Tuesday, January 22, 2013

President Baker?

Today's trivia question - what happened in Princeton athletics on this day 100 years ago?

Give up?

It was on Jan. 22, 1913, that Hobey Baker was penalized for the only time in his hockey career. It was a slashing call, for the record.

Hobey Baker was less than a month away from his 27th birthday when he died in that mysterious plane crash in France, shortly after World War I ended. Mysterious, in that it's possible that he crashed the plane on purpose, or so legend has it.

Baker was an American hero, one of the first icons of American sports.

He was the only American among the nine original members of the hockey Hall of Fame, and he is also a member of the college football Hall of Fame. No other athlete has ever been so honored.

Beyond his athletic achievements, he was also a beloved, romantic figure in American culture of the time. His death was a national tragedy.

Who knows what might have been next for Hobey Baker? Maybe he would have ended up in business, or maybe he would loved the competitiveness of a different field, politics. Maybe if he had never died, it could have been, with apologies to a different family, Senator Baker, Governor Baker.

Maybe even President Baker.

Who knows?

Baker's reality was harsher.

Princeton has produced two United States Presidents, James Madison and Woodrow Wilson. There have been Princetonians who have come close, though none has reached the big chair in the Oval Office since Wilson.

If you asked TigerBlog, the three greatest athletes in Princeton history are Baker, Bill Bradley and Dick Kazmaier. Of those three, history will never know what Baker might have done, but Bradley came pretty close, reaching the "final four" of presidential candidates in 2000 before losing the Democratic nomination to Al Gore.

President Obama's second inauguration was Sunday, with the public part of it Monday. Among those in attendance was Oregon State basketball coach Craig Robinson, whose sister Michelle is the First Lady.

TB wrote this after Mr. Obama's last inauguration:

Let the debate go forward: Was that an Oregon State or a Princeton scarf that first brother-in-law Craig Robinson was wearing at the inauguration of his sister Michelle's husband Barack Obama? Robinson - and his sister - are Princeton grads. Craig Robinson is the fourth all-time leading scorer in Princeton basketball history with 1,441 points, and he was the 1982 and 1983 Ivy League Player of the Year.

As an aside, one of the big changes from the first Obama term to the second is that Robinson is no longer fourth all-time at Princeton in scoring, as he was passed by Douglas Davis last year. Ian Hummer is only 47 points away from tying Robinson as well.

Anyway, during yesterday's inauguration, Robinson again wore the orange and black scarf.

Oh and he also mugged for the camera. Photobombing, it's called, apparently.

Shortly after the inauguration, TigerBlog got the first of several emails through the Princeton communications group - known as "Spin" - about how Robinson was wearing the scarf, which was originally attributed to Princeton and then corrected to Oregon State.

Having a Princeton men's basketball player be the brother-in-law of the President of the United States is an amazing occurrence.

TB remembers Robinson when he was a player for Princeton and TB was a student at Penn. And now his sister's husband is two days into his second term as President.

Whether or not you voted for Mr. Obama or like him or what he does or how he does, there can be no denying that his is a wonderful American success story. And that he comes across as a great family man.

The fact that his family has such strong Princeton connections - and Princeton athletics connections - makes it even better.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The ref blew that slashing call.