Gordie Howe

December 25th, 1956: Detroit’s future Hockey Hall of Fame right wing Gordie Howe picks up a Xmas hat-trick & 3 assists in Red Wings’ 8-1 win over NY Rangers.
Most points he scores in a single game in entire 26-year NHL career

Gordon Howe (March 31, 1928 – June 10, 2016) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player. From 1946 to 1980, he played 26 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) and six seasons in the World Hockey Association (WHA); his first 25 seasons were spent with the Detroit Red Wings. Nicknamed “Mr. Hockey“, Howe is often considered the most complete player to ever play the game and one of the greatest of all time. At his retirement, his 801 goals, 1049 assists, and 1850 total points were all NHL records that stood until they were broken by Wayne Gretzky, who himself has been a major champion of Howe’s legacy. A 23-time NHL All-Star, he still holds the NHL record for seasons played, and his all-time NHL games played record of 1,767 was only surpassed in 2021 by Patrick Marleau. In 2017, Howe was named one of the “100 Greatest NHL Players”.

Howe made his NHL debut with the Red Wings in 1946. He won the Art Ross Trophy for leading the league in points each year from 1950–51 to 1953–54, then again in 1956–57 and 1962–63, for a total of six times, which is the second most in NHL history. He led the NHL in goal scoring four times. He ranked among the top ten in NHL scoring for 21 consecutive years and set an NHL record for points in a season (95) in 1953, a record which was broken six years later. He won the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings four times and won six Hart Trophies as the NHL’s most valuable player. He also led the NHL in playoff points six times.

Howe retired for the first time in 1971 and was immediately inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame that same year. He was then inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame the next year, but came back two years later to join his sons Mark and Marty on the Houston Aeros of the WHA. Although in his mid-40s, he scored over 100 points twice in six years, won two straight Avco World Trophies (1974 and 1975) and was named most valuable player in 1974. He made a brief return to the NHL in 1979–80, playing one season with the Hartford Whalers, then retired at age 52. His involvement with the WHA was central to their brief pre-NHL merger success, forcing the NHL to recruit European talent and expand to new markets.

Howe was most famous for his scoring prowess, physical strength and career longevity, and redefined the ideal qualities of a forward. He is the only player to have competed in the NHL in five different decades (1940s through 1980s); he also played a shift in a 1997 game for the Detroit Vipers of the IHL, playing professional hockey for a sixth decade. He became the namesake of the “Gordie Howe hat trick”: a goal, an assist and a fight in the same game, though he only recorded two such games in his career. He was the inaugural recipient of the NHL Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

Lou Brock

December 24th, 1974: Cardinals’ Lou Brock is named Sportsman of the Year.

Louis Brock (June 18, 1939 – September 6, 2020) was an American professional baseball outfielder. He began his 19-year Major League Baseball (MLB) career with the 1961 Chicago Cubs but spent the majority of his big league career as a left fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. Brock was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985 and the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014. He was a special instructor coach for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Brock was best known for his base stealing, and he once held the major league career and single-season records for stolen bases. Brock was an All-Star for six seasons and a National League (NL) stolen base leader for eight seasons. He led the NL in doubles and triples in 1968. He also led the NL in singles in 1972, and was the runner-up for the NL Most Valuable Player Award in 1974.

Phil Jackson

December 23rd, 1997: Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson is quickest to reach 500 wins (682 games).

Philip Douglas Jackson (born September 17, 1945) is an American former professional basketball player, coach, and executive in the National Basketball Association (NBA). A power forward, Jackson played 12 seasons in the NBA, winning NBA championships with the New York Knicks in 1970 and 1973. Jackson was the head coach of the Chicago Bulls from 1989 to 1998, leading them to six NBA championships. He then coached the Los Angeles Lakers from 1999 to 2004 and again from 2005 to 2011; the team won five league titles under his leadership. Jackson’s 11 NBA titles as a coach surpassed the previous record of nine set by Red Auerbach. He also holds the NBA record for the most combined championships, winning a total of 13 as a player and a coach.

Jackson is known for his use of Tex Winter’s triangle offense as well as a holistic approach to coaching that was influenced by Eastern philosophy, garnering him the nickname “Zen Master”. Jackson cited Robert Pirsig’s book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as one of the major guiding forces in his life. He also applied Native American spiritual practices, as documented in his book Sacred Hoops. He is the author of several candid books about his teams and his basketball strategies. In 2007, Jackson was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1996, as part of celebrations for the NBA’s 50th anniversary, Jackson was named one of the 10 greatest coaches in league history.

