Saturday, October 8, 2016

October 8, 1916: Flingin' Frank Filchock, Failed by Football

October 8, 1916, 100 years ago: Frank Joseph Filchock is born in Crucible, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. While usually the backup quarterback to Slingin' Sammy Baugh on the Washington Redskins, Flingin' Frank made enough appearances and enough good passes to be named to the Pro Bowl himself in 1939 and 1941.

On October 15, 1939, Filchock threw the 1st 99-yard touchdown pass in NFL history, to Andy Farkas, in a game against his former team, the Pittsburgh Pirates. (They changed their name to the Pittsburgh Steelers the next season.) This set a record for the longest play from scrimmage, a record that can (and has been) only tied, not broken.

He did not arrive in Washington until after their 1937 NFL Championship, and was in the U.S. Navy when they won their 1942 NFL Championship. He spent the 1946 season with the Giants, and got them to the Eastern Division title.

But on the morning of the NFL Championship Game, against the Chicago Bears at the Polo Grounds, word got out that Filchock and another Giants player, Merle Hapes, had been offered bribes to shave points. Filchock denied the charge, and was allowed to play. Hapes admitted that he had been offered the bribe, but turned it down. Since he had not reported it, he was suspended for the game. Filchock threw 2 touchdown passes, but the Bears won the game anyway, 24-14.

Both players were suspended indefinitely, and the rival All-America Football Conference and all the minor leagues then in existence wouldn't touch them, either. Neither ever played in the U.S. again. Both went to the Hamilton Tigers of the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union in Canada. While each was with Hamilton, the team merged with the Hamilton Wildcats to become the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Hapes won the 1953 Grey Cup with the Ticats. Filchock left the Tigers for the Montreal Alouettes in 1949, and won the Grey Cup with them that year, finally getting that elusive league title.

Filchock's NFL ban was lifted in 1950, but only officially: No NFL team would take him. He was player-coach of the Edmonton Eskimos in 1952 and the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1953, and stayed with the Riders as they entered the new Canadian Football League in 1954.

In 1960 and '61, still blackballed by the NFL, he was welcomed into the newly-founded American Football League, as the 1st head coach of the Denver Broncos, at the same time that Baugh was the 1st head coach of the New York Titans (the Jets). He only lasted 2 seasons, and died in 1994, at age 77.

Filchock did not fail at football. Football failed him.


October 8, 319 BC: Pyrrhus is born in Epirus, a region now divided between the current nations of Greece and Albania. A 2nd cousin of Alexander the Great, he was King of Epirus and Macedon, and conquered Sicily.

The historian Plutarch recorded that he had won the Battle of Asculum against Rome in central Italy, but lost so many soldiers in the process, including several friends and trusted unit commanders, that he said, "One other such victory would utterly undo me." It is sometimes translated as, "Another such victory, and I am undone!" And do the term "Pyrrhic victory" was born.

Indeed, in his later war with Sparta, he lost his firstborn son, Ptolemy, and he never recovered. In 272 BC, fighting Sparta in the Battle of Argos on Greece's Pelopponesus peninsula, he was killed in battle. He was 47.

What does this have to do with sports? Many a manager or head coach has taken risks to win a game one day that would leave his team exhausted or under-prepared for their next game, and thus won a Pyrrhic victory. Joe Torre and Joe Girardi have both held back their closers, including Mariano Rivera, in games when they might have helped win, for fear of the opposite, and so sacrificed a win in one game to win the next. It usually doesn't work.

October 8, 1871: The Great Chicago Fire breaks out at 10:00 in the evening, and burns down about 2/3rds of the city, including the Union Base-Ball Grounds, home of the Chicago White Stockings of the National Association.

The White Stockings are forced to play the rest of the season on the road, in borrowed uniforms and equipment. This likely costs them the 1st Pennant of a baseball league that could be (but, in retrospect, is not always) called "major league."

October 8, 1887: The New York Metropolitans' franchise and player contracts are sold to American Association rival Brooklyn for $15‚000. Purchaser Charles Byrne has the Mets play today's game in Brooklyn's Washington Park‚ where the hapless team loses lose to the Baltimore Orioles 10-0.

Thus endeth "the original New York Mets." The original Orioles would join the NL in 1892.

October 8, 1890: Edward Rickenbacher is born in Columbus, Ohio. Eddie had an intense interest in machines, enabling him to become both one of the 1st people famous for racing automobiles, and one of the 1st people famous for flying airplanes.

The Indianapolis 500 was founded in 1911, and "Fast Eddie" drove in it 4 times before he went off to World War I, having already changed his name to Edward Vernon Rickenbacker (complete with new spelling) to make it seem less German, and also because he thought not having a middle name, just "Edward," looked too plain. Supposedly, he signed his name with all 26 letters as middle initials, decided he liked the look of the letter V the best, and chose "Vernon."

In a 6-month span from April 29 to October 30, 1918, he shot down 26 enemy aircraft, becoming the leading American "flying ace" of that war, and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Indeed, when Charles Schulz drew his Peanuts character of Snoopy the beagle as "the World War I Flying Ace," he mentioned Rickenbacker (or "Rick" for short) a few times.

After the war, he started a car company, bought the Indianapolis Speedway company, grounds and stadium (he sold it all after World War II), opposed President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, wrote a comic strip titled Ace Drummond (about a pilot, naturally), bought Eastern Air Lines, nearly died in a 1941 plane crash, assisted the war effort as a civilian advisor, crashed in the Pacific in 1942 and survived on a life raft for 24 days with 6 other men, and made Eastern the most profitable airline of the 1950s and '60s. He died in 1973, age 82.

October 8, 1892: The Boston Beaneaters clinch the National League Pennant, sweeping a doubleheader from the New York Giants, 4-3 and 3-1 at the South End Grounds. It is the 2nd of 3 straight Pennants they will win, and 5 in 8 years.

Hall of Fame outfielder Hugh Duffy is the last survivor of this team, living until 1954.

October 8, 1894: The New York Giants, 2nd-place finishers in the National League, whip the NL regular season champion Baltimore Orioles 16-3, to sweep the best-of-7 Temple Cup series. However, the Giants never claimed this as a "World Championship," the way they did the 1904 season when they refused to play at World Series against the Boston Americans (Red Sox).

The plaque that currently stands at the Polo Grounds Towers claims World Championships of 1904, 1905, 1921, 1922, 1933 and 1954 for the Giants. It doesn't claim 1894, nor does it claim their postseason wins over AA Champions St. Louis and Brooklyn, the future Cardinals and Dodgers, in 1888 and 1889, respectively.

I have often wondered how much more regarded the trophy for baseball's championship would be regarded if it were an old trophy, like the 1893-established Stanley Cup, as opposed to the Commissioner's Trophy, established only in 1967. Alas, the Temple Cup was discontinued after the 1897 season.

October 8, 1895: The Cleveland Spiders take the Temple Cup by beating the Orioles for the 4th time in 5 games. The lack of respect accorded the Cup is reflected in the "very cold reception" the Spiders receive after returning from Baltimore the next day.

Also on this day, William Osser Xavier Cook is born in Brantford, Ontario. Thanks to Wayne Gretzky, he is no longer the greatest hockey player ever to come from Brantford. Thanks to Phil Hartman, he isn't the funniest. But he is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Bill Cook was an original member of the New York Rangers in the 1926-27 season. He and his brother, Frederick "Bun" Cook, played on the "A-Line" of the New York Rangers, flanking center Frank Boucher, Bill on the right wing, Bun on the left. Together, they won the Stanley Cup in 1928 and 1933, and lost in the Finals in 1929, 1932 and 1937. Bill scored 229 goals in 11 NHL seasons, at a time when a season was only 44 or 48 games long. So that's like scoring about 400 career goals in this era.

In 1926, Bill scored the 1st goal in Ranger history, at the old Madison Square Garden, when it was new. In 1968, he participated in the old Garden's closing ceremony, and, before the Rangers' 1st game in the new Garden, was asked to "score" a ceremonial 1st goal. At age 72, he obliged.

He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1952, and died in 1986. In 1998, The Hockey News ranked him Number 44 on its list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players. Oddly, the Rangers have retired no numbers from before the 1950s, and his Number 5 has been worn by players such as Barry Beck, Peter Andersson and Dan Girardi.

October 8, 1896, 120 years ago: The Orioles complete a 4-game sweep of the Spiders to win the Temple Cup. They have won the last 3 National League Pennants. It will be 70 years before another Baltimore team wins a major league Pennant.

