EPISODE #29: The American Soccer League’s Cincinnati Comets with Writer/Photographer Ronny Salerno

While the meteoric rise of the United Soccer League’s FC Cincinnati franchise caught many pro sports observers by surprise, keen observers of soccer’s unique history in the Queen City note that the foundation of the team’s current success actually dates back to 1972, when an ambitious little club called the Cincinnati Comets won the American Soccer League championship in the team’s inaugural season. Cincinnati writer/photographer/native Ronny Salerno (The Extraordinary Story of the Cincinnati Comets; Fading Ads of Cincinnati) joins Tim Hanlon to delve into the curious story of this surprisingly notable squad, whose motley cast of characters included:

·         Dr. Nico “Nick” Capurro, a strong-willed Italian-born surgeon and county coroner whose passion for the sport led him to not only buy a Cincinnati ASL franchise, but also become its head coach;

·         Julio “Ringo” Cantillo, a 16-year-old Costa Rican midfield phenom who immediately became the team’s (and league’s) most valuable player – despite still being a high school student;

·         Jim Scott, the long-time king of Cincinnati morning radio, whose simple offer to help with some publicity mushroomed into the presidency of the team – and later the ASL itself;

·         Bob Cousy, the legendary basketball hall-of-famer, who Scott recruited to become ASL commissioner – despite a mixed reputation in the Queen City, and an admitted ignorance about the sport of soccer; and

·         Lamar Hunt, the patron saint of AFL football and the then-nationally ascendant North American Soccer League, whose dogged efforts to get the Comets to move up to the NASL came up short.

Our thanks to Audible and Podfly for their support of this week’s episode!

EPISODE #28: Women’s Pro Basketball’s "Machine Gun" Molly Kazmer

The history of women’s professional basketball in the US pre-dates the modern-day WNBA by at least two decades, when inveterate pro sports entrepreneur Bill Byrne launched the Women’s Professional Basketball League (WBL) in 1978.  Taking cultural cues from the Equal Rights Amendment movement, the adoption of Title IX, Billie Jean King’s landmark victory in tennis’ “Battle of the Sexes,” and a surprisingly strong showing by the US women’s squad in the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics, Byrne hustled his way into forming an odds-defying circuit that ultimately lasted three seasons with franchises that stretched from New York to San Francisco.  The first person to sign with the fledgling league also became its most prolific scorer and reliable public relations attraction – “Machine Gun” Molly Bolin.  Nicknamed by a reporter for her dazzling shooting ability (with multiple records that still stand today), the since-remarried Molly Kazmer lit up the WBL both on and off the court with equal parts athletic prowess and sexy femininity – becoming one of the true pioneers of the women’s professional game in the process.

Kazmer joins host Tim Hanlon to discuss some of the more memorable moments in her remarkable career in the WBL and beyond, including:

·         The unique playing style of Iowa high school basketball that uniquely prepared her for breakout success in the collegiate and pro ranks;

·         The public relations spectacle of signing her first pro contract in the Iowa governor’s office;

·         The wild ride (often on a bus nicknamed the “Corn Dog”) of the Iowa Cornets;

·         Life as the “poster child” of the WBL;

·         The double-standard of being a female athlete in modern society; and

·         How the success of today’s WNBA sends mixed signals to the original WBL pioneers whose work set the stage for the modern pro game.

We love Audible and Podfly for their support of the podcast – and you should too!

EPISODE #27: Jim Thorpe’s Oorang Indians with NFL Films’ Chris Willis

At the dawn of the Roaring Twenties, the National Football League was a mere footnote in the American sports scene, when matchups were played on dirt fields by vagabond athletes who would beat up or punch out their opponents for fifty bucks a game.  But one team during that era was different – the Oorang Indians.  Founded by an ambitious dog breeder, comprised only of Native American players, and coached by a national multi-sport superstar (and charter pro football Hall of Famer), the Indians barnstormed their way through the NFL in 1922-23 – becoming an instant hit in virtually every city they played.  NFL historian Chris Willis (Walter Lingo, Jim Thorpe, and the Oorang Indians: How a Dog Kennel Owner Created the NFL's Most Famous Traveling Team) joins Tim Hanlon to recount the story of this unique franchise and curious forgotten chapter of professional football history, including:

