Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame Mickey Owen for the Brooklyn Dodgers Losing the 1941 World Series

October 5, 1941, 75 years ago: Game 4 of the World Series at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. It made the home fans shudder. I read an interview once, with a Dodger fan, whose name I've forgotten, citing a far more important, and more traumatic, event that happened just 2 months later: "I was there. I remember that like I remember Pearl Harbor."

Arnold Malcolm Owen -- sometimes incorrectly listed as "Mickey Owens," but there was never an S on the end -- was a 4-time National League All-Star as catcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, was elected a County Sheriff, and ran the Mickey Owen Baseball School. For the last 64 years of his life, he was decent enough to field questions about the one part of his life that everyone seems to remember.
The Yankees led the Dodgers 2 games to 1, but trailed the Dodgers 4-3 in the top of the 9th. There were 2 out. Reliever Hugh Casey was on the mound for the Dodgers, and Tommy Henrich came to bat for the Yankees. Casey got 2 strikes. Then he threw…

Casey said it was a curveball. Henrich also said he thought it was a curveball. But many observers, including the Yankees' rookie shortstop, Phil Rizzuto, said that they thought it was a spitball.

Henrich swung and missed. Strike 3. Ballgame over. Dodgers win, and the World Series is tied at 2 games apiece.

Except… Owen didn't catch the 3rd strike! The ball tailed away from him, as spitballs have been known to do, and he couldn't hold onto it. It rolled all the way to the screen. Henrich saw this, and ran to 1st, and Owen didn't even time to get off a throw.

It is the most famous passed ball in baseball history, but if it was a spitball, which was and remains an illegal pitch anyway, then it should be the most famous wild pitch, and Casey, rather than Owen, should be faulted.

No matter. Casey only needed to get 1 more out. Even if Henrich represented the tying run and the next batter represented the winning run. Just 1 more out.

The batter was Joe DiMaggio. Uh-oh, you don't give the Yankee Clipper a written invitation to keep a game alive. Especially not in 1941, when he had his 56-game hitting streak and had become the most celebrated athlete in America, ahead of Ted Williams and his .406 average, ahead of football stars Sammy Baugh, Sid Luckman and Don Hutson, ahead of even heavyweight champion Joe Louis.

DiMaggio singled to left. Now the tying run was on 2nd, the potential winning run on 1st. But there were still 2 outs. If Casey could get the next batter, the game would still end, however precariously, with a Dodger victory.

The batter was Charlie Keller. At this point in his career, before a back injury curtailed it, he looked like he was headed to the Hall of Fame. And he did nothing to dispel that in this at-bat: He rocketed a Casey delivery off the right-field wall, and Henrich and DiMaggio scored.

Keller would later say, "When I got to 2nd base, you could have heard a pin drop in Ebbets Field." The noisiest, most raucous ballpark of his time had been stunned into silence.

The Yankees scored 2 more runs in the inning, won 7-4, and won the World Series in the next day's Game 5.

Keller would also say that, having won their 1st Pennant in 21 years, and having gotten past the arch-rival New York Giants to do it -- the Giants' last Pennant had been 4 years earlier and their last World Series win 8 -- Dodger fans were talking about "taking over New York," that they were now more popular than the Giants (probably true), and that soon they would beat the Yankees and were already more popular.

Sound familiar? It was just as stupid then as it has been in recent years when coming from Met fans, the children and grandchildren of the Dodger and Giant fans of the Forties and Fifties.

But don't blame Owen for losing the '41 Series.

Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame Mickey Owen for the Brooklyn Dodgers Losing the 1941 World Series

5. Hugh Casey. He threw the pitch. Even if the pitch was a curve, a totally legal pitch, it was still in a bad spot. And Casey was never the most clutch of relief pitchers.

4. Leo Durocher. The Dodger manager messed up the pitching rotation that had won the Pennant. And he admitted it, a rare occasion when Leo the Lip didn't blame someone else, such as an umpire or a dirty player on the other team, and didn't try to claim credit solely for himself.

Durocher started Curt Davis in Game 1, on 9 days' rest. He could have had an additional start in between. Game 2: Whitlow Wyatt, on 7 days' rest. He could have had an additional start in between, or started the opener, since he was the Dodgers' current ace.

