"Baseball has been very good to me," he said on Mickey Mantle Day, June 8, 1969, with his Number 7 being retired and a Plaque in his honor dedicated, "and playing 18 years in Yankee Stadium for you folks is the greatest thing that could ever happen to a ballplayer."
Those 18 years in a Yankee uniform would stand as a club record until 2013, when both Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera suited up for a 19th season. Mariano would retire after that, but Derek would play for a 20th season. Derek would also break Mantle's club record for games played, 2,401, extending it to 2,747.
October 20, 2004: The Red Sox ruin the anniversary of Mickey's birth. Unlike the 2003-13 Red Sox, Mickey didn't need no steroids to win baseball games. The chemicals he ingested were, most definitely, not performance-enhancing.
Having dropped 3 straight to the Sox to force a Game 7 at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees had nothing left, at least not emotionally. The Red Sox led 6-0 after 2 innings. It was 8-1 after 4. The final was 10-3.
This was not the kind of loss that crushes you because you had it won at the end, and blew it. We got beat early. From the 1st inning onward, we knew the Red Sox were going to win the game. We knew it, and their fans knew it. There was nothing that could be done. And we had to stick it out, all 9 innings, and hear those Red Sox fans give us the business in our house for, as it turned out, 3 hours and 31 minutes. Never mind what the clock said: This was the longest game in Yankee history.
It was 12:01 AM, October 21, when Ruben Sierra grounded to 2nd for the final out. So not only had the Sox ended the Curse of the Bambino, they had ruined the birthdays of both Mickey Mantle (dead since 1995) and Whitey Ford (then, as now, still alive).
Finally, after losing the Pennant to the Yankees on the final day in 1949, blowing the Division title to the Yankees in 1977 and 1978, losing the ALCS to the Yankees in 1999, and the shock of 2003, the Red Sox and their fans had their revenge over the Yankees. "We danced on their lawn" became a common saying in New England.
Bob Ryan: "Let's get this out of the way right now. The question is asked, 'If the Red Sox lose the World Series, would it be enough to have beaten the Yankees?' The answer is, 'No!'"
Dan Shaughnessy, who popularized the phrase: "The Curse of the Bambino isn't 'The Red Sox can't beat the Yankees.' The Curse of the Bambino is 'The Red Sox can't win the World Series.' The Red Sox lost the World Series in 1946, 1967, 1975 and 1986, and those didn't have anything to do with the Yankees."
The Sox had also blown a Pennant in 1948, messed up a potential Division title in 1972, blown another Division title in 1974, looked like idiots in the ALCS in 1988, did the same thing in 1990, and looked like idiots in the ALDS in 1995. None of those had anything to do with the Yankees, either.
At the time, it was easy to be big about it, and say to the Sox, now happily calling themselves "The Idiots," "Good luck in the Series. You earned it."
On July 30, 2009, it was revealed that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, the 2 biggest reasons the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and again in 2007, had failed steroid tests. They hadn't earned a fucking thing. They'd cheated.
Ortiz was still there when they won it all again in 2013.
Those 3 titles are fake, and they goddamned well know it. 1918 * Forever.
They would say the Yankees "cheated" to win their titles. Really? The evidence against the 1996-2003 Yankees is incredibly flimsy. The evidence against the 2003-2013 Red Sox is overwhelming.
The baseball media, of course, will never give the Yankees the same benefit of the doubt that they give the Red Sox.
Well, to hell with them. The world knows the truth, whether they accept it or not.
October 20, 1803: The U.S. Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase, making possible the major-league cities of St. Louis, Kansas City, Minneapolis and Denver. If you count cities that have major-league teams in other sports but not baseball, add to the list New Orleans and Oklahoma City.
October 20, 1910: The Philadelphia Athletics dispose of Chicago Cub starter Ed Reulbach in 2 innings‚ then pin the loss on reliever Harry McIntire‚ who lasts a third of a inning. A's pitcher Jack Coombs coasts on 1 day's rest‚ 12-5‚ and helps himself with 3 hits.
Cub manager/1st baseman Frank Chance becomes the 1st player ejected from a World Series game when umpire Tom Connolly chases him for protesting a Danny Murphy home run drive against a sign over the right field bleachers. Chance opines too loudly that it should be a ground-rule double.
Also on this day (I previously had him listed as being born on October 12), Robert Leo Sheppard is born in Richmond Hill, Queens, the same neighborhood that would produce Rizzuto. He played quarterback for St. John’s University in Queens, and later taught public speaking there.
In between, he taught public speaking at John Adams High School in the Ozone Park section of Queens. This means he could, arguably, have had, as one of his students, my Grandma. (Sadly, family concerns forced her to drop out, so she never did graduate. And I didn’t find out about the possibility until after both of them had died, so I couldn't ask either if Grandma had been taught by Sheppard.)
When the NFL had a team called the Brooklyn Dodgers, speech professor Sheppard did the public-address announcements for their games. Football Dodgers owner, and Yankees co-owner, Dan Topping heard him, and asked Sheppard to do the Yankees’ games. He accepted, and from 1951 until 2007, he hardly ever missed a game. Ill health forced him to miss the 2008 and 2009 seasons, but… 57 years! On top of that, from 1956 to 2005, 50 years, he did the football Giants’ games.
Sheppard was a generous gentleman and a complete professional, from sounding like an announcer, not a shameless shill (unlike such braying animals as Bob Casey of the Minnesota Twins, may he rest in peace, and Ray Clay of the Chicago Bulls); to accepting with humility the appellation that Reggie Jackson gave him: “The Voice of God.”
Such was the appeal of Sheppard, and such is the pull of Derek Jeter, that Jeter asked that a recording of Sheppard introduce him before every at-bat, for the rest of his career, even after Sheppard died, which happened in 2010, just short of his 100th birthday. (A recording of Sheppard was also used to introduce Mariano Rivera when he came out for his final big-league appearance in 2013.)
October 20, 1927: Joyce Diane Bauer is born in Manhattan, and grows up in Far Rockaway, Queens. We knew her as famed psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers. She appeared on The $64,000 Question in 1955, and won the eponymous top prize (worth about $568,000 in 2015 money). Her subject was boxing, and it led to her becoming the 1st female commentator for a televised prizefight, the middleweight championship fight on CBS on September 23, 1957, in which Carmen Basilio took the title from Sugar Ray Robinson at Yankee Stadium.
