Thursday, November 20, 2014

Magic Jesus Birds

TigerBlog was driving alongside the Delaware River recently when he came across a bunch of birds who appeared to be standing on top of the water.

In reality, it was probably an illusion of the sun as it reflected off a very shallow amount of water on top of the sand, as the river was very low. At first glance, TigerBlog saw a bunch of birds who appeared to be able to walk on water.

His first thought was to then Google "Magic Jesus Birds," and of course what came up? Larry Bird. Magic Johnson. And a bunch of biblical passages.

He should have seen that coming.

TB isn't sure how he got through the first 35 or so years of his life without the ability to instantly look stuff up. When he was a kid, he had things called "Encyclopedias," which were gigantic books that were basically an alphabetical listing of everything that ever happened.

He doubts either of his kids has ever seen one, though they have both spent time on Wikipedia.

TigerBlog used to have a flip phone, and he was a bit resistant in switching to an iPhone, for fear of being completely tethered to the flow of information. Now? He's googling things like "Magic Jesus Birds" on a whim.

His most recent search was for the oldest intercollegiate athletic events of all time.

The first intercollegiate athletic event in Princeton history was on Nov. 22, 1864, and was a baseball game against Williams.

The most famous "first" in Princeton athletics is the first football game. That game was played on Nov. 6, 1869, and was the first college football game ever.

That first baseball game, though, preceded it by five years.

From what TigerBlog has read about the Princeton-Williams baseball game, it was on a Thursday and it rained for a few days before the game, only to clear up just in time. He's read a flowery account of the day, which included the game - a 27-16 Princeton win - and then a dinner reception at which the Princeton players hosted the Williams players, complete with singing.

Incidentally, TigerBlog is amused by the fact that the first football game in Princeton history ended 6-4 and the first baseball game in Princeton history ended 27-16.

Meanwhile, back at the oldest athletic events in American history, TB isn't sure where Princeton-Williams baseball ranks.

Apparently the first intercollegiate athletic event in American history was a rowing race between Harvard and Yale in 1852.

As for Princeton-Willliams baseball, it wasn't the first time Williams had played the sport against another school. TB emailed the head of athletic communications at Williams, Dick Quinn, who pointed out that Williams and Amherst played baseball in 1859.

The 150th anniversary of the Princeton-Williams game is two days away.

By pure coincidence, Princeton has home men's basketball and football Saturday, which is the 150th anniversary. The men's basketball team plays Incarnate Word at 11 a.m., followed by football against Dartmouth at1.

There is also home squash against F&M (men at noon, women at 2:30) and home women's hockey at 4 against Clarkson.

One ticket gets you into both the football and basketball games. There will also be 150th anniversary promotions and giveaways, including t-shirts commemorating the event. And of course, there is the Tiger Athletics Give Day coming up Dec. 2.

TigerBlog can't remember a day when Princeton had home men's basketball and football on the same day. Maybe it's happened before in a day/night situation - though TB cannot remember it off the top of his head - but this has to be the first time it's gone one right after the other.

It should be a pretty good day of athletics at Princeton. It's also a day of history.

It's easy to dismiss an anniversary like this as not that big a deal. Princeton Athletics started a long time ago. What difference does it make when? What's the big deal between 150 years or 140 or 136 or 152?

Old is old.

But there is something really special about all of this to TigerBlog. Maybe it's the history major in him.

So much has come from Princeton Athletics through the last 150 years. So many incredible people have participated. So many amazing games have been played.

You can use Princeton Athletics to trace the larger history of this country as well, as athletes have gone off to service in the highest levels of government and business - and gone off to fight in wars.

Princeton Athletics itself started during the Civil War. It changed schedules around both World Wars. It was impacted directly by Korea and Vietnam, and it suffered loss on 9/11, while also having great stories of courage and survival emerge from its alums on that day.

Princeton Athletics has had its championships and champions. It's provided an educational vehicle. It's been a leader in college athletics when it's been called for, and it's taken dramatic and difficult stands when those are what have been called for, all while maintaining the highest ethical standards, something that has not always been the case throughout intercollegiate sports.

It's provided entertainment. It's given little kids role models. It's provided the single-best connection between an army of loyal alums and a great University. It's given so many other great people careers in coaching and administration.

And all of this began 150 years ago Saturday, and so many people have been touched by Princeton Athletics in so many great ways ever since.

TigerBlog is lucky to have been one of them.

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