The Blazers’ sizzling debut on August 14, 1971 attracted 13,439 fans, then the largest crowd to attend a professional sporting event in Arizona. The roster featured many former Arizona State University players, including quarterback “Spaghetti Joe” Spagnola, who the previous year had led the Sun Devils to an undefeated season capped by a victory in the Peach Bowl. The Blazers didn’t disappoint, routing the Pasadena Chiefs 44-0 en route to a perfect 15-0 championship season in the now-defunct Western Football League. Still, life was hardly wine and roses for the team. The Blazers endured exhausting travel conditions (such as nine-hour bus rides to away games), and team flights were so daunting that some personnel opted to travel on their own dime via commercial airlines rather than fly in the team’s bargain-basement chartered planes.
Unfortunately, the Blazers’ football dominance didn’t translate into financial success. After the home opener, attendance plummeted because of easy victories, hot weather, and fading novelty. Despite cash-flow problems, the Blazers were kept afloat by new investors who hoped to have an inside track should the National Football League (NFL) expand to Phoenix. After three tumultuous seasons in which the team played in a different stadium each year, the Blazers finally went bankrupt. The NFL wouldn’t arrive in the Valley until the St. Louis Cardinals relocated in 1988.
Thirty years before Woodstock made his maiden landing on Snoopy’s belly, a cat named Krazy was dodging bricks in a pioneering newspaper comic strip. ...
The Lincoln Legacy
North Phoenix owes two of its hospitals, a street name, a resort, and much of its community spirit to one visionary man. ...
As Tempe celebrates its musical legacy, friends remember the troubled life of late Gin Blossoms guitarist Doug Hopkins. Local musician Lawrence Zubia tells a story about Doug Hopkins, in which Hopkins hops a slow-moving freight train at Mill Avenue,...
Over the Hump
Fifty years ago this month, conservationists including Barry Goldwater came together to save Camelback Mountain from development. The tram would rise from the base of Camelback Mountain to an “oasis” at the summit, the black-and-white sk...
Fifty-two years ago, Valley TV personality Sherri Finkbine terminated a tragic pregnancy –and unwittingly gave birth to a controversial legacy that lives on today. It was the biggest medical story in Arizona history. And more than a half centu...