Friday, May 28, 2021

Happy Anniversary

TigerBlog and his colleague Cody Chrusciel have spent much of this week doing interviews with members of the 1996 and 2001 Princeton men's lacrosse teams. 

It's been 25 Memorial Days since the 1996 team won the NCAA championship, which was the third for the program and the first of three straight. It's been 20 Memorial Days since Princeton won the 2001 title, the sixth in program history.

Both games were won in overtime. The 1996 championship came on a goal by Jesse Hubbard, assisted by Lorne Smith, on the first possession of overtime to give Princeton a 13-12 win over Virginia. The 2001 win came on a B.J. Prager goal, assisted by Ryan Boyle, to defeat Syracuse 10-9.

There were great similarities between the games. Actually, there were three major ones. 

First, Princeton had been hammered by its championship game opponent in the regular season. Second, Princeton was an underdog in both games (a huge underdog in the Syracuse game). Lastly, Princeton had the game seemingly won in the fourth quarter before the other team tied it, forcing overtime.

You would think all of the momentum would be on the part of the team that had tied the score, but Princeton won both games nonetheless.

TigerBlog was at both games. They are both in among the very best Princeton events he's seen in his many years of covering the Tigers.

The 1996 game matched two of the greatest attack units ever to play lacrosse, Princeton's Hubbard, Jon Hess and Chris Massey and Virginia's Doug Knight, Michael Watson and Tim Whiteley. Hess, Hubbard and Massey were all sophomores in 1996. UVa's group featured two juniors (Watson and Knight) and a senior (Whiteley). In fact, it would be Watson who would be the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four after his five-goal performance in the final.

Virginia beat Princeton 12-9 in the 1996 regular season in a game that was 11-2 at one point. In 2001, Syracuse defeated Princeton 14-8 in the 2001 regular season, and this after having beaten Princeton 17-4 in the 2000 regular season and 13-7 in the 2000 championship game.

Despite that, Princeton turned both of those around and won in overtime. 

It's been great catching up with those guys this week and reliving those games, of which, not surprisingly, TB remembers almost every detail. Ah, but not every detail - he didn't remember the near-turnover and loose ball push that kept possession with Princeton just before Hubbard's goal in ’96

More than once, TB referred to the players as "kids" when in fact they're all in their 30s and 40s now. How is that possible?

In addition, TB has a written piece coming next week on the unlikeliest hero of the 1996 championship. He's not giving away any names just yet.

This weekend marks the latest NCAA lacrosse championships, with the men and women both about to crown champions. TB will be in Hartford to be the official scorer for the men's event, something he's done for every championship since 2005.

There was no NCAA tournament a year ago. When the season was postponed, Princeton's men were 5-0 and ranked in the top three in every poll. They were, in TB's mind, 100 percent headed to Memorial Day weekend.

This year, there are three Princeton alums who will be competing in Hartford. Top-seeded North Carolina features Connor McCarthy, who was off to a big start for Princeton in 2020 and who scored the game-winner for the Tar Heels in overtime against Rutgers last weekend in the quarterfinals.

The second seed is Duke, which features Michael Sowers and Phillip Robertson. Sowers, who would have barring something unforeseen won the Tewaaraton Award last year had the season continued, has moved into second place all-time in NCAA history in assists and points. He enters the Final Four with 25 more points than any other Duke player this season, and he needs six assists to tie Pat Spencer's career record of 231 (possible) and 19 points to tie Lyle Thompson's record for first in points (not possible).

For context, the semifinal game against Maryland tomorrow will be the 64th of Sowers' career. Spencer played in 68, and Thompson played in 70. Sowers has averaged more points per game than any player in the last 37 years. 

The person charged with stopping Sowers, by the way, is Maryland defensive coordinator Jesse Bernhardt, who formerly held the same position at Princeton. McCarthy's offensive coordinator is Metzy, and if you know anything at all about Princeton men's lacrosse history, you know who Metzy is.

Enjoy the video series that Cody has put together. And enjoy your Memorial Day weekend, even if you're doing something other than watching lacrosse. 

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Following Up

TigerBlog began the week talking about the cross country bike ride that basketball players Maddie Plank and Charlie Bagin are currently undertaking.

He found out some additional information about the two of them, and so he figured he'd share it today. 

First, it turns out that Bagin has been a regular TigerBlog reader. TB has always wondered about that. Do the current athletes read this? He assumes that the overwhelming majority of the readers are alums. 

While he contemplates that, he also wants to let you know a few other things about Bagin and Plank's ride. 

The two of them have their own website for the ride, which you can see HERE. This was sort of a good-news, bad-news situation for TigerBlog, who didn't know it was there. The good news is that they have entries for every day of their trip. The bad news is that TB ended up reading a lot of them because they were so good.

Their latest entry as of yesterday was from Montana, as they ride through the Rockies. This was part of it:

We paid a visit to the local park, which just so happened to have an ice cream stand. Maddie opted to order black licorice and cotton candy, which is almost vomit-inducing if you ask me.

TB has to side with Bagin on this one.  

The entire trip is being documented, and their stories are amazing. This is from two days ago:

We reached one of the coolest stops of the trip in Spotted Horse, a “town” with a population of two. We stopped at the only building in town, the Spotted Horse Bar, and were greeted by a barking dog. Charlie dug into a burger while we sat outside soaking up the sun. When we restarted, Charlie warned me that those 30 miles might be aggravating. He was right; the ride from Spotted Horse to Clearmont might have been my least favorite spurt of riding of the last few weeks. My self-consciousness of being slower than Charlie on the bike in addition to fighting a 30 mile per hour headwind really got to me. It felt like the ride would never end, and when we passed some motels 10 miles from our destination I was eager to call it a night. We kept pedaling, but I felt my knees grinding painfully. A highlight of the ride is that the Big Horn Mountains came into view! Their snow covered peaks definitely made Charlie and I glad we opted to go around rather than over. 

Make sure you check out their blog. It's really, really good. It puts you right into the heart of their trip, and, for someone like TB who is a regular bike rider, it makes him wish he had done something like this 30 or 40 years ago.

For his current bike-riding blog, it would go something like this:
Went to the end of the road. Turned around. Came back. Same as yesterday.

Meanwhile, the big news of the week is of course the announcement from Tuesday that Mollie Marcoux Samaan is leaving Princeton after seven years as the Ford Family Director of Athletics to become the commissioner of the LPGA. TB wrote about Mollie yesterday, and you can read that HERE if you missed it.

TB went back to the day after Mollie had been hired, back in 2014, to see what he wrote about her. It was quite similar to what he said about her yesterday. For instance, there was this:

She spoke with passion in her introductory remarks about all the things that make Princeton and Princeton Athletics so special and about how she's honored to be back to lead those efforts. She smiled and laughed. She talked about the coaches and how much she's looking forward to working with them. She conveyed - oozed - a love of Princeton Athletics, and that's requirement No. 1 for this position. Her energy and charisma were obvious to everyone who had come to meet her, from coaches and athletics staff to student athletes to media members, and it resonated with everyone. 

Wow. That was spot on, wasn't it?

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Mollie's Announcement

TigerBlog often goes back to his newspaper days and the lessons he learned there. 

One of them was that in the world of sports, you can only anticipate so much. You'll lay the paper out in the afternoon, one of his early mentors said, and then somebody throws a perfect game that night.

In other words, in sports, you never know what's going to happen next. 

Around the time that TB was learning about all that, he also met a student-worker in the Princeton University Office of Athletic Communications. She was a two-sport athlete, and she sat in the back room and did things like update the record books.

At the time, neither she nor anyone else had any idea that her legacy at Princeton would extend far beyond her accomplishments in soccer and hockey, substantial as they might be. And so it was that the final paragraphs of her Princeton story were not written back then but instead 30 years later, when that same young woman – Mollie Marcoux Samaan – dropped the stunning news yesterday that she was leaving her position as the Ford Family Director of Athletics at Princeton to become the commissioner of the LPGA.

TB knew something very out of the ordinary was about to happen when he received word early yesterday that there was an emergency senior staff meeting at 10, followed by a full department meeting at 10:15. What could it be? His mind ran the gamut, and when it got to "Mollie is leaving," it skipped right over that because it seemed so unthinkable.