In 1958, she became the 1st advice columnist to have her own TV show. In 1981, she played herself as a guest on “James Brown’s Celebrity Hot Tub Party” on Saturday Night Live, with Eddie Murphy playing “The Godfather of Soul and Hot Tub Man Number 1, James Brown!” Great sketch. Dr. Brothers died in 2013, at age 85.
October 20, 1928: David Jack -- or, to give his full legendary name, David Bone Nightingale Jack -- makes his debut for North London soccer team Arsenal. The inside forward -- today, we would call him a central midfielder -- helps Arsenal defeat Newcastle United, 3-0 at St. James Park in Newcastle.
Jack played for his hometown club Bolton Wanderers, and scored the 1st goal at the original Wembley Stadium in the 1923 FA Cup Final, leading the Manchester-area club to defeat East London club West Ham United. He scored the only goal in the 1926 FA Cup Final as well, leading Bolton over Manchester City.
But with Wanderers in financial trouble, Arsenal snapped him up. He would help Arsenal win the Cup in 1930, and the Football League in 1931, 1933 and 1934, establishing Arsenal's dynasty under manager Herbert Chapman, who broke the English purchase record to get him. He then retired, and managed a few teams before dying in 1958, age 60.
October 20, 1932: Roosevelt Brown is born in Charlottesville, Virginia. The greatest offensive tackle of his time, he anchored the New York Giants line that reached 6 NFL Championship Games in 8 years, including the 1956 World Championship.
Although his Number 79 has not been retired by the Giants, he is a member of their Ring of Honor at MetLife Stadium and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and was named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. In 1999, The Sporting News ranked him Number 57 on their list of the 100 Greatest Football Players. Still the greatest offensive lineman in the history of New York Tri-State Area football, he died in 2004.
Also on this day, William Christopher is born in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois. Best known for playing Lieutenant, later Captain, John Patrick Francis Mulcahy, S.J, on M*A*S*H, he says he has often been asked near his Southern California home, “Father Mulcahy, say a prayer for the Dodgers.” “I suppose I should actually say one for the Angels,” he says, “but I do root for the Dodgers.”
In a 1st-season episode, the officers are listening to Armed Forces Radio for the Army-Navy football game, when Mulcahy walks in with his Notre Dame pennant. He’s told Notre Dame, America’s unofficial Catholic university due to its legendary football program, isn’t playing today. “Then what’s all the commotion?”
In another early episode, he is playing in a pickup game in camp, wearing a helmet that’s Notre Dame gold, but anachronistically has a two-bar facemask. Hawkeye asks him how the game’s going. He says, “Protestants 7, Catholics 3, but we’ll get ‘em!”
Mulcahy was also a big boxing fan, having coached boxing at the CYO in his native Philadelphia, and would minister to a former boxing champion who ended up dying at the 4077th while on a tour for the troops. But Christopher admitted knowing nothing about boxing.
Mulcahy also had “my sister the Sister,” who took the nom de nun of Sister Angelica, who first played and then coached basketball at her all-girls’ high school in Philly.
In 1975, Christopher played an Army doctor on Good Times -- an inside joke on CBS' part, I suppose. He later teamed up with castmate Jamie Farr in a stage version of The Odd Couple -- I'm presuming Christopher played Felix and Farr played Oscar -- and with Farr and Loretta Swit on Diagnosis Murder and Lois & Clark. He has again played priests on Heaven Sent, Mad About You, and, in 2013, Days of Our Lives.
October 20, 1937: Juan Antonio Marichal Sánchez is born in Laguna Verde, Dominican Republic. Known for his high leg-kick during his windup, he won more games in the 1960s than any other pitcher, and until Dennis Martinez surpassed him, his 243 career wins were the most of any Hispanic pitcher.
He helped the San Francisco Giants to the 1962 National League Pennant and the 1971 NL Western Division title, although they fell just short a few other times while he was there. They have retired his Number 27, and dedicated a statue to him outside AT&T Park. He was the 1st Dominican player, and the 1st Hispanic pitcher (aside from Negro League star Martin DiHigo, who was not strictly a pitcher), elected to the Hall of Fame.
Sadly, like the other serious contender for the title of the greatest Hispanic pitcher, Pedro Martinez, he is best known for a moment of violence, hitting Dodger catcher John Roseboro over the head with his bat in a tight Pennant-race game in 1965. Unlike Pedro, however, this was out of character for Marichal, and Roseboro not only accepted his apology, but, after Marichal failed to be elected to the Hall in his 1st 4 years of eligibility, Roseboro spoke up on his behalf, and he was elected on the 5th try.
He went on to become a broadcaster for a Spanish-language network in the Caribbean, and called games in the 1990 World Series, including the 2 won by Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jose Rijo, who not only wore Number 27 in tribute to Marichal, but at the time was married to Marichal’s daughter Rosie, who can be seen on the official highlight film, yelling from the stands, “Let’s go, Rijo!”
October 20, 1951: Drake University of Des Moines, Iowa plays football against Oklahoma A&M – the name will be changed to Oklahoma State in 1958 – at Lewis Field in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Drake quarterback Johnny Bright, one of the 1st black players to receive serious consideration for the Heisman Trophy, is assaulted by white A&M defensive tackle Wilbanks Smith. “Unnecessary roughness”? Three times in the first 7 minutes of the game, Smith knocked Bright unconscious, the last time breaking his jaw.
A&M won the game, 27-14. It was Drake’s 1st loss of the season. Photographs of what becomes known as "the Johnny Bright Incident," by Don Ultang and John Robinson, were featured on the front page of the next day’s Des Moines Register, and won the Pulitzer Prize.
Neither his school nor the Missouri Valley Conference disciplined Smith, nor did the Conference discipline the school or any of its coaches, in any way. As a result, Drake left the league in protest. So did Bradley University of Peoria, Illinois, also integrated by that point. The NCAA issued new rules about blocking and tackling, and mandated better head protection, including facemasks for helmets.
Bright recovered, and finished 5th in the Heisman balloting, which was won by Dick Kazmaier of Princeton, who will likely remain the last Ivy Leaguer to win it. (Ed Marinaro of Cornell, in 1971, is currently the last one to even come close. He later played a cop on Hill Street Blues.)
Drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, Bright didn't want to play there -- not because he thought Philadelphia was a racist city (long before Dick Allen and Curt Flood thought so, and they had already racially abused Jackie Robinson there), but because he knew there were a lot of Southern players in the NFL. He would play in Canada, and receive many honors (or, as they would spell it, “honours”) there, including 3 straight Grey Cups with the Edmonton Eskimos.
When he retired in 1964, he was the CFL’s all-time leading rusher, with 10,909 yards, a total then surpassed in the NFL only by Jim Brown, but Brown’s amazing 5.2 yards per carry, often cited as a reason why he's the game's greatest ever player, never mind running back, is actually surpassed by Bright, with 5.5, making him North America’s all-time leader in that stat at the time. Only 2 CFL players have passed him in rushing yardage since.
He is a member of the Eskimos’ Wall of Honour, and the College Football and Canadian Football Halls of Fame. Drake retired his Number 43 (he wore 24 with the Esks) and named the field at Drake Stadium after him. After serving as a teacher and principal at an Edmonton high school, he died in 1983 from complications from surgery. Ernie Davis of Syracuse became the 1st black Heisman winner in 1961.
Also on this day, Claudio Ranieri (no middle name) is born in Rome. A centreback, he briefly appeared with hometown soccer club AS Roma, before helping Calabria club Catanzaro and Sicilian clubs Catania and Palermo win promotion to Serie A, Italy's top league.
He has managed 15 different clubs, including Roma, and Spanish club Valencia twice, and the national team of Greece. He got Sardinia club Caglario promoted from Serie C1 to Serie A in the minimum 2 years, got Florence club Fiorentina promoted and won them the 1996 Coppa Italia, won Valencia the 1999 Copa del Rey, and got Monaco promoted back to France's Ligue 1 in 2013.
He's best known for his time at West London club Chelsea, managing them into the 2002 FA Cup Final and the 2004 Champions League Semifinal, but winning no trophies. He became known as the Tinkerman for his frequent rotation of his players. After the 2003-04 season, Roman Abramovich's 1st as club owner, "the Mad Russian" fired the Tinkerman. He is now manager of Leicester City, and is doing rather well there.
October 20, 1953: Keith Barlow Hernandez is born in San Francisco. Elaine: “Who does this guy think he is?” Keith: “I’m Keith Hernandez!”
He also thinks he’s the 1979 NL batting champion and co-MVP (a unique tied vote, shared with Willie Stargell), a member of World Series winners with the 1982 St. Louis Cardinals and the 1986 New York Mets, and one of the best-fielding 1st basemen ever.
These days, he thinks he’s a broadcaster with the Mets. He also thinks he’s really smart, which he is, but he’s not nearly as smart as he thinks he is. Although his acquisition made the Mets a contender and then a champion again after some very dark years, they have strangely not retired his Number 17. Nor has he been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
October 20, 1955, 60 years ago: Aaron Pryor (no middle name) is born in Cincinnati. The former Junior Middleweight Champion of the World overcame drug abuse, and is now an ordained minister and an anti-drug counselor. His sons Aaron Jr. and Stephan have also become professional boxers.
October 20, 1958: David Michael Krieg is born in Iola, Wisconsin. A 3-time Pro Bowler, he quarterbacked the Seattle Seahawks to their 1st Conference Championship Game in 1983, and their 1st Division Championship in 1988. The Seahawks have elected him to their Ring of Honor. He is now a real estate investor in Phoenix.
October 20, 1959: Washington Senators owner Calvin Griffith makes a public statement that he will not move the team. As Congressman Joe Wilson would say, 50 years later, to a better man than either of them, “YOU LIE!”
October 20, 1960: Ralph Houk, former Yankee catcher, former Yankee coach, and manager of the 1957 International League Champion Denver Bears, is officially named manager of the Yankees. He will lead them to the next 3 AL Pennants and the next 2 World Championships.
As callous as the Yankees seemed in firing Casey Stengel, they had to make Houk their manager. With 2 new expansion teams coming into the American League for the 1961 season, and 2 more into the National League in 1962, and with plenty of teams changing managers during the course of a season, Houk would have been hired by somebody, so the Yankees needed to promote him in order to keep him. It was a matter of "Use it or lose it."
The results spoke for themselves -- until the farm system ran dry.
October 20, 1961: Ian James Rush is born in St. Asaph, Wales. He was a superstar in the English soccer league, leading Liverpool to 6 League titles. He scored more goals in FA Cup play than any player in the 20th Century, shares with 1966 World Cup hero Geoff Hurst the record for most goals scored in League Cup play, and is the all-time leading goalscorer in Merseyside derbies (Liverpool vs. Everton).
There was a daunting statistic that Liverpool had never lost a game in which Rush scored. That stat held until the 1987 League Cup Final at the old Wembley Stadium, when he scored, and then North London-based Arsenal came back with 2 goals by Charlie Nicholas to win, 2-1.
Rush had a difficult 2-year spell with Juventus in the Italian league, before returning to Liverpool. Not the 1st British player to be a bust in Italy, nor the last, he was asked if the language barrier would be a problem. He denied it: "I don't even speak English that well." (The Welsh do have their own separate language, but Rush can be understood in English, unlike later Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher, whose Scouse accent is so thick he needs a translator.)
After a brief spell managing Chester City, which had been his 1st pro club as a player, he became a pundit for Sky Sports. He is now a club ambassador for Liverpool. With 346 goals, he is their all-time leading scorer.
October 20, 1964: Former President Herbert Hoover dies of a gastrointestinal ailment in his suite at the Waldorf Towers in New York. He was 90, older than any former President before him except John Adams. (He has since been surpassed by Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George W.H. Bush.)
Hoover was a member of Stanford University's 1st graduating class in 1895. He was student manager of their 1st baseball and football teams. Former President Benjamin Harrison was a founding professor of Stanford's law school, and wanted to attend a football game. Young Hoover made old Harrison pay the admission fee: 25 cents -- about $7.00 in today's money.
