Tops of the Pops

An old-school moniker revisited.

In the world of sports, athletes often use “Pop” as a good-natured term of derision for opponents and teammates whose hair has turned white (or disappeared altogether)—or whose skills have eroded with age. For a select few, however, the nickname has been one of affection, reverence and respect. Here’s a look at our Top 10 Pops…

Office of the President

Gregg Popovich (1949– )

Known as “Coach Pop” long before a gray hair appeared on his head, Popovich led the San Antonio spurs to winning seasons in each of his first 22 years as their coach. He has won more games than any coach in pro basketball history and collected five championship rings.


Macfadden Publications

Willie Stargell (1940–2001)

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ Hall of Fame power hitter acquired his nickname after becoming the team’s elder statesman in the twilight years of his career. In 1979, his 18th season, he made headlines by winning the National League MVP award and leading the club to a World Series championship.


Basketball Hall of Fame

William Gates (1917–1999)

Seven months before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball, Pop Gates debuted for the team that now plays as the Atlanta Hawks, in the National Basketball League—forerunner of the NBA. Eight years earlier, he’d led the Harlem Rens (short for Renaissance) to the World Championship of professional basketball.


Arizona Alumni Association

James McKale (1887–1967)

Pop McKale became an institution at the University of Arizona, serving as athletic director from 1914 to 1957. He was responsible for the naming of the school’s sports teams—the Wildcats—and the football stadium was named in his honor.


Oklahoma Athletics

 Lee Ivy (1916–2003)

Only a handful of head coaches led teams in both the American Football League and the National Football League, and Ivy was one of them. Players were already calling him “Pop” when he played for the Cardinals in the 1940s because he was prematurely bald.


Upper Case Editorial

 John Henry Lloyd (1884–1964)

One of the two or three greatest shortstops in baseball history, Lloyd played his entire career in the Negro Leagues. He lived the last half of his life in New Jersey, becoming a beloved community hero in Atlantic City.


Wiley College

 Fred Long (1896–1966)

Pop Long was a legendary football coach for four historically black colleges, winning 227 games between 1921 and 1965. He led the Wiley (Texas) Wildcats to national titles in 1928, 1932 and 1945.


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 Glenn Warner (1871–1954)

During four-plus decades as a college football coach, Pop Warner coached four national champions and devised offensive sets and special plays, such as the screen pass, that led to the modern game. Among the legendary players he developed were Jim Thorpe and Ernie Nevers.




GAD Baseball

No Fly Zone

Bill Schriver (1865–1932)

In the early days of baseball, players were obsessed with the challenge of catching a ball tossed from the top of the Washington Monument, more than 500 feet above the National Mall. Pop Schriver was reportedly the first to try, in 1894, and nearly pulled it off. The ball—you guessed it—popped out of his mitt.


Upper Case Editorial

 John Corkhill (1858–1921)

Pop Corkhil was a clutch-hitting outfielder who helped Brooklyn win pennants in 1889 and 1890. He retired at 33 after being hit in the head with a pitch. Corkhill lived out his final years as a resident of Pennsauken, New Jersey.


 Charles Snyder (1854–1924)

In an era when baseball teams positioned their best athlete behind home plate, Pop Snyder was one of the game’s top catchers. He became a respected umpire after his playing days.

Grade A Beef

The Professional Bull Riders (PBR) circuit rumbled into the Prudential Center back in September for the first time in seven years as part of the “Unleash the Beast” tour. The PBR Newark Invitational showcased the talents of the sport’s top-ranked riders, including past champions Cooper Davis, Kaique Pacheco and Jose Vitor Leme, all of whom were in the running for the coveted Golden Buckle. Leme, a 25-year-old Brazilian, captured the New Jersey event—his seventh of the year—on the way to tying the all-time record of eight wins with a victory at the PBR World Finals in Las Vegas last November.

Photos by Andy Watson/Courtesy of Bull Stock Media


Photos by Andy Watson/Courtesy of Bull Stock Media

Diamond in the Rough

As the MLB season reboots, here are a dozen things to know about baseball in New Jersey.

The roots of baseball run deep in the Garden State. You may know that the first officially recorded game was played in Hoboken in 1846, and have probably seen the Currier & Ives print a few times, but for most people, that’s about it. New Jersey, in fact, has played a long, complex, inspiring, diverse, often messy, and surprisingly important role in the evolution of the game. Here are 12 fascinating facts that provide a rough idea of New Jersey’s place in baseball history…

1     Seven players who were either born or grew up in New Jersey have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame:

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Mike “King” Kelly (Paterson) in 1945; “Sliding” Billy Hamilton (Newark) in 1961; Leon “Goose” Goslin (Salem) and Joe “Ducky” Medwick (Carteret) in 1968; Monte Irvin (Orange) in 1973; Larry Doby (Paterson) in 1998 and

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Derek Jeter (Pequannock) in 2020.

2    In 2016, American Leaguers Rick Porcello (Chester) and





Rob Tringali

Mike Trout (Millville) became the first New Jerseyans to win baseball’s two top awards in the same season. Porcello won the A.L. Cy Young Award and Trout was the A.L. Most Valuable Player.

3    In 1972, Maria Pepe pitched three games for a Hoboken team before Little League Baseball threatened to revoke the entire league’s charter. The National Organization for Women (NOW) funded a lawsuit  that resulted in all Little League chapters allowing girls to play.

Fritsch Cards

4     New Jersey produced several star players in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, including pitcher Dolores Lee, who went on to become Jersey City’s first full-time female police officer. After learning that she was being paid less than the JCPD’s minimum salary, she prevailed in one of the state’s first high-profile sex discrimination cases.

5    During the 1930s and 1940s, the Newark Bears were the top farm team of the New York Yankees. The Bears won eight International League pennants in 13 seasons. The 1937 Bears are considered by many experts to be the greatest minor-league team of all time.

6    The Newark Eagles of the Negro National League were we co-owned and operated by Effa Manley in the 1930s and 1940s. Manley was the first woman enshrined in baseball’s Hall of Fame.

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7    Paterson’s Hinchliffe Stadium, built-in 1932, is the lone remaining venue in New Jersey where Negro  League baseball games were regularly played. It was the “home field” of the barnstorming New York Cubans and New York Black Yankees.

Four Star Productions

8    Seton Hall University became the Pirates in 1931 after an 11–10 comeback win over Holy Cross. A sportswriter described the team as a “gang of pirates” and the name stuck. Among the many stars who played for Seton Hall was Hall of Famer Craig Biggio and Chuck Connors, aka TV’s Rifleman.

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9    In 1915, New Jersey fielded its one and only “major league” team, the Newark Peppers of the Federal League. The Peppers were owned by oil magnate Harry Sinclair.

Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum

10   In 1887, the Newark Little Giants of the International League signed catcher Moses Fleetwood Walker, one of the best African-American ballplayers of the 19th century.

11   In 1875, Joe Mann, a student at Princeton, pitched baseball’s first recorded no-hit game, against Yale. Mann used a curveball learned from future Hall of Famer Candy Cummings.

D. Benjamin Miller

12   Four New Jersey teams have won the Little League World Series: Hammonton (1949), Wayne (1970), Lakewood (1975), and Toms River East (1998). Future All-Star Todd Frazier led off the 1998 championship game with a homer and was the winning pitcher.