Tuesday, July 23, 2019

University Field

TigerBlog was walking into Jadwin Gym one day last week when he was stopped by a family who asked him how to get to the E Quad.

Giving directions to places that you go to all the time isn't always easy. You can drive on the same roads every day and never notice small things, like, say their names.

Before smartphones came along, giving directions was a pretty big thing. TigerBlog remembers having to regularly call high schools when he first started out in the newspaper business and ask how to get there for whatever game he needed to cover.

For that matter, when he first started at Princeton, the number of phone calls he got looking for directions was pretty high. Now? It's been years since he's gotten one.

Back then, there was a main number for the Office of Athletic Communications that had four options, one of which was directions to Princeton athletic facilities.

As he remembers it, by the way, TigerBlog used to get more than a thousand calls per month on his office phone. These days, most days he doesn't get any.

It's a trade-off, of course.

The ease of getting information is undeniable. So, too, is the result of that, which is a continuing track of less and less human interaction.

TigerBlog used to get a lot of calls that started out something like this:

Caller: Hi, my (son or daughter) plays (fill in the blank sport) for (fill in the blank college) and their team will be playing at Princeton this weekend. Can you give me directions on how to get there?

In most cases, that led to something of a conversation. Nothing serious. Just a quick pleasant chat.

Now? That same person is just entering "Jadwin Gym" or whatever facility into Waze or another app, thereby rendering the conversation unnecessary.

Anyway, giving directions is one of the tasks that long ago vanished. There was a certain charm to it.

Meanwhile, back at the directions to the E Quad, TB told the people to walk up the road next to the football stadium, head up Roper Lane at the top of the stadium and then turn right.

The E Quad - the "E" is for "Engineering" - at one point was University Field, the home of Princeton football.

University Field, in fact, became Princeton's home stadium in 1876. Princeton football began in 1869 with the first game ever played (and the second, a week later, both against Rutgers). By the time 1876 rolled around, Princeton had played nine total games, against four teams.

Who were the four?

Rutgers, of course. And the second team Princeton ever played, Yale. And then Columbia. And then a school that is currently Division III and does not have a football team.


While you contemplate that, the interesting thing about University Field to TigerBlog is that it had seating for 20,000. It seemed like football was taking off almost from the start.

Princeton played only one home game in 1876, against Penn. That was one of four total games that year, along with road games against Yale, Penn and Columbia.

Princeton played four games in 1877 also, which marked the first time that Harvard appeared on the schedule.

By 1881 Princeton was playing a nine-game schedule, a season that included a game against Michigan. By the way, the score of that game was Princeton 1g, 2t, 1s, Michigan 3s.

Goals? Touchdowns? Safeties?

It wasn't until 1883 that games started to have scores that had one number for one team and one number for the other.

Oh, and the answer to the question about the fourth team Princeton had played?
It was Stevens Tech. 

Princeton has had only two other home stadium's since University Field - Palmer Stadium from 1914-1996 and then Powers Field at Princeton Stadium from 1998 through the present.

You may have noticed the one-year gap in 1997 during the construction. For the 1997 season, Princeton played eight road games and had two neutral site games, one at Giants Stadium (which also no longer exists) against Yale and at The College of New Jersey's Lions Stadium against Fordham.

The E Quad, by the way, opened on that spot in 1962.

For 38 years, that spot was the home for Princeton football.

TB wonders what a home game there must have been like.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Single-Game Tickets On Sale Today

When TigerBlog was a kid, he was fascinated when his parents would drive through the Lincoln Tunnel and they'd all get to the midway point.

There, painted on the wall, there was (and still is) a dividing line, on one side of which said "New York" and on the other said "New Jersey."

Come to think of it, TB is still fascinated by things like that.

Perhaps he should have painted on a line somewhere this weekend and painted "2018-19" on one side and "2019-20" on the other. After all, this weekend, Saturday to be exact, was the halfway point between the last athletic event of the last athletic year and the first athletic event of the coming one.

By the way, it's easy to say the last academic year - "twenty-eighteen, nineteen." Flows.

The coming one is a little different. It's "twenty-nineteen, twenty." Doesn't flow as easily, but it's not too bad.

How about the one after? That one will be "twenty-twenty, twenty-one." Doesn't flow at all.

The one after that will be the best. "Twenty-twenty-one, twenty-two." Easy.

Anyway, the last event of last athletic year was the NCAA track and field championships back on June 8. The first event of the 2019-20 athletic year is Friday, Aug. 30, when the women's soccer team plays at St. Joe's.

That would mean that there is a 83-day gap between the end of last year and the start of this year, which made the mid-point 
day 42, which was Saturday.


