Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Great Puerto Rican Athletes

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

Due to the overwhelming response and popularity of her four-part series of the Life and Times of Puerto Rico debating of Statehood and becoming No. 51, I feel a certain obligation to complete Gladys Echevarria's (Puerto Rican Pistol) Mission and talk about the Best Athletes that have represented this island.

But there is no way that I couldn't write this blog without two humorous points.

First of all, my mother is anything but a history buff when she wanted to know if Gladys needed papers to be in this country; have no fear ma, she's legal.

Second, when Gladys and I played tennis for the first time, she admitted after spending more time outside of the court chasing the balls she hit over the fence, that this isn't her sport. While I certainly didn't expect to be hitting tennis balls with legend Chris Evert, a few nice volley's would have been nice. But to her credit, week two was better and there hasn't been a week three yet. I would find out in later weeks that archery and swimming were not her bag, but she definitely is looking to make amends playing baseball.

With that said, Puerto Rico's Baseball's history has a tremendous amount of exposure for the island.

Before the Montreal Expos moved to Washington and became the Nationals, they played some of their home games in Puerto Rico.

The Baseball Hall of Fame is now the proud home of a pair of legends.

Here is my list of players and I encourage feedback if I've omitted some of the most notables.

1) Roberto Clemente---There will never be a player bigger then him. I have always believed that his No. 21 uniform should be retired by MLB because of his off the field humanitarian efforts that saw him get killed in an aviation accident in 1972 at the age of 38. He played all of his 18 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, led them to two World Series titles, had 3000 hits, was a 15-time All-Star, won 12-Gold Gloves, is the first Latin Player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and due to his tragic death bypassed the five-year waiting period to be elected. There is a stadium complex named after him in Puerto Rico.

2) Roberto Alomar--- was elected to the Hall of Fame in his second year of eligibility with 90% of the votes. The 43-year old is a lifetime .300 hitter, compiled 2,724 hits, 474 stolen bases, is a 12-time All-Star, has 10 Gold Gloves and is a two-time World Series Champion for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993. Need I say more.

3) Bernie Williams---played his entire career with the New York Yankees and amassed 2,336 hits. While he may never get inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the 42-year old will get his plaque into Yankee Stadium's Monument Park. He played there from 1991-2006 and is a five-time All-Star and led the Bronx Bombers to four World Series titles. He was invited to play for Puerto Rico in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

4) Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez---is a 39-year old Future Hall of Famer and also played on the 2009 World Baseball Classic team with Williams. He is a lifetime .297 hitter, has 311 home runs, is a 14-time All-Star, has won 13 Gold Gloves and as of May 25, 2011 has amassed 2,832 hits. The current Washington National has won a World Series with the Florida Marlins and also appeared in the Fall Classic with the Detroit Tigers. On June 17, 2009, Rodriguez set the MLB record by catching his 2,227 game and passed Carlton Fisk.

5) Carlos Beltran---is one of the most exciting players and at 34-years old is still going strong with the New York Mets in his 14th season. The right fielder has a lifetime .282 average with 288 homers, 289 stolen bases, is a five-time All-Star, has won three Gold Gloves and won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 1999 with the Kansas City Royals.

6) Carlos Delgado---holds the All-Time Home Run and RBI records among Puerto Rican Players with 473 and 1,512 respectively. The retired 38-year-old first baseman left the major leagues with 2,035 games played, a .280 average and 2,038 hits.

7) Alex Rios---of the Chicago White Sox played in the 2006 World Baseball Classic as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. Compared to the other players in this story, time will tell if the center fielder ever achieves the incredible success that they all have. But at 30-years old and now in his eighth season, thus far he's a two-time All-Star that has played in 1,050 games, has amassed 1,107 hits, 109 home runs, 505 RBI, has 155 stolen bases and is a .278 hitter. Rios has a combination of power and speed.

8) Juan "Chi-Chi" Rodriguez---is the most colorful character of these Puerto Rican athletes and instead of swinging a bat, he swings a golf club. The 75-year old is the first Puerto Rican to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. He has 38 Pro Wins, including eight on the PGA Tour and 22 on the Senior PGA Tour. His best finish at a major tournament was at the 1981 U.S. Open when he finished tied for sixth place.

