I can’t prove it, but think it all started in the 1980s when Billy Crystal (remember him?) was doing stand-up and told a joke about his young daughter asking him, “Daddy, did you know Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings?”
This is the challenge for the aging newspaper columnist.
Wait. Did I say “newspaper”?
I mean, how can we assume anyone on our digital platform knows what a newspaper is? Many of them have never handled one. It breaks my heart today when I walk into local television newsrooms and there is no newspaper to be found.
Earlier in this football season, in the first days of Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift as an “item,” I cobbled together a quickie column telling readers how much the merging of stars reminded me of Joe DiMaggio marrying Marilyn Monroe in 1954. I tried the theme on a couple of young sports journalists and was stunned when neither of them knew who DiMaggio was, and one of them hadn’t heard of Marilyn!
The Celtics team website recently featured a short video in which Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are asked to identify 20th century objects: VHS cassette, floppy disk, Nintendo game cartridge, Rubik’s cube. Boston’s smart superstars aced the test, but I’m told there were a few Celtics players who had no idea what a floppy disk was.
Watching the Green Team on NBC Sports Boston Sunday, I heard studio analyst Chris Forsberg (a young guy in my world) making a reference to Al Horford jumping into a DeLorean to get his old game back. Fearing that his cohost might not get the reference, Forsberg explained that it was from an old film.
I know the feeling. Emailers and ever-supportive Globe “commenters” keep reminding me that “Casablanca” was released in 1942 and that “Animal House” is now 45 years old.
Very true, but aren’t those classics evergreen? Doesn’t everybody still get it when we say, “Round up the usual suspects” or “Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son”?
And what about local sports idioms? Can we still use the old ones?
Try this: Here are 17 notes, quotes, names, sites, and numbers unique to the 20th century Boston sports experience. How many require an explanation?
1. “Six, two, and even.”
2. Ben Dreith.
3. “Too late!”
4. “We’ll win more than we lose.”
5. Rene Rancourt.
9. “Curly-haired boyfriend.”
10. Sherm Feller.
11. McFilthy and McNasty.
12. Margo Adams.
13. The Iron Horse.
14. The Can’s Film Festival.
15. The Victory Tour.
16. “Pumped and jacked.”
17. Eliot Lounge.
1. Red Sox manager Joe Morgan said this all the time. No one knew what it meant. Maybe horse racing odds? Maybe a line from “The Maltese Falcon”?
2. The referee who cost the Patriots a playoff win over the Raiders in 1976.
3. Sam Jones’s standard comment after releasing a patented jumper for the Celtics. Tommy Heinsohn liked to use it on Celtic broadcasts.
4. Rookie Sox manager Dick Williams made this bold prediction in spring training in 1967. The 100-1 Sox won the AL pennant.
5. Sang the anthem before Bruins games at the Garden for a million years.
6. Capacity crowd at the old Boston Garden.
7. Sox broadcaster Ned Martin’s signature call.
8. Ted Williams’s batting average in 1941.
9. Nickname assigned to this columnist by Red Sox outfielder Carl Everett. Dismissing the Globe’s Gordon Edes, Everett added, “And that goes for your curly-haired boyfriend, too.”
10. Red Sox PA man for a million years. Also wrote “Summertime, Summertime.”
11. Johnny Most’s nicknames for Washington goons Jeff Ruland and Rick Mahorn.
12. Wade Boggs’s paramour.
13. Saloon inside the old Boston Garden.
14. Popular phrase coined by Chuck Waseleski after Oil Can Boyd was issued a summons for overdue porn videos in Winter Haven, Fla.
15. Failed The Jacksons tour booked by Chuck Sullivan that ultimately forced the Sullivans to sell the Patriots to Victor Kiam.
16. Phrase popularized by former Patriots coach Pete Carroll.
17. Bar at the old Eliot Hotel on Mass. Ave. that was home to marathoners from around the world in the 1970s and ’80s. When Bill Lee was set to face Don Gullett in Game 7 of the 1975 World Series, Reds manager Sparky Anderson claimed Gullett was “going to the Hall of Fame.” Lee’s response was, “Don Gullett’s going to the Hall of Fame and I’m going to the Eliot Lounge.”
How’d you do? If you didn’t get at least nine of these, this column is probably not for you. If you got nine or more, thanks for your support and find me back in this space on Sunday.