When you work in college athletics, you get used to the differences in work flow at the different times of year. For those 83 days of the summer, things by definition are a bit slower, since there are no athletic events. 

It's certainly the heart of summer now, that's for sure. This weekend featured temperatures hovering close to 100 in the Princeton area.

Of course, at this time of year, there are a few topics that are on every Princeton Athletics fan's mind. Vacations. Swimming. Relaxing.

And, this morning, Princeton football tickets.

As of this morning at 9 am, Princeton single-game tickets are on sale. It's a big year for the Tigers, what with the 150th anniversary of the first football game and the fact that the team is coming off a perfect season.

The 2019 football season begins against Butler Sept. 21, which is two months from yesterday. Training camp, as will the entire return to campus of all the fall athletes, will be here in a blink.

Here's the entire home schedule:

Sept. 21- Butler (Community and Staff Day), 5 pm
Oct. 5 - Columbia (Youth Day), 1 pm
Oct. 11 - Lafayette (Mascot Night), 7 pm
Oct. 26 - Harvard (Homecoming), 1 pm
Nov. 16 - Yale (Senior Day/Salute To Service), 1 pm

The Princeton-Dartmouth football game is a neutral site game, at Yankee Stadium, Nov. 9. This will be three days past the 150th anniversary of that first game, between Princeton and Rutgers.

This year, by the way, is the first time that Princeton has played Harvard and Yale at home in the same season. Princeton's 10-0 season last year featured wins at Harvard and Yale.

It also featured the highest scoring offense in Ivy League history, at 47.0 points per game. If you take away the 14-9 win over Dartmouth, then Princeton averaged 51 per game.

Princeton had six home games a year ago, and here were the point totals: 51, 66, 48, 66, 14, 42. That's a lot of points on Powers Field.

And now you can get tickets for the encore season. You can buy season tickets, single-game tickets and tickets to the Princeton-Dartmouth game HERE.

They're very affordable. The stadium is a great place to see a game.

What else do you have to do on a July Monday? 

Friday, July 19, 2019

50 Years Later

TigerBlog used to attend a summer camp called "Camp Toledo," which was located in High Falls, N.Y.

So did BrotherBlog.

Years and years later, TigerBlog was driving past the area on the New York State Thruway and got off to try to find where his camp had been. He thinks he found it, though he's not 100 percent sure he was in the right place, since it had closed in the 1970s.

Camp Toledo was located in the Catskill region of New York.

It was a typical summer sleepaway camp, and TigerBlog and his brother attended it for five straight summers, eight weeks each summer. Then, after one year of not going, they spent eight more weeks at a different camp in the same basic area, that one called Camp Echo.

TigerBlog has a lot of fond, idyllic, Wonder Years-type memories of his summer camp days.

What he has no memory of is what went on at Camp Toledo on July 20, 1969. He just knows that he is sure he was there on that day.

As you probably know, that day was the day that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first two humans to walk on the moon. The 50th anniversary of what has to be up there with any human achievement ever is tomorrow.

Back as it unfolded, TB was a kid at summer camp. He doesn't remember anything about how the news was shared with the campers, if there was a TV hookup, anything.

He asked his brother yesterday if he remembers, and he doesn't either. Oh well.

TigerBlog has read a lot about the first lunar mission. Most recently, he saw a documentary early this week called "For All Mankind," which was a series of essentially home movies from the trips to the moon, with narration by various astronauts.

What was really striking to TigerBlog was the way that Armstrong and Aldrin ran, tumbled and strolled around the surface but were able to find their way back to the lunar module. Were they worried at any point that they wouldn't remember where it was parked?

Speaking of parking, there was Mike Collins in the command module, flying above the moon's surface all by himself while the other two landed, walked and then came back to meet him. In all he was by himself in a space capsule for nearly 24 hours, during which time he orbited the moon 30 times.

It's like he dropped them off and couldn't find a parking space. In all seriousness, that had to be an incredibly unique emotional experience, being all alone, often on the far side of the moon, out of radio contact with any humans.

Collins never walked on the moon, but he has been quoted as saying he felt as much a part of it as Armstrong and Aldrin.

In all, 12 people have walked on the moon. Of that group, four are still alive.

How many can you name? Well, there is the third person who walked on the moon, Pete Conrad, who was a 1953 Princeton graduate.

Of the 12 people, there are two colleges who produced two alums in the group - Purdue and the Naval Academy.

The anniversary of the moon walk is tomorrow.

The first Princeton Athletic event of the year is six weeks from today, a women's soccer game at St. Joe's. The first football game of the year is two months away, as the Tigers will host Butler Sept. 21 to start the 150th anniversary season.

