Thursday, October 22, 2020

Princeton Pets

If you have a very young child in the three or so age range and you want to give yourself hours of laughs, teach the child to say the word "octopus."

There are few things in the world funnier than hearing how they say that. 

Also, there's the name of the city where the NFL's Colts play. That one is pronounced "Indian Apples" by your average toddler.  

Ah, but even that isn't as good as "octopus." 

Perhaps TigerBlog should be writing a book on child-raising, complete with a chapter on how to maximize laughs with your young ones? Tip - get them hooked on cartoons you liked as a kid. There's no excuse for raising a child who doesn't understand that Bugs Bunny is the cartoon GOAT.

Speaking of your average octopus, TigerBlog watched the movie "My Octopus Teacher" on Netflix the other day. 

If you've never heard of this, it's a documentary set in South Africa - or in the Atlantic Ocean off South Africa more precisely. It's the story of a documentary filmmaker and environmentalist named Chris Foster who meets an octopus while diving in waters that appear to be much colder than TB would be able to tolerate.

Foster decides to visit the same spot every day in an effort to see what sort of relationship can be built between the human and the octopus. He originally leaves an underwater camera nearby to see how the octopus interacts with it, and eventually it appears the octopus realizes that he is no threat to it and sort of befriends him.

Foster mentions that an octopus has an intelligence level slightly above that of a dog or a cat, which is somewhat hard to imagine. Still, it does appear from the movie that he and the octopus become friends.

The movie itself bounces back and forth between the underwater footage and commentary from Foster. The interviewer is never seen or heard, and the only other human involved is Foster's son, who comes to dive with him.

The best part of the movie is the extraordinary quality of the underwater video. It does get you to think about just how amazing nature can be. The pace is a bit slow, and Foster isn't exactly next in line for a stand-up comedy special on Netflix. In fact, the octopus was much funnier.

Still, it is well worth your time to check this one out. It's worth it for the footage alone. It's not quite as good as "March Of The Penguins," but it's a fascinating 83 minutes. Like TB said, the idea of what goes in on nature is fascinating, and it's depicted so forcefully in this movie.

Speaking of dogs, cats and the occasional octopus, you may have noticed on Princeton Athletics social media that a new feature entitled "Princeton Pets" has sprung up.  

It's a cute series. It's basically taking current Princeton athletes and featuring their pets.

The latest one features Bruno and his "boopable" nose. 

So far the series has featured dogs, with names like "Georgie" and "Prince" and "Tank." The dog named "Prince" by the way is named for Princeton.

Bruno seems like an amiable dog. TigerBlog learned some things about his owner yesterday.

For one, Nicole Kresich, from Mater Dei High School in California, had a 16-goal, 26-assist freshman year, and last spring she was off to a six-goal, 10-assist start through nine games when the season was postponed.

More than that, TB also found out that Kresich is an English major who wrote for her high school newspaper. And one of the stories she wrote for that high school newspaper, which is called "The Scarlett Scroll," was the story about her Mater Dei classmate, Wyatt Benson, and his commitment to Princeton.

Benson has played two seasons of water polo for the Tigers. He has 60 goals and 12 assist in his career to date. 

There are so many great stories involving Princeton's athletes. The Princeton Pets series is a way to introduce you to some of these amazing young people.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Turning 91

TigerBlog can't begin to imagine how many emails he's received on his Princeton email account since he first started there.

It was his first email account. He didn't even understand how it worked. His first question was how much did it cost to send one.

Little did he imagine the impact that email would have on his job and the ability to transfer information quickly and easily, as opposed to the existing way of putting everything in the mail. 

He still remembers having to get prints made of head shots of all of Princeton's football players and then put them in the United States mail to the legendary Kathy Slattery at Dartmouth for her football program. It was an arduous project, and Kathy didn't get the pictures until just before she needed them. 

When TB had to send the same pictures to Rick Bender at Dartmouth a year ago for program in advance of the game at Yankee Stadium, the entire thing took about two minutes. 

TB has kept a few emails through the years. Most of the ones he gets he deletes without ever opening. How did he end up on so many lists? 

One of his favorites is from Sept. 9, 2003. That would be more than 17 years ago already. Wow.

It came from his former colleague and longtime friend John Cornell, who had been the publications director for the Office of Athletic Communications. That was back when there were a lot of publications, there was a separate OAC position to design them. There were only two people who ever had the title of publications director, and John followed Mike Zulla in the position.

By September of 2003, John was working for the state of Maryland's Division of Natural Resources, where he came up with the slogan "saving the bay one fish at a time." Well, at least he joked about it anyway. Funny guy, John Cornell.

