Did the Stanford Student Body Vote to Name Their Football Team the “Robber Barons”?

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: Stanford University’s students voted for the school’s mascot (and team names) be “Robber Barons.”

In 1891, Stanford played California in the very first “Big Game.” Stanford won, and in the headlines about the victory, it read “Cardinal Triumphs O’er Blue and Gold.” Therefore, Stanford chose Cardinal (the school color) as its name.

Over time, though, a new name developed – the Stanford Indians. In 1930, this name was made official and an official mascot was not far behind.

Eventually, Native American students began to protest the usage of the nickname and mascot. At first, they specifically protested the live performances at Stanford games by Timm Williams, who went by the name Prince Lightfoot and the protesters felt that his act mostly consisted of mocking traditional Native American religious practices.

A couple of years later, in 1972, the students once again sought relief from Stanford – this time to get rid of the name and the mascot all together. The President of the University agreed, and in 1972, the Indian mascot was banned completely, and has been banned ever since.

This, though, left Stanford without a mascot. And that’s where things got goofy…
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Did an Umpire Use Jim Bouton to Teach George Scott a Lesson?

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.

MUSIC/BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: Jim Bouton took advantage of an umpire’s problems with Boston Red Sox rookie slugger George Scott for an easy strikeout.

This legend really brings up an interesting question – how much of a story has to be false before you consider that the story is false?

To wit, let’s say someone tells a story like “On June 3rd, 1977, I hit three home runs.” Okay, so what if it happened on June 4th? You wouldn’t consider the story false, right? Now let’s say it was on June 4th and it was just two home runs. You’re probably into false territory there, right?

Well, that’s what concerns me about Jim Bouton’s tale of umpire Ed Runge’s problems with Boston Red Sxo slugger George Scott.
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Did a Former NBA Sixth Man of the Year Get Confused by the Media With a Sexual Offender With the Same Name?

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

BASKETBALL URBAN LEGEND: News reports mixed up NBA great Eddie Johnson with another former NBA player with the same name when the latter person was arrested for sexual assault of a minor!

Eddie Johnson was a famous NBA sixth man for a number of teams. A prolific scorer, Johnson has the somewhat notable distinction of having scored the most career points without ever making an NBA All Star team. He DID win Sixth Man of the Year in 1989, however.

After a long and impressive career, Johnson retired and began to get involved in broadcasting for the Phoenix Suns (where he played for a number of years).

It was while a broadcaster in 2006 that Johnson got the shock of his life. You see, there was ANOTHER Eddie Johnson who played in the NBA and confusion between the two led to some terrible news reports for Johnson and his family to watch.
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Were the Washington Redskins Once the Duluth Eskimos?

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 Washington Redskins used to be the Duluth Eskimos.

I wrote about the Duluth Eskimos a while back (you can check the legend out here), and how their owner, Ole Haugsrud, managed to work his connection with one of the earliest professional football star players, Ernie Nevers, into a deal that eventually landed him 10% of the Minnesota Vikings (it’s a really interesting story – just go read it). However, while his ownership of the Eskimos eventually led to Haugsrud owning a piece of the Vikings, Haugsrud always believed that his Eskimos (after he sold them) had an interesting life of themselves. He believed (as do many) that the Eskimos eventually evolved into the team that is now known as the Washington Redskins.

redskins

Is that true?

Let’s find out!
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What Role Did Richie Ashburn Play in the Naming of the Band Yo La Tengo?

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.

MUSIC/BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn indirectly led to the naming of the band Yo La Tengo.

Yo La Tengo is a highly acclaimed alternative rock band that consists of Ira Kaplan (guitars, piano, vocals), Georgia Hubley (drums, piano, vocals), and James McNew (bass, vocals). Kaplan and Hubley, who are married to each other, formed the band in 1984. The current lineup has been in place since 1992. While perhaps not the most popular band in terms of album sales (of their dozen albums that they have released only one of them has ever been in the Top 100 of the Billboard Top 200 charts) they have a dedicated fan following (allowing them to have released so many albums) and are one of the best reviewed rock bands of the past two decades.

Their interesting name is derived from a famous baseball story involving Richie Ashburn.
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Have the Cubs Had a Three-Fingered Player as Well as a Six-Fingered Player In Their Team History?

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 baseball team had a “three-fingered” player as well as a six-fingered player in their team history!