9) Hector "Macho" Camacho---was not only known for his mouth but also his hands. Now 49-years old, he competed in 87 fights, won 79, lost five and had three draws. He held the following titles: WBC Super Featherweight, WBC Lightweight, and on two occasions the WBO Light Welterweight. My most vivid memories of Camacho was when he was featured on CBS with legendary announcers Tim Ryan and the late Gil Clancy calling his fights.

10) Felix "Tito" Trinidad---is considered is one of the best fighters in Puerto Rico's history. In 2000, he was named Ring Magazines Fighter of the Year. During his career, the 38-year-old fought 45 times, won 42, 35 came by knockout and had three losses. He held the following championships: IBF Welterweight Title, WBC Welterweight, WBA Super Welterweight, IBF Junior Middleweight and WBA Middleweight Championship. Now that's versatility!

This is an interesting group of athletes and as I did the research for this, it's safe to say that while Golf and Boxing have always been American Favorites, The USA and Puerto Rico can both say that Baseball is their common Pastime as well.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at http://www.scottsports33.com/.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Echevarria & Earnhardt Jr. Go Dry

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

What do Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Gladys Echevarria have in common?

Memorial Day Weekend 2011 will be remembered as one that will be known where the "Gas Gauge" caused them to fall short of their Final Destinations.

As I was watching the 100th Indianapolis 500, I got a very interesting call from My Partner In Crime that she ran out of gas in our Jeep Liberty just as she entered the gate of her sisters condominium complex. She quickly called me and another friend, who had a gas can and we put $5 in to get them back home. Thankfully, I got back in time to watch the thrilling end to the Indianapolis 500.

But I warned her prior to going out that we needed gas, but that comment went in one ear and out the other. Then again, that always seems to happen with us and we're still crazily together driving each other nuts!! This time aside from listening me, her excuse was she simply was having a great time with her sister Aida Porter and niece Kathy Echevarria, but weren't laughing at the end. They were lucky that her niece's infant son was sleeping through all of this insanity.

When I told Gladys that I bought a gas can and the proper place for it is in the car and not the garage, again, she countered that there was no place for it in the Jeep, thus the next time she runs out of gas and I'm not readily available, good luck getting AAA, unless we become members in the near future.

What will stink more, a drop of gas in the can in the back of the Jeep or being stuck?

It's for Gladys to find out and me to laugh.

The one thing I do know about this woman is that every time that I confront her with a situation, she has a quick answer. I've told her this many times and I'll reveal this to my readers. When My father and brother once owned a large window company back in Michigan, Gladys would have easily have been one of the top five sales people. She overcomes objections brilliantly and would have made my dad and brother millions of dollars.

But on this Memorial Day Weekend, she Pitched and Missed when it came to giving me a good explanation that she wasn't warned about getting gas before she was stuck. In the end, the ladies did an outstanding job with the meal, and that was the most enjoyable $5 I've ever spent watching the Puerto Rican Pistol eat Humble Pie!!!

As for Earnhardt Jr., his story is far more depressing. He was out in front for the first time in 105 races, and the only thing standing in the way was the gas, or lack of it, in his tank.

He ran out of gas on the back stretch at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and as he tried to coast the rest of the way, Kevin Harvick blazed past him to steal the Coca-Cola 600, the longest and most demanding race of the NASCAR Season.

Earnhardt's blunder cost him points in the race for the NASCAR Playoffs, lots of money and he wound up finishing in seventh place. Earnhardt's last win was at Michigan in 2008.

But for the two E's, Echevarria and Earnhardt's in my eyes they will be connected on May 29 by the two G's, "Gas Gauge."

But life goes on for these individuals who know that they did entertain the people they came in contact with.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at http://www.scottsports33.com/

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pistons New Coach?

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

As we get set for a Dallas Mavericks rematch with the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, Pistons fans are very familiar with the man running the show in Texas.

Remember Rick Carlisle?

All he did was guide Detroit to a pair of 50-32 records (100-64) and two playoff berths from 2001-2003. Carlisle wasn't out of work long as he landed with division rival Indiana and he guided the Pacers to a 181-147 record in four seasons as they reached the playoffs three times. Now he's led the Mavericks to the playoffs in all three of his seasons in "Big D."

Even though the Pistons won the 2004 NBA Championship with Larry Brown as Carlisle's successor, how many Detroit fans would love to have Rick back now? I know I would.

But as it stands now, the man roaming the sidelines is John Kuester. He has a 57-105 record in two seasons marked by clashes with several players. He is owed the final season of a three-year contract he signed in the summer of 2009.