Fred Fitzsimmons, once a great Giant pitcher and a Dodger nemesis, once hated but now beloved by Dodger fans, pitched on September 18, and Durocher didn't use him again until Game 3 of the Series -- 16 days later! He could have had 3 additional starts. The fact that Fat Freddie pitched pretty well in Game 3 helps Durocher, but not much. In Game 4, the game we're looking at here, he started Kirby Higbe, who was on 11 days' rest, so he could have had 2 additional starts. In Game 5, he started Wyatt on 3 days' rest.

The rotation should have been Wyatt, Fitzsimmons, Higbe, Wyatt again, and then, if it went further than that, Fitzsimmons in Game 5, Higbe in Game 6, and Wyatt again in Game 7. Instead, Durocher really blew it.

3. Marius Russo -- Two-Way Threat. The day before, in Game 3, Russo had not only pitched brilliantly, but hit a line drive off Fitzsimmons' knee, literally knocking him out of the game and the Series.

2. Tommy Henrich. He was alert enough to realize that he could take 1st, and it was DiMaggio and Keller who followed it up with key hits.

1. The Yankees Were Better. Certainly, with many of the men on that '41 team having played on World Championship teams in '39 and '38, some in '37 and '36, a few even in '32, they were much more experienced.

The Dodgers had finished 2nd in '40 and 3rd in '39, but before that, the team hadn't been in a Pennant race since '24 or a World Series since '20. Only Durocher, Joe Medwick (both '34 Cardinals), Fitzsimmons ('33 and '36 Giants), Billy Herman ('32, '35 and '38 Cubs), Johnny Allen ('32 Yankees) and a washed-up Paul Waner ('27 Pirates) had appeared in a World Series before.

VERDICT: Not Guilty. "Mickey Owen's Muff," as it came to be known, was bad, but it was hardly the biggest, and certainly not the chronological first, reason the Dodgers lost the 1941 World Series.

Despite America's entry into World War II, Owen never went into the service. I wonder if some Dodger fans said, "Mickey Owen is such a bum, even the Army don't want him!"

I wonder if a lot of the accolades that would later come the way of Roy Campanella were due to Mickey Owen's Muff. That Campy might have been cheered not just for what he was, a fantastic player and a good guy, but for what he wasn't: Owen.

It's not fair to Owen. He was widely respected prior to the '41 Series, and most Dodger fans didn't go on to hate him. Certainly, he escaped the scorn that was heaped on Ralph Branca after 1951. And neither one of them got the kind of treatment that Bill Buckner got from Boston fans after 1986.
Which is a good thing. Nobody deserves that. Well, maybe not nobody… But certainly not Buckner, nor Branca, nor Owen.

Owen died on July 13, 2005, in his home town of Mount Vernon, Missouri. He was 89. Henrich died on December 1, 2009, as the last survivor of this game. He was also the last surviving person who had been a teammate of Lou Gehrig. Herman Franks, who later helped steal a Pennant from the Dodgers as a 1951 New York Giant, had died earlier in 2009 as the last surviving '41 Dodger.

Today, Sandlot Baseball Missouri, formerly the Mickey Owen Baseball School, is still open on State Highway 96 in Miller, Missouri, in the southwestern part of the State, in the Ozark Mountains, about halfway between Joplin and Springfield -- 238 miles southwest of St. Louis, 171 miles southeast of Kansas City, 64 miles northwest of Branson (the "Redneck Vegas"), and 80 miles northeast of Mickey Mantle's hometown of Commerce, Oklahoma.


October 5, 1703: Jonathan Edwards is born in East Windsor, outside Hartford, Connecticut. He was America's 1st great theologian, shaping the First Great Awakening in the 1730s and 1740s at his church in Northampton, Massachusetts.

In 1758, he was installed as President of the College of New Jersey, later Princeton University. Unfortunately, there was a smallpox outbreak, and he soon died of it. He had succeeded his son-in-law as the College's President, but he, too, had died in the outbreak. His name was Aaron Burr. His son, and Edwards' grandson, was also named Aaron Burr, and his role in the 1st generation of American leadership would be legendary for reasons both good and not.