Hoover attended Game 5 of the 1929 World Series at Shibe Park in Philadelphia, and was cheered as he threw out the ceremonial first ball. Just a year earlier, he had been elected in one of the biggest landslides ever. Then the stock market crashed, and the Great Depression began. He threw out the first ball at Shibe Park for Game 1 of the 1930 World Series, and this time, fans plagued by the Depression and Prohibition booed him and chanted, "We want beer!" When the Philadelphia Athletics won the Pennant again in 1931, Hoover did not show up for the World Series. In 1932, he lost by an even greater margin than his 1928 win.
October 20, 1965, 50 years ago: Just 1 year after he helped the Cardinals win the World Series and was named NL Most Valuable Player, team Captain Ken Boyer is traded to the Mets, for pitcher Al Jackson and 3rd baseman Charlie Smith.
Jackson had been one of the few respectable players in the Mets’ early years, while Smith is best known for getting traded by the Cardinals just one year later, even-up, for Roger Maris. An insult to Maris.
Also on this day, Mikhail Alekseyevich Shtalenkov is born in Moscow. A Gold Medal winner as the starting goalie for the post-Soviet "Commonwealth of Independent States" team at the 1992 Winter Olympics, he starred for Dinamo Moscow, was an original Mighty Duck of Anaheim in 1993, and played in the NHL until 2000.
October 20, 1967: Having just moved the Kansas City Athletics to Oakland, owner Charlie Finley names Bob Kennedy as their 1st manager. He does not, however, try to trade for Yankee 3rd baseman John Kennedy. Nor does he try to hire Hockey Hall-of-Famer Ted Kennedy as a consultant.
Also on this day, the expansion Seattle SuperSonics make their home debut, at the Seattle Center Coliseum. They face the other expansion team, the San Diego Rockets, and lose 121-114. John Block scores 32 and Johnny Green 30 for the Rockets, who will move to Houston in 1971. Walt Hazzard scores 32 for the Sonics, who will win the 1979 NBA Championship and become the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008.
October 20, 1969: The Mets get their ticker-tape parade for winning the World Series.
Also on this day, Juan Alberto González Vázquez is born in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. Known as Juan Gonzalez, the All-Star right fielder for the Texas Rangers hit 434 home runs in his career, won AL MVP awards in 1996 and 1998, and scared the hell out of us Yankee Fans by nearly ruining the 1996 season with his 3 home runs in the 1st 2 games of the ALDS.
But injuries ruined his career, leading him to being traded repeatedly, and his nickname “Juan Gone” began to refer less to the balls he hit, and more to his propensity for being out of the lineup. He had his last productive season at 33, and he was done at 35. Wow, he really, really fits the steroid profile. Both Jose Canseco and the Mitchell Report accused him of using. He still denies it.
He now owns and plays for a minor-league team in his hometown. He is eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame, but he'll never get in.
October 20, 1971: Laura Mendez is born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We know her as Mrs. Jorge Posada.
Also on this day, Eddie Charles Jones is born in Pompano Beach, Florida. (Why "Eddie Charles"? If you're going with Eddie instead of Edward, why not Charlie or Chuck instead of Charles?) The Temple University guard was the 1994 Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year and a 3-time NBA All-Star. But he had lousy luck, being traded away from both the Los Angeles Lakers (in 1999) and the Miami Heat (in 2005) a season before they won NBA titles.
October 20, 1973: The Sydney Opera House, Australia's most famous structure, opens. The Rolling Stones hit Number 1 on the U.S. singles charts with "Angie." The Six Million Dollar Man premieres on ABC, starring Lee Majors as astronaut-turned-bionic-federal-agent Steve Austin. (Definitely not to be confused with the Stone Cold "professional wrestler" using the same name.)
And Game 6 of the World Series is played at the Oakland Coliseum. The Mets just need to win 1 of the last 2 games against the Athletics in Oakland, and they will have their 2nd World Championship in 5 seasons -- it has been 11 years since the Yankees went all the way. And Tom Seaver, "The Franchise," is on the mound. What can go wrong?
The opposing starters in Game 6 of the 1973 World Series
But Reggie Jackson, not yet a New York baseball legend, hits 2 doubles, scores 1 run and knocks in 2. Jim "Catfish" Hunter, also a future Hall-of-Famer, pitches brilliantly. The A's beat the Mets 3-1. So there will be a Game 7 tomorrow.
To this day, many Met fans are angry at Yogi for starting Seaver on short rest. I'm sure some of them think of him as a Yankee and hate him for that reason alone. They shouldn't: There are only 4 human beings who have managed the Mets to a Pennant: Yogi, Gil Hodges, Davey Johnson and Bobby Valentine. And with Yogi's recent death, only Johnson and Valentine are still alive. (Terry Collins is now 2 wins away from making it 3 living again, and 5 overall.)
I looked it up: Reggie, the defining Yankee of his generation, and Seaver, the defining Met of that generation, faced each other 43 times, not counting spring training. The 1st time was in the 1973 All-Star Game, the last in a Red Sox-Angels game in 1986. I'll have a more detailed post about this someday. Reggie reached base in 15 of those 43 plate appearances, including 3 home runs and 8 RBIs, but Seaver also struck him out 13 times.
Also on this day, the Capital Bullets -- who will change their name again to the Washington Bullets next season -- play their 1st home game after 10 years in Baltimore, at the Capital Centre in suburban Landover, Maryland. At this point, the Bullets are one of the better teams in the NBA, and they prove it, beating the Boston Celtics 96-87. Phil Chenier leads all scorers with 26 points.
But the big story of October 20, 1973 is, unlike that game, actually in Washington, and it has nothing to do with sports. The day before, in an effort to get away with whatever he did that was recorded on his Oval Office tapes, President Richard Nixon offered a compromise: He would allow Senator John Stennis to review the tapes and present Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox with summaries.
On this day, Cox publicly refuses to accept this compromise. He knows that Stennis is not only a conservative from Mississippi and a supporter of Nixon's -- he's a conservative Southern Democrat, a.k.a. a "Dixiecrat," and no friend of mainstream Democrats -- but also hard of hearing. If those tapes reveal that Nixon committed an impeachable offense, Stennis might not hear it properly. And even if he does, he might refuse to admit it to Cox.
Nixon decides that, in order to survive as President, he has to fire Cox -- whom he had never fully trusted, as Cox had been Solicitor General under President John F. Kennedy and an old friend of
JFK's, and thus a partisan Democrat.
