How Did a Panty Raid Help Lead to Auburn’s First National Championship?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about football and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the football urban legends featured so far.

FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: A panty raid helped lead to Auburn’s first national championship.

In 2010, Auburn University won the national college football championship by defeating Oregon in the BCS National Championship Game. It was the first national championship for the Auburn Tigers since 1957, when they were voted the National Champions in the Associated Press poll (Ohio State were National Champions according to the Coach’s poll). That 1957 Championship began with a number of controversies and ended with still more.

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One of those controversies, though, might have been the key to Auburn’s season. In fact, you could argue that they might owe a great deal of their success that year to, of all things, a panty raid.
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Had Elie Wiesel Never Heard of the World Series When He Was Asked to Throw Out the First Pitch of the 1986 Fall Classic?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the baseball urban legends featured so far.

BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: Elie Wiesel had not heard of the World Series when he was asked to throw out the first pitch for Game 1 of the 1986 Fall Classic.

We recently lost the world-renowned writer and activist, Elie Wiesel. Born in Romania in 1928, Wiesel spent much of his teen years in various concentration camps during World War II, where his mother, father and younger sister all lost their lives.

Some time after the end of the War, Wiesel was compelled to share his experiences during the Holocaust (a term that Wiesel popularized), and the result was the striking memoir, Night, which is one of the most powerful and popular books on the topic in the world (it has sold over 6 million copies).

Wiesel went on to write over 40 other books, both fiction and non-fiction. He was also a tireless activist for peace in the world, even winning the 1986 Nobel Prize for Peace (one of the many, many awards and honors he received over his lifetime).

Wiesel lived in New York City from 1955 until his death this year. Wiesel’s interests were very much in the area of academia (he was a very well-respected teacher and lecturer) and he never had much interest in sports. That lack of interest came to an amusing head in 1986, shortly after he won the Nobel Prize.
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Was the Game of Soccer Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about soccer/football and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the soccer/football urban legends featured so far.

SOCCER/FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: The game of soccer/association football was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize!

On April 23, 2000, three people died (and many more were injured) when thousands of fans pushed their way into a packed stadium in Morovia, Liberia to watch a World Cup qualifier match between Liberia and Chad. Less than three months later, on July 9, 2000, a dozen people died in a stampede following a World Cup qualifier between South African and Zimbabwe in Harare, Zimbabwe.

In April 2001, stampedes killed 43 people in a match between the popular Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates in South Africa and later in the month, stampedes killed 8 people in the Congo.

In May of 2001, police were called in when fighting began at the end of a match between two of Ghana’s best teams, Accra’s Hearts of Oak and Assante Kotoko, due to Assante fans throwing chairs and bottles on to the field in anger at the end of an Accra 2-1 victory. When police shot tear gas into the crowd, a stampede killed over 100 people. Just three days earlier, a fight broke out between fans at a match in the Ivory Coast, killing one person and injuring over three dozen more.

You might be wondering, “What is the point of mentioning all of this soccer-related death and violence from 2000 and 2001?”

I mention it because soccer/association football was nominated for the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.


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Did the First Song About Baseball Come Out Before the Civil War Even?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the baseball urban legends featured so far.

BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: The first published baseball song pre-dates the Civil War!

“Take Me Out to the Ball Game” is now over one hundred years old. And yet, that’s not even CLOSE to the oldest song about baseball!

Read on to see what was the first song ever published about baseball!
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Did Angry Edmonton Fans Burn Chris Pronger’s Furniture After He Was Traded?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about hockey and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the hockey urban legends featured so far.

HOCKEY URBAN LEGEND: Angry Edmonton fans burned Chris Pronger’s furniture after he moved away from Edmonton upon being traded.

Chris Pronger had a long career in the National Hockey League (NHL). He’s still technically under contract with the Arizona Coyotes, although he has not played since 2011 due to severe concussion symptoms, and since he’s 41, it is unlikely that he ever WILL play again, but I guess we’ll find out someday. Anyhow, the six-time All-Star defenseman was such a great player that he actually won the league’s Most Valuable Player award (called the Hart Trophy) in 2000, the first defenseman to win it since 1972!!

A star player for the Hartford Whalers and the St. Louis Blues, Pronger spent the majority of his career as a star in St. Louis. That was where he won his Hart Trophy. However, following the NHL labor dispute in 2005, a new salary cap system was put into place and the Blues could no longer afford Pronger. So they dealt him to the Edmonton Oilers. After signing a five-year contract with the Oilers, Pronger helped lead the Oilers to the Stanley Cup Finals in his first season with the team, where they lost the series in the seventh game.

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Pronger caused some controversy, however, when he asked to be traded after the season ended.

As you might imagine, fans in Edmonton were quite stunned. They get this big star, he signs a long-term deal, he helps them get to the seventh game of the finals and then he demands to be traded?

Edmonton agreed to his trade request, and dealt him to the Anaheim Ducks (where he eventually led the Ducks to a Stanley Cup championship in his first season there, further turning the screws in Oiler fans’ hearts).

