Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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1975 Long Island Tomahawks

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Long Island TomahawksNational Lacrosse League (1975)

Born: 1975 – The Rochester Griffins relocate to Long Island, NY.
Died: February 1976 – The NLL ceases operations.

Arena: Nassau Coliseum (14,300)

Team Colors:

Owner: Bruce Norris

 

The Long Island Tomahawks were a pro box lacrosse team that played at Nassau Coliseum in the summer of 1975.  The team’s ancestry is a little convoluted.  Owner Bruce Norris, who also owned the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League, was an original investor in the National Lacrosse League.  During the league’s first season in 1974, Norris owned the league’s Toronto Tomahawks franchise.  The Tomahawks floundered at Maple Leaf Gardens and the team was shifted to new ownership in Boston for the 1975 season.  Norris, meanwhile, kept the Tomahawks name and logo and bought the 1974 league champion Rochester Griffins franchise and moved it downstate to Long Island.

Bill Tierney LacrosseDespite the name lifted from Norris’ old Toronto club, the Long Island Tomahawks traced their history to the Griffins and you can see on their game program (above right) that they promoted themselves as the “1974 World Champions” of pro lacrosse.

Modern day box lacrosse fans are familiar with the game played on Astroturf carpets, but the National Lacrosse League of the 1970’s played on wooden courts laid over the ice at hockey arenas.  The Tomahawks’ court was painted an unusual white color, which you can see in the video below.  The league’s other teams typically played on green wooden surfaces.

The Tomahawks were the best team in the 6-team NLL during the 1975 season with a 31-17 record.  But they lost to the 4th-place Quebec Caribous 4 games to 2 in the semi-final playoff series in September 1975.  Doug Hayes (104 goals, 126 assists) led the league in scoring.

In February 1976 the National Lacrosse League went out of business, saying that only the Maryland, Philadelphia and Quebec franchises were prepared to move forward with a third season.  Pro lacrosse returned to the Nassau Coliseum in 1989 with the arrival of the New York Saints (1989-2003) of the Major Indoor Lacrosse League.

 

==Long Island Tomahawks Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
4/28/1975 @ Boston Bolts  W 19-17 (OT) Program
5/14/1975 vs. Maryland Arrows ?? Program
5/27/1975 vs. Quebec Caribous  W 19-17 Program

 

==YouTube==

The Long Island Tomahawks host the Philadelphia Wings at Nassau Coliseum. August 29, 1975

 

==Links==

National Lacrosse League Media Guides

National Lacrosse League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

February 22nd, 2014 at 8:08 pm

1996 Long Island Jawz

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Long Island JawzRoller Hockey International (1996)

Born: 1995 – RHI expansion franchise.
Died: July 1996 – The Jawz announce they will disband after the 1996 season.

Arena: Nassau Coliseum (16,297)

Team Colors: Blue, Silver, Black & Red

Owner: Jim Leahy

 

The Long Island Jawz made a brief appearance in Roller Hockey International, playing a single campaign in the summer of 1996.  The owners of the Jawz – who also owned RHI’s New Jersey Rockin’ Rollers franchise – got into an acrimonious battle with Spectacor Management Group (SMG), managers of the Nassau Coliseum, over advertising placement rights and threw in the towel before the team’s inaugural season was even over.  In July 1996, just one month after starting play, the Jawz announced they would fold after completing the 1996 RHI schedule.

The team was pretty good, finishing 16-9-3 under Head Coach Phil DeGaetano.  Winger Hugo Belanger (48 goals, 53 assists) recorded the only 100-point season on RHI’s history and won the league’s Player-of-the-Year Award.  Another key player was Glen Metropolit (39 goals, 37 assists) who later enjoyed a 9-year NHL career between 1999 and 2010.

 

==Links==

1996 Long Island Jawz Statistics on HockeyDB.com 

Roller Hockey International Media Guides

Roller Hockey International Programs

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Written by andycrossley

February 4th, 2014 at 9:21 pm

November 20, 1981 – New York Arrows vs. New Jersey Rockets

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New York Arrows vs. New Jersey Rockets
November 20, 1981
Nassau Coliseum
Attendance: 12,118

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs
68 pages

 

When the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) debuted in December 1978, the sport of indoor soccer was basically a new invention.   A few previous leagues had tried and failed to get off the ground.  The outdoor North American Soccer League (NASL) had experimented with a few weekend tournaments and one-off exhibitions over the years.  But no one had truly tried to market the game to American sports fans until MISL founders Earl Foreman and Ed Tepper got their league off the ground in the winter of 1978-79.