Instead, that's exactly what it was. 

The news brings an end to Mollie's run after seven years as the first female Director of Athletics at Princeton. Her tenure has been one of overwhelming success on the field and unwavering commitment to the values that she cherishes off the field, the values that are encapsulated as "Education Through Athletics." The combination of her time as the AD along with her athletic performance as an undergraduate makes her one of the most important Princetonians the Department of Athletics has ever seen.

Her record as the AD is an impressive one. This is just a small sampling, taken from the release announcing her move:

Under her supervision, Princeton has won 65 Ivy League championships, a total that is more than all other Ivy schools during that time. Over the course of her tenure Princeton has been the highest ranked Ivy League school and consistently in the top 40 of all of Division I programs in the Directors' Cup standings, measuring overall athletic success through NCAA championship participation and success. Princeton's student-athletes have also excelled in the classroom and in the community during Marcoux Samaan's tenure. The department's NCAA Academic Progress Rate has consistently ranked among the best in the nation and student-athletes have garnered several University and national awards, including the Pyne Prize, Princeton's highest general distinction conferred on an undergraduate.

For TigerBlog, that won't be what he remembers first about Mollie Marcoux Samaan though.

Mollie is, first and foremost, defined by her personality and her spirit. 

She is always in motion. She is a seemingly endless pile of energy. She is always positive. She can take any situation and come away at the end by saying these words, which TB has heard her say so many times: "It's going to be great."

She starts senior staff meetings each Monday by asking to hear something fun that someone, or everyone, did over the weekend. She's just a completely upbeat person, and "fun" is one of her favorite words. 

As invested as she has been in the people who have worked for her, it's the ones who have played for her whom she loves the most. In his upcoming book on the first 50 years of women's athletics at Princeton, TB referred to Mollie as "part CEO and part head cheerleader," and she loved the description. She is, in many ways, one of the student-athletes, fueled by her own experience and the lifelong friendships she made as a Tiger and so thankful for the chance to help the current generations have the best possible experiences they could have.

The last 14 months, of course, have been the greatest challenge any Princeton AD has had to negotiate. The COVID pandemic shut down Princeton sports in a way that they never had been since they first began, and it was excruciating for Mollie to have to be the bearer of bad news, to staff and to students. She ached for the athletes in particular.

At the same time, she did something extraordinary these last 14 months. She kept the Princeton Athletics connection strong and important. She kept everyone positive. She did what she does best – she turned negatives into positives. Those efforts will resonate with the athletes here for a long time.

Now it's time for Mollie to move on. She is super competitive, and golf has always been one of her sporting passions (along with ping pong). The chance to run the LPGA was too much for her to turn down, even if it meant leaving a job she's loved.

She will take with her the experience she has as a businesswoman and executive, and you can bet your last dollar that she'll do everything she can to make the LPGA fun. She was also stay true to these words: Accountability. Teamwork. Integrity. Growth-minded. Engaged. Respectful.

Those are the "Be A Tiger" values that she helped define and implement at Princeton. To her, they have  been so much more than just words on a t-shirt. They are words to live by, and that's exactly what she's done.

The meetings yesterday morning were emotional, and it's clear just how much Mollie will miss Princeton. She is ferocious, and she is fun. It's a great combination.

She leaves quite a legacy. TB joins with everyone at Princeton, all of the coaches, staff, athletes, alums and everyone else at the University, in wishing her the best, congratulating her on her new position and thanking her for everything she gave during her seven years as Director of Athletics.

She will be missed.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

The Answers

TigerBlog got a text yesterday from John Mack, the former Roper Tophy-winning men's track and field star.

It was a reference to yesterday, when TB wrote about the cross-country bike ride that Princeton basketball players Maddie Plank and Charlie Bagin are currently undertaking. They were in South Dakota over the weekend, on their way to Washington state.

Here was John's text: "Riding your bike cross country? Child's play. You want a challenge? Take three kids to Disney World."

Now that's tremendous. 

As TB mentioned yesterday, he reached out to Bagin and Plank over the weekend and asked them four questions. Here are their responses:

Question 1 - What has been the highlight so far?


Maddie Plank:


The highlight so far has been the thrill of riding down the Needles Highway in the Black Hills. I’ve always been obsessed with reaching top speeds, and the Needles Highway was the perfect balance of thrill and precision. The ride included extremely tight turns with a speed limit of 10 miles per hour. It was six miles long, so it provided plenty of time to take in the scenery, reflect on our journey so far, and say to yourself “Oh my gosh this is so cool!”


Another highlight was the flat paved roads of Indiana. Charlie and I flew with a slight tailwind heading into a rest day. I think we averaged between 15-20 miles per hour for 10 miles, which is extremely fast for us. The greatest part for me was the dynamic speed signs. As soon as I saw the sign measuring my speed, I accelerated as forcefully as possible trying to max out. I think during that ride, our confidence and morale reached an acme.


Charlie Bagin:


 The highlight so far has definitely been the Black Hills. The scenery through the hills was stunning, the weather was beautiful, and some of the rides we had were just the most exhilarating moments of my life. There’s nothing like racing down a canyon at 35 mph with pines rising hundreds of feet on either side of you and the wind in your face.


A close second would be the people. We’ve stayed with a lot of strangers, mostly fellow cyclists, who have been willing and eager to open their homes to us and provide us with a warm shower, a meal and a place to rest our heads. We’ve been blown away by everyone’s generosity. We’ve also met some absolutely incredible people along the way: old folk, younger people, men, women, couples, people with money, people living frugally, bike shop workers, pastors, students, teachers - you name a demographic, and we’ve probably met and befriended someone from that slice of humanity on this trip. The old saw “faith in humanity restored” becomes more true for us with each passing day.


Question 2 - What has been the toughest stretch of riding?


Maddie Plank:


The toughest part of the journey was the first week and a half. Neither Charlie nor myself sufficiently trained. During our third day of riding, we rode 90 miles with incessant hills through Pennsylvania. Shortly thereafter, we rode on the bumpy gravel of the C&O Canal that exacerbated the saddle sores, wrist soreness, and back pain we were both experiencing. We have grown drastically since our first few days together, but I think our toughest bit of riding is coming within the next few weeks. We are heading into some mountains and cold weather. Hopefully our 45 of days of training so far can carry us through. 


Charlie Bagin:


The toughest stretch of riding was easily the first week. We thought we were training prior to the trip’s start, but we had no idea what real training was. Our bodies weren’t ready for hours on end in the saddle. After the first week my butt and back and shoulders were unbelievably sore, and my body ached all over. I remember sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen in Pittsburgh wondering if we were way in over our heads. But it turned out we just needed to give our bodies some time to adapt and it would be full steam ahead.



Question 3 - What is something you might not have anticipated?


Maddie Plank:


Something that has really surprised me has the been the genuine kindness of most people that we come across. My parents and friends continuously asked me, “What if something terrible happens? Are you scared of not knowing anyone? Is it weird that strangers are helping you?” I came into this journey thinking that Charlie and I would feel isolated and helpless at some points. We’ve learned that people are more than willing to provide their assistance and insight in any situation. For example, I’ve had a few flat tires and multiple times we have hitched rides from complete strangers into a nearby town. 


Charlie Bagin:


This answer looks inward, but I did not anticipate enjoying the thrill of minor “dangers” (and I put danger in quotes so as not to frighten my mother). I’m generally risk averse, so riding on roads used to worry me, as did going down steep hills at high speed. Now, though, I love riding on roads because paved surfaces are the best, and the roads are typically the quickest way from Point A to Point B. And I love going downhill at high speeds because nothing surpasses the feeling of the wind whipping around you, and the landscape streaming by. It’s just a lot of fun to go fast. 


I also didn’t anticipate how boring it can be on the bike, and how much of a whirlwind it can be off of the bike. On the bike you are often alone with your thoughts for hours at a time, especially if the roads are too busy for Maddie and I to talk while riding. Off the bike we are constantly monitoring our routes, checking for lodging in the upcoming days, stretching, eating, blogging, communicating with friends and family and trying to find some time to relax amidst it all. 