October 5, 1751: James Iredell is born in Lewes, East Sussex, England. He immigrated to North Carolina, and was an early advocate for independence with his writings. Although not a member of the Continental Congress, he did sign the Constitution in 1787. He also served as Attorney General of North Carolina and an early Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He died in 1799.

October 5, 1813: The Battle of the Thames is fought near Chatham, Ontario, as part of the War of 1812. General William Henry Harrison led U.S. troops to defeat a combined force of British troops under General Henry Procter and Native American troops under Chief Tecumseh.

Tecumseh himself was killed in action, at the age of 45, and Tecumseh's Confederacy, his attempt at uniting what would now be called "Native Americans" in the U.S. and "First Nations" in Canada against the U.S. government fell apart. Any chance the "Indians" had of being a serious threat to American expansionism was over. They would have their victories (most notably at Little Bighorn, Montana in 1876), but, essentially, their day was done.

Oddly, Harrison is far better known for a far less significant battle, in Indiana, 2 years earlier: The Battle of Tippecanoe. He was already known as Old Tippecanoe (or Old Tip for short), and it would lead to his being elected President in 1840.

The fighting in Canada led to the beginning of a Canadian identity, within the British Empire and not quite separate from it. Confederation was achieved in 1867, but not until the 1920s, after World War I, would a real governmental separation be achieved, and not until the repatriation of the Constitution of Canada in 1982 would Canada be mostly independent. Even today, the British monarch is Canada's head of state.

And Chatham turned out to be the place where Ferguson Jenkins, the 1st and still only Canadian to make the Baseball Hall of Fame, was born and raised.

October 5, 1824: Henry Chadwick (no middle name) is born in Exeter, Devon, England, and moved with is family to Brooklyn at age 12. He wrote and taught music, and loved the English games of cricket and rounders, and when The New York Times was founded in 1851, he was hired as their 1st cricket reporter. But by the time he was a young man in the 1840s, those games were already being phased out in America, in favor of baseball -- and, upon covering his 1st game in 1856, he loved it.

In 1857, he was hired by the New York Clipper, and became the world's 1st true baseball beat writer. From 1860 to 1881, he edited The Beadle Dime Base-Ball Player, which was in its time what Spalding's Base Ball Guide, The Sporting News, The Baseball Encyclopedia and Total Baseball were in their times, and what is now: The closest thing there was to a definitive source on the sport, both currently and historically. He later wrote for Spalding's Base Ball Guide.

It was long told that Henry Chadwick invented the box score, adapting it from the scorecards kept for cricket matches. We now know this to not be true, as box scores have been found as far back as 1845, but he did popularize them, and he did help to standardize baseball statistics, and thus to popularize the game itself in the 1860s and '70s.

He became known as "The Father of Baseball." Today, we would call him "The First Sportswriter," "The First Stathead," "The First Seamhead," and "The First Sabermetrician." Grantland Rice, Fred Lieb, Shirley Povich, Dick Young, Jim Murray, Dan Shaughnessy? They can all be traced back to Henry Chadwick. So can Peter Gammons and Bill James. In a way, so can Billy Beane and Allen Barra.

He died on April 20, 1908, at the age of 83, not long after becoming one of the first famous people to be hit by a car. He had lived long enough to see baseball become the National Pastime, and to see both the National League and the American League, and their postseason World Series, established. In the preceding season of 1907, he went to Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, or the Polo Grounds or Hilltop Park in Upper Manhattan, and watched Cy Young, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, Nap Lajoie, 20-year-old Ty Cobb, and a pair of 19-year-old rookies named Tris Speaker and Walter Johnson. However, he would have just missed, starting the next year, the first concrete-and-steel stadiums: Shibe Park in Philadelphia, Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, and the last edition of Sportsman's Park in St. Louis.

He was buried in Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery, along with many other personalities from the early days of baseball. In 1938, he and Alexander Cartwright, the rulesmith who has also been called The Father of Baseball, were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

October 5, 1829: Chester Alan Arthur is born in Fairfield, Vermont, but lives most of his life in the State of New York, either in or around the State capital of Albany or in Manhattan. He practiced law, and was a key figure in the New York Militia during the U.S. Civil War, rising to the rank of Brigadier General.

