Thursday, October 1, 2015

October 1, 1975: The Thrilla In Manila

October 1, 1975, 40 years ago today: Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali fights former Heavyweight Champion Joe Frazier for the 3rd time, at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, the capital of the Philippines. Quezon City is the national capital, and the arena is located about 5 miles east of the country's largest city, Manila.

Ali, under his birth name Cassius Clay, was an Olympic Gold Medalist in boxing, in 1960 in Rome. Frazier was as well, in 1964 in Tokyo. A man they would both memorably fight, George Foreman, followed them, in 1968 in Mexico City. Ali first won the title in 1964 by knocking out Sonny Liston. He held it until he was stripped of it in 1967, for refusing to accept the U.S. military draft. Foreman won what was essentially a tournament for the title, ending in 1970 with a win over top contender Jimmy Ellis.

Ali got his conviction overturned by the Supreme Court, and his boxing license restored -- but not his title. That, he would have to win back. When he and Frazier met for "The Fight of the Century" at Madison Square Garden in 1971, it was the 1st time 2 undefeated Heavyweight Champions had ever met in the ring. It was a hard, even fight until the 15th and final round, when a classic Philly left hook floored the Louisvillian, and Ali received his first-ever knockdown, from which he got up to finish the fight, and his first-ever professional loss.

Ali got revenge in 1974, also at The Garden although neither man was champion at the time. Frazier had lost the title in 1973 to Foreman, whom Ali subsequently beat to regain the title in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), the fight known as "The Rumble In the Jungle."

Ali mocked Frazier for his fighting ability and his looks, saying, "It'll be a thrilla and a chilla and a killa, when I get the Gorilla in Manila!"

But it was intensely hot inside the Coliseum when "The Thrilla In Manila" was fought. Still, like the other 2 Ali-Frazier fights, it lived up to the hype. Ali led in the early rounds, but in the 5th round, Frazier began to turn the tide. At the end of the 6th, Ali, who'd been trash-talking (as we would say today) all the way, yelled, "They told me Joe Frazier was washed up!" Frazier yelled back, "They lied!"

Ali won the 8th round, but Frazier clobbered him in the 9th, leading him to go back to his corner and tell his trainer, Angelo Dundee, "Man, this is the closest I've ever been to dying." But Ali had landed so many punches that Frazier's face was swelling, and he was having trouble seeing.

Early in the 13th round, Ali hit Frazier in the jaw with a thunderous right hook, sending Frazier's mouthpiece flying out of his mouth and out of the ring. Ali dominated the 14th as well, because Frazier was too tired and having too much difficulty seeing. Ali was hitting Frazier with the same kind of punches that knocked out Foreman a year earlier.

But Frazier had more courage and endurance than sense, and refused to go down, and refused to quit. As the 15th and final round approached, Frazier wanted to continue. His trainer, Eddie Futch, told him that he was going to stop the fight. Frazier said no: "I want him, boss." He was unable to talk Futch out of it: "The fight's over, Joe. No one will forget what you did here today." And he told the referee, Carlos Padilla, to stop the fight. Padilla did so.

Ali retained the crown, the belt, the title, whatever you want to call it. He got up off his stool, raised his right arm in victory... and collapsed. He had nothing left to give. If Futch had let Frazier fight the 15th round, he would have knocked Ali out.

It's been called the greatest prizefight in history. Today, 40 years after the fight, most people know the name Manila for 3 things: The brown office folders that bear its name, its role in the Pacific Theater of World War II, and Ali-Frazier III.

Howard Cosell, who covered the fight for ABC Wide World of Sports, later said, "A big piece of Ali remained in that ring." Indeed, at age 33, with nothing left to prove, Ali probably should have retired right there. Instead, he kept fighting for 6 more years. So did Frazier. Both men would have their moments, but neither was ever so good again.
"The Greatest of All Time" is still alive, at age 73, but has had Parkinson's disease as a result of his taking so many blows to the head. The big mouth that got him the early nickname "The Louisville Lip" is now mostly silent. He's had other health difficulties, was hospitalized last December, and rumors of his impending death circulated earlier this year. What the true state of his health is, only his doctors know for sure.

"Smokin' Joe" would continue to alternately feud with Ali and reconcile with him, restart the feud, and reconcile again. Joe died of liver cancer in 2011, at age 67, after 30 years of training fighters at his gym in North Philadelphia

One of the fighters he trained was his son Marvis, who, like Ali on that awful night in 1980, would get slaughtered by Larry Holmes in Las Vegas. His daughter Jackie also fought professionally, as has Ali's daughter Laila. (She is still fighting despite approaching her 38th birthday and having 2 children of her own. She's 24-0.) Another daughter of Ali's, Maryum, is a rapper using the name May May.

Opened in 1960, the Araneta Coliseum is still used for sporting events and concerts. A shopping center 2 blocks away is named Ali Mall.


October 1, 1866: A crowd of 30,000 people, believed to be the largest in baseball history to that point, watches a game between the host Athletics (no connection to the American League team founded in 1901) and the Atlantics of Brooklyn, considered the best team in the country at the time. They had played the entire 1865 without losing a game -- albeit a short season by our standards: They were 18-0.

The A’s score 2 runs in the 1st inning, but the crowd rushes the field, and the game is called when they won’t get off. It is never rescheduled.

October 1, 1890, 125 years ago: Yosemite National Park is established in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of eastern California. Along with Yellowstone in Wyoming, the 2 Y's are considered the cornerstone of the U.S. National Park System.

October 1, 1903: The 1st World Series game is played, at the Huntington Avenue Grounds in Boston. Deacon Phillippe of the Pittsburgh Pirates outpitches Cy Young of the Boston Pilgrims. Jimmy Sebring of the proto-Red Sox hits the 1st World Series home run, but the Pirates win, 7-3.

Northeastern University's Cabot Gym is now on the site, and a statue of Young stands at the approximate location of the pitcher’s mound.

October 1, 1915, 100 years ago: "Die Werlandung" – alternately translated as "The Transformation" and "The Metamorphosis" – by Franz Kafka is published in the German magazine The White Pages: A Monthly. The magazine would go out of business in 1920, in the post-World War I chaos of Germany, but not before it had also published works by novelist Herman Hesse and theologian Martin Buber.

What does this have to do with sports? Well, certain teams have undergone some ugly transformations. The Yankees since July 28 of this year, for example. And some teams -- the Mets, the Chicago Cubs, the Boston Red Sox before 2004, the Philadelphia Phillies before 2007 with the exception of 1980, the NFL's Buffalo Bills, and a few others -- have had bad and strange things happen to them that have been called "Kafkaesque," as Kafka had written other stories that focused on the absurdities in human life.

