the Baller’s Almanac: August 14, 2012

Harris Rogner was born on this date in 1914. He would go on to star for the Army basketball and football teams, and was named captain of the hoops squad. The Howitzer yearbook described him (following his junior season): "Harris Rogner, captain of next year's team, played good basketball all season, always consistent, always fighting. Rog played center, and being a semi-runt in "M" Company, he was usually topped by the six feet plus centers used by most of our opponents. Rog could be found most of the time fighting during games under either basket, and many are the times that he's ended up on the floor — wearing out his pants by lengthy slides over the court."

Following graduation, Rogner spent the rest of his life in the military. During World War II he was named the commanding officer of the 457th Bombardment Group (Heavy) and remained the commander for the rest of the war. During his service in Europe and Korea he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross 5 times, and the Aerial Medal 4 times.

He died in December, 1951 when the plane he was piloting crashed in bad weather on his way home on leave from Korea.

Happy 53rd birthday to Magic Johnson, born in Lansing, Michigan. Magic, who acquired his nickname while still in high school, spurned several big time colleges to play at Michigan State. He chose the Spartans because they were talented, they were close to home, and head coach Jud Heathcoate said that he could pursue the point guard position. Prior to his arrival they had made just two NCAA Tournaments.

Johnson averaged 17.0 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.4 assists as a freshman – leading MSU to the Big Ten title and the NCAA Tournament. As a sophomore he posted nearly identical stats (17.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.9 assists), only this time the Spartans not only advanced to the NCAA Tourney, but won the whole thing. They beat Larry Bird's Indiana State in a game which still remains the most highly rated college basketball game of all time.

After the game Johnson declared for the NBA draft.

Since Johnson's arrival the Spartans have played in 24 NCAA Tournaments, 7 Final Fours, and won two National Titles.

26 years ago today, Kentucky basketball great Kenny Walker raced a horse. Following the publicity stunt, the New York Times described it: "It is a well-established fact that a fast human can outrace a slow horse, at least if the human is unfettered and the horse is forced to pull a sulky and driver, and the distance isn't much more than a 100-yard dash."

Unfortunately, the only video I can find doesn't allow itself to be embedded, but here it is.

Other birthdays include: Gorham Getchell 1920 (Temple), Joe Cooke 1948 (Indiana), Frank Brickowski 1959 (Penn State), Fred Roberts 1960 (BYU), Mike Williams 1963 (Bradley), Ed O'Bannon 1972 (UCLA), Chucky Atkins 1974 (USF), Richie Frahm 1977 (Gonzaga),  and Earl Barron 1981 (Memphis).