Monday, November 14, 2005

For a New Englander, the Greatest Sports Picture of All Time

I had the great good fortune to have lived in Massachusetts and Rhode Island during the heydays of the three greatest athletes ever to perform for Boston teams. This remarkable photograph is the only known picture ever taken of the three stars together. You have no idea of the pleasure these three remarkable men brought me over a span of more than 50 years. The information below is entirely taken from theWikipedia Encyclopedia.

Theodore Samuel Williams (August 30, 1918 – July 5, 2002), nicknamed "The Splendid Splinter", "Teddy Ballgame", "The Thumper" and "The Kid", was a left fielder in Major League Baseball who played 19 seasons, twice interrupted by military service as a Marine Corps pilot, with the Boston Red Sox. It has been argued that he was the greatest hitter in the history of baseball. Williams was a two-time American League Most Valuable Player (MVP) winner, led the league in batting six times, and won the Triple Crown twice. He had a career batting average of .344, with 521 home runs, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966. An avid sport fisherman, he hosted a television show about fishing, and was inducted into the Fishing Hall of Fame.

Williams was born in San Diego, California as Teddy Samuel Williams, after Teddy Roosevelt. He later changed his first name to Theodore. His father, a photographer and great admirer of the late president, and his mother, a Salvation Army worker of Mexican descent, were generally absentee parents and poor providers whom he later came to resent. Early in his career, he stated that he wished to be remembered as the "greatest hitter who ever lived", an honor that he indeed achieved in many eyes by the end of his career. He also loved to fish. He said it just relaxed him.
Williams played high school baseball at Herbert Hoover High School. After graduation, he turned professional and had minor league stints for his hometown San Diego Padres and the Minneapolis Millers.

Bobby Orr Born in Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada, Bobby Orr's ice hockey talents were evident at a very early age. As a 14-year-old he played for the Oshawa Generals in the Ontario Junior A League, competing against mostly 19- and 20-year-olds. National Hockey League rules dictated that he could only join the Boston Bruins as an eighteen-year-old. In his first professional season he won the Calder Memorial Trophy as outstanding rookie and began a turnaround for the perpetually last-place Bruins that culminated on May 10, 1970 when he scored one of the most acrobatic goals in hockey history to give Boston its first Stanley Cup in 29 years.

A defenceman, Bobby Orr revolutionized the game of hockey, creating a new breed of defenceman with his offensive role. His speed, most notably a rapid acceleration, and his open ice artistry electrified fans as he set almost every conceivable record for a defenceman. Most he still holds today. Despite being limited by knee injuries which would later force him to retire early, he dominated the National Hockey League during his career. In a shortened career, he still won the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league's most outstanding defenceman eight times, more than any other player in NHL history.

He is the only defenseman ever to win the Art Ross Trophy as the league scoring champion, accomplishing this feat twice (1969–70 and 1974–75), and he is also the only defenceman to lead the league in assists, a distinction he held during five seasons. Orr's 139 points in the 1970-1971 season remains a record for NHL defencemen. He won the Hart Trophy as the league's Most Valuable Player three times, from 1969–1970 through 1971–1972. He captured the Norris Trophy as the league's best defenceman a record eight consecutive seasons, from 1967 to 1975. In 1970, he received Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsman of the Year" award.

In 1976, despite several knee operations that left him playing in severe pain, Bobby Orr was named the most valuable player in the Canada Cup international competition.
At the end of the 75-76 season, Orr's contract was over and the Boston Bruins needed to renew it. The Bruins offered Orr a lucrative contract, including over 18% ownership in the Bruins organization. Orr's agent, Alan Eagleson, did not disclose this to Orr and told him that the Chicago Blackhawks had a better deal. (Eagleson later was found guilty and served time in prison for numerous failings as an agent.)

Orr signed with the Blackhawks for two season before retiring due to knee problems. In the late 1970s, Bobby Orr was voted the greatest athlete in Boston history in the Boston Globe newspaper's poll of New Englanders.

Larry Joe Bird (born December 7, 1956) is a former NBA basketball player. Bird is generally considered to be one of the greatest players in NBA history. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998, and was voted to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996. Drafted sixth overall by the Boston Celtics in 1978, Bird played small forward for the team for his entire 13-year career.

He retired as a player from the NBA in 1992. After working as an assistant in the Celtics front office from 1992 to 1997, Bird was the head coach of the Indiana Pacers from 1997 to 2000. In 2003, he assumed the role of president of basketball operations for the Pacers, a position he still holds.

Bird was born in West Baden Springs, Indiana, the son of Georgia and Joe Bird. He grew up in both West Baden and the adjacent town French Lick. Financial troubles would plague the Bird family for most of Larry's childhood. In a 1988 interview with Sports Illustrated, Bird recalled how his mother would make do on the family's meager earnings: "If there was a payment to the bank due, and we needed shoes, she'd get the shoes, and then deal with them guys at the bank. I don't mean she wouldn't pay the bank, but the children always came first." Bird sometimes was sent to live with his grandmother due to the family's struggles. Being poor as a child, Bird told Sports Illustrated, "motivates me to this day."

The Bird family's struggle with poverty was compounded by the alcoholism and personal difficulties of Joe Bird. In 1975, after Bird's parents divorced, his father committed suicide.

In spite of his domestic woes, by the time he was a high-school sophomore, Bird had become one of the better basketball players in French Lick. He starred for the area high school team, Springs Valley High School, where he left as the school's all-time scoring leader.

Bird's humble roots led to his most frequently used moniker, "The Hick From French Lick." More cynical or facetious observers called him "The Great White Hope." As a Caucasian superstar in a league dominated by African-American athletes, Bird undoubtedly stood out because of his race, but his skin color has little to do with his place in NBA history. Despite having relatively few athletic advantages (other than his height, at 6'9"), Bird possessed an uncanny and unparalleled ability to anticipate and react to the strategies of his opponents. His talent for recognizing the moves of opponents and teammates prompted his first coach with the Celtics, Bill Fitch, to nickname him "Kodak," because he seemed to formulate mental pictures of every play that took place on the court.

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At 9:48 AM, Anonymous steve said...

Teddy was before my time, but I rember Bird and Orr like yesterday. It was because of Orr that I loved the Bruins and learned the whole team when I was young. That was before Hockey died.
In addition to Orr's blazing speed and offensive skills, I remember him routinely dropping to his knees to block shot on goal. BTW, that was before anyone wore helmets.
Bird was one of the greats who wanted the ball when the heat and pressure was on. He had remarkable court "awareness" and seemed to know where everyone was at all addition to being a great shot and great teamplayer.
That....ALSO....was before basketball died.


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