Jackson retired from coaching in 2011 and joined the Knicks as an executive in March 2014. He was dismissed as the Knicks’ team president on June 28, 2017.

Phil Esposito

December 22nd, 1974: Boston Bruins, Phil Esposito, became 6th NHLer to score 500 goals.

Philip Anthony Esposito (born February 20, 1942) is a Canadian broadcaster, and former professional ice hockey executive, coach and player. A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, he played 18 seasons in the National Hockey League for the Chicago Black Hawks, Boston Bruins, and New York Rangers. He is considered one of the greatest players of all time, and is the older brother of fellow Hall-of-Famer Tony Esposito, a goaltender.

After retiring as a player, Esposito served as head coach and general manager of the New York Rangers before co-founding the Tampa Bay Lightning. He now serves as Tampa Bay’s radio colour commentator. In 2017, Esposito was named one of the ‘100 Greatest NHL Players’ in history.

Larry Bird

December 19th, 1989: Larry Bird (Celtics) begins NBA free throw streak of 71 games.

Larry Joe Bird (born December 7, 1956) is an American former professional basketball player, coach and executive in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Nicknamed “the Hick from French Lick” and “Larry Legend,” Bird is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

Growing up in French Lick, Indiana, he was a local basketball phenom. Highly recruited, he initially signed to play for coach Bobby Knight of the Indiana Hoosiers, but dropped out after one month and returned to French Lick to attend a local community college. The next year he attended the smaller Indiana State University, playing ultimately for three years for the Sycamores. Drafted by the Boston Celtics with the sixth overall pick in the 1978 NBA draft after his second year at Indiana State, Bird elected to stay in college and play one more season. He then led his team to an undefeated regular season in 1978–1979. The season finished with a memorable national championship game matchup against Michigan State, a team that featured Magic Johnson, beginning a career-long rivalry that the two shared for more than a decade.

Bird entered the NBA for the 1979–1980 season, where he made an immediate impact, starting at power forward and leading the Celtics to a 32-win improvement over the previous season before being eliminated from the playoffs in the Conference Finals. He played for the Celtics during his entire professional career (13 seasons), leading them to five NBA finals appearances and three NBA championships. He played most of his career with forward Kevin McHale and center Robert Parish, considered by some to be the greatest front court in NBA history. Bird was a 12-time NBA All-Star, won two NBA Finals MVP awards and received the NBA Most Valuable Player Award three consecutive times (1984–1986), making him the only forward in league history to do so. Bird was also a member of the gold medal-winning 1992 United States men’s Olympic basketball team known as “The Dream Team”. He was voted to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame again in 2010 as a member of “The Dream Team”. In October 2021, as part of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary, Bird was honored as one of the 75 greatest players of all time, by being named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.

A versatile player at both forward positions, he could play both inside and outside, being one of the first players in the league to take advantage of the newly adopted three-point line. Bird was rated the greatest NBA small forward of all time by Fox Sports in 2016.

After retiring as a player, Bird served as head coach of the Indiana Pacers from 1997 to 2000. He was named NBA Coach of the Year for the 1997–1998 season and later led the Pacers to a berth in the 2000 NBA Finals. In 2003, Bird was named president of basketball operations for the Pacers, holding the position until retiring in 2012. He was named NBA Executive of the Year for the 2012 season. Bird returned to the Pacers as president of basketball operations in 2013 and remained in that role until 2017.

Bird is the only person in NBA history to be named Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, NBA Finals MVP, All-Star MVP, Coach of the Year, and Executive of the Year.

Phil Rizzuto

December 18th, 1956: Phil Rizzuto signs as NY Yankees radio-TV announcer.

Philip Francis Rizzuto (September 25, 1917 – August 13, 2007), nicknamed The Scooter, was an American Major League Baseball shortstop. He spent his entire 13-year baseball career with the New York Yankees (1941–1956), and was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994.

A popular figure on a team dynasty that captured 10 AL titles and seven World Championships in his 13 seasons, Rizzuto holds numerous World Series records for shortstops. His best statistical season was 1950, when he was named the American League’s Most Valuable Player. Despite this offensive peak, Rizzuto was a classic “small ball” player, noted for his strong defense in the infield. The slick-fielding Rizzuto is also regarded as one of the best bunters in baseball history. When he retired, his 1,217 career double plays ranked second in major league history, trailing only Luke Appling’s total of 1,424, and his .968 career fielding average trailed only Lou Boudreau’s mark of .973 among AL shortstops.

