This is the second in a series of examinations of legends related to Hockey and whether they are true or false.
This installment is a re-format edition, so these legends have already been posted on this site, just not in this format.
HOCKEY LEGEND: The Toronto Maple Leafs were the first professional team to retire a player’s number
Reader Graham wrote in to ask:
Is it true that the Toronto Maple Leafs were the first professional sports team to retire a player’s number (Ace Bailey’s 6)?
The history of uniform numbers in professional sports is a surprisingly recent one.
Uniform numbers were not worn in baseball regularly until the 1929 season. Hockey was a little bit earlier, but for most other sports, uniform numbers were not a big deal.
In 1934, in a game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins, Bailey, who was in his eighth season with the Leafs, and had just the previous year helped them to win the Stanley Cup, was struck down from behind by the Bruins’ Eddie Shore.
Here is Young…
Here is Shore…
Bailey hit the ice hard and fractured his skull (remember, players were not exactly helmet-conscious back then).
Shore was suspended for 16 games by the League (and this was back in the days when people really did not get suspended for stuff like this, so you KNOW it was bad), and was actually charged with attempted murder! Bailey recovered, and the League held a special All-Star Game benefit in 1934 to raise money for Bailey and his family.
At the game, Shore and Bailey shook hands…
In recognition of Bailey, the Maple Leafs retired his number (#6).
That was really the only way you could get your number retired in those days – something awful would have had to happen to you (hence the title of this post, you had to retire under poor circumstances).
This was realized in baseball, too, when the first retired number in Major League Baseball history took place five years later, in 1939.
Yankee great, Lou Gehrig, who was retiring due to illness (Gehrig would die from said illness in 1941).
So yeah, while it was certainly an honor to have your number retired, it wasn’t exactly one you wanted for yourself back then.
Amusingly enough, in 1968, Bailey (then working as a timekeeper for the Maple Leafs) told Maple Leaf Ron Ellis that he admired Ellis so much as a player that he would like to know if Ellis would wear #6. Honored, Ellis switched from #8 to #6, and wore that the rest of his career (when he retired, the number was re-retired).
Thanks to Graham for the question!
HOCKEY LEGEND: Fans of the Detroit Lions began rooting for the Detroit Red Wings during a particularly bad Lions loss.
The Detroit Lions made history last season, although not the kind of history you want to make. One season after the New England Patriots became the first team in the National Football League to go 16-0, the Lions became the first team in the National Football League to 0-16 (in both instances, there had been a previous team to go undefeated/winless, but that was when the NFL played 14 games rather than 16).
However, poor play is sadly not a new thing for fans of the Detroit Lions. Besides the Hall of Fame career of Lions running back Barry Sanders, Lions fans have not had much to cheer for the past, oh, five decades or so since winning the NFL Championship in 1957. Since then, the Lions have made only nine playoff appearances in 50 plus years, with only one playoff victory to their name (and, as a result, zero Super Bowl appearances).
In the beginning of the 2001 season, though, things were particularly odd in the world of Detroit sports.
The Pistons had just lost their star player, Grant Hill, in 2000, and were coming off a 32–50 season in 2000-01 (although the 2001 season would be a bit of a return to greatness for the team – fans did not know that in early October, though, of course).
The Tigers had just finished a terrible season, narrowly missing out on losing 100 games (66-96), and there was little hope for the future (and, indeed, the 2002 Tigers went 55-106).
The Lions actually were just coming off of a winning season in 2000-01, barely missing the playoffs via a last minute field goal to beat them in the final game of the season. However, the Lions quickly opened the 2001 season with a twenty-five point drubbing in the first game in Green Bay and a ten point loss at Cleveland (who had gone 3-13 the previous season).
So coming into the third game of the season (their first game at home) on October 8, 2001, Detroit fans did not have much to be happy about.
Except, of course, the Red Wings.
