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Archive for the ‘Atlantic Coast Football League’ Category

1963-1964 Springfield Acorns

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Springfield Acorns ProgramAtlantic Coast Football League (1963-1964)

Born: 1963
Moved: Marc 1965 (Norfolk Neptunes)

Stadium: Pynchon Park

Team Colors:

Owners: Acorn Sports Association (James Dunn, et al.)

ACFL Championships: None

 

The Springfield Acorns were a short-lived pro football team in Western Massachusetts during the early 1960’s. The Acorns competed in the Atlantic Coast Football League, a minor league loop that featured teams from Maine to Georgia.  The team played out of Pynchon Park, Springfield’s 8,500-seat minor league baseball stadium.

The Acorns were notable for their quarterbacks.  In 1963, a rookie signal caller out of the University of Pittsburgh named James Traficant took over the starting job at midseason.  Traficant (12 TDs vs. 5 INTs) and his teammates played just well enough to win the ACFL’s Northern Division with a 7-5 record.  That earned the Acorns a chance to host the ACFL championship game on November 24th, 1963 against the 11-1 Newark Bears.  Newark limited the Acorns to one early rushing touchdown en route to a lop-sided 23-6 victory.

Traficant departed after the 1963 season and was replaced under center by Dan Henning, a rookie from the College of William and Mary.  Henning would go on to become and NFL head coach with the Atlanta Falcons (1983-1986) and San Diego Chargers (1989-1991). He later returned to Massachusetts as Head Coach of Boston College from 1994 to 1996.

Traficant, meanwhile, grew up to be an absurdly-toupéed U.S. Congressman from the 17th District of Ohio. Prosecuted twice for racketeering, Traficant’s colorful 17-year run in the House of Representatives ended in 2002 with a 7-year federal prison sentence.

In February 1965, several members of the ACFL split away to form the more ambitious Continental Football League.  The Acorns were one of the defector clubs, but team officials were simultaneously trying to unload the franchise to out of town investors. In March 1965 the Acorns were sold to Virginia investors who moved the team and renamed it the Norfolk Neptunes.  The Neptunes played on in Virginia for seven more seasons before going out of business in 1971.

 

==Springfield Acorns Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other

1963

1963 9/28/1963 vs. Ansonia Black Knights ?? Program
1963 11/24/1963 vs. Newark Bears L 23-6 Program

==Links==

Atlantic Coast Football League Media Guides

Atlantic Coast Football League Programs

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Written by AC

November 8th, 2015 at 8:21 pm

1967-1968 Westchester Bulls

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Westchester Bulls ProgramAtlantic Coast Football League (1967-1968)

Born: 1967 – The Scranton Miners relocate to Westchester, NY.
Moved: 1969 (Long Island Bulls)

Stadium: Memorial Stadium

Team Colors:

Owners:

ACFL Championships: None

 

The Westchester Bulls were a minor league farm club of the NFL’s New York Giants for two seasons in the late 1960’s.  The Bulls played their home games out of Memorial Stadium in Mt. Vernon, New York.

The 1967 Bulls won their first nine games en route to a 10-2 record in the Atlantic Coast Football League.  Late season call-ups to New York for halfback Randy Minniear and defensive back Bob Post sapped the Bulls of their momentum.  The Bulls lost to the Virginia Sailors 20-14 in the league’s championship game in Mt. Vernon on November 25th, 1967.

Following the 1967 season, Roy Boe bought the club for $50,000 from the team’s original owner, Cosmo Iacavazzi.  The Bulls were the first sports investment for Boe, who would later own the New York Nets of the ABA and become the founding owner of the NHL’s New York Islanders. In 1969, Boe moved the team out of Westchester and over to Hofstra Stadium on Long Island where the franchise became known as the Long Island Bulls.

The Long Island Bulls played two more seasons before folding after the 1970 season. The ACFL went out of business in 1973.

 

==Westchester Bulls Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other

1967

1967 9/2/1967 vs. Lowell Giants W 26-14 Program
1967 11/25/1967 vs. Virginia Sailors L 20-14 Program

1968

1968 10/5/1968 @ Hartford Knights L 41-7 Program

 

==Links==

Atlantic Coast Football League Media Guides

Atlantic Coast Football League Programs

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Written by AC

November 7th, 2015 at 1:33 pm

1966-1967 Waterbury Orbits

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Waterbury Orbits ProgramAtlantic Coast Football League (1966-1967)

Born: January 1966 – ACFL expansion franchise.
Moved: 1968 (Bridgeport Jets)

Stadium: Municipal Stadium (10,000)

Team Colors:

Owners: Dan Adley, Israel Gordon, James Lamberti & C. Newton Schenck

 

The Waterbury (CT) Orbits were a minor league football outfit that played for two seasons in the Atlantic Coast Football League during the mid-1960’s.  The franchise, awarded in January 1966, was originally intended for New Haven, Connecticut but community opposition to use of the city’s playing fields caused the team to relocate to the fading industrial city of Waterbury.

