#TBT Sports Blog: Remembering “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe

Hockey great Gordie Howe

Today’s TBT sports blog remembers Mr. Hockey Gordie Howe.

The godfather of modern day hockey – Gordie Howe – also checks in at #4 in my sports comic book highlighting my all-time Hockey Favorites.

Here’s a chapter excerpt from my sports comic book about hockey.

“No one will ever argue that Gordie Howe’s lengthy, unmatched career earned him the nicknames Mr. Hockey and the King of Hockey.

The legendary #9 began playing hockey professionally in 1948 at the ripe age of 20.

Five decades later, Howe retired in 1980 at the unconscionable age 52.

Upon retirement, Gordie Howe held nearly every individual record in professional hockey. The 6’1” and 205 lb. right wing played an amazing 2,421 games, scored 1,071 goals, assisted on 1,518 others and made 29 all-star appearances.

Mr. Hockey Gordie Howe: Six-Time NHL MVP

Mr. Hockey was awarded six Hart trophies as the NHL Most Valuable Player and six Art Ross Trophies as the league’s leading scorer. He finished among the top five in scoring in the NHL for an incredible 20 consecutive seasons.

MIKE Hockey FavoritesIn addition to celebrating four Stanley Cup Championships with the Detroit Red Wings, Howe enjoyed an unprecedented accomplishment when he played for the New England Whalers, part of the now defunct World Hockey Association.

In a grueling sport that would certainly age most players prematurely, Gordie Howe displayed amazing longevity.

Howe became the only father in the history of professional sports to play with his own kids. In Howe’s case, he skated on the same pro hockey team with sons Mark and Marty in the 1973 – 74 WHA season.

Wayne Gretzky Wanted to Be Like Mr. Hockey Gordie Howe

Howe was so revered as the complete hockey player by Wayne Gretzky, that Gretzky was quoted as saying about this King of Hockey, ”I wanted to eat, sleep, look like and play hockey like Gordie Howe.”

Howe’s amazing longevity, rugged durability and incredible skill gained him entrance into 11 different sports halls of fame.

Also, the Canadian government bestowed upon him the Order of Canada, the country’s highest honor.

Well deserved, Mr. Hockey!”

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The Heisman Trophy: A Brief History

college football's highest honor

Standing 13.5” tall and weighing in at a hefty 25 lbs., the iconic Heisman Trophy is unquestionably the most prestigious award in college sports.

The big bronze trophy easily stiff-arms all other potential choices to be the focus of today’s blog.

Tonight’s 83rd annual award ceremony will feature sterling quarterbacks Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma and Lamar Jackson (the 2016 Heisman winner) of Louisville as well as a mercurial talent at running back Bryce Love of Stanford.

A Brief Heisman Trophy History

Every December since 1935, the Heisman Trust in New York City awards the beautiful bronze trophy to “the nation’s most outstanding football player whose performance best exhibits the finest of excellence with integrity.”

Votes from 870 sports journalists, geographically located in six sections across the United States, plus previous Heisman Trophy winners and one collective vote from ESPN sports fans, are submitted to the Deloitte accounting firm. There the ballots are tabulated and governed by the Heisman Trust.

The annual winner is ceremoniously selected in New York City before a national television audience on ESPN.

Quarterbacks and running backs have dominated the Heisman Trophy selection process over the years. No primary defensive player has ever won the coveted trophy, although Michigan’s multi-talented Charles Woodson won the prize in 1997 as a game-changing defensive back, kick returner and punt returner.

Alabama’s bruising RB Derrick Henry won the award in 2015, while Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Florida State’s Jameis Winston, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III, all exciting, dual threat quarterbacks, have been the other most recent recipients of the venerated award.

Current NFL stars Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers QB), Mark Ingram, Jr. (New Orleans Saints RB) and Sam Bradford (St.Louis Rams QB) received the honor in 2010, 2009 and 2008 respectively.

