Hiya’ ‘Camino Nation Sports Fans’…
‘The Camino Concept’ Loyal Listeners often ask about ‘Billy Camino’s’ Sports references, and particularly Pittsburgh Teams. Rightly so. It is no secret that ‘Team Camino’ are avid Sports Fans, and, like many USA Regions, we’ve enjoyed our fair share of ‘Championships’ and suffered a few disappointments. We also celebrate the illustrious Careers and achievements of many Southwestern Pennsylvania Athletes, and, Entertainers too, by the way. Here are a few examples:
The Pittsburgh Pirates ‘Roberto Clemente’, one of the best hitters of all-time, and perhaps the greatest defensive Right-Fielder in history, was a perennial All-Star who won every possible award including 1971 World Series Championship MVP. True to his thrilling style as a Player, and his values as a Community Leader, the United States Marine Corps Reserve from Puerto Rico was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, via a Special 5-Year Waiver because: ‘The Great One’ perished in a plane crash, New Years Eve, 1972, as he heroically was self-funding a cargo flight, including the supplies, to neighboring Managua, Nicaragua’s earthquake victims. As a lighter side-note, during his Era, it was obvious that every Kid in Pittsburgh imitated his unique style, to bat like ‘Roberto’; however, none of ‘us’ could ‘hit’ like him. Arriba, Arriba!
Hall of Famer ‘Bill Mazeroski’ was probably the best defensive Second Baseman of all time. Affectionately appreciated as ‘No-Hands’, after his Career, through philanthropy, he remained supportive of the Pittsburgh Family with his annual Scholarship Foundation Celebrity Golf Outing. But, on October 13th, 1960, at Forbes Field, his monumental Fame was eternalized when the Award winning Annual All-Star hit what is widely considered to be the ‘#1 Greatest Home Run’ in Major League History. To seal the Pittsburgh Pirates 1960 World Championship, ‘Maz’ hit what, to date, remains the one & only ‘World Series Seventh (7th) Game Walk-Off Home Run’. ‘Beat ‘Em Bucs’!
On December 23rd, 1972, future Hall Of Fame Running-Back ‘Franco Harris’, caught ‘The Immaculate Reception’. The Penn State Rookie won the first Playoff Game in ‘Pittsburgh Steeler’ history (score 13-7), by scoring on a ‘deflected pass’, as the clock neared expiration. As a regular All-Pro selection, and Super Bowl MVP, he earned many Awards in his Career, and his universal celebrity popularity continues to grow. However, most of all, Sports History recalls that Franco’s unique and controversial Playoff Victory Touchdown was the ‘first time ever’ that NFL Referees called upon an impromptu caucus to utilize ‘Instant Replay’ to finalize the Decision. The rest is History. ‘Franco’s Army’ Marches on!
January 12th, 1975, the ‘Pittsburgh Steelers’ won the first of their many Super Bowl Championships, with a 16-6 Victory at Tulane Stadium, in New Orleans. Even during many of the Franchise’s prior 40 years, ‘Defense’ was the Steelers primary identity and reputation; and, it remains so to recent Seasons. Thus, in Super Bowl IX, it was ‘The Steel Curtain’ that awarded the ‘Lombardi Trophy’ to long time Owner, ol’ ‘Art Rooney’. Along with several eventual Hall of Fame Offensive Players, we remember fondly, the ‘Defensive Household Names’: ‘Mean Joe’ & ‘LC’, and, ‘Ham’ & ‘Lambert’, and, ‘Blount’ & ‘Russell’ and ‘Torpedo Shell’. ‘Terrible Towels’ wave on!
Among several highly acclaimed Universities and Colleges celebrated in Western Pennsylvania, both Academically and Athletically, as an Alumni and a Team Member, I must recognize the rich Sports history of the ‘Penn State Nittany Lions’. Their Championship Football Legacy, of course, is the famous ‘Keystone’ of all Penn State’s competitive Programs, but truly, ‘The Pride of The Lions’ has been victorious, throughout College History, in many of a wide variety of both Men’s and Women’s venues. ‘We Are Penn State’!
I would be remiss if I failed to feature: ‘Playing’! Period.