Of those legendary, wild, mischievous, unethical yet brilliant 1890s Orioles, keeping in mind the state of medicine in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with no antibiotics: Pitcher Bill Hawke only lived until 1902, infielder Frank Bonner died in 1905, catcher Frank Bowerman in 1909, pitchers Charles "Duke" Esper and William "Jack" Horner in 1910, pitcher Arthur Hamilton "Dad" Clarkson in 1911, 2nd baseman Heinie Reitz in 1914, 3rd baseman Jim Donnelly in 1915, 1st baseman George "Scoops" Carey in 1916, right fielder Willie Keeler in 1923, infielder Bill "Wagon Tongue" Keister (no doubt his surname made him the butt of a few jokes) in 1924, pitcher-outfielder Kirtley Baker in 1927, shortstop Hughie Jennings in 1928, pitcher Bill Kissinger in 1929, pitchers George Hemming and Erasmus Arlington "Arlie" Pond in 1930, 1st baseman Dan Brouthers in 1932, 2nd baseman William "Kid" Gleason and pitcher Otis Stockdale in 1933, 3rd baseman John McGraw and catcher Wilbert Robinson in 1934, center fielder Steve Brodie in 1935, manager Ned Hanlon and pitcher Jerry Nops in 1937, infielder Joe Quinn in 1940, pitcher Bert Inks in 1941, left fielder Joe Kelley in 1943, pitcher Tony Mullane in 1944, pitcher Joe Corbett in 1945, pitcher Richard "Stub" Brown in 1948, pitcher John Joseph "Sadie" McMahon in 1954, 1st baseman John Joseph "Dirty Jack" Doyle (the only Ireland-born player on a team loaded with Irish-Americans) in 1958, and catcher-1st baseman William Jones "Boileryard" Clarke and pitcher Bill Hoffer lived on until 1959. Hoffer died at age 88 on July 21, and Clarke 8 days later at 90, making him the last survivor.

To show you just how smart this team was: Between them, McGraw (1904, '05, '11, '12, '13, '17, '21, '22, '23 and '24 New York Giants), Jennings (1907, '08 and '09 Detroit Tigers), Robinson (1916 and '20 Brooklyn Dodgers) and Gleason (1919 Chicago White Sox) would manage teams to 16 Pennants — but win only 3 World Series.


October 8, 1904: The City of Edmonton is founded, in the District of Alberta. It would become part of the Dominion of Canada as the Province of Alberta on September 1, 1905. (Saskatchewan would be made a Province on the same day.) Edmonton was named the Provincial capital.

Today, Edmonton is home to 812,000 people, with a metropolitan area of 1.3 million, making it Canada's 5th-largest city, behind Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary, Edmonton's Provincial arch-rival. It is home to the NHL's Edmonton Oilers, winners of 5 Stanley Cups; the Canadian Football League's Edmonton Eskimos, winners of 13 Grey Cups (the most of any team since the founding of the CFL, but not the most overall); and the West Edmonton Mall, the largest shopping center in the Western Hemisphere, and the largest in the world from its 1981 opening until it was surpassed in 2004.

Edmonton does not currently have a professional baseball team at any level, although they have a 10,000-seat ballpark, Telus Field.

October 8, 1908: In a make-up game necessitated by 19-year-old 1st baseman Fred Merkle's baserunning "boner" on September 23, Mordecai "Three-Finger" Brown outduels Christy Mathewson, 4-2, as the Cubs win the NL Pennant by one game over the Giants in one of the most dramatic Pennant races of all time.

Officially, the Polo Grounds was full to about 40,000 people. Unofficially, reports have suggested anywhere from 80,000 to 250,000 outside. This could very well have been the most people that ever showed up for a baseball game, regardless of whether they got in or not.

Merkle, as it turned out, outlived every Cub who played in the game, slightly surviving Cub right fielder Jimmy Slagle, both dying in 1956. The last survivor from either the September 23 or the October 8 game was Giant shortstop Al Bridwell, who lasted until 1969, and, as the last survivor, was interviewed about it by Giant fan Lawrence S. Ritter for his 1966 book of baseball interviews The Glory of Their Times. He got the hit that would have scored the run in the September 23 game, had Merkle actually touched 2nd base, and, for all the grief it brought Merkle, told Ritter he wished he'd never gotten that hit.

October 8, 1909: William Ernest Hewitt is born in Bay City, Michigan. The center for the Chicago Bears famously played without a helmet, but was a 6-time Pro Bowler, and helped the Bears win the NFL Championship in 1932 and 1933, his lateral to Karr in the 1933 NFL Championship Game being turned by Karr into the winning touchdown against the Giants.

He was named to the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the NFL's 1930s All-Decade Team. The Bears retired his Number 56. He finished his career with the Philadelphia Eagles and, as they did with all their players who went into the Hall, elected him to their team Hall of Fame. But he didn't live to see any of these honors, as he was killed in a car carsh in the Philadelphia suburb of Sellersville, Pennsylvania on January 14, 1947. He was only 37 years old, and could still have been playing.

October 8, 1917: A pair of Pittsburgh sports legends are born. Daniel Edward Murtaugh is born outside Philadelphia in Chester, Pennsylvania. A 2nd baseman, he played in the major leagues from 1941 to 1951, and wasn't particularly interesting, although he did lead the National League in stolen bases as a rookie.

He managed the Pittsburgh Pirates on 4 separate occasions, between 1957 and 1976. In 1960, he managed them to win the World Series. In 1970, he returned to lead them to a NL Eastern Division title, and the 1971 World Championship. He retired, only to be asked back in 1973 after his replacement, Bill Virdon, was fired. He won the Division again in 1974 and 1975, but retired again after the 1976 season, citing his health. He died of a stroke 2 months later, only 59 years old. The Pirates retired his Number 40. He is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but should be.

Also on this day, William David Conn is born in Pittsburgh. Billy Conn, "The Pittsburgh Kid," was Light Heavyweight Champion of the World in 1939 and 1940, and chosen by The Ring magazine, "The Bible of Boxing," as Fighter of the Year in 1940.

On June 18, 1941, he attempted to do what no Light Heavyweight Champion had yet accomplished: Become the Heavyweight Champion of the World, taking on Joe Louis at the Polo Grounds. He was, by all accounts, winning after 12 rounds. Then he made a mistake: Instead of running out the clock, he decided to for the knockout in the 13th round, and left himself exposed. Louis, who won a light of fights he probably should have lost, seized the opportunity, and knocked Conn out.

After the fight, Conn said, "I lost my head, and a million bucks." The U.S. soon got into World War II, and both Louis and Conn went into the Army. When the War ended in 1945, negotiations for a rematch began, and Conn asked Louis, "Why couldn't you let me hold the title for a year or so?" In other words, After a year, Conn would have happily offered Louis a rematch. Louis told him, "You had the title for 12 rounds, and you couldn't hold onto it."

On June 19, 1946, for the 1st time, a Heavyweight Championship fight was televised, live from Yankee Stadium. In the leadup to the fight, someone told Louis that Conn might try to finish what he started, outpointing him. Louis, in a saying that would become familiar throughout the world, said, "He can run, but he can't hide." Louis was right: He knocked Conn out in the 8th round, for all intents and purposes ending his career.

In 1990, Conn was in a Pittsburgh convenience store when it was robbed. Then 72 years old, he swung his famous left fist at the robber. The punch knocked them both down, they grappled on the floor, and the robber got away -- leaving his coat behind. The coat contained his wallet. So not only did he not get any money or valuables, he'd left his own wallet behind, including his identification, so Conn made it easy for the police to find him.

Billy Conn died in 1993. He was 75, and a hero in the ring, in the Army, and in that store.

October 8, 1919: Game 7 of the World Series at Redland Field (Crosley Field). The Chicago White Sox are playing like they mean it. The supposedly tainted Shoeless Joe Jackson and Happy Felsch each drive in 2 runs, and the supposedly tainted Eddie Cicotte pitches well. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Reds make 4 errors. The White Sox win, 4-1, and close to within 4 games to 3 in this best-5-out-of-9 series.

All the White Sox need to do now is win the next 2, both at Comiskey Park. Is this thing on the level after all? Or have the guilty Sox players abandoned the fix? Or... are the Reds now on the take, too?


October 8, 1921: For the 1st time, a football game is broadcast on radio. KDKA in Pittsburgh, who had debuted by broadcasting the previous year's Presidential election results, and earlier this year had become the 1st station to broadcast a baseball game, heads for the gridiron.

