Tag Archives: Sports History

Marjorie Harrison: North Country Golf Legend


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Seventy-five years ago, the Adirondacks were abuzz about a precocious athletic phenom, a plucky teenager who exhibited incredible abilities on the golf course. The best players across the region were impressed by this remarkable child who could compete with anyone on the toughest courses. In a man’s world, this youngster—a girl—could challenge the best of them.

Marjorie Harrison, daughter of Neil and Eva, was born in 1918 in the town of North Elba. Her dad earned a living as a golf-club maker, eventually moving to Ausable Forks to assume the position of club professional at the Indole Course.

Having first wielded a club at the age of three, young Marjorie began developing her golfing skills on the local links. In a shocking glimpse of future possibilities, she won the women’s cup at Indole in 1928 when she was just ten years old.

In 1932, the loss of her mom, Eva, to pneumonia, tested Margie’s inner strength, but that was something the young girl never lacked. With few team sporting possibilities available to girls, she excelled at horseback riding, skating, skiing, shooting, and, of course, golf, which are largely solo pursuits requiring heavy doses of self-reliance.

Neil soon began to eye the amateur golf tour as a challenge for his highly skilled daughter. In sports, the term amateur revealed nothing in regards to talent—it only meant that a competitor was unpaid, and thus pure (unsullied by the world of professional athletics).

At that time, there was no golf tour for women professionals. Nearly all the best players competed for cups, trophies, prestige, and for the sake of competition. Turning pro was rare. Only a few of the top women players were signed to represent major sporting goods companies. Once money was accepted, they forfeited all eligibility to compete in amateur events. Men lived in a different world, but for women, a professional golf tour was more than a decade away.

In August, 1933, Marjorie Harrison played in the state event at Bluff Point just south of Plattsburgh, where an international field offered stellar competition. She fairly burst onto the New York golfing scene, battling to the semifinal round, where a seasoned opponent awaited.

Incredibly, Margie went on to lead her semifinal match by one hole going to the 18th (nearly all tournaments featured head-to-head match play). There, she faltered, three-putting the final green to lose her advantage. But with steely resolve, Margie parred the single playoff hole for the win, sending her to the finals.

In the championship round she faced Mrs. Sylvia Voss, an outstanding golfer who promptly won the first three holes, putting Margie far behind. Bringing her power game to the fore, Harrison tied the match by the 14th and led by one at the 17th, but lost the last hole to finish in a tie. Just like in the semifinals, a playoff was necessary.

And, just like in the semifinals, Marjorie holed a par putt to win on the first playoff hole. She was barely 15 years old and had conquered some of the best golfers in an international tourney.

From Boston to Dallas to the West Coast, newspapers touted her great accomplishment. The New York Times wrote, “Swinging a wicked driver and with iron shots of unusual precision … Marjorie Harrison of Au Sable Forks won her first major golf tourney today.” She was also featured in The American Golfer magazine for the Bluff Point win.

In 1934, Marjorie, 16, made it once again to the finals at Bluff Point, where she was set to face Dorothy Campbell Hurd, a golfing legend. Hurd, 51, owned 749 victories, 11 national amateur titles, and once held the American, British, and Canadian titles at one time.

They played even through 16 holes, but Hurd pulled out the win on the final two greens. A gracious opponent and future member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, Hurd was clearly impressed, saying, “With a little more experience, no woman golfer will be in the same class with Miss Harrison. She is a future champion that bears watching by the leading golfers.”

Hurd was right—there was much more to come, including several wins over the next few years. Margie finished near the top in virtually every tournament she entered. Some were very gutsy performances featuring remarkable comebacks, but most were head-to-head battles where mistakes seemed to have no effect on her. She was one tough competitor, always playing with grace, humility, and great determination.

In 1935, Marge finished second in the New York State Championships, and then reached the semifinals each of the next three years. Another major breakthrough came in July, 1937, when she shot a 37 on the final 18 holes at Rutland, Vermont (near her dad’s home area of Castleton) to win the Vermont state title. She was just a few months past her 19th birthday.

At Brattleboro in 1938, Marjorie successfully defended her Vermont title with a birdie on the 15th hole to clinch the win. Other highlights that year included shattering the course record at Bluff Point; winning at Lake Placid; and teaming up with the legendary Gene Sarazen in a remarkable comeback to win a benefit tourney.

For years, Marjorie was at the top of New York’s competitive golfing scene, which attracted some of the best players in the country. Despite the high level of play, it was considered an upset NOT to see her name in the semifinals of any tournament she entered. Whether in Quebec, Syracuse, the Berkshires, Briarcliff, or anywhere else she competed, the North Country’s ambassador of golf was respected and admired for her sportsmanship and fine play.

Many club titles were won and course records set by Marjorie, including at Bluff Point, Lake Placid, Albany, and Troy. She wowed the crowd at Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, battling fiercely to finish second in the Mason-Dixon tournament. Some golf writers pointed out that unlike athletes from warm-weather areas, Miss Harrison achieved great success despite playing only a few months of the year, and while attending high school and different colleges.

