A look back on March Madness memories
In less than 24 hours, there will be a new NCAA men’s basketball champion.
But there still is some lingering hoops chat before baseball takes center stage. Saturday’s San Diego State win over Florida Atlantic will be talked about for a long time.
In this week’s version of my Yesterday column - reminiscing about the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s and sometimes beyond - I’ll take a final look at some possible forgotten moments of past NCAA tournaments, as well as some baseball and pop culture findings.
Who were “E-Z” Ed and Jason Grimsley? Do you remember what dairy product was the hot topic of an advertising campaign 30 years ago? Can you reconnect Bob Hope with sports? Read on to find the answers to those questions and more.
No April Fool ... It was nearly 40 years ago when Villanova became the highest seed - No. 8 - to win the NCAA tournament with a 66-64 victory over No. 1 Georgetown on April 1, 1985 (Florida Atlantic could have superseded them as a No. 9 seed).
“E-Z” Ed Pinckney was a Villanova forward/center who became a cult-type figure in the greater Philadelphia area and probably the most recognizable player from the team. He had 16 points in the title game and Dwayne McClain had a team-high 17. Harold Pressley added 11 for the Wildcats, who were led by colorful head coach Rollie Massimino, who was offered the New Jersey Nets head coaching job a few days later.
To this day, it is still considered the biggest upset in the history of the championship game.
The Big Redhead ... Fifty years ago in 1973, Bill Walton led UCLA to a 87-66 victory over Memphis State. It was their seventh consecutive championship, and the junior Walton had 44 points. Walton, who made 21 of 22 shots, was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
What most people may not remember was the championship game was held on a Monday night for the first time in tournament history. Memphis State head coach Gene Bartow would take over for UCLA legendary head coach John Wooden after the 1974-75 season.
Memphis State was led by Larry Finch and Larry Kenon, (remember him?) who became more famous with the Nets and Spurs.
The leading scorer of the tournament was Providence’s Ernie “D” DiGregorio, who tallied 128 points. His Friars finished fourth in the tournament, losing to third-place Indiana. There was something about the nickname “Friars” back then.
By the way, Lehigh was a 16th seed in the ‘85 tournament and lost to Georgetown in the opening round. The Mountain Hawks were led by Allentown Central Catholic’s Mike Polaha and Norristown’s Darren Queenan. If you were a Lehigh Valley area hoops fan, you may remember that duo.
Not A Frightening Jason ... On April 2, 1992, the Phillies acquired pitcher Curt Schilling from the Houston Astros for pitcher Jason Grimsley.
Needless to say, Schilling was instrumental in the Phillies’ run to the pennant in 1993, and became one of the franchise’s greatest hurlers, pitching nine years and having three All-Star appearances. On the other hand, Grimsley never pitched for Houston, and he won only 37 games over the next nine seasons with six teams.
Yet, we all remember Schilling’s bloody sock from his days with the Red Sox in the World Series.
Have Some Milk ... In 1993, milk became one of the hottest marketing items due to the slogan, “Got Milk.”
If you recall, there were endorsements by famous celebrities and sports stars that usually were in a situation where a glass of milk would be appropriate.
In the first commercial, a man is listening to a radio broadcast and making a peanut butter sandwich when the trivia question of “Who shot Alexander Hamilton?” is asked. The man happens to have a poster of the duel with Hamilton and Aaron Burr on his wall.
With a mouth full of his sandwich, the phone rings and the man answers to the surprise of the radio announcer asking him that question. He tries to say “Aaron Burr” with his sandwich in his mouth, but he is not understandable. He tries to pour a glass of milk, but the carton is empty. The announcer states that his time is up.
The screen flips to a black background with the words “Got Milk?” in white lettering. That became a T-shirt logo, and in 1995, celebrities would have a milk mustache after drinking from the glass.
Did you have a T-shirt?
Another Classic Game ... This is one game that probably all of us had more than once in our youth.
The Tommy Pocket baseball game could actually fit in your pocket. Its concept was that of a miniature pinball game in which you would try to record a home run, single, double, or triple. If one of your balls dropped all the way down without recording a hit, it was an out.
Besides the pinball lever, there was another lever that would help you work yourself around the bases.
These were inexpensive, easy to find, and our version of a video game.
There Was Always Hope ... On April 1, 1973, Bob Hope hosted the “Cavalcade of Champions,” one of his many sports-related specials throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s.
Steve Carlton was among the pro athletes honored by Hope. Others were Dick Allen, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Johnny Bench, Larry Brown, Franco Harris, Earl Morrall, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Jerry West, Gary Player and Wilt Chamberlain.
Celebrity presenters were John Wayne, Dinah Shore, Darren McGavin, Fred McMurray, Sammy Davis Jr. Mitzi Gaynor, Danny Thomas, and Barbara Eden.
Back then, it was a big deal for us to see sports stars and Hollywood stars outside their show on TV. I watched most of these, especially the college football ones.
Here He Comes ... On April 4, 1971, ABC debuted the animated hour-long show, “Here Comes Peter Cottontail.”
Peter Cottontail was in a battle against evil bunny January Q. Cottontail and met inventor Seymour S. Sassafras. Like many of the Ranken/Bass productions, Danny Kaye, Casey Kasem, Vincent Price, and Paul Frees have major voiceover roles.
It sounds silly today, but as an 11-year-old, I was watching. The Ranken/Bass animated productions were always well done.
Memory Lane ... Each week, I will look back at a former player, manager, coach or media personality who was a part of our yesterday.
Do you remember Jim Eisenreich? The left-handed hitting outfielder spent four seasons in Philadelphia and produced an overall .324 average. He was also known for a good glove, and pinch-hitting abilities. Eisenreich played a key role in the club’s pennant-winning season in ‘93.
Eisenreich entered the majors in 1982 with Minnesota, but he missed the ‘85 and ‘86 seasons due to the effects of Tourette’s Syndrome. He returned to the majors in 1987 with Kansas City, and the Phillies signed him as a free agent in January of 1993.
Eisenreich became a free agent after the 1996 season, and signed with the Florida Marlins. He would end his 15-year career with the Los Angeles Dodgers after the 1998 season.