Pel's #10 Jersey
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There are roughly six thousand pieces of sports memorabilia. Here for today's episode. I have to pick just one to learn about. It's not an easy choice. You're seeing a baseball. Signed by the nine hundred thirty one yankees colluding Babe Ruth. I'm completely lately overwhelmed by my options. Here there's Tony Hawk. Skateboard Chris Everett's tennis racket. A Yankee Stadium Ticket booth from Nineteen twenty-three. There is even a handball handball here. That was used by Abraham Lincoln. It's impossible to choose look at that. Oh Oh wow number ten jersey. New York has mos Pele is one of the most famous athletes ever. He was the goat before for the war. Goats are celebrated player in the history of the game over the course of a twenty one year career as a professional soccer player. Pele did more for the sports global appeal than anyone in history. He did so much in fact that the International Olympic Committee named Pele The athlete of the century Capelli's spent most of his career in Brazil where he was born but towards the end of his career. He came to America to popularize soccer in the US. Today he joins the New New York Cosmos and the North American Soccer League. Pele Worn unassuming White Mesh Jersey with the number ten on it and now that Jersey has made its way to the Smithsonian's the American history is not just an culture. Doesn't just come from America. I'll kinda shows like we also are Indebted to other cultures for building. Our own is as well. You know. I've actually Matt Pella Okay. Oh Yeah and he actually. He actually came to the daily show once really nancy like meet him tonight. Legendary Footballer One three World Cups during his professional career is the all time leading. Goalscorer are in soccer. Johnston and I both huge soccer fans. I grew up in England where watching soccer is practically citizenship requirement. And though it's hard to believe John Played in college so heck sometimes we even call it. Football new grow up very little money. You use for a soccer ball sock doc stuffed with newspaper or something grateful grapefruit. I mean that's how they they plan on the dirt Pele. He's on a whole other level level. He doesn't even need a ball to play the game and the she works socks Wow It really is a testament. When your socks talks are in the Smithsonian dirty socks dirty socks her in the Smithsonian it is it Pele Pele? I've heard Pele but but I grew up. So I probably will fluctuate through the course of the interview. Herrick is an expert on sports more importantly. He's a curator. Raider the American History Museum which means he's in charge of making sure. I don't walk out of here wearing Pele's Jersey. There is such a legend. Even his name has an origin story. He was born Edson. Atlantis do Nascimento. Pele was a nickname. Other boys started calling him when he was just a kid. He didn't really. I liked the name. They said he said it was a kid before he no he didn't like the name. Pele Pele or my understanding is that he didn't really care for it but it was the nickname that it was attributed them as a as a kid and didn't mean something because he grew up in Brazil. Yeah they say he's the they claim to not know what it means interesting even if it didn't mean anything then Pele certainly means something now soccer legend and he grew up playing soccer football doc football on the streets of West and Paolo he was an incredibly impoverished and became a professional as a so. You know and it's really teams wore shoes in a game at age. Twelve but at fifteen. He was a major league player at Seventeen storrow the World Cup and a major world bigger over the next fifteen years Pele scored more than a thousand goals. One reporter wrote the best and most experienced defenders on earth could do nothing to stop him short of homicide aside. No wonder that. So many people the name Palais is synonymous with soccer itself. There's not many people so associated with a sport back then soccer's Babe Ruth would be an example in baseball where people who don't know baseball that Babe Ruth Baseball player but he's that level of tame the return of Pele attracted worldwide interest and given professional soccer in the US a kingside shock in the art when Pele came to play for the New York Cosmos in nineteen seventy five. It was a big deal not just because polly was a soccer star but because he came out of retirement to bring soccer to America America it was only a two year stint but it made a huge impact the return of play today on. CBS Look at. It is like when you have people like when Brigitte cough or come to America. You know like these kind of international stars people not interested in sports still want to see the best or the most interesting wresting thing so play was able to do that just as presence joining the team and I think he did it intentionally. Because he's new America. Was this great market that it was kind of untapped for the sport that he loved a few years. Before Pele's arrival when the North American soccer league began Dan soccer was largely seen as a sport for foreigners but just a few years after Pele's brief chapter with the cosmos. There were over three million organize players in the US. I went to my first practice and I fell in love. It