20's Sports Extra!


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The Founding of a New Era in Sports!

The National Football League we have all come to know and love today hasn't always been the constant great league it is now. The turn of the new decade in 1920 brought a merger between the Ohio Football League and the New York Pro Football League to become the APFA (Now the NFL)(1). The new league was far from organized, each team had to decide the schedule themselves, resulting in uneven amount of games for each team(2). The 1920 APFA Champion was also decided differently: a council composed of NFL owners decided who would win the 1920 Championship through a meeting(3). The initial trophy given to the 1920 champion (The Akron Pros) is now known as the sports holy grail because of it's disappearance. The trophy hasn't been located since the 1940s(4). It wasn't until 1921 when the very first playoff game was played when the Chicago Bears challenged the Buffalo All-Americans to a championship match after the Buffalo All-Americans were already called champions of 1921. The Chicago Bears ended up winning this game 10-7, effectively stealing the championship from Buffalo(5), which caused huge controversy which would only escalate when the Chicago Bears tried to again steal the title in 1924 from the Cleveland Bulldogs. The Chicago Bears ended up beating the Cleveland Bulldogs in the 1924 championship game, however the NFL denied giving the Bears the title because the game was played after the league season ended by only a matter of weeks(6). Championship controversy only got worse from there when in 1925 the Pottsville Maroons defeated the Chicago Cardinals to clinch their Championship title for the first time. However, the Maroons were found guilty of playing teams outside the league to get a better win record, causing them to be suspended and the Cardinals to get the championship title(7). Despite so much controversy, one team, the Canton Bulldogs, were able to pull of the first and only back-to-back championship of the decade spanning from 1922-1923(8).

The Championship wasn't the only thing crazy about the first decade of Pro Football. Over the course of 1920-1929, it was extremely common for teams to keep folding and new teams to enter the league(9). As many as three to eight teams folded every year and as many as two to six teams joined the league every year(10).

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The first world champions of the NFL, the Akron Pros, whose championship was determined by a meeting instead of a playoff game.

Temporary (or is it?) Pro Hockey League Formed!

The 1920s started with not only a brand new Pro Football league but also a brand new Pro Hockey league. The National Hockey League (NHL) was formed with the intent to be a temporary replacement so that the owner of the NHA (Eddie Livingstone) would be replaced(1). Right off the bat, the NHL was a giant success which ended up replacing the NHA as a whole(2). To start of the 1920 season, Joe Malone of Quebec scored seven goals against the Toronto St. Patricks(3), a record that still stands today(4).

In 1924, the NHL expanded to the United States for the first time with the New York Americans and the Pittsburgh Pirates(5). The Americans were so popular that just 2 years later, a second New York team was added, the Rangers(6). It only took four years for an American team to reach the Stanley cup when the New York Rangers made it in 1928(7). During the 1928 Stanley Cup Finals, star goalie of the Rangers, Lorne Chabot, became injured in the middle of a game. The Rangers didn't have any backup goalies on hand and as a result, head coach Lester Patrick suited up and played goalie himself for the rest of the game(8). Chabot only allowed one goal on 19 shots made(9). The Rangers signed Joe Miller the next day and the Rangers went on to win the Stanley Cup Finals in 5 games(10).

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Lester Patrick, Rangers coach from 1928, dresses up and goalies himself in the middle of a game after their main goalie exits game with eye injury.

Pro Baseball Controversy Maham!

Pro Baseball hasn't always been the fun athletic sport we came to know and love. Just a year before the turn of the decade, the Chicago White Sox were found guilty of throwing the World Series to gamblers to gain a profit(1). Sure that may seem absurd now a days, but back then baseball players weren't payed enough to even live off of(2) and commonly had to work a second job to keep up in life(3). To cause more roaring troubles for the sport of baseball, attendance tended to be horrible low, going as low as only 66 spectators on July 13, 1922(4), a record that stood until the Baltimore Orioles were forced to ban the public from attending a game in April 2015 resulting in an attendance of zero(5). And to top it all off, in 1925, Rogers Hornsby refused to play a game against the Brooklyn Robins(6), resulting in a suspension and $500 fine(7).

However, even with the track record in the demise, pro baseball saw a shift in innovative advancements such as the first radio broadcast of the game ever on August 5, 1921 over Westinghouse station KDKA(8). On top of such advancements, huge records were being broken, such as most home runs in a season at 60 by Babe Ruth(9) and on August 11 1929, Babe Ruth became the very first to hit 500 home runs(10).

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The eight players on the Chicago White Sox who were in on the 1919 Black Sox fix to rig the game for gamblers.