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January 13, 2017     Post-Gazette
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January 13, 2017

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PAGE 12 BOSTON POST-GAZETrE, JANUARY 13, 2017 BAER vs. SCHMELING Amid the Gathering Storm Baer throws a right at Schmeling. The year 1933 was a_n important one in world history. In January, Adolph Hitler had become Chancellor of Germany. In March, Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn in as President of the United States. The world was in turmoil. Economies in America and abroad were still in the throes of a terrible depression that would continue for years. In Germany, the Nazis had taken complete con- trol, and the extermination of the Jewish people had begun. In March of 1933, the first German concentration camp had opened in the little town of Dachau. Dark clouds were forming that would eventually erupt into a period of mass killing that would claim the lives of over a hundred million people. Also, in Germany, a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses had begun. As word was beginning to reach the United States of what was happening overseas, people organized to call for boycotts of German products. These groups were largely in New York City and Chicago, where there were large Jewish populations. Unfortunately, pro-Nazi groups were also beginning to form. Thrown into this mix was the America First Committee led by Charles Lindbergh. While Lindbergh said he was sympathetic to the plight of the Jewish people, he also strongly advocated America stay neutral on what was happening in Germany. Lindy had also spent some time visiting with Hermann Goering, the head of the Luftwaffe, and was quite taken with the advancements that were being made in aviation over there. While it is in question whether or not Lindbergh was an outright anti-Semite, the same could not be said about a Catholic priest by the name of Charles Coughlin. Coughlin was spewing anti- Jewish bile and was drawing large crowds who were buying into what he said. Times were bad and people were not only uninterested in getting involved in foreign conflicts, they were also open to the idea of blaming "Jewish bankers" for their problems. In 1930, Max Baer made his New York boxing debut, dropping a decision to Emie Schaaf. The following year, he fought two more times in the Big Apple, beating Tom Heeney and losing a deci- sion to Tommy Loughran. In 1932, he returned to Madison Square Garden where he won a decision over King Levinsky. But while Baer was an excit- ing fighter and a popular personality, he had not quite taken New York by storm. In 1933, amid the chaos that was occurring worldwide with the rise of the Nazis and their sympathizers in the U.S., Baer signed to fight the German Max Schmeling who had held the Heavyweight Championship from 1930 to 1932. Schmeling was not a Nazi and was quite popular with the American public. He bore a striking facial resemblance to Jack Dempsey and the two were photographed together quite often. The fight took place on June 8, 1933, at Yankee Stadium and was promoted by Jack Dempsey. While there was not the political tension of the Louis Schmeling fight that would take place five years later, Baer did wear a Star of David on his trunks for this fight. Baer, whose grandfather was Jewish, wanted to show his support for the Jewish people. He would continue to wear the Star on his trunks for the rest of his career. On the one hand it could be said that Baer, knowing there were thousands of Jewish boxing fans in New York, wore it to gather support for himself and to sell tickets. On the other hand, it risked alienating a lot of the public who believed being sympathetic to the Jewish people was only going to get the country into a war that was none of its business. There was also the large number of anti-Semites who would look at Baer as being on the side of the ~Jewish bankers." Remember, this was still early and I don't believe many non-Jewish famous people were taking such a symbolic stand. As for the fight, well, it is one of the great heavy- weight fights of all time. Ring Magazine named it the fight of the year. It was arguably Baer's greatest performance, even though it was a tough battle. Watching this war, you get to see Max Baer in great shape and at the top of his game. Baer and Schmeling both had tremendous power in their right hands, though Baer very likely had the hardest right hand in boxing history. Both fighters also had tremendous chins, which was evident in their fight. Baer raises his hand in victory. Baer came out strong early in the bout, throwing great left hooks to the body followed by overhand rights to the head. It looked as if it would be an early night, but Schmeling came back by fighting in close and landing a number of solid rights to the jaw of Baer. While these punches had to hurt, Baer's legs never buckled. He had iron in his chin. The fight went back and forth with Baer having a slight advantage until the tenth round. It was at the bell for this round that Baer came out de- termined to end the fight. Showing the ferocity of a young Jack Dempsey, he was all over Schmel- ing. He had the German hurt and referee Arthur Donovan was watching Schmeling closely when Baer dropped the former champion with a brutal right hand to the jaw. I don't know how he got up, but Schmeling had the heart of a champion and got to his feet. Baer now pummeled him and, just as Schmeling was turning his back to Baer (leav- ing himself vulnerable for what could be a fatal punch), Donovanjumped in and stopped the fight. A lot Of fight fans have not seen this bout, but it is one that should not be missed. Two great fighters, two great punchers who were both highly talented. A past and future champion. Max Baer in great shape, showing the incredible ability that would take him to the title. -Also keep in mind what was happening in the world at that time. Remember the significance of that Star of David that Max Baer wore on his trunks. Imagine if more people had made that symbolic gesture at that time. Could it have had an effect on history? I don't know, but silence is acquiescence. StinkySocks Hockey to Host Charity Benefit at Fenway Boston-based adult hockey league StinkySocks