Today in History: September 16

Asked if he had any plans as he turned 100, the old man joked, “I may go on forever. Statistics say that very few men die after the age of 100.” The old man was Amos Alonzo Stagg, and when he died in 1965 at 102, he was a somewhat forgotten figure in sports history in part because he created so many things that do not seem to us as things a person would have had to dream up. Weren’t these things always so? … He did not invent the game of football, but “all football comes from Stagg,” Knute Rockne once said.

Amos Alonzo Stagg retired as kicking coach for a junior college in Stockton, California, on this date in 1960. He was 98 years old and had been a football coach continuously since 1890. (He is seen on the cover of Time from 1958.) Almost every play formation and tactic that one may associate with football—including the huddle, the end-around play, the forward pass, the lateral pass, and even shoulder pads and pads on the goalpost legs—was an innovation Stagg developed himself or had a hand in developing in his seven decades, most of them as a head coach, and most of them as the head coach at the University of Chicago. He was the first coach to put numbers on uniforms.

He invented the tackling dummy for practices and the batting cage for his baseball teams to take batting practice. He coached the entire athletic program, you see.

He is honored in the College Football Hall of Fame, of course, but he also coached Chicago’s baseball, track, swimming, and basketball teams, and so he is also honored with a plaque in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. After all, on March 11, 1892, he played in the first game of basketball ever played in public after James Naismith invented the game: the students of the Springfield (Mass.) YMCA beat the faculty by the score of 5–1. The one point scored by the faculty was scored by Stagg.

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“Sock it. To me?” Presidential candidate Richard Nixon appeared on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In on this date in 1968 and mangled the one line he was asked to deliver:

 
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Maria Callas died on this date in 1977. Marc Bolan died in 1977 on this date as well.

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James Cash Penney, the founder of JCPenney, was born on this date in 1875. Karen Horney was born in 1885 on this date. H.A. Rey was born in 1898 on this date. Lee Kuan Yew was born in 1923 on this date. Lauren Bacall was born in 1924 on this date. Robert H. Schuller would be 90 today. Peter Falk was born in 1927 on this date.

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George Chakiris is 82. Elgin Baylor is 82. Dennis Conner is 74. Ed Begley, Jr. is 67. Mickey Rourke is 64. Lenny Clarke is 63. Robin Yount is 61. David Copperfield is 60. Jennifer Tilly is 58. Tim Raines is 57. Richard Marx is 53. Molly Shannon is 52. Marc Anthony is 48.

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One comment

  1. loisajay · September 16, 2016

    Mickey…I hardly recognize you anymore!

    Liked by 1 person

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