Harold Arlin, a foreman at KDKA's parent company Westinghouse, was the announcer. The game is the University of Pittsburgh vs. West Virginia University, a rivalry later nicknamed The Backyard Brawl, at Forbes Field, home of baseball's Pirates. Pitt wins, 21-13.

October 8, 1922: Behind Art Nehf's complete game 5-hitter, the New York Giants repeat as World Champions, sweeping the Yankees in 5 games, including one tie. The comeback 5-3 victory is fueled by George "Highpockets" Kelly's RBI single during the 3-run 8th inning at the Polo Grounds.

Kelly, one of the more dubiously-chosen members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, turned out to be the last survivor of the Giants' 1921 and 1922 World Champions, living until 1984.

Also on this day, the Rose Bowl opens in the Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena, California. The 1st sporting event is held 20 days later, when the University of California defeats the University of Southern California 12-0. It first hosts the Rose Bowl, which had previously been played at nearby Tournament Park, the following January 1, and USC beat Penn State 14-3.

It had a horseshoe shape until the south end was filled in in 1928, making it a true "bowl." It has gone on to host high school football; UCLA home football games since 1982; Super Bowls XI (Oakland over Minnesota), XIV (Pittsburgh over the L.A. Rams, with a Super Bowl record 103,985 fans), XVII (Washington over Miami), XXI (Giants over Denver) and XXVII (Dallas over Buffalo); several National Championship clinchers, including the BCS Championship Game in 2010 (Alabama over Texas) and 2014 (Florida State over Auburn); and the 1983 Army-Navy Game (a 42-13 Navy win, the only time the game has been held west of Chicago).

In soccer, it's hosted several pro teams, including MLS' Los Angeles Galaxy from 1996 to 2002; 17 games of the U.S. national soccer team; the Gold Medal soccer game of the 1984 Olympics; and the 1994 Men's and 1999 Women's World Cup Finals (Brazil over Italy and America over China, respectively).

Also on this day, Nils Erik Liedholm is born in Valdemarsvik, Sweden. Like his countrymen Gunnar Gren and Gunnar Nordahl, he was born in October. A midfielder, he starred with Nordahl with IFK Norrköping, winning the Swedish league, the Allsvenskan, in 1947 and 1948. In 1948, they and Gren helped Sweden win the Gold Medal at the Olympics in London.

They were all bought by Italian giants A.C. Milan, and the trio known as Gre-No-Li turned the Rossoneri back into champions. Liedholm helped Milan win Serie A in 1951, 1955, 1957 and 1959. They won the Latin Cup, the closest thing Europe had to a continental club tournament at the time, in 1951 and 1956. In 1958, he helped them reach the European Cup Final, losing to Real Madrid at their most dynastic. That same year, he helped Sweden reach the World Cup Final on home soil, losing to the Brazil team of Garrincha and the teenage Pele.

As a manager, he led Milan to the Serie A title in 1979, and AS Roma to it in 1983. He was the last survivor of Gre-No-Li, living until 2007, age 85.

October 8, 1924: John Melvin Myers is born in St. Louis. Born in the same city and at around the same time as Yogi Berra and about half the 1950 U.S. World Cup soccer team, Jack Myers played American football instead, a running back and a linebacker.

He and Bill Mackrides are the last 2 surviving players from the 1948 NFL Champion Philadelphia Eagles. They and Clyde Scott are the last 3 survivors of the 1949 NFL Champion Eagles. Jack was also head coach at the University of the Pacific from 1953 to 1960.

October 8, 1927: The 1927 Yankees, considered one of the best teams in baseball history, live up to their reputation as they beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-3, to sweep the World Series in 4 straight.

But this Game 4 concludes in an unusual fashion: In the bottom of the 9th, with the score tied, Pirate pitcher Johnny Miljus loads the bases with no out. He begins to work out of it, striking out Lou Gehrig swinging and Bob Meusel looking. Facing Tony Lazzeri with 2 outs and an 0-and-1 count, Miljus uncorks a wild pitch, and Earle Combs races home with the winning run, to give the Bronx Bombers the sweep and their 2nd World Championship.

This is the only time the winning run of a World Series has scored on a wild pitch. Flip the last 2 digits, and in 1972 the Pirates became the 1st (and still only) team to lose a League Championship Series on a wild pitch, by Bob Moose against the Cincinnati Reds.

Shortstop Mark Koenig was the last living member of the Yankees' 1927 and 1928 World Champions, living until 1993.

October 8, 1928: Waldyr Pereira is born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This was a comparatively short name for a Portuguese-language person, but, like many Brazilian soccer players, his name was shortened further to a single short nickname: "Waldyr" became "Didi."

He nearly had his leg amputated at age 14, due to a severe infection -- no antibiotics available at the time. He recovered, and played in midfield for Rio clubs Fluminense and Botafogo. Playing for a Rio state selection team against one from São Paulo on June 16, 1950, he scored the 1st goal ever in Estádio do Maracanã, built for that year's World Cup, and eventually, along with London's Wembley Stadium and New York's Yankee Stadium and Madison Square Garden, the most famous sports facility in the world.

With "La Flu" and Botafogo, he won 4 Rio state championships, including in 1957, when he promised the Botafogo fans that he would walk from the Maracanã to the team's clubhouse if they won. They did, and 5,000 people joined him on that walk. He then starred in the 1958 World Cup, leading Brazil to its 1st win, winning the Golden Ball as outstanding player of the tournament, and mentoring the 17-year-old starlet from Santos of São Paulo, Pelé, who later wrote that he never would have made it without Didi, who served as a great role model to other black players in Brazil.

Didi's 1958 World Cup heroics led Spanish giants Real Madrid to sign him, and he helped them win the 1959 and 1960 European Cups. But he clashed with Real's greatest player, the Argentine forward Alfredo Di Stéfano, and that led to him going back to Brazil.

He won another World Cup with Brazil in 1962, and went into management. In 1970, he managed Peru into the 1970 World Cup Quarterfinals, but lost to eventual champions Brazil, including Pelé. He managed Istanbul side Fenerbahçe to the Turkish league title in 1974 and 1975. He would later manage both of his main Brazilian clubs, Fluminense and Botafogo, and the national team of Kuwait. He died of cancer in 2001, at age 72.

Also on this day, Robert Neil Harvey is born in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia. Neil Harvey starred for the Australian national cricket team from 1948 to 1963. He is still alive.

October 8, 1929: In front of 50,000 fans at Wrigley Field -- which now holds only about 41,000, and was around 38,000 from the reconstruction of its famed blachers in 1938 until its recent renovation -- Philadelphia Athletics owner-manager Connie Mack fools everyone before Game 1 of the World Series, starting neither of his big fireballers, lefthander Robert "Lefty" Grove or righthander George Earnshaw.

He gambles that the sidearm slow stuff of former Red Sox star Howard Ehmke (the visiting starter for the Red Sox in the 1st game at the original Yankee Stadium) might frustrate the Cubs' big sluggers such as Rogers Hornsby, Hack Wilson and Riggs Stephenson.

Mack's gamble pays off, as Ehmke establishes a new World Series record, striking out 13 Cubs, en route to a 3-1 A's victory in Game 1 of the Fall Classic. The mark will last for 34 years until Dodger hurler Carl Erskine fans 14 Yankees in 1953. The Cubs never recover, and the A's win the Series in 5.


October 8, 1930: The A's beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 7-1 in Game 6, George Earnshaw outpitching Bill Hallahan thanks to home runs by Al Simmons and Jimmy Dykes. The A's take their 2nd straight World Series. They have now won 5, all in a span of 21 years. It will be 42 years, and 2 franchise moves, before they win another.

The last living player from the Athletics' last title team was backup Jimmy Moore, Simmons' backup in left field, who lived until 1986.

October 8, 1931: William Dallas Fyfe Brown is born in Arbroath, Scotland. Bill Brown was goalkeeper for Dundee United when the won the Scottish League Cup in 1952 and '53, and moved down to the other North London club, Tottenham Hotspur, and won the League and the FA Cup with "Spurs" in 1961, the 1st time "The Double" had been won in the 20th Century.

He won another FA Cup with them in 1962 and the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1963, the 1st European trophy won by any British team. He played 28 times for Scotland, and closed his career in North America with the 1967 Toronto Falcons. He died in 2004, just a month after his Spurs manager Bill Nicholson.

October 8, 1934: Gerald Archibald Hitchens is born in Rawnsley, Staffordshire, England. A forward, Gerry Hitchens played for Cardiff City in Wales and Aston Villa in Birmingham, and was one of the few British soccer players who played in Italy and ended up not making a fool of himself, helping Internazionale of Milan win the 1963 League title. He died while playing in a charity match in 1983. He was only 48.

