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  • Caesar Cliffius

    My name is Cliff Eastham. I live in West Virginia with my wife Debbie, the loveliest lady in the world, and my youngest daughter, Holly who is equally as lovely as her mother.

    I enjoy writing about sports, and love a good healthy debate. My favorite teams are the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Redskins.

    There are only a couple of sports that I don't write about, Hockey and Soccer specifically. My favorite sports are Baseball, Boxing, NFL, NCAA Basketball, MMA.

    Feel free to look around, and your comments are most welcome. Subscribe via email if you wish.

    It is decreed.....Caesar Cliffius
    this 8th day of December, in the Year of our Lord 2009.

Can You Remember?

The face of sports changes as it grows older. Athletes come, athletes go.

Rules change constantly in professional sports. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not.

Did you ever get a little smile on your face when someone asks, “remember when—?” Memories bring up feelings and emotions from the past, some good and some not so good.

Challenge your memory with these 10 events.

Have you heard about them? Did you live them? Did you even know about them?

Here we go.

#10 – When Sen. Bill Bradley Played Professional Basketball

He was an All-American high school basketball player and chose the Princeton Tigers as the team he wanted to play college ball for. Bill was a 3 time All-American and National Player of the Year in 1965.

He was a Rhodes Scholar so he went to Oxford after getting his degree at Princeton.

In 1966 he joined the New York Knicks as a 6’5” guard and was later moved to forward.

He retired from basketball in1977 and was inducted to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

His number 24 was retired by the Knicks.

#9 – When The Marquette Golden Eagles Were The Marquette Warriors.

The team was called the Warriors from 1954 until 1994.

They changed their name to the Golden Eagles because it was felt by many that it was disrespectful to Native Americans. What about prayer warriors?

Also, the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks use to be called the Miami Redskins, but changed because of the same reason.

#8 – When There Was No Shot Clock In NCAA Basketball

In 1985 the NCAA began using a 45 second clock (which was changed to 35 in 1993) in which a team had to shoot the ball.

The timer starts when the team inbounds the ball. If they don’t shoot in the appropriate time limit, the other team gains possession of the basketball.

A big reason for the rule was the North Carolina Tar Heels. Coach Dean Smith employed an offense known as the “four corners”.

Four of the players would stand at each corner of the offensive end of the court while the fifth man would dribble the ball until someone challenged him.

They could get a lead and just “milk” the clock with the four corner offense, usually until someone was fouled.

Phil Ford was an absolute expert at running this offense for Dean Smith.

#7 – When Ahmad Rashad Was Bobby Moore

When he was a running back and receiver for the Oregon Ducks he used his birth name of Robert Moore.

He was an All-American running back where he played alongside quarterback Dan Fouts.

He was a first round (4th overall) pick of the (then) St. Louis Cardinals in 1972 about the same time he changed his name to Ahmad Rashad (Rashad means ‘Admirable One Led To Truth’) after his mentor in St. Louis.

He was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007.

He later became a TV football announcer and analyst and also hosted NBA Inside Stuff.

#6 – When There Were No Baseball Playoffs In The Major Leagues ?

Prior to 1969 the only major league baseball teams to play for a championship was the regular season pennant winners from the American and National Leagues respectively.

They played the best 4 out of 7 in the World Series and the winner was the world champs of baseball for that year.

This is why you see such bloated ‘post season’ records today. Back then, there was no post season, it was just the World Series.

#5 – When NBA Referees Called Palming On Players

When pro basketball was really fun to watch (and some people on the court actually couldn’t dunk it) the referees called palming when a player (usually a guard) turned his wrist over while dribbling the ball.

Now, not only do they palm, sometimes they get away with taking a couple steps after terminating their dribble.

#4 – When Cornerbacks were Called Defensive Halfbacks And Wide Receivers Were Split Ends And Flankers

Back in the day (don’t you hate that axiom?) positions on a football field were different than they are today.

Cornerbacks and Safeties were called Defensive Halfbacks. Wide Receivers were called Split Ends and Flankers, or just Ends.

There was no such thing as a nose guard. You had Defensive Ends and Tackles, period.

Tight Ends were merely called Left or Right Ends.

There was a Fullback and a Left and Right Halfback, now you have ‘H’ backs, Scatbacks, Running Backs, Tailbacks, etc.

Of course Quarterbacks have always been called Quarterbacks.

#3 – When The “Top Of The Key” Looked Like The Top Of A Skeleton Key.

Long, long ago in a gymnasium demolished decades ago, the key of the basketball court was a good deal skinner than it is today.

The reason for the change was that some players had a distinct advantage with the lanes being so close to the basket.

This reason also resulted in a ‘3 second’ violation to be implemented.

In the old days offensive players could just plant themselves under the basket and get great position for an offensive rebound.

#2 – When You Didn’t Go To The Big Dance, If You Didn’t Win Your Conference Title Or Tournament

Prior to 1975 only one team per conference was allowed to participate in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

If you didn’t win your tournament (or regular season title in the Big 10) you were at home watching on television.

It didn’t matter if you were the #1 rated team in the nation, if you didn’t win, you didn’t go.

Now look at how it has changed, with some conferences sending as many as 7 or 8 and smaller conferences just sending one.

I would personally like to see it go back to that.