·         How a publicity-hungry dog kennel owner named Walter Lingo convinced the country’s greatest athlete Jim Thorpe to join him in hatching a pro football team in a league barely two years old;

·         How tiny La Rue, Ohio (population: 747) became (and remains) the smallest town ever to house not only an NFL franchise, but any professional team in any league in the United States;

·         How Lingo used the spectacle of the Olympic-famous Thorpe and his all Native-American squad to help advertise his kennel and sell his pure-bred Airedale Terriers;

·         Why halftime entertainment was more important to Lingo than winning or losing on the field; and

·         Why players like Long Time Sleep, Joe Little Twig, Baptiste Thunder, and Xavier Downwind never saw NFL action again after the Indians folded in 1924.

Thanks to Podfly and Audible for their sponsorship of this week’s episode!

Walter Lingo, Jim Thorpe, and the Oorang Indians: How a Dog Kennel Owner Created the NFL's Most Famous Traveling Team - buy book here

EPISODE #26: The TVS Television Network with Producer/Director Howard Zuckerman

On January 20, 1968, a frenzied crowd of 52,693 packed the Houston Astrodome to witness the #2-ranked University of Houston Cougars nip the #1 (and previously undefeated) UCLA Bruins in a college basketball spectacle that legendarily became the sport’s “Game of the Century.”  In addition to the record-sized gate, it was the first-ever college game to be televised nationally in prime time – and it was sports entrepreneur Eddie Einhorn’s scrappy little independent network of affiliated stations called the TVS Television Network that brought it to millions of TV viewers.  Calling all the shots from the production truck was veteran TV sports director Howard Zuckerman – who quickly became the backbone for the fledgling ad hoc network’s subsequent coverage of not only college hoops, but also two of the most colorful pro sports leagues of the 1970s – the World Football League and the North American Soccer League.  Zuckerman joins host Tim Hanlon to recount some of his most memorable (and forgettable) moments in TVS history, including:

·         Surviving a power outage in the middle of the WFL’s first-ever national telecast from Jacksonville;

·         Managing a motley crew of rotating guest commentators for WFL broadcasts, including the likes of George Plimpton, Burt Reynolds and McLean Stevenson;

·         Hastily reorienting weekly WFL production travel plans as teams suddenly relocated or folded;

·         Faking on-field injuries during NASL telecasts to allow for ad hoc commercial breaks;

·         The origins of the specially-composed TVS theme song and its orchestral big band sound; and

·         Post-TVS work, including the Canadian Football League’s Las Vegas Posse, and the worldwide music landmark event Live Aid.

Thank you Audible and Podfly for supporting this episode!

EPISODE #25: Early Pro Football’s Memphis Tigers with Author Wylie McLallen

The Memphis Tigers professional football team of the late 1920s and early 1930s never played a down in the National Football League, but that didn’t stop them from becoming one of the era’s most successful clubs – including laying a legitimate claim as the sport’s national champions in 1929.  Author/historian Wylie McLallen (Tigers by the River: A True and Accurate Tale of the Early Days of Pro Football) joins Tim Hanlon to discuss the story of the Tigers’ exploits in the Depression Era world of “independent” gridiron competition – as well as the team’s sizable role in helping shape the early years of organized American professional football, including:

·         Becoming one of the first competitive pro squads to emerge from outside the sport’s traditional Northeast and Midwest strongholds;

·         Notching signature 1929 wins over the NFL’s formidable Chicago Bears and previously undefeated champion Green Bay Packers;  

·         Declining an offer to subsequently join the NFL in 1930, as team owners struggled to keep the team financially alive;

·         Leveraging their on-field success into forming a challenger (and decidedly Southern) “American Football League” in 1934; and

·         Succumbing to macroeconomic realities in 1935, but enduring for future generations as the officially designated nickname for the University of Memphis’ athletic teams.

We love our friends at Audible and Podfly – and you should too!