October 8, 1936, 80 years ago: Red Ames dies in his hometown of Warren, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb. He was only 54. He was a member of the Giants' 1905 World Champions, and their Pennant winners of 1911 and '12 (but was traded in '13, so he didn't win that Pennant). On April 15, 1909, he pitched a no-hitter against the Brooklyn Dodgers on Opening Day at the old (1890 version of the) Polo Grounds, but the Giants didn't score, either, and he lost the no-hitter in the 10th inning and the game in the 13th.

October 8, 1937: Game 3 of the World Series. Monte Pearson outpitches Hal Schumacher, and the Yankees beat the Giants 5-1, taking a 2 games to 1 lead in the Series.

October 8, 1938: Game 3 of the World Series. Joe Gordon and Bill Dickey back Monte Pearson with home runs, and the Yankees beat the Chicago Cubs 5-2. They will go for the sweep tomorrow.

Also on this day, Frederick Sydney Stolle is born in the Sydney suburb of Hornsby, New South Wales, Australia. He is the only male tennis player to have lost his 1st 5 matches in Grand Slam Finals. However, he did win the French Open in 1965 and the U.S. Open in 1966. He is now a tennis commentator on Australian networks. His son Sandon Stolle was also a pro tennis player.

October 8, 1939: Game 4 of the World Series. In the top of the 10th, Yankee outfielder Joe DiMaggio scores all the way from 1st base when Reds’ catcher Ernie Lombardi lays in a daze at home plate after Charlie "King Kong" Keller crashes into him. The prudish press of the day says that Lombardi "swooned" or "snoozed" at the plate, but, in reality, Keller had inadvertently kneed him in the groin.

The Yankees win, 7-4, to complete the World Series sweep and become the first club to win 4 consecutive Fall Classics. It is their 8th World Championship overall.

The last surviving player from the Yankees' 1939 World Champions -- and their 1937, 1938 and 1941 titlists as well -- was right fielder Tommy Henrich, a.k.a. Ol' Reliable, who lived until 2009.

Also on this day, Elvīra Anatoļjevna Ozoliņa is born in Leningrad, Soviet Union -- now St. Petersburg, Russia. In 1960, she won the Gold Medal in the women's javelin throw at the 1960 Olympics. In 1968, a fellow ethnic Latvian, Jānis Lūsis, won the Gold Medal in the men's javelin. In 1969, they married. In the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, their son Voldemārs Lūsis competed for the now-free nation of Latvia in the same event. All are still alive.

Also on this day, Paul Hogan (no middle name) is born in Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, Australia. Originally a comedian, in the 1980s he did tourism commercials for his country, introducing Americans to such expressions as "G'day" and "I'll put an extra shrimp on the barbie for ya." ("Barbie" being short for "barbecue grill," having nothing to do with dolls.) Then he starred in the Crocodile Dundee films. For most Americans, his rugged-but-friendly manner made him the personification of Australia, at least until animal-show host Steve Irwin became famous here.

Referring to comparisons of Michael "Mick" "Crocodile" Dundee (who was based on a real person, hunter Rod Ansell, who met a tragic end in 1999) to the roles of Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris and his fellow Australian Mel Gibson, Hogan said, "The movie scene is screaming out for the movie hero who doesn't kill 75 people... Less of those commandos, terminators, exterminators and squashers. Mick's a good role model. There's no malice in the fellow, and he's human. He's not a wimp or a sissy, just because he doesn't kill people."

He hasn't acted since 2009, aside from appearing in character as Mick Dundee in commercials for the Subaru Outback -- a Japanese car trading on an Australian frontier image. He recently split from his Crocodile Dundee co-star, Linda Kozlowski, after being together for 27 years and married for 23.


October 8, 1940: Game 7 of the World Series at Crosley Field. Paul Derringer of the Reds and Bob Newsom of the Tigers get into a pitchers' duel, and the Tigers lead 1-0 in the bottom of the 7th. But leadoff doubles by Frank McCormick and Jimmy Ripple tie the score, followed by a sacrifice bunt and Billy Myers' sacrifice fly, for the run that wins the game and the Series, 2-1 to Cincinnati.

The Reds' Bill McKechnie becomes the 1st manager to win a World Series with 2 different teams. "The Deacon" also piloted the Pirates to the 1925 World Championship.

With NL batting champion Ernie Lombardi injured down the stretch, and backup catcher Willard Hershberger becoming (as far as can be proven) the only big-leaguer ever to commit suicide during the season (slashing his throat on in a Boston hotel room during a roadtrip on August 3), 40-year-old coach Jimmie Wilson was signed to a playing contract, and was one of the factors in this World Series. So was an injury to Tiger star Hank Greenberg.

The Tigers would win the Series again 5 years later. The Reds would need another 35 years, going 0-for-3 in World Series play, 5-12 in games, before triumphing in 1975.

The last surviving player of the 1940 Reds was shortstop Eddie Joost, better remembered with the Philadelphia Athletics, including serving as their last manager before they moved to Kansas City after the 1954 season.

October 8, 1941, 75 years ago: Jesse Louis Burns is born in Greenville, South Carolina. In a bit of foreshadowing, he was the result of an affair between a teenager and a married man. When his mother married someone else, the stepfather adopted him, and he was renamed Jesse Louis Jackson.

He was student class president at his racially segregated high school, and earned varsity letters in baseball, football (as a quarterback) and basketball. A minor-league baseball team offered him a contract, but he chose to go to the University of Illinois on a football scholarship. But the pull of the nascent civil rights movement led him to transfer to the historically black school North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, where, in 1960, he participated in the now-legendary sit-ins at the Woolworth lunch counter, and was again elected student body president.

He was at Martin Luther King's side at the Selma-to-Montgomery march in 1965, and again when King was assassinated in Memphis in 1968. He was ordained as a minister that same year, and officiated at Jackie Robinson's funeral in Brooklyn in 1972. In 1977, he counseled Reggie Jackson (no relation) after his shouting match with Billy Martin in the Yankee dugout at Fenway Park.

He founded Operation PUSH -- originally "People United to Save Humanity," later "People United to Serve Humanity" -- and the Rainbow Coalition. In 1984, he ran for President in the Democratic Primaries, finishing 3rd in delegates. In 1988, he ran again, finishing 2nd.

Reverend Jackson has worked to bring together people who ordinarily wouldn't be, to alleviate poverty regardless of color, and to free people held hostage by terrorists. He's got his flaws, sure. But he's done more for more people than most of us will ever do. And he was, apparently, once a pretty good athlete.

October 8, 1943: Cornelius Crane Chase is born in Manhattan, and grows up in Woodstock, New York. He's Chevy Chase, and you're not. As far as I know, he has no connection to sports, unless you count his Saturday Night Live portrayal of All-American football player turned President Gerald Ford. He did star in Caddyshack, but, as we all know, golf is not a sport.

October 8, 1944: After playing the previous season merged with the other Pennsylvania team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, as "the Phil-Pitt Steagles," and after bouncing around the City of Brotherly Love since their 1933 founding, the Philadelphia Eagles play their 1st game at Shibe Park, home of baseball's Athletics and Phillies. They finish in a 31-31 tie with the Washington Redskins.

They finish 7-1-2, losing only to the Chicago Bears, and also tying the New York Giants. Any one of those non-wins cost them the Eastern Division title, and the Giants go on to lose the NFL Championship Game to the Chicago Bears.

Also on this day, Edgar Leon Kirkpatrick is born in Spokane, Washington. An outfielder and catcher, Ed Kirkpatrick played for the California Angels in the 1960s, was an original Kansas City Royal in 1969, got the last hit at Kansas City Municipal Stadium in 1972, and won the NL East with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1974 and '75.

In 1981, he was in a car accident, and a blood clot traveled to his brain. He was left permanently paralyzed, and died of throat cancer in 2010.

October 8, 1945: Game 6 of the World Series. Stan Hack's double takes a tricky bounce over left fielder Hank Greenberg's shoulder with 2 outs in the 12th inning, giving the Cubs an 8-7 win. Hack has 4 hits‚ 3 RBIs‚ and reaches base 6 times. Greenberg does hit a home run in the 8th, one of 13 hits for Detroit. Chicago counters with 15.

