Sports, perhaps more than any other endeavor, provides opportunities for gratification and recognition for longer periods of time.
Images of Michael Jordan taking that game winning shot, Arnold Palmer sinking that forty-foot putt to win a Grand Slam event, Bill Mazeroski clearing the left-field wall with a home run to win a World Series linger on and on as iconic images.
Other less noticed accomplishments remain with the doer perhaps even longer. Through the efforts of a bevy of bountiful receivers making remarkable receptions, and guys providing great pocket protection, this reporter broke the University of Minnesota school record for single game passing yardage against the University of Washington in 1958, in the process throwing for over 200 yards, a mark many quarterbacks today reach by halftime. But back in those days of three-yards and a cloud-of-dust football, 200 yards wasn’t too shabby. In an act of shameless self-promotion granted to senior citizens, he has transferred a copy of that game film onto his I-Pad for other interested (or not) octogenarians to view.
Earl Mossor had his day in the sun in the pivotal baseball year of 1951 when he was brought up to the Brooklyn Dodgers for his “cup of coffee” in the big leagues. That season ended with “the shot heard round the world,” a Bobby Thomson home run to win the pennant for the New York Giants. When Earl was called up that season, he did something no one else ever did. Before being sent down again to the minor leagues, he batted 1.000 after getting a single in his only at-bat. In addition, in a relief opportunity, he struck out perhaps the greatest hitter of all time, Stan “The Man” Musial, on a three-two-pitch with the bases loaded and two outs to record a save.
Alas, Earl’s “Day In The Sun” ended on a cloudy note. Brought into a game with the Dodgers leading the Giants by a run, he failed to hold the lead, giving up three runs in relief and taking the loss.
In a strange twist of fate, the Dodgers blew a thirteen-and a-half-game August lead that year, ending the regular season tied with the hated Giants, forcing a best two-of-three playoff and the infamous Thomson home run. Had Earl held that early season save opportunity, there never would have been a need for a playoff and Dodger pitcher Ralph Branca would never have had to pitch to Thomson and live with the result for the rest of his life.
A night in the net turned out to be Scott Foster’s day in the sun when the 36-year-old accountant and father of two put on his goaltender gear to help his beloved Chicago Black Hawks. A new NHL rule states that the home team must have a reserve on hand in case both goalies on a team go out on injuries. That’s exactly what happened back in March when both Black Hawk goalies went down and Foster had to man the goal with 14:01 left. A member of two local Chicago recreation leagues, Foster stopped all seven Winnipeg shots down the stretch to preserve Chicago’s 6-2 victory.
The next night he was back with his regular team, playing at Chicago’s “Johnny’s Ice House West” for the league championship, a dream neatly tucked away in his goalie’s glove forever.