Question 4 - How is it going in general?


Maddie Plank:


In general, Charlie and I are thriving. Every day is a new challenge, and we support one another through any and all adversity. I don’t have a single complaint. 


Charlie Bagin:


In general, it is going great. We’ve had minimal delays and our bodies are healthy. We are seeing the country, pushing ourselves physically and mentally, meeting people, generating discussion about mental health needs, appreciating the beauty around us, sampling ice cream and stuffing ourselves at every meal - in other words, doing everything that we set out to do at the onset of the trip. Now that the end is in sight (about a month left), I feel both eager to finish and officially complete the challenge, and also sad to think that there will soon be a time that I won’t be hopping on my bike every morning.



Monday, May 24, 2021

Riding Through South Dakota

It seems that once again the weather in the Princeton metropolitan area has skipped over spring.

March and April were cold and wet. Even early May was more of the same. Then all of the sudden, summer arrived.

It's been in the 80s and even 90s around here for the last seven days or so. This seems to how it's been the last few years. 

TigerBlog remembers back to when he was a kid, and it seemed like March came in like a lion and went out a lamb every year. April had its usual showers that led to May flowers, but mostly it was a series of sunny days with temps in the 60s and 70s. 

If you want that weather around here these days, you need to come back in September and October. 

Because it's been so hot in the afternoons, TigerBlog has taken to riding his bike early in the morning. The other day he noticed that there were almost no cars on the road and in fact he started keeping track of whether he went by more cars or people walking dogs. For awhile, the dogs were ahead, until cars went on a 3-0 run to go up one. Then TB saw another car coming by, which would have made it a two-car edge, except there was a dog who was hanging out the window. He counted that as one each.

Eventually, cars, well, pulled away to win easily.

TB estimates that he's ridden his bike around 550 or so miles since April 10. That would put him a little less than a third of the way to Mount Rushmore if he'd gone in a straight line, rather than 11- or 12-mile loops.

Princeton basketball players Maddie Plank and Charlie Bagin left New Jersey on their bicycles on April 10. Plank posted something on Twitter Friday from Mount Rushmore, their latest location on their way across the country.

TB has never been to South Dakota, so he's obviously never seen Mount Rushmore. He'd like to do so at one point. He's also never driven across the country. There's something appealing about that too. 

What he can't do is ride his bike across the country. As was the case when men's swimmer Matthew Marquardt rode his bike from San Diego to Jacksonville in January, TB is awed by what Plank and Bagin are doing. 

It's an adventure, certainly, and it's also for a good cause. If you recall, the two are raising awareness for mental health issues. You can read more about their ride HERE.

Ah, to be young, right? What they're doing is extraordinary. It's certainly something they'll remember forever.

TB was interested in their trip, so he emailed them. He's never met either, and for that matter, he wasn't sure if they were checking email along the way. 

He did ask them four questions:

1) what has been the highlight so far?
2) what has been the toughest stretch of riding?
3) what is something you might not have anticipated?
4) how is it going in general?

He also explained that he rides too, and he is really wondering how they deal with the massive hills they must have encountered along the way. 

As he said, he had no idea if they were checking email. As it turns out, they were. 

He heard back from Bagin a few hours later. His answers were awesome, and so TB is going to share them with you in their entirety tomorrow.

In the meantime, it's great to see that they're making progress toward their end point in Washington state, a little less than a month from today. 

And it's great to see that they're social media post suggests things are good. As TB said, it's great to be young, right?

Friday, May 21, 2021

Congrats To Chas, Good Luck To Bullis

TigerBlog stopped in on the COSIDA website and was greeted by the face of his colleague Chas Dorman.

Chas was one of the sports information association's Rising Star award winners a year ago. There was a video on the site of the 2020 winners and the 2021 winners.

You can see it HERE.

Chas thanks a bunch of people for helping him along the way, including his old coworkers during his time at Penn and now the people he works with at Princeton, including TigerBlog, even if he mentioned TB last. Or was that saving the best for last?

He talks about being a bit old for a rising star, with his 40th birthday looming down the road and his wife and twin three year olds. He also talks about what has kept him in athletic communications despite the nights and the weekends and the constant challenges.

TB has certainly felt them. He's also seen a lot of people, really high-quality people, who gave up the field because of them. 

If you want to watch the video, great. If not, this sort of sums up what Chas was trying to say:

His basic point is that you work in sports, that you go to games for a profession. More than that, it is, to use Mollie Marcoux Samaan's favorite word, it's "fun" to be in this business.

Congratulations to Chas on his award. He's certainly been a welcome addition to the Princeton Office of Athletic Communications.

While TB is talking about his colleagues, and for that matter while he's using the word "fun," he wants to talk for a few minutes about another person he's worked with for a long time. That would be John Bullis.

If you don't know the name, John Bullis was hired by TB to be Princeton's first full-time video content creator. He's an enormously talented videographer and storyteller, and he's made some of best videos TB has ever seen in college athletics. 

He's done so many great videos at Princeton, and told so many amazing stories through the lens of his camera. They've run the gamut, from the TAGD videos (the one where Jesper Horsted narrates the poem that ends with "He marks not that you won or lost but how you played the game" while Princeton athletes of all sports are featured is TB's all-time favorite Bullis work) to the Tigers All-Access to mic'ing up players and coaches during practices and games and even to the tongue-in-cheek series "Who's the Tiger."

You can also add to that the documentary that he produced on Chuck Dibilio, the football player who went from rushing for 1,000 yards as a freshman to having a stroke several weeks later. The documentary told Dibilio's story, from the on-field success all the way through his recovery. 

In many ways, Bullis was ahead of his time as a college athletics videographer. He set high standards for production and content while at the same time being able to adapt as the needs changed with the explosion of social media.

John Bullis is also one of TB's all-time favorite people, and not just at Princeton. He has a huge heart, is extraordinarily loyal, is very much a team player and, more than all that, is just plain old fun to be around. When you were down or stressed or whatever and saw him in the office, things would just brighten up immediately. TB often referred to him, lovingly, as the big dog he's never had.

Bullis is now going to take a leave of absence from Princeton to pursue another of his passions: service. He is on his way to basic training – like Chas, a bit old to be considered a rising star, but he is going to give it his all. 

He has always talked about joining the military or law enforcement. He lost his best friend, who was killed in Afghanistan. This is his way of honoring him (in addition to the documentary he did on him), and it shows Bullis' truest colors.

He isn't leaving Princeton permanently. He will be back at some point. 

In the meantime, though, it won't be quite the same without him there. TB was in his office the other day and found a note that Bullis had left for him. It was one of the most touching things TB has ever read, and he was truly moved by it.

Thanks for everything, big dog.

Best of luck. And stay safe out there.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

To The Postseason

TigerBlog starts today with a correction.

He gave you the trivia question yesterday about the only four Major League players who finished their careers with at least 3,000 hits, 300 home runs and a .300 batting average. The answer he gave you was: Hank Aaron, George Brett, Stan Musial and Babe Ruth.

Ah, but he was incorrect. Actually, he had the right answer, only he for some reason entered one of the above instead of the actual person. Congrats if you knew that Babe Ruth did not have 3,000 hit (he had 2,873). 

The correct answer is the other three plus Willie Mays. TB knew that, but he wrote Babe Ruth for some reason. 

Of those four, by the way, who had the highest career batting average, at .331? None of the other three had more than a .305 career average.

The answer is Musial, who had these numbers: 3,630 career hits, a .331 career average and 475 career home runs. He's actually fourth all-time in career hits, trailing only Pete Rose (4,256), Ty Cobb (4,191) and Aaron (3,771).

Only one other player, Tris Speaker (with 3,514) reached at least 3,500 career hits.

So now you have it right. TB apologizes for the error.

Historical records are very important to TigerBlog. The need to be accurate.

This applies to statistics. That's why it's always been a big thing for TB to see as much consistency across stat-keeping on the college level, especially when it comes to the subjective. Assists should be assists, the same at one school as another. 