After his playing career, Rizzuto enjoyed a 40-year career as a radio and television sports announcer for the Yankees. His idiosyncratic style and unpredictable digressions charmed listeners, while his lively play-by-play brought a distinct energy to his broadcasts. He was well known for his trademark expression “holy cow!”

Bill Parcells

December 15th, 1982: Bill Parcells becomes 12th head coach of NY Giants.

Bill Parcells is an American former football coach who was a head coach in the National Football League (NFL) for 19 seasons. He rose to prominence as the head coach of the New York Giants, which he led to two Super Bowl titles. Parcells later served as the head coach of the New England Patriots, New York Jets, and Dallas Cowboys. Throughout his career, he coached teams that were in a period of decline and turned them into postseason contenders. He is the only coach in NFL history to lead four teams to the playoffs and three teams to a conference championship game. He has been popularly nicknamed “the Big Tuna”. Before beginning his coaching career, Parcells played linebacker at Municipal University of Wichita, now known as Wichita State University.

When Parcells became the head coach of the Giants in 1983, he took over a franchise that had qualified for the postseason only once (1981) in the past decade and had only one winning record in their last 10 seasons. Parcells brought new success to the team and within four years, guided them to their first Super Bowl win. His tenure with the Giants spanned eight seasons and concluded with a second championship victory in Super Bowl XXV. After the Super Bowl win, Parcells retired as a coach in 1991.

In 1993, Parcells came out of retirement to become the head coach of the Patriots, another struggling franchise at the time. Once again, Parcells changed the fortunes of the team and led them to an appearance in Super Bowl XXXI during his fourth season as their coach, although the game ended in defeat for the Patriots. Amid conflicts with Patriots owner Robert Kraft, he left the franchise after their Super Bowl loss and became the head coach of the Jets for the next season. Under Parcells, the Jets went from having only one victory in the previous season to obtaining a winning record, and they reached the 1998 AFC Championship Game in his second year with the team.

After three seasons as the Jets’ head coach, Parcells retired for a second time in 1999, but came back to football in 2003 to become the head coach of the Cowboys. He coached the Cowboys for four seasons and helped them qualify for the playoffs twice, although the team was eliminated in the first round each time. Following the team’s loss in a 2006 NFC Wild Card game, Parcells retired from coaching for good in 2007. Since his final retirement from coaching, Parcells currently serves as an NFL analyst for ESPN and since 2014, has been an unofficial consultant for the Cleveland Browns. He was also the Vice President of Football Operations with the Miami Dolphins, a position he held from 2008 to 2010. In 2013, Parcells was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Sandy Koufax

December 14th, 1953: Brooklyn Dodgers sign pitcher Sandy Koufax.

Koufax is considered one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, perhaps the greatest left-hander of all-time. He pitched 12 seasons for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers from 1955 to 1966 before arthritis in his left elbow ended his career prematurely at age 30

The 7-time All-Star was the NL MVP in 1963 and was the first 3-time Cy Young winner in baseball history in 1963, 1965 and 1966. He is the only pitcher to win the award 3 times when one overall award was given for all of MLB instead of one award for each League.

Koufax also won the NL Triple Crown in those same 3 years by leading the NL in wins, strikeouts and earned run average. He was the first MLB pitcher to pitch 4 no-hitters and the 8th to pitch a perfect game in baseball history.

At age 36 in 1972, the 4-time World Series winner became the youngest player ever elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Born: December 30, 1935
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, USA
Age: 85 years old

NHL Expansion

December 10th, 1992: NHL awards franchises to Miami & Anaheim for 1994-95.

With stunning swiftness, the National Hockey League expanded by two teams today, as the Board of Governors awarded franchises to Miami and Anaheim, Calif., and in doing so added two of America’s biggest corporate names — and some of its favorite cartoon characters — to its roster. The teams — as yet unnamed — could begin play as early as next season but no later than the 1994-95 season, depending on the lease arrangements for arenas in each city and the timetable in creating an organization. No deadline was set, but scheduling and an expansion draft will be needed.

Walt Disney Co., famous for its films and theme parks, will own the franchise in Anaheim, also the location of Disneyland. Wayne Huizenga, who founded Blockbuster Entertainment Corp., and owns baseball’s expansion Florida Marlins of the National League, will be the principal owner of the Miami hockey franchise, though he said he will discuss further involvement with the Blockbuster board of directors. Though the papers have not been signed, both agreed to pay a $50 million franchise fee, which will be divided among existing teams. The NHL added the San Jose Sharks for the 1991-92 season, and the Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators began play this season. Those teams each paid a $50 million franchise fee.