OSU’s Archie Griffin Only Two Time Winner

Ohio State University’s Archie Griffin is the only two time winner (1974 and 1975) of the Heisman Trophy. Florida’s Tim Tebow became the first sophomore winner back in 2007, and Winston (2013) and Manziel (2012) emerged as the first freshmen.

In addition, Ohio State University and the University of Notre Dame have witnessed seven winners each from their universities, while USC is the only NCAA school to have its Heisman winner, Reggie Bush in 2005, vacated for accepting improper benefits. Despite its rich football history, Alabama’s only Heisman winner has been Ingram.

What originally began as a great idea by former Auburn, Clemson and UPenn Coach John W. Heisman in 1935 has transformed into college athletics’ most celebrated acknowledgement.

Heisman Trophy winners form college football’s most famous and well-respected fraternity. These players will always be recognized for their extraordinary accomplishments.

Just like the famed Heisman Trophy pose, every college football player would stiff-arm and side-step all would-be competitors to carry home college football’s most prestigious annual award.

And, later this evening, sports fans will find out the name of that deserving college football player.

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Best About Sports: FREE Book & Favorite Football Cliches

MIKE Comic 164 Take What Defense Gives YouHere’s another lighthearted blog for a busy weekend full of both NFL football and anticipated holiday cheer.

Without a fleet of blockers in front of them, my top 10 favorite football clichés easily rush into the #23 spot in Best About Sports.

These ridiculous and sometimes exaggerated expressions capture the way we like to describe teams, plays and games.

They’re all couched in the language of metaphors and hyperbole, but sports fans easily relate.

 

How funny would it be if these figurative football clichés were actually taken literally?

The following is an excerpt from my FREE sports comic book Best About Sports.

Click on the yellow cover below to safely download.

Best About Sports

Check out my coveted top 10 list:

10. The quarterback’s pass was a wounded duck – Much to the dismay of animal rights activists everywhere, this football cliché offers fans a perfect word picture of a quarterback under-throwing an open receiver with a wobbly, barely flight ready pass resembling an injured duck.

9. The other team is icing the kicker – It would definitely be a hoot watching a bunch of defenders dipping the other team’s kicker into a frozen pond?

8. The quarterback has a rifle for an arm – Anti-gun lobbyists wouldn’t be too happy about this one. Imagine seeing a player load a rifle or in this case his “arm” as he drops back to pass during a nationally televised game.

7. The quarterback has happy feet – I’d love to see athletically gifted quarterbacks like Russell, Cam Newton and Ty Taylor dancing around the pocket while musical notes rather than pieces of grass and dirt would form a wake behind their feet.

5. As seen in this blog’s comic, coaches always encourage their players to follow the game plan, don’t rush and always take what the defense gives them. Yet, these surprised players weren’t actually expecting flowers, candy and a gift box with a bow on it.

4. The fullback is pushing the pile – Instead of diving head first like a battering ram into a pile of linemen, imagine a 6’2” and 250 lb. blocking fullback actually pushing a gigantic pile of dirt and stones with helpless defenders atop it into the end zone. Priceless.

3. The running back coughed up the football – What a sight this one would be. Picture a fast and quick NFL running back, crouched down on his hands and knees. A series of retching up chucks a slimy football onto the grass.

2. The defense flushed the quarterback out of the pocket – I’d love to see a bunch of linebackers and defensive backs handling giant fire hoses pointed at the opposing team’s quarterback. Their objective is met as he’s washed away on his butt farther down the football field.

1. The defense just buried the quarterback – As players from both teams stand somberly around the grave site holding shovels, can you imagine a group of big, burly defensive linemen lowering a casket with the opposing team’s quarterback in it?

The expressions above represent only 10 of the countless football cliches that sports fans utilize every weekend when they tune into an NFL or NCAA game. Maybe I overlooked your favorite cliche.

Write me at mikeonsports@yahoo.com if you have a few favorite football cliches that you believe should be on my list.

You might see your picks in my next book on what’s Best About Sports Volume 2.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Friday Sports Funny: NBA Icon Isaiah Thomas on Bill Laimbeer

His Heinous Bill Laimbeer

Today’s Friday Sports Funny unearths a hilarious quote by former NBA champion Isaiah Thomas about Detroit Pistons teammate Bill Laimbeer.

