In July 1955, when the African American 11- and 12-year-olds on the Cannon Street YMCA All-Star team registered for a baseball tournament in Charleston, South Carolina, it put the team on a collision course with segregation. White teams forfeited their games. [Read more…] about Stolen Dreams: Racism & Little League Baseball’s Civil War
Early April saw New York State lawmakers adopt the 2022 budget and approve a plan to accelerate the siting of three new full casinos in the metropolitan New York area. This plan will see the casino licenses awarded to those able to cover the $500 million fee and be approved in a selection process.
Both locations for many years have successfully demonstrated their feasibility by conducting horse sports, and each of the casino facilities are managed by experienced operators, Resorts World at the Big A, and MGM at Empire City.
With Aqueduct in the Big Apple so well known, perhaps this is a good opportunity to delve into the origins of Empire City. [Read more…] about Empire City Race Track in Yonkers: Some History
A new book, The American Prize Ring: Its Battles, Its Wrangles, and Its Heroes, 1812-1881 (2022), reprints important boxing history columns by William E. Harding, one of America’s most prolific sportswriters of the bare-knuckle boxing period.
Harding’s “The American Prize Ring: Its Battles, Its Wrangles, and Its Heroes” appeared as a column in the weekly National Police Gazette from June 4th, 1880, until September 10th, 1881. Although the Gazette, and its editor Richard K. Fox, published several pamphlets on boxing, Harding’s monumental history of American pugilism was never published in book form until now. The columns end just before John L. Sullivan’s first prize fight.
Harding’s columns are here assembled for the first time by Jerry Kuntz, who provides an informative introduction. In a foreward New York Almanack founder and editor John Warren writes that “the importance of Jerry Kuntz’s yeoman work in assembling sporting writer William E. Harding’s columns on pugilism in America cannot be understated. Quite simply, this is the best reference work on bare-knuckle boxing in America…” [Read more…] about American Prize Ring, 1812-1881: A New Book Documents the Bare-Knuckle Boxing Era
In the motor toboggan era – the time before the advent of the modern snowmobiles we know today – motor sleds had been too slow for racing excitement. As a result they remained strictly utilitarian vehicles racing only occasionally for promotional purposes. Motor toboggan and later snowmobile maker Polaris traveled each year at the end of the 1950s to trapper festivals at The Pas, Manitoba where they helped organize ad hoc races.
“We tried to rig them a little bit so we had a zig-zag effect,” David Johnson said, remembering one of the first informal races, “one guy ahead, and then the other, and so on, at a terrific speed of about 20 miles per hour.” In February 1959, Johnson won the first organized men’s race on an oval at The Pas and in 1960, the first cross-country race was held there. [Read more…] about A History of Snowmobile Racing in New York State
In the early 1800s it was unusual for Americans to be interested in sporting matters on their own shores. News from Europe was the only sporting news of merit, and publishing an American sporting journal was considered a risky use of capital.
The first attempt along these lines may have been in 1829 Baltimore, where John S. Skinner published a monthly magazine which focused on race horse pedigrees called The American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine. Another early attempt was published in New York by the recognized writer and horseman Cadwallader R. Colden, whose organ was called The New-York Sporting Magazine and Annals of the American and English Turf, first published in 1833.
Among the most notable of the sporting press arrived in 1831, when William T. Porter and James Haw published the first issue of The Spirit of the Times, focusing on horse literature and sporting subjects. They had chosen the name for their broadsheet from a quotation in Shakespeare’s King John, “The spirit of the times shall teach me speed.” [Read more…] about The Spirit of the Times: A 19th Century Chronicle of American Sports
When bare-knuckle “fair fight” pugilism reached a height in popularity in England in the early 1820s, many English boxers moved to the city of New York. Some simply for greener, less crowded professional pastures and others out of frustration over corruption or suppression of the sport by British authorities.
In the United States, these men bolstered the “manly art of self defense” by competing in local matches, opening gymnasiums, arranging fights, and training a new generation of American boxers. [Read more…] about The Oysters Sign: 19th Century Boxing’s Most Prized Trophy
About 1,000 people, “including many ladies,” with groups of baseball enthusiasts traveling from Rutland, Whitehall, Glens Falls and Troy, attended the June 26, 1890 game when the Cuban Giants defeated the Granville Granvilles 7-0. [Read more…] about The Cuban Giants: Black Baseball in Northern New York
I often wish one of the great play-writes like Moss Hart or Arthur Miller, or a screenwriter like Billy Wilder, had been bigger baseball fans, as the game would often make a very funny script.
If I had a mind to write one, I would set the plot in St. Louis, at the height of the Second World War. Baseball had a large presence there, and for plenty of seasons including the war years, the Gateway City was home to two major league ball teams.
The National League entry had played in St. Louis since 1892, as one of the surviving franchises from the American Association, which had failed financially the year before. The Brown Stockings took their name from their hose color in the best 1890s baseball tradition. The team changed their name in 1899 to Perfectos and in 1900, mercifully changed it again to Cardinals. [Read more…] about Baseball: The 1944 St. Louis Street-Car Series
“Sing a song of sixpence, and eke of dollar bills,” he wrote in a poetic ditty, published October 3rd, 1922 in The Post-Star of Glens Falls. “Four and thirty thousand fans, paying for their thrills.” [Read more…] about 1922 World Series Was First To Be Broadcast
Nothing is quite as exciting as being part of the crowd at a Super Bowl or at the Olympic Games. That type of excitement must have been experienced by Saratoga Lake dwellers in July, 1874 when the “Great Intercollegiate Regatta” came to our community.
Nine colleges – Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Wesleyan, Dartmouth, Williams, Cornell, Trinity and Princeton all entered six man shells. While each school brought their own fans to the area, most interest (especially betting interest) centered on the fierce Harvard – Yale rivalry. In a race five years earlier, Yale had beaten the boys from Harvard but were charged with unsportsmanlike conduct and disqualified. Bad blood existed between these two prestigious members of the Ivy League. [Read more…] about The Great Intercollegiate Regatta of 1874