EPISODE #101: New York Yankees Broadcaster John Sterling

Legendary New York Yankees baseball play-by-play man John Sterling joins host Tim Hanlon for a cavalcade of career memories from his 50+ year journey in sports broadcasting – including a treasure trove of stops along the way with previously incarnated or otherwise defunct teams (and leagues).

Now celebrating his 30th consecutive season with the Bronx Bombers, Sterling’s unique vocal stylings have become synonymous with some of the Yankees’ most signature moments during that time – including the team’s dominant run of American League and World Series championships across the late 1990s and much of the 2000s. 

The path to becoming one of baseball’s marquee team broadcasters was far from direct, however, and we (naturally) obsess over some of Sterling’s more memorable “forgotten” gigs along the way, including:

  • Falling into radio play-by-play with the NBA Baltimore Bullets as a late fill-in for Jim Karvellas;

  • Becoming the almost-voice of the ABA Washington Caps (until a hasty move to Virginia to become the Squires);

  • Hustling to secure radio rights to the upstart WHA New York Raiders for Gotham’s talk powerhouse WMCA - and the irony of later calling games for the NHL Islanders;

  • The highs of the ABA New York, and lows of the NBA New Jersey Nets;

  • “Phoning it in” for the World Football League’s short-lived New York Stars; AND

  • The ahead-of-its-time Enterprise Sports Radio Network.

Check out all the great “forgotten sports” garb and gear from our awesome sponsors: SportsHistoryCollectibles.com, Streaker Sports, OldSchoolShirts.com, and 503 Sports!

Classic John Sterling audio clips courtesy of Eric Paddon; follow him on YouTube here

EPISODE #100: WHA Hockey’s New England Whalers – With Former Owner Howard Baldwin

We celebrate our 100th(!) episode with one of the founding owners of the pioneering World Hockey Association – and the man ultimately responsible for the absorption of four its teams into the NHL in the “don’t-call-it-a-merger” of 1979. 

Hollywood film producer and original New England Whalers founder/owner Howard Baldwin (Slim and None: My Wild Ride from the WHA to the NHL and All the Way to Hollywood) joins host Tim Hanlon for a rollicking ride through the modest beginnings, death-defying life, and lasting aftermath of pro hockey’s paradigm-transforming challenger league – as well as the tortuous journey of the only US-based franchise to survive the consolidation.

Come for Baldwin’s hard-to-believe stories of the Whalers and the WHA, like:

  • Winning the Avco Cup championship in the team’s (and league’s) very first (1972-73) season, despite being fourth in line for Boston Garden home dates behind the Bruins, Celtics and even the AHL Braves;

  • The courtship-turned-love-affair between the Whalers and the city of Hartford that led to the club’s relocation to the WHA’s (and ultimately NHL’s) smallest TV market in 1974; AND

  • Doubling as league president with the sole purpose of effecting a merger with NHL.

But also stay for tales of Baldwin’s incredible WHA after-life, including:

  • Riding into the 1980s with the NHL’s “Hartford” Whalers;

  • The curious interconnection between the Minnesota North Stars and the San Jose Sharks;

  • Winning the 1992 Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but losing the franchise to bankruptcy six years later; AND

  • Segueing into life as an Academy Award-winning Hollywood film producer.

Show your support for the show and the legendary WHA by purchasing commemorative garb from our great sponsors 503 Sports, OldSchoolShirts.com and Streaker Sports!

Slim and None: My Wild Ride from the WHA to the NHL and All the Way to Hollywood - buy here

EPISODE #75: The World Hockey Association Hall of Fame with Tim Gassen

Buckle up for our sophomore excursion into the legendary World Hockey Association, as we chat with the passionate founder and meticulous curator of the short-lived but influential league’s official Hall of Fame, Tim Gassen. 

Physically ensconced inside the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth, MN, as well as an expansive online digital presence, the WHA Hall of Fame is the undisputed historical authority on the brief seven-season life and wild times of the iconic 1970s-era challenger league that kicked the staid National Hockey League in the butt and reinvigorated the pro game in the process.

Gassen joins host Tim Hanlon to discuss the:

  • Origins of his WHA fanaticism (sparked by childhood memories of Indianapolis Racers games);
  • Wayward (and illustrative) journeys of teams like the Jersey Knights (née New York Raiders/Golden Blades, then San Diego Mariners) and the Calgary Cowboys (birthed as the Miami Screaming Eagles, converted into the Blazers of Philadelphia, then of Vancouver, before saddling up for one last rodeo in the Stampede City);
  • Unmatched dominance of the Winnipeg Jets; and
  • Ongoing hunt for the Hall of Fame’s holy grail of artifacts – the makeshift WHA championship trophy hoisted by the league’s New England Whalers in 1973, in lieu of the yet-to-be-completed AVCO World Trophy.

