EPISODE #103: MISL Indoor Soccer's Origin Story – With Co-Founder Ed Tepper

We celebrate our second anniversary with the intriguing background story of the original Major Indoor Soccer League, with the man who started it all – Ed Tepper. 

A commercial real estate developer by trade, Tepper actually got his start in pro sports ownership as the owner of the original National Lacrosse League’s Philadelphia Wings – only to switch allegiances to an inchoate indoor offshoot of the world’s most popular sport after a chance exhibition (between the 1973 NASL champion Atoms and the Russian CSKA “Red Army” team) at Philadelphia’s Spectrum on February 11, 1974. 

Originally interested in the game’s bespoke Astroturf-covered surface as a potential improvement for his fledgling box lacrosse club, Tepper (along with 11,700+ enthusiastic curiosity-seekers) instead became instantly attracted to the fast-paced action and high scoring of “indoor soccer” – and quickly resolved to make a professional sport out of it.

In this illuminating interview, Tepper recounts some of the notable events and influential people along the journey from concept to the MISL’s official debut kick (by Cincinnati Kids part-owner Pete Rose, no less) on December 22, 1978 at Uniondale, Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum – including:

  • Convincing ABA Virginia Squires owner (and eventual MISL commissioner) Earl Foreman of the game’s potential;

  • The instant credibility boost of signing American superstar goalkeeper Shep Messing;

  • NASL commissioner Phil Woosnam’s on-again, off-again interest in the indoor game;

  • How (and why) NFL owners Carroll Rosenbloom and Al Davis wanted in; AND

  • The unsung role of TV executive Bob Wussler in garnering attention for the fledgling circuit.

PLUS: The untold tale of Tepper’s very own (barely one-season long) MISL franchise – the New Jersey Rockets!

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EPISODE #92: “Retro” Pro Lacrosse History – With Steve Holroyd & Dave Coleman

We celebrate the (labor dispute-delayed) opening weekend of the National Lacrosse League’s 2018-19 season – as well as the return of the iconic Philadelphia Wings franchise – with two of pro box lacrosse’s most ardent fans and chief chroniclers.  

Metro Philly natives Steve Holroyd and Dave Coleman are the engines behind the historical treasure trove known as RetroLax.com, which digs deep into the history of the pro indoor game in North America – and features a wealth of hard-to-find stories and rare game footage from circuits like the original six-team National Lacrosse League of 1974-75, the one-year National Lacrosse Association of 1968, and, of course, the precedents to today’s NLL – 1987’s Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse and 1988-97’s Major Indoor Lacrosse League.

Holroyd and Coleman join host Tim Hanlon to discuss the origins of their interest in the game; their commitment to definitively “filling in” the surprisingly substantial and lengthy backstory of professional lacrosse in North America; what they’ve learned and who’ve they met along the way; and their thoughts on where the pro game is headed – as the NLL re-enters Philadelphia and expands into San Diego, and the outdoor Major League Lacrosse gets ready to battle the new Paul Rabil-founded, private equity-backed Premier Lacrosse League this coming spring.

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EPISODE #55: Russ Cline and the Birth of Modern-Day Indoor Box Lacrosse

Our first-ever (and long-overdue) exploration of the sport of professional lacrosse begins with a conversation with one of the godfathers of the modern indoor game, Russ Cline – founder (along with partner and fellow Kansas City sports promoter Chris Fritz) of 1987’s seminal four-team Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse League (soon renamed the Major Indoor Lacrosse League) – and the progenitor of today’s vibrant National Lacrosse League that spans 11 cities across the US and Canada.

Cline walks obsessive inquisitor Tim Hanlon through: the duo’s rationale behind choosing lacrosse as the focus of their entrepreneurial efforts; the slow-growth approaches to expansion beyond the lacrosse-rich Northeast and national television coverage; the business model battle between single-entity and individually-owned franchises; and the delicate balance between maintaining the integrity of the sport’s rich history and marketing a hard-hitting, high-scoring, action-packed entertainment product.

Plus: playing surfaces borne of carpet remnants and Coca-Cola; robbing Philadelphia to pay Baltimore; becoming ESPN2’s first-ever scheduled pro league; and turning down a very tempting birthday gift!

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