NEW YORK, NY – These past few days in New York we’re experiencing what I like to call Do the Right Thing Weather, where if you so much as look askance at someone you’re likely to get shanked and shirts vs. skins basketball is viewed as a full-on public health hazard. It’s also terrible weather for the elderly, which reminds me, Happy Birthday to our own Short Matt, who turns an age today that is so high that many of our readers and contributors (this one included) couldn’t count to it with a Texas Instruments calculator watch. Say what you want about him, he’s still doing it after all these years. Now if someone can just tell me what “it” is… Is this thing on? Anyway, despite the strenuous objections of doctors and unsuspecting spectators alike, Short Matt continues to participate in such sports as baseball, hockey, and rugby. In honor of his birthday here are some other sports geezers – Ageless Athletic Wonders – who stuck around too long.
George Blanda. A quarterback and place kicker for the Oakland Raiders, among others, Blanda played the brutal game of pro football for a record 26 years. This gridiron Methuselah finally hung up his leather helmet in 1976, one month shy of his 49th birthday, as the league’s all-time leading points scorer with 2,002. How long did he play the game? When his career started his name was George Spicy.
Satchel Paige. A brilliant pitcher and all-around player, Satchel Paige spent most of his professional baseball life playing in the Negro Leagues. It wasn’t until his best playing days were behind him that he finally got a crack at Major League Baseball, playing for the Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Browns. He had one last hurrah in 1965 at age 58 with the Kansas City Athletics, pitching three innings, striking out one, walking none, and giving up no earned runs. Paige was the oldest man to ever play MLB until Julio Franco shattered his record playing for the Mets at age 82 in 2007.
Gordie Howe. Gordie Howe started playing the sport of hockey when it was called “Hck,” and his name was Grd Hw, vowels not being invented yet. His NHL career spanned an astounding five decades but was almost derailed when he fractured his skull attempting to check Maple Leafs captain Ted Kennedy during the 1950 playoffs. Howe eventually recovered while Kennedy decided to take up politics and drinking. Having reached his career goal of playing professionally with his sons, their kids, and the members of bubblegum pop trio Hanson, Howe finally retired at age 51 after playing in all 80 games with the Hartford Whalers during the 1979-80 season. He returned in 1997 to play one shift with the Detroit Vipers of the IHL and miraculously managed not to soil himself.
George Foreman. Big George won the World Heavyweight title from Michael Moorer in 1994 at age 45, a memorable feat to be sure. Though Foreman officially won by 10th round knockout, many in attendance swore that they saw Moorer slip on some grease coming off of an oversized white grill in the challenger’s corner. George officially retired from boxing in 1997 but his grills continue to murder people daily.
Joanna Rohrback. Not many people can lay claim to starting an exercise craze in their 60s, but that’s exactly what Coral Springs, Florida resident Joanna Rohrback has done with the workout that’s sweeping the nation, Prancercise. This low-impact, high-hilarity routine is perfect for athletes of all ages, but I can especially see it working wonders for naturally gifted goofballs like The Public Professor and people who really shouldn’t be doing anything strenuous whatsoever, like today’s birthday boy. I’m just sayin’…
That’s all for today. Prancercise your way back tomorrow for Cam James.