This also applies to award winners. TB likes being able to look back at previous winners of an award to give credibility to current winners and to the award itself. He felt this way when Princeton gave out its senior awards, and he's felt this way the whole time he's been writing the women's history book. 

Maybe you can't compare one athlete from one era to another athlete from a different one many decades later, but they do have the common achievement of having won an award such as the Roper Trophy or von Kienbusch Award, which puts them into an exclusive company of greatness.

That is one reason why TB was disappointed that there were no Tewaaraton Award winners last year in men's and women's lacrosse. Yes, the season hadn't even reached its midway point when it was postponed due to COVID, but it would have been great to be able to see winners announced so that there would have been continuity.

Plus, a Princeton guy would have won the men's award. But even without that, it would have been great to see a winner every year.

As an extension of this, it's great to see that the women's open rowing team will be able to compete in the NCAA championships. Princeton learned the news Tuesday, when the field was announced.

Princeton rowing has been able to get back to competition this spring. As a result, all four varsity teams will be sending boats to the postseason, including the women's open rowers at the NCAAs and then the men's and women's lightweights and the men's heavyweights at the IRA championships.

The NCAA women's rowing championships will be held next weekend in Sarasota. The Princeton first varsity is seeded ninth, with the second varsity seeded 16th and the varsity four seeded 10th. 

The IRA championships will be held also next weekend, though much closer to Princeton, on Mercer Lake at Mercer County Park. 

For the Princeton open rowing team, it continues a streak that has seen the Tigers earn a spot in each of the NCAA regattas, going back to the first one in 1997. 

The historian in TigerBlog is happy to see that COVID didn't end that streak. 

More importantly, though, the Princeton fan in him is happy to see that the athletes get the chance to compete.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Trading Cards

Princeton baseball coach Scott Bradley tweeted out a picture of George Brett under the words "Monday Mentors" earlier this week.

Bradley said this about Brett: "He mentored an entire generation of players just by the way in which he played the game!"

Brett played 21 Major League seasons, all with the Kansas City Royals, whom he led to the 1985 World Series championship. He was a 13-time all-star and three-time American League batting champion, not to mention a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer with 98.2 percent of the vote. 

Among his long list of accomplishments, he's one of only four Major League players ever with at least 3,000 hits, 300 home runs and a .300 career batting average. Can you guess the other three? TigerBlog will give you until the end today to figure it out.  

Another interesting fact about Brett is that he's one of only 18 players in Major League history to have played at least 20 seasons, all with the same team. The record is 23, held by both Brooks Robinson (Baltimore) and Carl Yastrzemski (Boston). To show you how rare it is these days, only four players among the 18 played at all during this century, and two of them finished their careers in 2001 (Tony Gwynn with San Diego and Cal Ripken Jr. with Baltimore). The other two are Craig Biggio (Houston) and Derek Jeter (NY Yankees). Yadier Molina is the active player with the longest such streak, as he is in his 17th year with the Cardinals. 

Brett played from 1973 through 1993, which meant he was active during Bradley's entire career (1984-92). Other than five games with Cincinnati in his final season, Bradley played the rest of his career in the American League, which means that he and Brett crossed paths a lot. 

Though Bradley came up with the Yankees, he did so a year too late to have been a part of Brett's most famous home run, the Pine Tar home run of 1983. If all you know about Brett is the way he charged out of the dugout when his home run was disallowed (but later restored, forcing the game to be continued from that point), well, then you have a sense of how hard Brett played at all times.

Later on Monday, during a head coaches' Zoom, TigerBlog sent a message to Bradley through the chat saying that Brett had been his favorite player when he was younger. He was going to say that Brett was his favorite baseball player of all-time, but he'd have to qualify that by saying "other than Princetonians who played in Major League Baseball."

While the subject is Princeton baseball and the Major Leagues, Steven Feldman is the Class of 1968 historian, and he sent this to TigerBlog, one historian to another:

“Since we are in the heart of the Major League Baseball season, here are nine baseball cards representing most of the Major League baseball cards that have been issued for players who played baseball at Princeton. One card missing is the famous Moe Berg who played Major League ball in the 1930s and 1940s.  He also worked as a spy for the United States. Today, Berg’s 1933 Goudey baseball card is worth hundreds of dollars. The Princeton player on the card with three players is Bob Tufts. The two players who are currently active are Mike Ford of the Yankees and David Hale of the Phillies. The other players shown are Dave Sisler, Chris Young, Ross Ohlendorf,  Will Venable,  Danny Barnes, and Matt Bowman."

Now that's pretty cool stuff.

One slight correction is that Berg played in the Major Leagues from 1923 until his retirement 16 years later. His final Major League game was on Sept. 1, 1939 – and you probably know what else happened that day.

In fact, Berg became more famous for being a spy in World War II than he had been as a baseball player. There have been books and movies about his role in the war, including his map-making of Tokyo before the war while barnstorming there and then his work in uncovering the process the Germans were making towards an atomic bomb.

The answer to the trivia question is Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Stan Musial. That's extraordinary company. 

If, like TigerBlog, you wondered about Joe DiMaggio, he had the home runs (361) and the batting average (.325) but not the hits (2,214).

(note, TB originally wrote Babe Ruth instead of Willie Mays. Ruth did not have 3,000 hits).

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Congrats, Mel

Today is TigerBlog's cousin Paul's birthday.

His father was MotherBlog's brother. Paul is five years older than TB, the oldest of the four first cousins on his mother's side. TB is the youngest of the group.

When he was growing up, TB spent most holidays with Paul's side of the family, with his sister Janet and his parents, Larry and Regina. TB's aunt passed away more than 33 years ago. His uncle passed away about 15 years ago.

MotherBlog was a bit of an amateur painter. In fact, TB can vividly remember her oil paints and easel in the room downstairs in their house growing up. He can remember only a few different paintings she made, including one with a wine-and-cheese theme set against a pathway with a footbridge.

He's wondered from time to time whatever happened to the works she made. Did they still exist somewhere?

As it turns out, MB had left one of them to her brother Larry. When he died, the painting went to Paul, and it was on the wall in his basement ever since. It's a painting of a violin:

That's not too bad, right? It makes him wonder a few things, including how she learned to do it in the first place, since she wasn't an artist at all but instead a nurse.

As for Paul, he's someone TB has always looked up to and someone he shares a lot of great memories with throughout his lifetime. Happy birthday to him.

While TB is on the subject of good wishes, he'd also like to pass along his best to Mel Greenberg, the longtime Philadelphia sportswriter. This is from a Philadelphia Inquirer story:

Former Inquirer sports writer Mel Greenberg is this year’s winner of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Curt Gowdy Award for print media, basketball’s highest national honor for the profession. Greenberg, 74, has covered women’s hoops for nearly 50 years, many of them for The Inquirer. He is the first Gowdy Award winner in its 31-year history to be honored specifically for women’s basketball coverage.

The last sentence is the most important one.

TigerBlog has known Greenberg for a long time, back to his own newspaper days. By then, Greenberg was already legendary for his coverage of women's basketball and his national poll, long before anyone else on a national level paid much attention to the sport. 

TB first met him when TB was also a rarity, a male sportswriter who was covering women's basketball. In fact, there were many nights where they were the only two people courtside for a women's game.

It's easy to see the amount of women's basketball coverage that there is today and think that it has a long way to go to catch up to the men's coverage, and that is true. At the same time, it's grown exponentially in the last few decades, and the person who is responsible for that more than anyone else has been Mel Greenberg.

Since Mel retired from the Inquirer, he has remained active in the women's basketball scene. In fact, he runs a blog, reachable at

Greenberg is a huge fan of the Princeton women's basketball program. Of course, who wouldn't be, what with the success the team has had in the last decade-plus under Courtney Banghart and now Carla Berube. Mel is a frequent visitor to Jadwin Gym and has been for years, and not just when the Tigers are playing Penn, a local team for him.

In some ways, he reminds TB of his old mentor in the newspaper business, Harvey Yavener. He's that kind of sportswriter, one who is interested in the people who are playing the game more than he's interested in making himself part of the story. As Yav would always say: "the news is the news. Your covering the news is not news."