Though still a youngster, she returned to Ausable Forks in 1940 for a career review at a testimonial dinner—and for good reason. A few days earlier, at the age of 22, Marjorie had overwhelmed all comers and captured the New York State Women’s Golf Championship.

She maintained her winning ways, but during the World War II years, sports were sharply curtailed across the country to conserve fuel for the troops. Opportunities were meager, but Margie picked up two wins in 1944, followed by a stellar performance that led her once again to the finals of the New York State Championship Tournament.

Her talented opponent in the finals, Ruth Torgersen, was a very familiar combatant from many past matches. Torgersen, in fact, would go on to win a record seven NYS championships and be named New York’s Golfer of the Century.

On this day the two stars battled for 32 holes, at which point Marjorie held a three-hole lead. But on the 33rd, a stroke of bad luck left her ball balanced atop a bunker. Deemed an unplayable lie, it cost her the hole as Torgerson was quick to take advantage and cut the deficit to two.

Undaunted, Margie looked down the fairway of the 346-yard 16th hole and blasted a 200-yard drive. She nearly holed her second shot from 146 yards out, and then tapped in an easy putt for her second New York State title.

In that same year, the Women’s Professional Golf Association was formed, to be replaced six years later by the LPGA. Had she been born years later, there’s a good chance the girl from the Adirondacks would have won a good deal of prize money. For Marjorie Harrison, though, life took a different path.

After completing college, she had begun a career as a physical education teacher. In June, 1946, while still competing and winning, she married Bart O’Brien, himself a star golfer at Indole, the Ausable Forks course managed by her father, Neil.

For a while she competed as Marjorie Harrison O’Brien, but when Bart took a job teaching in the Oneida school system, they moved there and began raising a family. Semi-retired, Marge played occasionally in tournaments, but by 1954 she was busy raising three children, teaching, and becoming a very active participant in the community.

She began giving adult golf lessons, and children’s lessons soon followed. Bart became school principal, and together he and Marjorie maintained a high profile as community leaders. Honors were bestowed on both of them for their work in the school system, and in 1970 she was chosen as an honorary life member of the Oneida school district PTA.

In 1973, Marjorie was named Outstanding Citizen by the Oneida Rotary, and Bart was cited several times for his work on behalf of the organization. Through it all, they maintained close ties annually with family in the Ausable Forks area, where her dad, Neil, still held the position of golf pro at Indole through the mid-1960s.

Marjorie Harrison O’Brien passed away in 1999, and Bart died in 2004—two natives the North Country can truly be proud of.

Photo: Young Marjorie Harrison, golfer extraordinaire.

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 20 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

2012 Ellis Island Family Heritage Awardees Announced


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The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation has announced the recipients of its annual Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards, which honor distinguished Americans who trace their ancestry through Ellis Island, and the B.C. Forbes Peopling of America Award recognizing individuals who themselves immigrated to America. The Awards will be presented on April 19th at a ceremony to be held in the historic Great Hall on Ellis Island. The 2012 honorees are:

Angela Lansbury – The B.C. Forbes Peopling of America Award – Entertainment

This London-born actress, who returns to Broadway this year in Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, began her ascendancy up the ranks of American entertainment ladder shortly after her family evacuated to New York City in 1940, just days before the London blitz. Her first of over 50 films, Gaslight, won her an Oscar nomination. Since then, she has been a star of film, stage and television for seven decades, garnering her five Tonys, six Golden Globes, three Oscar nominations, and over 15 Emmy nominations. In 1994, Queen Elizabeth II appointed her Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to the dramatic arts. She is also a recipient of the National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2000. Lansbury became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1951.

Richard Meier – Ellis Island Family Heritage Award – The Arts/Architecture

Born in Newark, New Jersey, Richard Meier is a Pritzker Prize-winning architect who designed the Getty Center in Los Angeles. His distinct minimalist style of has garnered him 10 honorary degrees, numerous design awards as well as the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 1997. He has taught at many universities including Princeton, Harvard and UCLA. With current projects underway in Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America and his hometown, he serves on the Board of Directors of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and the American Academy in Rome. His maternal grandfather – a leather tannery owner – Joseph Kaltenbacher, emigrated from Germany through Ellis Island in 1896.

Anthony “Tony” La Russa, Jr. – Ellis Island Family Heritage Award – Sports

Tony La Russa was born in Tampa, Florida, where his paternal grandparents had settled after arriving from Sicily thru Ellis Island in 1906. As an infielder, La Russa began his career with the Kansas City Athletics in 1963. Turning to managing in 1979, he became one of the longest tenured managers in the history of Major League Baseball. He spent 32 years at the helm of the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, and St. Louis Cardinals, where he topped the Cards’ managerial win list with 1,408 victories. He ranks third in all-time major league wins by a manager, holding six league championships and three World Series titles, most recently with the Cardinals in 2011. A staunch advocate for animal rescue, La Russa, his wife Elaine and their daughters founded ARF (Animal Rescue Foundation) in 1991, which aids homeless and abandoned animals and uses them to help people in need.