Hank Borowy, a Bloomfield, New Jersey native who had pitched in the 1943 Series with the Yankees, pitches 4 scoreless innings in relief. The Series is now tied at 3 games apiece. Cub manager Charlie Grimm is determined to start Borowy in Game 7. This will prove to be a mistake, one the Cubs have not had a chance to make up for in 7 decades.

October 8, 1946, 70 years ago: Paul William Splittorff Jr. is born in Evansville, Indiana, and grows up in the Chicago suburbs. He pitched for the Kansas City Royals from 1970 to 1984, going 166-143, and reaching the postseason in 1976, '77, '78, '80 and '81 -- but they didn't win the World Series until 1985, after he retired.

The high-kicking lefthander's success against the Yankees in the '76 and '77 American League Championship Series gave rise to a myth: "The Yankees can't hit lefthanded pitchers, especially in the postseason." This, of course, is baloney.

He later broadcast for the Royals, and was elected to their team Hall of Fame. He died in 2011.

October 8, 1948: John William Cummings is born in Forest Hills, Queens, New York City. We knew him as Johnny Ramone. As a teenager, he was a guitarist in a band with drummer Tamás Erdélyi, who became Tommy Ramone. A few years later, he met bass guitarist Doug Colvin, who became Dee Dee Ramone. Finally, they met guitarist Jeffrey Hyman, who became Joey Ramone. And they were the original Ramones.

Johnny was a lifelong Yankee Fan, and died of cancer in 2004, a month before the Red Sox cheated the Yankees out of the 2004 Pennant. He was 55. In 2007, Ramones songs were used as the soundtrack to The Bronx Is Burning, ESPN's miniseries about the 1977 Yankees.

Joey died of lymphoma in 2001, just 49. Dee Dee died of a heroin overdose in 2002, at 50. Tommy was the last survivor, dying of cancer in 2014 at 65. They had once titled an album Too Tough to Die, but none of them made it to age 66, and only one of them to 56.

Tommy was replaced on drums by Marc Bell, a.k.a. Marky Ramone, now 64. Marky was replaced by Richard Reinhardt, a.k.a. Richie Ramone, now 59. Richie was replaced by Clem Burke, the drummer for fellow CBGB veterans Blondie. He took the name Elvis Ramone (although neither Elvis Presley nor Elvis Costello, as far as I know, ever played the drums), and is about to turn 61.

Also on this day, Al Orth dies in Lynchburg, Virginia at age 76. He pitched in the major leagues from 1895 to 1909, including 1904 to 1909 with the New York Highlanders, forerunners of the Yankees. Despite being known as "The Curveless Wonder," he led the AL in wins in 1906. His career record was 204-189.

He later served as a major league umpire. He was behind the plate on May 2, 1917, the only double no-hitter in major league history, at what's now named Wrigley Field. Fred Toney of the Cincinnati Reds pitched 10 no-hit innings against the Chicago Cubs, and Jim Thorpe -- yes, the 1912 Olympic hero and pro football pioneer -- broke up James "Hippo" Vaughn's no-hitter in the bottom of the 10th inning, to give the Reds the win.

October 8, 1965: Christopher Joseph Ward is born in Queens. He took Dee Dee's place on bass, and took the name C.J. Ramone. Okay, back to chronological order.

October 8, 1949: Game 4 of the World Series. A Cliff Mapes double breaks a scoreless tie in the 4th, and launches back-to-back 3-run innings for the Yankees, who beat the Dodgers 6-4. They can clinch tomorrow.


October 8, 1951: Game 4 of the World Series. Joe DiMaggio hits what turns out to be his last home run, off Sal Maglie, and the Yankees beat the Giants 6-2, to tie up the Series.

October 8, 1956, 60 years ago: On the same day that Don Larsen pitched his World Series perfect game, Jeffrey Allen Lahti is born in Oregon City, Oregon. He was a rookie on the Cardinals' 1982 World Championship team, and also pitched for them in the 1985 World Series.

October 8, 1957: The Brooklyn Dodgers make the official announcement: They are moving to Los Angeles. The New York Giants had already announced that they were moving to San Francisco. In the blink of an eye, New York City goes from 3 Major League Baseball teams to 1.

Also on this day, Bobby Hull makes his NHL debut. It is also Glenn Hall's 1st start in goal for the Chicago Blackhawks. They beat the Toronto Maple Leafs, 1-0 at Chicago Stadium.

Also on this day, Antonio Cabrini is born in Cremona, Lombardy, Italy. A left back, he played for hometown club Cremonese and Atalanta, before a historic run with Turin-based Juventus. From 1977 to 1986, he won 6 Serie A (Italian league) titles, 2 Coppa Italian, the 1977 UEFA Cup, the 1984 European Cup Winners' Cup, and the 1985 European Cup.

He also played for Italy in 3 World Cups, winning in 1982. In 2013, he managed Italy in the Women's World Cup, and still manages that team.

October 8, 1958: Game 6 of the World Series. Future Hall-of-Famers oppose each other: Warren Spahn for the Milwaukee Braves, and Whitey Ford for the Yankees.

Whitey is on 2 days' rest, and has nothing. But Hank Bauer hits his 4th home run of the Series, tying a record at the time, and Gil McDougald hits his 2nd. An error by Braves left fielder Billy Bruton allows the Yankees to get the winning run in the 6th, and take this game, 2-1. Ryne Duren was the winner in relief of Ford, and Bob Turley, who lost Game 2 but won Game 5, saves the game on just 1 day's rest.

This Series, which the Braves had led 3 games to 1, is going to a Game 7.

October 8, 1959: In Game 6, the Los Angeles Dodgers defeat the "Go-Go White Sox," 9-3 at Comiskey Park, to win the World Series. Chicago's speed and quickness weren't enough to overcome Los Angeles' hitting and pitching. This was the 1st World Championship won by any team playing their home games west of St. Louis. It would also be the last World Series game played in Chicago for 46 years.

Dodger players still alive from this World Series, 57 years later: Sandy Koufax, Maury Willis, Roger Craig, Stan Williams, Chuck Essegian, Ron Fairly, Wally Moon, Joe Pignatano, Don Demeter and Chuck Churn. White Sox still alive are: Luis Aparicio, Jim Landis, Jim Rivera, Hoboken native catcher Johnny Romano and Sammy Esposito. Pitcher Omar "Turk" Lown died earlier this year, and outfielder Jim McAnany died the preceding December.

Also on this day, Michael Thomas Morgan is born in Tulare, California, and grows up in Las Vegas. On December 9, 1982, the Yankees traded the pitcher, and also outfielder Dave Collins and 1st baseman Fred McGriff, to the Toronto Blue Jays for pitcher Dale Murray and minor-league 3rd baseman Tom Dodd.

Morgan had been 7-11 for the Yankees, and at age 23 looked like he wasn't going to get any better. Collins had been a bust in his 1 season as a Yankee. McGriff was 19, had not yet reached the major leagues, and, besides, the Yankees had Don Mattingly ready to go. Murray was a decent reliever who had just saved 11 games for a weak Jays team, an had 59 saves for his career thus far. Dodd was considered a good prospect. So, at the time, this trade seemed to make sense.

This was one of the worst trades in Yankee history. Murray was hurt, and went 3-6 with just 1 save for the Yankees, the last decisions and the last save of his career. Dodd never reached the Yankees, and played all of 8 games in the major leagues, all with the 1986 Orioles. Meanwhile, in 2002, 20 years later, McGriff and Morgan were still playing in the major leagues. McGriff retired with 493 career home runs.

Mike Morgan was never a great pitcher, with the possible exception of 1992, when he went 16-8 with a 2.55 ERA for the Dodgers. He played for a record 12 different major league teams (13 if you count the Cubs twice). His career record was 141-186, although, to be fair, that's 141 more major league wins than most of us will ever have, and he generally pitched for weak teams. His ERA+ was 97, so, aside from 1992, he was mediocre at best.

He did, however, reach the postseason twice. The 1st time, the Yankees didn't much care: With the 1998 Cubs. The 2nd time, it was with the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks. He pitched in 3 games of the World Series. throwing 4 2/3rds scoreless innings. It took 19 years for the Morgan part of the McGriff-Murray trade to bite the Yankees in the ass, but, bite them, it did.

He now runs a hunting service in Ogden, Utah, and has been a high school baseball coach. Octavio Dotel has since broken his record for most teams.


October 8, 1960: Game 3 of the World Series. After pounding the Pirates 16-3 in Game 2, the Yankees stomp them again. Mickey Mantle and Bobby Richardson hit home runs, Whitey Ford pitches a 4-hit shutout, and the Bronx Bombers win 10-0.