That, of course, is a bit contradictory to something like, say, this blog, but then Yav never would have predicted this is what the next iteration of his profession was to be. It's a whole new world, sportswriting, but it's nice to see the Mel Greenberg's of the world are still relevant.

And, as his latest award suggests, still being honored. It is a much deserved honor for Mel Greenberg, who pretty much single-handedly made women's basketball coverage what it is today. 

Hopefully, Mel will be back at Jadwin this coming year. In the meantime, TB wishes him his heartiest congratulations.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Congratulations, Graduates

In honor of Commencement 2021, TigerBlog went back into the archives of the Daily Princetonian to find the earliest references to graduation.

When he did a search, the results came up in a fairly random order. In fact, the first headline was from 2009: "Local Hotels Raise Prices For Commencement Week."

If you want to sort by the oldest, then there is Sept. 1, 1845. The valedictorian was named Furman Sheppard. 

TB did a search for ol' Furman, and it turns out he went on to a career in law, including two terms as the District Attorney in Philadelphia before he passed away in 1893. What was really fascinating was something that TB read regarding Furman's career:

His second term as District Attorney saw Philadelphia host the famous Centennial Exhibition in 1876, during which Sheppard paid close attention to the potential for crime it attracted. He established a Magistrate's Court on the centennial grounds for the immediate hearing of criminal charges. In most cases, he succeeded in having offenders indicted, tried, and sentenced within a few hours after arrest. This rapid proceeding was popularly called "Sheppard's Railroad," and it played a large role in assuring the visitors to the exhibition would be safe.

That's the Philadelphia forerunner of the jail at Veterans Stadium and then Lincoln Financial Field, no? The people who didn't have the Eagles to root for went to the Centennial Exhibition? 

Anyway, that was a fun Commencement story.

Commencement at Princeton was yesterday. The ceremony was held in person, on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium. From Princeton president Christopher Eisgruber's address:

Simply put, our long, unwelcome separation teaches us this: to forge a common good together, we must break bread together. We must, in other words, relate to one another not just as disembodied intellects, interests, or ideologies, or as faces in Zoom boxes, but also as real, three-dimensional people who share basic needs and a common humanity.

Among those who earned an honorary degree, by the way, was rocker Jon Bon Jovi. He's not quite Springsteen, but he's as close as you're going to get. 

Graduation at Princeton is usually held in front of Nassau Hall. It was online last year due to the pandemic, and it was held in the football stadium this year to allow for greater social distancing.

It's the lack of social distancing that for TB is always the best part of graduation. 

He's gone almost every year and sat on a stone bench on the other side of Nassau Hall, watching on the big screen. He waits for his favorite part, which is when the ceremony ends and the graduates file out of, walking down the path towards where he had been sitting and watching.

It's a seemingly endless parade of new alums, walking out into their new post-Princeton lives together with their best friends. It's almost like you could check off every activity on campus as they walk by: band members, musicians, actors and actresses, writers and on and on.

And of course, athletes. 

TB has always loved to see them come by, team by team, smiles ear to ear. He recognizes many of them, even if it's easier to do so in their uniforms than in their caps and gowns. 

The all pose for pictures, often with their coaches. There are hugs and hugs and more hugs, all while family members stand by, beaming.

TB wasn't there this year to see it. He hopes that it returns to the way it's always been a year from now and onward for the rest of the University's time.

Of course, it recent years, there's also been the social media component.

That's just one example. You can see them all over Princeton Twitter and Instagram.

The Class of 2021 endured a lot to get to Princeton Stadium yesterday. There are so many experiences that they were cheated out of by COVID, but they persevered and came through it all anyway, the better and stronger for it. Now they're part of the most loyal and dedicated alumni base there is in this country, and it would be great to see them all back year after year at Reunions to celebrate.

TB hopes that all of the students who graduated yesterday, 153 of whom were varsity athletes, have nothing but the best of times moving forward.

They certainly deserve it.

Friday, May 14, 2021

To The Class Of 2021

TigerBlog smiled when he read what Nate Ewell tweeted the other day.

Ewell, who was a student-worker in TB's earliest days at Princeton, was one of the 1996 winners of the "Spirit of Princeton" award. He wrote this earlier this week, when the current winners were announced: "25 years later I can safely say that this honor was the coolest thing I'll ever win. Congrats to this year's honorees. Seriously, imagine being told you embody the spirit of the best damn place of all. It's enough to go to one's head."

The best damn place of all. Those words were written by Kenneth Sherman Clark, Class of 1905, for Reunions five years after his graduation.

That was 116 years ago. The spirit of the song still resonates.

If you have any doubt about that, then you didn't watch the Gary Walters PVC Awards Banquet last night. The common theme was the amazing bond that being a Princeton athlete creates, with teammates, with the other teams and with the University as a whole.

It's something that could have gotten lost during the last 14 months, as the pandemic disrupted the athletic experience of the current Tigers so completely and unfairly. Instead, it's something that came through perhaps more than ever.

As Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan said early on in the show last night, her hope is that the members of Class of 2021 always "draw strength and community from your teams." 

Princeton president Christopher Eisgruber also appeared during the banquet. His message was about persistence and resilience and how much the last 14 months have been an unwanted lesson in both of those qualities. Princeton Athletics, he said, are about making a difference for the better in the world.

The 2021 banquet was the 24th overall and second straight that was forced to be online due to the pandemic. Despite that, the event celebrated the soon-to-be-graduating athletes, complete with the highest departmental awards.

The hosts were men's volleyball player AJ Chen and field hockey player Julianna Tornetta, who brought a great deal of energy to their role. Chen, by the way, was a winner of this year's Spirit of Princeton award, the same award Nate won 25 years ago. 

There were 11 winners of the award this year, two of whom were athletes - AJ and men's lacrosse player Terrell Seabrooks (shot putter Kelton Chastulik was a 2020 winner). TB has never met Chen, but he has known Seabrooks since he first joined the men's lacrosse team. He can tell you without hesitation that he is wildly deserving of the award.

One of the highlights of every banquet is the awarding of the Class of 1967 Citizen-Athlete Award, given for outstanding contribution to sport and society. The winner this year is Vietta Johnson, an orthopedic surgeon and former women's track and field sprinter and hurdler from the Class of 1982. Johnson went from Princeton to Harvard Medical School, and her career has been one dedicated to providing care for those who otherwise might not have had access to it. 

TB got to know Vietta this year, first on a Class of 1982 call and then as part of the celebration of the first 50 years of women's athletics at Princeton. She is an amazingly impressive person, and her accomplishments are inspirational. She is a perfect match for the award.

Marcoux Samaan also presented the Lorin Maurer Award, named for TB's late colleague who passed away in a plane crash in 2009. Here is the wording of the award: Awarded to that member of the Princeton Athletics family who best reflects the passion, dedication and infectious enthusiasm that defined Lorin Maurer’s character and her inspiring impact on colleagues and friends. Awarded in the memory of Lorin Maurer h78, 1978-2009.

The winner was Associate Director of Athletics For Events Management Karen Malec, and who else could it have been after a year in which she did so much during the pandemic, going into work every day, helping to coordinate testing and vaccinations and doing so much else to keep the campus running while helping the athletes enjoy as much of a college experience as possible. 

The biggest awards are the Roper Trophy and the von Kienbusch Awards, given to the top male and female senior athletes. The Roper Trophy went to fencer Daniel Kwak, an NCAA runner-up and later NCAA regional champion in the year there were no national championships. Kwak, on the way to medical school, mentioned how honored he was to be joining a legacy of those who have won the award.

Another highlight for TB was the way the von Kienbusch Award was introduced by the first two winners, Helena Novakova and Margie Gengler-Smith, who happened to be the first two women ever to compete for Princeton. The winner was Clara Roth, who said it was overwhelming to be included on the list of winners. She didn't mention it, but she's the 50th anniversary of women's athletics winner as well.

The banquet ended with as it always does, with a video tribute to the seniors, in this case 153 of them, as well as the singing of "Old Nassau." 

It usually happens in a tent at the Grad College or in a dressed up Jadwin Gym. Hopefully, the 25th edition of the banquet will be back to normal.

