Saturday, November 6, 2010

I Wish Providence Had a Sports Hall of Fame

It was all about Dave and Buster's again.  The pressure was on me to provide blinking light and ticket redemption entertainment again for the kids.  Again, they were bugging me about going to Dave & Buster's down in Providence.  Given my penchant for Hall of Fames, I negotiated a deal.  Dave & Buster's in exchange for them going to a hall of fame in Providence nearby.  I figured a little culture wouldn't hurt them.

Upon arriving on a deal, I then started my search.  There was the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport.  Nah, we had gone there the last time we were in Newport but I wanted something different.  I saw the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame, too.  But its credo of "any individual who has brought credit to Rhode Island, brought Rhode Island into prominence and contributed to the history and heritage of the state.  I imagine that would have inclded Buddy Cianci before his convistion for Racketeering back in 2002 that landed him in Federal Prison.  I couldn't even find where that hall of fame was, was it out of a trunk?  They talked about a riverfront hall of fame in Providence, but it was just talk.

No sports hall of fame?  In my research, I was astounded.  Seriously, no sports hall of fame in Providence?  With its rich history of professional sports?  Did I have to go to Dave & Buster's without any cultural return?

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Back to the State's rich sports history.  Forget about the Tennis Hall of Fame.  Forget about the America's Cup Hall fo Fame too.  (Denis Conner's sole gig these days is presiding over sailing opening day, I can only imagine.)  But what about these accomplishments?

Providence Grays.  The Grays played in the National League back in the late 1800's.  In fact from 1878-1885, the Grays were one of the power houses in the National League (I guess before salary caps and luxury taxes that is)  They came in first place in 1879 and won the inaugural Baseball Championship in 1884 when they defeated the American Association's  New York Metropolitans.  In fact, the Grays had an astounding winning percentage in 1884, with an 84-28 record giving the team an unbelievable .750 winning percentage, a mark that still stands to this day.  Unfortunately, the Grays folded after the 1885 season due to lack of support.

Providence Steamrollers.  Originally formed as a semi pro team prior to the formation of the NFL, the Providence Steamrollers were a charter member of the NFL in its first season back in 1925.  The Steamrollers enjoyed a few winning seasons, even winning the NFL Championship in 1928.  Back then, there was no championship game, the league just named the team with the best record champions.  The Steamrollers won the championship despite playing four less games than the Frankfort Yellow Jackets and securing three fewer wins.

The Providence Steamrollers also ushered in the original Monday Night Football when they played the first night game in NFL history back in 1929.  The Steamrollers' home stadium was actually a cycling arena located in downtown Providence.  The Cylodome was flooded out due to heavy rains earlier in the week leading up to the game.  As a result, to make sure that the dozens of fans with tickets wouldn't be disappointed, the team fashioned flood lights out of trains and automobies and played nearby in a deserted park.  I think Al Michaels called that game, too.  Ultimately due to the lack of funding and interest, the Steamrollers folded after the 1933 season.

Providence Steamrollers.  The namesake that played in the NBA (also known as the Basketball Association of America back before David Stern started ruling the roost, the Steamrollers played for three mostly sorry seasons.  The Steamrollers one feat was to post the lowest victory count in one season in NBA history when they won a measly 6 games during the 1947-48 campaign.  Fortunately, they have managed to avoid the worst winning percentage in NBA history (that distinction belongs to the 1972-73 76ers, which posted a worst winning percentage despite winning three more games that the Steamrollers did).  Not surprisingly, the NBA version of the Steamrollers also folded due to lack of interest in 1948-49.

In addition to the professional teams that Providence has supported, the state also boasts two top level minor league teams in the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Providence Bruins.  Further, the X-Games and the Gravity Games were each conducted for the first time in Providence. 

After all of this, Providence still boasts no Sports Hall of Fames?  Maybe I'm wrong, or maybe it's time for JMR to take matters in his own hands.  Be on the look out.

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