Pronger spoke about the reaction of Oiler fans on Jim Rome’s syndicated radio show.

“Yeah, there’s obviously a few things that didn’t set well with me, for instance, taking the furniture that I had in my house and burning it, and having a ‘Burn Chris Pronger’s Furniture Day,’ that really did sit well with me very much. They burned my kid’s crib and things like that. When you hear stories like that it doesn’t sit well.”

Did that actually happen?
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An Owner Correctly Predicted His Stadium Would Be Home to the World Series of 1926…It Just Wasn’t His Team!

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the baseball urban legends featured so far.

BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: An owner correctly predicted that his stadium would be home to a World Series by 1926 – he just predicted the wrong team!

Guarantees and bold predictions are nothing new in sports and they really tend not to be remembered all that much (who really remembers Patrick Ewing guaranteeing that the Knicks would win Game 7 against the Pacers in 1995?). Really, unless the guarantees or bold predictions come TRUE, they’re forgotten. But when they DO come true, then we have a different story.

That was the problem with Philip DeCatesby Ball – he made a correct prediction, but his correct prediction looked awful for him!
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Were Leicester City Chances of Winning the Premier League Really 5,000 to 1?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about soccer/football and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the soccer/football urban legends featured so far.

SOCCER/FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: The chances of Leicester City winning the English Premier League were 5,000 to 1.

The Leicester City Football Club (the “Foxes”) shocked the sports world recently by winning the English Premier League this year, despite having never once winning the top honors in the Premier League or Division One (which was what the predecessor to the Premier League). Before winning the championship this year, their highest placing was second place once…in the 1928-29 Division One season!!

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It’s a remarkable achievement. People have been making a big deal out of the odds of them winning the championship. Gambling houses were paying out the victory on 5,000 to 1 odds. So if you bet a pound, you’d win 5,000 pounds. Thus, this is one of the greatest longshots in sports history.

However, the question then becomes, were their actual chances of them winning the title really that low?
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How Did a Bookkeeper Who Had Never Played Organized Baseball Become a Hall of Famer?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the baseball urban legends featured so far.

BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: A series of fortuitous events turned an 18-year-old bookkeeper who had never played organized baseball into a Hall of Famer.

With the fact that both Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, two of the best baseball players of the 1940s (or really any decade), hailed from California, it is somewhat easy to forget that in the early days of professional baseball, California was a bit of a no man’s land. From the beginnings of professional baseball up through the first quarter of the 20th Century, baseball did not venture much further west than St. Louis. Of the first 39 inductees into the Hall of Fame, the furthest west any of them were born were a fellow we talked about last week, Grover Cleveland Alexander, who was born in the middle of Nebraska (two other players were born in Kansas and Texas, respectively, but both were on the far east sides of their states).

The first California-born player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame was the fortieth inductee, Frank Chance (of “Tinker to Evers to Chance” fame).

So the geographical odds were already against San Francisco native Harry Heilmann, and yet, through a series of fortuitous breaks that occurred when he was 18 years old (and working as a bookkeeper) Heilmann made his way from never playing organized baseball to being a professional ballplayer, then a Major Leaguer and, eventually, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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How Did a Lawsuit Lead to the Dallas/Houston Governor’s Cup?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about football and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the football urban legends featured so far.

FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: The annual Governor’s Cup game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston team from the AFC began due to a legal settlement.

In the early days of the existence of the American Football League, then a rival to the National Football League, there were many battles over college players. In fact, the existence of the AFL was, in many ways, one of the biggest boons to players’ salaries in the history of professional football. Until the AFL came along, there was no way of truly demonstrating how much a given player was worth on the open market because there WASN’T an open market. Once the AFL came along, they were desperate for relevance, and the quickest way to get to relevance was to get star players. So the AFL paid through the nose for the best of the college graduates. As a result, salaries soared. One of the reasons the NFL was willing to merge with the AFL was that they couldn’t afford to continue fighting with the AFL for players.

One of these players was Ralph Neely, the standout offensive tackle from the University of Oklahoma. The beginning of his professional career led to a great battle between the two pro teams from Texas, the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL and the Houston Oilers of the AFL.
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How Did Trying to Prove He Could Dunk a Basketball Ruin a Pitcher’s Career?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the baseball urban legends featured so far.

BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: A top closer had his career de-railed by an attempt to show how he could dunk.

Cecil Upshaw was a major part of the success of the 1969 Atlanta Braves, who made it to the playoffs in 1969 only to lose to the “Miracle Mets.” The 26-year-old Upshaw was a dominant closer for the Braves, back in the days that a closer was more of a “fireman” than a traditional “enter the game in the ninth inning up three runs” pitcher. He threw 105 innings with a 2.91 ERA and 27 saves. This followed his 1968 campaign where he put up similar numbers (in 1967, he did much of the same, but in limited time as it was his rookie season). He looked to become a major part of the Braves’ future.

Then came 1970.
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