National Lacrosse League (1974)
Born: 1974 – NLL founding franchise.
Died: 1975 – The Griffins relocate to Long Island, NY.
Arena: Rochester War Memorial
“The box game combines the best features of outdoor field lacrosse with elements of basketball, hockey, soccer and thermonuclear holocaust.” – Ron Reid of Sports Illustrated, covering the 1974 NLL championship series between the Rochester Griffins and Philadelphia Wings.
The Rochester Griffins were the class of the National Lacrosse League during the circuit’s debut season in the summer of 1974. The team played a fast break style under the direction of coach Morley Kells and advanced to the league championship series against the only team better in the regular season – the Philadelphia Wings. The Griffins took the best-of-seven series in six games, winning the title at home at the Rochester War Memorial before a sparse gathering of 2,525 fans. Somebody dug up a fantastic full broadcast of Game Six from local Philadelphia television and posted it on YouTube – check it out below.
The crowds – or lack thereof – were a problem in Rochester all season. Out of town owners Tad and Tom Potter, investors in the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins franchise, threatened to move the team before the season was even out. At the end of the year, the Potters sold out to Detroit Red Wings owner Bruce Norris, who moved the championship club down to Long Island, where they were known as the Long Island Tomahawks in 1975. The National Lacrosse League folded after the 1975 season.
“Only Fans Were A Myth“, Ron Reid, Sports Illustrated, October 7, 1974