Saturday, April 2, 2011

The woman who really could compete with men!

It is a point of argument that his debated constantly and there is never an end to it no matter how compelling the points of either side. Can women compete with men in athletics? An astounding NO! is the answer from most men and a very defiant YES! is the usual answer from women. The two sides never change their minds and I personally see the merit to both arguments.

There was one woman, however, who I believe broke the argument wide open. She was the greatest female athlete to ever step on the court, course, diamond, or any other place where people can compete athletically.

Midred Ella "Babe" Didrickson Zaharias was an absolutely amazing athlete. During her career she competed in golf, basketball, baseball, swimming, tennis, track and field, diving and bowling. She also dabbled in pretty much every other sport she could find a chance to. Babe was voted the greatest athlete of the 20th century by the Associated Press and was also voted the Female Athlete of the year 6 times.

In direct professional competition against men, Babe stood her ground. She made the cut in numerous PGA tour events. She also played in AAU basketball with men and led her team in scoring during many of the games.

Babe Didrickson  Zaharias played with the boys and beat many of them at their own games. She could compete and win. She is the greatest female athlete of modern times!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The greatest athlete that ever lived!

The greatest athlete ever is a discussion that has been debated around the world since the very first athletes threw a discuss and javelin in the very first Olympics. Pele, Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth, Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders all will inevitably receive votes. They all should get strong consideration but none of them can hold a candle to Mr. James Francis Thorpe.

Jim Thorpe was born in Praque, Oklahoma in 1887. He was born to Native American mother and grew up on a reservation for much of his life. He had a twin brother that passed away at age nine and this is what Thorpe said was his driving force.

Jim Thorpe's athletic accomplishments included playing professional baseball, football and golf. He also competed in the 1912 Olympics in the Pentathlon and Decathlon where he won two gold medals and set world records in both competitions. (His medals were later stripped because he had played briefly in a minor league of baseball).

It was said that Jim Thorpe dominated every athletic competition that he ever took part in. Being a top athlete in any sport is amazing. Being a top athlete in six or eight different sports is truly remarkable. Jim Thorpe is the greatest athlete ever and most sports fans have never heard of him. If you are a sports fan or just a fan of history, pass this around and spread the word.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wataru Misaka. Who?

The NBA is the most diverse major sports league in America. Most NBA teams boast at least two or three players who were born outside of the United States on their active rosters and still many more are under the control of NBA teams but are developing over seas in the Euro Leagues. The one nationality of player that is fairly rare though, is the Asian NBA player. Yes, I know about Yao Ming. In todays game, Yao and Yi Jianlian are about it.

Lets go all the way back to the late 1940s. The days of 6 foot 6 giants and George Mikan leading the league in scoring. In 1948, Wataru Misaka took the court and changed basketball forever. He was the first Asian player to ever step on the hardwood in a professional basketball game. He was only 5 foot 7 inches tall and weighed in the neighborhood of 140 pounds. Unlike other players who were the first of their nationality to play a professional sport, Misaka never got any kind of recognition or praise. Most people have no idea who he is or what he represents. Now you do!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Jackie Robinson, the first African-American professional baseball player?

The idea that Jackie Robinson was the very first African-American to play professional baseball in the United States is one that is widely known and never questioned. It is taught in schools across America during Black History Month. As an avid baseball fan, however, I have learned that what is common knowledge about the early years of baseball, is often mistaught. Yes, Jackie Robinson was the very first of a wave of Black men that broke the "color barrier" in America's game. I have no doubts about how tough Mr. Robinson had it during the early 1940s. He endured constant taunts, put downs and harassment. Jackie Robinson also endured this with the utmost amount of professionalism and tactfulness that any man has ever shown. He is a hero and a fine American for what he did for his race, our country and for the entire game of baseball.

Now, for the rest of the story.......Jackie Robinson was not the first African-American to play professional baseball in America. He was actually somewhere between 3rd and 5th, depending on what source you use. Most of the players that came before him played just a few games or just a few innings. The "real" first Black baseball player was Moses Fleetwood Walker. Walker played 42 games in 1884 with the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association. Walker batted .263 and played catcher.

Moses Fleetwood Walker was no super-star, he wasn't even a star. He was, however, the first person of African-Amercian descent to play professional baseball in the United States. Walker gets no credit for what he accomplished and I feel it is time that he did. It is also important that this fact be shared amongst fans and non-fans alike so that this tidbit of information doesn't get lost forever.