The email TB saved was sent to seven people, and it was entitled "You know you worked in the OAC in 2001-02 if ..." Then it listed a whole bunch of inside jokes.

Reading it back yesterday, TB couldn't help but laugh out loud. They're hysterical, actually, but, hey, you know, you had to be there to appreciate them.

And of course, they took TB right back to 2001-02. There were a few references to the fact that once upon a time, everything that had to be printed, produced, copied or anything had to have a job number, and the list of job numbers was kept in the OAC. Anytime anybody anywhere in the department needed to do any of those jobs, they had to first call the OAC and get a number while also giving the OAC person the account number for which to bill the work. 

It was a huge pain.

Anyway, you'll have to take TB's word for it. The list is still great. 

To that list, TB could have added three simple words: You love Yav.

Everyone in the OAC back then loved Yav. He was an almost-every day part of doing business at Princeton then.

Yav is the nickname for the great Harvey Yavener, a longtime local sportswriter at the Trenton Times (and briefly before that at the Trentonian). Yav was the one who got TB started on the Princeton beat back in 1989.

Yav stopped writing around 10 years or so ago, a combination of age and the changing landscape of the newspaper business. He was, without a doubt, a classic old-school newspaper guy, and he never would have been able to, or wanted to, be part of what sportswriting has evolved to these days.

Nope. He was all about the longform feature, and the epic postgame story. And the wrap  - his one-man crusade to give as many column inches as possible to every single college event on any given day played by Princeton, Rutgers, Rider, the College of New Jersey (then Trenton State College) and Mercer County College. 

Yav had a notebook, in which he write in pencil, every event coming up. On the busiest nights - "killer wraps," he'd call them - there could be 30 or 40 events in his notebook.

His best things were his ability to get a great story from any subject, often taking an hour to interview an athlete where others might only take 15 minutes, and his commitment to gender equity long before anyone else in the newspaper business - especially a man - ever considered it. 

Yav turned 91 yesterday. TB spoke to him to wish him a happy birthday. He's still sharp, even if his hearing isn't very good and he moves slowly. He mentioned how he never thought he'd live this long, let along live this long and still be mentally where he is.

If you remember Yav, then you remember Polly too, his longtime companion (more than 60 years together without ever having actually gotten married). Polly, herself a saint, passed away two years ago.

Yav is still going strong though. 

TB thinks the last Princeton athlete he ever interviewed was Alicia Aemisegger, who graduated in 2010. If you came around after that, then you don't remember him.

And that's a shame. He was such a huge part of Princeton Athletics for so long. And, for TB, he's been one of the most special people who has ever been a part of his life.

So happy 91st birthday Yav.

Hopefully there are many more to come.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Doc And Jack

So Doc Emrick announced that he was retiring yesterday.

The legendary hockey broadcaster is 74 years old, so he's earned it. There haven't been too many big hockey moments in the last few decades where he hasn't been behind the mic, whether it was the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Winter Classic or the Olympics.

Back when TigerBlog was a kid, every announcer sounded like Doc Emrick did. Somewhere along the line, "hip, edgy and highly emotional" replaced "folksy and respectful" as the sportscasting norm.

To that end, TB has always liked the way Emrick calls a game. He's not making himself bigger than the event, or, for that matter, even part of the event. He never seemed to be driven by ego.

He also didn't go down the path that so many current broadcasters, even the really good ones, do. He never used a lot of words to say what could be said in a few words, or fancy words to say what could be said in simpler terms. 

He could be a little overly folksy, 

The key to being a good play-by-play announcer is preparation. In this regard, Emrick was beyond impressive, and that was never clearer than during the Olympics.

When he did NHL games, he would see the same players over and over, so there wouldn't be that many newcomers to have to research. In the Olympics, there would be a ton of non-NHL guys, many with difficult names to pronounce, and Emrick would know who they were and everything about them as if they all were his neighbors.

According to something TB read, Emrick did more than 3,750 hockey games. It made TB wonder how different venues there were in which he called a game.

TB does know one where Emrick did a game. Hobey Baker Rink.

It was in 2013, and it was a game between Princeton and Union. The game was televised by NBC Sports.

This game happened to fall during the 2012-13 NHL lockout, which began in September and then ended when the new collective bargaining agreement was ratified on Jan. 12, 2013.

The Princeton-Union game was played on Jan. 11, 2013. Because there were no NHL games to call, NBC Sports gave some college games to its top announces. Princeton was lucky to have Emrick on the game from Baker Rink. 

TigerBlog chose not to go to the game and instead to watch it on TV, just to hear Emrick do the game. He spoke about both teams, again, as if they were all his neighbors. He even found time to wish a happy birthday to Princeton's then-hockey contact Kristy McNeil, as if she was a cousin of his. 