The ceremony will be hosted by journalist Meredith Vieira and will mark the 120th anniversary of the opening of Ellis Island on New Year’s Day 1892. Until it closed in 1954, Ellis would process 17 million immigrants. Forty percent of Americans today can trace their roots to an ancestor who was among them.

Throughout its 10 year history, the Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards have recognized more than 40 individuals, among them Dr. Madeleine Albright, Irving Berlin, Yogi Berra, Lee Iacocca, Jerry Seinfeld, Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski, Mary Higgins Clark, General Colin Powell, Martin Scorsese, and Bruce Springsteen.

More information can be found online.

St. Lawrence Valley Primitive Snowshoe Biathlon


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The St. Lawrence Valley Primitive Snowshoe Biathlon, organized by the Fort La Présentation Association and Forsyth’s Rifles and hosted by the Massena Rod & Gun Club, will be held March 3-4, 2012.

“In our primitive biathlon, competitors on snowshoes run or walk a measured course,” said Fred Hanss, an event organizer. “They must load and fire two shots from a muzzle-loading firearm at five targets set at well-spaced stations and throw an axe at the sixth station.”

Two of the three classes reflect the organizers’ mission to educate the public about the colonial and early American history of the St. Lawrence River Valley. In the first two classes, competitors using smoothbore muskets or rifles (flintlock or caplock) must cover the course on wooden snowshoes. In the third category, participants with in-line rifles may wear wooden or modern snowshoes.

The advance registration fee is $20. Registration on the day of the event is $25. After paying the initial registration fee, a re-entry fee of $5.00 will be charged each time that a participant runs the course.

Within the competitive classes, there are men’s, ladies’, and youth divisions. Awards will be presented to the top three participants in each division at a ceremony on Sunday afternoon.

“To add to the fun, a blanket shoot will be held and door prizes will be available Saturday and Sunday,” Mr. Hanss said. “Net proceeds from the primitive biathlon will go to the Fort La Présentation Association for the construction of an Interpretive Center and the reconstruction of historic Fort de la Présentation on Ogdensburg’s Lighthouse Point.”

Participants are encouraged to wear historic clothes covering 1750 to 1812. Fort de la Présentation was one of a handful of French colonial forts in New York State. Forsyth’s Rifles from Ogdensburg re-enacts a U.S. Army regiment posted in Northern New York during the War of 1812. From the French and Indian War period, they portray a unit of French marines.
Registration form and rules are at www.fort1749.org.

Photo courtesy The Dalton gang Shooting Club of NH.

New Book: Sport of Kings, Kings of Crime


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A new book, The Sport of Kings and the Kings of Crime: Horse Racing, Politics, and Organized Crime in New York, 1865-1913 by Steven A. Riess, fills a long-neglected gap in sports history, offering a richly detailed and fascinating chronicle of thoroughbred racing’s heyday and its connections with politics and organized crime.

Thoroughbred racing was one of the first major sports in early America. Horse racing thrived because it was a high-status sport that attracted the interest of both old and new money. It grew because spectators enjoyed the pageantry, the exciting races, and, most of all, the gambling.

As the sport became a national industry, the New York metropolitan area, along with the resort towns of Saratoga Springs (New York) and Long Branch (New Jersey), remained at the center of horse racing with the most outstanding race courses, the largest purses, and the finest thoroughbreds.

Riess narrates the history of horse racing, detailing how and why New York became the national capital of the sport from the mid-1860s until the early twentieth century. The sport’s survival depended upon the racetrack being the nexus between politicians and organized crime.

The powerful alliance between urban machine politics and track owners enabled racing in New York to flourish. Gambling, the heart of racing’s appeal, made the sport morally suspect. Yet democratic politicians protected the sport, helping to establish the State Racing Commission, the first state agency to regulate sport in the United States.

At the same time, racetracks became a key connection between the underworld and Tammany Hall, enabling illegal poolrooms and off-course bookies to operate. Organized crime worked in close cooperation with machine politicians and local police officers to protect these illegal operations.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Olympic Museum Changes Name to Reflect Collection


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What’s in a name? Take the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Museum as an example. When guests visit the museum, located in the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, N.Y., they believe that they’ll only view and experience artifacts from both the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games, but there’s so much more. Not only does the museum feature items from the two Games held in Lake Placid, displays also include pieces from every Olympic Winter Games dating back to 1924. That’s why the museum worked with the U.S. Olympic Committee to obtain International Olympic Committee (IOC) approval to change its name to the Lake Placid Olympic Museum.