was just I call it love it. I kicked among the young players who felt that spark when Pele played in the. US was brandy chesting. Justin is best known for her penalty. Kick at the one thousand nine hundred ninety nine World Cup in front of ninety thousand fans at the Rose Bowl and with forty million Americans watching at home keeper in the world is going to save chastain ripped off for Jersey and dropped to her knees in a black sports sports bra an iconic image that was on the cover of sports illustrated Newsweek and Time magazine because of its importance on so many levels for women's sports and for soccer in the US that in one thousand nine hundred nineteen put women's soccer on the map. It really is a moment of insanity because it was relief it it was satisfaction. It was it was passionate it was love it was pride than if you could multiply it exponentially by probably like million. Then we might get close is to the feeling that I had at that moment but it all started when chastain went to a soccer camp as a nine year old with a prize for the best is player was the chance to wear. Pele's number ten Cosmos Jersey for an afternoon man. If that didn't ignite a fire in me and so I I have to set the stage even more and saying that was like three hundred boys at an overnight camp and like five girls so the competition was stiff but I was determined to wear that Jersey and sure enough I did and it was like a Magic Cape. It was like you know the invisibility cloak so to speak. You could put it on and you felt like you could do anything it was you know obviously way too long for me at nine and I wore more like address than a shirt but it was spectacular. It made me so happy. I mean even now talking about you know I have a big big smile on my face and it's one of those moments that you hope in your lifetime. You can recreate the feeling you you had when you put that Jersey on now first of all let me ask you this. Is it Pele or visit Palay. Well I I would just call him. The King David Hershey. The sports writer who co wrote Pele's new World Pele's his autobiography about his time in the US. If there's anybody who knows Pele well enough both personally and professionally to give the king his do it's him it's Pele. La Pele Pele Right. It's not as my first. Sports editor referred to them is really that is not say that guys should have been fired right on the spot. I had this debate with the curator at the Smithsonian Palay. He wanted to call him Palay an well. Hey late eight makes perfect sense because he did nothing. Basically that didn't have a check attached to it so pay lay right. Maybe that's what they're talking about. His opportunism was even spoofed on the simpsons. King of view became of your kitchen us. Chris revealed waxed paper. David who she's interest in soccer wasn't strictly professional. He used to play in college when he was twenty two. He was working as a reporter for the New York. Daily early news. Who's editor told him? Don't waste your time on soccer. It's a game for comedy pansies. Luckily David Din listen. I volunteered in tiered to cover soccer because no one else wanted anything to do with it. So for that first year it was seventy three seventy before I would schlep out to Long Island and write four paragraphs about the cosmos That were usually cut in in half and placed in the hair replacement ads in the back of the paper but that all changed in July tenth nineteen seventy five Wenn Pele arrived and all of a sudden my stories were leading the sports section. So basically I own my career to to demand are here under threat is. I'm still not sure about how much money he got. I was told by my source that it was a two point. Eight million for two years which seems chump change by today's standards but was then the most money that any soccer player made need. It's important to point out that while Pele loved the idea of coming coming to the states to spread the gospel of soccer to the Heathens. He also loved the string of zeroes on his paycheck because he was frankly broke broke from hat relying on his entourage to handle his finances. Share and stuff ya well now when Pele got to America. Soccer wasn't really part of American sports now. Being on a soccer team in elementary school is a right of passage inch back then. It was practically unheard of baseball was American football was American basketball was American but soccer. That was a Commie Armie pansies until Pele showed up when that happened David her. She suddenly went from covering bottom tier sport to following around the biggest biggest sport celebrity in the world in Brazil where he was before he retired all he could win was a championship because he was already a national treasure but here he could actually win a country he could. He could conquer the last outpost of indifference toward the beautiful four-game while at the same time making himself whole financially light takes a pretty good shot of the penalty. Area down the ball comes across three Palais Palais. What half-full stadiums? We're talking about. You Know Ramshackle Stadium Field was strewn with rocks in glass and the mixture of You know former semi pro players in college graduates to make a a decent team but there was nothing cool about the sport back thing whatsoever out in the tie up traffic when we return soccer takes over the United States with Pele leading the charge at the request of Henry. Kissinger wait. What what really okay? I'll check my notes and get back to you on that. The story of the Gods Hero's quest a monstrous force. The stuff of Legend offering a glimpse into a fantastical passed and guidance. For creating a meaningful future they're also the focus of the extraordinary tales explored in podcast network's original series mythology every Tuesday mythology delves deep into the history origins and meaning of myths. 