It's clear who the better team is. Ah, but a champion sometimes proves itself by not being the better team, but finding a way to win anyway.

Also on this day, Memorial Stadium opens on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington. The Hoosiers are unlucky, losing 20-6 to visiting Oregon State. "The Rock" seats 52,919 people, making it one of the Big Ten's smaller stadiums. Having been built after World War II, it's also the least architecturally interesting.

Also on this day, Michael Clive Teague is born in Gloucester, England. He was one of the top ruby players of the 1980s and '90s, and helped England reach the Final of the 1991 Rugby World Cup, but lost.

October 8, 1961: In Game 4 at Crosley Field, Whitey Ford blanks the Reds for 5 innings to extend his World Series consecutive scoreless inning streak to 32, breaking Red Sox hurler (and future Yankee slugger) Babe Ruth's previous record of 29 2/3rds innings. Hector Lopez and Clete Boyer provide the offense, driving in 2 runs each in the Yankees' 6-0 victory.

Before the game, Ford was asked if he was excited about breaking the record. He said, "What record?" Not only did he say he didn't know he was approaching a record, he said he didn't know Babe Ruth had ever been a pitcher.

At least the New York native Ford knew Ruth was a real person: Don Mattingly once admitted that, growing up in Indiana, he thought Babe Ruth was a cartoon character. In all fairness, some of the Babe's activities do seem a bit fanciful, even cartoonish.

October 8, 1962: Game 4 of the World Series. Chuck Hiller becomes the 1st National League player to hit a grand slam in the World Series, Tom Haller also hits a home run, and the Giants beat the Yankees 7-3. The winning pitcher for San Francisco, 6 years to the day after his perfect game, is Don Larsen.

October 8, 1964: Game 2 of the World Series. Rookie Mel Stottlemyre is equal to the task of opposing the Cardinals' All-Star Bob Gibson, and the Yankees score 4 runs in the 9th after Gibson is removed for a pinch-hitter. The Bronx Bombers win 8-3, and take a 1-1 Series tie back to New York.

Gibson will set a World Series record that even Ford couldn't match: He won his next 7 decisions.

October 8, 1965: Matthew Michael Biondi is born in Moraga, California, in the Bay Area. At 6-foot-7 and 205 pounds, he looked more like a football player, a basketball player, or a shot-putter. Instead, he won a Gold Medal in swimming at the 1984 Olympics, 5 more in 1988, and 2 more in 1992 -- for a total of 8.

He now teaches in Los Angeles, and runs a "masters" competition for older swimmers.

October 8, 1966, 50 years ago: The 1st World Series game played in the State of Maryland -- indeed, the 1st non-exhibition postseason game played in that State since that Temple Cup of 70 years earlier -- is Game 3 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, and the host Orioles continue their shocking upset of the defending World Champion Dodgers, beating them 1-0. Wally Bunker pitches a shutout.

Also on this day, Carter Stadium opens in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was named for Harry C. and Wilbert J. "Nick" Carter, graduates of North Carolina State University, who contributed to its construction. N.C. State loses to South Carolina, 31-21.

In 1979, upon renovations due to a contribution by almuns Albert E. Finley, it was renamed Carter-Finley Stadium. It now seats 57,583, and the playing surface is known as Wayne Day Family Field.

October 8, 1967: Game 4 of the World Series. Bob Gibson is overpowering again in a 5-hit 6-0 win for the Cardinals over the Red Sox. Roger Maris and Tim McCarver each have 2 RBI for St. Louis.

October 8, 1968: Zvonimir Boban is born in Imotski, Croatia. A midfielder, he played for Italian giants AC Milan, and won 4 Serie A titles, and the 1994 UEFA Champions League. In 1998, he led Croatia to a 3rd place finish at the World Cup. He is now a studio analyst on Italian and Croatian soccer broadcasts.

Also on this day, Ali Benarbia is born in Oran, Algeria. A midfielder, he helped AS Monaco win France's Ligue 1 in 1999, and later captained Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City. He now hosts a soccer-themed TV show for Al-Jazeera in Qatar.


October 8, 1970: Matthew Paige Damon is born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Somebody recently joked that, between Saving Private Ryan and his new film The Martian, the American federal government has spent an awful lot of money trying to bring Matt Damon home.

The real-life Red Sox fan's sports connections are his conversation with Robin Williams about Game 6 of the 1975 World Series in Good Will Hunting; and playing Francois Pienaar, Captain of South Africa's 1995 Rugby World Cup winners, in Invictus.

October 8, 1971: Monty Eli Williams is born in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The basketball forward did not have good luck as a player. He was a rookie for the Knicks in 1994-95, the season after they reached the Finals. He was traded away from the San Antonio Spurs in 1998, right before they won their 1st title. And he came to the Philadelphia 76ers in 2002, a year after they went to the Finals.

From 2010 to 2015, he was the head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans. This past February, his wife Ingrid was killed in a car crash. This Summer, he assisted Mike Krzyzewski on the U.S. team that won the Gold Medal at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Also on this day, Mark Christopher Gwynne Ellis is born in Wellington, New Zealand. He was one o the top rugby players of the 1990s. During the 1995 Rugby World Cup, he scored 6 tries (equivalent to a touchdown) in the All-Blacks' game against Japan, a record for the most tries by an individual in a Rugby World Cup match. However, New Zealand lost the Final to Pienaar's host South Africa.

Ellis -- apparently, no relation to William Webb Ellis, who allegedly invented the sport at the Rugby School in England in 1823 -- is now a TV presenter, and one of New Zealand's most successful businessmen.

October 8, 1972: Game 2 of the American League Championship Series. Bert Campaneris of the Oakland Athletics leads off the bottom of the 1st at the Oakland Coliseum with a single, steals 2nd and 3rd bases, and scores on a single. Campaneris would end up getting 3 hits on the day against the Detroit Tigers.

In the 7th, Tiger reliever Lerrin LaGrow -- possibly at the urging of manager Billy Martin, who frequently encouraged such behavior -- purposely hit Campaneris with a pitch, on the ankle. Campaneris responded by throwing his bat at LaGrow, who just barely ducked in time to avoid getting hit with it. There was a bench-clearing brawl, and Martin had to be restrained from going after Campaneris. Both Campaneris and LaGrow were suspended for the rest of the series. The A's won the game, 5-0, and took a 2-games-to-0 lead in the series. But the Tigers would fight back in Detroit to force a 5th and deciding game.

Years later, for work, I had to contact a Phoenix-area real estate office. Turned out, it was run by LaGrow. Now, I don't condone what Campaneris did, but I will say that, 35 years later, LaGrow wasn't any nicer.

Also on this day, Stanislav Varga is born in Lipany, Slovakia. A centreback, he helped Glasgow-based Celtic win the Scottish Premier League in 2004 and 2006, and the Scottish Cup in 2004 (a Double) and 2005. Last season, he managed Tatran Prešov and got them promoted to Slovakia's 1st division.

October 8, 1973: A year to the day after the LaGrow-Campaneris incident, there's another Playoff brawl, this time in the National League Championship Series. The Mets beat the Reds 9-2 in Game 3, in a game that should have been remembered for Rusty Staub hitting home runs in the 1st and 2nd innings. Instead, it is remembered for 5-foot-11, 200-pound Pete Rose breaking up a double play by crashing into 5-foot-11, 140-pound Bud Harrelson, and then starting a fight with the much thinner man.

With the fight broken up, Rose returns to his position in left field, where Met fans (understandably, but they were hardly justified) start throwing things at him. Reds manager Sparky Anderson takes his team off the field, fearing for their safety.

The umpires get a message to the Loren Matthews, the Shea Stadium public address announcer, who announces that if the throwing doesn't stop, the game will be forfeited. Remember, the series is tied 1-1 and the Mets, barring a total (or even, dare I say it, Metlike) collapse, have this game won and need only 1 more win for the Pennant. Lose it, even by forfeit, and it will be the Reds who are just 1 game from the Pennant.

Desperate, Met manager Yogi Berra takes Tom Seaver and Willie Mays out there, and the 3 of them plead for peace. Listening to the 3 New York baseball legends, the fans stop, and the Mets finish off the win.

The next day, with a banner hanging from Shea's upper deck reading, "A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME STILL STINKS" -- I guess they weren't willing to say "Sucks" in 1973 -- Rose will make his point by winning the game and tying up the series with an extra-inning home run. But the Mets will win Game 5 and the Pennant.

October 8, 1974: Kevyn Williams Adams is born in Washington, D.C., and grows up outside Buffalo in Clarence, New York. The center won the Stanley Cup with the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes.

