Thursday, November 01, 2007

Big John Baker Did This

Former Steelers defensive end Big John Baker died yesterday. He was a fierce competitor and a stalwart on Pittsburgh’s defensive line in the 1960s. When his linemate Lloyd Voss died on March 1, Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls described the foursome as:

“…an extremely nasty, vicious and brutal front four that was the immediate predecessor of the Steel Curtain. Although the team's record in Voss's era was abysmal, nobody savored facing that violent defensive front. Voss's linemates were fellow defensive tackle Chuck Hinton (#64) and defensive ends Ben McGee (#63) and Big John Baker (#68 and size 16 shoes).”

Rough hombres, all four of them, in the Steelers defensive tradition carried on to this day.

Baker’s style of play may have been captured best in the famous photo (above) depicting Y.A. Tittle, the New York Giants’ Hall of Fame quarterback, kneeling in the end zone at Pitt Stadium bloodied, dazed and bowed, immediately following a ferocius hit by Baker.

The following descrption is from Baker’s obituary in today’s edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“It was Sept. 20, 1964, at Pitt Stadium when Mr. Baker rushed through the New York Giants line and got to Mr. Tittle in the end zone just as the quarterback was passing.

“Fellow lineman Chuck Hinton intercepted the ball and returned it eight yards for the winning touchdown. Mr. Tittle, suffering from a concussion and bruised ribs, knelt in the end zone, helmet-less and groggy, when Post-Gazette photographer Morris Berman captured the image. The photo didn't run in the newspaper at the time, but later won a national award, a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and consideration as a seminal piece of American sports photography.”

“That became Mr. Tittle's last game, too, as he soon retired.”

The above photo never appeared in the newspaper?? How is that even possible??? How does that photo, which has to be one of the greatest sports photos of all time, not make it to the next day’s newspaper?

Here is John Baker’s obituary in today's Post-Gazette.


Anonymous said...

Because that picture didn't make his own paper, he couldn't get a Pulitzer Prize, which he very much deserved. Even though the pic appeared in major papers throughout the country and Sports Illustrated that same week, the PP rules said it had to appear in his own paper to be qualified.

Noya said...

Keep up the good work.