Last week or so I posted the oral history of Good Will Hunting and it got me thinking. After now having read the ESPN, MTV, and SNL oral histories along with the handful Grantland has published I can say with confidence they are my favorite form of reading. I can never get enough of the small unknown stories that make up the history of a company whether it be a sketch comedy show or 24 hour sports network. I can only hope someday I’ll have the pull/clout/juice to write an oral history on a topic of my own choosing. Here are five stories I’ve come up with so far….
The 1993 National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies
First let me say this, I know there are plenty of people outside the city of Philadelphia that would love to read about this team. They were the last group of modern savages in sports. By 1993 being politically correct was on the minds of everyone in the spotlight whether it be politicians, entertainers, or athletes. The exception was the 1993 Phillies who looked and acted like some B League softball team. 80% of the team wore a sported a mullet. They all chewed tobacco drank domestic beers only, and hit the town in search for women. Yes players still certainly do the same activities today, but what separated this Phillies team was that they did not give one iota who saw them doing it. This team never should have sniffed the World Series, but thanks to some sort of cosmic alignment everyone on that team had a career year. When they reached the World Series they ignited the city to the point of hysteria, and just as they were on the cusp of potentially bringing a title home to Philadelphia they flamed out in spectacular fashion.
Beyond their play on the field though, what set this team apart was the collection of personalities. Curt Schilling was arguably the 4th most divisive personality of the team, which is really saying something. Of the players that made up the 25 man roster one is coaching (Micky Morandini) and five are announcing or have at one point in time (Schilling, Kruk, Anderson, Daulton, and Williams). And who can forget white collar criminal Lenny Dykstra. I’m confident the memories that were made during that season are some of the most entertaining in baseball history and they need to be told, as long as some of the players were sober enough to remember them.
My affection for this movie is all over this blog. So I’m not sure what more needs to be said. Despite limited success upon initial release the movie has lived on so there has to be something in the story that continues to speak to people today. Maybe there is a chance to find out what it is by getting the history of making the film. Plus I think it’d be fun to hear what Kathryn Bigelow has to say now about the film after becoming one of the best directors in Hollywood.
The Portland Jailblazers
Ever since I read the story Bill Simmons wrote about the team in his old ESPN Page 2 column I’ve been intrigued by this team for the same reasons why I gravitated toward the MIami Hurricane teams as a child. I always liked the team of outcasts, misfits, and rebels. I’ve got issues I’ll admit it. These teams were so talented though more specifically Philadelphia’s own Rasheed Wallace, who is probably the most talented player to come out of Philadelphia in the modern era. That inlcudes Kobe. Look up stories on the 2 of them in high school. Wallace was thought of as the better talent. But I digress. Despite the lengthy rap sheet and list of internal issues this team had the Lakers dynasty on the brink of elimination before melting down in appropriate fashion by relinquishing a 15 point 4th quarter lead in game seven of the Western Conference Finals. Remember this play…..
Again much like Point Break my love for this movie is all over the blog. I probably reference the movie at least twice a week, even in the summer. I’m know people were doing it prior to the movie’s release, but as far as I’m concerned the movie inspired hundreds of kids from my generation to delay the inevitability of adulthood and take off out west for a year or two after college. It didn’t have to be Aspen, I have friends that moved to Jackson Hole, Vail, and numerous other ski towns. There is a cultural significance behind that so I think it’d be interesting to go back and tell the history of the movie. Plus it’d be an excuse for me to hang out with Peter Berg (Dex Rutecki) and talk about Aspen Extreme and one of my favorite television shows of all time, Friday Night Lights.
The Mickey Mouse Club (90’s version)
Look at that photo and count how many people you recognize. You have two of the biggest female pop stars in the 21st century (Britney and Xtina), the top male pop star (Timberlake), and arguably the most popular male actor right now (Gosling). Not pictured are Timberlake’s fellow N’Sync alum J.C. Chasez and actress Keri Russell. The show’s format was similar to SNL, but geared to kids. The other difference being the re-boot initially aired five days a week. SNL is on one night a week, and that is considered a full time job, so imagine what that schedule was like for a tween aged Britney Spears. It’s a miracle all these kids didn’t burn out and develop major issues. Yes Britney had her crazy spell, but she at least appears grounded now. Considering the batting average for successful careers this show produced either the executives had an incredible eye for talent or the rigors of the kids schedule helped them become what they are today. It’d be interesting to see what the former cast members have to say. Plus I know there are countless late 20 somethings and early 30 somethings who would eat this story up. So someone has to get on top of this. For whatever reason this is my most vivid memory from the show.
If you are looking for printed oral histories to read check the link below.