October 1, 1919: Game 1 of the World Series, at Redland Field (later renamed Crosley Field) in Cincinnati. The starter for the Chicago White Sox is knuckleballer Eddie Cicotte. The 1st batter for the Cincinnati Reds is Morrie Rath. Cicotte, not known as a dirty pitcher, but who had taken $10,000 (about $138,000 in today's money) from gamblers the night before, hits Rath with a pitch. This is the signal to the gamblers that the fix to which they'd agreed is still on.

In the bottom of the 4th, the game is tied 1-1. So far, nothing has happened to suggest to the unaware spectator that anything is amiss. But then Cicotte melts down, and allows 5 runs. The Reds win, 9-1, and the "upset" is on, as is what became known as the Black Sox Scandal.

October 1, 1920: Walter John Matthow is born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Under the name Walter Matthau, he would star in many legendary films, most notably as the uncouth, sloppy sportswriter Oscar Madison in the 1968 film version of The Odd Couple, with Jack Lemmon as the cultured, fussy TV news writer Felix Ungar. (That was the spelling of Felix's name, and his profession, on stage and on screen. On TV, Tony Randall would play Felix Unger, and he'd be made a commercial photographer. Another difference in the TV version is that Oscar, played by Jack Klugman, had no children, whereas he did in the play and the movie.)

Matthau had other prominent sports-themed roles. In 1966, he appeared in The Fortune Cookie, playing a lawyer representing a man injured at a football game at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, and won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He also played Little League coach Morris Buttermaker in the 1976 classic The Bad News Bears.

In 1994, Matthau came to New Jersey, to play Albert Einstein in Einstein's adopted hometown of Princeton, to film I.Q. I was very skeptical about this casting, but, what can I say: It turned out to be genius. He died in 2000.

October 1, 1921: Ray Schalk, one of the players for the Chicago White Sox who had no role in the Scandal, does something no catcher had ever done before, nor has since: He makes a putout at every base at least once in a game. The White Sox beat the Cleveland Indians, 8-5 at Comiskey Park.

This victory, or rather this Indians loss, is significant, because it allows the Yankees to clinch their 1st Pennant, if they can beat the Philadelphia Athletics in either of the games of today's doubleheader, at the Polo Grounds in Upper Manhattan. They win the opener, 5-3, and, for the 1st time in their 19-season history, are American League Champions.

Hail the Champions, in their batting order: Elmer Miller, center field; Roger Peckinpaugh, shortstop; Babe Ruth, right field; Bob Meusel, left field; Wally Pipp, 1st base; Aaron Ward, 2nd base; Mike McNally, 3rd base; Wally Schang, catcher; and Carl Mays, pitcher.

A triple by Miller made the difference. The Yankees would also win the 2nd game, 7-6 in 11 innings. But they would lose their 1st appearance in the World Series to their Polo Grounds landlords, the New York Giants. They would also lose to the Giants in the 1922 Series. But in 1923, in their 1st Series in the original Yankee Stadium, they would beat the Giants.

October 1, 1924: Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis bans New York Giants outfielder Jimmy O'Connell from playing in the World Series, after O'Connell confesses that he tried to bribe Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Heinie Sand to "go easy" in the season-ending series between the teams.

O'Connell also implicates 3 future Hall-of-Famers on his own team: Frankie Frisch, George "Highpockets" Kelly and Ross Youngs. Landis finds no evidence against them, and they are cleared to play. O'Connell, just 23 and with only 2 years of major league play under his belt, never plays professional ball again, and dies in 1976.

Also on this day, James Earle Carter Jr. is born in Plains, Georgia. As Governor of his home State in 1974, he watched Henry Louis Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hit his 715th career home run, breaking Babe Ruth's record, and presented him with a personalized Georgia license plate: HLA 715.

In 1976, Carter was elected President. He didn't seem to like baseball, attending only 1 major league game during his Administration. It was a big one, though: Game 7 of the 1979 World Series in Baltimore, then the closest major league city to Washington. While Richard Nixon began the tradition of Presidents calling from the White House to congratulate winners of sports' World Championships, Carter remains the only one to do so in person, complimenting the Pittsburgh Pirates on their "Family."

After leaving the White House, and continuing the work that eventually earned him a Nobel Peace Prize, Carter rediscovered baseball, attending Braves games at Fulton County Stadium and now Turner Field, with his wife Rosalynn, as guests of then-owner Ted Turner and his then-wife Jane Fonda. Earlier this season, he and Rosalynn were shown on the ballpark's "kiss cam," and they obliged.

Despite a cancer diagnosis, he has been in good health for most of his life. At 91, he still has a chance to break the record for oldest former President, held by the man he defeated in 1976, Gerald Ford: 93 years, 165 days. He has already had the longest ex-Presidency ever, over 34 years.

On the same day, William Donald Rehnquist is born in Milwaukee. He later changed his middle name to Hubbs. In 1971, President Richard Nixon appointed him to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan promoted him to Chief Justice. One of the most conservative Justices in the Court's history, he was responsible for the decision in Bush v. Gore that made George W. Bush President. He died in 2005.


October 1, 1930: Richard St. John Harris is born in Limerick, Ireland. A renowned rugby player as a schoolboy, he had to quit when he contracted tuberculosis. He went into acting, and in 1963 played a rugby player in the film This Sporting Life.

He played King Arthur in the 1967 film version of the musical Camelot, and Albus Dumbledore in the 1st 2 films of the Harry Potter franchise, before dying in 2002. (Michael Gambon played the role thereafter.) But he may be best known for singing Jimmy Webb's magnum opus "MacArthur Park" -- in all 3 verses, incorrectly giving the name of the real-life park in downtown Los Angeles as "MacArthur's Park."

October 1, 1931: The George Washington Bridge opens, connecting Upper Manhattan with Fort Lee, New Jersey. It is a major entrance and exit in New York City for fans going to Yankee games. Many is the time that Yankee broadcaster Phil Rizzuto wanted to leave a game early, saying, "I gotta get over that bridge!"

Of course, these days, it's best known for the scandal that has apparently sunk the Presidential campaign of New Jersey's current Governor, Chris Christie, and may yet lead to a criminal investigation and an early end to his Governorship.

Also on this day, Fred Leo Kipp is born in Piqua, Kansas. A pitcher, he debuted with the Dodgers in their last season in Brooklyn, 1957, and was still with them in Los Angeles in their World Championship season of 1959, although he did not appear in the World Series and did not get a World Series ring. He was with the Yankees in 1960, but that was it. His career record was 6-7. He founded a successful construction company in the suburbs of Kansas City, and is still alive.