“If I didn’t know Bill, I wouldn’t like him either.” ~ Isaiah Thomas

Teammate and friend Isaiah Thomas said this of his two-time NBA title winning teammate Bill Laimbeer, aptly known as His Heinous.

The mention of the name Bill Laimbeer instantly ignited heated basketball debates. Fans and opposing players cringed upon hearing Laimbeer’s name and quickly vented their disdain toward him.

Yes, the nickname His Heinous – meaning scary, evil, rotten, awful and beastly – expertly described Bill Laimbeer for his nasty play on the basketball court.

That NBA player most fans loved to hate, Laimbeer’s name comes up regularly as one of the league’s all time dirtiest players.

Sports MemorabiliaFor authentic NBA sports memorabilia on the two-time NBA champions the Detroit Pistons or former players Isaiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer, visit my affiliate partner Sports Memorabilia by licking the logo above.

Email me at mikeonsports@yahoo.com if you have clever ideas for a future Friday Sports Funny comic or quote.

MIKE – the ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Boston College’s Doug Flutie

ESPN announcer Doug Flutie

The subject of today’s #TBT Sports Blog, Doug Flutie of Boston College, almost never got the chance to prove what he could do on the football field with a pig skin in his hand.

Boston College was the only Division I school to recruit the 5’9” and 175 lb. Doug Flutie and offer him an athletic scholarship.

Diminutive by big time college football quarterback standards, BC’s Doug Flutie didn’t have to wait long to prove to skeptics that he was a natural leader and an elite NCAA football play maker.

During an October 1981 game against Penn State, Flutie seized the opportunity as a fourth string freshman QB when unexpectedly called on in the fourth quarter during a blowout loss.

Flutie surprisingly passed for 135 yards in less than 15 minutes and showed uncommon cool and amazing athleticism for a freshman. Following the Penn State game and for the rest of his Boston College career, Flutie started every game as QB.

Matt Ryan & Doug Flutie: BC’s Best Players Ever

Along with Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons, Doug Flutie ranks as the most celebrated athlete in Boston College history. The 1984 Heisman Trophy winner also received the two other most prestigious college football honors that same year. Flutie won the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s top quarterback and the Maxwell Award as the top overall college football player.

In addition to his athletic achievements on the football field, Flutie’s alma mater recognized his academic excellence in the classroom by nominating him for a Rhodes Scholarship.

Doug Flutie finished his storied career in New England as Boston College’s all-time leading passer with 10,579 yards.

He is probably best remembered for his improbable pass during Thanksgiving Weekend in November 1984. During a high scoring, rain-soaked game, a scrambling Flutie threw a desperation pass more than 60 yards on the game’s final possession. Flutie’s Hail Mary pass found wide receiver Gerard Phelan in the end zone to give the Eagles a thrilling 47 – 45 victory over the favored Miami Hurricanes.

Flutie’s amazing pass is often remembered as one of the most incredible plays of all-time in any sport.

Boston College Retired Doug Flutie’s #22 Jersey

Boston College may have retired Doug Flutie’s #22 jersey, but the little quarterback’s legacy still looms large on the school’s campus.

A bronze life-size Doug Flutie statue greets fans as they enter Boston College’s Alumni Stadium to remind them of the always improvising, highly elusive, under-sized quarterback.

Now, a polished and extremely insightful broadcaster for NBC Sports, Doug Flutie will always be remembered for his magical days as a truly talented and poised 5’9” quarterback at Boston College.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Former NY Jets QB Broadway Joe Namath

Hall of Fame QB Joe Namath

Today’s #TBT sports blog recalls one of the NFL’s most outspoken players – former New York Jets Super Bowl III winning QB Broadway Joe Namath.

Jazz singer George Benson crooned about the neon lights shining bright on Broadway. But, New York’s neon lights were never brighter than when New York Jets QB Joe Namath stole the spotlight during the 1968- 69 NFL season.