“Visitors to the museum often said the collection represented more than the two Games held in Lake Placid and we agree that the name should reflect that,” said New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) president/CEO Ted Blazer. “The museum’s collections have grown over the years to encompass representation from each of the Olympic Winter Games, as well as the Olympic Games. With that expansion we felt it was important that the name of the museum mirror the breadth of the museum.”

Established in 1994, the Lake Placid Olympic Museum is the only one of its kind in the United States. In fact, it holds the largest Winter Games collection outside of the IOC’s Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. It’s also the only museum to have received the Olympic Cup, which is the oldest award given by the IOC.

“As the collections have grown and the presentations have become wider in scope, so has the need to change the name,” added museum director, Liz De Fazio. “As we move forward in getting this museum to be a full member of the IOC’s Olympic Museum Network, I feel this will bring us closer to that international look and feel.”

While touring the Lake Placid Olympic Museum, guests can view the first Olympic Winter Games medal ever won, a gold medal, earned by speedskater and Lake Placid native Charles Jewtraw during the 1924 Winter Games. Displays also feature athletes’ participation medals from every modern Olympic Games and Olympic Winter Games, as well as Olympic Team clothing and competition gear from several Games, including the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

The museum’s collection also includes costumes from Olympic figure skating legend Sonja Henie and several world cup and world championship trophies captured by U.S. bobsled and luge athletes, artifacts from the famed 1980 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team, as well as Olympic medals.

The Lake Placid Olympic Museum is located at the box office entrance of the Olympic Center at 2634 Main Street and is open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for juniors and seniors, while children six and under are free. For more information about the museum, log on to www.whiteface.com/museum.

New Yorker Named A National Sporting History Fellow


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The National Sporting Library and Museum (NSLM) in Middleburg, Virginia, has announced seven John H. Daniels Fellows for 2011-2012 including one to Judith Martin Woodall, a New York City writer and former manager of Claremont Riding Academy, for
“Witching the World with Noble Horsemanship: Riding in New York City, 1770-2007.”

The fellows program began in 2007 in honor of sportsman and book collector, John H. Daniels (1921-2006), a longtime supporter of the National Sporting Library. Since 2007, the fellowship has supported thirty-eight researchers-in-residence at the NSLM from all regions of the United States and ten foreign countries.

The full list of winners includes:

Marcia Diane Brody, Middletown, MD, writer and breeder of Cleveland Bay horses, “Alexander Mackay-Smith: Pioneering the Future of the Cleveland Bay Horse in North America.”

Michael Del Vecchio, Egmondville, ON, Ph.D. candidate, Univ. of Western Ontario, “The Scientific Angler: A Conservation Identity Forged through the Market.”

Carolee Klimchock, Ph.D. candidate, Yale University, “The Theatrics of Coach Driving in Late 19th-Century America.”

Andrew G.F. Lemon, Victoria, Australia, author of the three volume History of Australian Thoroughbred Racing, “The Steeplechasing Mind.”

Earl Parker, Ph.D., Orange, Texas, writer, “The U.S. Remount Service: Stallions Distributed Across America.”

Corey Piper, Curatorial Assistant for the Mellon Collections, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, “The Cast and Characters of the British Sporting Ring,” a scholarly essay for “Catching Sight: The World of the British Sporting Print,” upcoming exhibition catalogue, VMFA.

Judith Martin Woodall, New York, New York, writer and former manager of Claremont Riding Academy, “Witching the World with Noble Horsemanship: Riding in New York City, 1770-2007.”

The National Sporting Library and Museum is dedicated to preserving and sharing the
literature, art, and culture of horse and field sports. Founded in 1954, the institution has over 17,000-books dating from the 16th-21st centuries. In the fall of 2011, the newly renovated and expanded historic building on the campus will open to house exhibits of American and European fine sporting art. Information is shared through exhibitions, lectures, seminars, publications, and special events. The NSLM is open to researchers and the general public. Admission is free.

Gerrit Smith Estate’s Family Day of Croquet


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Abolitionist Gerrit Smith liked to play croquet daily during the summer. In honor of Smith’s summer recreation, the Grounds Squad of the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark plans to hold its second Family Day of Croquet on Sunday, July 17 from 2 – 6 p.m. on the grounds of Smith’s 19th Century home. The event will be attended by local croquet enthusiasts and a group dressed in croquet outfits. Croquet can be played by amateurs of all ages, and is enjoying a national resurgence. The public is urged to join in reviving this tradition. Croquet attire of the 19th – 21st Century or all white outfits are encouraged but not required.

During the afternoon, croquet courts and equipment will be available. Three buildings on the Gerrit Smith Estate with Heritage New York State Underground Railroad exhibits and the Peterboro Mercantile will be open. The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum will also be open from 1 – 5 p.m. The daily court fee is $2 per person. Gerrit Smith Estate tours cost $2 per person. Ice cream, beverages a 50-50 raffle, boxed lunches and baked goods will also be for sale.