Street Pavilion Club. General admission begins at Hockey announced its plans to commemorate 10 8:00 pm, with live entertainment by Fast Times. years of providing a premier recreational hockey Special appearances, raffle and auction items, experience at a celebratory "Hockey on Yawkey and more, will be offered throughout the night. Benefit" on January 13th. Attendees will enjoy All proceeds benefit the Bruins Foundation and live music, ballpark-inspfi-ed food, auction items, . Good Sports to give underprivileged children the and more. opportunity to get in the game. From 7:00-8:00 pm, gold ticket holders will Tickets are available at www.hockeonyawkey. "" have access to an exclusive gathering in the State com. by Richard Preiss A POSSIBLE REPLAY OF SEASONS PAST -- With just over half of the regular season in the books, the remainder of the current campaign has all the earmarks of another duel down to the wire for the Bruins as they battle for a possible playoff berth. As of January 11% the Bruins were in second place in the Atlantic Division, seven points behind division leader Montreal, but only three points ahead of third place Ottawa. If it came down to the wild c.ard race, the Bs were only a single point ahead of Philadelphia, and seven points behind the New York Rangers. So, yes, while there still is a substantial portion of the season to go with the final regular season contests not to be played until mid-April, one gets the early feeling that once again the Bruins are not completely in control of their own destiny. Theoretically, of course, they are. The Bs could get really hot, win say ten games in a row, blow away potential contenders, and put the heat on Montreal. But while anything's possible, this does not seem the season for that to happen. Rather, the Bruins, once again are a playoff picture team, fighting down to the wire to stay in contention for a playoff berth, and hoping they are not on the sidelines for a third straight year when the battle for Lord Stanley's Cup begins this spring. A believer in the current race- to-the-wire scenario is Bruins President Cam Neely. "There's still a lot of hockey to be played," said Neely in the January 10th edition of the Boston Herald. "Where we're at now, we're still in the picture. We have to make sure we stay in the picture." The problem, of course, is that with several teams fighting for berths, there's always the possibility that one or more could get hot, go on a winning streak, and make it difficult for the Bs to remain in that picture. Of course, as stated above, the Bs could do the same. But the Bruins, of course, are a single team, in a jostle with several teams for the same goal -- a playoff berth. The Bruins, as presently constituted, and provided that there are no major injuries to core roster players, are capable of pulling off the task. But the wiggle room becomes a little less with each passing week, making one wonder if, once again, the result will come down to the regular season's final weekend -- a situation that has led to termination for the Bs the last two years. A third might not be tolerated by ownership, given the additional revenue that. the playoff games bring in. It looks like the Bruins are once again in a fight to the finish, a phrase that potentially could have multiple meanings for players, coaches, and front office personnel alike. ALL-STAR WEEKEND -- The NHL powers that be still call it the All-Star Game, although the term mini-tournament would be far closer to the truth. Anyway, the latest edition of this All-Star meeting will take place in Los Angeles on January 28a and 29% with four ten-man teams participating. Forward Brad Marchand and goalie Tuukka Rask will be representing the Black and Gold as members of the Atlantic Division team, while former Bruin Tyler Seguin, now a member of the Dallas Stars, will be on the Central Division Squad. In addition, former Boston College star Johnny Gaudreau, now with the Calgary Flames, will play for the Pacific Division, while John Tortorella, who played his high school hockey at Concord-Carlisle and is now the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, will be behind the Metropolitan Division bench. The teams will participate head-to-head in the skills competition on January 28th, and then play the tournament proper on January 29% with two semifinal games followed by a championship game. They won't be real NHL-style games in the sense that the contests will feature two ten-minute halves with players competing in a 3-on-3 format. The lure is that fans will see 40 of the best NHL players competing against each other. The obvious counterpoint is that the whole thing is a gimmick that trivializes the whole concept of what an all-star game should be. Contrast that with the other three prominent All-Star contests -- the ones in the NBA, Major League Baseball, and the NFL's Pro Bowl. Sure, one can say that the players do not show the same effort as their counterparts did in decades past. But they are still complete full-length games, played under the same rules as all regular season games, and featuring complete teams. And isn't that better than an event that makes a gimmick out of a contest that should be a true showcase of the game's history and traditions? Hockey is an exciting, action sport that doesn'tneed to gimmicks to spice things up. What would you say if MLB went with seven-man teams, and only played seven innings in its All-Star game, or that the Pro Bowl had eight-man teams, or that the NBA All-Star event used fewer than five players on a side? A fair number would probably think the event had been devalued and they would be right. IN MEMORIAM-- Remember- ing Will McDonough, the late Boston Globe sports writer and columnist, on the 14 anniver- sary of his passing (January 9, 2003). He was 67. The father of sports broadcaster Sean Mc- Donough, Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough and Arizona Cardinals vice president of player personnel Terry Mc- Donough, worked at the Globe for more than 40 years. During his long career, he was one of the first print reporters to tran- sition into the electronic media, working as an on-air reporter for CBS and NBC during their coverage of the NFL. The m~dia workroom at the TD Garden is named in his memory.