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Monday, October 25, 2021

Once They Were Warriors - Remembering #23... Jeff Mullins

Mullins drives past Jerry West for two of his 13,017 career points  (hcummins photo)

By Harry Cummins

     Opportunistic with a keen sense of the game, Jeff Mullins played a dozen seasons at the pinnacle of his sport. 

     The 6'4" shooting-guard was drafted 5th overall in the 1964 NBA Draft by the St Louis Hawks following a storied All-American career at Duke that culminated with an Olympic Gold Medal at the '64 Tokyo Games. Mullins was the first major talent to enter the free-flowing pipeline from Duke to the NBA.

     After a brief stint with the Chicago Bulls in 1966, Mullins was traded to the San Francisco Warriors for veteran NBA star Guy Rodgers.  He was the first player off the bench in a loaded Warrior offense that included Nate Thurmond, Rick Barry, Tom Meschery, Al Attles and Jim King.

     The next year saw Mullins blossom as the team's go-to scorer when Rick Barry bolted for the ABA in one of the most debated career moves in NBA history.  Mullins enjoyed a brilliant 4 year streak of averaging more than 20 points per game (1968-71).  In the 1968 post season, he averaged 25.1 ppg and shot 52% from the field.

     Mullins was at the peak of his stardom as he was named to the NBA All-Star Team in 1969,1970 and 1971.  His body finally riddled with injuries, the 33-year-old Mullins' career culminated in 1975, as the Golden State Warriors captured the NBA World Championship by sweeping the Washington Bullets in the Finals.  Mullins retired the following season after playing 804 career games, third in franchise history.

     Mullins would later go on to become the head basketball coach at UNC-Charlotte, where he compiled a 182-142 record over an 11-year span.

     I will always remember Jeff Mullins as a player who had some good breaks and some bad ones, all the while making the absolute best of both.  On a personal level,  I best remember Jeff from those post game late-night hours spent at our favorite San Diego eatery The Cotton Patch, or the visits to his Northern California home where his two young daughters would serve up pancakes for breakfast.

     Pork chops and pancakes endure... while pages from the basketball record books can blur. 




Thursday, October 7, 2021

NAIA Greats Recalled - Jimmy Bosco (2013- Baseball)

  By Harry Cummins

     James "Jimmy" Bosco  is currently a Ph.D. candidate in biochemistry and biophysics at the University of Montana, where he teaches Chemistry classes and spends his days in a research lab peering thru a microscope at the cell division in microscopic worms, findings that hopefully could one day lead to a cure for cancer and diabetes.

     Back in 2013, after previously playing for two high-profile Division 1 baseball programs at California and the University of Arkansas, Bosco found himself at Menlo College, an NAIA powerhouse based in California. 

      Bosco, a 5'9" outfielder, led the Oaks that year with a lofty .426 batting average. His remarkable season included a bevy of top marks that paced the NAIA baseball world that season, including first overall in total bases (153) and slugging percentage (.805). In the field he did not commit a single error in 104 chances.  

     Bosco's season in 2013 culminated in a runner-up finish in the NAIA West Group tournament, loosing to host Concordia University in Portland. He was later voted as the Player of the Year by the Group's head coaches.  He was selected later that summer in the 2013 MLB draft by the St Louis Cardinals and would play 4 seasons in the minor leagues.

     Bosco's power stroke from the left side of the plate was remarkable for his size. His 15th and final home run of his breakout season was a monumental blast in Portland, Oregon, that sailed completely out of the cavernous ballpark, landing in a parking lot and coming to rest on the front lawn of a nearby church.

     Eight years later, Jimmy Bosco is still going deep in his life.




Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Long Before They Were Amazin -- The 1964 New York Mets

 By Harry Cummins

Remembering the 1964 New York Mets and their inaugural season in Shea Stadium ---

" Been in this game one hundred years, but I still see new ways to lose 'em that I never knew even existed."

- Casey Stengel, mgr

Pictured above: Original game program from the day the lovable losers dropped a doubleheader to the San Francisco Giants, Memorial Day 1964.  The Mets would tear up the record books this day and cut an LP record of their own, as the second game loss took 7 1/2 hours and 23 innings to accomplish.  Surely this was one of those ways the 'Old Perfesser' was referring to.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

In Praise Of The Pre-Game Warmup

As a high schooler in 2015, Alex Kirilloff once swatted 8 consecutive home runs in a pre-game batting exhibition at Petco Park in San Diego.

 By Harry Cummins

     If you rarely pay attention to those often ignored pre-game rituals next time you attend your favorite sporting event, you just might be doing your self a major disservice.

     When the Seattle Kracken took to the ice last week for their first ever game as an expansion member of the National Hockey League, I proceeded to watch Morgan Geekie score a pair of nifty goals in the Kraken's inaugural win.

     For me, my mind immediately reverted to a pre-game warmup 5 years earlier in Portland, Oregon, when the now 23 year-old Geekie was then a member of the Western Hockey League's Tri-City Americans. I have never forgotten the dazzling stick handling drill Geekie showed off in the pre-game shoot-around.  It mesmerized me and the other fortunate spectators who bypassed the obligatory trip to the concession stand or idle pre-game chatter.... in order to witness what we seldom watch..sports warmup drills.

    I was now able to better understand why the Kraken seem to always position the agile Geekie in front of the opponent's net most of the night.

    I also recall years earlier, watching a 6'5 shooting guard from Montana State, Tyler Hall, perform similar pre-game magic.   Hall was the Big Sky Conference all -time leading scorer and one of the top 3-point marksman in NCAA history with 431 made 3's.   This past summer, he was a member of the New York Knicks Summer League team. Back then, he was a key member of the Montana State basketball team.

     In the Bobcats pre-game team warmups that night, I noticed Hall began to shoot nothing but three's, one after the other. After he made several in a row, I began  to start counting.  When the game time buzzer sounded for teams to clear the floor, my count had reached 41.  I could count the missses on one hand.  I don't remember anything else about the actual game that night.

     Perhaps my most memorable pre-game activity occurred on a Sunday afternoon when a high school baseball player, Alex Kirilloff, used a batting practice exhibition before the annual Perfect Game All-American Classic, to deposit EIGHT consecutive balls into the distant right field seats at Petco Park in San Diego.  Kirilloff is now a member of the Minnesota Twins and a big part of their future plans.

     So the next time you plan to only pay attention at game time, know that you might miss moments you will never forget. That pre-game hot dog could cost you a lot more than advertised.

Friday, October 1, 2021

More Than A Fleeting Glance - Athletes We Remember


By Harry Cummins

     A world record holder, a Gold Medalist and 3-time Olympian, an NCAA champion, and later a successful collegiate coach, Harvey Glance was consistently ranked one of the greatest sprinters in the world for an amazing 12 year run between 1976 and 1987.

     His coach, Mel Rosen, once said "Harvey's what I call world class -as an athlete and as a man"

     The greatest sprinter in Auburn history, and later it's head coach, as well as head coach at the University of Alabama, Glance is enshrined in the State's Athletic Hall of Fame.

    In our memories as well.