Happy 50th Birthday to former NFL Quarterback Dan Marino. Born in Pittsburgh, PA back in 1961, Marino attended the University of Pittsburgh and started all 4 years for the Pitt Panthers. Upon graduating in 1983, Marino was selected 27th overall by the Miami Dolphins. The ’83 draft would prove to be a QB heavy draft as 2 other future Hall of Famers were also selected in the 1st round, Jim Kelly and John Elway.
In his first season, Marino would not be named the starter for the Dolphins until week 6, but Marino would end the season as the starting quarterback for the AFC in the Pro Bowl. In his sophomore campaign, Marino would set the single season record for passing yards at 5,084 (a record he still holds today). Over the course of his seventeen career seasons (all with the Dolphins), Marino would break 34 NFL records, many of which he still holds on to. Over his career, Marino threw for 61,361 total yards and 420 TDs. He was voted as the league’s MVP and offensive player of the year in 1984, and be selected to the NFL Pro Bowl 9 times. The only blemish on Marino’s record is his lack of Super Bowl rings. Despite not winning a Super Bowl, his exemplary play over his career earned him the #25 slot on NFL.com’s All-time Top Player ranking in 2009. Since retiring, his #13 jersey has been retired by the Dolphins. Happy 50th Dan!
Happy 46th Birthday to Dan Majerle. Majerle was born on September 9th, 1965 in Traverse City, Michigan. Majerle stayed local for college when selected to attend Central Michigan University, a short two hour drive south from Traverse City. He was selected 14th overall by the Phoenix Suns in 1988 and was actually booed by Suns fans when his name was announced. That wouldn’t last long.
During the 1988-89 season, Majerle came off the bench as the Suns 6th man, but he quickly became a fan favorite. He was known as a powerful dunker early in his career, but really developed a knack for timely perimeter shooting and superior defense as he matured in the league. In 1992, Majerle became the first player to be selected as a starter for an NBA All-Star game even though he didn’t start for his own team. He was asked to play for the United States in the '94 World Championships and went on to win a Gold Medal as a part of the Dream Team II. He would end his career with the Suns in 2002 having been selected to 3 All-Star games and two All-Defensive Second Teams. In March of 2003, Majerle was elected into the Suns Ring of Honor and his # 9 jersey was retired by the team. He is currently the Assistant Head Coach for the Suns. Happy Birthday Dan!
Happy 71st birthday to legendary centerman Stan “Stosh” Mikita. Mikita was born in 1940, in the town of Sokolce of the Slovak Republic. Mikita’s birth name was actually Stanislav Guoth, but when Czechoslovakia became a Communist controlled country, Stosh fled to Ontario. Once in Ontario, he was adopted by his aunt and uncle and changed his name to Mikita.
Mikita played an amazing 21 seasons in the NHL, and all for the Chicago Blackhawks. Mikita was an incredible scorer throughout his career, however, he was also well known for his temper in his early years. Upon retiring during the ’79-’80 season, Mikita was third overall in career scoring and seventh overall in career games played. Three years after his retirement, Mikita was elected in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983. Over the course of his 21 season career, Mikita won the Hart Memorial Trophy (League MVP) twice, the Art Ross Trophy (NHL’s leading scorer) four times, the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (league’s most sportsmanlike player) twice and was a Stanley Cup Champion in 1961. Mikita’s number #21 jersey is retired by the Blackhawks.
Happy Birthday Stosh!
Today is the 47th birthday of Ronald Jeffrey Hextall. Best known for his years as a goaltender for the Philadelphia Flyers, Hextall is now the Vice President and Assistant General Manager of the Los Angeles Kings. If that weren’t enough, he also acts as the General Manager for the Kings’ AHL primary affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs. Hextall was a third generation professional hockey player. His grandfather, Bryan Hextall, had an 11-year Hall of Fame career with the New York Rangers in the ‘30s-‘40s and his father, Bryan Hextall Jr., had a 10-year career in the pros, most notably with the Pittsburgh Penguins. One of Hextall’s sons, Brett, was drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes in the ’08 Entry Draft, and if he plays in the pros, he will become just the second 4th-generation player in NHL history.
Hextall was born in Brandon, Manitoba, a town roughly 60 miles north of the Canadian border above North Dakota. He was drafted 119 overall (6th Round) by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1982 Entry Draft. He wouldn’t make his first regular season appearance until the ’86-’87 season, when he started the season opener against the Edmonton Oilers (winning 2-1). Over the course of the next 13 seasons (11 with the Flyers), Hextall would revolutionize the position of goaltender.
Until Hextall, few goaltenders left the net to actively stick handle the puck. His aggressiveness to leave his crease, and essentially act as a 3rd defenseman, paved the way for the likes of current goaltenders like Martin Brodeur and Marty Turco. Hextall’s stick-handling led to him being the first goalie in NHL history to score a goal, and he currently shares the NHL record for most goals by a goaltender, including playoffs, at 2 (Martin Brodeur also has 2). His aggressiveness also carried over into the penalty department. Hextall currently holds the NHL record for most penalty minutes in a single season by a goaltender with 113. In fact, in each of his first 3 seasons, Hextall would earn at least 100 penalty minutes. Hextall would also be suspended for at least 6 games on three separate occasions during his career. In his rookie season, Hextall led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup finals. Despite losing to the Wayne Gretzky/Mark Messier lead Edmonton Oilers in a seven game series, the league awarded Hextall the Conn Smythe Trophy for Player Most Valuable to his team during the playoffs. Hextall also won the Vezina Trophy in his rookie season, an award voted on by all the leagues’ GMs and awarded to the NHL’s Most Valuable Goaltender.
Hextall’s # 27 jersey was retired by the Flyers on February 6th, 2008. He currently holds team records for most career games (489), most career wins (240), most career playoff wins (45), most career points by a goaltender (28) and most career penalty minutes by a goaltender (476). Happy Birthday Ron!
Donald Arthur Mattingly was born on April 20, 1961 in Evansville, Indiana. He was 21 years old when he debuted for the New York Yankees on September 8, 1982. Don, nicknamed "Donnie Baseball" and "The Hit Man," played his entire 14-year baseball career for the New York Yankees as their star left-handed first baseman. Mattingly was considered one of Major League Baseball's best first basemen throughout the 1980s, winning the Gold Glove Award nine times for this fielding and a spot on the American League All-Star team each year from 1984-1989.
Mattingly finished his career with 2,153 hits, 222 home runs, 1,099 RBI, and a .307 lifetime average. He is commonly referred to as the best Yankee player to have never played in a World Series. On August 31, 1997, the New York Yankees retired his number 23 and dedicated his plaque for Monument Park at Yankee Staduim.
After his playing career, Mattingly served as a hitting coach for the New York Yankees from 2004-2006, then their bench coach in 2007. In 2008, Mattingly left the Yankees and joined manager Joe Torre with the Los Angeles Dodgers to serve as the team's hitting coach. He remained the Dodger's hitting coach until the 2010 off-season at which time it was announced he would replace the retiring Torre as the next manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.