Grote’s Gripes: Sports Canyon Of Heroes

Let’s Do It Again

NEW YORK, NY –Today, New York City will be hosting a parade down the Canyon Of Heroes for the Super Bowl XLV Champion New York Giants. This is the second time the Giants will be showered with confetti from the buildings above. In 1987 and in 1991 the Giants were not invited to celebrate their championships in Manhattan because of their move to New Jersey. Fortunately, Mayor Bloomberg had enough sense to realize that the Giants really are a New York team and should be treated as conquering heroes with keys to the city.

Some of the 200 plus ticker-tape parades have been for something other than sporting accomplishments. In fact the first Canyon Of Heroes parade was held on October 28, 1886 to celebrate the arrival of the Statue of Liberty. Heads of state from all over the world were traditionally feted with a parade. Back in the 1920’s and 30’s many pilots were rewarded with parades for various feats, including my favorite pilot, Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan who received a ticker tape parade after he flew to Ireland instead of his intended destination California. In 1949 the parades started to get out of hand, seemingly jumping the shark when Raymond A. Garbarina of Memorial Post 1523 was thrown a parade for winning the American Legion Drum and Bugle Corps National Championship. In one week during May 1950 there were three separate parades. By the mid sixties most people tuned out the parades. I don’t think anyone actually showed up for the March 21, 1962 parade honoring Sylvanus Olympio, President of Togo.

These days a parade down the canyon is truly a special event, with only 22 having been thrown in the past 47 years. Here is a list of all the sports related parades with a brief description and comment. Enjoy.

You Can’t Lose Them All

August 6, 1924. U.S. Olympic athletes – In Paris, the US won 45 of the 126 Gold Medals awarded and screwed scores of Can-Can dancers.
July 2, 1926 and July 2, 1930. Bobby Jones – British Open championships meant ticker tape parades and the coveted Syrup of Ipecac spokesman position for Jones.
September 3, 1936. Jesse Owens and U.S. Olympians – In Berlin, Hitler and Owens hit it off like A-Rod and Jeter.
June 9, 1947. Willie Turnesa – Champion British Amateur Golfer Turnesa suffered a massive paper cut during the parade cutting short a promising career.
August 19, 1949. Connie Mack – His 50th year as Philadelphia A’s manager was celebrated with a parade which ended at Woodlawn Cemetery where he was beaten to death and buried.  NYers didn’t like people from Philly back then either.
July 7, 1952. U.S. Olympic team – NYers were so confidant in the US team they threw this parade before they left for the Helsinki games.
July 21, 1953. Ben Hogan – The British Open champion parlayed his good fortune into a sandwich chain known as Hogan’s Heros, the Subway of its day. The one dollar foot-long jingle was an instant smash.
September 27, 1954. New York Giants – Confidence ran high when the city threw a parade for the National League champs BEFORE they swept the Indians in the World Series.
July 11, 1957. Althea Gibson – The first black Wimbledon women’s champion was celebrated with a parade but, the times being what they were, she was made to clean up the mess left afterward.
March 9, 1960. Carol Heiss – This Milquetoast Women’s Olympic figure-skating champion was also celebrated on a box of Whities cereal.
April 10, 1961. New York Yankees – Up to this point the Yankees had won 18 World Series titles but never had a parade and finally got one after losing to the Pirates in 1960.  Need more evidence this was a National League town?
April 9, 1962. New York Yankees – With their 19th title the city decided it was time to celebrate with a victory parade.  By the end of the decade the Mets would have as many parades as the Yanks.  Seems fair to me.
April 12, 1962. New York Mets – Before they ever played a game, the Mets were given a parade.  Hooray, everyone’s a winner.
September 3, 1964. Staten Island Little League World Series Champions – A necessary trade off for the city, you take our garbage and we’ll throw your kids a parade?  Sound good you dumb WOPs?
October 20, 1969. New York Mets – The Miracle Mets have the most famous canyon of heroes parade to date.  Take that Mickey Mantle.
October 19, 1977. New York Yankees – Billy Martin got drunk and drove a float into New York harbor where Steinbrenner fired him on the spot.
October 19, 1978. New York Yankees – Billy Martin got drunk and drove a float into New York harbor where Steinbrenner re-hired him on the spot.
August 15, 1984. U.S. Olympic medal winners – Carl Lewis sang the national anthem along the parade route, shattering every window in lower Manhattan.
October 28, 1986. New York Mets – Crowds in the office buildings above showered players with cocaine instead of confetti.
June 17 1994. New York Rangers – Someone must’ve ran over Howie Rose’s foot with a float because he never stopped yelling “My toe, my toe, my toe!” the whole parade.

October 29, 1996. New York Yankees – A sign the dark ages were upon us again.
October 17, 1998. Sammy Sosa – This parade consisted of endless livery cabs with their back windows covered with the number 66 scrawled in soap.
October 23, 1998. New York Yankees – The Yanks swept the Padres on the 21st then New York’s Strongest swept Broadway on the 24th.  New York’s Strongest, who is the Department of Sanitation kidding with that nickname?
October 29, 1999. New York Yankees – After crushing the Braves, Mayor Giuliani and Joe Torre duke it out for the title of Most Insufferable Man In The World.  The tussle ends in a tie.
October 30, 2000. New York Yankees – The cruelest of all parades.  Roger Clemens threw a bat at a man in a Mets hat along the route.
February 5, 2008. New York Giants – The Super Bowl XLII champions become the first football team to have a ticker-tape parade.  The Patriots are caught secretly filming the parade from the book depository and allegedly from along the grassy knoll.
November 6, 2010. New York Yankees – Like the herpes virus, this sore is bound to reappear on the lip of NY every so often, no matter what you do to avoid it.

A special happy birthday wish today to tomorrow’s columnist, Angry Ward.

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