That game, TB thinks, was Emrick's only encounter with Princeton Athletics. He could be wrong about that.

He does know that Jack Scheuer saw a ton of Princeton games, the overwhelming majority of which were not in Princeton.

Scheuer was a staple at the Palestra for, well, for long before TigerBlog ever walked in the building. He was the AP reporter for Big Five basketball forever, and TB would see him any time he was there for a Princeton-Penn game.

He was as much a part of the building as anyone. Maybe the only person TB can associate more with the Palestra than Jack Scheuer was his late friend John McAdams, the wonderful longtime public address announcer in the building (and for a million other buildings, including when he did Princeton football games at Powers Field at Princeton Stadium).

TB didn't know Scheuer as well as he know McAdams. He did know Scheuer well enough to say hello and have a quick chat every time he saw him. He knew him well enough to be saddened by the news that Scheuer passed away last week, at the age of 88.

Mike Jensen wrote a great piece about Scheuer in the Philadelphia Inquirer last week. It mentioned how Scheuer played in pickup games into his 80s at the building, and how he still shot the same set shot he did when he played at Frankford High, graduating in 1949. As he read that, TB pictured Pete Carril as he shot that same shot in his own pickup games in Jadwin Gym.

You can read Jensen's story HERE

So congratulations to Mike Emrick on his incredible career, and the best to him in retirement. And RIP to Jack Scheuer, another gentleman who had another great career. Walking into the Palestra will be a little different from now on.

Monday, October 19, 2020

5 For 5

TigerBlog ran his streak with his colleague Cody Chrusciel to five straight weeks.

Of what? 

Of texting each other somewhere around the time that the Princeton football game of that weekend would have figured to be starting. The two are now five for five on the season.

If you think that the people who work in Princeton Athletics are glad that there are no games this fall, and therefore less work, well, this is Exhibit 1,000 that you're incorrect. 

This weekend would have been the game between Princeton and Brown. The game would have matched Princeton head coach Bob Surace against his former offensive coordinator - and current close friend - James Perry. 

The last time Brown came to Princeton was during the perfect 2018 season. That was the game that John Lovett missed due to injury, and in his place Kevin Davidson made his first career start. That made Brown the lone team against which Davidson made two career starts.

If you couple that game with the game last year in Providence, then here are Davidson's numbers in his two starts against the Bears: 

53 for 74, 678 yards, nine touchdowns, one interception. Combined score of the two games: Princeton 113, Brown 32.

It's safe to say that had the game been played, Brown would not have missed Davidson. 

Speaking of Lovett, he made a great play on the kickoff coverage team for the Green Bay Packers against the Tampa Bay Bucs yesterday:

Lovett, keep in mind, is a two-time Bushnell Cup winner as a quarterback. Well, sort of as a quarterback. He was more of a physical imposition on the other team who could do everything, so calling him a quarterback sells him short, even though he was a great quarterback at Princeton.

Anyway, to those who saw him play at Princeton, it's not a surprise that he's doing well on special teams in the NFL.

Speaking of former Princeton quarterbacks, Jason Garrett got his first win as the offensive coordinator with the Giants yesterday in a 20-19 win over Washington. 

TigerBlog is torn in a few ways here. First, he's rooting for Garrett to do well with the Giants and then get another NFL head coaching job. Or, possibly, to give up coaching and instantly become the next Tony Romo on TV, a job for which he is a complete natural, with his voice and his personality. 

TB has heard a lot of public speakers in his time at Princeton. No. 1? That's Dick Vitale, the Dick Vitale in his prime who spoke at the Meadowlands at halftime of a 1997 Princeton basketball game against Wake Forest in the Jimmy V. Classic. Jason, though, is really, really close. 

Great public speaking is about addressing the audience from your heart. That quality is what makes Jason Garrett an extraordinary public speaker, as good as it gets.

Assuming that he wants to stay in coaching, to get another head coaching spot, Jason needs an offense that can put up points. To do that in the NFL, he needs a good quarterback.

Is Daniel Jones the answer for the Giants? It's Year 2 for him. Is he showing signs of  being the long-term answer?

There seems to be universal agreement that Clemson's Trevor Lawrence will be somebody's long-term answer. TB has seen enough of Lawrence to be on the same page. Would the Giants give up on Jones so quickly and draft Lawrence with the No. 1 pick, should they get it?

Jones, you might remember, was originally a Princeton commit before going to Duke. Can you imagine having added him to the group with Lovett, Davidson and Chad Kanoff? 