So he instructs his Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, the man with the power to fire Cox, to do it. Richardson refuses, because he thinks it will spark a Constitutional crisis. Nixon says do it or you're fired. Richardson does the honorable thing and resigns his post.
So Nixon goes to the next man in line, Richardson's Deputy Attorney General, William Ruckelshaus. He tells Ruckelshaus to fire Cox. He refuses. Nixon says do it or you're fired. Ruckelshaus still refuses, but does not resign. Nixon fires him.
So with the top 2 men in the U.S. Department of Justice now gone, Nixon goes to the Number 3 man, the Solicitor General, and tells him to fire Cox. He does.
Word quickly gets out, and the Washington press corps quickly dubs these events "The Saturday Night Massacre." People wake up the next morning to bold headlines in their Sunday papers. The Sunday morning news shows, NBC's Meet the Press, CBS' Face the Nation, and ABC's Issues and Answers (the predecessor program to This Week), can talk about nothing else.
The pressure on Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against Nixon vastly increases. And, with the Vice Presidency vacant, as Spiro Agnew has resigned and Gerald Ford has not yet been confirmed by either house of Congress as the new VP, the next man in line is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Carl Albert of Oklahoma -- a Democrat. This would have been a political earthquake, much bigger than the end of Nixon's Presidency actually turned out to be.
Within days, Nixon realizes what a blunder he has committed, and tells the Acting Attorney General to appoint a new Special Prosecutor. That man would be Leon Jaworski. By December 6, Ford would be confirmed by both houses and sworn in as Vice President, and the danger of Nixon being impeached and removed, and replaced by a President of the other party, was gone, and things calmed down in Watergate -- for a while.
There would be ramifications, of course -- some lasting much longer than the Nixon Administration itself. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan appointed that same former Acting Attorney General to the U.S. Supreme Court, as his judicial views fit the archconservative vision that Reagan had for the country. But his role in the Saturday Night Massacre was held against him -- although it's possible that he might have been rejected by the Senate anyway. His name was Robert Bork.
On April 26, 1974, the Yankees would trade 4 pitchers to the Cleveland Indians: Fritz Peterson, Fred Beene, Steve Kline and Tom Buskey. Essentially sending away half their pitching staff, this became known as the Friday Night Massacre. But the trade was necessary: It got rid of 4 pitchers who didn't take the game as seriously as they did their social lives, and it brought in 2 players who would be essential in the Yankees' late 1970s Pennants: 1st baseman Chris Chambliss and pitcher Dick Tidrow. (They also got pitcher Cecil Upshaw, but he was injured and a nonfactor, and was traded after the season.)
October 20, 1976: Game 3 of the World Series, the 1st in Yankee Stadium since October 12, 1964, and the 1st since the renovation. The Cincinnati Reds tag Dock Ellis for 3 runs in the 2nd inning. Dan Driessen -- officially, the 1st designated hitter in National League history, since this was the 1st time the DH was used in the Series -- hits a home run in the 4th, and the Reds win 6-2, to take a 3 games to 0 lead.
Jim Mason hits a home run, the only one the Yankees will hit in the Series. The Reds were well-rested following their National League Championship Series win over the Philadelphia Phillies. The Yankees were physically and emotionally exhausted after their American League Championship Series against the Kansas City Royals, which went to the last inning of the last game before Chris Chambliss hit the winning home run. The Yankees weren't beaten embarrassingly in any individual game, but they were simply not ready for this Series.
Also on this day, the Long Island-based New York Nets are in trouble. Having to pay the NBA $3 million as an entry fee from the ABA, and having to pay the Knicks a $4.8 million "territorial indemnification fee," the Nets owe $7.8 million -- about $32.6 million in today's money.
The Nets offered their biggest star, Julius "Dr. J" Erving, to the Knicks in exchange for waiving the territorial indemnification fee. This would have dropped the Nets' fees to $3 million (about $12.5 million in today's money). But the Knicks refused: They wanted the money. This was a tremendous mistake, as they had already fallen far from their 1970 and '73 NBA titles with the retirements of Willis Reed, Dave DeBusschere and Jerry Lucas, while Walt Frazier and Bill Bradley were clearly in decline, although Earl Monroe was still good. The Knicks went on to crash and burn.
But so did the Nets: They sold Erving to the Philadelphia 76ers for $3 million, leaving them with only the territorial indemnification fee of $4.8 million (about $20 million in today's money). Despite having picked up future Hall-of-Famer Nate "Tiny" Archibald, the Nets instantly went from the ABA Championship to the worst record in the NBA. It would take until 1981-82 to recover, by which point the Knicks had also begun to do so.
October 20, 1977: A Convair CV-300 plane carrying the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd crashes outside Gillsburg, Mississippi, killing lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, backup singer Cassie Gaines (Steve's sister), assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary, and co-pilot William Gray.
Also on board, surviving but badly hurt, were guitarists Allen Collins and Gary Rossington, bass guitarist Leon Wilkeson, keyboardist Billy Powell, drummer Artimus Pyle, backing vocalist Leslie Hawkins, road crew member Steve Lawler, band security manager Gene Odom, and road crew members Ken Peden and Marc Frank.
An engine malfunction caused the pilots to mistakenly dump the plane's extra fuel, instead of transferring it to another engine like they intended. That's right, the plane crashed because it ran out of gas. Maybe Neil Young was right after all, albeit in an incredibly different context: “Southern Man, better use your head.”
To make matters worse, in a case of "Timing is everything," just 3 days earlier, Skynyrd had released a new album, titled Street Survivors. The cover shows them standing in the middle of a fire. One of the more familiar tracks on the album is titled "That Smell." The lyrics include the words, "Tomorrow might not be here for you," and, "The smell of death surrounds you." The album would be repackaged, showing the band in front of a black background, and the original cover, much like the "Butcher Sleeve" of the 1966 Beatles compilation album Yesterday and Today, and the original cover of Electric Ladyland showing Jimmy Hendrix surrounded by naked women, has become a collector's item.
October 20, 1980: José Enger Veras Romero is born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The pitcher was a Yankee from 2006 to 2009, but was designated for assignment before he could pitch in that great postseason. He pitched for the Tigers in the 2013 ALCS, and is currently without a team after being released by the Houston Astros this past August.