Tigers by the River: A True and Accurate Tale of the Early Days of Pro Football - buy book here

EPISODE #24: Soccer “Renaissance Man” Dr. Joe Machnik

Fox Sports soccer rules analyst and newly minted National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee Dr. Joe Machnik (So You Want to Be a Goalkeeper; So Now You Are a Goalkeeper) has done just about everything across the American soccer landscape in his 60+ year career.  As a player, coach, referee, administrator, match commissioner, and soccer camp (No.1 Soccer Camps) pioneer, “Dr. Joe” has had a direct hand in helping achieving some of the sport’s major milestones in the US at virtually every level – amateur, collegiate, professional, and international.  Entwined within that legacy were memorable stops in oft-forgotten places like the original Major Indoor Soccer League, the scrappy American Indoor Soccer Association, and the chaotic early days of Major League Soccer – all of which host Tim Hanlon obsessively grills Machnik on in this episode, including his:

·         Instrumental role in crafting and codifying the professional indoor soccer rulebook for the MISL;

·         Championing of the MISL’s novel move to hire full-time professional referees;

·         Indisputable memory of the 1981 MISL All-Star Game at New York’s Madison Square Garden, and its role in helping birth Arena Football;

·         Coaching travails with the once-mighty New York Arrows, depleted by major player trades and an ownership change;

·         Frequent bus rides in the decidedly minor league AISA; and

·         Fortuitous friendship with an AISA arena owner in Rockford, IL that led to a pivotal role in stabilizing the launch of Major League Soccer.

Thanks to Audible and Podfly for their support of the podcast!

EPISODE #23: The AFL’s New York Titans with Author Bill Ryczek

Before the modern-day New York Jets of today’s NFL – before Joe Namath, before the infamous “Heidi Game,” before the guaranteed Super Bowl III victory – there were the New York Titans.  A charter member of the upstart American Football League in 1960, the underfunded Titans played for three seasons to meager crowds in Upper Manhattan’s decrepit Polo Grounds, flirting with bankruptcy and collapse from virtually day one.  Author/historian Bill Ryczek (Crash of the Titans: The Early Years of the New York Jets and the AFL) joins Tim Hanlon to discuss the Jets’ ignominious beginnings as the Titans, including notable performances by:

·         Owner Harry Wismer, the volatile sportscaster with a talent for hustling, a penchant for drinking, and a habit of bouncing paychecks;

·         Head coach Sammy Baugh, the prescient hall-of-fame player who refused to show up for a press conference announcing his signing until he was paid his full salary in advance – and in cash;

·         Successor (and first-time) head coach Clyde "Bulldog" Turner, who inherited a dispirited squad weary of uncertain finances, inadequate publicity, and front office instability;

·         AFL commissioner Joe Foss, the constant Wismer foe, whose tolerance was tested until ultimately pushed to seize control of the franchise; and

·         William Shea, the New York attorney whose dream for a Continental League baseball franchise in a newly-constructed Flushing Stadium materialized too late to save Wismer’s foundering Titans, but eventually catalyzed the re-born Jets.

This week’s episode is sponsored by Audible and Podfly!

Crash of the Titans: The Team that Became the New York Jets - buy paperback edition here

Crash of the Titans: The Team that Became the New York Jets - buy hardcover edition here

Crash of the Titans: The Team that Became the New York Jets - buy Kindle digital edition here

       

EPISODE #22: The Life of George Best with Documentary Filmmaker Daniel Gordon

Award-winning British documentarian Daniel Gordon (Hillsborough; 9.79*; The Game of Their Lives) joins Tim Hanlon from London to discuss his new ESPN Films 30 for 30 feature George Best: All By Himself – and the enigmatic soccer star whose life story it depicts.   Gordon reveals:

·         Why he was attracted to the story of George Best, despite others’ previous attempts to tell it;

·         How Best’s early-career interviews with the British media while at Manchester United became a hauntingly predictive narrative device for the film;

·         Why the vibrantly ascendant mid-1970s North American Soccer League became an attractive alternative to Best’s post-ManU European wanderings;

·         How the meteoric rise and subsequent fall of the NASL itself became a metaphor for Best’s life and career – including the irony of his Budweiser-sponsored NASL “Goal of the Year” in 1981; and

·         The complex legacy Best left behind, despite his later-life admonitions to “remember the football.”

This week’s episode is sponsored by Audible!