It's essentially the middle of the summer, and yet the Princeton Athletics news continues. There were five new stories on the webpage yesterday, including the news that Chris Sailer had been named the women's lacrosse Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year.

There was also a story about rising sophomore men's basketball player Jaelin Llewellyn, who was invited to the Chris Paul Elite Guard Academy. Llewellyn, who became the first freshman to lead Princeton in assists in 12 years and who added 10.1 points per game to that, is one of 20 players who are currently competing there.

Of the group that was there last year, six were chosen in the most recent NBA draft.

Anyway, that's about it for this week.

Have a great summer weekend. Fall, and the new athletic year, will be here soon enough. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

A Random Summer Thursday

TigerBlog wasn't expecting to see Billie Jean King on the front page of goprincetontigers.com yesterday.

And yet there she was. You can see the story HERE.

Billie Jean King, who did more to advance women's athletics than any other single person, presented an award to Princeton rising junior Ryan Seggerman, a first-team All-Ivy League selection who has also battled Type 1 diabetes.

From the release:
Seggerman was one of two recipients of the 2019 Novo Nordisk Donnelly Award, which provided a one-time scholarship toward education, tennis development or medical care. Seggerman won the honor in May and was presented the award at the Philadelphia Freedoms' World Team Tennis match Tuesday at Saint Joseph's' Hagan Arena alongside co-winner Brendan Wolan, a student at Illinois, and World Team Tennis co-founder and tennis legend Billie Jean King. 

The picture on the webpage got TB to wondering who is the most famous athlete who has ever been on the Princeton athletics site. He's not counting anyone who actually played at Princeton, like Bill Bradley or Jason Garrett.

The answer is ... that he can't think of anyone more famous than Billie Jean King. Maybe there's been one. He just can't think of who it was.

Since it's the middle of July, there's something of a randomness to what appears on the webpage. This week is no different.

There was a story was about the two goals scored by Princeton women's soccer alums in the NWSL, one each from Jen Hoy and Tyler Lussi.

You can see them HERE.

Lussi scored more goals at Princeton than any player who has ever played here, male or female, with 53. Hoy scored 36 of her own. Both were Ivy League Players of the Year.

Also, both goals were game-winners in stoppage time. 

What stood out from the two clips is how many people were at the game in Portland, where Lussi scored the winner. When TB looked it up, he found out that the number was 18,909, which is basically what the home attendance has been for the Thorns all year.

There was also a story about the Princeton Football Association's release of the top Princeton football players from the Ivy League era. The list covers 192 players between offense, defense ad special teams, and Jay Greenberg of princetontigersfootball.com did writeups on all of them.

The story is HERE.

Then there was a story about George Humann.

The 6-11 rising senior on the men's volleyball team had himself quite a few months on the court, beginning when he was named the EIVA Player of the Year as Princeton won the league championship, the MVP of the EIVA tournament as Princeton won the title, led Princeton to an NCAA tournament opening round win and then now on the international stage helping the United States to a second-place finish at the FIVB Nation's League playoffs this past weekend.

The U.S. hosted the event in Chicago and then made an incredible run to the final before falling to Russia. Along the way, the Americans defeated France, Russia and Brazil.

You can read all about that one HERE.

Parker Dixon, Huhmann's teammate and classmate, also competed internationally, at the World University Games in Italy. The U.S. team went 2-5 and finished 16th.

As for Dixon, he was also a first-team All-EIVA selection this past spring.

The story about Dixon is HERE.

The sixth story as TB was scrolling through the website yesterday was about the addition of Courtney Birchard-Kessel to the women's hockey coaching staff.

Birchard-Kessel has a long and impressive history of playing and coaching professionally and internationally, after she graduated from the University of New Hampshire. You can read more about her HERE.

And that was yesterday afternoon on goprincetontigers.com.

The website isn't nearly as busy in the summer as it is during that academic year, obviously, but there is always some sort of news that involves Princeton Athletics.

On a random Thursday in the the summer you never know what you'll find there.

Maybe even Billie Jean King.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Geared Up

TigerBlog was riding his bike the other day when he came upon a guy who was running.

As he got closer, he could see the shirt that the runner was wearing. It said "Penn, Class of 2020."

That would make him a rising senior this fall, it would seem. In his mind, TB had this conversation with the kid:

TigerBlog: "Hey Quaker."
Penn Kid: "Hey."
TB: "I'm an alum."PK: "Yeah? Then why are you wearing Princeton shorts and a Princeton t shirt?"
TB: "Upgraded."

TigerBlog wishes him well, even though he has no idea who he was.