October 1, 1932: Did he or didn't he? Surely, Babe Ruth did not point to center field in Game 3 of the World Series against the Chicago Cubs and say, "I’m gonna hit the ball there." But a home movie discovered in 1992 certainly shows him pointing at pitcher Charlie Root. It looks like he’s sending some sort of message.  On the next pitch, boom.  Message received. So, by my definition, yeah, Babe Ruth "called his shot."

The last living player from either team was Charlie Devens, Yankee pitcher 1932-34, died August 13, 2003, at age 93. The last to have actually played in the game was Frank Crosetti, Yankee shortstop 1932-48, and coach 1949-68, died February 11, 2002, at age 91.

Also on this day, Joe DiMaggio makes his professional debut. Like Mickey Mantle, who would succeed him as the Yankees’ center fielder, it was as a shortstop. Also like Mantle, his time at shortstop doesn’t last long. A few weeks short of his 18th birthday, DiMag has been put into the lineup for the last game of the season for his hometown club, the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League. A year later, he will become the best pro ballplayer west of St. Louis. Maybe the best one east of it, too.

October 1, 1933: Babe Ruth pitches for the last time, in order to draw a big crowd in the finale of a season in which the Yankees did not win. It doesn’t work: Only 25,000 fans come out.

The Babe goes the distance against his former team, the Red Sox. He gives up 5 runs on 12 hits and 3 walks, with no strikeouts. But the Yankees win, 6-5. Ruth also hits his 34th home run of the season, the 686th of his career, and retires with a career record of 94-46.

October 1, 1935, 80 years ago: Julia Elizabeth Wells is born in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England. We know her as Julie Andrews. What does she have to do with sports? Not much: Even her flying as Mary Poppins was done with special effects rather than athleticism.


October 1, 1940, 75 years ago: The 1st section of America's 1st true superhighway, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, opens between Irwin and Carlisle. It was extended to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in 1950, to the New Jersey and Ohio Turnpikes in 1954, and the Northeast Extension to Scranton in 1957.

Today, it runs 360 miles, using what is now Interstates 276, 76 and 70. It costs $39.90 to drive its entire length using cash, $28.60 using E-Z Pass. Since the 1950s, it has been used by travelers to get to the games of the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh sports teams, although the main Penn State campus is considerably north of it.

October 1, 1941: Game 1 of the World Series. Brooklyn Dodger manager Leo Durocher surprises everyone by starting Curt Davis, and later admits he messed up the Dodgers' rotation for the Series, one of the few times Leo the Lip admits a mistake, rather than blaming someone else.

In hindsight, while the rotation was all out of whack, Davis pitched fairly well. But a home run by Joe Gordon and the pitching of Red Ruffing gave the Yankees a 3-2 win.

October 1, 1942: Game 2 of the World Series. The Yankees score 3 runs in the top of the 8th to tie the game, but the St. Louis Cardinals score in the bottom of the 8th to win, 4-3, and tie up the Series.

October 1, 1944: The St. Louis Browns clinch the American League Pennant. It is their 1st. They are the last of Major League Baseball's "Original 16" teams (a term not used back then) to do so. They will not win another until 1966, by which point they are the Baltimore Orioles.

There will not be another team winning their 1st Pennant until September 23, 1957, when the Milwaukee Braves do it -- or, if you don't count moved teams, until October 6, 1969, when the Mets pull off their "Miracle."

All the 1944 Browns are dead now. The last survivor was 2nd baseman Don Gutteridge -- who, ironically, started his career with the Cardinals. He lived until 2008, age 96.

October 1, 1945, 70 years ago: The U.S. War Production Board ends its wartime ban of the manufacture of radio and television equipment for consumer use. This puts America back on course to begin the TV Era, which will turn out to be incredibly important for many things, including the development of sports.

Also on this day, a baby is born on a train in Gatun, Panama Canal Zone. The doctor attending the new mother was named Rodney Cline. In gratitude, she named her son for him: Rodney Cline Carew.

Rod Carew grew up in Panama, but at age 14 moved to Washington Heights, Manhattan with his family, and attended George Washington High School. He served 6 years as a combat engineer in the U.S. Marine Corps, while playing Major League Baseball, although he was never called to serve in the Vietnam War.

In 1967, the Minnesota Twins 2nd baseman was named AL Rookie of the Year. In 1977, having moved to 1st base, he flirted with a .400 batting average for most of the season, finishing with a .388 average, a Gold Glove, 14 homers (tying a career peak), his only 100-RBI season, and the AL Most Valuable Player award.

An 18-time All-Star and a 7-time batting champion, he demanded a trade from the Twins' racist, cheapskate owner Calvin Griffith. A rumor got around that he would be traded to the Yankees in exchange for their own 1st baseman, Chris Chambliss, plus washed-up outfielder Juan Beniquez, and prospects Damaso Garcia (2nd base) and Dave Righetti (pitcher). Instead, he was sent to the California Angels. After winning the AL Western Division title with the Twins in 1969 and '70, he won 2 more with the Angels in 1979 and '82, but never won a Pennant. In 1985, he joined the 3,000 Hit Club, and retired.

The Twins (following a change in management) and the Angels have both retired his Number 29. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his 1st year of eligibility. In 1999, The Sporting News listed him at Number 61 on their list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players.

Although his 1st wife was Jewish, and they raised 3 children as Jewish, Rod himself, contrary to popular belief (including Adam Sandler's "Hannukah Song"), has never converted.

On the same day that Carew was born, so was Vladimir Peter Sabich Jr., in Sacramento. A competitive skier, "Spider" was shot and killed -- accidentally, she said -- by his live-in girlfriend, French singer Claudine Longet, in Aspen, Colorado. He was just 31.

October 1, 1946: For the 1st time in major league history, a playoff series to determine a League's Pennant is played, between the St. Louis Cardinals and Brooklyn Dodgers. The Cardinals took the 1st game, 4-2, at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, as Howie Pollet holds the Dodgers to 2 hits, a homer and an RBI-single by Howie Schultz.

October 1, 1947: Game 2 of the World Series. The Yankees score 4 runs in the 7th inning, thanks in part to typical wildness from Rex Barney (2 walks and 2 wild pitches), and beat the Dodgers 10-3. Tommy Henrich added a home run. The Yankees lead the Series 2 games to 0.

Also on this day, Lee William Capra is born in Chicago. "Buzz" debuted as a pitcher with the Mets in 1971, and was a member of their 1973 Pennant winners. In typical dumb Met fashion, they then sold him, 5-10 thus far in his career, to the Braves, where he went 16-8 in 1974, leading the NL with a 2.28 ERA and making the All-Star Team.