Another thing from the Giants game yesterday is that Princeton head coach Bob Surace knows that TB salutes Washington head coach Ron Rivera for going for the two-point conversion in the final seconds and for the win that would have come with it. For TB, that is always the right move. You've just scored. You have the defense on its heels. Go for it right there.

Of course, it takes a coach who is willing to be second-guessed if it doesn't work, like it didn't for Rivera. That's a rarity in the NFL.

This coming week for Surace and the Tigers would have been the game at Harvard. 

TB is assuming he and Cody will get to six for six.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Co-Eds Triumph

As TigerBlog mentioned yesterday, the 50th anniversary of the first day that women competed in intercollegiate competition for Princeton University was on Oct. 17, 1970.

That would make tomorrow the 50th anniversary of that event.

As TB also mentioned, he's currently writing a book on the first 50 years of women's athletics at Princeton. It's a wildly fun project for him.

When he was first asked to write the book, TB said that he didn't want it to be an encyclopedia of events. Instead, he wanted it to be a narrative that told the story of how a school that didn't have women's athletics was able to build such a model program and have the overwhelming success it's enjoyed in these 50 years. 

As such, the book is divided into three sections, all of which are designed to tell the stories of the women who competed here and of the women - and some men - who made those competitions and experiences possible. 

So far he's spoken to many women about their Princeton athletic experiences, and he's not yet halfway to the total number to whom he will speak. In fact, there have been just about 4,500 women who have won varsity letters at Princeton in the last 50 years, and TB could probably get a great story out of all of them.

Interestingly, many of the women TB has spoken to have said the same thing at first: There's nothing special about my story. Then they go and tell TB a fascinating story. 

He's learned a lot about women's athletic history so far, with a long way to go. Some of the stories he's heard are incredible.

TB will be posting book excerpts from time to time as part of the 50th anniversary celebration. Another part will be the podcast series "The First 50" that he and Ford Family Director of Athletics will be doing, and there will of course be a ton of other content, especially on social media.

The first episode of the podcast features, who else, the first two women who competed for Princeton in that tennis match 50 years ago tomorrow. Those two would be Margie Gengler Smith and Helena Novakova.

The two of them could make an entire book all by themselves.

Margie is part of family that includes two sisters who also played at Princeton, Nancy and Louise (whom you may also remember as the women's tennis coach for 25 years). Did you also know that their maternal grandfather, John Logan, was a member of the Princeton Class of 1913 who also played football with Hobey Baker? 

That wasn't their only Princeton connection. Their father Herbert was in the Princeton Class of 1931, and his brother Arthur, their uncle, was in the Class of 1933.

Margie would appear on the cover of the Princeton Alumni Weekly as a senior in 1973 with the headline "Princeton's Best Athlete." A year later she would marry Stan Smith, the Hall-of-Fame tennis player whose credits include winning the singles title at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. 

As part of their travels together, Stan and Margie found a young man in South Africa whom they helped bring to the United States and then helped put through college here. That young man had three children, all of whom would graduate from Princeton, including Nathan Mathabane, who ran track and is now an assistant dean of admissions.

As for Helena, her story is even more remarkable. She was born in Communist Czechoslovakia and left the country at the time of the Soviet invasion in 1968. 

Through an incredible series of events, she made her way through West Germany to England and finally to America, eventually finding her way to Princeton University, where she became a great tennis player and swimmer and the 1972 winner of the Von Kienbusch Award as the top female athlete. 

Here's a part of her story, in her own words:

On the evening of August 25, 1968, the adults in my family decided that I should pack my suitcase and be ready to leave Pilsen the next morning to travel to the West.  I had planned to take a year off to study abroad and had an exit visa in my passport. My brother Vladimir jumped at this opportunity and decided to join me.

As we were leaving our home the following morning, Russian tanks were parked in the streets below our windows. Young soldiers peeking out of the hatches were bewildered by the fists, angry faces and words directed towards them. They had expected flowers and welcoming gratitude because they had been told that they were on a rescue mission. Instead of hugs they saw fury and also pity. Yes, some people felt sorry for these exhausted youngsters who had been tricked into believing a lie.

My uncle and my mother dropped us off at the train station in the most surreal way by keeping a distance from the platform to avoid possible suspicion of cooperation. We all passed the last moments before the train chugged off wondering when and if we would reunite again. Our eyes were glazed over with tears and anxiety, and the magnitude of the moment was squeezing our naked souls.

At the border crossing while passport control dealt with my papers, my brother, who did not have the exit visa, was escorted off the train. We did not even have a chance to hug and say good-bye. That was how I started my journey 50 years ago. I was then 21.

