Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Another sign of the coming high school football season passed Monday

Mel Ott
Another sign of the coming high school football season came to pass on Monday as Hillcrest High School and Sparta Academy held their first official preseason practices.

Both of those schools will kick off their regular season schedules on Aug. 26, which is just 22 days from today (Thursday). Both teams will open their regular season schedules with home games in Evergreen with Hillcrest playing Linden and Sparta taking on Wilcox Academy.

Elsewhere on this week’s sports page, you’ll see a story about the release of the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s preseason football poll, which came out Tuesday night. Hillcrest and Sparta both received votes in the preseason poll and this should come as no surprise based on how their seasons went last year.

Hillcrest is ranked No. 5 in the preseason poll, and all the Jags have to do to keep that high ranking (or move up in the poll) is to win and keep winning. Sparta didn’t make the Top 10 in the AISA, but it should be remembered that all AISA teams are lumped into one poll. It’s not broken down by class like the polls for teams in the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

Another thing that usually happens this time of year is the opening of The Courant’s annual ESPN College Football Pick ‘Em Contest. I tried to set all of that up on Monday, but the contest wasn’t up and running on ESPN’s Web site at that time. This year, if nothing changes, I’m also going to set up a similar, yet separate, contest in which our readers can compete against each other in picking NFL games week to week.

I should have more information about how to sign up for these contest in next week’s edition of The Courant. When you do sign up and create your entries, please use your real name, so that I can report the Top 10 players in the contest standings each week. If you use some sort of weird user name, no one reading the paper is going to know that it’s you playing in the contest.

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Looking through my history notes this week, I saw where tomorrow – Aug. 4 – marks the 82nd anniversary of the day in 1934 when New York Giants right fielder Mel Ott became the first Major League Baseball player to score six runs in a single game. That game happened to be the second game of a double header against the Philadelphia Phillies played in the Baker Bowl in Philadelphia. The Giants won, 21-4.

Ott went four-for-four at the plate with two home runs and a double, walked once and was hit by a pitch, and scored six runs in addition to driving in four runs.

Nearly 10 years later, Ott pulled off the same feat, scoring six runs in a game on April 30, 1944. In that game, Ott scored six runs in a 26-8 Giants win over the Brooklyn Dodgers at the Polo Grounds. Ott went two-for-two at the plate with one RBI, walked five times and stole a base.

The Giants were the only team that Ott, a native of Louisiana, ever played for, and his career with that team spanned 22 years. He played from 1926 to 1947 and served as the team’s manager from 1942 to 1948. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1951.

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