Also on this day, Jan Fredrik Modin is born in Sundsvall, Sweden. The left wing won the Stanley Cup with the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning, and an Olympic Gold Medal in 2006.

October 8, 1977: Game 4 of the ALCS. Mickey Rivers collects 4 hits as the Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals 6-4, and send the series to a decisive Game 5. Manager Billy Martin, in desperation, and much to owner George Steinbrenner's dismay, uses relief ace Sparky Lyle for 5 2/3rds innings -- all scoreless.

Can Sparky possibly have anything left for tomorrow night? And can the not-at-all-hitting Reggie Jackson snap out of it, and live up to his big-game reputation?

On the same day, the Dodgers clinch the NL flag with a 4-1 win in front of an LCS-record crowd of 64‚924 at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. Dusty Baker hits a 2-run homer and scores twice as Tommy John goes the distance. Phillies fans are stunned, sure that they had the best team in baseball. Instead, the Dodgers will take on the Yanks-Royals winner for the World Championship.

October 8, 1978: Jim Gilliam, former 2nd baseman and now 1st base coach for the Dodgers, dies of complications of a brain hemorrhage that he suffered on September 15. "Junior" was just short of his 50th Birthday. It was 22 years to the day after he led off Don Larsen's perfect game.

He had helped the Brooklyn Dodgers win Pennants in 1953, 1955 and 1956, winning the World Series in 1955. He continued to play for them in Los Angeles, winning the World Series again in 1959, 1963 and 1965, before losing the 1966 World Series. He was then named a coach, following Buck O'Neil of the Cubs as the 2nd black coach in the major leagues.

The Dodgers will wear Number 19 patches on their sleeves, dedicate the World Series to his memory, and retire the number. It remains the only number the Dodgers have retired for someone who is not yet in the Hall of Fame.


October 8, 1981: Raphael Torres (no middle name) is born in Toronto. A rookie with the Islanders in 2002, Raffi Torres reached the Stanley Cup Finals with the 2006 Edmonton Oilers.

On October 3 of last year, in a preseason game against the Anaheim Ducks, he was assessed a match penalty for a late, illegal check to the head of Jakob Silfverberg. Torres was suspended a record-shattering 41 games by the league, half of the regular season. He forfeited $440,860.29 in salary, which was deposited into the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund. While the record for longest suspension is held by Billy Coutu, who was suspended for life in 1927, Torres holds the distinction of the longest non-lifetime ban. Torres did not appeal the suspension, and apologized to Silfverberg. Sharks general manager Doug Wilson supported the suspension, saying Torres' hit was "unacceptable and has no place in our game."

The left wing was sent down to the minors upon his return, then traded to his hometown Maple Leafs, then released. At 35 and tainted, his career may be over.

October 8, 1982: The New Jersey Devils get their 1st win, a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers. It will be a while, though, before the Devils can legitimately claim to again be better than the Rangers.

October 8, 1983: In front of 64,494 fans at Veterans Stadium, the Philadelphia Phillies do something they had only done 3 times before in their 1st 100 years of play: Win a Pennant. They win the NLCS behind the pitching of Steve Carlton and Gary Matthews' 3-run homer, beating the Dodgers 7-2.

This win gives them some measure of revenge, having lost to the Dodgers in 1977 (this is the anniversary of that loss, with "Black Friday" happening the day before) and 1978. They will also beat the Dodgers in the NLCS in 2008 and 2009.

October 8, 1984: Domenik Hixon (no middle name) is born in Neunkirchen, Germany, where his father was a black American serviceman who married a German woman. He grew up outside Columbus in Whitehall, Ohio, and became a receiver, winning Super Bowls XLII and XLVI with the Giants. He last played in 2013, with the Carolina Panthers, and now runs a football camp in the Columbus area.

October 8, 1986, 30 years ago: The Mets' "inevitable" World Championship suddenly becomes quite evitable. Houston Astros' hurler Mike Scott -- a mediocre pitcher when the Mets got rid of him -- throws a 5-hitter and ties a Playoff record with 14 strikeouts, as Houston beats the Mets, 1-0 in Game 1 of the NLCS at the Astrodome. A Glenn Davis home run off Dwight Gooden accounts for the contest's lone run.

October 8, 1988: Game 3 of the NLCS. Dodger reliever Jay Howell -- so criticized by David Cone in his Daily News postseason diary after Game 1 -- is ejected in the 8th inning for having pine tar on his glove‚ and the Mets go on to score 5 times in the inning, on the way to an 8-4 win. Howell will be suspended for 3 games by the NL, but it will be reduced to 2 games on appeal.

Game 3 is also played in the ALCS. Down 5-0‚ the A's hit 4 homers to beat the Red Sox 10-6, and are 1 win away from a sweep.

October 8, 1989: Armand Traoré (no middle name) is born in Châtenay-Malabry, France. The left back was part of the youth movement at North London club Arsenal, but never made it. He now plays for Nottingham Forest, and represents his parents' native Senegal at the international level.


October 8, 1990: Jimmy Mills dies in Sebring, Florida at age 96. The native of Dundee, Scotland was a pioneer of American soccer, playing and coaching mainly in Philadelphia. He is best known for coaching the Philadelphia Nationals in the 1940s and '50s, and coached the U.S. team at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia.

October 8, 1992: For the 1st time since March 17, 1934, an NHL team representing Ottawa, Canada's, national capital, takes the ice. For the 1st time since March 15, 1934, it's at home. As the old team was from 1907 onward, the expansion team is named the Ottawa Senators.

Frank Finnigan Jr., who with his father, the last living member of the Senators' last Stanley Cup winner in 1927, had lobbied the NHL to bring the League back to Ottawa, drops the ceremonial first puck, in place of his father, who lived long enough to see Ottawa awarded the franchise, but not long enough to see them take the ice. The Number 8 of Frank Sr. was retired.

Honoring the old Senators, banners honoring their 9 Stanley Cups were raised to the rafters at the Ottawa Civic Centre. Russell Williams, who had attended the 1927 Cup-clinching as a boy, is introduced as a special guest. Alanis Morissette, an Ottawa native already famous in Canada but not yet in America, sings the National Anthem ("O, Canada," of course, not "The Star-Spangled Banner," since the opponents were also Canadian.)

And, for the 1st time since March 8, 1934, the Senators win. They beat the Montreal Canadiens, 5-3. Neil Brady scores the 1st goal. But this is an outlier: The Canadiens will go on to win the Stanley Cup, while the Sens will set a league record for losses in a season, going 10-70-4. They would make the Playoffs for the 1st time in 1996, reach the Eastern Conference Finals in 2003, and the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007. Russell Williams lived long enough to attend, 80 years after they last did. But the new Senators have not yet won the Cup.

October 8, 1993: The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim play their 1st game. Sean Hill scores their 1st goal, but they lose to the Detroit Red Wings, 7-2, at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim. The arena would be renamed the Honda Center, and the team became simply the Anaheim Ducks for the 2006-07 season -- and won their 1st Stanley Cup.

Also on this day, Garbiñe Muguruza Blanco is born in Guatire, Venezuela. Though born in Venezuela, Garbiñe Muguruza, an ethnic Basque, grew up in Spain, and represents Spain at the national level. She won this year's French Open. (UPDATE: In 2017, she won Wimbledon.)

Also on this day, Molly Caitlyn Quinn is born in Texarkana, Texas. The actress who played Alexis Castle on Castle from 2009 to earlier this year is not, as far as I know, involved in sports. But -- perhaps with the help of a stunt double -- she has done some moves on the show that can certainly be described as athletic, including her laser-tag games against her father Richard, played by Nathan Fillion.

October 8, 1994: The Kiel Center opens in St. Louis, on the site of the Kiel Auditorium, former home of the NBA's St. Louis Hawks. The NHL's St. Louis Blues were supposed to play their season opener there on this night, but couldn't, due to the team owners' lockout of the players. The Blues have played there since the lockout ended in January 1995.

The arena was renamed the Savvis Center in 2000, but when Savvis went bankrupt in 2006, naming rights were bought by Scottrade. That company has recently been bought by TD Ameritrade, so it appears that the name will soon be changed from the Scottrade Center to the TD Ameritrade Center.

October 8, 1995: If you're a Yankee Fan, as I am, this one still rankles. Thanks to a 2-run double off Jack McDowell by Edgar Martinez, the Seattle Mariners become only the 4th team in major league history to overcome a 2-game deficit to win a 5-game series, when they dramatically come from behind to beat the Yankees in 11 innings, 6-5 at the Kingdome in Seattle.