A few days later, TB was going through his closet, looking to get rid of old clothes. He started counting up how much Princeton gear he's accumulated in his time here, and he came up with this answer:

A lot.

It also dawned on him that he has absolutely nothing, zero stuff, that says "Penn" on it. How many people own nothing from their alma mater?

In fact, TigerBlog has apparel from six different colleges. One is Princeton. Penn isn't one of the other four.

Guesses on the others?

If you read this every day, you should be able to get three of the five, may get the fourth and probably wouldn't get the last one. To test this, TB asked John Mack, one of the most loyal Princeton alums and TB readers.

To prove TB's theory, John got three of the five: Sacred Heart, Denver and Purdue. He also guessed Washington (BrotherBlog hasn't given TB anything from there, and TigerBlog Jr. stole TB's UW hat years ago) and Georgetown (he used to have stuff but got rid of it when the Hoyas didn't retain John Thompson III as men's basketball coach).

So the other two? Louisiana-Lafayette, from the time Princeton played there in the NCAA baseball regionals and TB went with the team. The last one? Navy. TB has a really good Navy football t shirt and shorts. He's worn them for years.

TigerBlog remembers the first three pieces of Princeton gear he got. They predated his time as an official University employee.

One was a Princeton Lacrosse sweatshirt. There's no real story behind it, other than TB was covering a game and saw it on sale outside of Palmer Stadium and bought it for $20.

It's not the only Princeton gear that TB has ever purchased. It is the only Princeton gear that TB has purchased for himself. It's also one of the very, very few pieces of Princeton gear that TB bought that wasn't for a baby.

Another was a Princeton rowing hat, which former Princeton coach Dan Roock gave to him after TB wrote about crew for the first time. It was a good hat.

It also came with a really nice note from Dan talking about how much the coverage meant to the rowers on the team. TB remembers that more than the hat.

In fact, it's something that really resonated with TigerBlog, since he had spent almost all of his time to that point covering football and basketball. Not to overstate it, but that note was one of the things that started TB down the path of understanding the value of broadbased athletics and valuing the experience of all of Princeton's athletes.

Meanwhile, another lesson came from his second piece of gear, which was a Princeton basketball sweatshirt. It was given to TB by a former Princeton basketball coach, and if you guessed Pete Carril, then you would be incorrect. Actually, it was a gift from former women's coach Joan Kowalik.

Interestingly, the sweatshirt was black and said "Princeton Basketball" on it in orange, with a basketball in between the words. TB is pretty sure that not one person who ever saw it thought it came from the women's coach.

TigerBlog, as he has said many times before, was one of the very few sportswriters who covered women's basketball, or women's athletics at all, back then. He did it because of Harvey Yavener, his mentor at the Trenton Times, who insisted that all athletes deserved coverage.

If you think of gear as just free stuff, consider the lessons TB took from those two, a hat and a sweatshirt. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Perfect Form

Okay, Bob Surace's first pitch at Yankee Stadium last night might have been a little high.

On the other hand, at least Surace stayed in the park, unlike Yankee starter James Paxton, who gave up a leadoff home run to Tampa's Travis d'Arnaud, the rare catcher who was batting leadoff.

You can see Surace has tremendous form, right?:

That's a perfect release point. His weight is coming forward. All good, even with the glove. 

That had to be incredibly stressful, as TigerBlog said yesterday. He's not sure he'd want to do it (or, for that matter, why he'd be asked in the first place).

It would be fairly embarrassing, for instance, to show up like this on youtube:

If you didn't notice, there were just short of three million page views for that. 

Paxton, by the way, pitched in college at Kentucky and is making $8.8 million with the Yankees for this season. TigerBlog found this out by looking on his scores app.

While there, he also saw that Paxton was born on Nov. 6, 1988. What else happened in history on Nov. 6?

If you go back 150 years, to Nov. 6, 1869, you'll find the first football game ever played. That was between Princeton and Rutgers. The teams actually played two games in eight days back in 1869, and each team won one. From what TB has read, they played by slightly different rules in the first game at Rutgers and then the second game a week later at Princeton.

