Weather occurrences that affected sporting events
Do you remember Hurricane Smith?
No, it is not a hurricane like Idalia, but instead a solo artist whose top hit was “Oh Babe, What Would You Say” in 1972.
In this week’s version of my Yesterday column - reminiscing about sports and pop culture in the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s and sometimes beyond - I’ll take a look at hurricanes and some other natural disasters that have affected the sports world, as well as some other sports and pop-culture trinkets along the way.
Did the Phillies ever have a Hurricane game? Do you remember the World Series rain in 2008? And did Joe Namath ever play in Allentown? We will look into those questions and more in this week’s column.
Don’t Date Agnes and Sandy ... In 1972, Hurricane Agnes was recorded as one of the costliest disasters at its time, resulting in damages of more than $2 million. I don’t remember much of it, and the Lehigh Valley didn’t have any major damage, but Schuylkill County had the most recorded amount of rainfall ever from one event with 19 inches. Maybe some of you have some memories from it.
Since 1930, Schuylkill County has had 21 recorded hurricanes. Hurricane Sandy did the most recent damage in 2012, canceling its share of sporting events.
Rain, Rain, Go Away ... In 2008, rain played a pivotal element in the Phillies-Rays World Series.
Game 5 was tied 2-2 and suspended due to rain. Temperatures at the ballpark hovered around 40 degrees on Oct. 27. But rain continued to pelt the area, and it continued for 48 hours.
Two days later, the game was finally played and the Phils managed to secure their first World Series title since 1980 - and their second overall.
It was bizarre, but certainly well worth the wait for Phillies’ fans.
Hold That Tarp ... On June 24, 2010, one of the wildest scenes hit Citizens Bank Park during the eighth inning of a game between the Phillies and Indians.
Hurricane Earl proceeded to dump swirling rain, whipping wind, pockets of hail, and streaks of lightning across the field that caused the game to be delayed for 97 minutes. Despite the usual, large, heavy tarp that was even held down by a John Deere tractor, the elements still caused it to blow away. Fans found cover in the corridors.
Somehow, the attack subsided, and the game was eventually finished.
It proved that anything could happen in South Philadelphia.
Don’t Adjust Your Television Set ... I remember Oct. 17, 1989 well, when before Game 3 of the World Series between the Giants and the A’s a 6.9 earthquake struck the Bay Area.
It was an ABC broadcast, and Al Michaels and Tim McCarver were in the midst of the pregame telecast a little after 5 p.m. Pacific time when the feed’s sound was cracking and there were bars across the screen.
Surprisingly, Candlestick Park suffered minor damage, but the area was affected. The series was postponed for 10 days and wasn’t played until Oct. 27. The A’s won the two games following the earthquake to earn their ninth overall crown.
By the way, the phrase “Don’t adjust your television sets” was the lead for the TV series, “The Outer Limits,” which first debuted in 1963 and lasted two seasons on ABC. It was a classic science fiction series, and was a parallel with The Twilight Zone, as two series ahead of their time.
What’s In a Nickname? ... The most prominent athlete to sport the hurricane nickname was middleweight boxer Rubin Carter, who was charged with three counts of first-degree murder in 1966. Carter was incarcerated until 1985 when a writ of habeas corpus was passed in 1985. It was shown that Carter’s conviction was based on racism.
Bob Dylan released the song, “Hurricane” in 1975 as a sign of protest.
A forgotten player may have been Bob “Hurricane” Hazle, a career minor leaguer who finally got his shot with the Milwaukee Braves in 1957 when he hit .507 with five home runs and seven doubles in his first 22 games. He hit .403 in 41 games.
But Hazle only played two more seasons, one with Milwaukee and another with Detroit before his career ended in 1958.
Yeah, That League ... From 1946-2009, the Continental Basketball Association was a viable minor league outlet for the NBA.
The Allentown Jets were part of the league from 1958-59 and also 1978-79. The Allentown Rockets date back to the 1946-47 campaign. The Jets were regular occupants of the Eastern League.
Other teams on the periphery of the greater area were the Hazleton Bullets (1973-74, 76-77), the Pottsville Pros/Packers (1947-48 1951-52), the Scranton A’s (1980-81) and Apollos (1970-71 1976-79), and the Wilkes-Barre Aces (1951-53) and Barons (1946-47, 1979-80).
It was a gateway for numerous NBA players, as well as coaches Phil Jackson and George Karl. Former Sixer Steve Mix signed with the Grand Rapids team for the 1972-73 season after he was cut by the Sixers.
If you have a program from any of these teams, hold onto it.
Another Classic Game ... In 1969, Transogram released “Ouarterback,” labeled as a computerized action game and endorsed by the NFL Players Association.
The football with the NFL logo around was on the box, as well as 16 quarterbacks that featured legends John Brodie, Earl Morrall, Roman Gabriel, Jim Hart, Norm Snead, Bill Nelson, and Don Meredith. If you’re a Steelers’ fan, do you remember Kent Nix?
It was battery operated and slim, long cards were inserted to reveal your play.
I don’t think I had this one, but you can find it on eBay.
Joe Willie Hits Allentown ... Susan K. from Bethlehem, who sends a monthly email to the Liberty High School class of 1965 titled “Look Back, Look Ahead” noted that Namath played his first preseason game as a rookie against the Boston Patriots at Allentown School District stadium before a crowd of 15,000 in 1965 in the Allentown Jaycee Classic.
The Jets won the game, 26-16.
The Real Professor ... Growing up in the 1960s and 70s, we all remember Professor Toru Tanaka from WWF wrestling.
Actually, his real name was Charles Kalani Jr., and he was a wrestler, boxer, college football player, soldier, actor, and martial arts expert. Bruno Sammartino recommended Tanaka, who was wrestling in Australia at the time, to Vince McMahon Sr.
He teamed with Mr. Fuji, better known as Harry Fujiwara, and the duo was known for throwing salt into the eyes of their opponents. They won three WWF tag team championships.
Kalani passed away in 2000 and was given a full military funeral.
Our favorite Chef ... As a kid, one of our favorite times may have been when mom opened up a can of Chef-Boy-A-Dee for our lunch.
There always was a hankering for SpaghettiOs and Beefaroni. Back in the 70s, the company made its own spaghetti sauce and had those fabled pizza kits.
Since then, the spelling has changed to Boyardee on today’s cans. The product was designed after a chef with the actual name from Milton, (NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY) Pa.
Memory Lane ... Every (EACH) week, I’ll look back at a player, coach, manager, or media personality from our yesterday.
Do you remember play-by-play announcer Don Criqui? He holds the record for the longest tenured NFL broadcaster, calling games for CBS and NBC. He also called college basketball and was the voice of Notre Dame football. Criqui also worked golf, tennis, and hockey.
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