Proceeds from the event support the preservation and promotion of the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark which is a site on both the New York State Underground Railroad Heritage Trail and the National Park Service Network to Freedom. Family Day of Croquet is one of a series of programs provided by the Stewards for the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark during 2011 and partially supported by a PACE grant from the Central New York Community Foundation. For more information on the croquet event contact Lisa Louisa Bryant at 917-578-9674 or at lisalouisabryant@yahoo.com. For a complete listing of programs, contact www.sca-peterboro.com or mail@sca-peterboro.com

Lake Placid Olympic Musum Establishes Endowment


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In memory of longtime Winter Olympic supporter and 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Organizing Committee member Philip G. Wolff, the Lake Placid 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Museum announces the kickoff of its first endowment fund campaign in a public ceremony, Thursday, June 30. With the completion of the campaign in 2013, the endowment fund, named in Mr. Wolff’s honor, is hoped to allow the Museum to increase its pace of collecting, strengthen its extensive collection, and bring more artifacts of the Winter Games back to the region where America’s Winter Olympic movement began.

“Over time, this endowment will allow the Museum to add to its collection with such items as Olympic torches from the 1952 Oslo (Norway) and 1960 Squaw Valley (Calif.) games, which Dad would have loved to have seen in his lifetime,” said David Wolff, Phil Wolff’s son and now a member of the Museum’s board.

“The endowment fund will also provide continuous support for the Museum to enhance and increase its educational programming for visiting families, adjust to fluctuations in giving, and reduce dependence on overstrained public and private funding sources,” added MaryLou Brown, Museum Board president.

Philip G. Wolff, who died in February, was a founder of the Lake Placid 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Museum and a member of the 1976 and 1980 Winter Olympic bid committees. In 1978, he was appointed chief of staff of the Lake Placid Winter Olympic Organizing Committee, a position he held until its closure in 1987, volunteering his time during the last three years of that assignment. He also served as chief of the security committee for the 1980 Winter Games. Wolff was instrumental in the Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum, being awarded the 2005 Olympic Cup by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). More recently, Wolff played a key role in getting the Lake Placid 1932 and 1980 Olympic Bobsled Track named to the National Register of Historic Places. Wolff spoke at a ceremony to mark that designation, which was also attended by Gov. David Paterson (D-New York), in June of last year. At the time of his death, Wolff was the oldest living licensed bobsled driver in the U.S.

The campaign kickoff for the Philip G. Wolff endowment fund will take place at a celebration of Wolff’s life to be held June 30 from 3-4:30 p.m. at the new Olympic Conference Center in Lake Placid. His many friends are invited to attend to honor this man who gave so much to the Museum and to the local area.

The 1932 & 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum is an independent, not-for-profit corporation. Its mission is to collect and preserve artifacts and archival materials associated with Lake Placid’s winter sports and winter Olympic heritage; to interpret Lake Placid’s winter sports and winter Olympic heritage to the public; and to preserve and maintain the collection of artifacts and archives assembled by the Lake Placid Olympic Organizing Committee.

The only official Olympic museum in the United States, Lake Placid’s 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Museum features the largest collection of winter Olympic artifacts outside the IOC’s museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. The collection includes the first Winter Olympic medal ever awarded – for the 500 meter speed skating competition – won by Lake Placid native Charles Jewtraw in the 1924 Games in Chamonix. His historic medal can be viewed with other items in the Museum collection, including equipment worn by 1980 U.S. Hockey Team goalie Jim Craig during the historic Miracle on Ice, parade clothing from the 1932 winter games, athletes participation medals and Olympic medals from every winter Olympics.

Miracle on Ice Stories Sought


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It’s been called the greatest sports moment of the century. The Miracle on Ice, Feb. 22, 1980, when the U.S hockey team, made up of 20 college kids, upset the Soviets 4-3 during the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, N.Y., on their way to winning the improbable gold medal. Now it’s your turn to tell your story—where you were during that historic day that united the nation? How did that win against the Soviets inspire you?

Do you have a story to tell about that day? If you do, submit your story to the United States’ goaltender Jim Craig, jimcraigbook@optonline.net, for your chance to tell your story in an upcoming book of the memories about that game with the Soviets.

What do you remember about the morale of the country at the time of the victory? Maybe you remember where you were and what you were doing. Or maybe this win served to inspire your life.

The two winning stories will receive a Miracle movie poster, personally signed by Craig. The deadline is May 31, 2011. By submitting your essay, you’re granting permission to publish your story.

Catskill Resident Named Baseball Historian


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Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig has announced that author and Catskill, NY resident John Thorn has been named the Official Baseball Historian for Major League Baseball.

Thorn is the author and editor of numerous baseball books, including the forthcoming Baseball in the Garden of Eden: The Secret History of the Early Game, which will be published on March 15th by Simon & Schuster. His other books include Treasures of the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Total Baseball encyclopedia series. Thorn, a member of the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR), was the senior creative consultant for Ken Burns’ Baseball series.