Just a short cab drive away from New York City’s theater district, Broadway Joe Namath was the main event at Shea Stadium where the New York Jets played.

Namath Featured in FREE Sports Comic Book

Namath talked big, played bigger and lived life even larger. That’s why he steps out on the stage in the #6 spot in my FREE sports comic book New York Sports Icons.

As chronicled in an HBO Sports documentary, Broadway Joe led his underdog New York Jets team to an upset Super Bowl III victory in 1969 over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Miami’s famed Orange Bowl.

Sherman Puckett, Namath’s teammate with the Jets, first called Namath Broadway Joe. Puckett saw how Namath loved the New York nightlife and the attention of the New York press.

Plus, Namath was not shy. He wore an assortment of full length fur coats on the Jets sidelines during games. This all happened before the NFL set specific rules on what NFL players could wear on game days.

In both his personality and appearance, Joe Namath was no member of the New York Jets’ chorus line. He was the highly costumed star and the central figure on his talented NFL team.

Broadway Joe Namath: Toast of the Town in New York City

And, in New York City, he was the toast of the town. Broadway Joe Namath began forty years ago the path of sports celebrity that today’s modern athletes like LeBron James, Derek Jeter, Kobe Bryant, Eli Manning, Tom Brady and others have followed.

In addition to dominating sports and entertainment headlines off the field, Namath excelled on the turf too. NFL.com rated this two-time AFL MVP and five-time AFL All-Star among the top 100 football players of all time.

Though #12 last laced ’em up on the football field in 1977, Namath’s reputation still lingers, especially among New York sports fans.

Since the late 1960s, many Broadway shows have come and gone in New York City. But, the curtain has never fallen on one of sports’ most unforgettable celebrities – Broadway Joe Namath.

It should be surprise to see Broadway Joe Namath’s name at #6 on the marquee of New York Sports Icons. Click HERE to safely download the FREE book.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: MLB’s Mr. November Derek Jeter

MIKE Comic 48 Mr. NovemberToday’s #TBT sports blog remembers one of Major League Baseball’s most admired players ever – Derek Jeter.

In addition to his Captain Clutch nickname, this recently retired New York Yankee also came to be known as Mr. November.

Derek Jeter got the name through the unique circumstances surrounding the postponement of the 2001 World Series.

The former New York Yankee shortstop not only earned his own separate month on the calendar in Major League Baseball lore.

But, Jeter also will be remembered as one of the greatest players and most trustworthy athletes of his generation.

It’s only fitting, and maybe even a little coincidental, that we honor Mr. November at the beginning of the month of November – the morning after an exciting World Series Game 7 was decided the previous night, November 1st, when the Houston Astros captured their first world championship.

2001 World Series

Due to the shocking September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City, the Fall Classic between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks was delayed. Games were pushed back until late October.

The Yankees won Game 4 of the series when Derek Jeter hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning. This extra-inning game took place for the first time during the month of November. The Yankee Stadium scoreboard recognized Jeter’s historic moment and immediately called him Mr. November.

Derek Jeter Excelled in the Post Season

Historically, Derek Jeter excelled in the post-season where he won five World Series championships and batted an impressive .351. The Yankee shortstop also played in a total of 152 post-season games. During that time, he made 679 plate appearances and collected 191 hits. No wonder why Derek Jeter was known for being clutch.

In addition to his remarkable post-season statistics, Jeter served as a terrific role model during his 20 years with the New York Yankees. The Yankee great is expected to be a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee.

This 1996 American League Rookie of the Year and 2000 World Series Most Valuable Player made 14 All-Star appearances. Mr. November’s also collected five Silver Slugger Awards and won five Gold Gloves.

The Late Don Zimmer Called Derek the All-time Yankee

Legendary baseball coach Don Zimmer appropriately called Jeter “the all-time Yankee.” Upon retiring last year, Jeter ranked as the all-time New York Yankees leader in hits, games played, stolen bases and at bats.

Over and above his baseball exploits, Derek Jeter’s leadership and ever present smile made him one of the most successful product spokesmen in sports.