Our appreciation to this week’s sponsors: Audible, OldSchoolShirts.com, Podfly, and SportsHistoryCollectibles.com!

                

The World Hockey Association Hall of Fame: A Photographic History of the Rebel League - buy book here

WHA Gameday: 1972-1979 Game Program Stories - buy book here

1972-1979 WHA Media Guides - buy book here

Best of the World Hockey Association Hall of Fame - buy Blu-ray DVD here

Positive Waves: A History of Indianapolis Racers Hockey 1974-1979 - buy book here

WHA Logo T-Shirts from OldSchoolShirts.com - click individual shirt photos or buy here

EPISODE #69: The “Rebel” World Hockey Association with Ed Willes

Fresh off of kicking pro basketball’s establishment in the teeth with the launch of the upstart American Basketball Association in 1967, inveterate sports entrepreneurs Dennis Murphy (see also: World Team Tennis, Roller Hockey International) and Gary Davidson (World Football League) turned their attention to an even riper target of opportunity in 1971 – the monopolistic and monochromatic 12-team National Hockey League.

Their broadside against the NHL was the audaciously aspirational World Hockey Association – a seven-season 1970s-era wonder that brought a rollicking brand of ice hockey to no fewer than 27 markets across North America (not including four announced teams that relocated before even playing a game) – leaving in its wake a bevy of bounced checks, fractious lawsuits, and defunct franchises from San Diego to Cherry Hill, New Jersey.   

Amidst the league’s traveling circus of the weird (the Chicago Cougars’ 1974 playoff run ended by Peter Pan), and wonderful (the Houston Aeros’ Gordie, Mark and Marty Howe teaming for the first-ever father-son[-son!] combination in pro hockey), the WHA undeniably became the vanguard that dragged the sport kicking and screaming into the modern age by: ending the NHL’s monopoly grip on the pro game; freeing players from its reserve clause; allowing 18-year-old players to be drafted; introducing top-tier hockey to the US Sun Belt and the interior Canadian provinces; and opening up rosters to an exciting array of European talent in numbers previously unimagined. 

And, by the end of its run in 1979, ushering four new clubs – the Winnipeg Jets, Quebec Nordiques, Edmonton Oilers, and Hartford Whalers – into a merger-expanded NHL.

Sportswriter Ed Willes (The Rebel League: The Short and Unruly Life of the World Hockey Association) returns to the podcast to discuss the brief but impactful legacy of hockey’s “rebel league” that gave up-and-coming stars their big-league debuts, others their swan songs – and provided high-octane fuel for some of the most spectacularly memorable moments in the history of professional hockey.

Please check out our great sponsors Audible, SportsHistoryCollectibles.com and Podfly!

The Rebel League: The Short and Unruly Life of the World Hockey Association - buy book here

World Hockey Association apparel from Throwback Max - buy here

                

World Hockey Association jerseys from K-1 Sportswear - buy here

                

EPISODE #62: The Whaler Guys

It’s been 21 years since the National Hockey League’s Hartford Whalers abruptly bolted for the (supposedly) greener pastures of North Carolina and a rechristened life as the Carolina Hurricanes, but don’t tell that to superfans Peter Hindle and Jerry Erwin – the self-professed “Whaler Guys” – who have made it their personal mission since 2011 to keep the memory of the franchise they love alive,  and, with any luck, bring top-tier pro NHL hockey back to the Nutmeg State.

As the hosts of their eponymous weekly Hartford Public Access TV show, Hindle and Erwin are not only passionate about remembering what the Whalers used to be, but also relentlessly focused on virtually every aspect of local civic development that might help someday return the city of Hartford to the ranks of “major league” status once again.

We get into all things Whalers past (the legendary “Brass Bonanza” theme song, the iconic logo); present (XL Center renovation updates, the Guys’ Whaler-themed Connecticut state license plate initiative); and future (what current NHL markets are prime candidates for relocation, where Hartford stands against other potential franchise cities like Quebec, Houston, Kansas City, or Seattle) – as well as the Guys’ thoughts on the Hurricanes’ sudden rediscovery/re-embrace of the team’s heritage in its previous incarnation.

PLUS: why the Coyotes, Panthers and even (ironically) Hurricanes would all do better in Hartford; why Whaler jerseys remain so popular; the vision of original (WHA New England) team owner Howard Baldwin; and the two most unsung heroes in Whaler history – Peter Good and Jacques Ysaye (aka Jack Say).

Our appreciation to Audible, SportsHistoryCollectibles.com and Podfly for their sponsorship of this week’s show!

Hartford Whalers apparel and other fun stuff via Amazon - buy here