One of the most famous players in Chicago Cub history is Mordechai “Three-Fingered” Brown, the Hall of Fame pitcher who had suffered a series of accidents to his fingers in his youth, including losing most of his index finger in a farming accident and then having his middle finger and ring finger broken while recovering from the original injury.

The result gave him a mangled hand that was basically three fingers and a thumb (and messed up fingers at that). That gave him an interesting grip on the baseball, though, that allowed him to throw pitches from odd angles, helping to make him a baseball Hall of Famer.

Years later, though, the Cubs would have a player who went the whole other direction entirely!
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How Did a Personal Visit From Legendary Coach Adolph Rupp Lead to a Top Recruit NOT Playing for Kentucky?

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

FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: Dick Grubar was prepared to commit to playing at Kentucky until Adolph Rupp made a personal visit to his family.

One of the most powerful tools that a college coach has in recruiting players is the home visit. Especially the famous coaches, those that have won multiple titles and are legends in their own times. In fact, these visits are so persuasive that the NCAA nowadays limits them (so Nick Saban can’t show up at your house constantly to convince you to come play for him).

Back in the 1960s, though, there was more or less free reign, and coaches like The University of Kentucky’s Aolph Rupp, at the time the coach with the most wins in college basketball history, drew in players like honey drawing in flies.

Amazingly enough, though, in the case of Dick Grubar, it was Rupp who turned him from a “yes” on Kentucky to a “no.”
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Was Linebacker Jack Lambert Once Ejected From a Game for “Hitting the Quarterback Too Hard”?

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: Jack Lambert was ejected from a game for “hitting a quarterback too hard.”

At the end of the classic John Ford western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, there’s one of the most legendary lines in the history of cinema. “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” I think of that when the legendary defense of the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers is discussed, specifically the career of linebacker Jack Lambert.

In his book on the greatest linebackers in National Football League (NFL) history, Jonathan Rand described Lambert thusly:

It’s no knock on Jack Lambert to say the myth is bigger than the man. Lambert was, after all, on the light side for a middle linebacker. And the Lambert myth is so entertaining, so full of what both the bloodthirsty and romantics think pro football is all about, that only a killjoy would dare debunk it. And like many myths, those about Lambert contain some truth. So in the interest of truth – or should we say half truth? – the myth is a good place to start.

Very well-written by Rand, but at the risk of being a “killjoy,” I thought it would be fun to examine one of the many Lambert myths, specifically that he was ejected from a game once for “hitting a quarterback too hard.”
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How Did Playing “Sweet Caroline” Become a Red Sox Tradition at Fenway Park?

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 Red Sox began playing “Sweet Caroline” in honor of a Red Sox employee who named her newborn daughter “Caroline” in 1998.

One of the coolest baseball musical traditions is the singing of the Neil Diamond hit “Sweet Caroline” during the 8th inning of Boston Red Sox games played at Fenway Park.

WHY the song is played during the 8th inning of Boston Red Sox games played at Fenway Park is a whole other story.

The song has nothing to do with Boston, so why the connection?
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Were the Baltimore Colts Awarded Y.A. Tittle by the Commissioner of Their League, to Improve Competitive Balance?

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 commissioner of the All-American Football Conference awarded Y.A. Tittle to the Baltimore Colts to promote balance in the league.

Y.A. Tittle was an outstanding quarterback prospect during his years at Louisiana State University.

tittlelsu

In 1948, Tittle was drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions with the sixth pick overall.

However, the Cleveland Browns of the All-American Football Conference (one of the more successful challengers to the National Football League) also selected him in the first round of the 1948 AAFC draft. In a great 2009 interview with Dennis Manoloff of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Tittle explained why he decided to sign with the Cleveland Browns:

The first professional football game I ever saw, the Browns played in it. [Cleveland coach] Paul Brown had me flown in and the Browns treated me like a king. I watched the game from the sideline. I was overwhelmed. After it was over, coach Brown took me back to the hotel and I signed a contract. He told me the Browns thought Otto Graham would only play one more year, and that I could learn from him for one season. It wasn’t true about Otto, of course. He played for many years after that

Otto Graham, of course, was the legendary quarterback for the Browns, who at this point had already won the first three championships of the AAFC (and were on their way to winning their fourth).

graham

Since Graham obviously DIDN’T retire, that led to an extraordinary measure by the commissioner of the AAFC, Jonas W. Ingram.
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