As Official Historian, Thorn will lead various research endeavors and special projects on behalf of Major League Baseball.

Thorn succeeds the late Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times baseball writer Jerome Holtzman, who served as Official Baseball Historian from 1999 until his passing in 2008.

The Woodstock Times has a profile of Thorn online.

National Sporting Library and Museum Grants


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The National Sporting Library & Museum (NSL&M) offers the John H. Daniels Fellowship to support researchers at the Middleburg, Virginia research center for horse and field sports, for periods of up to one year. Disciplines include history, literature, journalism, art history, anthropology, area studies, and history of sport.

Applications are due February 1, 2011 for the 2011-2012 fellowship year. Application criteria and instructions are included in the 2011-2012 fellowship brochure. Contact Elizabeth Tobey, Director of Research & Publications at fellowship@nsl.org or 540-687-6542 x 11 if you have further questions.

Located in western Loudoun County just 42 miles from Washington, D.C., Middleburg, Virginia is located in the heart of horse country and is a destination for shopping, dining, and equestrian events.

The program began in 2007 in honor of sportsman and book collector, John H. Daniels (1921-2006), a longtime supporter of the Library. Since 2007, the fellowship has supported fifteen researchers-in-residence at the NSL&M from all regions of the United States and four foreign countries.

APPLICATION GUIDELINES for 2011-2012

Who is eligible

University faculty (both current faculty [tenure-track, tenured, as well as adjunct] and retired/emeritus) and graduate students; museum curators and librarians; and writers and journalists are encouraged to apply. U.S. citizens and legal residents may apply for fellowships for periods of 12 months or less. Citizens of Canada and Bermuda may visit for 180 days or less without a Visa. Citizens of countries that participate in the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Waiver Program may apply for periods of 90 days or less (see website for list of countries).

Fellowship on Field Sports and Conservation

The National Sporting Library & Museum is committed to supporting scholarship and research in the subject area of traditional field sports as well as the connection between field sports and conservation, and invites applications from both academic and independent researchers.

At least one fellowship award each year will be reserved for a topic exploring the intersection of field sports with the evolution of conservation thought, such as methods of game keeping, the role of the naturalist from the sixteenth century forward, or the origins of the modern principles of conservation prior to the mid-twentieth century. Recent scholarship in environmental history has demonstrated that historically, hunters and anglers were often at the forefront of efforts to preserve wildlife and the natural environment.

The procedures for applying are the same as for a regular Daniels Fellowship, although applicants should specify in their cover letter interest in the conservation fellowship.

Fellows will receive

• Monthly stipend (max. $2,000/month) and complimentary housing near the Library.

• Workspace and access to computer and photocopier..

To Apply

Applications must be postmarked by February 1, 2011. Applicants will be notified of a decision by late March 2011. Detailed descriptions of the book collections, including a full list of archives and manuscript collections (with box descriptions) and a partial list of current and historical periodicals and with instructions for searching and a link to the card catalog, can be found online. The website also contains a page with links to articles about highlights of the collections.

Two useful booklets, Treasures of the National Sporting Library and This is the National Sporting Library contain descriptions and essays about some of the most important individual works and collections, and free copies of the latter publication may be obtained by contacting Lisa Campbell, Librarian, at lcampbell@nsl.org or 540-687-6542 x 13 or the fellowship coordinator at fellowship@nsl.org or 540-687-6542 x11.

Boxing Hall of Fame Elects 2010 Inductees


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The International Boxing Hall of Fame and Museum has announced the newest inductees including three-division champion Julio Cesar Chavez (Mexico), junior welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu (Russia / Australia), heavyweight champion Mike Tyson (USA), trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain (Mexico), referee Joe Cortez (USA) and screenwriter Sylvester Stallone (USA).

The 22nd Annual Hall of Fame Weekend is scheduled for June 9-12th in Canastota, NY. Over 20 events, including a golf tournament, banquet, parade and autograph card show, are planned. An impressive celebrity lineup of boxing greats of yesterday and today will attend this year’s Induction Weekend. The highlight of the weekend will be the Official Enshrinement Ceremony on the Hall of Fame Museum Grounds in Canastota, New York on Sunday, June 12th to welcome the newest members.

The Hall of Fame also released names of posthumous honorees: bantamweight Memphis Pal Moore, light heavyweight champion Jack Root and welterweight and middleweight Dave Shade in the Old-Timer Category; promoter A.F. Bettinson in the Non Participant Category; broadcaster Harry Carpenter in the Observer Category; and John Gully in the Pioneer Category. Inductees were voted in by members of the Boxing Writers Association and a panel of international boxing historians.

For more information on the events planned for the 2011 International Boxing Hall of Fame Weekend, call the Hall of Fame at (315) 697-7095.

