Sunday, July 24, 2011


When was it that you realized that the ball games that you were watching were more than just a ball game. When did you realize that this was nothing more than a business. I can pin point three moments when I lost my sports innocence. Two of these incidents happened approximately15 days apart.

The first moment happened in October of 1975. The Yankees played the 1974 and 1975 season in Shea Stadium while Yankee Stadium was being renovated. The Yankees centerfielder at the time was Bobby Murcer and he to hit 25 homers a year before the move to Shea. (25 homers a year were huge back then) Murcer was only able to hit 2 homeruns in Shea during 1974. In 1974 Murcer was second in the AL with 12 sacrifice flies, 7th in RBIs with 88 and 9th in intentional walks with 10. He lead all outfielders with throwing out 21 base runners. The Yankees decided that this fan favorite needed to be traded for a right handed hitter, who fit Shea better, and this right handed hitter was the San Francisco Giants Bobby Bonds. Murcer went on to have a spectacular year in San Francisco while Bobby Bonds was never embraced by the Yankees or their fans. After the 1975 season, he was traded to the Angels for Mickey Rivers and Ed Figueroa.

The next moment happened in November of 1975. The Rangers were off to one of their worst starts in their history. Management felt that they needed to dump some of their superstars. On November  7, 1975, the Rangers traded future Hall of Famer, Brad Park, who was always mentioned in the same breath with Bobby Orr, Jean Ratelle, the Rangers high scoring center and Joe Zanussi to the Boston Bruins for Phil Esposito and defenseman Carol Vadnais. The Rangers never became any better with Esposito and Vadnais but the Bruins were rejuvenated with the addition of Park and Ratelle.

The 1974-1975 season for the Rangers brought a young hockey player to the team. His name was Rick Middleton. He produced average stats for a youngster but following the 1975-76 season, Esposito wanted his old line mate, Ken Hodge to join him. The Rangers accommodated Esposito and sent Middleton to the Bruins for Ken Hodge.

Ken Hodge went on to play one season with the Rangers and the fan favorite Middleton went on to have a spectacular career with the Bruins.  Middleton went on to score more than 900 points for the Bruins and had five straight seasons of at least forty goals and ninety points.

Bobby Murcer, Brad Park and Rick Middleton were all favorites of mine. I was 13 years old at that time and I thought my favorite players were going to be playing for my favorite teams forever. Little did I realize that these things happen in sports. Once I awoke to the reality of the sporting world, I realized that any player is expendable to any team, whether the fans like it or not.

I know every sports fan has had these moments and if you care to share your moments, please add your comments. We would all understand.

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