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Bear is advancing science for a better life because because someone with heart issues should still be able to have their heart jumped with joy because a farmer using less water should still be able to grow their crops. Because someone getting getting older should still be able to act young at bear. This is why we science What was the impression of Pele before he came to people that Americans know who he was and what he what he meant to the game? Well you know you had to be a die. Hard to really understand his importance as a soccer player but I think a lot of people knew him as a global Nikon. Here's this guy who I think it was nineteen sixty seven chopard into Nigeria and. They stopped the civil war for forty forty eight hours while he was there and there was all sorts of legends about that his popularity eclipsed the pope and maybe only Ali. The League was in his category worldwide. As a sportsman youngster emerged from the obscurity of the backstreets of Sao Paulo to world fame. Almost overnight is famous number. Ten shirt became a symbol of footballing skill. I don't know if you're aware of this. But Pele came by that number Burak sedan in nineteen fifty eight when he when he made his world cup debut as a seventeen year old. The Brazilian team had forgotten To allocate numbers on the shirts right so AFIFA stepped in and is randomly gave the number ten shirt to Pele which was usually awarded to the teams most creative player and playmaker. But you know it was totally by accident that he got that number and of course he made it into the most famous shirt in sports history regardless of how he got what is number Pele's certainly made it his own becoming the most creative player and playmaker not only on his team but in soccer at large. Ah Ah David once wrote the many of Pele Saba goals were masterpieces worthy of the move. Pele himself once said I was born to play football just like Beethoven was born to write music and Michelangelo was born to paint. I bet it does what was so special about in the way he played. Well I think three things balance you couldn't you couldn't shoulder barge him or or tackle them off the ball. He was a squat man with a very sturdy physical plant so he's five foot six that allowed him to wriggle out of tight spaces faces he then had the you know the golden touch he would stop the bull dead upon arrival that gave him an explosive first step to get by defenders and then his vision he could see things that no one else on the field could he. He could see a space that was about to open up in a nanosecond whereas others just saw two defenders in front of them. I think it was that combination of Balance Vision physical little strength and imagination. That set him apart now. Who is responsible support for convincing him to come to the states in the end I think Henry Kissinger Henry Kissinger breath? That's right former secretary of State Henry Kissinger who served under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford Award might be directly responsible for Pele and soccer coming to the US. I think Henry Kissinger a long story. But the general manager you're of the Cosmos was a An ex pat former soccer writer in England. Who is Clive Clive? Toy Right. Who who realized that you know no matter how much effort and gimmicks they put into promoting the cosmos that they would continue to play in near obscurity in less they could get a superstar somersaulting building through the air the score with a by cycle? There wasn't a superstar in all of soccer. Then Pele if the cosmos could get him he'd put them on the map but the problem was Pele had been anointed a national on exportable treasure by Brazil. So he had to resort to using the leverage of our government in dealing with the Brazilian their Brazilian counterparts and that's were Kissinger game in. He was a former mediocre goalkeeper in Germany who loved the sport and he was able to to convince the Brazilian minister that this would be a win win for everybody and I'll forever be grateful to him for that crowd at historians. Now believe I'm saying this but Kissinger was rate. Pele's first game with the Cosmos was televised in twenty two countries which was a major change of pace for the cosmos and what was the spectacle of that first game like what. What was the feeling in the in the in the stadium? Well the irony is they had to play it at this. At Randall's island is said the downtrodden auden pile of rocks left over from the Paleolithic era in Manhattan rather than at Yankee Stadium. which had a capacity the of seventy seven thousand Randall's island could squeeze in maybe twenty what was to me? What was noticeable? was that the press box. which as I said usually had no more