Will new Owner Tom Gores keep him around for a third season? If the Pistons are smart then Gores will bite the bullet and fire him even if it means there will be two coaches on the payroll. I do believe that even though Gores is new to the basketball business, he'll get another coach.

One coach he won't get is former Cleveland Cavaliers Boss Mike Brown, who is on the verge of being hired by the Los Angeles Lakers.

What type of coach do the Pistons need? One that commands respect and has a winning track record but most of all is experienced.

Unless there is a mystery candidate that I don't know about, here are the veterans that I would like to see as My Top Choices.

1) Mike Dunleavy Sr. has a record that is interesting because he was able to win with both Los Angeles' franchises. He led the Lakers to the NBA Finals in 1990-91 and coached there for two years. His next stops were four seasons apiece with the Milwaukee Bucks and Portland Trail Blazers then took on a position in the NBA "Coaching Graveyard" with the Clippers for 6.5 seasons. Dunleavy Sr. is the last coach to lead the Clippers into the playoffs in 2005-2006 season and guided them to a 7-5 mark. His overall record in the playoffs is 38-33 and in the regular season is 613-716. The 57-year-old Brooklyn, NY., native who played his college ball at the University of South Carolina, still has the fire to make his fifth stop his final one.

2) Rick Adelman was the opposing coach when Chuck Daly defeated him during the Bad Boys era in 1989-90. Two years later, Adelman would lose to Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls in the NBA Finals. During his coaching career that has taken him from Portland to Golden State, Sacramento and Houston, he has compiled a 945-616 mark and is 79-78 in the playoffs. The only drawback with Adelman is he turns 65 on June 16.

3) The most obvious choice would be Mike Woodson, who was a Pistons assistant coach under Larry Brown during the championship season in 2004. This success led Woodson to the Atlanta Hawks where he would lead them to a 206-286 mark. He led the Hawks to the playoffs in his final three seasons in Georgia compiling an 11-18 mark. But do Dumars and Gores want another former Brown assistant since Kuester came from that "Coaching Tree?"

4) Will the Pistons be able to pluck Jeff Van Gundy from the cozy microphones of ABC and ESPN? Van Gundy is a defensive coach and while his brand of basketball may not be the most entertaining, all he does is win. The 49-year old native of Hemet, CA., who went to Nazareth College, compiled a 430-318 regular season record and is 44-44 in the playoffs. He has had plenty of time to recharge his battery since the last time he was on the sidelines was in 2006-07 with the Houston Rockets. Any guy that is on the bottom of a pile during a fight in a Miami Heat/New York Knicks series has enough fire to energize my team.

While there may be other good coaching candidates out there that have been assistant coaches such Brian Shaw and Chuck Person, I still prefer to go the experienced route.

Maybe Gores will encourage Dumars to interview Bill Laimbeer. I really believe that Laimbeer will be a good head coach with his successful tenure with the Detroit Shock. He has been instrumental in the development of All-Star Power Forward/Center Kevin Love as an assistant coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

If Laimbeer does get a head coaching job, his attitude will have to be much better towards the media than it was as a player since he'll need them to promote his team to sell tickets.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Baseball's Amazing Records

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

On Monday, May 16, 2011, Kansas City Royals Reliever Vin Mazzaro made Major League Baseball History, but for all of the wrong reasons.

It cost him his spot in the big leagues.

The Royals 25-year-old reliever gave up 14 runs and got just seven outs against the Cleveland Indians, who thrashed Kansas City 19-1. He was sent to the minors after the game. His ERA is now 22.74.

No Pitcher has allowed 14 runs in fewer innings than Mazzaro, according to STATS LLC, whose data goes back to 1919.

There are times to set records and times not to. This story will feature the Best and the Worst and in the majority of the cases, I doubt they'll ever get broken.

There is one record that I refuse to acknowledge. That's the All-Time Home Run mark. Since the baseball record books refuse to put an asterisk by it, I will, and I have a feeling that many purists would do the same.

Despite Barry Bonds 762 homers, to me Hank Aaron's 755  is still the number because he didn't use steroids, but integrity.

Babe Ruth's 714, is No. 2 on my list. Don't expect to see Bonds in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He gets my vote to go to the Hall of Shame.