Here's what the Princeton Companion has to say about it:
Football was first played at Princeton on crisp fall afternoons in the 1840s when students gathered behind Nassau Hall for impromptu games. Opposing teams were made up of residents of East and West Colleges or members of the Whig and Clio Halls; sometimes, all the A to L's were pitted against the M to Z's. After the Civil War, increasing interest led to interclass matches and eventually to an epochal event -- the first American intercollegiate football game, between Princeton and Rutgers, in New Brunswick on November 6, 1869.
The twenty-five players from each college played in their street clothes, and the several hundred spectators stood around on the side or sat on a wooden fence. There were no coaches, no officials, no programs -- the Rutgers Targum, on which we chiefly depend for the record of the game, tells us that Princeton's first goal was made ``by a well directed kick, from a gentleman whose name we don't know, but who did the best kicking on the Princeton side.'' The Targum is equally silent about the identity of the first wrongway player in American football history, a Rutgers man ``who, in his ardor, forgot which way he was kicking,'' and scored for Princeton instead of Rutgers. By agreement, the home team's style of play was used, and Rutgers won, 6 goals to 4; a week later, Princeton won the return match on its grounds, 8 goals to 0.

Can you imagine what intramural football looked like in the 1840s?

In the present, Surace was at the Stadium last night as part of the celebration for the 150th anniversary of college football. So was Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens, who also threw out a first pitch along with Surace.

The coaches were there to promote the Nov. 9 meeting between Princeton and Dartmouth at Yankee Stadium, which will be played three days after that 150th anniversary. The Tigers and the Big Green were by far the two best teams in the Ivy League a year ago, when Princeton went 10-0 and Dartmouth went 9-1, with the only difference between them a 14-9 Princeton win in an all-time Ivy classic.

It's almost time for football to start. NFL and college teams will be opening training camps. The first NFL exhibition game is between Denver and Atlanta, and that's just 15 days away.

Princeton is about a month away from practice. For the first time in 54 years, the Tigers will come into a season off a perfect year, and they'll also be chasing a fourth Ivy title in seven years.

All of that makes this football season fascinating from the start.

The history piece is just a huge extra, one of which happened last night at Yankee Stadium.

Monday, July 15, 2019

On The Mound

Were it not for the new rule that required a tiebreaker at 12-12 in the final set, it's possible that Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic might still be playing at Wimbledon.

Okay, that's an exaggeration. Federer had two match points at when it was 8-7 in the fifth and couldn't close Djokovic out, but someone would have broken serve again and held their own to win. At some point.

This was the first year at Wimbledon that the rules called for a tiebreaker in the fifth set. In years past, it would have just gone until a player won by two games.

This time around, there was going to be a tiebreaker if the players were tied at 12-12, and that's exactly how it played out. Djokovic would win, ending the longest final in Wimbledon history at 4:57. That's just short of five hours.

Considering how long they played and how intense the stakes were (not to mention their combined age is 70), it was incredible to see how they were still moving at the end. 

It was obvious that this was destined to be remembered as one of the great matches Wimbledon has seen. The pressure on each to hold serve was immense, and they did so 22 times in 24 games in the fifth game.

On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of those games were held with no drama.

There was one thing that TigerBlog couldn't figure out as he watched it. He's vehemently anti-penalty kicks to decide soccer games, but he wondered why there wasn't just a tiebreaker at 6-6 like there is everyone else.

How can he have both of those viewpoints? They're sort of contrary to each other no?

Oh well. It was a great match.

Way back in the early 1980s, TigerBlog covered a few U.S. Opens when he was still a sportswriter. His favorite player from his experience back then was easily Martina Navratilova.

TigerBlog got into the newspaper business through his friend Jack McCaffery, who worked at the Trenton Times back then and now has been a longtime columnist with the Delaware County Times (and is the brother of University of Iowa men's basketball head coach Fran McCaffery).

Jack once took TigerBlog to a game he was covering at Yankee Stadium, and when it over, they went back to the parking lot to head home. As it turned out, the media shared the same parking lot as the players, and this was really TB's first time up close with so-called "famous" athletes.

It also turned out that Jack had left the lights on in his car and so his battery was dead. As he asked each player who came out if they had jumper cables, none of them could be bothered - until Lou Paniella came by and said sure, he'd help. Then he pulled his Cadillac up, hooked up the cables and got the car started.

Paniella, by the way, played 16 years in the Majors and won the 1969 American League Rookie of the Year.

That would be TigerBlog's favorite memory of the old Yankee Stadium, although perhaps techically he should admit that it didn't really happen in the stadium.

He's never been to the new Yankee Stadium, so he has no favorite memory. His favorite things that have happened there so far have been Scott Bradley's experiences at Old Timers' Day, especially this past year, when the longtime Princeton baseball coach was mic'd up for the occasion.

You can add tonight to that list, as Princeton head football coach Bob Surace will throw out the first pitch at the Yankees-Rays game. Surace will be joined by Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens for the pitch.

TB would think that it's not easy to throw a strike on a first pitch. There have certainly been some awful attempts at it through the years, efforts that have found their way to youtube.