Alas, he went just 10-19 over the rest of his career, finishing 31-37 in 1977, pitching his last game just before his 30th birthday. Later serving as a pitching coach with both teams and the Philadelphia Phillies, he now runs an instructional school in the Chicago suburbs.

October 1, 1949: Joe DiMaggio Day is held at Yankee Stadium. The Yankee Clipper wasn't retiring, but he'd had an inspirational season, and, with Joe's family in the stands because the Red Sox were in town, including Joe's brother, Boston center fielder Dominic, they chose this day to honor him. "I'd like to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee," Joe says.

The Yankees need to win this game to make the next day, the last game of the season, the title decider. The Red Sox take a 4-0 lead, but the Yankees come back, and Johnny Lindell hits a home run in the 8th inning, to give the Yankees the 5-4 win.


October 1, 1950: Dick Sisler hits a home run in the top of the 10th inning at Ebbets Field, and the Phillies beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 4-1, to clinch the National League Pennant. It is the only Pennant the Phils would win in a 65-year stretch from 1915 to 1980. This is also the last major league game as a manager for Burt Shotton, who'd managed the Dodgers to Pennants in 1947 and 1949, and eased the path of Jackie Robinson. 

Still alive from this game, 65 years later: For the Phillies, only backup infielder Ralph "Putsy" Caballero; for the Dodgers, Don Newcombe (who gave up Sisler’s homer) and Tommy "Buckshot" Brown.

Also today, the Philadelphia Athletics complete a massively disappointing 102-loss season by beating the Washington Senators, 5-3 at Shibe Park. It is the last game for A's manager Connie Mack: Approaching his 88th birthday, his sons Earle, Roy and Connie Jr., agreeing on little else, agree to gang up on him and force him to finally retire as manager — something he, as also the owner, did not want to do. Before the A’s move to Kansas City, the Phillies, new owners of the ballpark, will rename it Connie Mack Stadium, and will erect a statue of him outside.

Shotton and Mack were the last managers to wear street clothes during a game. Although no rule specifically mandates that a skipper must wear a uniform, there is now a rule that states that, aside from medical and security personnel, no one is allowed on the field of play during a game unless they are wearing some form of baseball uniform.

October 1, 1951: Game 1 of the National League Playoff at Ebbets Field. Jim Hearn outpitches Ralph Branca, who gives up a home run to Bobby Thomson in the 4th inning, a foreshadowing. Monte Irvin also homers for the Giants, who win, 3-1.

October 1, 1952: Game 1 of the World Series. Joe Black, a "rookie" at age 28 (the Plainfield, New Jersey native had already helped the Baltimore Elite Giants win 2 Negro League Pennants), becomes the 1st black pitcher to win a World Series game, backed by home runs from Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider and Pee Wee Reese. The Dodgers beat the Yankees, 4-2.

The Yankees and Dodgers played each other in 7 "Subway Series." Only in 1952 and 1956 did the Dodgers win Game 1. And yet, the Yankees still won both of those Series.

October 1, 1953: Game 2 of the World Series. Mickey Mantle hitting a home run, especially in a World Series game, is not a surprise. Billy Martin doing it is one. Both do it, powering the Yankees to a 4-2 victory over the Dodgers, as Eddie Lopat outpitches Preacher Roe. The Yankees now lead the Series 2 games to 0.

Also on this day, Peter Frank Falcone is born in Brooklyn. His alma mater, Lafayette High School, has produced more major league players than any other high school, including Hall-of-Famer Sandy Koufax. It also produced Joe Pignatano, the last Dodger to bat at Ebbets Field, the man whose triple-play groundout ended the Mets' atrocious 1st season in 1962, a longtime Met coach, and Falcone's cousin.

Falcone was a lefthanded pitcher who pitched for one of the New York City teams, but he was no Koufax. Debuting with the San Francisco Giants in 1975, he pitched for the Mets from 1979 to 1982, and, saying he was "just tired of baseball... tired of the lifestyle," retired as a Brave in 1984. He was 70-90 for his career, including 26-37 for the Mets.

It was hardly all his fault, as the Mets were dreadful then. This was the years when M. Donald Grant's demolition of the team that had won Pennants in 1969 and 1973 led to attendances so small, Shea Stadium was known as Grant's Tomb. But Falcone didn't help himself much, despite a 1980 game where he tied a major league record by striking out the 1st 6 batters he faced

There was a game, I can't remember what year it was, but my father and I were watching the Mets on WOR-Channel 9, and Falcone walked home 2 runs with the bases loaded. With every pitch Falcone threw that missed the plate, my father laughed harder. Ever since, walking home a run has been known in my family as "pulling a Falcone."

Also on this day, Grete Andersen is born in Oslo, Norway. As Grete Waitz, no person, male or female, has won the New York City Marathon more times: 9. She died of cancer in 2011, just 57 years old.

October 1, 1955, 60 years ago: Game 4 of the World Series at Ebbets Field. Gil McDougald hits a home run for the Yankees, but Roy Campanella, Duke Snider, and, making up for previous Series slumps, Gil Hodges knock 'em out for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Clem Labine pitches just well enough to win, and Dem Bums tie up the Series, 8-5.

Also on this day, a new show premieres on CBS. Well, sort of: The Honeymooners had been a sketch on The Jackie Gleason Show, but now it becomes a standalone half-hour situation comedy, perhaps the greatest in history.

The 1st episode, appropriately enough, discusses television itself: It is titled "TV Or Not TV," and shows what happens when Brooklyn bus driver Ralph Kramden (Gleason) and sewer worker, upstairs neighbor and best friend Ed Norton (Art Carney) go halfsies on a television set. Ralph's wife, Alice Kramden (Audrey Meadows), doesn't think it will work, but she wants a TV set. Interestingly, unless you count Alice's groan over a tricky sink, Ed's wife, Thelma "Trixie" Norton (Joyce Randolph) has the first line in the show's history: "Hiya, Alice!"

There will be the occasional sports reference on the show. In "The Golfer," Ralph tries to learn how to play golf to impress a bus company official. In "Here Comes the Bride," Ralph notes that Alice's sister, finally getting married, has been a bridesmaid so often, she caught her own bouquet. Alice said her foot slipped, and Ralph says, "If my food could slip like that, I'd be playing center field for the New York Giants!" In "Young At Heart," Ralph wears a varsity football letter sweater. The letter is V, although the name of his school is never revealed. And in the last episode, "A Man's Pride," Ralph runs into a high school nemesis at a fight at the old Madison Square Garden.

Also on this day, Jeffrey James Reardon is born in the Boston suburb of Dalton, Massachusetts. He debuted with the Mets in 1979. In a typical dumb Mets deal, in 1981 they traded him to the Montreal Expos for Ellis Valentine, a former All-Star who had been plagued by injuries, and did little for the Mets.

