Saturday, August 23, 2014

Denver Outlaws Win First MLL Title

Jeremy Sieverts celebrates the game-tying goal (photo / Getty Images)

by Boxer Journal August 23, 2014
Kennesaw, GA - The Denver Outlaws, after making the Major League Lacrosse playoffs for nine straight years, took home their first title on Saturday by defeating the Rochester Rattlers, 12-11.

Lutherville, Maryland native Jeremy Sieverts ran in from midfield and took a soft feed from Zack Greer before burying a two-point score that knotted the game at 11-11 late in the fourth. It was the first tie since the scoreless outset of the game.

Former Terp and Seattle native Drew Snider scored the game-winner from 15 yards out with 56 seconds left.

John Grant, Jr. proved that he still has plenty of life in his 39-year old legs by scoring three goals and adding an assist on attack for the Outlaws. He earned game MVP honors for the effort.

(Note: the above photo is used with permission of Getty Images through their free online service)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Baltimore Redbirds Win Ripken League Championship

Baltimore defeated the Big Train for the Ripken League crown (photo / bigtrain.org)
by Boxer Journal August 20, 2014
Baltimore, MD - The Baltimore Redbirds reaffirmed their place as the most consistent baseball team bearing the Baltimore name when they defeated the Bethesda Big Train for their third straight Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League Championship earlier this month.

In what is shaping up as the best baseball rivalry in the region, the two teams have faced each other six consecutive times in the championship series. The Big Train held the upper hand for the first three championships, while the Redbirds have swept the past three. Saturday's score was a convincing 7-0 win for Baltimore.

Historically, the Big Train still remain the best team in the CRBCL, or Ripken League, since its inception. They've won seven regular season Ripken League titles in ten years, including this year. They also notched consecutive postseason tourney titles from 2009-2011. 

Still, for the third straight year the Big Train fell short of a Ripken League crown with a loss to the Baltimore Redbirds in games all held at picturesque Shirley Povich Field

"If I was a betting man, I'd bet on these two teams to be in the finals again next year," Big Train manager Sal Colangelo told the Maryland Gazette. "Six years in a row we've played them. It's three and three. They're a great team with great players and hats off to them, they beat us."

The game was scoreless through three but Baltimore ultimately rang up 14 hits en route to victory. Much of the damage came off the bat of the Redbirds' Mac Caples (Virginia Tech), who hit a two-run home run as well as delivering a two-run single late in the game.

Matt Pirro (Wake Forest) notched the win for the Redbirds, while Brandon Rhodes (Florida Atlantic) suffered the loss.

Congalo may have created some good-natured bulletin board fodder for the Redbirds when he said after the game "At the start of the [next] season I'm sure teams will look at us as the team to beat. Just like every year. [People call us] the Yankees of summer league baseball."

In that analogy the Redbirds, fittingly, are beginning to look a lot like the Yankees passing NL rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ireland Lacrosse in the Irish Echo, August 6, 2014

by Boxer Journal, August 13, 2014
Baltimore, MD - Tom Flynn had an article in The Irish Echo last week covering the fine showing of Ireland Lacrosse at Denver's World Championships last month. A link to an article is not available online, but an image of it is presented below.

The team rattled off an impressive 6-2 record and fell just short of a 7-1 mark. The full article is available via subscription, the below is an image. Both the image and photo can be enlarged by clicking directly on them.

The accompanying photo is copyright 2014 Tom Beary while the image of the article is copyright 2014 The Irish Echo.

Ireland facing the Czech Republic last month in Denver (photo / Tom Beary)
Ireland Lacrosse World Championships coverage (image / The Irish Echo)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Remembering Joe Gans


Former Lightweight World Champion, Joe Gans 
(photo / public domain) 

BALTIMORE - Joe Gans is a name known to relatively few beyond boxing historians with a gaze fixed on the early 20th century. 

The Baltimore fighter some consider the greatest lightweight in history died on August 10, 1910. He's buried in the city's Mt. Auburn Cemetery, a once prominent African-American graveyard that is slowly, imperceptibly, fading into fallow urban acreage. Beyond an exterior wall, only a rambling hillside expanse of headstones clearly affirms its original 1872 intentions.

The cemetery sits on the edge of Westport, a neighborhood hard by the Patapsco River whose most famous resident until recent years was an enormous reinforced concrete power plant, once the world's largest. Demolished well after it was outmoded, in its stead is a fenced off industrial beach of sand, cattails, and broken concrete and asphalt. The tenuous promise of future development hovers around it.  

Nearby another industrious neighbor is forgotten in plain view. The site of Westport Stadium, a ballpark where Willie Mays once graced centerfield as a member of the visiting Birmingham Black Barons lies just several hundred yards away. In its waning years, after baseball integrated in 1947 and the Orioles arrived in 1954, the stadium became a decidedly low-wattage venue on the stock car circuit. 


It sat below grade and in doing so unwittingly became an ideal landfill when its useful life was deemed over more than a half-century ago. Parts of its steel structure undoubtedly still sit intact under a prominently visible mound of trash and dirt.


That Joe's final neighbors held fast until their demise is fitting. The fighter passed away at 35 after a long battle with tuberculosis, a young age that helped time forget history's first African-American world champion.  

Joe's nickname was the Old Master, as he fought hundreds of amateur and professional bouts and garnered the experience, if never the age, that merited it. Gans fought for 11 years before he first won the world lightweight crown in May 1902, when he deposited reigning champ Frank Erne on the canvas in round one of an Ontario fight. 


In an era hardly welcoming to black boxers, promoters would insist that the new champ let less-talented white fighters go the distance with himHe would often "cut" or reduce weight rapidly right before bouts, as random and often arcane weigh-in protocols were spontaneously produced to weaken him and diminish his odds of winning. Both undoubtedly contributed to compromised health and firm purchase for the onset of tuberculosis. 
Gans was already sick as early as September 3, 1906 when he defended his lightweight title against Battling Nelson in Goldfield, Nevada. Gans won the match when Nelson deliberately fouled him in the 42nd round. Nelson, whose real name was Oscar Nielsen, so frequently fouled Gans that an almost entirely white crowd reportedly called for "three cheers for the courageous Joe Gans," and vehemently booed his white opponent. It was clearly a near-surreal scene in 1906 American life. 

In a rematch with Nelson in San Francisco on July 4, 1908, a disease-weakened Gans was knocked out in 17 rounds. 


Out of financial need, Gans fought up until a year prior to his death, with tuberculosis by then severely wracking his body. Like many, he sought relief from the disease in a drier climate and in his last months traveled to Prescott, Arizona. As it became clear Joe would not be recovering, the ailing fighter traveled east via rail back to his hometown in Baltimore.


As word of his car reached passing towns, boxing fans gathered at train stations across the country to see the final passage of the boxer who those of the era knew to be their greatest.   
Joe Gans grave, Mt. Auburn Cemetery (photo / T. Flynn)

Another Western State Adds Varsity Lacrosse

For several years I've contributed lacrosse articles to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).  This week I w...