In 1871, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him Collector of the Port of New York; unlike some other holders of that post in the late 19th Century, he did not take advantage of the massive opportunities for ill-gotten gains. This got the attention of the State Republican Party, and he was named Chairman in 1879.

In 1880, he was nominated for Vice President of the United States, to appease a faction of the party that was not happy with the nomination of Representative James Garfield of Ohio for President. They won a very close election. Garfield was shot on July 2, 1881, and died on September 19, 1881, making "Chet" Arthur the 21st President of the United States.

Perhaps no new President -- yet -- ever came into the office with fewer qualifications. After serving out Garfield's term, he left the office on March 4, 1885, and few Presidents have ever been so widely praised upon leaving. He made no truly damaging mistakes, and signed the civil service reform known as the Pendleton Act into law in 1883.

He was already suffering from Bright's disease, a kidney ailment treatable (though not curable) now, but not then. Earlier in 1884, it killed Alice Roosevelt, 1st wife of Theodore. It would kill First Lady Ellen Wilson in 1914 and Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee in 1929. Knowing he would not survive what would have amounted to a 2nd term, Arthur did not run in 1884, and died on November 18, 1886, just 57 years old. He is buried at Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands, New York.


October 5, 1857: The City of Anaheim is founded in Orange County, California. In 1966, it became the home of the baseball team then known as the Los Angeles Angels. They became the California Angels upon moving to Anaheim, the Anaheim Angels in 1997, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2004. (Not only is Anaheim not part of the City of Los Angeles, it's not even in the County of Los Angeles.)

Anaheim would also be home to the Anaheim Amigos, who played in the 1st season of the American Basketball Association, 1967-68; the Los Angeles Rams from 1980 to 1994; and the Anaheim Ducks of the NHL since 1993. In 1992, the Los Angeles Clippers moved a home Playoff game from the Los Angeles Sports Arena, very close to the site of the South Central riot, to the Anaheim Convention Center.

October 5, 1859: Classes begin at the University of Maryland, in College Park, 8 miles north of Washington, D.C. and 28 miles southwest of Baltimore. The school would later produce championship football and basketball teams, and, defying the segregationist stands of its former football coach and President, Curley Byrd, would host the 1966 NCAA Final Four in which the all-black Texas Western (now Texas El-Paso) would defeat the all-white Kentucky to win the National Championship.

October 5, 1888: James "Pud" Galvin of the Pittsburgh Pirates defeats the Washington Nationals (not the current team by that name), 5-1, at the Swampoodle Grounds in Washington. Union Station and the National Postal Museum would later be built on the site, just north of Capitol Hill, as the neighborhood known as Swampoodle is no more. (Philadelphia also had a neighborhood of that name.)

Galvin thus becomes the 1st pitcher to win 300 games in a career. His career win total eventually reached 364, including 2 no-hitters, although it should be pointed out that he retired after the 1892 season, a year before the pitching distance became standardized as 60 feet, 6 inches.

As for his retroactively raunchy nickname, it was said that Jim Galvin "made the hitters look like pudding."

October 5, 1889: New York wins the Pennant on the final day of the season, by beating the Cleveland Spiders 5-3 at League Park in Cleveland, while Boston loses in Pittsburgh 6-1.

Yet another New York edges out Boston in baseball story. Except this might be the 1st time it happened in sports, the League is the National, the New York team is the Giants, and the Boston team is the Beaneaters, who would later be renamed the Braves.

The manager is Jim Mutrie, who gave the former New York Gothams their name: Pleased about a victory in 1885, "Smilin' Jeems" called his players "my big boys, my giants."

Ironically, the man also known as "Truthful Jim" was a native of the Boston are: Chelsea, Massachusetts. Born in 1851 and raised playing cricket, he switched to baseball, played in the minors, made some smart business deals, founded the New York Metropolitans of the American Association (the "original New York Mets," if you prefer), and in 1883 bought the Troy Trojans, and moved them out of the Albany area to Manhattan.

Under the rules of the time, he was allowed to own both teams. He even built a complex of 2 baseball fields, facing each other, one for the Giants, the other for the Metropolitans, on a polo field owned by newspaper publisher James Gordon Bennett. It became known as the Polo Grounds, and stood between 110th and 112th Streets, and 5th and 6th Avenues. The Giants had to move because the City decided it had to extend 111th Street through it, leading to the construction of the more familiar Polo Grounds complex at 155th Street and 8th Avenue at the other end of Harlem.

