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Morning Report: U.S.-French soccer tilt honors post-D-Day game

Most of you probably know that Morning Report has the same deep affection for soccer that dogs do for fleas.

Most of you probably know that Morning Report has the same deep affection for soccer that dogs do for fleas.

But on Saturday there will be a soccer game in France worth noting.

The game - on the 65th anniversary of D-Day - will match amateur American and French teams in the town of St. Pierre Eglise, near Cherbourg in Normandy.

The game will commemorate a match played between American and French teams in that town on July 24, 1944, a few weeks after it was liberated from the German occupation by American trooops advancing after D-Day.

The American team in the 1944 game came from an Army Air Force unit stationed at an airfield nearby. The field now is the Cherbourg Municipal Airport.

The American team in Saturday's game will be from the American air base at Ramstein, Germany.

Former Inquirer staffer Roger Allaway, now the historian for the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame in Hartwick, N.Y., located a copy of Stars & Stripes from July 25, 1944, which noted the game.

The French won, 4-1, before a crowd of 1,000 soldiers and civilians.

According to the military newspaper, Pfc. Herbert Sorter, of New York, scored the only American goal. Sorter and Cpl. Kurt Wien, of Schenectady, N.Y., both had played for Stanford before the war.

The final graph pointed out that the American soldiers in the crowd contributed 1,643 francs to a collection was taken for French refugees in Caen.

Remember Bobby Mathews. In recent days there has been a lot of searching the list of 300-game winners because of Randy Johnson and Jamie Moyer. Johnson is approaching 300 and Moyer just became the 11th lefthander to win 250.

The list of 300-game winners is well known, as are most of the pitchers who came agonizingly close.

But the guy who came closest to 300 without actually getting there is virtually unknown.

His name is Bobby Mathews and he went 297-248 in a career played entirely in the 19th century.

Mathews pitched for eight different teams but his longest tenure was with the Philadelphia Athletics of the American Association, considered a "major" league in those days.

Mathews, a righthander, won at least 20 games eight times. According to, he was one of the first pitchers to master the curveball and also used an effective spitball.

In 1874, while with the New York Mutuals of the National Association, he won 42 games. The next season he won "only" 29, while leading the league with a stupefying 38 losses. He pitched for the A's from 1883 through 1887, his final season, when he was only 3-4, and fell short of 300 for his career.

Mathews has the highest victory total of any pitcher not in the Hall of Fame.

According to Frank Russo of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), Mathews died of syphillis at the age of 46 in 1899.