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Monday, August 11, 2008

Card Of the Week 8/11/08

Muhammad Ali.

The Greatest.


But his momma call him Clay, I'mma call him Clay.

Back when he won the gold medal in Rome, he was called Clay, so this card is correct in calling him Cassius Clay. Everybody knows who he is though, he's Muhammad Ali. If you're not familiar with his boxing, just go to YouTube and start watching. Make sure you watch the interviews as well, he is as good a showman as a boxer. Maybe better. This card is from an Olympic themed set Topps put out in '83 or '84 to cash in on the '84 Olympics in Los Angeles. There are a bunch of legends in that set, but this one is by far the best.

I've always liked Muhammad Ali. He was just so larger than life when I was growing up, even though I never saw him fight in his prime. Ali had a second Olympic highlight in the 1996 games in Atlanta. I lived through those games, and enjoyed them a lot even though I only got to one event and I was pretty inconvenienced by the road blocks for some of the venues. I had a ball just being there. Getting to soak in all the hoopla in the city. Getting to see the entire world show up to my hometown. Knowing that Atlanta is an Olympic city no matter what anyone else thinks of that.

The games had a lot of good moments, but they caught a lot of flack too. The easiest storyline for writers was the redneck angle, and there was a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth over late buses and ticket lines. There was criticism (justified) over the hyper-marketing of the games. We suffered a tragedy when a psycho planted a pipe bomb in Centennial Olympic Park because he was against abortion and hated gays. At the end of the games, the same man who announced that Atlanta had won the games in 1990, slighted the city. So despite the first hand testimony of many who actually attended the games that they were wonderful, the 1996 Olympics will always have that stain on it thanks to those writers going with the easy story, the organizers going with the easy money, and the officials who decided it was safe to stick their nose up at the commercialization once the cash was deep within their pockets.

There's one thing that no one can take away from the '96 games though.

The lighting of the cauldron.

You can say what you want about the pickup trucks, Whatizzit, and broken down buses. You can even say that the cauldron itself is ugly as hell, I won't mind. Because the man we chose to light the cauldron was Muhammad Ali.

The. Greatest. Ever.

And that's one moment from the 1996 games that will live on as a triumph and no one can take that away.


Anonymous said...

It's not olympic related (really dislike the olympics), but si for kids has a Knowshon Moreno card as one of its inserts. It's not the Herschel card you pulled from North GA, but it's something!

Ben said...

Aside from the heat and the bomb, my most lasting experience from the Atlanta Olympics is the cauldron and flame. One of the best pictures (ie. one that doesn't have my finger as the main subject) is of the cauldron and flame. You're right, it was a thrill to just be there.

I'd forgotten, or maybe I didn't know, until digging around last night, that Kosuke Fukudome played in the game that I saw at the Olympics. That would have been the July 27, 1996 Japan vs. Nicaragua game.

I'd be interested in finding the box score from that game.