As for Surace, he was a center at Princeton - an All-Ivy center at that. Teevens was a quarterback at Dartmouth, and in fact he and Surace are the only two ever to win an Ivy League football championships as players and head coaches.

Still, it would seem that a quarterback would have an advantage in this situation.

Either way, tonight's effort is for fun - and to help promote the upcoming game at Yankee Stadium between their two teams this November.

That game, Nov. 9, will be three days after the 150th anniversary of the first football game ever, held on Nov. 6, 1869, between Princeton and Rutgers.

This year will be a celebration of that anniversary throughout the college football world, and especially at Princeton, who played such a large role in the sport's formation.

And tonight will be a part of that celebration.

Friday, July 12, 2019

First Pitch

TigerBlog was watching TV the other day when a commercial with Chuck Woolery came on.

First, TB recognized Woolery as a game show host. Second, he couldn't remember which game show until he looked it up.

Woolery was the host of, among other games, "Love Connection," which he did for 11 years. Before that, he was actually the original host of "Wheel of Fortune."

If you add the amount of time TB has spent in his life watching both of those shows combined, by the way, it probably doesn't come to a full football game.

The commercial that featured Woolery was for Blue Emu, which 1) is a joint pain treatment and 2) has commercials on Princeton radio broadcasts. You can add 3) it doesn't have the strong scent that some other joint paint treatments do.

TigerBlog knows this from the last four words of the live read, which are "... and you won't stink." It's pretty good actually, since the knock on most of its rivals is that in fact, they do stink when you apply them.

What struck TigerBlog is the way Woolery said those last four words. He had the emphasis on "won't," whereas TB - and especially Patrick McCarthy, with whom TB does men's basketball games - have the emphasis on the "you."

TigerBlog would consider himself to be near the high end of non-radio people in terms of hours spent on the radio broadcasting games. He's done a lot of games in his Princeton career in football, basketball and lacrosse, even though he's not exactly what you would consider to be a professional announcer.

He'll be back doing some Princeton football radio this fall, something that he hasn't done in a long time. Actually, he can't really remember how long it's been, though he's pretty sure the last person he did a game with was Dan Loney. This time it will be with Cody Chrusciel.

TB was on the princetontigersfootball.com website yesterday when he noticed that there is a countdown clock for the first game, which is now 71 days away. Princeton will host Butler on Sept. 21, which will be Game 1 during the 150th anniversary season of college football.

As part of that celebration, Princeton will be playing a game at Yankee Stadium in November, against Dartmouth. That game will be Nov. 9, which will be three days after the actual anniversary of that first game, between Princeton and Rutgers on Nov. 6, 1869.

You can get more information about the game, including how to buy tickets, HERE.

In advance of that game, Princeton head coach Bob Surace and Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens will be throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium before Monday night's Yankees-Rays game.

As he writes this, it dawns on TigerBlog that he has never asked Princeton football coach Bob Surace why he is a Yankees fan. After all, Surace is a South Jersey guy, from Millville. How'd he get so into the Yankees?

No matter how, Surace is a huge Yankees fan. Throwing out the first pitch there has to be a huge thrill.

In addition to the first pitch and a bunch of other stuff, the football website is also releasing the results of a committee of 18 who attempted to chose the best Princeton players by position in the Ivy League era. The committee was headed by Jay Greenberg, a longtime sportswriter who now does much of the writing for the princetontigersfootball.com site.

The team was revealed Monday night at the annual alumni golf outing at the Springdale Golf Club, and it's being released in three parts on the football site. Goprincetontigers.com will have the full list early next week.

There are seven weeks left until the first athletic event of 2019-20, which will be a women's soccer game against St. Joe's on Aug. 30. As TB said, the first football game is three more weeks after that, which means that opening kickoff is 10 weeks from tomorrow.

That, though, does not mean there is no football news in the meantime. In fact, there's quite a lot of it.

There's the first pitch Monday. There's the release of the all-time team after that.

