It was all over Facebook and Twitter: June, 2022, was exactly 50 years since the break-in at the Democratic Party’s headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, leading to the eventual resignation of President Richard Nixon.
Those of a certain age remember it well, but did you also know that in June, 1972, Jack Nicklaus won his third U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, and the next day, Greg Norman called him to see if he would accept $1,000 to play on a tour in Saudi Arabia?
OK, just joking about that last bit, but it’s interesting to look back at the world of sports in 1972 — a half-century ago — and see what observations we can make 50 years later.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats beat Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Grey Cup game that year. And don’t think it couldn’t happen again.
Both teams are CFL contenders, and it wouldn’t be far-fetched to think those two clubs could make it to this year’s big show in November.
Los Angeles Lakers ran off a record 33-game winning streak in the NBA in 1972. Fifty years later, LeBron James of the Lakers averages 33 complaints per game about the officiating.
In June of 1972, the NHL was constructing a team to play the national (amateur) team from Russia in what would be known that September as the Summit Series.
Paul Henderson, a late addition to the roster after finishing a distant 34th in the NHL scoring race in 1970-71, went on to score the most famous goal in Canadian hockey history. Fifty years later, anyone born before 1960 probably still remembers where they were when Henderson beat Vladislav Tretiak on Sept. 28, 1972.
Fifty years later, fans are still lamenting Henderson’s exclusion from the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Baseball has changed in 50 years. Back then, there was no Designated Hitter. No one had heard of performance-enhancing drugs.
Roger Maris’s 61 homers was still a magical number. Hank Aaron was still chasing Babe Ruth’s career HR mark of 714.
Vin Scully and Harry Caray were as well known as that year’s home-run leader Johnny Bench (40) or strikeout king Nolan Ryan (329).
Perhaps the most profound sporting change from a Canadian viewpoint in the past 50 years has occurred in basketball.
Even though the game was invented by a Canadian, James Naismith, there were no Canadians of significance in the league 50 years ago.
After the Toronto Raptors were born in 1995, the sport flourished across the land. Steve Nash of Victoria is a two-time MVP. Two Canadians have been picked No. 1 overall in the NBA draft, Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett. Wiggins played a major role in Golden State’s NBA title run this spring. Twenty-five Canucks suited up with NBA teams this past season.
How will the next 50 years play out? Who knows? But maybe Henderson will be in the Hockey Hall of Fame by then.
• Columnist Norman Chad, on Twitter: “Deshaun Watson supposedly booked massage appointments with 66 different women over 17 months. This sounds more damning than it really is. Heck, I have ordered 66 different items from the Cheesecake Factory menu over 17 months and no one’s blinked an eye.”
• Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Major League Baseball will allow its teams to sell sponsorships to cannabis companies that market CBD products, the Sports Business Journal reported. ‘Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain’ is about to be supplanted by ‘Cheech and Chong and Pass the Bong.’”
• Steve Simmons of SunMedia: “Canadian Chase Claypool recently declared himself to be a Top Three receiver in the NFL. And maybe math is not his best subject, considering he finished 53rd in catches last season in Pittsburgh and 35th in receiving yards. But it’s good to have confidence.”
• Lou Stagner (Golf Stat Pro), on Twitter: “I find it interesting they make PGA Tour players play in pro-ams. Imagine if LeBron had to play a half-court pickup game against Brad from accounting the afternoon of every home game.”
• RJ Currie of sportsdeke.com: “A British chef invented the Glamburger, the world’s most expensive burger at over $2,000 Canadian. If you’re wondering about the most expensive hot dog in history — Deion Sanders.”
• Headline at the onion.com: Phil Mickelson: ‘Taking Money From The Saudis Leaves Less Money For The Next 9/11’
• Another onion.com headline: “Nation Unable To Enjoy Baseball Without Dozens Of Pitchers Hitting .124”
• Headline at fark.com: “Trevor Lawrence says Jaguars building ‘something special’ under Doug Pederson —presumably a gallows trap door.”
• Dwight Perry agan: “USC and UCLA? They went Piscataway — er, thataway, off for greener pa$ture$ in the Big Ten.”
• Comedy writer Paul Lander, via Twitter: “USC and UCLA’s moving to the Big Ten, or, as it’s also known, The ATM.” • Barrett Sallee of CBSsports.com: “Oregon has left the Pac-12 for the LIV Tour.” Care to comment? Email email@example.com
by Bruce Penton