The Red Wings had won the Stanley Cup in 1997 and 1998, and were a very good team in 1999 and 2000. In 2001, they were upset in the playoffs by the Los Angeles Kings. So the Red Wings’ ownership responded by going out and getting All-Star goalie Dominic Hasek (the defending Vezina Trophy winner) as well as veteran wingers Luc Robitaille and Brett Hull to add to an already formidable team. The odds-on favorites to win the Stanley Cup in the 2001-02 season, the Red Wings did not disappoint, winning the trophy in five games over the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Red Wings had already won their first two games of the season by the time the Lions hosted the St. Louis Rams (who would go on to win the NFC that season before losing to the Patriots in the Super Bowl).
The game was effectively over by halftime, with the Rams up 21-0 (they would win 35-0).
Then a funny thing happened, the Red Wings were not scheduled to play until October 10th, so it was not like the fans were following the score on the scoreboard (it’s not that unusual for hometown fans to cheer for their hometown teams via scoreboard watching), however, during the second half, the fans began chanting, “Let’s Go Red Wings” over and over again until practically the entire stadium was filled with cheers for the Red Wings, who, again, were not playing that night.
Just another sad display in the history of the Lions, and sadly, this story is true.
HOCKEY LEGEND: The Dallas Stars continue to pay Gary Glitter for the rights to play his song “Rock and Roll, Part 2″ after Dallas goals, even after his arrest for sexual abuse and possession of child pornography.
STATUS: Mostly False, with some nice chunks of Truthiness
Gary Glitter had a string of popular hits in the early 1970s.
The British Glam Rocker had one song, in particular, that practically took on a life of its own.
“Rock and Roll, Part 2″ (you can watch a performance by Glitter of the song below) is the second part of a song Glitter wrote about the history of Rock and Roll. Part 1 has lyrics about the genre, while Part 2 is mostly instrumental except for some chanting and the word hey punctuating the song every once in awhile, as in “”Dah dah dah dah dah dah, HEY!”
The song was picked up by sports teams in the late 70s and quickly became a massive success played at sporting events, as it is a great song for crowds to cheer along with.
In 1999, Glitter hit the news in a bad way when he was arrested and sentenced to four months in prison (and was registered as a sex offender) for downloading tons of child pornography.
That apparently wasn’t a big deal to the world of sports, as nothing changed with his songs.
However, in 2005, he was arrested in Vietnam and sentenced to three years in jail for child sexual abuse.
THEN the sports leagues began to pay attention, and the NFL requested that all of its teams cease using Glitter’s songs during games (in some instances, they allowed a cover version of the song by another band be used).
The Dallas Stars, however (along with a few other teams) continued to use the song when a Stars player scored a goal.
Fans, naturally, were irritated (well, some of them, at least).
However, the Stars revealed an interesting facet of the situation…
American Airlines Center pays a usage fee for thousands of songs that are in a single music catalog (they are used for every event in the building – Mavs, Stars, etc.). Whether the Stars play Rock n Roll Part 2 or not does not increase or decrease the amount of royalties that Mr. Glitter would receive from this catalog. Therefore, he receives no extra benefit from the Dallas Stars playing the song after a goal. In fact, he sold the rights to his songs years ago and receives no royalties whatsoever. Nor are we trying to pay homage to him or honor him in any way.
We actually tried to change the official goal song played at Stars games a few seasons ago, and our fans demanded (in a very large number I might add) that Rock n Roll Part 2 be brought back as the goal song. We do not view it as a way of supporting Mr. Glitter, nor do we have any affiliation with him. It has simply become a sports rock anthem that is played in hundreds of arenas and sporting events around the world.
Whether Glitter still receives the rights to the use of his song or not (I have not seen any evidence that he does NOT, but perhaps I missed it), I find the Stars’ argument convincing that they do not actively pay Glitter for the rights to the song.
So, for the general implication behind the Stars playing the song, I’d say false, but but do they play the song? Yeah, so I guess it is also at least partially True.
Thanks to fritz5134 for the YouTube clip!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org