By 1981 – just three years later – an indoor soccer glut had descended on the metropolitan NYC market.  The Brendan Byrne Arena opened that July in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in north Jersey.  With the MISL heading into its fourth season and firmly in expansion mode, co-founder Ed Tepper took the opportunity to finally launch his own franchise, bringing the New Jersey Rockets to the brand new 19,000-seat arena.  Tepper wasn’t the only soccer investor with his eyes on the new building.  The NASL launched its own wintertime indoor league in 1979.  But for two years the NASL’s most famous club looked down their nose at the indoor game and declined to participate.  In 1981, with Byrne Arena opening right next to their outdoor home at Giants Stadium, the New York Cosmos finally got off the sidelines and fielded a indoor side.  Between the Rockets and the Cosmos, there were 31 indoor soccer dates at the Byrne in just five months.  The Cosmos fielded a half-hearted last place team but the added competition still drove Tepper’s Rockets into bankruptcy and oblivion by the end of the season.

But the oldest and most successful of the New York indoor teams was the New York Arrows, who played out on Long Island at the Nassau Coliseum.  The Arrows were a dynasty and they’d won the first three championships of the MISL.  They had the league’s best player in Yugoslavian scoring wizard Steve Zungul, who was to indoor soccer in the early 80’s what Wayne Gretzky was to ice hockey.  Branko Segota wasn’t far behind Zungul and the Arrows also had one of the few well-known American stars in soccer, former Cosmos goalkeeper Shep Messing.  As good as they were, the Arrows were something short of a sensation out on Long Island, never ranking among the league’s top draws despite their virtual invincibility.

This match was the Arrows fourth season opener against the expansion Rockets.  Their dominance was on full display for the large crowd at Nassau Coliseum, as the Arrows raced out to a 9-0 lead before easing off the gas pedal late.   As usual, Zungul led the way with four goals. Argentinean forward Luis Alberto added a hat trick as well.  The Rockets picked up two garbage goals late for a 9-2 final.

At the end of this 1981-82 season, the Arrows won their fourth straight MISL crown, which would also be their final hurrah.  The following season, Zungul was shipped out in a midseason budget-cutting move and by the summer of 1984 of the Arrows were no more.

 

==Downloads==

November 20, 1981 New York Arrows Game Notes

November 20, 1981 New Jersey Rockets Game Notes

November 20, 1981 Official Scorer’s Report

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Written by andycrossley

July 30th, 2013 at 4:17 am

1978-1984 New York Arrows

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Major Indoor Soccer League (1978-1984)

Born: 1978 – MISL founding franchise.
Died: 1984 – The Arrows cease operations.

Arena: Nassau Coliseum (15,026)

Team Colors: Bordeaux Red, Blue & White

Owners:

 

The New York Arrows were the original dynasty franchise in the sport of indoor soccer in the United States.  One of six founding franchises in the Major Indoor Soccer League in 1978, the Arrows won the first four MISL championships from 1979 to 1982.  The team was virtually unbeatable during this stretch, posting a regular season record of 114-26 under Head Coach Don Popovic.

Arrows owner John Luciani was also an investor in the Rochester Lancers of the outdoor North American Soccer League during the late 1970’s.  Luciani was only involved with the Lancers for a short time and would ultimately ended up embroiled in contentious lawsuits with other members of the Lancers’ sprawling and unwieldy ownership consortium.  But Luciani was involved with Rochester when the MISL formed in the fall of 1978 and this allowed him to essentially make the Arrows into a sister club of the Lancers and stock the team with talent from the outdoor club.  Don Popovic came over from the Lancers, as did the teenage scoring prodigy Branko Segota and goalkeeper Shep Messing, who was one of the few recognizable American-born stars of the era, thanks to his years with the glamorous New York Cosmos of the NASL (and perhaps also his centerfold shoot for Playgirl magazine in 1974).