October 20, 1981: Game 1 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium. A banner is hung from the upper deck:
Not yet, they don't, as Bob Watson’s 1st-inning homer and the pitching of Ron Guidry and Goose Gossage shut the Bums down, 5-3.
October 20, 1982: Game 7 of the World Series at Busch Memorial Stadium. The Cardinals, including birthday boy Keith Hernandez, rally for 3 runs in the 6th to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers, 6-3.
The Cardinals win their 9th World Series, a total surpassed only by the Yankees. (Since then, if you combine their Philadelphia and Oakland titles, it has been matched by the A’s, although the Cards have now made it 11.)
The Cardinals will win 2 more Pennants in the decade, and have remained more or less competitive ever since. The Brewers have never played another World Series game, and did not even play another postseason game for 26 years.
But this is a dark day in the history of sports on planet Earth, for reasons that have nothing to do with the World Series. A UEFA Cup match was scheduled for the Grand Sports Arena of the Central Lenin Stadium, now named the Luzhniki Stadium. Spartak Moscow, the most popular sports team in the Soviet Union, hosted Dutch club HFC Haarlem.
Unlike some other soccer disasters, including the Hillsborough Disaster in Sheffield, England in 1989, this time, the problem wasn't too many tickets being sold. Even by Russian standards, this was a cold day for October: 14 degrees below zero. As a result, a stadium that could hold as many as 102,000 sold only 16,643 tickets. (Contrast that with the 1967 NFL Championship "Ice Bowl": It was 13 below at kickoff, but Lambeau Field in Green Bay was still filled to its capacity at the time, 50,861.)
It is believed that only 100 fans had come from the Netherlands to support Haarlem, despite having a young Ruud Gullit in their ranks. They won the Dutch league, the Eredivisie, in 1946 and had won promotion back into it in 1981 and qualified for the UEFA Cup in 1982. But they were relegated in 1990, and went bankrupt in 2010, and have had to start all over; the new club, named Haarlem Kennemerland, now plays in the Netherlands' 8th division.
Edgar Gess, a Tajik midfielder, scored in the 16th minute. The score remained 1-0 to Spartak nearly the rest of the way, and, not anticipating the poorly-supported visitors to get a late equalizer, hundreds of fans in the East Stand left their seats to leave the stadium and get to the Metro (Moscow's subway).
But in stoppage time, Georgian defender Sergei Shvetsov scored to make it 2-0. The fans leaving heard the remaining fans cheer, and, in the same setup as the Ibrox Disaster in Glasgow, Scotland in 1971, many of them turned around to head back and see what happened. This led to fans bumping into each other on the stairwell and falling like dominoes. There is an alternate theory that the reaction to Shvetsov's goal had nothing to do with it: Rather, it was a young woman losing a shoe, going back to pick it up, getting trampled, and a few fans stopping to help her, thus making a bad situation worse.
Initially, the Soviet government announced that the number of fatalities was a mere 3. Some had speculated that it was as high as 340. It wasn't until the fall of the Soviet Union, and the declassification of many documents, that the true number of deaths was revealed: 66 -- oddly, the exact same number as the similar Ibrox Disaster. It remains the greatest sporting disaster ever to happen on the European continent.
Four stadium officials, including the stadium's director and its top police officer, were charged. Two of them were never tried due to illness. The other two were imprisoned for 3 years.
On November 3, the 2nd leg of the UEFA Cup tie was played in Haarlem, the Netherlands. Despite Haarlem taking a 1-0 lead, Spartak won the game 3-1, including another goal by Shvetsov, won the tie 5-1, and advanced. On October 20, 2007, the players gathered at Luzhniki Stadium again, playing a memorial match for charity.
October 20, 1983: Michel Armand Vorm is born in IJsselstein, the Netherlands. The goalkeeper starred in his homeland for Utrecht and in the English Premier League for Welsh club Swansea City. He is now Hugo Lloris' backup on North London club Tottenham Hotspur, where his mistakes have led to the pun, "Vorm is temporary, class is permanent."
October 20, 1988: World Series MVP Orel Hershiser ends his dream season with a 5-2 four-hitter over the A's in Game 5 of the World Series. Mickey Hatcher starts the Dodger scoring with a 2-run homer in the 1st off Storm Davis‚ his 2nd homer of the Series.
The win gives the Dodgers a tremendous upset, and their 5th World Championship since moving to Los Angeles 30 years earlier, their 6th overall. But in 27 years, more than a quarter of a century, since, they have never won another Pennant. It can't all be due to the Curse of Donnie Baseball: Mattingly's only been there since 2008, manager since 2011.
October 20, 1990, 25 years ago: North London soccer team Arsenal defeats Manchester United, at United's ground of Old Trafford, 1-0, on a goal by Arsenal's new Swedish winger, Anders Limpar.
But late in the game, United's dirty left back Denis Irwin starts a fight that brings nearly every player on both teams into it. The Football Association deducted a point from United, and 2 from Arsenal. This had never happened before, and has not happened since.
This did not faze George Graham's Arsenal. Instead, it bred a siege mentality in them. They lost only 1 game the entire League season, and the following May 6, a Liverpool loss earlier in the day clinched the title for Arsenal. And who were they playing that night? Man United, of course, in the return fixture at Highbury. Alan Smith scored a hat trick to clinch the Golden Boot as the League's leading scorer. And, all game long, the Arsenal fans chanted, "You can shove yer fookin' two points up yer arse!"
On this same day, the talk of an Oakland dynasty is proven premature‚ as the Cincinnati Reds beat the Athletics 2-1, to complete one of the most stunning sweeps in World Series history.
Series MVP Jose Rijo (2-0‚ 0.59 ERA) retires the last 20 batters he faces to give the Reds their 1st World Championship since 1976, their 5th overall. However, the Reds have not won a Pennant since – in fact, they haven’t even won an NLCS game in the quarter of a century since.
Not joining the celebration at the end is Eric Davis‚ who ruptures his kidney diving for a ball during the game, and is taken to the hospital. This is the 1st of several injuries that ended up derailing what could have been a great career, although he did play on until 2001 and hit 282 home runs. He and Rickey Henderson are the only players to hit 25 home runs and steal 80 bases in a season, and he and Barry Bonds (before the steroids) are the only players to hit 30 homers and steal 50 bases in a season. He's now a roving instructor for the Reds, and they have elected him to their Hall of Fame. One of his teammates called him "the best hitter, best runner, best outfielder, best everything I've ever seen."