In the Nuremberg train station, American Red Cross workers asked English-speaking travelers to help with processing the influx of refugees. I volunteered and met wonderful people from Oklahoma who appreciated my help and invited me to their home, full of love and open hearts. During those initial days in Germany, I experienced the most difficult inner anxiety worrying about Vladimir. Did he try to cross the border through the mine fields on foot? Keeping busy helped me endure because lines of communication with Czechoslovakia were cut off and I had no way to find out what went on after I departed.

Three days later I said farewell to Mr. and Mrs. Cox, my new friends from Oklahoma from the American Red Cross, and took the train to my uncle’s home in Augsburg, where I was to spend a couple of weeks before crossing the Channel to England for my “Year Abroad” working as an “au-pair” and studying English for a Cambridge Certificate at Barnett College. A huge boulder of relief fell from my shoulders when the bell rang at my uncle’s and there stood two young Americans who had come from Pilsen with news from my family that my brother had returned home safely. These two students from Princeton University had been trapped in the events of Czechoslovakia while traveling and found shelter with my family the day I had left. Thus began my connection to the US.

It was 50 years ago tomorrow that those two women played in that tennis tournament. Margie won the singles title. Helena came in third. Together they won the doubles. Also together, they won the team title.

There was a small blurb in the Daily Princetonian that Monday, under the heading "Co-Eds Triumph."

It was the first time that was true, but hardly the last. 

So happy anniversary to the women athletes of Princeton. 

You've been triumphing for 50 years now, in the most impressive ways possible.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

First 50

The score of the first football game ever played, the one between Princeton and Rutgers in 1869, was 6-4 in favor of the Scarlet Knights.

The score of the first Princeton baseball game was 27-16, against Williams, in 1864.

Princeton actually played two games against Williams that season. The second was 30-17 in favor of Princeton.

In other words, the first football game was what is these days much more of a baseball score, and the first two baseball scores were more like modern-day football scores.

Since 1864, Princeton baseball has played countless 6-4 games, and by countless, TigerBlog means "a lot more than he want to count." 

On the other hand, Princeton football has played two 27-16 games, both against Brown. How many 30-17 football games has Princeton played? 

Any guesses?

It's either zero, eight or 16. Guesses?

You'd think 30-17 would be fairly common, right? Well, if you guessed "zero," you'd be correct.

The President of the United States on the day of the first Princeton baseball game was Abraham Lincoln. That, by the way, was the first intercollegiate athletic event in Princeton history.

Lincoln was the 16th POTUS. Richard Nixon was the 37th. 

That's a lot of Presidents between the first athletic event for Princeton and the first athletic for Princeton involving women.

The first time women competed for Princeton was shortly after the dawn of co-education. Two women, Margie Gengler and Helena Novakova, represented Princeton at the Eastern Intercollegiate Tennis Championships in New Paltz, N.Y. Together, they won the team championship all by themselves.

That event was 50 years ago Saturday.

Princeton women's athletics started out in the win column and has not let up since. In the first 50 years of women's athletics at Princeton, there have been, among other things, all of the following:

* 22 individual national champions
* 33 team national champions
* 35 Olympians
* 16 Olympic medals
* four Rhodes Scholars

There have also been, TB would assume, way more All-Americans than there have been 6-4 baseball games.

There have been just about 4,500 women who have won varsity letters at Princeton in the first 50 years (including, TB can say with limitless pride and admiration, his own daughter).

Women's athletics at Princeton have grown from two women in shirts purchased at the U-Store with their names sewn on the back of them by the only woman administrator in the Department of Athletics - and one of two overall at the entire University - to what it has become.

More than just all of the winning, the women's athletics teams at Princeton have been a model of what intercollegiate athletics can be at their best - a place for competition at the highest level by highly dedicated athletes who make lifelong friendships and learn all of the great lessons that serve them for the rest of their post-Princeton lives. They do all this while also being extraordinary ambassadors for the University and especially being inspirations to the little girls who watch them and want to grow up to be like them.

The 50th anniversary of women's athletics at Princeton is a very big deal, and the Department of Athletics will be celebrating for the foreseeable future. It's not the celebration that Princeton had hoped, as having in-person events will have to wait until the COVID pandemic ends.

Still, there will be speaker events, social media content, a podcast series with Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan (herself a two-sport athlete at Princeton), stories on (including a webpage dedicated to the women's athletics celebration) and much more.

For his part, TigerBlog is currently writing a book on the first 50 years of women's athletics at Princeton. With everything he's done at Princeton in all his years here, this book is definitely his favorite project.

He's spoken to, and continues to speak to, so many impressive women through the generations who have done so much to bring women's athletics to Princeton and then take it to the level it now enjoys. He's very much looking forward to the final product this coming spring.