In the meantime, there will always be something very, very special about this class, and the one before it. They didn't get the experience they wanted, but they left their mark as Tigers nonetheless, in a way that brought out the very best of them.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Banquet Time

There was a time when TigerBlog used to attend the annual kickoff luncheon late in August at Trenton State College, which is now the College of New Jersey, which, of course, is what Princeton was at one time.

Each year, as the summer began to wind down, TB would find himself at this luncheon, where the president of the college used to say the same thing each time: "I predict each Trenton State team will go undefeated this year."

He was wrong, of course. It never happened, though that school has always been something of a Division III version of Princeton in terms of athletic success. 

Each time TB went to the event, he used to have the same two thoughts: 1) he's going to make the same joke about going undefeated and 2) another year has come and gone already?

In TB's modern era, such as it is, he's had the same feeling at a different annual event. Each year, as he walked to the Grad College or into Jadwin Gym for the Gary Walters Princeton Varsity Club Awards Banquet, he's had that same feeling.

Another year has come and gone? Really?

Through the years, the banquet has always been one of TB's favorite nights on the Princeton Athletics calendar. It's a great night of celebration of all the great things about Princeton, with a focus on the senior athletes of that particular year. 

They would gather together, with only a few days left until graduation. And they'd all say the same thing on that night: "I can't believe four years went by so fast."

TB has also always been struck by the difference between the banquet and the freshman orientation nearly four years earlier. They're both gatherings of the entire athletics class, but that's really the only similarity. 

At freshman orientation, they're wide-eyed, with no idea what to expect. At the banquet, they've all gone down the path of their athletic experience, with championships and individual honors for so many of them, and others who had to deal with adversities they never would have imagined when they started.

The adversity that the Class of 2021 had throw its way extends far beyond anything that was even remotely on anyone's radar on that day of freshman orientation. The Class of 2020 also had to deal with the COVID pandemic, and TB wrote this a year ago on the day of the banquet. 

That's an 8 pm start tonight. It's another chance to celebrate Princeton's great class of 2020, a class whose careers did not end in a manner any of them could have foreseen not that long ago - and a class who will be even stronger down the road for having gone through this.

Before any of that, though, they all deserve the recognition that awaits them tonight.

The same applies to the Class of 2021.

And so it will be another virtual banquet tonight. Again, it begins at 8. You can get more information about it HERE.

The virtual banquet will have the same elements of the in-person one. It celebrates the class, presents the major awards, has a few laughs and mostly reinforces the great spirit that defines Princeton Athletics.

As he did last year, TB wishes the absolute best to the members of this class. They have had their experiences disrupted, and they've powered through in a way that is inspirational. Just as he said last year, he's pretty sure the members of this class will draw on the way they handled things often as they move through their lives.

Princeton Athletics is about a lot of things. It's about competition and athletic excellence. It's about service. It's about learning lessons of leadership.

More than anything else, though, it's about education. That's what Princeton Athletics is all about. Education Through Athletics. It speaks to the life lessons that are learned through competing in intercollegiate athletics at Princeton.

They're not all easy lessons. They're not always the lessons they might want. But they are valuable, every one of them.

So tonight at 8 it's a time to celebrate the great Class of 2021. 

Every member of the class deserves to be saluted.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The 2021 Bressler Award Winner

Did you get a chance to watch the Garret brothers event Monday night? 

The event, hosted by Soldiers To Sidelines, featured John, Jason and Judd Garrett, all Princeton football alums who have had long careers in football after graduation. They spoke about their experiences in the "family business," as they are the sons of a football coach, Jim Garrett, and they also talked about the 1987 Lehigh game, one Princeton won 16-15 after Jason led the team from its own 2 with 2:25 to play to the Lehigh 21 for a game-winning field goal as time expired.

TigerBlog wrote about the game Monday before the event.

He used the Daily Princetonian archives as part of the research. The only problem he had was that he didn't know the exact date of the game, so he chose a random Monday in October to check. He found out two things from that random Monday, which happened to be Oct. 5, 1987.

First, it was a week before the game was played, so he had to go to the Oct. 12 edition to read about Princeton-Lehigh football. Second, he stumbled on something he was not expecting on the Oct. 5 front page. 

The headline was: "McPhee reads from newest book, tells about Princeton childhood." The McPhee, of course, is John McPhee.

The newest book was called "Rising From The Plains." It was his 19th book; he's published 15 more since and has another, "Tabula Rasa," on the way. 

The story in The Prince mentioned how McPhee's wife Yolanda read from the book as well. "Rising From The Plains" talks about the geology of the Rocky Mountains, with pieces of a journal from the mother of a local geologist mixed in. Yolanda read the parts from the journal.

It's a book TB has not read yet. It's one he's going to read soon.

Speaking of geology, TigerBlog loved the video of Adam Maloof, the winner of the Marvin Bressler Award for 2021. The award is given each year to "that member of the Princeton family who, through heartfelt support of the University’s student-athletes and coaches, best embodies a belief in the lifelong lessons taught by competition and athletics as a complement to the overall educational mission. Awarded in the spirit of Marvin Bressler, professor of sociology, 1963-94."

Maloof is a geology professor at Princeton and a Faculty Fellow for the baseball team. TB has met him once, and it was when McPhee referred him to Maloof for his opinion on a rock that TB's mechanic Ron had found.

It was a very interesting experience, to say the least. It was also wildly fascinating. 

If you watch the video, you'll see Maloof as he shags fly balls during BP. You'll also see him in his trademark overalls, which he was wearing the day TB met him in his office. 

Maloof mentions that he never met Marvin Bressler. TigerBlog did. He knew him well.

TB remembers one time when he was at the Princeton men's basketball banquet when Pete Carril was still the head coach. As he gave out the B.F. Bunn Award, which is the top men's basketball honor, he mentioned that nobody knew who B.F. Bunn was anymore, so the significance of the award was best chronicled by those great players who had won it.

There are still people around Princeton who knew Marvin, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 87. TB is glad he is one of them.

Marv Bressler was a sociologist through and through. The entire world was his classroom. TB first got to know him through many nights at Contes after men's basketball games, when he would talk about that night's game and then essentially anything else that helped define human beings. He remains one of the most interesting people TB has ever met.

He served in the Army during World War II and then went to Temple for his undergraduate degree and Penn for his master's and Ph.D. He was the chair of the sociology department for 20 of the 30 years he taught at Princeton.

He was also the original Faculty Fellow, having mentored a young Gary Walters in the 1960s during his time on the men's basketball team. When Gary became the athletic director, he created the Faculty Fellows program to mirror his experience for the current generations of Princeton athletes. Since then, literally thousands of young people have benefited from the program, which Marv so easily described as "given them an adult to talk to if they need it."

He was quick-witted. He had a very deep voice. His head was completely shaved. He smoked a pipe. He was a very, very, very great man.

Today he lives on in the award that's named for him. 

The winner this year is Adam Maloof, who, as you can see from the video, is quite deserving of an honor that bears the name of Marvin Bressler.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Olympian Tigers

Trivia question - The first sport in which Princeton athletes competed in the Olympic Games was track and field, in the first modern Games of 1896. In fact, Princeton track and field was represented in the 1896, 1900, 1904, 1908 and 1912 Games. The 1916 Games, originally scheduled for Berlin, were cancelled because of World War I, and it was in the 1920 Games where Princeton was represented by track and field and two other sports. Name the other two sports.

Before he gets to the answer, TigerBlog remembers a football game in Palmer Stadium for which there was a live tiger in attendance.

There were some great pictures of the tiger, including one in which he was crushing a football. Imagine what that Tiger could do to, say, a human head.

That tiger was in a cage and then on a very, very strong leash, under the care at all times of a group of people who clearly seemed to know what they were doing. This is in contrast to the tiger that was seen roaming around a residential neighborhood in Houston.

See for yourself:

As it turns out, this was a bit of a murky situation. It doesn't appear to be a tiger who wandered away from a zoo. The owner came and brought him back inside the house.

As TB read more about it, he learned that the neighbor with the gun was an off-duty police officer and that the "owner" of the tiger was seen fleeing in a van with the tiger. So yes, it appears to be a bit murky.

