Today marks the 70th anniversary of the 1941 championship game between the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants. Before the Super Bowl was established in 1967, the NFL championship game was simply called the NFL Championship. So on December 21st, 1941, just 2 weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Western Division Champion Bears and the Eastern Division Champion Giants faced off at Wrigley Field to decide the NFL Championship.
In front of a home crowd of 13,341 fans, the “Monsters of Midway” Bears would defeat the Giants by a score of 37-9. The victory would be the Bears’ 2nd consecutive NFL Championship and the second of four championships in six years. Aside from starting a Bears dynasty, a fun fact also came out of this championship game. When Bears kicker Ray McLean kicked the final extra point of the 4th quarter, he became the last player in NFL history to drop kick an extra point in the postseason (Doug Flutie drop kicked an extra point in 2005, but it was in the regular season).
Branch Rickey was born in December 20, 1881 in Stockdale, Ohio. He grew up playing baseball but was never a standout. Rickey played in college at Ohio Wesleyan University and spent a few years in the majors with the Browns and Highlanders. After his uneventful playing career, Rickey moved to the front office where he would singlehandedly change the game of baseball. Here's what he did.
- He joined the St. Louis Cardinals organization in 1919. During his time in St. Louis, from 1919 - 42, Rickey served as field manager, General Manager and President. He led the Cardinals to six NL pennants and 4 World Championships, and turned the club into the class of the league.
- While in St. Louis he created the framework for the minor league farm system which is still in use today. The farm system that he developed with the Cardinals was ultimately adopted by every major leage baseball team.
- In 1942 Branch left the Cardinals and joined the Brooklyn Dodgers as President and General Manager. During his time in Brooklyn Rickey created the first ever full time spring training facility in Vero Beach, Florida.
- He was the first to promote the use of batting helmets, batting cages and pitching machines.
- He was the first executive to utilize statistics in the running of his club when he hired a full time statistician in 1947.
- In 1945 Rickey signed Jackie Robinson to a minor league contract, ultimately leading to Robinson's breaking of the color barrier in 1947.
- After differences with Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley, Rickey left the club for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
- In 1954, Branch selected outfielder Roberto Clemente in the post - season draft. Clemente would go on to become the game's first Hispanic superstar.
Needless to say, the game of baseball might look very different today without the innovations and accomplishments of Branch Rickey. Happy 130th Birthday Mr. Rickey.
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Basketball is back! We thought it would be a great time to share some amazing photographs from The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame located in the birthplace of basketball, Springfield, Massachusetts. Before there were multi-million dollar contracts and lockouts, there were short shorts, peach baskets, and some great nostalgic memories as you will see in these photos. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
To learn more about the Basketball Hall of Fame, go to http:www.hoophall.com/history/
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