He managed the Mets to the 1884 AA Pennant, then switched to managing the Giants. He won back-to-back Pennants in 1888 and 1889, got fed up with baseball after the 1890 Players League revolt, and opened a hotel in Elmira, New York, living until 1938.

With such a big legacy, why is Mutrie not in the Baseball Hall of Fame? His "big boys," his Giants, included 6 men who are in the Hall: Pitchers Tim Keefe and Mickey Welch, catcher Buck Ewing, 1st baseman Roger Connor (baseball's all-time home run leader before Babe Ruth), outfielder "Orator Jim" O'Rourke and all-purpose man (but mainly shortstop) John Montgomery "Monte" Ward. Ironically, they also included pitcher Hank O'Day, who would be elected to the Hall as an umpire -- but is best known as the ump who ruled Fred Merkle out at 2nd base to cost the Giants a key 1908 game and, eventually, the Pennant.

Also on this day, David H. Walsh is born in Hoboken, Hudson County, New Jersey. He wrote the 1st Manual of Basketball Officiating, and was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame as a referee, the 1st man so honored -- unless you count James Naismith, the inventor of the sport, who reffed the 1st game in 1891. Walsh lived until 1975.

October 5, 1890: Nicolaas Steelink is born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He was convicted of "criminal syndicalism" due to his association with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) during World War I. After he got out of prison in 1922, he founded the California Soccer League, and was one of the movers and shakers in American soccer into the 1960s. He died in 1989, and is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.


October 5, 1902: Raymond Albert Kroc is born in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Illinois. A milkshake machine salesman, he noticed that 8 of his machines had been mail-ordered by the brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald of San Bernardino, California. He visited their restaurant to find out why he was so successful with them, and discovered that their idea for a quick hamburger restaurant was a great idea. The McDonald's empire was born.

A big baseball fan, in 1974 he learned that the San Diego Padres were for sale. They had come very close to being moved to Washington, D.C. He bought the Padres, keeping them in San Diego.

On Opening Day, the Padres were about to lose 9-5 to the Houston Astros, and Kroc took the public address microphone at San Diego Stadium (now Qualcomm Stadium). He apologized to the crowd of 39,083 fans, saying, "I've never seen such stupid ballplaying in my life!" The crowd roared its approval.

He died in 1984, just before the season that would end with the Padres' 1st Pennant. His initials RAK would remain on the Padres' sleeves until 1990, when his widow Joan sold the team.

October 5, 1905: The Brooklyn Superbas (later the Dodgers) beat the Boston Beaneaters (later the Braves), 11-5 at Washington Park in Brooklyn. Brooklyn had already lost 103 games, and it's the 100th loss for Boston. This is the 1st time in major league history that teams that lost 100 games in a season have been opponents in that season.

October 5, 1906, 110 years ago: With the season ending, the Giants give Henry Mathewson, Christy's brother, a starting chance against Boston. He promptly puts his name in the record books -- but not in a good way: He establishes a modern NL record by walking 14 Beaneaters. He also hits a batter. He goes the distance, and allows just 5 hits‚ but the Braves-to-be win 7-1.

Henry will pitch another inning next year‚ but this is his only major league decision. For many years, Christy and Henry held the record for most combined pitching wins by brothers: 373 -- Christy 373, Henry 0. The record is now held by the Niekros: Phil won 318, and Joe won 221, for a total of 539. That broke the record of the Perrys: Gaylord won 314, Jim 215, for a total of 529.

I was watching a Met game against the San Diego Padres on WOR (now WWOR)-Channel 9 when Gaylord Perry was pitching for them. Met broadcaster Bob Murphy asked the trivia question of whose record the Perrys broke, and said, "I'll give you a hint: It was not Dizzy and Daffy Dean." In careers shortened by injury, Diz won 150 and Daff won only 50, for a total of 200. This was a great trivia question, since, while Christy Mathewson's name is still known today, most fans aren't even aware that he had a brother.

