweat, the word Dannemora instantly conjured images of the prison. While the high wall dominates the landscape, the village does have other historical connections, some of them in the world of sports, including one through the person of John “Jack” Lagree. Jack was a native of Churubusco, a tiny hamlet in northwestern Clinton County.

Blessed with engineering talent, mechanical skill, and a strong, traditional, North Country work ethic, he rose to national prominence in the world of bobsleigh competition (referred to hereafter by the more popular term, bobsled). Continue reading

Captain Lewis: Horace Brown’s Great Brown Horse


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Horace Brown, perhaps the greatest horse trainer from the northern Adirondacks and foothills, attained fame and many trotting victories in America, Europe, and Russia. Of all his successes, none was more acclaimed than the marvelous season of 1882. Collectively, it was among the unlikeliest stories in sports, an early equivalent of the US hockey team’s stunning Olympic victory in 1980, when a group of fresh, largely untested amateurs came together and conquered the world’s best.

The 1882 story became legend and was often repeated, but the first couple of names involved aren’t absolutely certain. Bear with me briefly through the details, for the story will get better. By most accounts, the horse in question was bred by Jeff Brown of Dresden, on the western shore of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York. In the vicinity of Dresden, he sold it to Richard Brown (and now the names are certain,) who sold it to Lawrence Bogert, who sold it to Stewart L. Purdy of the town of Benton. Continue reading

Horace Brown: Master Horseman of Northern NY


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One of my favorite people to visit when I was a child was my maternal grandfather, who owned a 100-acre farm in remote northwestern Clinton County. Ninety acres of the property were wooded (I loved exploring nature); he had cows, horses, and a dog (I loved animals); and he was an avid fisherman (I lived on the riverbank in Champlain and loved fishing). From my perspective, everything about my Grandpa Jim (Lagree) was cool (this was back in the ’60s, so “cool” is appropriate).

On the wall near his usual sitting area in the living room was a framed photo of a horse and sulky with the caption, “Dan Patch.” Since it was my grandfather’s picture, I knew it had to be something cool, and I was right. As he explained to me, Dan Patch was the greatest trotter ever. Trotting, as I learned, was once the most popular sport across Northern New York.

Within a general loop from Albany north to Glens Falls and Plattsburgh; west to Malone, Ogdensburg, Potsdam, and Watertown; south to Boonville; southeast back to Albany; and many stops in between, dozens of communities in the Adirondacks and foothills had trotting tracks of varying quality. Participants ranged from farmers to professional horsemen, all of them eager to put their horses’ abilities up against others for bragging rights, money prizes, and, of course, side bets. Continue reading

College Basketball, Point Shaving and the Catskills


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Junius KelloggIn late February, 1951, the basketball team from the City College of New York was returning home on the train from Philadelphia where they had just trounced the Temple University squad.

The year before, the Lavender and Black had been hailed as one of the greatest college basketball teams of all time, having won both of college basketball’s biggest post season tournaments, the NCAA and the NIT, the only time that feat has ever been accomplished. The talented squad had stumbled somewhat during the current season, losing to several teams it had been expected to beat, but was seemingly hitting its stride just as the tournaments were about to begin. Continue reading