As we approached the start of our sophomore year, summer was winding down and not a helluva lot was happening in town. There was an interesting editorial in the Herald, though, concerning Secretariat, which you’ll recall had captured the Triple Crown earlier in ’73. It turns out there were $63,644 worth of unclaimed tickets on the three races that the horse had won and some guy was selling all three winning tickets plus a photo for $300; the point being the entrepreneurial spirit was alive and well in America. The value of the winning tickets, by the way, was only $9.60. I’ve got to believe that $300 piece of memorabilia would be worth far more today, almost 35 years later. Let me know if any of you regular eBay shoppers ever check this out.
The summer of ’73, the Suburban baseball league was big for our class. Team members included Rick Gross, Rob Guida, Ken Hudgins, Bob Kocis, Jeff Smith, Ron Ruppert, Joe Osmulski, Bob Cotterell (the crafty lefty), John Merchant, Alan Wessel and Frank Rea. [Frank, you had a big sac fly in one game.]
Food poisoning in town was a major issue. The health department was shutting down luncheonettes and pizzarias left and right, it seemed.
And the town had an incredible rainstorm…7 1/2 inches in just nine hours. No real damage in Summit (except Eric Dagradi’s house flooded…Eric and I were talking about the location of his home the other day), but the surrounding area was a real mess as the Passaic spilled over.
At The Strand, “The Sound of Music” and “Mary Poppins” were playing, but then “Live and Let Die” hit the big screen. [The title track by Paul McCartney and Wings peaked at #2 on the Billboard charts and also happens to be George Ross’ favorite tune….more inside baseball, sorry.]
Speaking of music….here is the Billboard Top Ten for 8/18/73
#1 “Touch Me In The Morning”…Diana Ross #2 “Live And Let Die”…Wings #3 “Brother Louie”…Stories #4 “The Morning After”…Maureen McGovern #5 “Let’s Get It On”…Marvin Gaye #6 “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown”…Jim Croce #7 “Get Down”…Gilbert O’Sullivan #8 “Delta Dawn”…Helen Reddy #9 “Uneasy Rider”…Charlie Daniels #10 “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day”…Chicago
Lastly, in the 8/2/73 edition of the Herald there was a discussion about Summit great Johnny Mallory. Mallory was in Giants training camp at the time (he wouldn’t stick), but he was bitching about his treatment at his prior NFL stop, New Orleans. “I’m not satisfied at all (that) I was released from a team that had practically nothing…I thought you made a team on ability, not politics. In New Orleans that wasn’t me.”
I note this because, ironically, Mallory’s #22 from Summit High School is being retired on Saturday, Sept. 15. Johnny Mallory was All-State in football, basketball and track for the Hilltoppers, graduating in ’64.
The other day, the Independent had a story on Mallory and his big day.
“Johnny was the youngest of three Mallory brothers, all of whom were outstanding athletes. The eldest Mallory, Willie, long-time director of sports for the Newark schools, now resides in Hillsborough. The middle son, Darnell, was killed in the United/TWA mid-air collision over Brooklyn.
“Johnny Mallory led the 1962 and 1963 football squads to back-to-back conference and state championships. The ’63 team was Coach Howie Anderson’s and Summit High’s first undefeated, untied team.”
Mallory went on to star at West Virginia, leading the team in punt returns, and was voted MVP in 1967. Then in ’68, he was drafted in the 10th round by Philadelphia as a defensive back.
Johnny played four seasons in the NFL, 1968-71 (as well as a stint in the World Football League) and I looked up his stats in the Football Encyclopedia. He played in a total of 55 games for both Philly and Atlanta and aside from his defensive duties, he returned 39 punts over his career, one for a touchdown, and also returned two fumbles for TDs.
But what I found intriguing was the fact he caught two passes for 85 yards, including a 58-yard TD reception. Now that’s cool. So he scored a total of four times. He’s still in the area and has a daughter that teaches at Franklin School.
Next week I’ll post some stuff on the current edition of the Summit football team on our home page (following Sherry’s party). It’s been a rough stretch for the Hilltoppers, to say the least.
More on the high school years…Oct. 11.