1969: My Summer and the Most Controversial Ryder Cup Ever Played

Jack-Nicklaus-Tony-Jacklin

by Neil Sagebiel

1969 was a big year in my life and the life of my family. Natives of Indiana, we moved from the Hoosier state to “The Golden State.”

California, here we come!

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Posted in Contemporary History, Sports History

The Final Outcome: Braddock Tigers Football and the Strike of 1959

Braddock-Pennsylvania

by Greg Nichols

For reasons that had nothing to do with Eisenhower, Taft-Hartley, or the Supreme Court, the air above Braddock was electric on November 6, 1959. It was game day, and the Tigers were playing their biggest rivals, neighboring North Braddock Scott, for a chance at the post-season. Braddock had had a few close calls leading up to this game, which was the last of the season, but with a win over Canon-McMillan the week before, Klausing and his Tigers had captured the national record. A fawning Sports Illustrated article was circulating through town, although Joe Stukus, the Braddock High principal, was burning every copy he could get his hands on. The article described Braddock as a down-and-out town, and said several of the Braddock players came from slums. Stukus, a proud civic booster, couldn’t stand the depiction.

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Posted in Contemporary History, Sports History

What Happens Before the First Shots Are Fired?

by General Tony Zinni

Throughout our history we have committed our military to action hundreds of times. The reasons have been many and varied. After each of these commitments our military dutifully examines all our past interventions and wars attempting to glean lessons learned and codify the doctrine and tactics necessary to prepare and prevail in the next similar conflict.

But what about our political leadership and structure? They play, arguably, the most significant role in determining whether we win or lose. Those who sit in the Oval Office, lead our government’s departments and agencies, sit in Congress, and advise our executive and legislative branches of government come and go in a handful of years. They rarely enter their positions with any real experience in military matters or in national security issues; yet, they will make the critical decisions and set the strategy and policy that our troops must operate within.

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Posted in Contemporary History, Military History

A Poem or a Song: What Was Francis Scott Key Writing That Night?

Fort McHenry

by Marc Leepson

Francis Scott Key loved poetry. From the time he was a child, he spun out rhyming verses with prolific regularity—verses that with one giant exception were at best overly flowery and at worse, embarrassingly amateurish. Verses that their author never meant to be seen or read outside the circle of his family and friends.

The giant exception was the patriotic paean to the American flag that he wrote on the fateful night of September 13-14, 1814, during one of the War of 1812’s most ferocious and crucial engagements, the Battle of Baltimore. That night a massive British fleet of warships tried to pound the city into submission with a constant stream of some 1,500 bomb, mortar and rocket shells as an intense thunderstorm punctuated the darkness.

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Posted in Military History, Modern History

The Legend of the Braddock Tigers

Braddock-Pennsylvania

by Greg Nichols

Big Bertha, a massive driving sled, haunted the Tigers’ dreams. It was rare for high school football teams to use sleds in the late 1950s, and rarer to see anything larger than a two-man version. Big Bertha was ten yards wide and had spots for seven players. Head Coach Chuck Klausing had enlisted a manager at the Edgar Thomson Works, the local U.S. Steel plant, to weld the mammoth contraption together. A latticework of scrap steel and thin padding, the finished product weighed a ton. Steelworkers borrowed a crane from the mill to hoist it off the truck and onto the Braddock High practice field. When Klausing instructed the first group of players to hit it, they bounced off.

Improbably, the Edgar Thomson Works is still around, still making steel. It’s a rare survivor in Western Pennsylvania, a region that’s lost most of the heavy industry that made it the economic engine of the 20th century. Braddock, where Edgar Thomson is located, also lives on. A mile-long stretch of vine-lashed buildings and vacant lots perched on the , it is home to 3000 kind, weary souls, about ten percent of its peak population. Braddock High football, once a matter of barroom pontificating, heavy betting, and unparalleled enjoyment across the Mon Valley – and, for a brief moment, a subject of real national interest – is a distant memory.

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Posted in Contemporary History, Sports History

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