MANHATTAN, NY – This past Sunday was the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks but in my mind the second Tuesday in September is the real anniversary. 9/11 wasn’t a weekend day. 9/11 was a Tuesday morning clear and blue. Today is truly a solemn day. I think every second Tuesday in September will be for the rest of my life. The events that day changed the rules for all of us Americans.
Today I’d like to point out some athletes whose actions or presence caused major rule changes in professional sports. All of these rule changes were made with the goal of maintaining a certain integrity within the sport.
Duk Koo Kim – Infamous for fighting Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini so hard for 14 rounds that he died shortly after the fight in November 1982. Fearing the length of the bout contributed to Kim’s death, the WBC would later shorten all championship bouts to 12 rounds. Thirteen days after the Kim-Mancini fight, Randall “Tex” Cobb took a tremendous beating for a full 15 rounds from Larry Holmes. Howard Cosell, who was announcing the fight for ABC, was so disgusted he decided to retire from boxing altogether. After hearing this news Tex declared “I’ll go another 15 rounds with Holmes if Howard will quit announcing football!“.
Eddie Gaedel – In 1951, St. Louis Brown’s GM Bill Veeck decided to insert 3’7″ 65-lb midget Eddie Gaedel into the lineup with the sole purpose of drawing a walk. Gaedel was successful but after the game American League President Will Harridge implimented a new rule requiring league office approval on all player contracts to avoid similar future sideshows. Veeck responded by asking for a league ruling on the matter of Yankee shortstop and reigning AL MVP Phil Rizzuto, as to whether he was a short ballplayer or just a tall midget. Apparently lab results were inconclusive and the Scooter was allowed to continue playing.
Sean Avery – Waved his stick repeatedly in front of Martin Broduer’s face from in front of the net during a playoff game in 2008. He apparently got this idea while using his man-purse to successfully hail a cab on his way home from his internship at Vogue. The NHL was so disgusted by this utter lack of sportsmanship that they banned this practice the very next game. Taking a page out of Anne Wintour’s book Avery blamed the incident on menopause.
Wilt Chamberlain – Upon his graduation from college in 1958 the NBA decide to change two rules before his arrival in the league. First they made it illegal to cross the foul line before the ball hit the rim. Wilt was a poor free throw shooter but a great leaper. In high school and college he would start at the top of the key, take two steps forward and dunk or finger roll his free throws, never landing past the free throw stripe before releasing the ball. The second rule prevented offensive goaltending because Wilt would stand by the rim in college and just slam home anything above the rim. Wilt said to hell with slamming other people’s balls and decided to slam 20,000 women instead.
Lester Hayes – The Oakland Raiders were known to have their share of dirty players in the ’70’s. Most of these players were considered dirty because of their combative actions on the field. Lester was considered dirty because he covered himself with a substance known as “stickum”. He and future Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff would cover their socks and jersey’s with the stuff hoping it would give them an advantage. The NFL finally outlawed stickum after opposing quarterbacks complained they had to handle more sticky balls in the 70’s than Rock Hudson.
Stay tuned tomorrow for Angry Ward, a man who tries to avoid sticky situations at all costs.