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1972-1978 Houston Aeros

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Gordie Howe Houston AerosWorld Hockey Association (1972-1978)

Born: March 1972 – The WHA’s planned Dayton, OH club shifts to Houston.
Died: July 9, 1978 – The Aeros cease operations.

Arenas:

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The Houston Aeros were a powerhouse club in the World Hockey Association, a 1970’s-era rival to the NHL.  The franchise was originally announced for Dayton, Ohio when the WHA was formed in late 1971, but arena and community issues forced the shift of the club to Houston before the league got under way in 1972.

The Aeros are best remembered for luring pro hockey’s all-time leading scorer, Gordie Howe ,out of retirement in 1973 and signing him to play alongside his sons Mark and Marty Howe.  There was no rust on the 45-year old star.  He scored 31 goals and added 69 assists to finish 3rd in the WHA in scoring and win league MVP honors in 1974.  The Aeros won the first of two straight AVCO Cup championships that spring.

Gordie Howe Houston AerosThe Aeros would win the Western Division title all four seasons that the Howe family play in Houston from 1974 through 1977.  The Aeros had great depth beyond the Howes as well.  Goaltending was a consistent strength of the club, first with Don McLeod (1972-1974) and later with the platoon of Ron Grahame and Wayne Rutledge.  Frank Hughes and Larry Lund were the Aeros’ all-time leading scorers with 149 goals a piece and both played all six seasons for the club.  Andre Hinse, Gord LaBossiere and Ted Taylor were also prolific scoring threats.  Future NHL stars Terry Ruskowski and John Tonelli both got their starts with the Aeros and the WHA in the ’70’s.

After winning their second straight WHA title in the spring of 1975, the Aeros moved out of the old Sam Houston Coliseum and into the brand new 15,000-seat Houston Summit later that fall.  Aeros attendance reached an all-time peak at 9,180 per game during the 1975-76 season.  The Aeros (53-27) made a third straight trip to the AVCO Cup finals in 1976, but were swept by their arch-rivals, the Winnipeg Jets, in four games.

Financial cracks began to show in February 1977, as the Aeros missed their payroll for the first time and players were asked to accept an indefinite deferment that drifted through the summer of 1977.  The Howe family departed en masse via free agency with Gordie and sons all signing with the WHA’s New England Whalers in free agency. Owners George Bolin and Walter Fondren – the team’s third investor group in five years – withdrew their backing and Summit arena chairman Kenneth Schnitzer had to step in to re-capitalize the team in late 1977.

Meanwhile, merger talks with the National Hockey League got underway in 1977.  At first blush, the Aeros seemed like a strong bet for acceptance into the senior circuit (which would require a rumored fee of around $3 million).  The team was an annual contender and played in a brand new 15,000-seat arena in a large media market.  But NHL owners voted down the proposal.  When merger talks resumed in 1978, a shorter list of four WHA remained under consideration for entry to the NHL and the Aeros were left off the list .  From the time he took control of the team in November 1977, Kenneth Schnitzer made clear that he wanted into the NHL.  Schnitzer sought to purchase the NHL’s struggling Colorado Rockies in June 1978 and relocate the franchise to Houston, but NHL owners let it be known that they opposed the move.  Frustrated with the various roadblocks to NHL membership, Schnitzer folded the Aeros on July 9, 1978.

 

==Slideshow==

 

==Houston Aeros Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other

1972-73

1972-73 10/29/1973 @ Winnipeg Jets L 5-3 Program

1973-74

1973-74 10/17/1973 @ Vancouver Blazers W 7-2 Program
1973-74 10/24/1973 vs. Los Angeles Sharks W 6-2 Program
1973-74 12/2/1973 @ Toronto Toros L 5-2 Program
1973-74 12/9/1973 @ Vancouver Blazers W 5-3 Program
1973-74 3/27/1974 @ Vancouver Blazers W 8-1 Program
1973-74 4/1/1974 @ New England Whalers W 4-1 Program

1974-75

1974-75 9/26/1974 vs. St. Louis Blues (NHL) W 5-4 Program
1974-75 11/2/1974 vs. Phoenix Roadrunners W 8-2 Program
1974-75 11/26/1974 vs. Phoenix Roadrunners L 6-4 Program
1974-75 11/28/1974 vs. Edmonton Oilers W 2-0 Program
1974-75 11/30/1974 vs. Cleveland Crusaders  L 5-4 Program
1974-75 12/28/1974 vs. New England Whalers W 6-1 Program
1974-75 1/4/1975 vs. Michigan Stags W 5-2 Program
1974-75 1/12/1975 vs. Toronto Toros L 7-4 Program
1974-75 1/26/1975 @ Winnipeg Jets W 3-1 Program
1974-75 2/19/1975 vs. Quebec Nordiques W 10-4 Program
1974-75 2/22/1975 vs. Vancouver Blazers L 4-2 Program
1974-75 3/1/1975 vs. Chicago Cougars W 4-2 Program
1974-75 3/2/1975 vs. Indianapolis Racers W 4-3 (OT) Program
1974-75 3/17/1975 @ Toronto Toros L 5-4 Program
1974-75 3/20/1975 vs. Quebec Nordiques W 5-3 Program
1974-75 4/2/1975 vs. Cleveland Crusaders  W 7-6 Program

