Saturday, 3 July 2010

More Than Birdcage Liner

I was cruising through my local book retailer today as I was out and about after the major light show this morning. My neighbourhood has been hit with some major electrical storms over the last twenty-four hours, and the heat and humidity turned in some incredible lightning storms early this morning. With the power out until mid-afternoon today, I escaped the heat and humidity for the air conditioning of the bookstore, and, lo and behold, I found something rather amazing. The best part of this find is that it is not limited to just hockey. There is literally something for everyone at this vendor.

I've been pushing various publishing companies since I started Teebz's Book Club, but this publishing company is a little different. Rather than publishing books, they reprint old newspaper stories from The New York Times. The website where you can check out these incredible old newspaper compilations is called Retro Graphics Publishing. Today, I was fortunate enough to grab the last remaining copy in the store of the The New York Times' The Greatest Moments in Toronto Maple Leafs History.

The very first page reprint comes from Sunday, April 3, 1932. The entire page of the sports section is reprinted in its entirety, so you get to read all the stories from that day on that page as well as seeing the images on that page. There are stories on the April 3 page about New York Athletic Club's swimming team breaking two records, a tennis story of a Miss Marjorie Morrill who won three indoor tennis titles, a golf story about Miss Maureen Orcutt who won her second consecutive golf title, a story about collegiate polo, a squash story, and three baseball stories. Included on the page are three black-and-white photos of the baseball game between Columbia and City College at Lewisohn Stadium. A very interesting read, and we're only one page in!

The Maple Leafs news from April 3 reads "Toronto Six Wins Play-Off by 4 to 3". The Game Seven affair between the Leafs and Montreal Maroons was decided on an overtime goal by winger Bob Gracie, and the 3-2 OT win propelled the Leafs to the 1932 Stanley Cup Final against the New York Rangers. According to the article, "[t]he game was bitterly contested from the opening face-off".

The names in the article are a who's-who of past NHL stars. Earl Siebert, Lionel Conacher, Charlie Conacher, and Francis "King" Clancy are probably the most famous of the names, but there were a ton of stars on the ice. Baldy Northcutt was a scoring sensation for the Maroons, and linemates Hooley Smith and Jimmy Ward made up one of the most lethal scoring lines at that time. On the Leafs' bench, players such as Joe Primeau, Harvey "Busher" Jackson, and Irvine "Ace" Bailey carried the blue-and-white to a victory.

The article is cut off at the lower margin on the first page of the Sports Section, but the very next page reproduced is the fourth page where the story concludes. What I found most interesting about the article are the historic pieces. The Stanley Cup Final, which was scheduled to begin on Tuesday, April 5 in New York City, would be a best-of-five series, unlike the previous best-of-seven series that Toronto had just won.

Game Two, despite being hosted by New York, would be played in Boston, Massachusetts. No reason was given for the move in the article, but there's a good chance that the original Madison Square Garden was booked. Can you imagine a Stanley Cup Final game being played in a neutral site? That would be weird, and I can't imagine it was any better eighty-eight years ago.

On that fourth page, there is also a small summary of the national AAU championship. The Amateur Athletic Union was a loosely-formed league of teams that played various sports, including hockey. The summary states that the Crescent Athletic-Hamilton Club defeated the Atlantic City Sea Gulls by a 3-2 score in the first game of a two-game series.

There is some history to this. It was in 1930 that the Atlantic City Sea Gulls were formed after manager Lincoln Dickey lured a number of Montreal-born players to the team. Because of the Montreal player's hockey prowess and toughness, the Sea Gulls quickly rose in prominence as one of the best amateur teams in the United States.

Chuck Miller writes an incredible piece on the Sea Gulls in this excerpt from Hockey Ink!:

"At the time, the resort owners and hotel managers of Atlantic City created a brass trophy decorated with eagles and winged angels, to be awarded to the 1932 AAU hockey tournament winner. In the final two-game, total-goal series, the Sea Gulls beat the Lake Placid Athletic Club, 11 goals to 5, and claimed the 'Atlantic City Boardwalk Trophy' as their own. The Gulls would repeat as AAU champions in 1933, winning eight games against four teams on their way to the championship."
In 1932, the Sea Gulls challenged all teams, including the NHL's New York Rangers. A game between the AAU's Sea Gulls and the NHL's Rangers was scheduled to take place at the historic Atlantic City Municipal Auditorium, but the AAU intervened and the game was canceled.

Just this kind of historic information, to me, is absolutely astounding! Digging through these old newspaper pages is like traveling back in time. There are so many great stories that aren't even Maple Leafs-related!