But the biggest find for the Arrows was the Yugoslavian striker Steve Zungul.  A budding superstar for Hajduk Split in the Yugoslav First League, Zungul became embroiled in a dispute with club management and was concerned they would send him off to compulsory military service.  In December 1978 – the same month the MISL kicked off its inaugural season – Zungul defected to the United States and signed with the Arrows.  He planned to eventually sign with an NASL club and play outdoor soccer, but Yugoslavia successfully petitioned FIFA to ban Zungul from all FIFA-sanctioned leagues until his 28th birthday in 1982, citing a Yugoslavian rule that players could not play overseas prior to age 28.  The NASL was sanctioned by FIFA, but the upstart Major Indoor Soccer League was not.  Thus through a quirk of Cold War politics, the Arrows found themselves in sole possession of the indoor game’s first great star – the man who became known as “The Lord of All Indoors”.

Zungul would win the MISL’s Most Valuable Player award in each season from 1979 to 1982, matching the years that the Arrows won the league title.

The Arrows played at the Nassau Coliseum out on Long Island.  Despite their dominance, local interest in the team never match the enthusiasm for indoor soccer in Midwest hotbeds like Cleveland, St. Louis and Kansas City.  Announced attendance peaked for the Arrows during their third season at 8,083 fans per game and then dropped steadily through the early 1980’s.

John Luciani sold the Arrows for an undisclosed amount in November 1982 just as the Arrows fifth season got underway.  He cited $10 million in losses during the Arrows’ first four season.  The new owner was Dr. David Schoenstadt, who also happened to be the owner of the MISL’s tremendously popular Kansas City Comets club.  The purchase created a competitive conflict of interest within the MISL, but allowed the young league to maintain a foothold in the vital New York media market.  Carl Berg, owner of the Golden Bay Earthquakes, who played in the MISL that season, was also part of the new investment group.

Schoenstadt and his management team were not able to replicate the success they had in Kansas City.  The ownership transition of 1982 marked the end of the Arrows dynasty and the beginning of the club’s rapid decline.  The Arrows early dominance was fueled largely by foreign – particularly Slavic – stars (with the exception of Shep Messing).  The new management promoted a process of “Americanization”, believing that American players would be more relatable and better suited to the club’s aggressive grass roots marketing strategy of promoting the Arrows through clinics and community appearances.  Other observers believed “Americanization” was a cover for cost-cutting and pointed to the departure of Steve Zungul as Exhibit A.  Zungul, who earned a reported $150,000/year at his Arrows peak, was traded to the Golden Bay Earthquakes in the middle of the 1982-83 season for Gary Etherington and Gordon Hill in a cost-cutting move which effectively ended the Arrows run as an elite team.

The Arrows final season came during the winter of 1983-84.  Schoenstadt complained about the lease terms at Nassau Coliseum while attendance declined to 5,478 per match.  Efforts to sell and relocate the team to either Charlotte or Cincinnati fell through.  During the summer of the 1984, the Arrows folded and went into bankruptcy.

In early 1986, former Arrows goalkeeper Shep Messing assembled an investor group and successfully applied for an MISL expansion club to replace the Arrows on Long Island.  The New York Express joined the MISL for the 1986-87 season, but lasted only until the All-Star Break before folding with a record of 3-23.  The original MISL folded in July 1992.

==Arrows Matches on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
1978-79 2/4/1979 vs. Spartak Moscow (USSR) L ?-? Program
1979-80 1/29/1980 @ Philadelphia Fever ?? Program
1979-80 2/17/1980 @ Cleveland Force W 12-6 Program
1981-82 11/20/1981 vs. New Jersey Rockets W 9-2 Program Game Notes
1981-82 2/19/1982 @ Cleveland Force W 6-4  Program
1981-82 4/2/1982 vs. Baltimore Blast W 8-6 Video
1982-83 11/10/1982 @ Los Angeles Lazers W 5-2 Program
1982-83 12/28/1982 @ Los Angeles Lazers L 5-4 (OT) Program
1982-83 2/3/1983 @ Cleveland Force W 4-3 (OT) Program
1982-83 3/20/1983 @ Buffalo Stallions L 10-5 Program
1983-84 11/30/1983 @ Los Angeles Lazers L 8-3 Program
1983-84 12/10/1983 @ Cleveland Force L 7-3 Program

 

==Key Players==

 

==In Memoriam==

Arrows owner David Schoenstadt died of cancer in December 1991.

Arrows forward Paul Kitson died of a heart attack on August 25, 2005 while coaching a soccer clinic in Toronto.  He was 49.

 

==Youtube==

The Arrows host the Baltimore Blast at Nassau Coliseum.  April 2, 1982.