Cheering & Applauding will be Celebrated. Winning and Losing will be Manifested. Training & Competing will be Compelling. Improving & Perfecting will be Inspiring. But, ultimately, it is ‘Playing’ that has enriched virtually every day of my personal ‘Journey’, as a ‘Child’, and, as the ‘Boy’ that remains in the ‘Man’ that I’ve become. Having said that, among thousands of World Class Championship Athletes & heroic Sports Men & Women, let’s recognize a mere handful of examples, that, through their accomplishments and ‘Lives’, have indeed Celebrated, Manifested, Compelled, and Inspired, because they ‘Played’ at the highest levels of ‘Excellence’:
“John Wooden’: In the NCAA Basketball Hall of Fame, both, as perennial Championship Coach of the UCLA Bruins, and also, as an All American Player for the Purdue Boilermakers. Respected by many Championship Coaches of many Sports, as ‘The Coach’, he is regarded as the educator, motivator, innovator, leader and mentor of their careers. ‘Mr. Wooden’, also inspires me personally, with his Centenarian ‘Life Well Lived’ exemplified by his Faith Based Values, and sole Storybook Marriage to his beloved ‘Nellie’.
‘Miracle On Ice’! As an American, the ‘1980 USA Hockey Gold Medal Team’ will eternally be recognized as one of the most singularly unique premier examples of ‘Red, White & Blue’ dramatic, clutch, persevering over-achieving Victory, against all odds. But, indeed, to Sports Fans the World over, it serves to offer Hope, that the same opportunity is available to any Athlete, Team, Coach, or Fan that ‘never quits’ competing, fighting, striving. On any given day!
‘The Thrilla’ In Manilla’!! Clearly the most dramatic cornerstone Victory of ‘Muhammed Ali’s’ entire Career, but, wow, where to begin? Originally as ‘Cassius Clay of Louisville, Kentucky, he won an Olympic Gold Medal to launch his distinguished Hall of Fame Professional Heavy Weight Championship Boxing Career. ‘The Greatest’ did it all. Yet, ultimately, to many, including me, ‘Ali’ was so much more in his ‘Life’s Journey’… probably the most prolific impactful Worldwide athletic competitor in all of Sports History! Very possibly the most famous ‘person’ ever, he was outspoken about Faith, Citizenship, Service, Sports, and Philanthropy, and, he led by uncompromising courageous displayed behavior. His Career and life as an International ambassador, have very few notable comparisons.
How about ‘Sandy Koufax’. When Fans consider excellence, in, and, of itself, look no further than ‘Sandy’s’ 5 Years in the middle 1960’s. During that period, he performed at a level nearly unmatched by anyone in any Sport. As a Hall of Fame Championship Pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, his ‘Perfection’ was well beyond excellence. Among several other awesome rivals of his era, he stood alone as the example of professional determination, commitment, technique, intellect, confidence, and most of all personal ‘Mystique’. He rarely spoke unnecessarily, but his performance continually roared. Such communication by example, was rare among competitors in the 1960’s, and/or subsequent decades.
‘Franz Klammer’!! To this day, many of us breathlessly recall his 1976 Winter Olympic Downhill Skiing Gold Medal victory run as ‘The Most Exciting Two and a Half Minutes in Sports History’! Again, although as is so often the case in International Competition, he dominated the Worldwide Sport for a four year period, in which, among many fine International Competitors, he took it to the ‘Next Level’, as he was rarely out of the Medals or Ribbons, if not ‘Victory Lane’ itself. His style was always ‘Risk for Reward’, albeit on the edge of disaster. But also, with his personal charisma, what a heart warming ‘Fairy-Tale’ story too; ‘Franz’ had the distinction of achieving his fantastic Championship at ‘Innsbruck’, in his native Nation of Austria. It doesn’t get any better than that.
One more: ‘Ted Williams’! Let’s begin with the fact that his distinguished Hall of Fame Major League Baseball Career with the Boston Red Sox was interrupted TWICE due to Military Service, totaling 5 years!! He served with the United State Navy and the Marine Corps in World War Two, and, was a Marine Combat Aviator in the ‘Korean War’. Let’s end with the fact, that as a Teenager, I personally copied his hitting style, with a modicum of success, facilitated by studying and emulating his book of Techniques: ‘The Science of Hitting’ (remains on my shelf as I write this piece). In between all of that, was one of the most Spectacular Baseball careers of all time, as he is still recognized as possibly the most technically proficient and deliberate craftsman ever. Always a leader by example as a Player and a Citizen, ‘The 6’5″ ‘Splendid Splinter’ was an awesome Left Fielder, and eventually a Manager and Sports ambassador.
Thank you, Sola de Gloria, DeColores, Maholo, Buen Camino, and, Play Ball!