There is another record that only gets acknowledged when a pitcher throws a no-hitter. In 1938, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Johnny Vander Meer pitched two consecutive no hitters. To break it, a pitcher would have to throw three which is impossible!

Since baseball history is based on numbers, here are the ones which stand out, starting with the pitchers and then moving to position players mainly hitting.

1) Wins---Cy Young 511, Walter Johnson 417.
2) Losses---Cy Young 316
3) Complete Games---Cy Young 749
4) Innings Pitched---Cy Young 7,356
5) Games Started---Cy Young 815
6) Shutouts---Walter Johnson 110
7) Strikeouts---Nolan Ryan 5,714
8) No-hitters--- Nolan Ryan 7
9) Base-on-Balls, Walks---Nolan Ryan 2,795
10) Hit-By-Pitch---Gus Weyhing 277
11) Hits---Pete Rose 4,256
12) Hitting Streak---Joe DiMaggio 56
13) Most Seasons 200 + Hits---Ichiro Suzuki 10
14) Most Hits Season---Ichiro Suzuki 262
15) Career Batting Average---Ty Cobb .366
16) Season Batting Average---Nap Lajoie .426 (1901)
17) Stolen Bases---Rickey Henderson 1,406
18) Career Stealing Home---Ty Cobb 54
19) Season Stealing Home---Ty Cobb 8 (1912)
20) Hit-By-Pitch---Hughie Jennings 287
21) Strikeouts---Reggie Jackson 2,597, Active Minnesota Twins--Jim Thome 2,395
22) Intentional Base-on-Balls---Barry Bonds 688
23) Runs Batted In (RBI)---Hank Aaron 2,297
24) Games Played---Pete Rose 3,562
25) Consecutive Games Played---Cal Ripken Jr. 2,632

As amazing as these records are, for better or for worse, what's always amazed me is that for as slow paced as baseball is, this is the most difficult of the four major sports because of the mental aspect.

It's a huge Chess game amongst all involved as managers and coaches who try to outsmart the other, and hope the players can do the same while all of us media and the fans try to figure out what's going to happen.

The pitching records will never be touched for several reasons.

Nowadays, there are five man starting rotations, middle relievers, closers and pitch counts. The price is too high for a pitcher since the salaries are huge, therefore, front offices act with extreme caution when protecting their investments.

How difficult is baseball?

Consider the fact that the last player to hit above .400 was Ted Williams back in 1941 when he batted .406.

The greatest player of all-time Cobb only succeeded 36 % of the time.

Michael Jordan, who played for the Chicago White Sox Double-A Minor League Affiliate the Birmingham Barons in 1994, had a tough time with the grand old game.

In Jordan's lone season, he hit .202, with three home runs, 51 RBI, 30 stolen bases and committed 11 errors. He returned to the NBA a year later and won three more championships.

Even the greatest athletes get humbled playing their "Field of Dreams."

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at http://www.scottsports33.com/.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Changing Of The Guard

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

Have you noticed anything unusual about the NBA and NHL Playoffs?

I have noticed a Changing of the Guard much to the frustration of the National Television Networks which must be taking a hit with their ratings due to the smaller markets still alive.

When I was growing up as a kid, the States of Tennessee and Oklahoma were hotbeds for college sports. Nicknames like Volunteers, Commodores, Tigers, Sooners and Cowboys were all you heard about.

But not anymore.

In the NHL, despite having a small payroll every season, Nashville Predators Coach Barry Trotz finds a way to get his team in the playoffs. He does it despite being in the same division as the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks. The Red Wings have won four Stanley Cup Championships since 1997.

The Predators defeated the Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the playoffs to win their first ever series. In the second round, they played pesky hockey and were ousted by the top seeded Vancouver Canucks 4-2. Extending the Canucks to six games was a good accomplishment for a franchise which still has its original head coach.

Barry Trotz (48) has piloted the Predators to a 455-407-60 ties-76 overtime losses in 967 games when they began play in 1998-99. The Predators have reached the playoffs six times.

Across the state in Memphis, the Grizzlies were accomplishing history of their own as they entered the playoffs as the eighth seed. They eliminated the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the opening round.

This is a franchise that nobody wanted to play for when it was previously located in Vancouver. Their constant losing ways made them a league wide laughing stock. They even traded their star player Pau Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers and he led them to a pair of championships.

The Grizzlies did hire former Lakers Boss Jerry West and Hall of Fame Coach Hubie Brown in their previous playoff appearance. Mike Fratello followed Brown.