There will be some excerpts from the book on the webpage, beginning next week with some of the story of Merrily Dean Baker, the woman who purchased those two shirts and sewed those names on the back - and did everything else necessary to get the women's program started.

TB invites you to enjoy all of the upcoming content about the first 50 years of women's athletics at Princeton. 

And if you're one of those letterwinners, this celebration is all about you and what you've accomplished.

You're part of an amazing sisterhood.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Good Value

TigerBlog mentioned yesterday that Matt Evans won the 1999 Roper Trophy as Princeton's outstanding senior male athlete. 

He received an email yesterday asking what about Brian Earl. The correct answer to the 1999 Roper Trophy is that there were three winners: Evans, Earl and Jeff Halpern. 

Two of them are now coaches. Earl is the head coach of the Cornell men's basketball team. Halpern is an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and in fact he just won a Stanley Cup with the team.

Now that he's cleared that up, TB can tell you about something interesting that he read yesterday that he did not know about as it relates to Presidential elections.

This was in relation to the election of ’20. In this case, that would be 1920. 

Actually, it was two interesting facts about that election.

First, it was Warren Harding against James Cox, and both candidates were from Ohio. Harding was a Senator, and Cox was the state's Governor.

How many times has that happened? 

Well, if the question is when there was another time when two people ran against each other who were both from the same state and at the time of the election were both holding major offices (governor, senator, even member of the House of Representatives), then the answer is never.

If the question is how many times have two people run against each other when they both had their legal address in the same state, well, that answer is four, including in 2016. The others were in 1904 (President Theodore Roosevelt defeated Alton Parker, who was the Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals) and 1944 (when President Franklin Roosevelt defeated New York Governor Thomas Dewey).

There was also 1860, when Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas were both from Illinois, but Douglas was not a major party candidate.

So there you have it.

The other thing that TB learned was in that 1920 election, Warren Harding won by the largest percentage of the popular vote over his opponent than any other candidate ever. Harding, it turns out, had 26.2 percent more of the popular vote – aided by the fact that women could vote for the first time – than Cox, a figure that nobody has bettered since.

Warren Harding. And you thought he was only famous for the Teapot Dome scandal. And from the affair he had with the woman who had his child, something that TB didn't know about until he watched "Boardwalk Empire."

That election was, of course, 100 years ago. Well, almost 100 years ago. Actually it was 100 years ago this coming Nov. 2.

You know what was exactly 100 years ago today? 

There were two interesting items in the Daily Princetonian of Oct. 14, 1920. Hey, this is what historians like TigerBlog do for fun. They check out old newspapers from 100 years ago.

The first was a story about how men's soccer season tickets were on sale. The cost to watch the 1920 Tigers? It was $1. That's for the entire season ticket, not per game.

TB has no idea how many games the 1920 Tigers played. The first year of men's soccer at Princeton was 1906, but the archives only have year-by-year results beginning in 1938. 

Of course, while $1 doesn't seem like a whole lot, keep in mind that 1) that's the equivalent of $13.60 today and 2) modern-day men's soccer games at Princeton are free. 

The other story TB saw in the paper from 100 years ago was about transportation to the upcoming Harvard football game. The story said that Princeton fans could take a train to New York City and then a boat to Boston.

How much? That would be $13.56 for the round-trip, which was overnight both ways. That cost, by the way, did not include a stateroom or meals on the boat. Staterooms were going for $2.43 and $3.42.

Again, in today's money, that's $184.37 for just the boat, and then either $33.04 or $46.50 for the stateroom. And that doesn't include food.

That's a bit pricey, no? 

On the other hand, that game was Princeton's only away game that year. It was also the only sort-of blemish on an otherwise perfect season, as Princeton and Harvard tied 14-14 in that game. 

Not to worry though. Princeton still won the 1920 national championship.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Matt Evans, Record-Holder

So the game to which TigerBlog was referring yesterday should be obvious.

In yesterday's entry, TB mentioned that Army-West Point had replaced Princeton on its football schedule with the Citadel. Instead of the Tigers at West Point Saturday, it was instead the Citadel.

Final score: Army 14, the Citadel 9.

That final score leapt out at TB as the same final score of the 2018 Princeton-Dartmouth game.

If you remember that game - and of course you do - it was the first of two straight Princeton-Dartmouth games that matched 7-0 against 7-0. In the 2018 game, Princeton defeated the Big Green 14-9 on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium.

The Big Green won the rematch last year 27-10 at Yankee Stadium. The difference between the two games was that in 2018, the two combined to go 19-1, which meant the head-to-head matchup became winner-take-all for the championship. A year ago, both teams lost the following weekend, and the game between the two did not end up being for the title.