October 5, 1906: Renato William Jones is born in Rome, Italy. A 1928 graduate of Springfield College, where basketball had been invented in 1891, he is essentially the father of European basketball. He founded FIBA, the world's governing body for international basketball, and served as its Secretary-General from 1932 until 1976. It was his work that got basketball adopted as an Olympic sport, staring in Berlin in 1936. In 1964, he was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

But American basketball fans should not celebrate him. It was his decision at the end of the Gold Medal Game at the 1972 Olympics in Munich that got 3 seconds put back on the clock, allowing the Soviet Union to defeat the U.S. team. It was the most controversial result in Olympic history. He died in 1981.

October 5, 1908: The Pennant race in the American League is as tight as the one in the National League, although not nearly as crazy. Ed Walsh of the Chicago White Sox tops the Detroit Tigers 6-1, for his 40th victory, and extends the race to the final day.

Walsh leads the league in games (66)‚ innings pitched (464)‚ strikeouts (269)‚ complete games (42)‚ saves (6)‚ shutouts (11)‚ and winning percentage (.727). His ERA is 1.42. Those numbers for games, innings and complete games will be untouchable until some sort of rule change kicks in. The figure of 40 wins trails only Jack Chesbro's 41 as the most in AL history, and the 464 innings is the most ever under the 60-feet-6-inches pitching distance.

The St. Louis Browns end the Pennant hopes of the Cleveland Naps (forerunners of the Indians) with a 3-1 win the opener of a doubleheader. Cleveland takes the 2nd game‚ 5-3‚ to end the season with a 90-64 record. If the Tigers win tomorrow‚ their 90-63 will top Cleveland. If the White Sox win‚ their 89-63 record will be .004 ahead of the Naps. But this is as close as Cleveland 2nd baseman/manager/namesake Napoleon "Nap" Lajoie will ever get to a Pennant.

October 5, 1909: Anthony Francis Malinosky is born in the St. Louis suburb of Collinsville, Illinois. A 3rd baseman and shortstop, he went to Whittier College outside Los Angeles, where he was a classmate of future President Richard Nixon. In 1937, he played 35 games with the Brooklyn Dodgers, but that was his only time in the major leagues.

He was drafted into the U.S. Army for World War II, and saw combat at the Battle of the Bulge. He settled in Oxnard, California, not far from Los Angeles to which the Dodgers had moved. In 2009, shortly before his 100th birthday, the Dodgers held a ceremony honoring him, which he attended. He died on February 8, 2011, at age 101 the oldest living former MLB player at the time.


October 5, 1910: Philadelphia Athletics manager/co-owner Connie Mack inserts his son Earle Mack behind the plate in a game against the New York Highlanders (forerunners of the Yankees) at Shibe Park. This is the 1st time that a manager has put his son in a game as a player.

Earle‚ who hit .135 in 26 minor league games this year‚ belies that stat with a single and triple while catching Eddie Plank and Jack Coombs. The Highlanders beat the A's 7-4, but it was hardly Earle's fault.

Earle will mop up in late-season games next year and again in 1914‚ and serve for 25 years as his father's coach, before moving into the front office. His brother Connie Jr. would also play for the A's.

In 1950, Earle, Connie Jr. and their other brother Roy would finally maneuver their 88-year-old father out of the day-to-day operations of the club. No manager would again put his son into a game until 1985, when Yogi Berra played his son Dale with the Yankees. Cal Ripken Sr. would also manage Cal Jr.

October 5, 1911: The National Commission, then the governing body for baseball, sells motion picture rights to the upcoming World Series for $3‚500 -- about $85,000 in today's money. When the players demand a share of it‚ the Commission cancels the deal. Yes, baseball team owners -- for it was they who controlled the Commission, like they now control the Commissioner -- were that petty.

October 5, 1912: The New York Highlanders play their last game under that name before officially changing their name to the Yankees, which pretty much everybody is calling them by now anyway. It is also their last game at their original home, Hilltop Park, at 165th Street and Broadway in Washington Heights, Manhattan. (The Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center is on the site now.) Their 10-year lease has run out, and they will soon sign a 10-year lease as tenants of the Giants at the Polo Grounds.

The Yankees are playing the same team against whom they played their 1st game and their 1st home game, in 1903: The Washington Senators. The Yankees win, 8-6, breaking a 10-game losing streak. They still finish last: At 50-102, their .329 winning percentage remains the lowest in club history.

