Ted Williams, Stan Musial and Willie Mays either trade secrets or laugh at the American League starting pitcher warming up down the leftfield line at Kansas City’s Municipal Stadium before the 1960 All-Star game. I don’t know which of the three would have ever left their beloved teams, but, oh man, could you have imagined free agency hooking up that trio on one team?!
Like the quote from ‘The Natural’….”There goes the best that ever was”
The Hawks and Royals were a marque matchup at Kiel every year and the individual slammin’ between Bill Bridges of the Hawks and Jerry Lucas could bring the crowd to it’s feet. Here Bill rejects a layup attempt by Lucas in a December 1965 game won by the Royals 117-115. Lucas had 24 points in the contest.
With Baylor (22) back in the lineup the following year, the Lakers looked to finally overtake the Celtics in the 1966 NBA Finals. Bill Russell and Boston had other ideas, however, and Russell’s rebounding and defense helped send Coach Red Auerbach into retirement with his eighth straight NBA crown. Here BIg Bill hits the boards to start a Celtic fast break in game 4 of the finals at the L.A. Sports Arena.
And he almost did…Jerry West lays in two points in game one of the 1965 NBA Western Division Finals against the Baltimore Bullets. With Elgin Baylor on the sidelines due to a severe knee injury, West averaged more than 40 points per game in leading the Lakers to the NBA finals, where they lost the title in 5 games to the Boston Celtics. West scored 447 points in 11 playoff games and turned in what is still considered the greatest playoff performance ever by an individual player.
The Garden was host to the N-I-T Tournament, which habitually saw the St. Louis University Billikens in first, second and sometimes even Finals action…like in 1961. The Bills that post-season got by Miami, Colorado State and Dayton, but fell short in the N-I-T Championship game against Providence. Here Friar’s guard Vinnie Ernst, all 5′ 8″ of him, goes high for two points over Bill ‘Bevo’ Nordmann in Providence College’s 62-59 win over the Bills. Ernst, who passed away in December of 1996, was named the tournament’s MVP
The Hawk’s Bob Pettit gets a shot up and draws a foul from the Knick’s Kenny Sears in this early December 1960 NBA contest at MSG…won by the Hawks 139-133………
The most fabled arena palace in basketball history…and it’s heyday was the 40’s…50’s…and 60’s….The Knicks and Hawks fought many a battle at 8th Avenue and 49th Street in lower Manhattan. When Sinatra sang in ‘New York, New York’…”If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere”….he must have had The Garden in mind!! Here’s an outside view of the famous marquee…
…and a view that saddened basketball fans in Jersey, NY, and everywhere else…workers beginning to disassemble the famous backboards and baskets after The Garden’s final NBA game in February of 1968…a New York Knicks victory over Wilt Chamberlain and the Philly 76’ers…a great way to go out!!!
Halftime at Busch Stadium…November 21, 1982…Eric Wright stretched out on the floor, Ronnie Lott on the bench, and Joe Montana under a motivational sign the 49’ers brought with them to St. Louis to remind the team that, home or away, the basics still applied. Must’ve worked…the 49’ers won 31-20. Bill Walsh was funny like that…
Well, it sure didn’t take long to find out who he was and what he could do…simply have a big hand (and arm!!) in the resurrection of football excitement in St. Louis. More on that later…..
At the time…the last pre-season game at the Dome on August 28th, 1999…who really knew? The quarterback who was suppose to be the savior, the one who would compliment Marshall Faulk and this new high octane offense, was now lost for the year..his knee torn apart by a late (and some still say..cheap) hit by San Diego Charger’s safety Rodney Harrison. Trent Green is carted off the field, the crowd is in dismay, and I remember going to the press conference the next day to hear Coach Dick Vermeil say, with tears in his eyes, “we will win with Kurt Warner.” I also remember asking a friend of mine as we left…”who the hell is Kirk Walker?”