Art Rooney passed away on August 25, 1988 at the age of 87. Arthur Joseph Rooney, Sr. known as "The Chief," was the founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise in the National Football League. Rooney's affiliation with the NFL began in 1933 when he purchased a franchise for Pittsburgh and named them the Pirates. In 1938, he signed Byron "Whizzer" White to a record-breaking $15,000 contract. Unfortunately, this move did not bring the Pirates a winning season. The club did not have a season above .500 until 1942, a few years after the team was renamed the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The team managed only 24 victories in the first eight years of his ownership. Season after season, it seemed the Steelers would always be destined for second division. However, Rooney's faith and determination in his Steelers was never-ending. Finally, in the 1970s, the Steelers won four Super Bowls (1974, 1975, 1978, 1979), making them the most dominant team of the decade.
Art Rooney received many awards during his career. In 1964, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a beloved figure in the city of Pittsburgh. A stature of his likeness graces the entrance to Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also has a street named in his honor on Pittsburgh's north side.
Calvin Edwin Ripken Jr. is celebrating his 50th birthday today. Born in Havre de Grace, Maryland, just a short 1 hour trip up 95 from his future team the Baltimore Orioles, Ripken was raised on the baseball diamond. His father, Cal Sr., played, scouted and managed in the Baltimore Orioles organization. By the time Cal Jr. broke into the big leagues with the Orioles in 1981, Cal Sr. was the Manager of the team. While Ripken was not in the mold of the prototypical shortstop of the time, by combining great defense and homerun hitting power, he would break his way into the starting lineup and become the new breed of shortstop in the Majors.
On April 5th, 1982, Cal Ripken Jr. started his first full season as an Oriole against the Kansas City Royals, going 3-5 with a homerun in his first at-bat of the season. From there, Ripken would go on to put together one of the greatest resumes in Major League Baseball history. Over the course of his 20 seasons in the league, Ripken would win the Rookie of the Year Award, a World Series Championship, 8 Silver Slugger Awards, 2 Gold Glove Awards, 2 American League MVP Awards and be elected to 19 consecutive All-Star games from 1983 to 2001. He also led the league in defensive assists 7 times and is 3rd on the All-time Assists list.
Ripken’s most notable moment came back on September 6th, 1995, when he broke the all time record for most consecutive games played (solidifying his nickname as “Iron Man” once and for all) set by Lou Gehrig back in 1939. His 2,131 consecutive game was prolonged slightly in the bottom of the fifth inning, when a 22 minute standing ovation and a lap around the field on the back of a car postponed the Orioles from batting their turn. He would end the game 2-4 with a homerun and the Orioles beat the California Angels 4-2. That game is still one of the most viewed games in Major League Baseball history. Ripken would finish his consecutive games streak roughly 3 years later at 2,632. Upon retiring in 2001, Ripken’s #8 jersey would be retired by the Orioles. In 2007, Ripken was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility with an overwhelming 98.53% of the vote. Happy Birthday Cal !
Christopher Adolph “Sonny” Jurgensen was born August 23, 1934 in Wilmington, North Carolina. Jurgensen began his athletic career early on playing baseball, basketball and tennis for his grammar school. In high school, he continued his baseball and basketball career, but also started football as a backup quarterback.
At Duke University, Jurgensen was backup quarterback in 1954 and took over as the starter in 1955. He was drafted after college in 1957 by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth round. He was backup to Bobby Thomason in 1957 and Norm Van Brocklin from 1958 through the 1960 season. In fact, Jurgensen’s only championship was as an Eagle when they took the 1960 Championship. Sonny was traded to the Washington Redskins after an injury-prone ’63 season in exchange for Norm Sneade and Claude Crabb. He remained in Washington for the next 10 years before retiring.
In Washington, Jurgensen won three NFL passing titles, led the team to the 1972 Championship and was elected into the Pro Bowl four times. He exceeded 400 yards passing in a single game five times and threw five touchdown passes in a game twice. Over his career, his stats include 2,433 completions for 32,224 yards and 255 touchdowns. He also rushed for 493 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and still continues his broadcasting career for the Washington Redskins.