However, getting back on task, there are a ton of excellent stories about the Maple Leafs in this publication. Some examples are:
  • April 10, 1932 - "Toronto Six Wins Stanley Cup".
  • April 19, 1942 - "Leafs Trip Wings; Take Stanley Cup".
  • April 20, 1947 - "Leafs Take Series, Top Canadiens 2-1".
  • April 15, 1948 - "Leafs Keep Stanley Cup With 4-Game Hockey Sweep Against Wings".
  • April 17, 1949 - "Toronto's Sextet Keeps Stanley Cup". This is Toronto's third consecutive Stanley Cup win as they close out the 1940s.
  • April 22, 1951 - "Leafs Victors, 3-2, Gain Hockey Title". This recap article features talk about the famous Bill Barilko goal that gave the Leafs the Stanley Cup Championship.
  • April 23, 1962 - "Leafs Beat Hawks With Rally and Take Stanley Cup First Time Since 1951". There is talk about how much money each player earned in the 4-2 series victory.
  • April 19, 1963 - "Leafs Beat Wings, 3-1, and Take Stanley Cup, 4 Games to 1, on Late Goals". The lineup features player numbers beside each player's name.
  • April 26, 1964 - "Leafs Win By 4-0 For 3d Cup In Row". The Leafs win their third consecutive Stanley Cup by beating the Red Wings in seven games.
  • May 4, 1967 - "Stanley Cup Play Likely To Run To Mid-May in Expansion Plan". While a picture was shown of Dave Keon drinking from the Stanley Cup in 1967, the plans for expansion were the bigger story. Little did they know then that Toronto wouldn't be back.
  • February 8, 1976 - "Leaf Gets 6 Goals, 10 Points". The story of Darryl Sittler's historic night as he figures in on ten of Toronto's eleven goals against Boston. More below on this.
  • April 17, 1977 - "Salming of Leafs Forges a Reputation As Mr. Clean Amid Hockey Onslaughts". Borje Salming admits he doesn't know how to throw a punch!
  • April 22, 1978 - "The Maple Leafs' Capt. Video". A great article by Dave Anderson on Roger Neilson's use of video to teach his players. And his dog. And it's effective!
  • April 28, 1978 - "Islanders Angered By Butler's 'Hit' on Bossy". The Islanders and Leafs begin a fierce and nasty rivalry as the Islanders are a year away from a dynasty.
  • April 30, 1978 - "Fans' Fervor Plays a Major Role In Islanders-Leafs Playoff Series". A very insightful look at how the fans escalated the craziness in the playoff series with their antics in an already-heated battle which saw the Leafs prevail in seven games.
  • December 28, 1998 - "Syl Apps, 83, Hall of Famer Who Led Maple Leafs in 40's". An obituary about one of the Maple Leafs' most-loved players.
  • March 31, 2001 - "Domi Douses Spectator, But Not Fire". The story of the Tie Domi water-squirting episode in Philadelphia.
The information on Sittler's 10-point night is extremely well-written and well-researched by writer Dave Anderson. He writes, "In the 13,528-game history of the National Hockey League, the most points (goals and assists) accumulated in one game had been 8". Did you know that? I had no clue. It's this kind of history that really makes me smile.

Anderson goes on to add, "That sixth goal made him the third NHL player since the installation of the red line more than three decades ago to produce that many in one game. The others were Syd Howe of the Detroit Red Wings in 1944 and Red Berenson of the St. Louis Blues in 1968, the only other NHL player to score seven goals in one game was Joe Malone of the Quebec Bulldogs back in 1920". Again, this kind of information should make historians salivate. And I got all of this info for $10 today!

Honestly, there are a ton of amazing stories in the reproduced newspaper pages that should also be talked about, but it would take me weeks. Even the advertisements are an incredible look back into our history as a society. From amateur sports to the many baseball stories to the minor-league hockey stories, there is something to tickle every reader's fancy in these pages. While I never bothered to count the number of pages, there has to be 50 reprinted newspaper pages made into sections similar to current newspapers.

Again, check out Retro Graphics Publishing for all of their reprints. There are a ton of newspaper reprints that I want to check out despite them having no hockey pages available! And if you happen to order one, please send me your thoughts on the publication!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


aqf said...

I've read that it wasn't unusual back in the day for Rangers "home" playoff games to be played on the road, due to the Ringling Brothers Circus.

caywow said...

Yup, backing up aqf. The circus was the guaranteed money maker so the Rangers would get kicked out, often not getting to play any home games once the circus came to town.