This, of course, will be the last game as Yankee manager for Buck Showalter, mainly because he let starting pitcher David Cone throw 147 pitches, rather than trust a reliever warming up, a young Panamanian named Mariano Rivera.

"147 pitches." Joe Girardi, who was then a catcher for the Colorado Rockies, would have a brain aneurysm if he read those words.

It was also the last game as a major league player for Don Mattingly. George Steinbrenner will hire Joe Torre as manager, and Bob Watson as general manager, who will make the trades to bring Mariners Tino Martinez and Jeff Nelson, and Cub catcher Joe Girardi, to New York. The Last Baseball Dynasty is about to begin.

And that's the 1st reason why it's a good thing that the Yankees lost: If the Yankees had won, they might have beaten the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series, and they might have beat the Atlanta Braves in the World Series. But there's no guarantee. And there's certainly no guarantee that, without the changes made in the 1995-96 off-season, the Yankee Dynasty that we know, from 1996 to 2003, would have happened. Seriously: If the Yankees hadn't lost to the Mariners, do you think they would have traded for Mariners Tino and Nellie?

It was more than that: By winning this series, the Mariners saved Major League Baseball in the Pacific Northwest. A ballot measure to fund the building of a new ballpark passed, and Safeco Field opened in 1999. If the Yankees had won, then the measure might not have passed, and, today, the Mariners would likely be playing their home games in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. At least, with the area's nautical tradition, they wouldn't have to change their name: They could be the Tampa Bay Mariners.

The Mariners lost the ALCS to the Indians, and Cleveland has its 1st Pennant in 41 years. The Indians lost the World Series to the Braves, and Atlanta had its 1st Pennant in 30 seasons of trying. Each set of fans had waited a long time, through close calls and many awful seasons in awful stadiums, with sparse crowds. At least Braves fans had Hank Aaron for some of that; aside from Bob Feller for the first couple of years of the drought, what did Indians fans have? The young Rocky Colavito, the unfulfilled promise of pitchers Herb Score and Sam McDowell, a Cy Young season from Gaylord Perry, the end of Frank Robinson's playing career, and the too-soon trades of Dennis Eckersley and Joe Carter?

With 20 years of hindsight, it is better that the Yankees lost. Seattle, Cleveland and Atlanta fans had waited a long time for what they got in October 1995. The Yankees would take stock, make the necessary adjustments, and win much more.

It also helped that Donnie Regular Season Baseball was gone, at least until he returned as a coach in 2004. Don Mattingly played 14 seasons for the Yankees (1982-95), had 4 seasons as a Yankee coach (2004-07), 3 seasons as a Dodger coach (2008-10), 5 seasons as Dodger manager, and was Miami Marlins manager this year, missing the Playoffs. That makes it 27 seasons in a major league uniform for Don Mattingly. Pennants won: Exactly none. Will people finally start to take my assertions of "The Curse of Donnie Baseball" seriously?

As for Buck Showalter, he became the manager of the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks, and got them into the 1999 Playoffs, but was fired after 2000 -- and then they won the 2001 World Series. So, again a team won it all the year after they fired him.

Today, William Nathaniel Showalter III manages the Baltimore Orioles, and, in 2014, he got them in the ALCS. This was the 1st time he has managed a team into a League Championship Series. But he lost it. He got them to this year's Wild Card Game, but screwed it up by bringing in the wrong reliever. He's never won a Pennant, either.

One more thing, before I move on to the other anniversaries: After the game, Mattingly told the media, "I have a hard time feeling bad about it." Mattingly said that, having finished a 14-season career in which he won nothing, except that 1 Wild Card berth, and Yankee Fans still love him.

Just 12 years later, Tom Glavine picked the worst possible time to have the worst game of his career, preventing the Mets from getting into the 2007 Playoffs. After the game, he told the media, "I'm disappointed, but not devastated."

Glavine said that, a year after helping the Mets to get within 1 win of a Pennant, and Met fans, the Flushing Heathen, were so furious at him, it meant that the Mets couldn't re-sign him. He finished his career back in Atlanta the next season.

Glavine said he was "not devastated," and Met fans still hate his guts. Mattingly said, "I have a hard time feeling bad about it," and most Yankee Fans love him, most of them not even knowing he ever said that. Maybe this pair of occasions is a pair of occasions when Met fans were the smart ones, and Yankee Fans were the stupid ones.


October 8, 1999: John McClendon dies in the Cleveland suburbs at age 84. He coached basketball at "historically black colleges," inventing what became known as the full-court press and the four corners offense, then was hired as the 1st black coach at in a basketball league with major league pretensions, the American Basketball League. The year was 1961. The team was the Cleveland Pipers. The owner was a 31-year-old shipbuilding executive named George Steinbrenner. The result was the 1962 ABL Championship -- the only title in the league's history, as it folded in the middle of the next season.

In 1966, Cleveland State hired McClendon, making him the 1st black head coach at a mostly-white school. Overall, his college coaching record was 496-179, for a winning percentage of .735. He briefly coached the Denver Rockets of the ABA (now the Denver Nuggets). He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1979.


October 8, 2000: The Mets win a postseason series. Stop laughing. They blank the Giants, 4-0 at Shea Stadium, to win the NLDS in 4 games. Bobby Jones, who was sent to the minors earlier in the season to work on his mechanics, retires the side in order 8 of the 9 innings, allowing only a 5th-inning double to Jeff Kent. It is only the 6th complete-game 1-hitter in postseason history.

October 8, 2003: Game 1 of the ALCS. David Ortiz (later exposed as a steroid cheat), Manny Ramirez (ditto) and Todd Walker (clean, as far as I know) hit home runs, all off Mike Mussina, and the Red Sox beat the Yankees 5-2.

October 8, 2004: The Red Sox complete a 3-game ALDS sweep of the Oakland Athletics, 8-6, as Ortiz takes Francisco Rodriguez deep in the 10th inning. (Cough-steroids-cough) The Sox will try to get revenge over the Yankees not just for last season's ALCS, but for 86 years of frustration.

October 8, 2007: And so it came to pass that, 12 years to the day after the Buck Showalter era ended, so did the Joe Torre era. A 6-4 defeat to the Cleveland Indians in Game 4 of the ALDS at Yankee Stadium proves to be Torre's final game with the Yankees.

The veteran skipper, who during his 12-year tenure with the Bronx Bombers saw the team win 1,173 games and make the postseason every year, will later reject a $5 million, 1-year contract to return as manager, a deal many believe to be structured to oust the popular pilot without upsetting the fans.

This was also the final postseason game at the original Yankee Stadium, ending not with a bang, or with a whimper, but a few grumbles.

Also on this day, Marion Jones surrenders the 3 Gold and 2 Bronze Medals she won for America as a sprinter at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, for having tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

October 8, 2009: A 9th inning error by left fielder Matt Holliday with the bases empty and 2 outs leads to the Dodgers' stunning 3-2 walk-off victory over the Cardinals, and gives Los Angeles a commanding 2-0 game advantage in the NLDS. After the crucial miscue on the sinking line drive, Cardinals' closer Ryan Franklin gives up RBI singles to Ronnie Belliard and pinch-hitter Mark Loretta, to complete the improbable rally.

October 8, 2011: Al Davis dies of heart disease at age 82. He was smart, but not always wise. He was sneaky, he was underhanded, he was conniving, and from 1966 to 1984, with brief revivals in 1990 and 2001-03, he usually got the job done. For most football fans, he was the Raiders, first in Oakland, then in Los Angeles, then in Oakland again.

The team is now owned by his son, Mark Davis -- and he's considering moving them again, to Las Vegas. Al had talked the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority into altering the Coliseum for the Raiders' benefit, ruining its baseball atmosphere, to get them to move back in 1995. Now, Mark doesn't like their arrangement, and wants out.

Also on this day, the Colorado Avalanche retire the Number 21 of Peter Forsberg, before their season opener at the Pepsi Center. The lose 3-0 to the Detroit Red Wings.

October 8, 2013: Andy Pafko dies at a nursing home in Wisconsin. He was 92. A 5-time All-Star, he hit 213 home runs in a career, mainly as a left fielder, that lasted from 1943 to 1959. He was one of the last living Chicago Cubs to have played in a World Series, in 1945; the left fielder for the Dodgers over whom Bobby Thomson's Pennant-winning homer flew, in 1951; and a member of Milwaukee's only World Series winner, with the 1957 Braves. 

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