By the way, Chuck Woolery is a native of Ashland, Kentucky, a town that will be represented on that all-time team.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

More Summer Travels

TigerBlog received this comment earlier this week:

TB, four years ago, I left a comment suggesting a few topics for your summer columns. (Left comment on 6/12/15; your last response on 8/28/15.) You predictably knocked those pitches out of the park, so here are some more ideas that you might consider to be in your strike zone:

Greatest games or events you've witnessed, considering their historical context (last time, you answered exclusive of historical context)
Most improbable team or individual achievements (other than comebacks, which we covered)
Saddest or most bitter you've been due to Princeton sports
Most nervous moments you've had, in-game or otherwise
Most extreme emotions other than happy, sad or nervous (For instance, I think that arguably your best column ever was describing what went through your mind when you inputted the official scorer's entry for your daughter's ground ball. As another example, when I attended Princeton Stadium's 1998 inaugural game against Cornell, the pre-game festivities included football alumni marching onto the field beneath their class banners. Watching the history unfold in front of me, I started to tear up. My girlfriend at the time, a gritty street-smart New Yorker, saw me getting choked up and looked at me quizzically. I felt the need to explain myself and quietly said, "This makes me feel part of something bigger than myself." Within a month, we broke up. I think she literally thought to herself, "Any man who would come close to crying at a football game is not a good long-term match for me.") 

Yes, this is great. TigerBlog will get to all of them before the end of the summer.

As for today, it's always good to see Ashleigh Johnson on the front page of goprincetontigers.com.

Johnson, a 2017 Princeton grad, has twice been named the top women's water polo player. Not in the league or in the collegiate ranks. Nope. The best in the world.

If you ever saw her play, you can understand why. A goalie, she seems not so much to float on the water as she does to use the water as if it was her own launching pad, reaching shots in the upper corners that seem impossible.

Think about it. You're treading water. The pool is deep. You can't touch the bottom. And then you have to explode out of the pool to try to stop a shot that is rocketing at you.

Johnson won an Olympic gold medal in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games and then came back to Princeton to compete as a senior. Only Bill Bradley had ever done that before - competed as a Princeton athlete after having won Olympic gold.

TigerBlog thought that Johnson's international career was over until he saw the story yesterday that said she'll be competing at the World Championships this weekend in South Korea. You can read it HERE.

The story refers to Johnson as "one of the greatest athletes in Princeton history," and that is a 100 percent true statement.

There are six stories that scroll across the front page of the website, and three of those yesterday involved Princeton athletes involved in major international competitions.

One of them was Johnson.

Another was George Humann, the men's volleyball player who is the only collegiate player on the U.S. team for the FIVB Volleyball Nation's League Finals.

You can read about this one HERE.

Humann will be with the U.S. team in Chicago for the six-team tournament. He'll be back at Princeton next season, hoping to equal what happened last year, when he was the EIVB Player of the Year and then tournament MVP as Princeton won to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998.

The other story about Tigers on the international stage was about the upcoming field hockey tournament at the Pan Am Games. That one is HERE.

There will be two Princeton alums there, playing for different countries. The first is recent grad Elise Wong, a von Kienbusch finalist this past year. She'll be playing for Canada.

The other is Kathleen Sharkey, who is a longtime member of the U.S. National Team and a former Olympian. Sharkey is the team captain for the U.S.

Here are two numbers for you about Sharkey: she scored 107 goals at Princeton (and helped the team to the 2012 NCAA title) and she has made 166 appearances with the national team.

The Pan Am Games will be held in Peru beginning July 29. The winner of the field hockey tournament advances to the Olympic Games.

Oh, and Bella Alarie will be at the Pan Am Games as well, with the U.S. women's basketball team.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Happy Birthday Coach Carril

When TigerBlog first started writing this every day, he wasn't quite sure what he was going to do in the summers.

After all, there are no athletic events, obviously. He has learned through the years that there is always something he can come up with, but back then he was uncertain.

So what did he figure he'd do? When in doubt, write funny Pete Carril stories.

TigerBlog was asked yesterday how many years he covered Carril's teams, and the answer is seven - five as a sportswriter and then the last two of Carril's 29 years at Princeton as the athletic communications contact. He's never been around anyone quite like Pete Carril, with his work ethic, character, humor and world view. And his mannerisms. And the way he combined them all.

Today is Carril's 89th birthday. TigerBlog was going to pawn this off as original, but he actually wrote it on this day two years ago. As he reread it, he figured he'd just copy and paste, since it's still what he'd want to say about Coach.  

So happy birthday, Coach Carril:

Today will be the eighth time (actually ninth) in TigerBlog history that he shares this story with you:

Back on Dec. 28, 1994, TigerBlog found himself in New Orleans, at the UNO Holiday Tournament championship game. It was Princeton against the host team, the Privateers, at the Lakefront Arena.

Before the game, TigerBlog had gumbo and jambalaya. Both were great. Seriously. He did. He remembers that clearly.

New Orleans won, 50-43. As TB looked back at the box score, he couldn't help but notice that no Tiger was in double figures. Three scored nine. Who were they? He'll even give you their initials: JM, RH, SG.

That should make it really easy. He'll give you the answer shortly, though sometimes he forgets to do that. He'll try not to this time.