Golf Tournament to Benefit the Cayuga Museum


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The Cayuga Museum will host its first ever golf outing on Sunday, September 19, 2010 at the Highland Golf Club. This is an added event to help with the severe financial challenges the Museum is facing this year. To register, sponsor a hole or for more information call 253-8051.

This will be a 4-person scramble with a shotgun start at 1:00 PM. The cost is $75 per person, which includes 18 holes of golf, cart, cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres. We are also selling hole sponsorships at $100 per hole. Entry fees and sponsorships should be sent to the Cayuga Museum at 203 Genesee St, Auburn, NY 13021. The deadline for entries and sponsorships is September 3, 2010.

Yankee Stadium Negro League Anniversary Event


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The Museum of the City of New York will present a program celebrating the 80th Anniversary of the first Negro League baseball game played at Yankee Stadium on Monday, July 26th, at 6:30 pm.

Join Negro League players Bob Scott and Jim Robinson, Dr. Lawrence Hogan, professor and author of Shades of Glory: The Negro Leagues and the Story of African-American Baseball (National Geographic, 2006), and baseball historian John Thorn for a conversation about the game, the times, and what the anniversary tells us about how America has, and hasn’t, changed in the last 80 years.

On July 5, 1930, the first Negro League baseball game was played at Yankee Stadium, ushering in a new era in American professional sports. In addition to its historical importance, the game was also a benefit for the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first African-American labor organization to receive a charter from the American Federation of Labor.

Reservations required. $6, Museum members; $12, non-members; $8, seniors and students.

Photo courtesy the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, New York.

Warhorse’s Olympic Bronze at Olympic Museum


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The Lake Placid 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Museum has added another piece to its collection of artifacts from last February’s 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada, Andrew Weibrecht’s men’s Super-G bronze medal.

Weibrecht’s bronze medal helped spark the U.S. alpine ski team to a record eight medals in Vancouver. Overall, the U.S. Olympic squad celebrated its best Olympics ever, claiming the overall medal count with 37.

“The medal was turned over for display and for safe keeping between appearances,” noted museum curator Liz Defazio. “It’s so nice for these athletes to have a place where they can share their accomplishments with others… sort of their home away from home.”

Nicknamed the “Warhorse” on the international alpine ski tour, Weibrecht began skiing at the age of five at Whiteface Mountain and began racing with the New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF) program by the time he was 10. He had only been on the World Cup circuit since 2006 and Vancouver was his first Olympic Winter Games.

There are quite a number of artifacts on display in the museum from the 2010 winter games donated by several of the 12 area athletes who competed, as well as coaches and officials. The artifacts include race gear, Opening Ceremony clothing, official U.S. Olympic team clothing, event tickets, programs and pins.

Lake Placid’s 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Museum features the largest collection of winter Olympic artifacts outside the International Olympic Committee’s museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. Some of the artifacts include the first Winter Olympic medal awarded, gold in 1924 in Chamonix, France, to Lake Placid native and speedskater Charles Jewtraw, equipment worn by U.S. goalie Jim Craig during the 1980 winter games, parade clothing from the 1932 winter games, athletes participation medals and Olympic medals from every winter Olympics.

Admission to the museum is $6 for adults and $4 for juniors and seniors. Admission is also included when purchasing an Olympic Sites Passport. The Passport gives visitors access to each of ORDA’s Olympic venues—from Whiteface Mountain to the Olympic Sports Complex and everything in between. Sold for $29 at the ORDA Store and all of our ticket offices, the Passport saves you time, money, and gets you into the venues at a good value. For more information about the Olympic Sites Passport, log on to http://www.whiteface.com/summer/plan/passport.php.

Photo: Andrew Weibrecht’s Super-G Bronze Medal. Courtesy 1932 and 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Museum, Lake Placid, NY.

Books: Silver Seasons of Rochester Baseball


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Taking us back to the early nineteenth century, when baseball was played in the meadows and streets of Rochester, New York, Silver Seasons and a New Frontier: The Story of the Rochester Red Wings retraces the careers of the players and managers who honed their skills at the city’s Silver Stadium and later at Frontier Field. The many greats who played for the Rochester Red Wings—Stan Musial, Cal Ripken, Jr. (who provides the book’s forward), Bob Gibson, Boog Powell, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, and Justin Morneau are among those brought to life in this story rich with quirky performances and poignant moments.

This updated version of Silver Seasons: The Story of the Rochester Red Wings, first published in 1996, includes three new chapters covering the team’s record-setting tenth International League championship, being named top minor league franchise by Baseball America, and their new affiliation with the Minnesota Twins.

Silver Stadium opened in 1929, as Red Wing Stadium, in the middle of a thriving urban residential neighborhood which later fell into decline. In late 1956, the St. Louis Cardinals, then the major league affiliate of the Rochester Red Wings considered abandoning the franchise. In response, Morrie Silver, a Rochester businessman, spearheaded an effort to purchase the team and the stadium was renamed Silver Stadium in 1968. Although renovated in the 1980s, the desire for corporate suites and better parking led to the construction of Frontier Field, a new stadium located in downtown Rochester, which opened in 1996; Silver Stadium was demolished the following year is now an industrial and office park.