ESPN Films 30 For 30: George Best: All By Himself - view trailer here; viewing information here

ESPN Films 30 For 30: Hillsborough - buy DVD here

ESPN Films 30 For 30: 9.79* - buy DVD here

ESPN Films 30 for 30: Season 2 (including Hillsborough & 9.79*) - buy digital video here

ESPN Films 30 for 30: Season 2 (including Hillsborough & 9.79*) - buy DVD here

        

EPISODE #21: Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics with Author David Jordan

Author/historian David Jordan (The Athletics of Philadelphia: Connie Mack's White Elephants; The A's: A Baseball History) joins Tim Hanlon to discuss the first incarnation of one of Major League Baseball’s most enigmatic franchises.  Jordan discusses how the Philadelphia As:

·         Helped launch the American League as a charter franchise in 1901;

·         Dominated the majors with six league pennants, three World Series titles and two 100+ win seasons in its first 15 years;

·         Were dismantled by long-time manager Connie Mack in the 1914 off-season after losing (or throwing?) the Fall Classic to the “Miracle” Boston Braves;

·         Posted the worst-ever record (36-117; .235) in baseball history two years later, and finished last every season thereafter until 1922;

·         Rose from the ashes to again become baseball’s most dynastic team in the late 1920s/early 1930s – rivaling that of the vaunted New York Yankees; and

·         Succumbed to Depression-era economic realities that slowly drained the team’s talent and challenged management’s finances enough to push the team to ultimately relocate to greener pastures in 1954. 

We thank our friends at Audible for helping sponsor this week’s episode! 

The Athletics of Philadelphia: Connie Mack's White Elephants - buy book here

The A's: A Baseball Historybuy book here

     

EPISODE #20: George Steinbrenner’s Cleveland Pipers with Sportswriter Bill Livingston

Award-winning Cleveland Plain Dealer sports columnist Bill Livingston (George Steinbrenner’s Pipe Dream: The ABL Champion Cleveland Pipers) joins Tim Hanlon to delve deeper into the history of the ill-fated 1960s American Basketball League – this time through the lens of one of its (and ultimately, one of pro sports’) most combustible figures.  Livingston describes how Pipers owner (and future New York Yankees “Boss”) George Steinbrenner:  

        • Retooled a local Cleveland industrial amateur team into a fledgling pro club with NBA ambitions;

        • Traded a player at halftime of a league game, and fired his collegiate hall-of-fame coach in mid-season – and still won a championship;

        • Convinced a risk-averse college star named Jerry Lucas to spurn surefire NBA stardom with the Cincinnati Royals for partial ownership/oversight of an ambitious, yet financially wobbly ABL franchise; and

       • Outmaneuvered a similarly-aspirant Abe Saperstein in the race to secure a coveted NBA franchise, only to hasten the demise of the ABL and the financial viability of the Pipers in the process.

Thank you Audible for sponsoring this week’s episode!

George Steinbrenner's Pipe Dream: The ABL Champion Cleveland Pipers - buy book here

EPISODE #19: American Soccer “Superstar” Kyle Rote, Jr.

National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee and three-time ABC-TV “Superstars” champion Kyle Rote, Jr. joins Tim Hanlon from his home in Memphis for an in-depth and wide-ranging conversation about his trailblazing journey as America’s first true native-born professional soccer star. 

Along the way, Rote, Jr. reveals:

•        How a fortuitous heart-to-heart with his famous football star-father helped convince him to choose soccer over football for his pro career;

•        How a standout Rookie of the Year season with the 1973 Dallas Tornado helped thrust him into the North American Soccer League’s national marketing spotlight;   

•        The remarkable impact of winning a made-for-TV athletic competition against the biggest stars of the “traditional” sports world;

•        The unique relationship he developed with the New York Cosmos’ international legend Pelé,  and the public relations narrative the NASL built around them;

•        How lucrative marketing endorsements made up for embarrassingly low-paying player contracts;

•        The serendipitous story of how he helped rescue an MISL team from the “hell” of Hartford; and

•        The unmistakable higher power that continually guided him through the ups and downs of professional athletics – both on the field and off.

This week’s episode is brought to you by our friends at Audible!