Hal Chase and Jack Lelivelt hit home runs. Homer Thompson, in his only major league appearance, is a defensive replacement as catcher (and, like Archie "Moonlight" Graham of the Giants 7 years earlier, doesn't get to bat). His brother Tommy Thompson is the last New York pitcher. This makes them the 1st battery of brothers in AL history.

October 5, 1916, 100 years ago: Roy Gordon Conacher is born in Toronto. Not nearly as famous as his brothers Charlie and Lionel, he did join them in the Hockey Hall of Fame, the only trio of brothers so honored in any of the "big four" sports. The left wing won the Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins in 1939 and 1941, and the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer in 1949, with the Chicago Blackhawks. He died in 1984, at age 68.

October 5, 1918: Captain Edward Leslie Grant, U.S. Army, becomes the 1st Major League Baseball player to be killed in military combat. The former Giants 3rd baseman is hit by a shell while leading the 307th Infantry to rescue the Lost Battalion, the name given to a contingent of roughly 554 soldiers of the United States 77th Division isolated by the German forces after an American attack in the Argonne Forest of France in World War I.

Eddie was 35, and was buried in a military cemetery nearby in Lorraine. Although 197 men in the Lost Battalion were killed, and another 150 missing and never recovered, 194 were soon rescued.

On Memorial Day, May 29, 1921, representatives from the armed forces, baseball, and Grant's sisters of Grant unveiled a monument to him at the Polo Grounds -- on the field in center field. This was the 1st time something like this had been done in baseball, and preceded the Miller Huggins Monument, the beginning of what became the Yankees' Monument Park, by 11 years.

The monument would later be joined on the wall of the center field clubhouse by plaques in memory of Giants legends John McGraw, Christy Mathewson and Ross Youngs; football Giants Al Blozis and Jack Lummus, both of whom were killed in World War II; and Jimmy Walker, New York's raffish, corrupt 1920s Mayor who was a big sports fan and a Giants supporter.

After the baseball Giants' last game there in 1957, the plaque was pried from the monument; when the Mets debuted at the Polo Grounds in 1962, the marble slab was still in center field, but the plaque was long gone. Despite a recent claim by a former New York cop that he had it in his house in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, the real thing has never been found.

The Giants, who hadn't won a World Series since moving to San Francisco, dedicated a replacement plaque at AT&T Park in 2006. They have since won 2 World Series and are in a decent position to win a 3rd, thus ending what some called "The Curse of Captain Eddie." As for the whereabouts of the other 6 Polo Grounds plaques, your guess is as good as mine.

If you count the National Association of 1871 to 1875 as having been a "major league," then the 1st major league ballplayer to die in military service was Army Private William E. "Bill" Stearns, a pitcher for that league's team named the Washington Nationals. He died on December 30, 1898, at the age of 45, in his hometown of Washington. However, he died of an illness, not in combat, even though the Spanish-American War had been fought, and the Philippine Campaign was still going on. Why he was still only a Private at 45, I don't know.

The same day that Grant was killed, French pilot Roland Garros is shot down by the Germans over Vouziers, in the Ardennes. He was 29, and had been an avid tennis player. In 1928, Stade Roland Garros opened as the new home of the French Open.


October 5, 1920: Jacob Gill Gaudaur Jr. is born in Orillia, Ontario. A center and linebacker in Canadian football, Jake Gaudaur entered the Royal Canadian Air Force, and played on one of the service teams that replaced pro teams during World War II, the Toronto RCAF Hurricanes, and won the 1942 Grey Cup.

After the war, he played for the Hamilton Tigers and then, after their 1950 merger with the Hamilton Wildcats, the combined team, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He finished his playing career after they won the 1953 Grey Cup. He then served as team president, presiding over the Grey Cup wins of 1957, 1963, 1965 and 1967. He then became them CFL's longest-serving Commissioner, 1968 to 1984. He was elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, and died in 2007.

October 5, 1921: The Yankees play their 1st World Series game, in the 1st one-city Series since 1906 in Chicago. Babe Ruth drives in the 1st run, Mike McNally steals home plate, and Carl Mays pitches a 5-hit shutout (4 of the hits by Frankie Frisch), as the Yankees beat the Giants 3-0.

