The Last Time the NFL Played on Tuesday...

iStock
iStock

Citing public safety concerns related to the forecasted winter storm that ultimately dumped more than a foot of snow on much of the Philadelphia area, the National Football League postponed Sunday night’s Eagles-Vikings game until tonight. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, tonight’s game is the first NFL game played on a Tuesday since 1946. Here’s a brief history of that game and the people involved.

Why Tuesday?

The Boston Yanks and New York Giants were scheduled to open the 1946 NFL season under the lights at Boston’s Braves Field on Monday, September 30, but a “deluge of rain that drenched downtown Boston throughout the morning” forced the postponement of the game until Tuesday. From the New York Times: “Waiting until early afternoon for a change in conditions, Owner Ted Collins of the Yanks and Stout Steve Owen, the Giants’ coach, agreed to put the contest over until tomorrow night.”

Where was the postponement announced?

Sunday’s announcement echoed through family rooms and sports bars via the host of every fan’s pregame show of choice and left fantasy football players scrambling to adjust their lineups based on the news that the game would not be played in a whiteout. In 1946, the announcement came at the first weekly gathering of the Boston Yanks Marching and Chowder Club, which was held at the Parker House. The dignitaries present included Massachusetts Governor Maurice J. Tobin, Boston Mayor James. M. Curley, and NFL Commissioner Bert Bell.

Where’s the beef?

Tobin had recently wired President Truman that hospitals throughout Massachusetts were without meat. He had also launched an investigation into whether meat being hidden in storage was the cause of the meat famine affecting the country at the time. As reported in the New York Times, Tobin used the Marching and Chowder Club meeting as a forum to discuss the matter. “Commenting on the amount of beef in the Yanks and Giants squads, Governor Tobin…said he wished his investigators could find as much in their search. ‘The famine then would be at an end,’ he said.”

On Sunday, Philadelphia Governor Ed Rendell didn’t find anything funny about the NFL’s decision to postpone the game. “This is football! Good lord, Vince Lombardi would be spinning in his grave that we canceled the football game for the snow,” he said.

How did the coaches react to the news?

Eagles head coach Andy Reid, whose team is still in the hunt for a first-round bye in the playoffs, said the NFL made the right choice to postpone Sunday’s game and downplayed the difficulty of preparing for next week’s game against the Dallas Cowboys on short rest. Owen was a little more outspoken in 1946, with his Giants scheduled to play at Pittsburgh the following week. “It won’t give us much time to get in shape for the Steelers, and it might turn out where it would cost us a championship,” he said. To his credit, Owen didn’t criticize Collins’ decision. “With no break in sight, it would have been a bad night for football anyway, and especially for any customers,” he said.

What happened in the game?

Merle Hapes rushed for two touchdowns and Ken Strong added a field goal as New York dominated Boston, 17-0, in front of a small crowd of 16,500. The game story included no mention of the field conditions. The short week didn’t cost the Giants at Pittsburgh. They defeated the Steelers, 17-14, en route to a 7-3-1 regular season record.

Who was Merle Hapes?

The former Mississippi standout rushed for five touchdowns during the regular season, but was barred from playing in the 1946 championship after he and quarterback Frank Filchock were reportedly offered bribes to fix the game against the Chicago Bears. Filchock denied the offer and was allowed to play in the game, a 24-14 Giants loss. Bell banned Hapes indefinitely during the offseason for “acts detrimental to the NFL and to pro football.” Hapes’ suspension was lifted in 1954, but he didn’t play another down in the NFL. The policy that requires NFL teams to report injuries in advance of a game was first instituted by Bell for the 1947 season, and many believe it was in direct response to the gambling rumors surrounding the 1946 championship. Bell hoped the policy would help prevent gamblers from manipulating the betting line by securing insider information about a player’s status.

Who was Ken Strong?

Strong, the other player to score in the NFL’s last Tuesday night game, played several different positions, including fullback, before he became a kicking specialist for the Giants. Strong accounted for 17 points in “The Sneakers Game,” the Giants’ 1934 championship game win against the Bears. The game, which earned its nickname after the Giants’ equipment manager borrowed sneakers from nearby Manhattan College to help New York’s players get better traction on the frozen field, ranks No. 8 on the NFL’s top 10 list of bad weather games. Strong is often credited as being the first player to successfully convert a fair catch kick, which allows a team to attempt a field goal from the line of scrimmage on the first play after a fair catch. Only three other players have successfully converted a fair catch kick in NFL history.

6 Times the Olympics Have Been Postponed or Canceled

Sander van Ginkel, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0
Sander van Ginkel, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo have been officially postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan agreed to push the start date back to 2021 after Canada, Australia, and other countries announced they would not send athletes to the Summer Games this July.

The Summer Olympics is the biggest sporting event in the world, typically bringing more than 10,000 athletes from dozens of countries together every four years, The New York Times reports.

It's extremely rare for the Summer or Winter Olympics to be postponed or canceled. Since 1896, when the modern Olympic Games began, it has happened only six times—and it usually requires a war.