#1 – When MLB Had Two All-Star Games A Year.

From 1959 until 1962 the National League All-stars and the American League All-stars met twice each year.

The idea for the extra game was for the extra revenue to help with the player’s pension fund.

However, many felt that the second game watered down the significance of the mid-summer classic, so it was abandoned.

The Good Old Days of Baseball

When I was a child I use to love the spring. The Birds were chirping, bullfrogs barking, and the smell of fresh cut grass (lawns). It was an exciting time. The death of winter followed by the resurrection of spring.

All of that meant one thing to me, baseball! I loved it. I would play whenever I could find someone to play with. If I couldn’t, I would throw a ball against a retaining wall made of cross ties.

I had it all laid out, as to what was a single, double and so on. I was never bored back then.

I would look at the newspaper, at the players statistics and check how the Yankees were doing. The closest big league team to us was the Cincinnati Reds. My father said he hated them, but he never missed a game on the radio, cussing announcer Waite Hoyt all the while.

Even though I loved the Yankees, I knew the Reds lineup backwards and forwards. I knew them all, Robinson, Pinson, Post, Lynch, Coleman, Blasingame, Purkey, O’Toole, Maloney, etc. I could go on and on, but I do digress as habit forces me.

That was an unmatched time in my life. Nothing later could compare with that time of the year. Looking back, I am amazed at how happy I was.

We were as poor as you could be without being in the Poorhouse (whatever that was). Commodity Cheese, free shoes courtesy of the Elks Club. I often wondered what BPOE meant. The B stands for benevolent which they truly were.

I wore hand-me-downs from my cousin (nice clothes) and wasn’t ashamed. To be truthful, I didn’t realize we were poor until I was in the seventh grade.

The first six years were in a four-room school house and everybody (I think) was relatively lower class, some worse than others. If you surround yourself with poor people, you don’t look or feel poor

But when the lights are turned on and you get a glimpse of the real world, you see how nice some people have it.

Baseball’s Opening Day was something else. Back then, the Reds played the only game on Opening Day. It was a day game. I would run home from school and catch the last few innings on our old black and white television, with my Dad.

Of course, if the Reds were winning, he was cussing. I don’t recall him ever missing a game on the radio as long as I knew him. I’m sure he did miss some, but I never heard about them.

Baseball was a kid’s sport back then. You had heroes, legitimate men you could look up to. I speak of Stan (The Man) Musial, Al Kaline, Mickey Mantle and Ernie Banks, etc. The list would run without caution if I allowed it.

You see Mantle’s name and laugh. Keep in mind, in those days you didn’t know every time a player farted in front of someone. The bad things never were revealed.

All these men had a few things in common. They were great players, they were hard workers, they were gentlemen and they never left the team they first signed with.

I know it sounds crazy but I think many of those guys back then would have played for free. Sneer if you well, but I believe it.

It is hard for me to wrap my brain around the salaries some of these guys make today. Roger Maris only made around $37,000 when he broke Ruth’s HR record for a season. Some players make more than that in three innings (no joke).

Just about every player had to have a ‘real’ job after the season was over, just to keep the boat floating.

Money is the only issue today. How much more can a man make? If A-Rod had a time machine, he could strap into the DeLorean, go back to 1961 with his wallet, and buy the whole damn Major League.

Those were the days. Pitchers often threw complete game shutouts back then. Did you hear me kids? Complete game shutouts. Someone did it seemingly every few days. Those were studs back then. Marichal, Koufax, Drysdale, Gibson, Spahn, Ford.

You gave them the ball and you didn’t have to worry much about your bullpen. And you surely didn’t count his friggin’ pitches!

Today a complete game from a starter is a rarity. Nobody even talks complete games. Now we hear the term ‘quality’ starts bandied about. You know, a guy going six innings and giving up around three Earned Runs or less, blah blah blah. All because they now have a bullpen stocked with specialty relievers.

We have ‘long’ relievers, setup relievers and closers. Not to mention the lefty that just comes out to face Jay Bruce, then goes to the dugout in favor of the right-hander who will face Brandon Phillips and hopefully end the inning.

Back in the day (I’m not quite 100 yet); those starters were flying without a net. Most of them anyway. Koufax and Drysdale had Ron Perranoski to back them up. Whitey Ford had a couple of reliable backup men.

Spahn, Gibson and Marichal flew solo. Not much help for them, as if they needed it.

Disabled List? You had to be wearing a cast or constantly seeing stars to be placed on the DL, if that was even what they called it back then.

Sometimes I really would love to go back to those poverty stricken days. The closest thing to that is to play a video game on the computer.

MVP Baseball by EA Sports is a great simulation. Modders (people who modify games) have taken the best teams from the past and implemented them into the game.

So you can play a game with the ’61 Yankees and the Big Red Machine, at old Yankee Stadium, or Crosley Field if you wanted to. They look like the players and perform the same way, too.

You can’t buy that game, though. EA Sports quit making it and it is hard to come by even on eBay without paying an arm and a leg.

So, sometimes I load the game, set the lineups and just watch. It is even supplied with commentators, Duane Kupier and Mike Krukow.

It kind of reminds me of the old Jim Croce song, ‘If I could save time in a bottle’. Wouldn’t that be nice if we could?

Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report where this article was first published.