than six or seven journalists had three hundred reporters from around the world mile to witness this watershed shed moment and it was? The stadium was in such sad ass shape that I ride in our before the game to see the clive toy. The general manager on his hands and knees painting dirt spots on the field so they would look good on television loud it it was like displaying the Michael Angelo in some ratty basement. So you know Eh feverish ephemeral moment in time that could never be sustained but for those couple years to say as I did to the to the gatekeeper at studio fifty four. I'm with the cosmos. Those four words were like saying I'm with the stone in another year. That leads me to the to Funny Story probably the most surreal moment in the thirty years. I've been covering Pele took place at the at the famed nightclub studio fifty four back in the late seventy s when it was you know the Temple of disco and drug fueled parties and it was full of one one name. People Warhol was no Andy. Liza Minnelli was Liza Bianca Jagger Bianca and he fit in seamlessly. And I'll never forget seeing him stretched out on some leather banquet like Roman emperor with two blondes on each side of him feeding him dom perignon and grapes and looked up at me in winked and he said not for the book up my friend not for the book at the time we were working on a memoir. One of his six autobiographies mine was simply about his time. In this in this state southbound at the time to follow today Pele was this big of a sports star as you could get in America feet which was all the more impressive because his American soccer career only lasted two years. Two years later he retires. Is that right. He retires. Yes two years in nineteen seventy seven before before seventy seven thousand giant stadium in a game where he played the first half for the cosmos and the second in half for his old club team Santos Auto and then what today is all about the over over. He was able to score a goal for each team so everybody was happy. And then he was carried aloft on the shoulders of his Cosmos teammates around for victory. Lack one hand in in teeming rain and I just remember everybody in the stadium staying while it pissed down around and he finally took the microphone and said this is for the children. I'm hoping my time here will l. had planted the seeds for the children who will follow and then he closed with love love love. They wave me three times. No no AH with this day is about the love of the game in the world in two years. He's playing and then after Pele retires. American soccer never looks back like it's just the biggest sport in America. No no no. No what did it was a house of cards. That crumbled the league that he propped up for those two years now the rest of the team's couldn't compete with the millions of dollars and yet they tried and they didn't get the traction that the cosmos did did than it was I think ten years later before. MLS came into being So no there was that period. Where was just? It's an obscure sport that had its once in a lifetime moment but now forty years later the sport is I think entrenched inched in the DNA of American kids. And that's who you're seeing come out to. MLS Games and Selana united where. There's seventy five thousand people every week. So the seeds that he planted did bro At this point the is almost a quarter order century old. An entire generation of American kids have grown up playing and watching soccer and American soccer teams now compete on the world stage where they inspire via a love for the game in a new generation. Twenty five million Americans say play soccer at some level and that doesn't count people like me who want to play but can't because I'm not very good twenty first century. American soccer has firmly established itself as a mainstream sport. And it's all because of one player. Pele take out a troll as their own. Aw and there's no question that his presence you know when people say that the United states is no longer a sleepy backwater of soccer. It was all due to his presence in in in this country goes goes to amazing years. And that's quite a gift and Doc David her. She was a soccer columnist for ESPN and is now a writer at large for the magazine. Gene 8-for-8 next time on loss to the Smithsonian particular that I wanted to pull out So suits suits worn by the beaches. Oh my God matching. That's huge for me. Matching suits from their nineteen seventy tour with their shoes watt fan on this planet Silver Shimmering Shiny suits that represent one of the best selling selling soundtracks of all time lost at the Smithsonian is produced by Mary. Beth Kushner our executive producer and editor is Ellen Weiss Technical Support from Robin Wise. Fact checking from Danielle Roff and scripting by Alex. Berg mixing and sound design by Casey Holford and John Galore original theme Music Music by Casey Holford. Our supervising producer is Jordan. Bell and our executive producer is Chris. Bannon huge thanks to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History Eric Jansen Ryan Lintel men John Trautmann and Laura Doff for all their help in making this show lost at the Smithsonian is a production of the scripts Washington Bureau and Stitcher. I'm your host of Monty. 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