Two years ago league powers envisioned expanding to 28 teams by the end of the decade, but this step, which brings the league to 26 — came rapidly. Asked if he expected to leave this meeting with two new teams, Washington Capitals owner Abe Pollin said: “No. There were rumors floating around but I didn’t think it would happen that fast.” The discussions have gone on quietly for a few months, but Huizenga said he spoke with the general manager of Miami Arena — where his team is likely to play for several years — only this morning.

“What happened to make it quick is that two big companies expressed an interest,” said Los Angeles Kings owner Bruce McNall, chairman of the owners Board of Governors. “I’m a good salesman, and when someone expresses an interest, I’m not letting them off the hook if I can help it, especially a situation of this magnitude.” It was a stunning first day at the Board of Governors’ semi-annual meeting at The Breakers hotel. NHL President Gil Stein and McNall chaired the news conference but it is unclear how much longer Stein will have his title.

It was thought that picking a new leader would be the top item at these meetings (NBA vice president and general counsel Gary Bettman, who is expected to get the top job, was here today), followed by a decision on whether to interrupt the 1993-94 season to allow players to participate in the 1994 Olympics. The governors also will discuss collective bargaining. But the expansion pushed those matters back at least a day.

If the move was quick by NHL standards, it was not for Disney and its chairman and CEO, Michael D. Eisner. “I give a lot of credit to Gil Stein and Bruce,” Eisner said. “They noticed the interest of Wayne Huizenga and Blockbuster, which is a big addition for hockey because of their reach into video stores all over the country. … And I think they saw the halo effect, if you will, of Disney. We notice that around the world — and I didn’t create Disney, so I can say that. But Disney is a family company and if we say that, it helps {the league}. Disney brought the world Mickey Mouse and Goofy through movies and TV, and Eisner wore a jersey from the Disney movie “The Mighty Ducks,” which is about a youth team, and a baseball cap that said “Coach Goofy.”

“We made a movie called ‘The Mighty Ducks,’ which did unbelievably well — that was our market research,” said Eisner, who added the movie was headed for $50 million — a coincidental figure — in box office revenue. For Huizenga it has been a tumultuous week. Wednesday, his friend and Marlins team president Carl Barger, died of a heart attack at the baseball winter meetings. Today, Huizenga agreed to stake a full claim to a second of the four pro franchises in Miami.

“I approached Gil and we met a few times,” Huizenga said of Stein. “Then we met with Bruce in California and that led to a letter being sent to the board requesting a franchise. That was about a month or two ago. Huizenga also owns part of the Miami Dolphins and 50 percent of Joe Robbie Stadium, where the Marlins and Dolphins play. He owns 100 acres near the stadium, which is a potential site for an arena.

If Huizenga was all smiles, David LeFevre, Tampa Bay’s governor, was more subdued. However, he apparently voted for the decision and insisted that it was good for his franchise, though it some of its television market will be cut. “I can’t wait for them to get started,” said Lightning General Manager Phil Esposito, “because we’re going to kick their {butts}.” The 19,000-seat Anaheim Arena is set to open in June and is across the freeway from Anaheim Stadium.

Because Eisner is moving into McNall’s area, McNall will get half of the franchise fee, with the other 23 owners splitting the other $25. The close neighbor doesn’t bother McNall. “First of all, the whole L.A. area is huge,” he said. “It’s half the population of Canada {26 million}. So I’m not too concerned about the number of people. Secondly, Orange County has a unique flavor, a little bit different than L.A. Number three, it’s Disney. That is such an important element and I’m hoping that brings a lot to the NHL and therefore the Los Angeles Kings.”

Tom Brady

December 9th, 2018: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady breaks Peyton Manning’s record for most touchdown passes in NFL history; moves to 582 with 3 TD passes during 34-33 defeat by Miami Dolphins.

Widely considered the greatest quarterback of all time, Brady is a seven-time Super Bowl winning quarterback. Five of which he was named most valuable player.

In a long career, Brady has played for just two NFL franchises, the New England Patriots from 2000 to 2019 and his current team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He has set and continues to hold numerous quarterback records.

Born: August 3, 1977
Birthplace: San Mateo, California, USA
Age: 44 years old