Sports Depression by EveryAvenue


                                                                                              Eighteenth in a series.

     Sports during the Depression                                              1922. (By 1929, however, the
                                                                               Buffalo All-Americans had run out
                                                                               of money.)
  Sports are a big part of our lives.                                            College football remained popu-
Internationally, sports competitions                                           lar, but the Great Depression and
are followed closely by fans, and                                              World War II drained the NFL
offer a great form of entertainment                                            franchises of money and players.
for all to enjoy.                                                                (For the record, the Bills began
  During the Great Depression, if                                              their pro football life as the seventh
you couldn’t afford to see a game                                              team in the American Football
in person, you would certainly be                                              League. On Oct. 28, 1959, Ralph
able to listen over the radio.                                                 Wilson was awarded the franchise.)
   Families would gather around the
radio, just as we gather around the
television today. And the program-
ming was not only sports; there                                                 1. What sports are covered in
were amateur hours, government                                                 today’s news? Of those that have
announcements, news, weather,           to win the World Series                stood the test of time, what
syndicated shows, dances, you           (             changes, if any, have been made in
name it.                                  Other baseball greats during the     the game?
  Here in Buffalo, we had WGR-          1930s were Joe DiMaggio (the            2. Athletes have many positive
AM, WEBR, WKBW, WBEN and                Yankee Clipper) and Lou Gehrig
WBNY. (To view a typical schedule                                              attributes, some of which include
                                        (the Iron Horse).
from WJSJ, Sept. 21, 1939, go to                                               courage, determination, strength,
                                          Leroy (Satchel) Paige, deemed                                                   persistence and motivation. One
                                        one of the greatest pitchers during
logs/390921.html).                                                             athlete who demonstrated these
                                        the 1930s and 1940s, didn’t make it
  Just as they do today, sports pro-                                           qualities was Jessie Owens. At the
                                        to the major leagues until 1948,
vided an outlet to relieve stress,                                             1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany,
                                        when he became the first black
gave listeners something fun to do                                             he became the first American to
                                        pitcher for the Cleveland Indians.
and helped them take their minds                                               win four gold medals in track and
                                          Joe Louis Barrow (the Brown
off all the problems of the                                                    field. Yet when he returned home,
                                        Bomber) dropped his last name
Depression.                                                                    he was not given any endorsement
                                        when he began boxing profession-
  Looking at the sports section                                                deals because he was black. Go to
                                        ally in 1934. He retired undefeated
from the Oct. 29, 1929, Buffalo                                       to learn
                                        in 1949. He knocked out Steve
Evening News, we see stories about                                             more about Jesse Owens. What
                                        Ketchell in Buffalo in 1937, just
college football, bowling, tennis                                              obstacles must athletes overcome
                                        before he became heavyweight
and boxing. No Buffalo Bills,                                                  today in order to be the best?
                                        champion. His most impressive
though. Baseball and boxing were        fight was a two-minute, four-sec-       3. There were few, if any, profes-
the most popular sports.                ond knockout of Max Schmeling.         sional sports for women during the
  How many of you have heard the          Buffalo had a brush with             Depression years. Can you find out
name Babe Ruth?                         boxing greatness in native Jimmy       what sports women competed in?
  George Herman Ruth joined the         Slattery, a two-time light heavy-
New York Yankees in 1920. Known         weight boxing champion who
as the Sultan of Swat, the most         turned professional in 1921. After a
famous moment in his career came        series of wins and losses, Slattery
during the 1932 World Series against    won a 15-round decision against
the Chicago Cubs.                       another Buffalonian, Lou Scozza in
  In the fifth inning of game three,    1930 to regain the title. He retired
after already hitting one home run,     in 1935 with an overall record of
Babe was at bat with the count two      109-14-5 with 45 knockouts, the
balls and two strikes.                  second Buffalonian to win a world
  The Cubs fans were pelting Babe       title in boxing. The first was Frank
with lemons, other fruits and all       Erne from 1899-1902.
kinds of vegetables (and we               College football had been very
thought fans were difficult now).       popular for years, but the first
Babe pointed to the center field        properly organized league of pro-
bleachers (some think to show the       fessional football teams, the
Cubs fans just how far he was going     American Professional Football                          The Buffalo News,
to hit the ball) and hit the next       Association, was not established                        One News Plaza
pitch so hard it carried 436 feet       until 1920.                                             P.O. Box 100,
from home plate – the longest                                                                   Buffalo, NY 14240
                                          The Buffalo All-Americans were                        Phone: 849-3477,
home run in Wrigley Field’s history.    one of the first teams of the APFA,                     Fax : 849-5467
  The Yankees went on                   which gave way to the NFL in                            E-mail:

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