These Grizzlies are coached by Lionel Hollins and their key players include Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, O.J Mayo and Pau's brother Marc Gasol.

They are currently locked into an excellent series with the Oklahoma City Thunder (formerly Seattle Supersonics).

Speaking of the Thunder, while I hated to see Seattle lose its NBA team because that was the area's first major sports team, I had no objection to the move since they had plenty of time to build a new stadium but failed to do so.

The Ford Center in Oklahoma City did an excellent job as the home for the New Orleans Hornets when they were forced to vacate their area as a result of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. There seemed to be interest in the Hornets even though they knew it was going to be temporary thus the Oklahoma City fans impressed NBA Commissioner David Stern enough and demonstrated that they deserved their own team.

Now the Thunder have a star in Kevin Durant to build a fan base around and he recently signed a five-year contract extension. His supporting cast consists of Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison. The Thunder have an excellent young coach in Scott Brooks.

We are guaranteed one thing as the NBA Playoffs continue. The Thunder or the Grizzlies are going to be in the next round to face the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks will benefit by watching these two teams wear each other out with their long series.

As much as it's tough to see the Lakers, Spurs, Blackhawks, Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins out of the playoffs, at least there are some fresh new cities which are getting priceless publicity that having a major league sports team provides.

I have always enjoyed going to cities that have had one major league team because the fans are very passionate. Over the years, I've been fortunate enough to see the Spurs, Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Saints.

With the three teams featured in this story, I have a feeling that we'll be hearing a lot more about them in years to come since they all have found the nucleus to make the most of their minimal payroll since they don't have the large local television and radio contracts.

It's now safe to say that we can no longer call Tennessee and Oklahoma collegiate sports states.

I'll be curious to see if Kentucky ever lands a major league team in Louisville, although after my lone experience with the University of Kentucky Basketball team in Lexington, that could pass for an NBA Franchise.

Scott Morganroth's blog can be seen at http://www.scottsports33.com/ and he can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com.

Detroit's Four Major Teams

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

I'll never forget the first time I was published. Back in 1979, My best friend and adopted brother George Eichorn asked me to write a few paragraphs for the Detroit Monitor about the struggles of Detroit's Four Major Teams.

I did and was thrilled to see my name in the paper for what would be the first of many times during my 32-year tenure in the media. Every so often, when I get the opportunity to find an individual that gets published for the first time, it gives me warm feelings of when I started.

But in honor of my longtime colleague Eichorn, I'm going to talk briefly about all four of Detroit's sports teams in this story.

Last night, the Detroit Red Wings defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-1 at the Joe Louis Arena. On Thursday night, the Red Wings will attempt to do what only three other teams in the NHL have done and that's rally from a 3-0 deficit and win four straight to close out the Sharks.

The Red Wings are in this position due to the stellar play of their young goaltender Jimmy Howard, who figures to be the cornerstone of this franchise for a long time.

I love the headline and a key paragraph in a Sports Illustrated article by Adrian Dater.

The headline read, "Wings' latest, greatest rally could spell doom for crumbling Sharks." The paragraph I liked the most was "A match-up between a tested Original Six Franchise with four Stanley Cup Rings since 1997 against the Chicago Cubs on Ice"

Comparing the Sharks to the Cubs might be a little harsh since they began playing in 1991. The Cubs championship drought is 102 years. But I understand where Dater is coming from.

It would be great to see the Red Wings defeat the Sharks on Thursday night because it will energize a fan base which has been hit hard because of the economy. If they don't win, this group led by Coach Mike Babcock and General Manager Ken Holland will be back and better than ever next year. As much as I don't believe in moral victories, the fact that the Red Wings are playing when everyone counted them dead a week ago is worth feeling good about.

If the Red Wings can get past the Sharks, they'll earn all of their frequent flyer miles going through Phoenix, San Jose and then the Vancouver Canucks. If they're lucky enough to make it to the finals, there is another Original Six Rival, the Boston Bruins waiting. The purists and NBC would love this match-up! Otherwise, Wings legend Steve Yzerman can haunt his old team as his Tampa Bay Lightning are peaking at the right time.

If they don't win Thursday night, the fans still have many reasons to be proud of their historic effort.

On Saturday, Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander throws a no-hitter in the Tigers 9-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in Canada at the Sky Dome. This was Verlander's second no-hitter in his career with his first occurring against the Milwaukee Brewers on June 12, 2007.

In 1984, Jack Morris threw a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox and the Tigers went on to win the World Series against the San Diego Padres. I'll be curious to see if the Tigers can duplicate the same success in 2011. Ironically, the Tigers started the season 9-0 which was the same score as Verlander's gem against the Blue Jays.

I'm glad that Tom Gores will be the new owner of the Detroit Pistons and they'll be playing at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

I don't expect to see Gores make many major changes during his first season as owner with perhaps just a coaching switch. I believe that Joe Dumars will have at least one season to get the team headed in the right direction, perhaps two at the most.

But I have a strong feeling inside that Gores will hire Earvin "Magic" Johnson to be another voice with the franchise either as Dumars future replacement or as a key part of the front office. In October of 2010, Johnson sold his minority ownership stake of the Los Angeles Lakers. Since Gores and Johnson are former Michigan State Spartans and have plenty of ties to the state of Michigan, in addition to them becoming millionaires in Southern California, this makes too much sense to see them work together.

With Larry Bird agreeing to stay with the Indiana Pacers and see his rebuilding project through, I could see Johnson and Bird working in the front offices of their respective home states trying to build elite teams. We all know that Johnson and Bird will always be linked to the Michigan State/Indiana State 1979 NCAA title game with the Spartans prevailing. Perhaps, we could see Michigan and Indiana in the limelight again but in Pro Basketball. Johnson and Bird in the same division intrigues me.

Finally, the Detroit Lions have created the "Monsters of Motown" when they drafted Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley with their first round pick, 13th overall. With last year's pick Ndamukong Suh coming back for his second season, this has the makings of a legendary defensive tackle combination.

I have two words for opposing quarterbacks. Good Luck! They better be fast to escape these beasts.

If Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford can stay healthy with his new offensive weapons, this team has a lot to look forward to, especially after winning their final four games in 2010.

Back in 1979, all four teams struggled. Nowadays, Detroit fans have much more to look forward to.

Scott Morganroth's blog can be seen at http://www.scottsports33.com/ and he can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com.

Monday, May 9, 2011

FAU Football Building History

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

A year ago, quarterback Rusty Smith made history as he was the first FAU player to ever be selected in the NFL Draft as the Tennessee Titans nabbed him in the sixth round, 176th overall.
In 2010, Smith saw some playing time by replacing the injured signal caller Vince Young.

Now another Owl will have a chance to see his NFL dreams come true once the league's labor dispute, lockout, comes to an end.
Tight-end Rob Housler will take his 6-5, 248 pound frame to the Arizona Cardinals. In 2010, Housler caught 39 passes for 629 yards and four touchdowns. He was selected in the third round, 69th overall. It remains to be seen as to who will be throwing Housler the football since there is a dilemma at quarterback.

But as these two players write their way into the Owls history books, the buzz around campus is due to the construction of the new FAU Football Stadium. The 30,000 seat structure, located on the north central side of campus, is due to be completed by October 15th when the team can finally forget about Lockhart Stadium and play in a real facility.
On May 4th, the Athletic Department received a real financial boost as a $2 million gift came from longtime FAU supporters Richard and Barbara Schmidt, through the Schmidt Family Foundation. Their contribution will be recognized with permanent signage on the stadium scoreboard.

“We are extremely grateful to the Schmidt Family Foundation for this gift,” said FAU President Mary Jane Saunders. “The support FAU has received from the Schmidts over the years has helped it become the internationally recognized university it is today. With these funds for the stadium, the Schmidt family continues to leave its mark on FAU, and we will be reminded of the extraordinary generosity every time we look at the scoreboard that bears their family name.”
The $70 million project is slated to feature 6,000 premium seats, including 24 suites, 26 loge boxes, 1,000 premier club seats and 4,000 priority club seats along with the latest state-of-the-art amenities. It is estimated to bring in $1.8 million to the local economy on each game day.

One person very appreciative of the gift is Head Football Coach Howard Schnellenberger.
“On behalf of the players, coaches, and fans, I thank the Schmidt Family Foundation for their commitment to the future of Owl Football and for their generous gift to our new home,” Schnellenberger said. October 15 will forever be a day of great significance in FAU history.”

Although it's months away, I'm already getting charged up about the opener especially since I see the continued progress in the stadium's construction on a daily basis off I-95.

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