The most amazing thing about that 2018 game is how the first 11 minutes of the game were and how the 49 after that played out. Dartmouth took the opening kickoff and then marched down the field, going 75 yards on 14 plays. Just like that, it was 7-0.

Princeton took the kickoff and then, on its first possession, answered with a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive of its own. That made it 7-7, and it left everyone in attendance to wonder if either offense would be stopped that day.

And then the defenses rose up, and every yard, every inch for that matter, was an achievement. TB can't remember seeing another game quite like it.

The offenses were unstoppable on their first possession. The defenses were unmovable after that.

The 2018 game was also the most intense Ivy League football game TB has ever seen, and that was a function of how great the defenses were. It just seemed like whoever got the next touchdown would be the winner - and that's how it played out - and therefore it put that much more pressure on every possession for both sides of the ball, but especially the defenses.

The coordinator of the winning defense that day was Steve Verbit. In addition to being the team's defensive coordinator, Verbs has been busy these days on social media tweeting out pictures of a player or a few players from their playing days and from today, with what their overwhelmingly successful careers have been.

It's a very effective way of making the point that the Princeton football experience is a rewarding one for the four years you are a Tiger and then one that breeds lifelong success after that. 

The most recent one that TB has seen is of Matt Evans, who was a punter for the Tigers in the late 1990s.

Evans holds the Princeton records for career punts and punting average in a season, and he is second in career punting average. 

In fact, he punted 239 times in his career, or 59 times more than the next-best total of 180, held by Colin McDonough. Only Ryan Coyle (41.2) has a better career average than Evans did (40.8), and Evans averaged 44.0 yards per punt as a senior in 1998.

As a freshman, by the way, Evans was the punter and classmate Alex Sierk was the placekicker on the 1995 outright Ivy League champion Tigers. Evans was a three-time first-team All-Ivy League selection as a punter.

Ah, but Evans was also a baseball player at Princeton. And he wasn't just any baseball player.

More than 20 years after his final game at Princeton, Evans still holds the career records for home runs, doubles and extra base hits at Princeton. Evans, a first baseman, was also a three-time All-Ivy baseball pick, though he was never first-team in baseball, despite his 26 home runs. 

As a senior he won the William Winston Roper Trophy as the top senior male athlete.

And of course, this get TB to thinking about how many people hold career records in two different sports at Princeton? 

Now TB has something else to look up.

Monday, October 12, 2020


TigerBlog didn't watch too much college football this past weekend. 

Actually, he didn't watch too much football period, college or pro.

He's still rooting for the Giants, his favorite team for his entire life. Were it not for Jason Garrett as the team's Offensive Coordinator, TB would no longer be even remotely interested. 

When TB was a kid, his favorite pro teams were the Giants, the Mets, the Knicks and the Islanders. Eventually, he began to root for the Devils instead of the Islanders because 1) the Islanders were no longer winning Stanley Cups and 2) the Devils were The New Jersey Devils, an actual, genuine New Jersey team.

Yes, the Giants and Jets played at the Meadowlands. But they were always, and still are, New York teams. 

It's fascinating to TB that his first memories of watching sports on TV include the Red Holtzman Knicks. He had no idea back then that he'd come to learn way more about Bill Bradley than just what he saw on his TV screen.

As for the Giants, they fell to 0-5 yesterday with their loss to the Cowboys. That ties them for the best record for an NFL team in New York, or, you know, New Jersey. For that matter, the Jets and Giants have as many wins as Princeton, who isn't playing this fall.

The Jets also fell to 0-5 yesterday with a non-competitive showing against the Cardinals. TB's interest in the Jets is mostly in Manish Mehta, the former Princeton Office of Athletic Communications assistant who is now the Jets' beat writer for the New York Daily News.

TB heard Manish on WFAN with Danielle McCartan, for an interview that aired during Danielle's "McCartan After Midnight" show Friday night, well, actually, Saturday morning. It actually aired at 4:40 am.

No, TigerBlog was not listening to the interview in the middle of the night. He listened to it Saturday afternoon while he rode his bike.

If the name Danielle McCartan is familiar to Princeton fans, it should be. She's the same person who did a lot of Princeton women's basketball games on the old Ivy League Digital Network and then in Year 1 of ESPN+. 

In addition to being an aspiring broadcaster, she's also a teacher. And she's been a coach. It makes for a busy schedule, TB supposes.

She's gone from Princeton games to overnight on the weekends on WFAN, which is the No. 1 sports talk radio station in the country. Her interview with Manish was very strong, with some humor, some tough questions - like asking Manish about his support for Jets' coach Adam Gase at first, something that's obviously changed. 