Global brands like Nike, Gillette, Ford, VISA and Gatorade paid Mr. November handsomely to endorse their products – no matter what month of the year.Honor the Legend - Derek Jeter Retirement Day Gear at MLBShop.comFor Major League Baseball fans interested in authentic Derek Jeter sports memorabilia, simply click on the image above and visit MLB Shop.

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MIKE – the ultimate talking head on sports!

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Happy Halloween: “Deadly Sports Stuff” Comic Book

Deadly Sports StuffHappy Halloween!

To celebrate today’s holiday, I just released my 3rd edition of the sports comic book Deadly Sports Stuff.

It’s available for safe downloading on Amazon for just 99 cents. Click HERE.

Here’s my intro. It should give you a feel for what’s inside Deadly Sports Stuff……

…..Today’s sports world is preoccupied with death.

The deadly language of sports is absolutely lethal. It permeates the entire landscape of sports.

Grim jargon and murderous mumbling in sports don’t stop with just a handful of carcinogenic cliches.

Check Out These Deadly Nicknames

Toxic titles are foisted upon famous teams like Doomsday Defense.

They’re given to aggressive players like The Cannibal.

And, they’re even emblazoned on college stadiums like Death Valley.

In spite of these notorious names, we accept them, along with other widespread mortal murmurings, as part of our country’s sports culture.

But, don’t blame me for the deadly diatribe.

The Media’s Morbid Manner When Reporting on Sports

Register responsibility with the media for the morbid manner it reports on NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and FIFA action.

Yes, unrelenting mortal utterances are ubiquitous.

I laugh when I see how completely the media’s shroud of deadly clichés, references and expressions envelop sports in our society.

That’s why I wrote Deadly Sports Stuff. This book demonstrates how fixated sports fans are on the macabre. For example:

We applaud NFL punters for their mastery in directing punts into that eerie area called Coffin Corner.

We pay homage to fatal named athletes like The Embalmer, The Undertaker and The Executioner.

Former NHL player Alf Pike

We admire the deadly marksmanship of a guy named Pistol Pete who was the greatest scorer in NCAA basketball history.

We proudly refer to two college football stadiums as Death Valley.

We even look back longingly at the 1994 Arkansas Razorback NCAA championship basketball team and their suffocating defense known as “40 Minutes of Hell.”

And, as fans, we revel in the excitement of Sudden Death Overtimes.

Sure, our country’s preoccupation with death and sports can make us wince.

But, we voluntarily participate in perpetuating the deadly language of sports.

In football, we explain how the blitzing linebacker buried the quarterback.

In baseball, we applaud teammates for successfully executing a suicide squeeze play.

And, in basketball, we always seem to reference how their deadly shooters murdered us.

Admittedly, we all love it. So, enjoy this killer comic book aptly called Deadly Sports Stuff. It will make you laugh, but it certainly won’t kill you! Happy Halloween. Boo!

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Lou Holtz & ESPN College Game Day

ESPN sportscaster Lou Holtz

Today’s #TBT sports blog remembers the immensely likeable, former ESPN College Game Day commentator Lou Holtz.

His sterling studio schtick always earned him a spot in my living room each fall weekend.

Sure, the retired little Lou looked like he never played a lick and probably could never bench press a broom.

But, for cryin’ out loud – as this charismatic old coaching codger liked to say – I absolutely loved Lou Holtz as a talking head and co-anchor with Mark May during ESPN College Game Day broadcasts.

Lou Holtz’s Candid ESPN Coverage

Lou Holtz’s candid ESPN college football coverage always carried clout!

Viewers were smitten by the outspoken purity of this grandfatherly pigskin pundit and television’s a-typical talking head.

Who cared if this retired coach sported a face for radio rather than network television?

His colorful commentating was welcome in my living room any day of the week.

The former Notre Dame, South Carolina and Minnesota head football coach may have mis-pronunciated, inarticulated and mis-syllabicated whenever he opened his mouth.

But, what fan really cared?

The immensely loveable Lou emanated total trust.