That teammate was Paul O'Neill. The Reds' manager was former Yankee great Lou Piniella. An intense right fielder who came up big in big moments, O'Neill reminded me even then of a lefthanded version of Sweet Lou, and I was thrilled when the Yankees traded for him. He would go on to win 4 more World Series with the Yankees, for a total of 5.
October 20, 1992: For the 1st time, a World Series game is played outside the United States of America, as Game 3 is played at the SkyDome (now known as the Rogers Centre) in Toronto.
The Blue Jays take a 3-2 win over the Atlanta Braves on Candy Maldonado's bases-loaded single in the 9th inning. Duane Ward gets credit for the victory in relief of Juan Guzman‚ and Joe Carter and Kelly Gruber homer for Toronto.
By starting in right field‚ Toronto's Joe Carter becomes the 1st player to start the 1st 3 games of a World Series at 3 different positions. He started Game 1 at 1st base and Game 2 in left field. Little did he know that a bigger distinction was yet to come: Catching the last out of the Series. And an even bigger one the following season.
In the 4th inning‚ Jays center fielder Devon White's sensational catch nearly results in a triple play. Deion Sanders was ruled safe on the play‚ but replays show he should have been the 3rd out. It would have been only the 2nd triple play in Series history, after Bill Wambsganss' unassisted feat in 1920.
Braves manager Bobby Cox is ejected from the game in the 9th, for arguing a check-swing call. He would also be thrown out of a Series game in 1996, and he remains the only manager facing this punishment since 1985. By a weird turn of events, the last player thrown out of a Series game was the unrelated Danny Cox, of the 1987 Cardinals. Only 2 men from New York teams have ever been thrown out of a World Series game, both in clinchers: Ralph Branca of the Dodgers, for bench-jockeying against the Yankees in Game 7 in 1952; and Yankee manager Billy Martin, for throwing a ball from the dugout onto the field in Game 4 in 1976.
October 20, 1993: Game 4 of the World Series at a rainy Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. Charlie Williams becomes the 1st black man to serve as a home plate umpire in a World Series game. The Phillies blow a 14-9 lead over the Blue Jays in the 8th inning, capped by a Devon White triple (he seems to like playing on October 20), and lose 15-14, the highest-scoring game in Series history, breaking the record of Game 2 of the 1936 Series, the Yankees beating the Giants 18-4.
If you’re a Phillies fan, this is when the Series was lost, not when Mitch Williams came in to relieve in Game 6. But then, if you’re a Phillies fan, the 2007-11 quasi-dynasty may have helped you get over it.
October 20, 1994: Burt Lancaster dies from the lingering effects of a stroke. The great actor had played football players and boxers, and might be best remembered for the title role in Jim Thorpe, All-American. His last film was as baseball player-turned-doctor Archie “Moonlight” Graham in Field of Dreams. He was 80.
October 20, 1996: Game 1 of the World Series, the 1st Series game at Yankee Stadium in 15 years. The Atlanta Braves spoil the party with a 12-1 shellacking of Andy Pettitte and the Yankee bullpen. Andruw Jones, the Braves’ 19-year-old sensation from the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao, becomes the youngest player ever to hit a home run in a World Series game – in fact, he hits 2, joining Gene Tenace of the '72 A's as the only 2 players ever to homer in their 1st 2 Series at-bats.
After the game, George Steinbrenner barges into manager Joe Torre’s office. George yells about how the Yankees were embarrassed -- which, if we're being honest, they were. But Torre, who formerly managed the Braves to a postseason berth, and had just been clobbered in the 1st World Series game of his life at age 56, is unfazed. He tells George that they’ll probably lose Game 2 as well. “But we’re heading down to Atlanta,” he says, “and that’s my hometown, and we’ll win 3 straight there, and come back here and win it.”
Joe later says, "He looked at me like I had 2 heads." (Well, Joe's head is rather large.) George later says he thought Joe was nuts, but he appreciated the confidence. That confidence will be rewarded.
October 20, 1998: Game 3 of the World Series, in front of 64,667 at Jack Murphy – excuse me, Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Having hosted Super Bowl XXXII in January, this becomes the 1st time the Super Bowl and the World Series have been played in the same stadium -- or even in the same metropolitan area -- in the same calendar year. The Metrodome in Minneapolis hosted the World Series in October 1991, Super Bowl XXVI in January 1992, and the NCAA Final Four in April 1992. But no stadium has hosted a Super Bowl and a World Series in the same calendar year since, and Detroit in 2006 is the only metro area to do so (in stadiums built next-door to each other). In the pre-Super Bowl era, World Series and NFL Championship Games had been played in the same city in the same calendar year as follows: New York in 1936, 1938, 1956 and 1962; Detroit in 1935; and Cleveland in 1954.
The San Diego Padres take a 3-0 lead on the Yankees, but 3rd baseman Scott Brosius, having the season of his life, hits a home run to make it 3-2. In the top of the 8th, with the Yankees threatening with 2 men on, the Padres bring in their closer, Trevor Hoffman.
The Padre fans, believing him to be the world’s greatest relief pitcher, wave their white towels and cheer wildly. The words, “IT’S TREVOR TIME” appear on the scoreboard. The public-address system blasts the song “Hell’s Bells” by AC/DC.
Steinbrenner, not familiar with the hard rock music of the Seventies and Eighties, tells the New York beat writers, “When they played that death march, it sounded like the WWF, when The Undertaker comes in. That’s who I thought they were bringing in!”
Certainly, for NL batters that season, Hoffman might as well have been an undertaker. The whole production had become one of the most intimidating scenes in baseball.
But these are not NL batters, these are the New York Yankees, and they fear nobody. Brosius takes him over the center field wall for a 5-3 Yankee lead, soon to be a 5-4 Yankee victory. The actual best closer in the game, Mariano Rivera, finishes it off, and the Yankees can wrap up the Series with a sweep tomorrow.
October 20, 1999: Calvin Griffith dies at age 87 – 40 years to the day after he announced he wouldn’t move the Washington Senators, before actually doing so a year after that. The nephew and adopted son of Hall-of-Fame pitcher and executive Clark Griffith, he inherited control of the Senators in 1955, and moved them to Minnesota to become the Twins in 1961.