1975-76

1975-76 10/14/1975 @ Toronto Toros L 6-3 Program
1975-76 12/6/1975 @ Phoenix Roadrunners L 6-5 (OT) Program
1975-76 12/13/1975 @ Minnesota Fighting Saints L 4-3 Program
1975-76 1/15/1976  @ Ottawa Civics W 5-4 (OT) Program
1975-76 1/20/1976 vs. Toronto Toros L 7-5 Program
1975-76 1/31/1976 @ Minnesota Fighting Saints L 4-1 Program
1975-76 3/13/1976 @ San Diego Mariners W 3-2 Program

1976-77

1976-77 1/12/1977 @ Phoenix Roadrunners L 4-2 Program

 

==YouTube==

Broadcast highlights of the Aeros vs. the Cincinnati Stingers at The Summit on January 21, 1978

 

==In Memoriam==

Defenseman Dunc McCallum (Aeros ’72-73) died on March 31, 1983 at age 43.

Kenneth Schnitzer, the final owner of the Aeros, died of lung cancer on November 1, 1999 at 70. New York Times obit.

Former Aeros goaltender Don McLeod passed away on March 11, 2015 at the age of 68. Calgary Sun memoriam.

 

==Links==

World Hockey Association Media Guides

World Hockey Association Programs

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November 26, 1980 – Dallas Diamonds vs. Chicago Hustle

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Anne Donovan Old DominionDallas Diamonds vs. Chicago Hustle
Pre-season Exhibition Game
November 26th, 1980
Old Dominion Field House (Norfolk, VA)
Attendance:

Women’s Professional Basketball League Programs
64 Pages

 

Here we have a terrific program that Fun While It Lasted recently acquired from the collection of women’s basketball historian John Molina.  This comes from a rare college/pro doubleheader hosted by the Old Dominion University Lady Monarchs in November 1980.  The front end of the double dip was a pre-season exhibition game between the Chicago Hustle and the Dallas Diamonds of the short-lived Women’s Professional Basketball League (1978-1981).

At the time, Old Dominion was the powerhouse team in women’s college basketball.  In 1980, the Lady Monarchs were two-time defending AIAW national champions.  And the Norfolk, Virginia school produced the top two draft picks in the 1980 Women’s Professional Basketball League draft.  Nancy Lieberman, widely considered the greatest female basketball player in the United States, went #1 overall to the Dallas Diamonds.  After a three-month holdout, Lieberman signed a record-breaking $100,000 contract with the financially shaky Diamonds, double the benchmark $50K deal inked by UCLA’s Ann Meyers a year earlier.  6′ 5″ Danish center Inge Nissen went #2 overall to the Hustle.  No less dominant than Lieberman, Nissen cut a much lower public (and financial) profile.

The University imported the Diamonds and the Hustle for this pre-season tune-up and then retired Lieberman and Nissen’s numbers at halftime of the ODU-James Madison contest that followed.  According to The Associated Press, it was the first time a university retired the jerseys of its alumni in the (relatively short) history of women’s college basketball.

Inge Nissen Old DominionTo the delight of the ODU faithful, Lieberman (20 pts. for Dallas) and Nissen (18 pts. for Chicago) led all scorers in Dallas’ 80-66 victory.

Despite losing two future Hall of Famers in Lieberman and Nissen in 1980, the cupboard was hardly bare at Old Dominion heading into the 1980-81 college basketball season.  For one thing, the Lady Monarchs still had the unstoppable 6′ 8″ sophomore center Anne Donovan.  Lieberman (appearing “short” at 5′ 10″), Donovan and Nissen are pictured on the cover of the evening’s game program (above right).   ESPNW writer Mechelle Voepel notes that the iconic photo of the three future Hall-of-Famers hung in the ODU Field House for years.

Donovan would lead the Lady Monarchs to a third consecutive Final Four appearance in 1981.  But unlike Lieberman and Nissen, she would never get the chance to play pro basketball in the United States.  The Women’s Professional Basketball League folded in 1981 at the conclusion of Lieberman and Nissen’s rookie seasons.  Donovan played overseas and gold medals with the U.S. Olympic team in 1984 and 1988.

Donovan and Lieberman were enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in the mid-1990’s.  Both went on to coach in the WNBA and Donovan coached the U.S. women to Olympic Gold in 2008.   Inge Nissen, as always, has remained in the background in comparison to her legendary ODU teammates.  Nissen was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012, but still lacks that most basic credential of modern day notoriety – her own Wikipedia entry.

 

==Downloads==

November 26, 1980 Chicago Hustle Pre-season Roster

November 26, 1980 Dallas Diamonds Pre-season Roster

 

==Links==

Dallas Diamonds Home Page

Nissen gets her time in the spotlight“, Mechelle Voepel, ESPNW, June 8, 2012

 

 

Written by andycrossley

November 23rd, 2014 at 5:59 pm

1996-1998 Atlanta Glory

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Theresa Edwards Atlanta GloryAmerican Basketball League (1996-1998)

Born: 1995 – ABL founding franchise.
Died: 1998 – The Glory ceases operations.

