A rather longish piece on pig sticking can be found at my website, if you’re interested.
I think there is something fundamentally wrong with a world, and specifically an Internet, where no information can be found on Quarterback Lamatty Hathbro. The 1971 creation of artist Robert Williams, who is still with us, certainly deserves more. What or who inspired Williams to create Hathbro? Is there a backstory? Did Hathbro appear anywhere else? I’ve sent an email to Williams’ agent, but I’m not holding my breath.
The quote itself probably comes from John Heisman, who wrote, “When in doubt, punt, anyway, anywhere.” in his Principles of Football (1922), published when he was coaching at the University of Pennsylvania. However, the quote appears in the same year in Football Technique and Tactics by Robert Carl Zuppke, then head football coach at the University of Illinois. Knute Rockne, who began coaching at Notre Dame in 1918, is also credited with the quote, although it didn’t appear in print under his name until 1931. Suffice it to say it was an accepted truism at the time, and bears special significance to those of us who took the advice firsthand from Lamatty Hathbro.
March Madness began not with a basketball, but rather with the English hare whose breeding season commences in March and prompts the bunnies to engage in odd behavior, with males jumping vertically and females boxing with their forelegs to rebuff unwanted suitors. To be “as mad as a March hare” is an Old English phrase derived from the observed antics. The phrase was already in use at the birth of the printed word. It appeared in the writings of John Skelton as early as 1528, in John Heywood’s collection of proverbs published in 1546, and later in writings of Sir Thomas More, who referred to beggars who were “as mad not as a March hare, but as a madde dogge.” The March Hare took center stage in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) as a guest at the Mad Hatter’s tea party.
Sir John Tenniel’s illustration (above) showed the hare with straw on his head, a common way to depict madness in Victorian times. At one point in the book, Alice said, “The March Hare will be much the most interesting, and perhaps as this is May it won’t be raving mad — at least not so mad as it was in March.”
Fast forward to 1908 in Illinois for the inauguration of a tournament for high school basketball teams. Sponsored by the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), it boomed, and grew statewide with more than 900 schools competing. In 1939, Henry Porter of the IHSA wrote an essay about the tournament entitled “March Madness.” In 1977, Jim Enright wrote the official history, March Madness: The Story of High School Basketball in Illinois.
In 1982, Brent Musberger, who had been a sportswriter in Illinois, used the phrase during CBS TV coverage of the NCAA basketball tournament. I have not seen the video; he may or may not have had straw in his hair. Soon, everyone wanted to use, and own, the phrase. After much bickering, the IHSA and NCAA pooled their trademark claims to “March Madness” and formed a company named the March Madness Athletic Association. The IHSA and NCAA assigned all rights to the new company, which in turn granted each party a perpetual license for use of the term in connection with their respective basketball tournaments.
But it all started with the hare, and don’t you forget it.
The March Hare by Charles James Folkard (1878–1963) …
… and by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939)
“You get the feeling that even though he knows the right answers — work hard, persevere — the universe is asking different questions.”
– Jeff MacGregor in his profile of Mixed Martial Arts fighter Shannon “The Cannon” Ritch (43 wins/68 losses), “Making the Best of Bad,” in ESPN Magazine, September 21, 2009
I recently stumbled upon a chapter in the history of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), that begs for sunshine. Founded in 1888, the AAU set out to bring order and purity to amateur sports, to see that amateur athletes truly were amateurs and not “ringers” brought in to play in exchange for cash.
To achieve this goal, the AAU felt it needed to control amateur athletics, so that it could say which players and which teams could and could not play as amateurs. The main tool at the AAU’s disposal was ejection from the AAU, but that threat could only be effective if an athlete or team was already in the AAU. And so the AAU courted and punished with equal fervor.
The AAU’s passion peaked in 1902, when it turned its gaze upon The Silent Five, a basketball team made up of graduate students from the New York Institute for the Deaf and Dumb. The team was coached by Trevanion Cook, who taught the team to communicate on the court with hand signals, a heart-warming story, if you have a heart.
The Silent Five played well, taking on college teams like Columbia and Princeton, and winning. But on their annual mid-western tour in December of 1902, the Silent Five arrived by train in Chicago to learn that they had just been “disqualified for life” by the AAU. The teams they were to play, including three fielded by the Young Men’s Christian Association, “dared not keep their appointments.”
There was at least one noble exception. The Kenton Athletic Club of Kenton, Ohio, honored their commitment and played the visitors. The next day – Christmas Day as it happened – the Kenton Athletic Club was informed that it too had been “disqualified for life” by the AAU.
And who was dealing out lifetime banishment in defense of amateurism?
Behold, Walter Liginger of Milwaukee, the president of the AAU from 1902 to 1904, and chairman of the the committee that organized and managed the 1904 Summer Olympic Games in St. Louis, the very games where the Milwaukee Athletic Club took the gold medal in the Tug of War event with five ringers recruited from Chicago by the Milwaukee Athletic Club president, Walter Liginger.
Behold, the AAU’s founder and secretary/treasurer James E. Sullivan, an employee of the A.G. Spaulding sporting goods company, the manufacturer, by some bizarre coincidence, of the only sporting goods approved for use in official AAU contests. James E. Sullivan was, in fact, so concerned for the purity of sport, that he decreed the results of any game played or records set with equipment from any other manufacturer to be null and void.
And so amateur sport was saved from the taint of money.
* * *
Sources: “Basket Ball Teams Out” in The New York Times, December 28, 1901; “Silent Five Basket Ball Trip” in The New York Times, December 22, 1902; “Silent Five Basket Ball Games Off” in The New York Times, December 30, 1902; “Deat Mutes as Athletes” in The New York Times, January 11, 1903; “The Silent Five Deaf and Dumb Basket-ball Team” in The Silent Worker, v.15, no.9, p.138; “Commercializing Amateur Athletics” by Charles J.P. Lucas in The World Today, January 1906; The Rise and Fall of American Sport (1994) by Ted Vincent; Making the American Team (1998) by Mark Dyreson; The Black Fives Blog
“Among those who furnished entertainment were: Champion Lightweight Freddie Welsh, who boxed three rounds with One-Round Hogan.”
– “Boxing for Charity: Society Folk Attend Big Athletic Show in 71st Armory” in The New York Times, March 5, 1915
Photo of San Francisco fighter One-Round Hogan by White Studio of New York
While researching the sport of polo on the Web, I stumbled across this illuminating snippet from a biography of professional wrestler Tommy Polo:
“Polo was eliminated by Brimstone with a ‘Chokeslam from Hell’ from the balcony to the floor of the JWA Arena. Polo was hospitalized, then a spell was cast upon him by the dark character, Vulcan. Vulcan had feuded with Polo in the past and this spell turned Polo into a real live chicken. Polo was not heard from for months.”
Clair Winship holds a muskellunge he caught in Chautauqua Lake, sometime in the 1950′s. I recall seeing photos of larger muskies, but this one will give you an idea of what my grandfather could do with a bamboo fishing pole from a rowboat. One of my favorite things about this picture is the bandage on the index finger of his left hand, probably from a fish hook, although it could have been from the teeth of the fish itself. Grandpa used to cut off the fish heads and mount them above the garage doors he’s standing in front of in this photo; he painted the heads silver and the teeth red. They were some amazing pieces of folk art; I wish I had one.
The picture may have been taken by the photographer from the newspaper in Bemis Point; they once hung one of Grandpa’s fish in the front window for several summer days. Grandpa then brought it home, dropped in across the kitchen table and said to his wife, “Abbie, clean this.” She replied, “No, Clair, you bury it.” Which he did.