EPISODE #18: Pro Football Historian Ken Crippen & the All-America Football Conference

Pro Football Researchers’ Association president Ken Crippen (The Original Buffalo Bills: A History of the All-America Football Conference Team; The All-America Football Conference: Players, Coaches, Records, Games & Awards) joins Tim Hanlon to discuss the upstart pro football circuit that gave the war-weary NFL a formidable challenge in the late 1940s.  Crippen describes:

·         How a newspaper sportswriter from Chicago convinced big money investors spurned by the NFL to start a directly competitive alternative league;

·         The NFL’s public attempts to minimize the credibility, yet private efforts to contain the success of the AAFC;  

·         The head-to-head battles between the leagues to dominate pro football in markets like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Cleveland;

·         The immediate dominance and innovative approach of Paul Brown’s Cleveland Browns, who many felt were the best team across both leagues;

·         Why the Browns, San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Colts were ultimately absorbed by the NFL, but the Buffalo Bills weren’t; and

·         The controversy among football historians around why the AAFC’s game records are still not “official” in the eyes of the NFL, despite being recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Thank you Audible for sponsoring this week’s episode!

The All-America Football Conference: Players, Coaches, Records, Games & Awards - pre-order book here

The Original Buffalo Bills: A History of the All-America Football Conference Team - buy book here

    

EPISODE #17: Abe Saperstein & the American Basketball League with Author Murry Nelson

Penn State University professor emeritus Murry Nelson (Abe Saperstein and the American Basketball League: The Upstarts Who Shot for Three and Lost to the NBA) joins Tim Hanlon to discuss the oft-forgotten second incarnation of the ABL – and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer who willed it into being.  In this hidden gem of an episode, Nelson describes:

·         How the master promoter of the legendary Harlem Globetrotters attempted to parlay his influence in pro basketball circles into securing his own West Coast NBA franchise, only to be rebuffed;

·         How the advent of reliable and speedy commercial air travel encouraged Saperstein to not only launch the upstart ABL, but with franchises in virgin pro basketball territories like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Honolulu, Hawaii;

·         The peripatetic Washington-to-New York-to-Philadelphia Tapers, whose owner also secretly owned the relatively stable Pittsburgh Rens, featuring league superstar and future Hall of Famer Connie Hawkins;

·         Why the ABL’s (and Saperstein-owned) Chicago Majors outdrew the more-established NBA’s cross-town Packers; and

·         How an ambitious young shipbuilding scion named George Steinbrenner engineered a championship for his Cleveland Pipers franchise, only to sink the ABL the following season with an ill-fated plot to secretly bolt to the NBA. 

This week’s episode is sponsored by our friends at Audible!

Abe Saperstein and the American Basketball League: The Upstarts Who Shot for Three and Lost to the NBA - buy book here

EPISODE #16: National Soccer Hall of Famer Rick Davis

National Soccer Hall of Fame legend Rick Davis joins Tim Hanlon direct from his family-owned/operated Ellsworth Steak House in Ellsworth, KS for a revealing conversation about his pioneering career as one of America’s first pro soccer superstars.  Among the many highlights, Davis discusses:

•        the circumstances that vaulted him from AYSO youth soccer in Claremont, CA to international fame with the NASL’s star-studded New York Cosmos;

•        the priceless on-field, in-game tutelage of world-class players like Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer and Carlos Alberto;

•        the challenges of balancing the often-conflicting demands of both club team and the US Men’s National Team;

•        the double-edged sword of the indoor game; and

•        the NASL's controversial “Team America” experiment in 1983 that helped hasten the demise of the league - and cost Davis at least one friendship in the process. 

This week’s episode is sponsored by our friends at Audible!

EPISODE #15: MISL Memories with Michael Menchel

This week, Tim Hanlon buckles up for a wild ride through the tumultuous early years of the original Major Indoor Soccer League with sports PR veteran Michael Menchel, in our longest and most anecdote-filled episode yet!  Menchel takes us on a head-spinning audio journey across some of the most memorable (and forgettable) franchises in professional indoor soccer history – including stops in Long Island, NY (the Arrows trade for Pete Rose!), New Jersey (scoring champ Fred Grgurev’s unique approach to car maintenance!), Houston (the “Summit Soccer” borrows its name from the arena it plays in and its players from the NASL’s Hurricane!), Baltimore (the marketing genius of Tim Leiweke!), and Hartford (what the hell is a “Hellion”?).  Plus, Menchel:  hits the road with Frank Deford;  spends a year outdoors among the Caribou(s?) of Colorado;  has a bad day in Rochester, NY;  and “settles down” in St. Louis wondering when and where the NFL football Cardinals will move next.  Thanks to Audible for sponsoring this week’s episode!