==Downloads==

1979-80 New York Arrows Season Ticket Brochure

 

==Links==

Major Indoor Soccer League Media Guides

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs

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1974-1978 New York Sets & New York Apples

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World Team Tennis (1974-1978)

Born: 1973 – WTT founding franchise
Died:
October 27, 1978 – The Apples cease operations

Arenas:

Team Colors:

Owner: Sol Berg

 

The New York Sets/Apples were a pro tennis franchise active in Manhattan from 1974 to 1978.   The club was active for all five season of World Team Tennis (1974-1978), a funky little organization that attempted to graft the classic tropes of American professional team sports (team scoring, standings, cheerleaders, booing and cheering) onto the hushed, snooty atmosphere of the pro tennis tour.   The league was founded in 1973 by serial sports entrepreneur Dennis Murphy in partnership with the game’s greatest female star, Billie Jean King, her husband/business partner Larry King, and a few others investors.

Jerry Saperstein, son of Harlem Globetrotters founder Abe Saperstein, originally held the New York franchise but quickly sold it off to Sol Berg.  WTT owners were inexplicably enamored with team names relating to the rules and equipment of the game.  Loves, Nets, Racquets and Strings were among franchise monikers.  New York ended up with one of the dullest and least imaginative – the New York Sets.

The Sets debuted on May 7, 1974, losing to the Hawaii Leis before an announced crowd of 4,990 at Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum.  Under WTT’s novel scoring system, each match consisted of five sets – one each of men’s singles and doubles, women’s singles and doubles, and mixed doubles.  There were no love or advantages – each game of a set was simply scored zero, 1, 2, 3, game.  Match scoring was simply the cumulative games won from each of the five sets.

The Sets finished in the cellar in 1974 with a 15-29 record.  Fans were largely indifferent – the club drew an average of just 2,869 for 22 home dates during the summer.  But the Sets’ fortunes changed in February 1975 when the Sets traded for league founder Billie Jean King, whose Philadelphia Freedoms franchise was about to go under.   King, still a formidable player at age 31, made the team an immediate contender.  The Sets made the playoffs in 1975 and won the World Team Tennis championship in 1976, sweeping the Oakland-based Golden Gaters.  The decisive match drew 5,730 to the Nassau Coliseum in late August.

In 1977 the club moved into Manhattan, splitting dates between the 17,800-seat Madison Square Garden and the more intimate 3,700-seat Felt Forum tucked inside the Garden. To celebrate the move, the club also re-branded, dropping the dreadful “Sets” nickname and becoming the New York Apples for the 1977 season.

The Garden was favored for bigger matches, such as a June 6, 1977 match against the Phoenix Racquets which showcased the two biggest stars of the women’s pro tour: Billie Jean King of the Sets and Chris Evert of the Racquets.  The match drew a league record 13,675 fans.  The Apples repeated as WTT champions in 1977 and attendance surged 38% with the move to Manhattan, topping 100,000 for the season and an average of 4,939 per match.

For the 1978 season, the Apples added a male superstar to pair with King, adding 23-year old Vitas Gerulaitis, who ranked as one of the top five males in the world at the time.  The Apples also added a 21-year old rookie out of Douglaston, New York named Mary Carillo.  Carillo would go on to become one of the great broadcasters of tennis and a highly respected reporter on HBO’s Real Sports and NBC’s Olympics coverage in the 1990’s and 2000’s.

There would be no third straight title for the Apples in 1978.  The New Yorkers ran into another star-studded team in the playoff semi-finals – the Los Angeles Strings led by Evert and the temperamental Romanian Ilie Nastase.  Here JoAnne Russell of the Apples takes on Evert in the decisive August 24th, 1978 semi-final match:

The Strings ousted the defending champion Apples on this night and went on to win the final championship of World Team Tennis in September 1978.  This televised match turned out to be the final one the Apples franchise ever played.  Team owner Sol Berg shutdown the Apples on October 27, 1978 in tandem with Boston Lobsters owner Robert Kraft.  Berg and Kraft cited an inability (or unwillingness – it wasn’t totally clear) of WTT owners to sign the biggest stars of the men’s and women’s game as their reason for withdrawing.

 

==Downloads==

1978 New York Apples Media Guide

1975 World Team Tennis Season Advertising Rates Brochure

 

==Links==

World Team Tennis Media Guides

World Team Tennis Programs

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