Reardon became the all-time saves leader for a while, with 367. He was a 4-time All-Star, reached the NL Championship Series with the Expos in 1981, won the World Series with the Twins in 1987, reached the AL Championship Series with his hometown Red Sox in 1990, and won a Pennant with the Braves in 1992. With his fearsome look and fastball, he became known as The Terminator. He closed his career with the Yankees in 1994.

Since his retirement, Reardon has struggled with injuries, prescription drug addiction, and the resulting mental illness. He also had a son who struggled with drugs, and died at age 20.

October 1, 1958: Game 1 of the World Series. Casey Stengel makes a big mistake, and lets reliever Ryne Duren bat for himself in the top of the 10th inning. He made contact, but grounded back to Warren Spahn, still pitching in this game despite being 37 years old.

A rare miscue by Yogi Berra evokes memories of Mickey Owen 17 years earlier: He drops a 3rd strike on Hank Aaron, but throws him out at 1st. Maybe that rattles Duren, because he allows a single to Joe Adcock. He gets Wes Covington out, but allows a single to Del Crandall and another to Bill Bruton, bringing Adcock home to win the game, 4-3.

October 1, 1961: Roger Maris makes it 61 in ’61.  He hits the record-breaking home run off Tracy Stallard. It is the only run of the game, as the Yankees beat the Red Sox, 1-0.

Still alive from this game, 54 years later: For the Yankees, Bobby Richardson, Tony Kubek, Hector Lopez, Jack Reed and Luis Arroyo. Whitey Ford and and Ralph Terry are still alive, but did not play in this game. For the Red Sox: Stallard, Chuck Schilling (no relation to Curt), Frank Malzone (a Bronx native), Don Gile, Russ Nixon, and rookie left fielder Carl Yastrzemski.

Also on this day, after providing a venue for the Pacific Coast League’s Los Angeles Angels from 1925 through 1957 and the major league expansion team with the same name this season, the West Coast version of Wrigley Field hosts its last professional baseball game. The Halos are defeated by the Tribe 8-5 in front of 9,868 fans. Wrigley West will be torn down in 5 years, to make room for an eventual public playground and senior center.

Also on this day, District of Columbia Stadium opens in Washington, D.C. The Washington Redskins lose to the New York Giants, 24-21.

D.C. Stadium will become home of the Washington Senators the following April, and host the 1962 and 1969 Major League Baseball All-Star Games. President John F. Kennedy will throw out the ceremonial first ball at both Opening Day and the All-Star Game in 1962. In 1969, the stadium will be renamed for his brother and Attorney General: Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium.

The Senators left after the 1971 season, and baseball did not return until 2005. The Nationals arrived, and remained through the 2007 season, then moved into Nationals Park. The Redskins played there until 1996, building the NFL's most intimidating home-field advantage, reaching 4 Super Bowls, winning 3.

After hosting the Washington Wolves and the Washington Diplomats of the old North American Soccer League, in 1996 RFK Stadium became the home of D.C. United, a charter team in Major League Soccer. It will continue to be DCU's home through the 2017 season, after which a new stadium will open. RFK Stadium will likely be demolished shortly thereafter. The 1st of the multi-purpose oval stadiums built in America in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, it is one of the last to still be standing. (The Oakland Coliseum is the only other one left.)

October 1, 1962: Game 1 of the National League Playoff, 11 years after the Giants and Dodgers did it in New York. Now, they do it in California, and Billy Pierce pitches a 3-hit shutout. He hardly needs to, as 2 homers by Willie Mays, and 1 each by Orlando Cepeda and Jim Davenport, give the Giants an 8-0 win at Candlestick Park.

October 1, 1963: Mark David McGwire is born in the Los Angeles suburb of Pomona, California, and grows up in nearby La Verne. You know the story: 1987 AL Rookie of the Year, 12-time All-Star, 3 Pennants and the 1989 World Championship with the Oakland Athletics, 1990 Gold Glove winner, 70 home runs with the Cardinals in 1998, 583 home runs for his career, voted onto the MLB All-Century Team in 1999, named Number 91 on The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Baseball Players the same year.

And then, March 17, 2005: The St. Patrick's Day Massacre. Despite his protestations before Congress, we were there to talk about the past. In 2010, Big Mac finally admitted what most of us had suspected since 1998, but many of us didn't want to admit: He cheated. Although he has been welcomed back into baseball, as hitting instructor first for the Cardinals and then for the Dodgers, he has never been elected to the Hall of Fame, and the section of Interstate 70 outside St. Louis that had been named the Mark McGwire Highway has been renamed the Mark Twain Highway. (What Twain would have thought of McGwire, who knows, but he was a baseball fan.)

October 1, 1964: The Red Sox beat the Indians, 4-2, in front of only 306 fans, the smallest in Fenway Park history.

October 1, 1966: George Tawlon Manneh Oppong Ousman Weah is born in Monrovia, Liberia. Easily the greatest soccer player ever to come from his country, he is 2nd only to the Mozambique-born Portugal star Eusebio as the greatest ever to come from the African continent.

Like many African players,George Weah headed to France to begin his European career. He won the Coupe de France with AS Monaco, managed by future Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, in 1991. With Paris Saint-Germain, he won Ligue 1 in 1994 and the Coupe in 1993 and '95. Moving on to Italy, he won their Serie A with AC Milan in 1996 and 1999. He finally played in England with West London club Chelsea, and at age 33 (old for a forward) helped them with the FA Cup.

In 1995, he won the FIFA Ballon d'Or (Golden Ball) as world player of the year. He is now a member of the Liberian Senate.

October 1, 1967: A much happier day at Fenway than the one on this date 3 years earlier. Carl Yastrzemski gets 4 hits, including a game-tying single in the bottom of the 6th, and cements the Triple Crown — a feat that will not be achieved for another 45 years. Jim Lonborg pitches a complete game, and the Red Sox beat the Twins, 5-3, to eliminate the Twins from the AL race on the final day of a season with a rare 4-team race. The White Sox had been eliminated 2 days earlier.

But the Pennant is not yet clinched. If the Detroit Tigers can sweep a doubleheader with the California Angels, they would forge a tie with the Red Sox-Twins winner, and force a 1-game Playoff the next day.

In those pre-Internet days, CBS managed to link up their Detroit station, WWJ, and their Boston station, WHDH (850, once again the Sox station but with call letters WEEI), so that people in the Boston area could listen the the nightcap in Detroit. The Angels won, and the Sox had their 1st Pennant in 21 years, only their 2nd in 49 years — a Pennant whose theme song was the Broadway hit “The Impossible Dream.”

