Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Santa’s Sporting Sleigh

Posted on 1 December 2018 by Megan Dymmock-Morgan

Certain athletes evoke a particular charm whenever they step out onto the field or court. Some legends simply operate in a different space-time continuum, exhibiting a unique blend of skill and guile that takes the breath away.

Some are hardy, tough bastards while others glide as if their bodies were not made of flesh and blood, but rather unravelling reams of silk.

There are those, however, who captivate the imagination because of their name. In this list we’ve picked out a select few who, once retired, could have donned a set of antlers and doubled up as Santa’s reindeer.

Next time you here Saint Nick sliding down your chimney, peer outside. You never know which legendary athlete could be saddled up in front of his sleigh.

John Joseph “Dasher” Troy

Born on 8th May 1856, the New Yorker John Joseph “Dasher” Troy played baseball in five seasons of Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1877 to 1888.

He played for the Detroit Wolverines, Providence Grays, New York Gothams and the New York Metropolitans as a second baseman. He died on 30th March 1938 and was buried in Calvary Cemetery, Queens County, New York. 

Faye Dancer

Faye Katherine Dancer played baseball in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League as a centre field from 1944 through to 1950. Her success in baseball earned her the nickname ‘All The Way Faye’ which later inspired the character ‘All The Way Mae’ in the 1992 film ‘A League of Their Own’.

Dancer’s spikes and gloves are displayed in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. She died on 22nd May in Los Angeles at the age of 77. 

Wilma Rudolph

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At the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, sprinter Wilma Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympics. Before that, Rudolph had to wear a brace on her left leg due to polio.

However, she overcame her disabilities and made it to the 1956 Summer Olympic Games in Melbourne Australia. On 12th November 1994, Rudolph died following a battle with brain cancer.

Jan Hein Donner

Johannes Hendrikus (Hein) Donner, born in The Hague on July 6th 1927 was not only a writer, but a chess player for the Netherlands.

Donner played in the Chess Olympiads eleven times and won the Dutch Championships in 1954, 1957 and 1958. In 1959, The World Chess Federation (FIDE) awarded him with the Chess Grandmaster title. He died in Amsterdam on 27th November 1988. 

Clarence Lemuel “Cupid” Childs

The Maryland-born baseball player started his 13-year career in 1888 with the Philadelphia Quakers playing only two games in the National League.

The second baseman continued with the Syracuse Stars for one season in 1890, but returned to the National League and this time with the Cleveland Spiders.

He stayed with them from 1891 until 1898. Moving on, he played one season with the St. Louis Perfectos in 1899 and then two more seasons with the Chicago Orphans from 1900-01. 

Carlos Samuel Blixen

Carlos Samuel Blixen is a retired basketball player from Uruguay. He played for the men’s national team, who competed at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne. The team won a bronze medal.

He competed four years later at another Olympic Games. Blixen was born on 27th December 1936 and lives in Uruguay at the age of 81.  

Julianna ‘The Venezuelan Vixen’ Peña

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This mixed martial arts fighter of Venezuelan and Mexican descent competes in The Ultimate Fighting Championship. The 29-year-old was the first woman to win The Ultimate Fighter after a total knockout in the first in 2013 against Jessica Rakoczy.

Paul Comet

The struggle to find a sports person with the name ‘Comet’ proved difficult, but in the depths of the internet, Paul Comet was discovered – a fifth tier, third choice goalkeeper for the French team Stade Bordelais based in Bordeaux.

As the search continued to find out more about him, turns out there is another Paul Comet who is, in fact, a real estate agent. Just to point out… not the same person!

Get Prancer (Grand National Horse)

Again, finding a sports person with the name ‘Prancer’ was tough, but technically this Grand National horse Get Prancer meets the sport theme.

The six-year-old chestnut gelding horse has never won a race. Get Prancer’s trainer is J R Jenkins and three jockeys have been horseback: Danny Brock, Slade O’ Hara and Federik Tylicki. Get Prancer’s last race was in 2016, not sure if there’s a comeback on the fence…