In 1978, he told a Lions Club dinner why he took the Senators out of D.C., which was on its way to becoming a majority-black city: "I'll tell you why we came to Minnesota: It was when we found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. Black people don't go to ballgames, but they'll fill up a rassling ring, and put up such a chant it'll scare you to death. We came here because you've got good, hardworking white people here."
Although the Twins came within 1 win of the 1965 World Championship, later decisions left the team mediocre through most of the Seventies. Griffith was so cheap and shortsighted that he was said to have engaged in one of Minnesota’s great outdoor pastimes, hunting for a type of fish known as walleyes, caught his legal limit, brought them to the supermarket, and traded them for a box of Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks. He sold the Twins in 1984 to Carl Pohlad, a billionaire who, ironically, turned out to be nearly as cheap as Griffith.
October 20, 2002: Francisco Rodriguez, a 20-year-old righthanded reliever from Venezuela, becomes the youngest pitcher ever to win a World Series game. With just 15 days of major league experience, "K-Rod" throws 37 pitches, retiring 9 consecutive batters in 3 innings, to pick up the victory when the Angels outslug the Giants in Game 2 of the Fall Classic, 11-10.
October 20, 2004: Lost in the excitement of the Red Sox' revenge over the Yankees, Jim Edmonds hits a home run in the bottom of the 12th inning, to give the Cardinals a 6-4 win over the Astros, and send the NLCS to a decisive Game 7.
Also on this day, Chuck Hiller dies in St. Petersburgh Beach, Florida at age 70. He was the Giants' starting 2nd baseman for their 1962 Pennant, and in Game 4 of the World Series he became the 1st NL player to hit a grand slam in Series play. He spent the 1965, '66 and '67 seasons with the Mets, and served as Whitey Herzog's 3rd base coach in Texas, Kansas City and St. Louis, finally winning a World Series ring with the '82 Cardinals. He was also the Mets' 3rd base coach in 1990.
October 20, 2007: Max McGee, trying to blow leaves off the roof of his Deephaven, Minnesota house with a leafblower, falls off, and is killed on impact. Why he was doing that himself at age 75, instead of hiring somebody to do it, is a secret he took to the grave. He could certainly afford to hire a professional: The North Texas native made millions as a co-founder of the Mexican restaurant chain Chi-Chi's.
But he's best known as a wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, making the Pro Bowl for the 1961 season, and winning 5 NFL Championships: 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966 and 1967. In the 1st AFL-NFL World Championship Game, retroactively renamed Super Bowl I, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, he caught the 1st touchdown pass in Super Bowl history, from Bart Starr, helping the Pack beat the AFL Champion Kansas City Chiefs 35-10.
He caught 345 passes for 6,346 yards by the time he retired after Super Bowl II -- putting him among the all-time leaders at the time. The Packers elected him to their team Hall of Fame, and he later served as one of their broadcasters.
October 20, 2008: Gene Hickerson dies in Cleveland at age 73. The 6-time Pro Bowl guard and member of the Cleveland Browns' 1964 NFL Championship team lived long enough to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
Already suffering from the kind of ailments all too common among old football players -- he had dementia and was confined to a wheelchair due to injuries -- he was pushed onto the podium by 3 Browns running backs who were already Hall members, and the master of ceremonies said, "One last time, Gene Hickerson leads Bobby Mitchell, Jim Brown and Leroy Kelly."
October 20, 2009: Game 4 of the ALCS in Anaheim. The Yankees not only are not affected by last night's 11th-inning loss to the Los Angeles Angels, but bounce back from it in a big way. Alex Rodriguez hits his 3rd home run of the series, tying a postseason record with RBIs in 8 straight games. Johnny Damon homers. Melky Cabrera has 4 RBIs.
Aside from a Kendry Morales homer in the 5th inning, CC Sabathia was nearly untouchable, going 8 innings on 3 days' rest, putting up a performance which, along with his win in Game 1, earned him the ALCS MVP. The Yankees win 10-1, and can wrap up the Pennant in Game 5 in 2 days.
October 20, 2012: Dave May dies of the combined effect of diabetes and cancer in Bear, Delaware. He was 68. An outfielder, he won a Pennant with the 1969 Baltimore Orioles, but was traded before their 1970 World Championship. He closed his career with the 1978 Pittsburgh Pirates, but was released before they could win the 1979 World Series. He was named to the 1973 All-Star Game, though -- but that was because every team has to have at least 1 All-Star, and he was then the best player on the Milwaukee Brewers.
His son Derrick May was also a major league outfielder, and is now the Cardinals' minor-league hitting instructor. Another son, David May Jr., is a scout for the Toronto Blue Jays.
October 12, 2013: Don James dies of pancreatic cancer at his home in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland, Washington. He was 80. He was a quarterback at the University of Miami long before Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar, Vinny Testaverde and Gino Torretta made that cool. But he enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduation and never played in the NFL.
In 1956, he became an assistant coach at the University of Kansas, and worked his way up to his 1st head coaching position, at Kent State University outside Cleveland, in 1971, only a year and a half after the National Guard massacre there. He led them to the Mid-American Conference title and the Tangerine Bowl in 1972, their 1st title and 1st bowl game of any kind. He coached future Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker Jack Lambert and future LSU and Alabama coach Nick Saban there.
In 1977, he was named head coach at the University of Washington. He won 6 Pacific-Ten Conference titles. He was named national Coach of the Year in 1977, 1984 and 1991. In 1984, he led them to an 11-1 season and a win over Number 2 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, but a loss to USC cost them not just the National but the Pac-10 Championship.
With their purple uniforms and the recent Prince album and film in mind, the Huskies became known as the Purple Reign. Sports Illustrated published a cartoon in one of their annual College Football Preview issues, saying that James' Huskies "don't rebuild, they reload," and showing a husky in a gold helmet with a black W on it being fired out of a cannon, with others waiting to go.
In 1990, the team began a 22-game winning streak that included an undefeated season and a long-awaited National Championship in 1991. But in 1992, allegations of improprieties came to light. Although neither James himself nor anyone on his coaching staff was cited for doing anything wrong, the team was put on probation. James retired after the season, citing a betrayal by the University administration that he thought had hung him out to dry. His career record was 178-76-3. He lived long enough to see his election to the College Football Hall of Fame.