Tuesday, July 21, 2009


The moon was full last week, or at least that's how TigerBlog remembers it. When it's bright out at night, the moon doesn't appear to be all that far away, and yet there has never, ever been anything in human achievement to rival the fact that the United States of America was able to send six different pairs of astronauts to its surface and back to Earth.

The first of those landings, as everyone knows, was 40 years ago yesterday, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first and second people to walk on the moon. Extra credit goes to those of you who know that the third person was a Princeton alum, Pete Conrad (Class of 1953, TigerBlog believes). Also, by now, everyone has seen Apollo 13 and realized that it wasn't exactly a sure thing to get there without incident.

If you think you're cool or you're tough, imagine how those astronauts must be, to sit on top of all that unexploded fuel and get launched into space. If you've never seen the movie "The Right Stuff," it's a must. TB saw it in the movies and originally didn't want to go because it was a three-hour show; the three hours went by in what seemed like 20 minutes.

TigerBlog was a kid when the first moon landings happened, and in fact he's pretty sure that he remembers MotherBlog as she watched the moon landing on a tiny TV in the kitchen of our old house. It's among the first memories that TB has, along with what he believes is his first memory, MotherBlog's watching of Robert Kennedy's funeral on the same TV.

When it comes to sports, TB is pretty sure he watched the Jets beat the Colts in Super Bowl III at his Uncle Herbie and Aunt Edie's apartment in Brooklyn, where Aunt Edie still lives, by the way, 32 years after Uncle Herbie passed away (and was buried wearing his sailor's hat that he always wore when he played pinochle in the Rockaways in the summer, another early TB memory).

As for Princeton, TB grew up not far from here, but he cannot remember ever attending a Princeton athletic event as a kid, which would make the 1984 Princeton-Penn football game the first Princeton event TB ever saw on this campus. The 1983 Princeton-Penn game, for those who don't remember, is one of the greatest games in Ivy League history, a game Penn won by stopping a two-point conversion attempt after Princeton scored on a fourth-down to make it 28-27 on a day when Derek Graham caught a 90-yard touchdown pass. Graham, on his 90-yard run, caught the ball on about the 15 on the Penn side of Franklin Field and then outraced All-Ivy sprinter Ross Armstrong (no relation to Neil, TB assumes) to the end zone. Years later, TB would write a story about the game, and Armstrong would say that he burned the shoes he was wearing that day because he was so disgusted he didn't catch Graham.

There was a time when TigerBlog could run down the scores of every lacrosse season or football season going back indefinitely. There are still times when the conversation turns to this game or that game and TB can come up with the score or the exact stat line of some of the key players.

On the other hand, TB can't even be sure the moon was full last week. It's more of a numerical memory than a conceptual one.

Perhaps it's the nature of athletic communications that those who are in it have strong memories and the ability to remember details long after games have ended. It's part of being the chroniclers of an athletic department's history.

Or maybe TigerBlog is just a bit of a whacko when it comes to stuff like that.

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