Princeton has been the Tigers since the 1880s, when the football team added orange stripes to black shirts in honor of William of Nassau of the House of Orange. This led to a newspaper story that complimented Princeton as "playing like tigers," and it just stuck from there.

Seeing a live tiger wandering around, even in those murkier circumstances, is an amazing sight. Have you ever seen live tigers at the zoo? There's a reason people love to see the big cats.

The tiger is a powerful, imposing beast and yet a beautiful one as well. It's easy to not give much thought to Princeton's nickname, as it's been the nickname for 140 years or so, but it really is a great moniker for your teams.

As for the trivia question, the answer is shooting and fencing. Karl Frederick of the Class of 1903 won gold in the 50m free pistol, 50m team free pistol and 30m team military pistol, and Henry Breckenridge of the Class of 1907 won bronze in team foil fencing.

Princeton fencing will be well-represented at the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo.

On the men's side, Mohamed Hamza will be part of the Egyptian team and will compete in the individual and team foil events. Hamza, a sophomore at Princeton, competed four years ago for Egypt as well, finishing seventh in the team event.

At Princeton he has been an All-American after finishing sixth at the NCAA championships in 2018-19.

The other three Princeton fencers headed to Tokyo were all teammates on the 2013 NCAA championship team. Two of them were NCAA individual champions, and the third was an NCAA runner-up (from an all-Princeton final) and a 2016 Olympian herself.

Eliza Stone was the 2013 NCAA saber champion. Anna van Brummen was the 2017 NCAA epee champion. Kat Holmes was the 2017 NCAA epee runner up after being a 2016 Olympian.

All three will be on the U.S. team in Tokyo. 

They will be looking to join Susie Scanlan and Maya Lawrence as Princeton women's fencers who have won Olympic medals, after they won bronze in team epee in 2012. On the men's side, Hamza will be looking to join Breckenridge and Tracy Jaeckel (bronze in 1932 in team epee) as Princeton Olympic men's fencing medalists.


Monday, May 10, 2021

Three Garretts

TigerBlog hopes all the Princeton moms out there had a great Mothers' Day.

There was some great social media content in honor of the holiday. Here's an example of a particularly good one:

That's a very impressive move by the softball team. 

For the day after Mothers' Day, you should still be nice to your mom. In the meantime, here is something about one of the great families that Princeton Athletics has known.

If you have a Facebook account, which TB does not, you can watch a special show this evening featuring the three Garrett brothers, John, Jason and Judd.

As you almost are certainly aware, the Garretts are among the best football players Princeton has ever seen. Jason and Judd were Bushnell Cup winners (in 1988 and 1989), and both went on to NFL careers as players, coaches and in Judd's case scouting (and also writing; you can find his novel HERE). 

Jason is still the offensive coordinator for the Giants after spending 10 years as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. For his part, John is now the head coach at Lafayette.

All three are very close to Princeton head coach Bob Surace, by the way. Surace graduated in the same class as Judd (1990) and was a first-team All-Ivy League center. Surace and Judd Garrett won an Ivy League championship together as seniors.

The three Garrett brothers played together in the 1987 season. One of the games in which they played was against Lehigh, a game Princeton won 16-15. 

Rob Goodwin kicked a game-winning 38-yard field goal on the final play of the game, but that's not really what was the big story of the game, even if you factor in that Princeton was out of timeouts and had to rush the field goal team onto the field and get the kick off before the clock read all zeroes (though they might have gotten a little help from the refs).

Instead, it was the game-winning drive that Jason orchestrated, leading the Tigers from their own 2 to the Lehigh 21 with 2:25 to play. The drive almost ended before it started, as the Tigers had a third-and-28 from their own 6 long before getting anywhere near where Goodwin could win it.

The Garretts, though, bailed out Princeton. First Jason found Judd for 20 yards to make it a manageable fourth down. Then he connected with John for the first down to keep the drive going.

Jason also found John on the last play before the field goal, gaining just short of 10 yards, or enough to warrant a measurement that stopped the clock and gave Princeton a little advantage in getting the kick away.

Jason finished the game 25 for 31 for 309 yards. That was also the game where Dean Cain had three interceptions.

That epic game-winning drive is a big part of the discussion tonight. 

The event is being put on by an organization called "Soldiers To Sidelines," which helps veterans who are interested in getting into coaching. From the organization:

We will be breaking down film from the Princeton vs Lehigh two-minute drill where Jason, Judd, and John took part in that comeback. We will be asking the brothers what they saw and felt as the drive evolved. Additionally, we will be discussing with them the family connection to football and how coaching has become a "family business" for them.

It sounds great, right? 

If you're interested, you can watch it HERE.

The drive itself was a thing of beauty, and it'll be fascinating to see what their top memories of it are. 

It certainly seems like a great event for Princeton fans. Jason Garrett is one of the very best public speakers TB has ever heard, and the Garretts together are a very, very special part of Princeton Athletic history.  

Once again, kickoff for the event, as it were, is at 8.

Friday, May 7, 2021

The Athlete Of The Decade

TigerBlog mentioned John Hummer yesterday in connection with a New York Post story about the divorce of Bill and Melinda Gates. 

If you missed it, you can read it HERE. Again, it's worth it. 

If you want a little more on the Gates divorce, you can read THIS story, which features comments on the legal process of the case from a family law professor at the University of Washington. You know him as BrotherBlog. 

There was another story in which he was quoted in which he was referred to an "expert." It's always good to be known that way. 

Meanwhile, back at Princeton basketball, TB has a few follow ups from yesterday. 

First, he got this great comment from loyal reader Mike Knorr about the Princeton games at UCLA that TB mentioned:

In that Indiana game when Hummer scored 32, I believe Geoff Petrie had 31. Al Dufty was snowed in in Buffalo so the Tigers were down a starter. I remember listening to the game on the car radio. I was in the Navy and my parents were taking me to McGuire AFB to catch a flight to Scotland. About two weeks later I received a cassette in the mail. My father recorded the second half of the UCLA game. I must have listened to it at least ten times. Each time hoping for a different outcome. But alas, that damn Sidney Wicks made that shot every time.

Mike, by the way, is correct. Petrie did have 31 in that game.

In fact, as near as TB was able to figure, that was the only game in Princeton men's basketball history where two players both had at least 30 points.

Looking this up got TB to wondering how many times Bill Bradley played a game at Princeton in which he was not the team's leading scorer in the game. The answer? Three.

Who were the players who did lead the team in scoring in those three games? TB will give you one hint - one player did it twice. Also, he'll give you until the end today to guess.

In the meantime, TB also stumbled onto a story about Bradley from Town Topics of Jan. 1, 1970. In it was a story about the newspaper's choice for Princeton's Athlete of the Decade of the 1960s. It probably comes as little surprise:

In greater retrospect, Bradley is the dominant figure in the history of Princeton athletics, surpassing even the now legendary Dick Kazmaier. This is not merely a matter of opinion: well before the end of the decade which followed "Kazmaier's gridiron exploits, a number of the statistical records he had set had been erased by lesser players who lacked his composite ability. In contrast, not only has no one at the Princeton or Ivy level broken a single record that Bradley set. but the spread between his achievements and the occasional superlative performance by one of the latter-day players is so great as simply to emphasize the sheer magnificence of his achievements. Even in a sport in which scoring at the individual and team level has more than doubled in the past 30 years, it is entirely probable that the best of Bradley's records will last out the current century.

There are a few extraordinary things in that write-up. First, how far away must the end of the century seemed when it was written. 

Second, everything in there is so true. It could have been written today, actually. Certainly all of those records still stand.

The newspaper also included a runner-up of sorts for the top Princeton athlete of the 1960s. Not surprisingly, it was Cosmo Iacavazi, the All-American football player who was also in the Class of 1965. In fact, as great as Bradley was at Princeton, it speaks volumes about Iacavazzi's own career as a Tiger that they both shared the 1965 Roper Trophy.