EPISODE #14: Radio Personality Terry Hanson’s Formative Years in NASL Soccer

Syndicated morning radio personality Terry Hanson (The Big Show with John Boy & Billy) joins Tim Hanlon to discuss the formative years of his renaissance career in sports and media, across three of the original North American Soccer League’s more memorable franchises.  Hanson waxes nostalgic about doling out “Americanized” first names to the Serbian-infused roster of 1976’s Rochester Lancers; moonlighting in the Washington Diplomats broadcast booth with play-by-play pros Jon Miller and Don Earle; and marketing a reborn, Ted Turner-owned Atlanta Chiefs team that no one seemed to want to watch play outdoors, but everyone flocked to see play indoors.  Thanks to Audible for sponsoring this week’s episode!

EPISODE #13: Author Bill Young & the Legacy of J.L. Wilkinson's Kansas City Monarchs

Religious studies professor-turned-baseball-historian Bill Young (J.L. Wilkinson & the Kansas City Monarchs: Trailblazers in Black Baseball) joins Tim Hanlon to discuss the life and legacy of one of baseball’s most overlooked and underappreciated executive figures.  Young recalls the photograph at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City that inspired him to pursue the telling of Wilkinson’s story, and describes how the quiet-yet-influential pioneer affectionately known as “Wilkie”: built one of the Negro Leagues’ most formidable franchises from modest Midwestern barnstorming beginnings; ingeniously kept his club relevant during lean Depression-era times through innovations such as portable night-time lighting; and nurtured a stunning array of all-star players that transcended both Negro and Major league rosters – 11 of whom were ultimately enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  This week’s episode is sponsored by our friends at Audible!

J.L. Wilkinson & the Kansas City Monarchs: Trailblazers in Black Baseball - buy book here

EPISODE #12: Author Jim Sulecki & the NFL’s Cleveland Rams

Author and Cleveland native Jim Sulecki (The Cleveland Rams: The NFL Champs Who Left Too Soon) joins Tim Hanlon to discuss his Pro Football Researchers Association award-winning book about the oft-forgotten first decade of one of the National Football League’s most enduring franchises.   Sulecki describes the Cleveland Rams’ inauspicious first season in the shaky second incarnation of the American Football League in 1936; its struggles to remain competitive against entrenched NFL powerhouses like the Chicago Bears, New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, and Washington Redskins in the WWII-distracted years that followed; the team’s surprising 1945 championship season (including one of the coldest NFL finals ever played); and owner Dan Reeves’ not-so-unexpected move to the sunnier climes of Los Angeles just one month after winning the NFL title.  This week’s episode is sponsored by our friends at Audible.com!

The Cleveland Rams: The NFL Champs Who Left Too Soon - buy book here

EPISODE #11: The USFL’s Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars with Publicist Bob Moore

Long-time Kansas City Chiefs public relations director Bob Moore joins Tim Hanlon to recount his pre-NFL baptism-by-fire tenure as communications lead for the United States Football League’s most successful franchise, the Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars.  Moore recalls the instant credibility boost of snagging General Manager Carl Peterson from the cross-town NFL Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles; credits Peterson’s vision in building the USFL’s most consistently dominant team from his mastery of the league’s novel territorial draft system; laments the league’s irrational zeal to expand by six teams in the first off-season as an unwitting hastener of its ultimate demise; and explains how the 1985 USFL champion “Baltimore” Stars never actually played a down inside “Charm City.”  This episode is sponsored by our audiobook friends at Audible.com!

EPISODE #10: The American Soccer Sojourn of Clyde Best

Perennial NASL and MISL soccer all-star Clyde Best (The Acid Test: The Autobiography of Clyde Best) joins Tim Hanlon from his native Bermuda to discuss his 1970s/80s soccer adventures in the United States, emanating from his stellar, but challenging beginnings with England’s First Division West Ham United.  Best recalls his first matches in a five-team 1969 NASL, when the Hammers spent the summer masquerading as the Baltimore Bays; recounts a hot and steamy friendly a year later at New York’s overcrowded crackerbox Downing Stadium, matching his childhood idol Pelé goal-for-goal; describes his magical first full season in the States, winning both the NASL’s outdoor and indoor championships with the Tampa Bay Rowdies; and waxes nostalgic on his subsequent career stops in Portland (Timbers), Cleveland (Force), Toronto (Blizzard), and Los Angeles (Lazers).

The Acid Test: The Autobiography of Clyde Best - buy book here