It was a good question to ask, and Manish answered it perfectly, talking about how things can change sometimes. She didn't duck the question, and he didn't duck the answer. It made for very good radio. So did the fact that she's very knowledgeable and very personable without trying too hard to be funny or edgy. TB was impressed.

Anyway, this weekend was the first time since the COVID situation began that Danielle was back on the air. 

This weekend also would have been the Princeton football game at Army. The teams have played 13 times, and Princeton leads the series 6-4-3. 

Of course, there is a bit more to it than just the numbers. Princeton and Army played twice in the 1980s, with Army's having won both. Before that, you go back 77 years to find another meeting. 

Hopefully, it won't be 77 more until they can make the schedule work. By the way, of the 13 games, there were eight that were played in 1908 or earlier, including four in the 1800s.

Anyway, Army replaced Princeton with the Citadel, and the teams played Saturday at Michie Stadium. TB was expecting a high-scoring Princeton-Army game. In fact, he told someone Saturday that he thought it would have been 42-28 Army, or something like that.

The game between Army and the Citadel, though, ended 14-9 Army.  It was lower scoring and closer than TB figured, as Army improved to 4-1 and the Citadel fell to 0-4.

The result made TB rethink his position. Princeton definitely would have won. 

Hey, why not.

Oh, by the way, the final score of the game between Army and the Citadel?

Where have Princeton fans seen that score before?

Think about it. You'll figure it out.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Almost An Anniversary

Were it not for the COVID-19 situation, the fall teams would be heading into the heart of their Ivy League seasons.

TigerBlog has said that he was not going to be spending the whole fall doing a bunch of "what ifs," because what would be the point.

While he's not writing those, though, he certainly hasn't gotten past the whole idea that there are no sports currently going on. For him, this is the first fall in nearly 40 years where he has not had games to cover. 

That is especially true on Saturdays. They're just weird now.

As he did all spring, he finds himself spending his Saturdays thinking about where he would have been and what he would have been doing. Last week, it was to have been the Ivy opener at Columbia. 

Speaking of Princeton football, TigerBlog has a good Bob Surace story. TB wrote earlier this week about the novels that he and Judd Garrett have published.

TB didn't mention that the lead character in his story is a fictional member of the Class of 1990 named Sam Wainwright. As he was writing it, TB needed to know what the Class of 1990 Reunions jacket looked like, so he texted Surace, a member of the class. 

All he said was that he needed a picture of Surace's Reunions jacket. And about 90 seconds later, Surace texted him back a picture of it, without ever asking why. It was pretty classic Surace. Happy to help. Literally no questions asked.

Anyway, the whole "what would TB have been doing today" thing will be even more acute tomorrow.

Tomorrow was supposed to be the day that Princeton played football at Army. Considering that the weather tomorrow in West Point will be sunny with highs in the mid-70s, yeah, it would have been a perfect day for the game.

TigerBlog has never seen a football game at Army. He was definitely looking forward to this:

Hopefully that game will be able to be played at some point in the near future. 

Speaking of the near future, there is something that definitely will be happening one week from tomorrow. It'll be the 50th anniversary of the first time that women competed in intercollegiate athletics for Princeton.

It was on Oct. 17, 1970, that Margie Gengler (now Margie Gengler Smith) and Helena Novakova represented Princeton in the Eastern Intercollegiate Tennis Championships in New Paltz. Not to give away the whole story, but it went well.

There is all kinds of content on its way from Princeton Athletics about the anniversary and about the first 50 years of women's athletics. The addition of women into athletics at Princeton is as big as anything else that has ever happened for the Tigers, and the women's teams have been a model of success and a representation of Princeton's Athletic values from Day 1.

Which, of course, was 50 years ago next Saturday.

TigerBlog has been spending most his time these days writing a book on the history of women's athletics at Princeton, and he's really happy with how it's progressing. He's very much looking forward to the finished product, which will be available in the spring, in conjunction with the first actual team event, which was a women's tennis match against Penn on April 12, 1970.

In addition to the book, there will be all kinds of additional information in the form of social media, written stories on the webpage, podcasts and videos. And, of course, here on TigerBlog.

You'll be able to start to see all of this beginning next week, including some book excerpts.

There really are no shortage of stories to tell, beginning with the way that athletics for women began at Princeton – fueled by the drive of the first female administrator, Merrily Dean Baker, about whom everyone TB has spoken with has raved – and continuing through the present day. 

TigerBlog's research has already taken him to so many impressive women who have represented Princeton as coaches and athletes, and their stories have been fascinating and inspiring. He still has many, many more to talk to as well. It began with a trip to Florida in January to meet with Baker herself, and it's continued since then.

It's an anniversary well worth celebrating.