Silver Seasons tracks the history of the two stadiums and the teams that played there and in the process recalls moments like the longest game in pro baseball history, a thirty-three-inning affair between the Red Wings and the Pawtucket Red Sox that stretched from April to June. Highlights also include one of the greatest teams in minor league history, the 1971 Junior World Series champion Red Wings, homers hit by Estel Crabtree in 1939 and Jim Finigan in 1961 and the unlikely Red Wings championship in the first season at their new park in 1997.

About the Authors
Jim Mandelaro has covered the Rochester Red Wings for the Democrat and Chronicle since 1991. He has twice been honored as Sportswriter of the Year by the Rochester Press-Radio Club. He was inducted into the Frontier Field Walk of Fame in 2007.

Scott Pitoniak is the author of ten books, including Memories of Yankee Stadium. He was inducted into the Frontier Field Walk of Fame in 1999 and the Newhouse School of Public Communications Hall of Fame in 2000.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Long Lake Antique and Classic Boat Show Slated


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Long Lake is gearing up to host its first Antique and Classic Boat Show on Saturday, July 10th, 2010 at the Long Lake Waterfront from 10am – 5pm. With so many antique and classic wooden boats hiding along the shorelines of Long Lake a group of wooden boat aficionados have decided to showcase these treasures of yesteryear.

Organizers have scoped out a diverse group of boats including: an original 1945 Garwood, having only graced the waters of Long Lake, a 1949 Chriscraft and a 1958 Speedster. These are just a sampling of the few boats slated to be on display. Other boats on the lake that will hopefully be on scene include Chris Craft’s from 1924, 1962, 1947 as well as original handcrafted guideboats.

The day’s festivities kick off at 10am and run until 5pm with a Boat Parade “at speed” leaving the town beach at 4pm. A cocktail reception and cash bar will be held at the Adirondack Hotel at 5pm and a trophy will be awarded to “Spectator’s Choice” by fans visiting and touring the boats.

Photo: The “Best Garwood” Winner at the 2007 Clayton Boat Show (Provided).

Free Baseball E-Book from Univ of Chicago Press


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In celebration of baseball’s Opening Day the University of Chicago Press, is offering a free e-book, Nice Guys Finish Last, the baseball classic by Leo Durocher.

Durocher started with the 1928 Yankees, but hit so poorly that Babe Ruth nicknamed him “the All-American Out.” Soon he hit his stride: traded to St. Louis, he found his headlong play and never-say-die attitude a perfect fit with the rambunctious and renowned “Gashouse Gang.”

In 1939, Durocher he became player-manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers—and transformed the underachieving Bums into contenders. Then he managed the New York Giants, sharing the glory of one of the enduring moments of baseball history, Bobby Thomson’s 1951 “shot heard ’round the world.” And finally Durocher learned how it felt to be on the other side of such an unforgettable moment, as his 1969 Cubs, after holding first place for 105 days, blew a seemingly insurmountable 8-1/2-game lead to the Miracle Mets.

To get your free copy of the Nice Guys Finish Last e-book, go here.

The 1920s: America’s Golden Age of Sports


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A new book by Michael K. Bohn, Heroes and Ballyhoo: How the Golden Age of the 1920s Transformed American Sports, profiles the great American sports heroes of that era and highlights their roles in turning their sports into the kind of large spectator events they are today. Among them are the standards like Babe Ruth, Bobby Jones, Jack Dempsey, and Knute Rockne, but also those from the fringes of modern sport.

Swimmers like Johnny Weissmuller, who turned Olympic success into a seminal role as Tarzan, and Gertrude Ederle, the first to swim the English Channel are profiled. Helen Wills is here, the winner of 31 Grand Slam tennis titles who the New York Times called “the first American born woman to achieve international celebrity as an athlete.” Heroes and Ballyhoo also considers the role of tennis player Bill Tilden and golfer Walter Hagen in bringing large audiences to their sports.

Arena sports became a cornerstone of modern American life in the 1920s, after Americans, freed from the burden of World War I and Victorian traditions, seemed to seek out everything that was modern, from bobbed hair, bathtub gin, jazz, Model Ts, movies and radio to fads of all kinds.

The author goes further to explore the people behind the scenes: press agents, and over-the-top sports writers and journalists that helped establish what the publisher calls “the secular religion of sports and sports heroes, and helping bond disparate social and regional sectors of the country.”

Reporters like Grantland Rice and Damon Runyon, are found here, along with modern era promoters like C. C. Pyle and Tex Rickard and agent Christy Walsh, a founder of sports marketing.

Photo: Parade for Gertrude Ederle coming up Broadway, New York City in 1926.