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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: A Royal loss

   May 23, 1974 -- If you blinked, you might have missed the short life of the Buffalo-Toronto Royals.

   They were a part of World Team Tennis in 1974. The idea was to have the team split its time between Buffalo and Toronto. But ... if you have two hometowns, you have no hometowns, generally speaking.

   The team only lasted one season after completing a 13-31 record. The high point of the franchise came on this date. A crowd of 8,239 came out to see the Royals lose to the Philadelphia Freedoms, 23-20, in Memorial Auditorium. The Freedoms went on to lose the league's championship match to the Denver Racquets, 55-45.

   The star of the Freedoms, and the league, was Billie Jean King of the Freedoms. Her friendship with Elton John prompted John to write a hit single with the team name in it. Many people remember the song to this day, but the league -- which is still bouncing around for a short time in the summer -- couldn't quite meet its original goal of becoming a bigger part of the sports calendar.

   Call yourself a Buffalo sports trivia expert if you can name some of the Royals' players. Let's see, there was Tom Okker, who reached the U.S. Open final in 1968 but was beaten in five sets by Arthur Ashe. Then there was Wendy Overton, Mike Estep, Jan O'Neill ...

--- Budd Bailey

   This Birthdate in Buffalo Sports History: Jim Braxton, Bills fullback - 1949; Brian Campbell, Sabres defenseman - 1979


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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.