Still alive from this game, 48 years later: From the Sox: Yaz, Lonborg, 2nd baseman Mike Andrews, shortstop Rico Petrocelli, 3rd baseman Dalton Jones, center fielder Reggie Smith, right fielder Ken Harrelson, right fielder Jose Tartabull (Danny's father pinch-ran for the Hawk and took his place in the field), and pinch-hitter Norm Siebern (a former Yankee); from the Twins, the aforementioned Rod Carew at 2nd base, right fielder Tony Oliva, replacement shortstop Jackie Hernandez, replacement left fielder and usual starting 3rd baseman Rich Rollins, replacement catcher Russ Nixon (who played for Boston in the Maris 61 game), pinch-hitter Frank Kostro (usually an infielder), and pitchers Dean Chance, Al Worthington and Jim "Mudcat" Grant.

For the Sox, 1st baseman George Scott, 2nd baseman Jerry Adair (whom Andrews replaced late in the game), and catchers Russ Gibson and Elston Howard (the Yankee Legend, playing out the string, took over late in the game for Gibson) have died. So has Tony Conigliaro, the slugging local-boy right fielder who, of course, missed the last quarter of the season after being beaned. For the Twins, Hall of Fame 1st baseman Harmon Killebrew, starting shortstop Zoilo Versalles, 3rd baseman Cesar Tovar, starting left fielder Bob Allison, center fielder Ted Uhlaender, starting catcher Jerry Zimmerman and relief pitcher Jim Roland have died.

Also on this day, Michael A. Pringle is born in Los Angeles. He might be the greatest football player you've never heard of. I know what you're thinking, but, no, when I say "football," I mean the gridiron game, not soccer.

Mike Pringle was a running back at Washington State, but washed out, and transferred to Cal State-Fullerton. He was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in 1990, but they were scared by his 5-foot-9, 200-pound size, and he was never sent on to play so much as a down for them. This was a year before the Falcons drafted Brett Favre, and didn't know what to do with him, either. The Falcons were good on the field at the time; in the boardroom, not so much.

Pringle was signed by the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League, and later moved to the CFL's Baltimore Stallions (the league experimented with U.S. teams for a brief time), who became the new Montreal Alouettes in 1996 (the old Als had folded in 1986). He was named a 7-time CFL All-Star, the CFL Most Outstanding Player in 1995 and 1998 (in the latter year becoming the 1st man to rush for 2,000 yards in a CFL season, still a unique achievement), and won the Grey Cup (Canada's Super Bowl) with the Stals/Als 3 times, in 1995, 2002 and 2003.

The Denver Broncos took notice of him in 1996, and invited him to their training camp, but cut him. So he went back to the Als, and kept on running and kept on winning. He rushed for 16,425 yards, and 137 touchdowns. He's in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, and the Alouettes have retired his Number 27. In 2006, TSN, the Canadian version of ESPN, voted him the Number 4 CFL player of the last 50 years.

Also on this day, Scott Allen Young is born in Clinton, Massachusetts. The right wing won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and the Colorado Avalanche in 1996. The Boston University graduate has returned to the Boston area as the coach of a team at a Catholic high school.


October 1, 1970: Twenty years to the day after the greatest day in Phillies history thus far (and it would remain such for another 10 years), perhaps the darkest day in Phillies history takes place — and this was in a win.

The Phils play the final game at Connie Mack Stadium, formerly Shibe Park, and the irony of playing the Montreal Expos, a team that only began in 1969, at a stadium the opened in 1909 is felt. The game goes to 10 innings, and Oscar Gamble singles home Tim McCarver with the winning run, as the Phils win, 2-1. Before McCarver can cross the plate, fans are already storming the field, and they tear the stadium apart.

The next year, Veterans Stadium opened, and a fire gutted what remained of the old park. In 1976, knowing that the place was a danger to area residents, Mayor Frank Rizzo gave the order: "Tear the fucking thing down!"

When I first visited the site in 1987, it was an empty lot, and the only evidence that baseball had been played there for 62 seasons was a strip mall across 21st Street with a store called The Phillies Pharmacy. In 1991, a church was built on the site. A historical marker now stands on Lehigh Avenue, telling of the glory days of the A's and the Phils.

Also on this day, Alexei Yuryevich Zhamnov is born in Moscow. The center won an Olympic Gold Medal with the no-longer-Soviet, not-yet-Russian "Unified Team" at the 1992 Winter Olympics. He starred for the hockey team of the legendary sports club Dynamo Moscow (originally sponsored by the KGB), and played for the Winnipeg Jets in their last 4 seasons, 1992 to 1996.

He played 8 years with the Chicago Blackhawks, and 1 each with the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins, plus the 2004-05 lockout season back in Russia, before retiring in 2006. He is now the general manager of a team in the Russian league.

October 1, 1973: Only 1,913 fans come out to Wrigley Field, under threat of rain with the Cubs far out of the race, to see a doubleheader that had to be made up due to an earlier rainout. The Mets beat the Cubs in the opener, 6-4, and win the National League East, their 2nd 1st-place finish.

The Division Title that no one seemed to want to win has been won with an 82-79 record — still the worst 1st place finish ever in a season of at least 115 games. When the rain comes after the opener, the umpires call off the now completely meaningless 2nd game.

The Mets were 52-63 on August 14, but won 30 out of 44 down the stretch, including 18 of their last 22.

Back in New York, the day after the last game at the pre-renovation original Yankee Stadium -- an 8-5 loss to the Detroit Tigers, with Yankee manager Ralph Houk resigning -- the renovation of The Stadium begins, with Mayor John Lindsay, who had brokered the deal to get it done and keep the Yankees in The City, gets into a bulldozer, and ceremonially scoops out a piece of right field.

Claire Ruth was given home plate. Eleanor Gehrig was given 1st base. Some time later, Joe DiMaggio, in town to film commercials for the Bowery Savings Bank, would pose for a few pictures amid the renovation work. They should have given him a small section of center field sod. Mickey Mantle? The whirpool, since his injuries caused him to spend so much time in it.

October 1, 1974: Needing to win both of their last 2 games of the regular season against the Milwaukee Brewers, and for the Orioles to lose at least 1 of their last 2 games against the Tigers -- or to split their own and hope the O's lost both -- the Yankees go into County Stadium without their marquee player, Bobby Murcer, who had injured his hand breaking up a fight between Rick Dempsey and Bill Sudakis.

