The good old days in sports
It recently came to my attention that a lot of people know Willie Stoudamire only as Damon's father. Man, could Willie play hoops. It always stuns me when I realize how old I am and how long I've been hanging around the town's sports scene.
I don't think the good old days were ever as good as people make them out to be. But a little history lesson is good once in a while. Here is some essential history for Portland sports fans:
First there was Vaughn Street and the foundry that served as the wall in right field. The Beavers moved to Multnomah Stadium in 1956, and that later became Civic Stadium and then PGE Park. They were called the 'Lucky Beavers' for a while, when Lucky Lager beer owned a piece of the team.
The University of Portland used to play basketball in the building that became the Expo Center. Don Owen used to promote pro wrestling in the Portland Armory, the Labor Temple and then his own 'Portland Sports Arena,' a converted bowling alley. My friend David swears he heard Tough Tony Borne call one of his buddies a 'skinny little house ape' in the Armory, but I wasn't there. I did hear wrestlers call Owen a 'pencil neck' several times, but I don't think it bothered him.
Archer Blower and Pipe, A.B. Smith, and Beall Pipe and Tank were national powers as semipro baseball teams. They played at Sckavone Field when John Nero was running the ballpark. Milo Meskel was the manager for Archer. His basketball counterpart was Walt Spitznagel (always 'Spitz' to his friends), who coached the perennial AAU powerhouse sponsored by Claudia's.
Before the Trail Blazers, Harry Glickman brought the Buckaroos to Portland, and they won the Western Hockey League playoffs in their first season. Bill Anderson did radio play-by-play and was sensational. Hal Laycoe was the coach. Jack Bionda was their tough guy, Art Jones their great playmaker and Don Head their goalie. So many of them still live here Ñ from 'Red Eye' Hay to Mike Donaldson to Arlo Goodwin to Tommy McVie to Norm Johnson to Connie Madigan, who just returned after a long absence. It's impossible to properly relate just how popular they were in this city.
So, in those days, were the dog races. Indoor lacrosse played here for a season, and they called the team the Adanacs Ñ Canada spelled backward.
The Cleveland Indians once recalled pitcher Luis Tiant from the Beavers Ñ and sent Tommy John down to replace him. I can still remember Satchel Paige playing for the Beavers. And Artie Wilson.
You knew a big fight was coming when Jimmy 'Bang Bang' Walker and Mike Morton were hanging out. You knew a big event was coming when 'Jungle Jamey' was plotting a method to sneak in. You knew it was a big story if George Pasero or Leo Davis wrote about it. Or Bob Blackburn, Jimmy Jones or Doug LaMear broadcast it.
I could go on and on.