Arenas:

Team Colors: Blue, Red & Nugget Gold

Owner: American Basketball League

 

The Atlanta Glory was a short-lived women’s basketball team that competed in the American Basketball League for two seasons in the mid-1990’s.  The team split its home games between two downtown Atlanta college campuses, playing most dates at the brand new 5,700-seat arena at Morehouse College, built for the 1996 Olympic Games.

Teresa Edwards, a Cairo, Georgia native, former UGA Bulldog, and four-time U.S. Olympic basketball medalist, was the Glory’s featured attraction.  But despite Edwards’ presence, the Glory struggled to find a following in Atlanta.  During the ABL’s 1996-97 inaugural season, the Glory’s average attendance of 2,780 fans was 2nd lowest in the league.  The team also missed the playoffs with an 18-22 record.

Edwards took on double duty as the Glory’s player-coach for the second ABL season in the winter of 1997-98.  The team went backwards to 15-29, missing the playoffs again.  Announced attendance picked up 40% to 3,898 per game, but that wasn’t enough to save the Glory from the axe.  All teams in the single-entity ABL were centrally owned by the league itself.  With the league bleeding cash at an alarming pace, the ABL contracted the Atlanta franchise shortly after the 1997-98 season concluded.

The ABL launched a 3rd season in November 1998, but ran out of money one month later and folded on December 22, 1998.

Women’s pro hoops returned to Atlanta in 2008 with the formation of the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA.

 

==Links==

American Basketball League Media Guides

American Basketball League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

November 22nd, 2014 at 12:54 am

1999-2010 Schaumburg Flyers

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Schaumburg Flyers ProgramNorthern League (1999-2010)

Born: 1999 – The Thunder Bay Whiskey Jacks relocate to Schaumburg, IL.
Died: March 2011 – The Flyers cease operations.

Stadium: Alexian Field

Team Colors:

Owners: Richard Ehrenreich, et al.

 

The Schaumburg Flyers were a minor league baseball team that played in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, Illinois from 1999 until 2010.  The Flyers competed in the Northern League, an “independent” circuit whose members had no affiliation with Major League Baseball parent clubs.

7,600-seat Alexian Field was constructed at a cost of approximately $20 million to lure the club from Thunder Bay, Ontario in 1999.  Popular former White Sox slugger Ron Kittle was the Flyers’ field manager for the first three seasons of the team’s existence from 1999 through 2001.

Team owner Rich Ehrenreich began to fall behind on lease payments for Alexian Field in 2007.  By the end of the 2010 Northern League season, the team’s accumulated debt and penalties exceeded $900,000.  Efforts to sell the team to poorly vetted buyers fell through in 2010 and led to litigation.  Meanwhile, the Northern League folded after the 2010 season, but the Flyers announced plans to play on in a dubious sounding enterprise known as the North American League.  Before the Flyers could join the new league, they were evicted from Alexian Field in March 2011 over their unpaid bills and went out of business.

After a summer without baseball in 2011, the Flyers were replaced by the Schaumburg Boomers of the independent Frontier League in 2012.

 

==Links==

Northern League Media Guides

Northern League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

November 21st, 2014 at 8:57 pm

July 29, 1980 – Cleveland Cobras vs. Partizan Belgrade

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Jacob Shanee Cleveland CobrasCleveland Cobras vs. Partizan Belgrade
July 29, 1980
Finnie Stadium
Attendance: 4,627

American Soccer League Programs

 

This eye-catching match program comes from an international friendly between the Cleveland Cobras of the 2nd Division American Soccer League and Partizan Belgrade, the 8-time champions of the Yugoslav First League.

Throughout the late 1970’s and into 1980, Cobras management imported a series of foreign clubs to Cleveland.  This July 1980 contest against Partizan was the last such exhibition the Cobras would ever play and it was one of the most compelling.  Thomas Hatfield, in his exhaustive History of Soccer in Greater Cleveland From 1906 Until 1981, reports that Croatian protesters burned the Yugoslavian flag before the match.  The crowd of 4,627 at Finnie Stadium on the campus of Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea was one of the largest in club history for the Cobras.

Cleveland State grad Walter Schlothauer spotted the Cobras a 1-0 lead in the first half.  The Ohio native would go on to win ASL Rookie-of-the-Year honors at the end of the 1980 season.  Cleveland keeper Marine Cano held Partizan scoreless in the first half.  Partizan unloaded in the 2nd half though, roughing up Cano’s replacement, Fred Bass, with four goals after intermission.

Dzevad Prekazi of Partizan was named offensive Man of the Match, with one goal and one assist on 9 shots.  Prekazi went on to become a star for Turkish powerhouse Galatasaray in the late 1980’s.  He also returned to the United States briefly in the winter of the 1984-85, where he played under the name “Jeff Prekazi” with the Baltimore Blast of the Major Indoor Soccer League.

Jacob Shanee of the Cobras is pictured on the cover of the evening’s match program.

 

==Links==

Cleveland Cobras Home Page

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Written by andycrossley

November 16th, 2014 at 3:42 pm