Connecticut Gridiron Bill RyczekBill Ryczek’s excellent Connecticut Gridiron: Football Minor Leaguers of the 1960’s and 1970’s offers the definitive history of the Orbits (and perhaps the Atlantic Coast Football League more broadly).  Ryczek notes the support the Orbits received from Waterbury Mayor Frederick Palomba, a sports booster who worked to bring both pro football and minor league baseball to the Brass City in 1966.  One of the enticements was a $100,000 upgrade to Waterbury’s Municipal Stadium, which included the installation of lights for night games and the expansion of seating to accommodate 10,000 fans for football.

Club and civic officials confidently forecasted a sellout of 10,000 for the Orbit’s home opener in September 1966, but the crowd that day was about half that number and never would approach those lofty expectations.

The 1966 Orbits squad was strong under the direction of Fred Wallner, a former Pro Bowl lineman with the Chicago Cardinals NFL teams of the mid-1950’s.  Waterbury finished 8-3-1 and just outside of the playoffs in their first season.  Wide receiver Roger Milici led the ACFL in receiving yardage (1,083) and touchdowns (13), while Jerry Stevenson was the circuit leading ground gainer with 942 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns.

Wholesale changes were in store for 1967.  Wallner departed as coach, replaced by Nick Cutro.  Stevenson departed as well, but was ably replaced by Allen Smith in the offensive backfield.  Smith would finish 2nd in the league in rushing yards and lead the ACFL with 15 touchdowns.  Milici returned, but was no longer the focus of the passing game – he would finish third on the team in receiving, although his totals (23-447-5 TDs) would still rank among the league’s best.

Superstar Billy GrahamThe Orbits’ prolific 1967 passing attack was directed by a flamboyant rookie quarterback named Jim “King” Corcoran.  There was no one quite like The King – a cult playboy who toiled most of his career in places like Pottstown and Chambersburg, yet earned tributes from The Rockford Files (where Rob Reiner played a character clearly based on Corcoran) to The Washington Post who printed an encyclopedic obituary upon his death in 2009.  In what would become a typical Corcoran number line, he led the league in passing yards (2,065), touchdown passes (19) and interceptions (21).

Another colorful figure from the Orbits roster was gargantuan defensive lineman Wayne Coleman from the 1966 squad.  Coleman’s football career would summit with a brief trial with the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes in 1968.  But he found his real calling in the world of pro wrestling, where he became “Superstar Billy Graham”, heavyweight champion of the W.W.W.F. (precursor of today’s WWE) in the late 1970’s.

Following the 1967 season, the money-losing Orbits moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut’s Kennedy Stadium and became the Bridgeport Jets.  The Jets would play in Bridgeport from 1968 until the demise of the ACFL in 1973.

 

==Waterbury Orbits Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other

1966

1966 9/17/1966 @ Scranton Miners W 20-13 Program
1966 9/24/1966 vs. Wilmington Clippers ?? Program

 

==Links==

Atlantic Coast Football League Media Guides

Atlantic Coast Football League Programs

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November 14, 1964 – Hartford Charter Oaks vs. Portland Sea Hawks

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Hartford Charter Oaks vs. Portland Sea Hawks
November 14, 1964
Dillon Stadium
Attendance: ?

Atlantic Coast Football League Programs
30 pages

 

Sharp-looking program from the minor Atlantic Coast Football League (1962-1973).   The ACFL was a bus league which was largely confined to the New England states along with New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but occasionally ventured as far as Florida in the South and Indianapolis in the Midwest.

This was the only season in the league for the expansion Hartford Charter Oaks club.  They would bolt for the higher level Continental Football League in 1965.  The team’s unusual name dated back to a bit of colonial era history (or legend?).  In 1687 the King James II of England dispatched Sir Edmund Andros to the restive Colony of Connecticut to seize the colony’s charter and bring the territory more firmly under the British yoke.  Andros arrived with an armed force.  During a late night debate between the two sides, with the charter laid out on the negotiating table, the candles in the room were suddenly extinguished.  When light was restored, the charter had vanished, whisked away by Captain Joseph Wadsworth and secreted inside a massive oak tree on a nearby estate, safe from British hands.

For the Charter Oaks visiting opponents on this evening, the Portland Sea Hawks, it was also their final season in the ACFL.  The Maine-based club would soon fold after three seasons of operation.  If not the Seahawks farewell game, it was one of the last.

The big name in this game was Portland’s rookie halfback Terry Evanshen out of Utah State.  Evanshen, a Canadian originally from Montreal, toiled for one season in the ACFL.  In 1965 he signed with the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes and won the Gruen Trophy as the league’s Rookie-of-the-Year. Evanshen went on to play 14 seasons in the CFL and established himself as one of the greatest receivers in league history, catching over 90 touchdown passes.

Evanshen retired after the 1978 season and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1984.  In 1988 he was nearly killed in a devastating car crash which left him in a coma for weeks.  When he eventually awoke, he had no memory of his life or career before the accident.  Today Evanshen is a motivational speaker.  A CTV feature film -The Man Who Lost Himself: The Terry Evanshen Story was released in 2005.

 

==YouTube==

 

==Links==

TerryEvanshen.com

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Written by AC

January 9th, 2014 at 2:53 pm

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