Despite a strong pitching performance by George "Doc" Medich, and 2 hits each by Roy White, Thurman Munson, Chris Chambliss and Sandy Alomar Sr., it was not to be. Medich, still pitching in the bottom of the 10th, allows a leadoff double to Jack Lind. John Vuckovich sacrifices him over to 3rd. Don Money is walked intentionally to set up the double play, and then Medich unintentionally walks Sixto Lezcano. George "Boomer" Scott, in between tours of duty with the Red Sox, singles Lind home, and the Brewers win, 3-2.

The Orioles beat the Tigers 7-6 in Detroit, and wrap up the AL East title with a game to spare. This was the 1st time the Yankees had gotten close to the postseason in 10 years, but it was not to be.

On this same day, at the Astrodome, Mike Marshall establishes the major league mark for the most appearances by a pitcher when he throws two innings in the Dodgers’ 8-5 victory over Houston.
With his 106 appearances, the right-handed reliever appears in 65 percent of the games that his team played this season. He goes 15-12, with a 2.42 ERA and 21 saves (actually 10 less than he had the year before), and becomes the 1st reliever in either League to receive the Cy Young Award.

In 1979, pitching for the Twins, Marshall would appear in 90 games, giving him the record for most games pitched in a season in each League.

October 1, 1975, 40 years ago: Larry MacPhail dies in Miami. How he drank so much and lived to be 85, I don't know. As general manager of the Cincinnati Reds, he brought permanent lights to baseball in 1935. As GM of the Dodgers, he brought lights and radio to New York baseball. As GM and part-owner of the Yankees, he brought lights to Yankee Stadium.

He won a Pennant with the Dodgers in 1941, setting them up for their 1947-56 glory days. And he won the World Series with the Yankees in 1947. But at the postgame victory celebration, already roaring drunk, he berates his partners, Dan Topping and Del Webb, humiliating them, and himself, in public. They buy him out the next day, and he never works in baseball again, although his son Lee will one day join him in the Hall of Fame, Cooperstown's only father-son pair.

October 1, 1977: Pelé, the greatest soccer player who ever lives, plays his last game at a sold-out Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. It is his testimonial, and he plays the 1st half for the New York Cosmos, with whom he recently won the North American Soccer League Championship, and scores a goal; and the 2nd half for Santos, for whom he starred so long in Brazil. The Cosmos win, 2-1.

When it's over, he stands at midfield with a microphone, and asks the crowd, "Please, say with me, three times: Love! Love! Love!" They do.

President Jimmy Carter attended. So did Muhammad Ali, the Heavyweight Champion of the World, who frequently called himself "the Greatest of All Time." This time, he says, "Now, I understand: He is greater than me."

October 1, 1978: A Yankee win or a Red Sox loss would give the Yankees the AL East title for the 3rd straight season. But the Yankees get beat 9-2 at home by the Cleveland Indians. The winning pitcher is Rick Waits, feeding into a myth that grew out of the fits the Kansas City Royals gave the Yankees in the 1976 and '77 ALCS: "The Yankees can't beat lefthanded pitchers."

At Fenway, the auxiliary scoreboard over the center-field bleacher triangle shows the score, and adds, "THANK YOU RICK WAITS." The Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-0 on a Luis Tiant shutout, and, as Red Sox broadcaster Dick Stockton says, "We go to tomorrow! We got to tomorrow!"

It didn't seem possible in June, July and August that the Yankees would still be eligible to play a 163rd game. It didn't seem possible for the last 3 weeks that the Red Sox would still be. Now, after the Sox blew a 14-game gap over the Yankees on July 20, and the Yankees blew a 3 1/2-game gap over the Sox on September 16, they will play a 163rd game against each other at Fenway.

Also on this day, pitching for the San Diego Padres, Gaylord Perry strikes out Joe Simpson of the Dodgers for his 3,000th career strikeout. He is the 3rd pitcher to reach the milestone, following Walter Johnson and Bob Gibson. He wins the NL Cy Young Award. Having won it with the Indians in 1972, he becomes the 1st pitcher to win it in each League.

October 1, 1979: Coca-Cola first airs a commercial with Joe Greene, the All-Pro defensive tackle for the Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. Some people say the commercial revealed Greene as a nice guy, thus ruining his image as "Mean Joe Greene." The Steelers went on to win a 4th Super Bowl in 6 years anyway.

The boy's name was Tommy Okon. Today, he is 45 years old, lives in Yonkers, New York, and runs a landscaping business.

Other countries borrowed the idea, usually with soccer players: Argentina with Diego Maradona, Brazil with Zico, France with Michel Platini, Italy with Dino Zoff, and Germany with Harald Schumacher. Oddly, when Britain did it with David Beckham, it was for Coke's great rival, Pepsi. This is equivalent to Beckham's team, Manchester United, singing Liverpool's anthem, "You'll Never Walk Alone." But I prefer Pepsi to Coke, so maybe it isn't like that.


October 1, 1981: David Johnny Oduya is born in Stockholm, Sweden, the son of a Swedish mother and a Kenyan father. Black people in Sweden are rare, and this was also true of the NHL when the defenseman arrived with the New Jersey Devils in 2006.

Johnny gave the Devils 3 solid seasons, including the move from the Meadowlands in East Rutherford to the Prudential Center in Newark in 2007. I still don't know whether I liked him, or simply liked saying his name, because it sounds like, "Oh, do ya?"

He was with the Atlanta Thrashers when they moved to become the new Winnipeg Jets in 2011, before moving on to the Chicago Blackhawks, with whom he won the 2013 and '15 Stanley Cups. He now plays for the Dallas Stars.

Also on this day, Júlio César Clemente Baptista is born in São Paulo, Brazil. "The Beast" starred for hometown club São Paulo F.C., before starring in Spain with Sevilla and Real Madrid.

In the 2006-07 season, Real loaned him to English club Arsenal. In the quarterfinal of the League Cup, he scored 4 goals against Liverpool. In the 1st leg of the semifinal against Tottenham, he tried to head away a corner, but ended up scoring an own goal to make it 2-0 to "Spurs." He made up for it by scoring 2 proper goals and leveling the tie. Arsenal won the home leg, but lost the Final to Chelsea. He only scored 3 goals for the Gunners in League play, and missed 3 penalties.

Arsenal were happy to not ask Real Madrid for another loan, but he rewarded Real's faith by helping them win La Liga in 2008. He has since returned to Brazil, winning the Campeonato Brasileiro with Belo Horizonte club Cruzeiro in 2013 and '14. He also helped his country win the Copa America (continental championship) in 2004 and '07, and the Confederations Cup (the warmup for the World Cup, always held in the preceding year in the host country) in 2005 and '09.

October 1, 1983: Mirko Vučinić is born in Nikšić, Montenegro. The forward is easily the greatest player ever to come from that small country, previously a part of the Holy Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Austrian Empire, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and Serbia and Montenegro.