The night before, Princeton had beaten Texas A&M in the first round of the event. That game went three overtimes before Princeton won 71-66.

Two Princeton players went all 55 minutes - JM and CD.

After that game, Princeton head coach Pete Carril was asked about having to play New Orleans in the final. They're going to be tough, he said. They have big guys.

When a reporter told him that his team also had big guys, Carril answered without flinching this way:

"Yeah, but I didn't go down to the docks to get them."

How did he think of those kinds of things so easily? He was so good at it. TigerBlog should have written down every great line he ever heard from Carril, in actual interviews and then in every day situations. Even without benefit of that, TB can still remember a lot of them, and they are all classics.

Why mention this today?

It's because today is Pete Carril's 87th birthday (actually now 89th). That's why.

Happy birthday Coach.

There are a lot of people who played for him at Princeton who call him only "Coach." They wouldn't dream of calling him anything different. No matter how old he gets, he's never "Pete" or "Coach Carril" or anything. He's just "Coach."

Oh, and the initials? You have: James Mastaglio, Steve Goodrich, Rick Hielscher and Chris Doyal.

TigerBlog has written more about Pete Carril than any other subject, he's pretty sure. There's a reason for that.

There has never been anyone on this campus quite like Pete Carril. TigerBlog has often referred to him as the "conscience" of Princeton University, and he thinks it's a great description.

If you're reading this, then you're probably a Princeton fan. If you're a Princeton fan, then you know well his backstory.

He's from Bethlehem, the Pennsylvania steel town. His father, a Spanish immigrant, worked in the mills for 40 years, and it was from him that Carril developed a sense for the work ethic, his own and the one he demanded of those around him.

After playing at Lafayette, including for Butch van Breda Kolff, he started his career as a high school teacher (American government) and basketball coach, first at Easton High School and then at Reading High School, where he had a point guard at Reading named Gary Walters.

From there it was to Lehigh for a year and then to Princeton for 29. He'd win 511 games at Princeton and 523 overall, and he coached the Tigers to 13 Ivy titles, 11 NCAA appearances, the 1975 NIT championship and some of the greatest games college basketball has seen.

His Princeton career ended in 1996, first with the epic Ivy League playoff win over Penn and then the even more epic win over defending NCAA champion UCLA in the NCAA tournament.

When he left Princeton, he was an assistant coach in the NBA for more than a decade. Now he's retired, and he's a frequent visitor to Jadwin Gym.

Back to the "conscience" idea, Carril brought a sense of accountability to Princeton. His players all started out equally, regardless of where they came from, what their high school was, how much money they had or didn't have.

In his nearly 30 years at Princeton, Carril was unconnable, if such a word exists (it doesn't). He couldn't be less impressed by things other than effort, teamwork, hard work, dedication. These weren't just words to him. These were the required, necessary tenets of his world, his team.

Maybe the best thing he said, and he said it a lot, was this: "you can't separate the player from the person." What he was saying was that character is as much a part of the game as talent. He's right.

The conscience.

TigerBlog connected with Carril in the 1980s, first as a sportswriter and later as the last athletic communications contact he had as the basketball coach here. TB was once on the wrong end of a shouting match with Carril, but that was it. And being the basketball contact had its perks; one of Carril's rituals was to buy the basketball contact soup for lunch.

The other perks? They were related to watching one of the game's greatest from a front row seat. TigerBlog hasn't met too many other people who have made an impact on him the way Carril has - and he wasn't even one of his players.

Pete moves slower these days. His body, that is. His mind is still sharp.
There are fewer and fewer people left in the department who were here when he was the basketball coach. He was here for 29 years. In the years since he left, Princeton has had five basketball coaches: Bill Carmody, John Thompson III, Joe Scott, Sydney Johnson and the current one, Mitch Henderson, a player on Carril's last team.

Pete is a Princeton legend. Talk like that always ran contrary to what he was about. Do your job every day. Don't worry about things like talk of legends and that sort of thing. You can't coach to have people be impressed by you. No. You have to believe in something and stay faithful to it.

Carril is in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. TigerBlog is the one who nominated him, and, in the program the night Carril was inducted, there was a four-page feature on him written by TB. 

It's one of the two really long features TB has written about Carril, in addition to the millions of smaller pieces. Carril never said one word to TigerBlog about either. Nothing. No feedback at all.

TigerBlog likes it that way. It says a lot about the man himself.

Do your job. Do it the best you can. Your reward is knowing that you didn't cut any corners. If that's not good enough, then you're missing the point of why you did it in the first place.

That's also the lesson. That's Pete's lesson.

And today is his birthday.

Happy birthday to the conscience.