The Olympic Games were canceled during World War I and World War II. The 1940 Summer Games, scheduled to take place in Tokyo, were postponed due to war and moved to Helsinki, Finland, where they were later canceled altogether. The current coronavirus pandemic marks the first time the competition has ever been temporarily postponed for a reason other than war. Here's the full list.

  1. 1916 Summer Olympics // Berlin, Germany
  1. 1940 Summer Olympics // Tokyo, Japan and Helsinki, Finland
  1. 1940 Winter Olympics // Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
  1. 1944 Summer Olympics // London, United Kingdom
  1. 1944 Winter Olympics // Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy
  1. 2020 Summer Olympics // Tokyo, Japan

6 Surprising Ways Baseball Actually Favors Lefties

Left-handed pitcher Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers during game five of the National League Division Series in 2019.
Left-handed pitcher Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers during game five of the National League Division Series in 2019.
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

If you grew up playing baseball, tee-ball, softball, or any other derivative of America’s favorite pastime, you might be familiar with certain positions left-handed people are unofficially prohibited from playing—you’ll hardly ever see a left-handed shortstop or third baseman, for example, because they’d be facing the wrong direction for any throws to the right side of the field. However, there are plenty of other parts of the game that are equally important as efficiently making outs at first or second base, and some of them can even favor lefties. Read on to find out how left-handed batters, pitchers, and more have an edge against their right-handed competitors below.

1. Left-handed pitchers have a better view of first base.

Since a left-handed pitcher faces first base when he’s gearing up to pitch, he can easily see if a first base runner is leading off (i.e. taking a few steps off the bag, with the intention to steal second base). This makes for some pretty spectacular fake-outs where a pitcher will feign throwing a pitch and instead flip it to the first baseman, who can tag the runner out before he can get a foot (or finger) back on the bag.

2. Left-handed batters are closer to first base.

Left-handed batters are simply standing a little closer to first base than right-handed batters. As former MLB player Doug Bernier explained for Pro Baseball Insider, an extra step or so can be the difference between getting thrown out at first base or making it safely there, especially if it’s an infield hit. That said, not everyone agrees the slightly shorter distance to first base is enough to give left-handed batters an advantage on infield hits in general. In a 2007 article for The Hardball Times, John Walsh argued that since lefties hit more ground balls into the right half of the infield—giving first and second basemen a shorter distance to cover to make the out at first—their one-step head start isn’t statistically significant overall.

3. Left-handed batters’ momentum is already carrying them in the direction of first base.

Even if a shorter distance to first base isn’t enough to give a left-handed batter the edge on every occasion, he also has the laws of physics on his side. When a lefty swings, the momentum of the bat is moving to the right—i.e. toward first base—so he gets to run in the same direction he’s already moving. Righties, on the other hand, swing toward third base and have to break the momentum to sprint in the opposite direction. Dr. David A. Peters, a professor of engineering at Washington University in St. Louis (and baseball aficionado), calculated that lefties’ momentum means they’re able to travel to first base about one-sixth of a second faster than righties.

4. Left-handed first basemen are facing the right direction to throw the ball to another infielder.

If the ball is hit to a left-handed first baseman, he’s already in the ideal position—with his right foot closest to his target—to throw it just about anywhere else in the infield. This is especially helpful when there’s an opportunity to make an out at second or third base, which he’d usually prioritize over the first base out. A right-handed first baseman, on the other hand, might have to pivot as much as 180 degrees to get his left foot where it needs to be to throw it to another infielder.

5. Left-handed batters perform better against right-handed pitchers, which are more abundant.

In baseball, it’s generally agreed that batters fare better when hitting against opposite-handed (OH) pitchers, so much so that coaches sometimes stack their batting lineups with lefties when they know a righty will be pitching, and vice versa. “With the dominance of right-handed pitchers in the game,” Dan Peterson writes for gameSense Sports, “the left-handed hitter comes to the plate with a built-in advantage.” The advantage itself has to do with the direction of the pitches.

“With a right-handed release to a right-handed batter, the ball seems to be coming right at him,” Peterson explains. “The same pitch coming from the opposite side provides a better view across the body.”

6. Right field is shorter than left field in some parks.

detroit tigers comerica park aerial view
An aerial view of the Detroit Tigers' Comerica Park.
NASA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

When professional baseball stadiums first started cropping up in the late 19th century, there wasn’t a league-wide set of dimensions to standardize their size and shape (in fact, for the most part, there still isn’t). Since the majority of batters were right-handed—and, as such, more likely to hit the ball into left field—some stadiums featured left fields that were significantly deeper than their right fields. Take Philadelphia’s Columbia Park II, which opened in 1901 with a 340-foot left field and a 280-foot right field. Those short right fields meant left-handed batters would have an easier time hitting home runs. While most modern stadiums have quite literally evened the playing field with more symmetrical dimensions, some of them still have discrepancies; the right field foul pole at the Detroit Tigers’ Comerica Park, for example, is a whole 15 feet closer to home plate than its left field foul pole.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER