Saturday, March 17, 2007

Arnold Skaaland passes away

Arnold Skaaland passes away

Written: March 14, 2007

“Golden Boy” Arnold Skaaland, a WWE Hall of Famer and a member of the WWE family for over a half-century, passed away Tuesday at the age of 82, with his wife, Betty, by his side.
Arnie was involved in virtually every aspect of sports-entertainment, from grappling to managing to promoting. During the era of the World Wide Wrestling Federation, Skaaland was a stockholder of Capitol Wrestling Corporation, and a producer of live events at the Westchester County Center.

As a wrestler, Skaaland was fearless, taking on much larger men and always giving them a fight. In 1967, he and Spiros Arion won the now-defunct WWE United States Tag Team Championship. He also served as the referee for the famous 1962 match in Japan between “Classy” Freddie Blassie and Rikidozan.

Another generation of fans may remember Skaaland as a manager. He regularly accompanied Bruno Sammartino to the ring during his reigns as WWWF Champion, and later led Bob Backlund to the same title. Perhaps Skaaland’s most controversial moment occurred while managing Backlund; on Dec. 23, 1983, he threw in the towel for Backlund after the Iron Sheik trapped the titlist in the camel clutch – ending the clean-living kingpin’s long reign as WWE Champion.

Skaaland was a legend in all facets of sports-entertainment, and in 1994, he became a member of the first full class inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Former Commissioner Kuhn dies

03/15/2007 5:25 PM ET

Former Commissioner Kuhn dies
Presided during early free agency, game's economic upheaval

By Barry M. Bloom /

Bowie Kuhn, the Major League Baseball Commissioner who presided over the dawn of free agency and the end of the reserve system, died Thursday. He was 80.

Kuhn died at St. Luke's Hospital following a short illness, his spokesman, Bob Wirz said.

Kuhn's tenure, from 1969-84, was the most tumultuous economically in Major League history. His name will be forever linked with Marvin Miller, the first full-time executive director of the MLB Players Association, which came to prominence during the 1970s.

Kuhn, at 44 years old, was the youngest man ever to be elected Commissioner.

During his years in office, Kuhn fought against overturning the reserve clause in the basic player contract, which was used by owners to bind players to their respective teams. Curt Flood took MLB to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the legality of that clause, and although he lost the case, the high court put baseball on notice that the practice was a restraint of trade.
But by 1977, an arbiter had ruled in favor of the union and abolished the reserve clause, ushering in the era of free agency. The average salary nearly tripled -- from $51,501 in 1976 to $143,756 in 1980. This past year, it was a record $2.8 million.

"My wife, Sue, and I are terribly saddened by the passing of Bowie Kuhn," current Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "He was a close friend, a respected leader, and an impressive figure in all ways. He led our game through a great deal of change and controversy. Yet, Bowie laid the groundwork for the success we enjoy today. He brought us expansion, night World Series games, and greater national television exposure."

Kuhn battled with owners and players alike, suspending Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner for his illegal contributions to President Nixon's 1972 re-election campaign and swatting irascible A's owner Charlie Finley by negating the 1976 multi-million-dollar sales of players Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers to Boston and Vida Blue to the Yankees, citing the Commissioner's power to rule "in the best interest of baseball."

Under his watch, the owners and the union battled incessantly. A work stoppage came as part of every collective bargaining season, culminating in the 1981 strike that took a 50-day, 171-game chunk out of the regular season and split it into halves.

He also barred Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays from employment in baseball for their associations with an Atlantic City, N.J., casino.

Ultimately, the support for Kuhn eroded after the 1981 strike as the owners kept losing ground to the players. In 1982, a group of owners organized a movement to push Kuhn out of baseball. The end came a year later when they refused to extend his contract, opting instead to hire Peter Ueberroth, who had just concluded a successful tour as head of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Committee.

He has since been succeeded by Bart Giamatti, who passed away in office in 1989; Fay Vincent; and Selig. Selig, 71, took over as the interim Commissioner in Sept. 1992, and has been in the job ever since.

"All of baseball mourns [Kuhn] and I have asked all clubs to observe a moment of silence and fly their flags at half mast in his honor," Selig said. "My condolences and sympathies go out to Luisa, to their children and to their legion of friends and admirers."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Rose: 'I bet on my team every night'

03/14/2007 4:52 PM ET

Rose: 'I bet on my team every night'
Says Dowd Report was correct in details of wagers on Reds
By Mark Sheldon /

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Former Reds great and Major League all-time hits leader Pete Rose came clean Wednesday with another revelation about his sordid past as a gambler.

In an interview with ESPN Radio, Rose revealed to hosts Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann that he placed bets on the Reds "every night" while he was manager of the team during the 1980s. Rose also said that the Dowd Report was correct about those details.

"I bet on my team every night. I didn't bet on my team four nights a week. I was wrong," Rose told ESPN. "I bet on my team to win every night because I love my team, I believed in my team. I did everything in my power every night to win that game."

In 1989, Rose agreed to a lifetime ban from the game issued by then-Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti for betting on baseball, a charge he denied for more than a decade.

During a meeting with current Commissioner Bud Selig a few years ago, Rose privately revealed that he bet on baseball.

"I told him, 'Thank you, Mr. Commissioner, for letting me take this load off my shoulders,'" Rose told reporters in December. "That's how long it took me, from 1989-2001, to get an audience with the guy that is in charge of my life."

A public admission was made in an autobiography Rose wrote in 2004. Rose's web site continues to sell baseballs inscribed "I'm sorry that I bet on baseball," above his autograph.

Rose was a 17-time All-Star and a cornerstone member of the "Big Red Machine" in the 1970s. Affectionately known as "Charlie Hustle," he collected his 4,256 hits and was also the all-time leader in games played with 3,562, accumulated during a 24-season career that lasted from 1963-86. He enjoyed two tours with his hometown team -- first from 1963-78 and again from 1984-86 as a player-manager.

After his retirement as a player, Rose remained manager of the Reds until 1989.
The 65-year-old Rose remains ineligible for selection to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. An application for reinstatement to the game has been given no response by Selig.

On Tuesday, Rose was at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum in Cincinnati to attend a grand opening on an exhibit that celebrates his playing career. The exhibit will open to the public on Saturday and run until the spring of 2008.

Up until now, official celebrations of Rose's career had been limited to 1999's All-Century Team and a celebration of 30 memorable moments in 2002. Major League Baseball gave its approval for the Reds Hall of Fame to pay tribute to Rose's playing career.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Hall of Famer Ladd passes away

Hall of Famer Ladd passes away

Written: March 11, 2007

WWE Hall of Famer Ernie Ladd passed away last night, according to of Monroe, La. Ladd, 68, had been battling cancer since 2004.

Professionally known as the “Big Cat,” Ladd was one of the premiere professional wrestlers of the 1960s and 1970s. Long-time fans in the Northeast particularly remember the havoc he wreaked in WWE throughout the ‘70s as one of the biggest names the territory had ever seen. Managed by the Grand Wizard, Ladd was a persistent challenger to WWE Champions Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales and Bob Backlund.

Prior to a successful career in sports-entertainment, Ladd earned fame as a dominant football player at both the college and pro level. He was a star lineman for Louisiana’s Grambling State University in the late ‘50s, and was recruited in 1961 by the AFL’s San Diego Chargers. He was a member of the Chargers’ 1963 AFL Championship team, and appeared in four straight AFL All-Star Games from 1962-1965. In addition to the Chargers, he also played for the Houston Oilers and Kansas City Chiefs.