Also, the trivia answer is:

Art Hyland did it twice: (27 for Hyland, 20 for Bradley vs. Colgate and 27 for Hyland, 26 for Bradley vs. Dartmouth (second game), both in 1962-63)

Don Rodenbach did it once (22 for Rodenbach, 18 for Bradley in the first Penn game of 1963-64).

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Princeton Mention In The Last Paragraph Of A Bizarre Article

TigerBlog hadn't read anything about Bill Gates and his divorce until he was texted a story about the situation.

The text included a link to a New York Post story and this note: "Princeton mention in the last paragraph of this bizarre article."

Now if that doesn't get TB to want to read about the situation, nothing could. First, he was intrigued to see the bizarre part. Second, what would the Princeton mention be? 

The headline was bizarre enough: "Bill Gates took getaways with his ex-girlfriend after marriage to Melinda."

The first three paragraphs take it to another level:

After marrying his wife, Bill Gates would spend a long weekend every year at a cozy beach cottage in North Carolina — with his old girlfriend.

The billionaire Microsoft founder made sure the bizarre arrangement was part of the deal when he married Melinda French in 1994, he told Time magazine in a 1997 profile.

“We can play putt-putt while discussing biotechnology,” Gates said of his private getaways with fellow nerd techie and ex Ann Winblad — Winblad — who is now happily married to actor Kevin Kline’s detective brother, Alex Kline, a source told The Post on Tuesday.

There's a lot there, not the least of which is that Bill Gates' former girlfriend and longtime travel partner was Phoebe Cates' sister-in-law.

So TigerBlog kept reading. First, he was intrigued by how Gates had gone on these trips with his former girlfriend after he got married. 

Presumably Melinda knew about it. Heck, perhaps those were her favorite weekends of the year? 

As he read, of course, TB was waiting for the punchline. After all, he was promised a Princeton reference. What would it be?

It had nothing to do with any of the three major players' being a Princeton grad. What was it? 

As he got closer and closer to the end, his interest was more and more piqued. Then he saw this:

A former high-school valedictorian and head cheerleader from Minnesota, Gates’ ex co-founded an accounting software company, sold it — and then partnered up with retired NBA Supersonics player and Princeton University grad John Hummer in a venture-capital firm.

What the heck? TB was not expecting a John Hummer reference.

HERE is the whole story.

John Hummer is one of the greatest men's basketball players Princeton has ever seen. He's also a member of what is likely the most accomplished family Princeton basketball has known. 

John's brother Ed was a three-time All-Ivy selection who played on the Final Four team of 1964-65 as a sophomore and the great 25-3 team of 1966-67. Ed's son Ian is the No. 2 scorer in Princeton men's basketball history with 1,625 career points; Ian was also the 2013 Ivy League Player of the Year.

As for John Hummer, he was a three-time All-Ivy League selection, including a first-team selection in 1969 and 1970. He finished his career with 1,031 points.

He helped Princeton go 14-0 in the league as a junior, for the first of what would be three perfect league seasons for Pete Carril as Tiger coach (1976, 1991 were the other two). Hummer and Geoff Petrie combined to average 36.6 points per game between that year.

Any guesses how long it would be until two Princeton teammates bettered that mark? 

The answer is one. The next year, Hummer and Petrie combined to average 39.8. The only time in program history that any two teammates did better were in the Bill Bradley years: Bradley and Art Hyland (43.5 in 1962-63) and Bradley and Robert Haarlow (42.3 in 1963-64 and 40.1 in 1964-65).

Also, in case you're wondering, Hummer's career high was 32, which he scored in an 82-76 win against Indiana on Dec. 27, 1969, in a game played at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion in the Bruin Classic. The next night he scored 25 more in a 76-75 loss to then-No. 2 UCLA, who would go on to win the NCAA championship.

That, by the way, was the first of two years in between Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Bill Walton for the Bruins, who won the NCAA championship both times anyway.

Hummer put Princeton, a 30-point underdog in that game, on top 75-74 when he tipped in a missed shot with 11 seconds left, but the great Sidney Wicks broke the Tigers' hearts with a jump shot with four seconds to play to win it.

John Hummer went on to become the 15th pick in the 1970 NBA draft. He was the first pick of the expansion Buffalo Braves, whom TB remembers watching when the team had players like Bob McAdoo and Ernie DiGregorio. Extra credit if you know that today that same franchise is the Los Angeles Clippers. 

Hummer would average 6.3 points and 5.9 rebounds in a six-year NBA career that saw him play for the Braves, Bulls and Seattle Supersonics (now the Oklahoma City Thunder).

After that, he became a venture capitalist. And, it appears, he had a pretty interesting business partner along the way.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Welcome Women's Rugby

TigerBlog wrote yesterday about Steve Morgan, the great Princeton sprinter from the Class of 1987 who still holds the Ivy League record for the 200 meters 34 years after he set it, not to mention the school records in the 100 and 200.

As TB learned yesterday, Morgan passed away in 2010.

To learn more about who Morgan was, TB reached out to Fred Samara, the head coach of Princeton men's track and field. This is what Samara said about Morgan:

Steve was a remarkable athlete for us. Steve had an amazing stride, the longest I’ve ever seen except for Bolt. I can tell you a funny story. At the 1985 Penn Relays, Steve was running the anchor leg for us on the 4x400 Relay. I was watching the race from the other side of the stadium from where our team was sitting. Now you need to realize two things: Steve was about a 30-40 point scorer for us at the Heps, and the Heps were the next weekend. So Steve was running a super race passing many runners. But all of a sudden I noticed a limp in his stride and him tugging at his leg. I became very distraught as I watched him repeatedly tug at his leg. 'Oh no, a pulled hammy' I said to myself, the Heps are lost. After the race I rushed over the the team and frantically yelled to Coach Larry Ellis with almost a tear in my eye, 'what happened to Steve;' 'how badly was he hurt,' what are we going to do now! Larry and the team started to laugh obviously reacting to my overwrought concern. I said 'why are you guys laughing?' So Larry falling down laughing at me said, 'Steve’s not hurt! His jock broke at the 200m mark and his privates were bouncing all over the place!'

That's a great story. And it's good to get some insight into a person whose name appears all over the record book.

Also, anytime you appear in comparison to "Bolt," then that's impressive stuff - even more impressive when it's more than just the fact that they share the same home country of Jamaica. Bolt, of course, is Usain Bolt, probably the greatest sprinter of all time. 

The men's track and field team was the fourth varsity team in Princeton history, dating back to 1876. The first three? 

You probably know that the first varsity team at Princeton was the baseball team, in 1864. The football team, you also probably know, dates to 1869. The third team was heavyweight rowing, in 1872. There were two other teams in the 19th century - men's lacrosse in 1882 and men's golf in 1897.

The 20th century saw a huge growth in teams at Princeton, especially from 1971 on, when women's varsity teams first made an appearance. The first six women's varsity teams were tennis, field hockey, open rowing, squash, basketball and swimming and diving, followed a year later (1972-73) by lacrosse.

From 1990 on, there were five varsity teams added: women's golf in 1992, men's and women's water polo and men's volleyball and in the 1996-97 academic year and then women's lightweight rowing in 1998.

Earlier this week, Princeton announced the addition of its next varsity team, the women's rugby team, which will move from its highly successful club status to become a varsity in 2022-23. Here is what Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan said in the story announcing the move:

"This is an exciting day for Princeton women's rugby and Princeton Athletics. The women's rugby team has been a transformative experience for generations of Princetonians, providing valuable educational opportunities and offering a strong, vibrant, empowering and diverse community. A tremendous amount of effort has gone into this process, and I am thankful for the passionate work of the club's student officers and members of the Princeton University Rugby Endowment board. We look forward to working together on a smooth transition from club to varsity status. We are proudly celebrating the 50th anniversary of women's athletics at Princeton this year, and I can think of no better way to continue that celebration than by making this announcement which will provide even more opportunities for female student-athletes to enjoy the enormous benefits of varsity athletics participation."

TigerBlog does not know much about the sport of rugby, other than the fact that it is pretty much non-stop action. He's looking forward to learning a lot more about it in the next few years.

The move, as Mollie says, will create more varsity athletic opportunities for women athletes, and it comes during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of women's athletics. 

You can read the entire release HERE.