He left his homeland to play in neighboring Italy, first for Lecce. With capital club AS Roma, he won the Coppa Italia in 2007 and '08. He helped Turin giants Juventus win the League in 2012, '13 and '14. He now plays for Al Jazira Club in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. 

October 1, 1984: Bowie Kuhn, the biggest knucklehead ever to be Commissioner of Baseball, officially hands the job over to Peter Ueberroth, famed for his production of the recent Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Kuhn may have been a lawyer, but he sure didn't seem smart enough to get into law school. In contrast, while I didn't always agree with Ueberroth, he was far more sensible. One of the 1st big things he does is reinstate Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, whom Kuhn had suspended from official activities indefinitely because they were working for casinos in Atlantic City -- even though they were specifically kept off the gambling floors by management.

Also on this day, Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston dies from heart trouble in Oxford, Ohio. He was 72. He had managed the Dodgers to 7 Pennants and 3 World Championships, including their only Brooklyn title in 1955. The Dodgers retired his Number 24.

Also on this day, Matthew Thomas Cain is born in Dothan, Alabama. A 3-time All-Star, he's won 3 World Series with the Giants, and pitched a perfect game against the Astros on June 13, 2012, the 1st one ever pitched in the long, bicoastal history of the Giant franchise.

October 1, 1985, 30 years ago: The Mets arrive in St. Louis, and essentially need to sweep the Cardinals in 3 straight at Busch Memorial Stadium to win the NL East. They get off to a good start, as a dual shutout by Ron Darling and John Tudor is won in the 11th inning by a home run by Darryl Strawberry off Ken Dayley. Jesse Orosco is the winning pitcher.


October 1, 1995, 20 years ago: The expansion Jacksonville Jaguars win for the 1st time. After starting their 1st NFL season 0-5, they beat the Houston Oilers, 17-16 at the Astrodome.

Ironically, Jacksonville almost got the Oilers: Unhappy with the Astrodome lease, team founder-owner Bud Adams threatened in 1987 to move them to the Gator Bowl. Instead, he got some of the stadium improvements he wanted, and J-ville renovated the Bowl to become what's now named Everbank Field, and in 1993 were granted the expansion franchise. But after the 1996 season, Adams moved the Oilers anyway, and they became the Tennessee Titans.

Also on this day, Lauren Hill is born in Greendale, Indiana. Not to be confused with Fugees singer Lauryn Hill, Lauren was a high school basketball star, who moved on to Cincinnati's Mount St. Joseph University, when she was stricken with cancer.

It became clear that she would not have the strength to play once her treatment began, so their season opener was moved up. The attention the story got led to the game being moved from Mount St. Joseph's 2,000-seat gym to the 10,250-seat Cintas Center, home court of Cincinnati's much larger Xavier University.

She played in 4 games and made 5 layups, raised $1.5 million for cancer research, and received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from her school, before dying this past April 10. Her funeral was private, but a public memorial service was held at the Cintas Center. She was posthumously inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

October 1, 1997: The Carolina Hurricanes, who had been the New England/Hartford Whalers from 1972 to 1997, play their 1st game. They visit the Tampa Bay Lightning, and lose 4-2.

They will play their home games at the Greensboro Coliseum for 2 years, before their arena can open in Raleigh. It is now known as the PNC Arena.

October 1, 2000: Arsenal beat Manchester United 1-0 at home at Highbury in North London. Thierry Henry scores one of the most amazing goals you will ever see. And he does it against United's goalie Fabien Barthez, his teammate on the France squad that won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.

October 1, 2004: Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners grounds a single up the middle, and collects his 258th hit of the season.  The record had belonged to George Sisler of the St. Louis Browns since 1920 — 84 years.

If there was anyone left who still doubted whether Ichiro was a bona fide Hall-of-Famer in the making (and I was a doubter), they now believe it.

October 1, 2006: After leading the AL Central by 10 games on August 7, the Detroit Tigers lose 31 of their last 50, including their last 5 in a row, the last being the blowing of a 6-0 lead over a terrible Kansas City Royals team to lose 10-8 in 12 innings. The Tigers thus blow the Division Title to the Twins, one of the great choke jobs of recent times.

They do get the Wild Card, however, and shock the Yankees in the Division Series, while the Twins get surprised by the A’s, and then the Tigers sweep the A’s to win the Pennant anyway. Never has a team looked so bad down the stretch and still managed to reach the World Series — not even the 1949 or 2000 Yankees.

The 2006 season is also the first one ever, except for the strike-shortened seasons of 1981, ’94 and ’95, in which there were no 20-game-winning pitchers in either League. Chien-Ming Wang of the Yankees and Johan Santana of the Twins each win 19, while no National League hurler wins more than 16 — 6 of them win that many.

The Twins have another honor (that does them little good after their ALDS loss), as Twin Cities native Joe Mauer becomes the 1st catcher to win an AL batting title, and the 1st catcher to lead both leagues in batting average, with .347, ahead of NL batting champion Freddie Sanchez of the Pittsburgh Pirates with .344.

October 1, 2007: Needing a Playoff for the Playoffs, the Colorado Rockies beat the San Diego Padres in the bottom of the 13th inning, 9-8. Jamey Carroll hits a sacrifice fly, and Matt Holliday scores on a disputed play at the plate.

The Padres have not reached the Playoffs since, and this play burns their fans up. The Rockies closed the regular season (and this game counts as such, as it’s officially not a postseason game) winning 14 of their last 15.

October 1, 2013: The Pittsburgh Pirates defeat their traditional rivals, the Cincinnati Reds, 6-2 in the NL Wild Card game at PNC Park. Ex-Yankee Russell Martin hits 2 home runs, Marlon Byrd adds 1, and Francisco Liriano gets the win.

October 1, 2014: The Pirates go for 3 straight wins in NL Wild Card games, but come up short, losing at home to the Giants, 8-0. Brandon Crawford becomes the 1st shortstop ever to hit a grand slam in a postseason game, and Madison Bumgarner pitches a 4-hit shutout, presaging his postseason pitching heroics to come.

October 1, 2015: The Yankees defeat the Boston Red Sox, 4-1 at Yankee Stadium II, thanks to home runs by veteran Carlos Beltran and rookies Greg Bird and Rob Refsnyder, and the fine pitching of CC Sabathia, Adam Warren and Dellin Betances.

The Yankees, who led the AL East by 7 games on July 28, thus finally, with 3 games to spare, clinch a berth in the AL Wild Card play-in game. It is the 52nd time in franchise history, going back to 1903, that they have reached the postseason. It is also the 10,000th win in franchise history. And the cherry on the sundae is that it comes against the Auld Enemy, a.k.a. The Scum.

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