He prognosticated with passion and purpose.

Most importantly, he generated unbridled enthusiasm from the ESPN Sports Center Studio.

Football fans looked quickly past his saucer shaped spectacles and learned to live with his lovable lisp.

They humored him for his histrionics and hair-brained hunches.

Why? Because they, too, absolutely loved Lou Holtz!

Shop for Thousands of Authentic Autographed College Football Collectibles at SportsMemorabilia.comFor college football fans interested in authentic NCAA collectibles, just click on the Sports Memorabilia logo above.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Chicago Cubs Fan Steve Bartman

Steve Bartman

Today’s #TBT sports blog painfully recalls the Windy City’s most infamous sports personality – who just happens to be a baseball fan.

On October 14, 2003, a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan named Steve Bartman unwittingly found himself in the national spotlight. His dubious distinction was due to one brief, inglorious moment at Chicago’s famed Wrigley Field.

On that fateful day, Bartman’s Cubs were leading 3 – 0 in the top of the 8th inning against the Florida Marlins. Leading the series 3 – 2, Chicago was just five outs away from capturing the National League pennant.

Then, the unthinkable happened. One swing of the bat changed the destiny of the Cubs’ season and Bartman’s life.

A very catchable foul pop off Marlins’ 2B Luis Castillo’s bat floated down the left field line toward where Bartman was sitting.

With a beat on the ball, Cubs’ LF Moises Alou positioned himself to make the catch and inch his team four outs closer to the club’s first World Series since 1945.

Cubs Fan Steve Bartman Unexpectedly Rises From Seat

Unfortunately, Alou had no idea that loyal Cubs fan Steve Bartman would rise from seat #113, aisle 4 and row 8 to unintentionally interfere with his attempted catch. The result proved disastrous for the Cubs.

The Marlins’ bats became energized when the Cubs OF was unable to corral the foul ball. The Florida team proceeded to score eight unanswered runs, forcing the NLCS deciding Game 7 which the Marlins also won.

Sadly, the Bartman mishap turned legendary. It served as a symbol of the Chicago franchise’s continuing frustrations to seek an ever-elusive World Series Championship – which the team ultimately achieved in 2016.

Baseball fans compared the Bartman bungle to Boston Red Sox Bill Buckner’s booted ground ball in the 1986 World Series which perpetuated the Curse of the Bambino myth.

More than a decade after Bartman’s benign interference, the horrifying memory still resonates deeply with Chicago Cubs fans.

Bartman’s action marked the third egregious event in Chicago baseball history. The first event involved the city’s legendary tale of the 1945 Curse of the Billy Goat.

The second harkened back to the notorious tale of a black cat scampering past Ron Santo in the on-deck circle at Shea Stadium. Back then, superstitious Chicago fans believed the appearance of the black cat caused the team’s 1969 epic collapse.

Bartman’s botched attempt yielded him an uncomfortable escort out of the unfriendly atmosphere of The Friendly Confines. He was led out of the stadium under tight security amid taunts, threats and flying debris.

Villainized as the focal point of Cubs’ fans angst, Bartman would begin a self-imposed banishment from Chicago area sporting events. His simple failed attempt at catching a foul pop at a ball game – every baseball fan’s dream – would forever torment him.

Bartman Featured in ESPN 30 for 30 Documentary

In 2011, it even prompted the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary aptly called Catching Hell.

Steve Bartman’s unexpected baseball blunder became the source of epic fodder. Later in 2003 affluent Chicago Cubs fan Grant DePorte spent nearly $114,000 to buy the Bartman ball at auction.

As if burning the memorial relic in infamy wasn’t enough, less than a year later, DePorte detonated the ball in public view.

The obscure young man in glasses, sporting headphones and a green sweatshirt, never would have imagined how simply rising from his seat that fateful night would have sprung him into a lifetime of Chicago sports ignominy.

Though qualifying as neither an athlete nor a team, Steve Bartman also earns a spot as a fan – an infamous one at that – in my FREE book Chicago Sports Icons.

Click HERE to safely download the FREE ebook.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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