The first ten years of life, I spent in Philadelphia. As a child, sports defined those early years. In the National Hockey League, Bobby Clarke, Dave Schultz, and the Broad Street Bullies of the Philadephia Flyers won two straight Stanley Cups. We watched Philadelphia's own Smokin' Joe Frazier battle Mohammed Ali to defend the Heavyweight Boxing Title in 1971 and become undisputed heavyweight champ. Frazier would defend his title successfully twice before being knocked out by George Foreman two years later.
Major League Baseball's Philadelphia Phillies traded for Cy Young award winner Steve Carlton. In 1972 for the Cardinals and Phillies, Big Lefty pitched 346 innings, struckout 310, had an ERA of 1.98, and won 27 games and set the league strike record. In 1981, he became the first left handed pitcher to post 3.000 career strikeouts. Carlton remains the all-time leader in strikeouts for left-handers. Mike Schmidt and the Phillies won their only World Series after a 77-year wait.
On the flip side, in 1972, National Basketball Association's (NBA) Philadelphia 76'ers proceeded to set the league record for most losses. With 73 losses out of 82 games, this record has stood the test of time. The Sixers were led by guards Fred Carter and Freddie Boyd, combining for 30.5 points per game, and shooting 42% and 39% from the field respectively..
It wasn't until mid 70's that the Sixer team fortunes turned. As the American Basketball Association (ABA) started to fold, the Sixers were able to Julius Erving: 'Dr J' and George McGinnis. In the college draft, Maurice Cheeks, Doug Collins, Caldwell Jones, and Andrew Toney gave the 76'ers tremendous depth.
Denver Nugget Forward Bobby Jones, Caldwell Jones, and Cheeks would later be named to the NBA's all defensive first team. Cheeks set a record for career steals broken by a certain Chicago Bull named Michael Jordan. Caldwell Jones and a first round draft pick were later traded for Houston's Moses Malone. A defensive first teamer himself, Moses and Dr J would lead the Sixers to their only world championship in 1983. Collins was forced to retire due to bad knees, Toney's career would be cut short by stress fractures in his feet, and Malone would be traded to the Washington Bullets.
National Football League (NFL) Philadelphia Eagles were in a building mode through the first ten years of the seventies decade. In 1980, the Eagles earned their one and only Super Bowl appearance. The Eagles have not reached this plateau since.
During the seventies, the Eagles continued their lackluster performances until the hiring of coach Dick Vermeil in 1976 and the arrive of their second former Los Angeles Rams quarterback, Ron Jaworski. 'The Polish Rifle,' replaced another former Ram, Roman Gabriel.
However, the Birds skill players were something different. 6 foot 6 inch Harold Carmichael, the Eiffel Tower, and speedster Charlie Smith were dangerous receivers. The Tight Ends, Krepfle and Spagnola, caught and blocked. The running back by committee approach and halfback Wilbert Montgomery provided a solid rushing attack. The Eagle Defense was also bruising, and in the final year of his illustrious career, middle linebacker Bill Bergey got a chance in the big game.
While in Philadelphia, I attended The Haverford School. It remains, one of the finest college prepatory day schools in the country. My father was a lowly fellow and later assistant professor at The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Also, my family was bringing relatives from China to the USA. Nevertheless, my parents economized and found the money to send me to the best.
At school, I rubbed shoulders with the children of the city's elite blue bloods. As a child, I didn't really know any better. Doesn't everyone have a helicopter pads attached to their castle? Needless to say, birthday parties were very nice!
The best thing about attending Haverford were the sports. At age 6, I started to play football (American Soccer). I have played this for my whole life. Playing this sport has allowed me to make friends that I never would have met otherwise. Today, I play with an Irish club against other European sides. Sports, enculturation, and leadership from sports has been an enduring gift.