Legendary sports figures Thompson and Seaver pass away

September 4, 2020

Young Tracy - Tracy Jones Jr. shared a photo of himself with legendary Georgetown University basketball coach John Thompson. Coach Thompson passed away Aug. 30 at the age of 78. The photo was a selfie taken by Tracy Sept. 8, 2019, at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in D.C. during the Washington Mystics and Chicago Sky game. “[Elena] Delle Donne had an awesome game, and coach Thompson was a great guy,” Tracy said. Thompson led Georgetown to the 1984 national title and three Final Fours in the 1980s. He won seven Big East titles. Many remember the 1985 Villanova team that upset Georgetown for the National Championship. We all remember the towel over the shoulder when he was coaching, and his booming voice and post-game analytical articulation and assessment. And so many great players such as Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo and Allen Iverson. Thompson started his coaching career at St. Anthony Catholic School in Washington, D.C., in 1966. During his six-year tenure, he was 122-28, then went straight to Georgetown. Thompson’s record at Georgetown was 596-239. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that 97 percent of Thompson’s players stayed all four years and graduated. Coach Thompson kept a deflated basketball in his office to help players realize that at some point, they would need to do something else besides play ball. 

All-Decade team - It’s amazing – but not totally surprising – that Jack Ashby would make the All-Decade soccer team at Lynchburg College. He did the midfield dirty work when he played for Cape, an acrobatic high-flying player cut in the mold of his late uncle Chris. Ashby is now in dental school where remote learning involves mechanical false teeth.

Get up for fall league - A crew of Cape volleyball girls has been locked into their primary sport setting, bumping, saving and sending home kill shots all summer and will not be grounded this fall. Cape will be playing in a 15-game fall league at the 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington. Games begin Friday, Sept. 4, but once the season lifts off, the games will be played on Sundays. This is a mix of school and travel teams with some players representing both school and travel. The league has about 150 girls dedicated to making fall volleyball happen. The downstate girls also practice at the 76ers Fieldhouse twice a week. They include Rileigh Wilson, Kali Lawson, Katie Knarr, Jocelyn Leach, Erin Morrissey, Madison Mahoney, Bre Kusen, Angelica Kusen, Harlee Graulich and Natalie Derrickson.

State of Ohio - I read a sports story in the Wall Street Journal that said Ohio State may be the most famous football team in the Buckeye State that will not be playing this fall. High school football has been approved and will proceed. The Big Ten Conference of 14 member schools let it be known that fall sports were shut down and any school that went rogue to play an independent schedule would be dropped from the conference. Nowhere in the story did I read the words field hockey or volleyball, so it’s apparent that football is driving the narrative. And if you’ve never driven a narrative, it’s because you’re not a good storyteller. This is gender inequity being played out in real time out in the open – not sure why this isn’t a Title IX issue. 

Tom Terrific - Tom Seaver, who won 311 games while recording 3,640 strikeouts in 20 big league seasons, died Aug. 31 at age 75. The cause was complications of Lewy body dementia (Robin Williams) and COVID-19. Seaver pitched the Miracle Mets of 1969 to the World Series championship. New York sports celebrities from that era also included Joe Namath, who led the Jets to a Super Bowl, and Walt “Clyde” Frazier of the Knicks, who won the NBA crown in 1970. Fifty years after the 1969 Miracle Mets won the World Series, the address at Citi Field was changed to 41 Tom Seaver Way.

Snippets - A Franklin Parkway ran through my North Philly rowhouse when I was growing up. Both grandfathers – Frederick and Krupp – were Franklins. We called Franklin Krupp “Casey'' because he resembled Yankees and Mets manager Casey Stengel. Stengel coached the Mets in their inaugural 1962 season. They were the worst team in baseball, 40-120, and finished 60 games out of first place. A Jimmy Breslin best-selling book “Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?” was based on a remark made by Casey Stengel. Richie Ashburn was the lead-off hitter and first batter in franchise history. He batted .306 for the season. And retired afterward. No one ever loved Richie Ashburn more than local muppet the late Lou Rickards. The Summers End 5k in Dewey is Sunday, September  6, in Dewey. The in person race begins at 7:30  The Bottle & Cork 5K is set for Saturday, Sept. 12, as an in-person race and begins at 7:30 a.m. The 10-miler is virtual. Not sure if the Labor Day drag volleyball championships at Poodle Beach are still on schedule, but I’m letting Grandma Rose’s house dress drip dry just in case. Go on now, git!


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