It is the 1st World Series game broadcast on radio -- oddly, by a Pittsburgh station, KDKA, the 1st true American radio station. And the announcer is a Southerner, Grantland Rice, beginning a tradition of Southern broadcasters in New York that would include, among others, Mel Allen of the Yankees, Red Barber of the Dodgers, and longtime WABC and WCBS-FM disc jockey Ron Lundy.

Also on this day, William Karnet Willis is born in Columbus, Ohio. A guard on Ohio State's National Championship football team in 1942, in 1946 Bill Willis became, along with his new teammate Marion Motley, and Kenny Washington and Woody Strode of the Los Angeles Rams, 1 of the 1st 4 black players in the NFL after the drawing of the color line in 1933. He helped the Cleveland Browns win the All-America Football Conference title in all 4 years of that league's existence: 1946, '47, '48 and '49. Then the Browns moved into the NFL, and they won the title there in 1950.

He later became the Chairman of the Ohio Youth Commission, and was named to the NFL's 1940s All-Decade Team (even though the Browns didn't enter the NFL until 1950), the Cleveland Browns Ring of Honor, and the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame. He lived until 2007.

October 5, 1922: Game 2 of the World Series. The game between the Yankees and Giants is tied 3-3 after 10 innings, when umpire George Hildebrand calls the game due to darkness. Both teams protest, saying they can see just fine. Sunset was not for another hour. A crowd of 36,514, about equally divided between the teams, is furious, and it takes a police escort to get Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis out of the park and away from the unruly mob.

That night, Judge Landis (not a nickname, he had actually been a federal Judge), in one of the few compromises he will ever make, bends over backwards to negate the public's opinion that the game might have been called to provide an extra day's gate, by donating the $120‚554 in receipts to charities -- about $1.73 million in today's money. Half will go to New York charities‚ and half to disabled soldiers from the recent World War.

Also on this day, John Stein is born in Burnbank, Scotland. No middle name, and that's pronounced "STEEN," not "STINE." Like many Scots, especially those named John, he was nicknamed "Jock." After years of playing centre half with Coatbridge side Albion Rovers, and an ill-fated season with Llanelli Town in Wales, in 1951 he signed with Celtic of Glasgow, and helped them win the Scottish Football League title in 1954.

He managed Dunfermline Athletic to the 1961 Scottish Cup, and spent some time at Hibernian of Edinburgh, before Celtic hired him as manager in 1965. He managed them to 9 consecutive titles, 1966 to 1974, and a 10th in 1977. He led them to 8 Scottish Cups from 1965 to 1977. He managed them to 6 Scottish League Cups from 1966 to 1975.

In 1967, he became the 1st manager of a British team, and the 1st British manager, to win the European Cup, as Celtic beat Internazionale Milano in Lisbon in the Final, earning them the nickname the Lisbon Lions. As Celtic also won all 3 domestic trophies, they became the 1st, and remain the only, side in European history to win such a Quadruple.

Like Brian Clough, he was a successful manager who nonetheless managed very briefly at Leeds United -- each man managing the Yorkshire club for just 44 days. He managed Scotland briefly in 1965, and was hired to manage the national side again in 1978. He got them into the 1982 World Cup. In 1985, managing a Home Nations match against Wales at Ninian Park in Cardiff, which ended in a 1-1 tie, he suffered a heart attack, and died in the dressing room. He was only 62.

A stand at Celtic Park was named in his memory, and a statue of him holding the European Cup stands outside.

October 5, 1925: Robert George Hofman is born in St. Louis. A utility player, Bobby Hofman grew up near his future New York Giants teammate Jack Maguire, and a pair of catchers who would go on to bigger and better things: Lawrence Peter Berra and Joseph Henry Garagiola.

Berra said that it was Bobby who gave him his nickname, although other sources say it was Maguire. One day, Bobby, Jack, Joe and Larry went to see a movie that was set in India, which featured the character of a yogi. The next day, they were playing ball at a field that didn't have benches, let alone dugouts, and they had to sit on the ground. Larry sat with his arms and legs folded. This reminded Bobby (or Jack) of the yogi, and he said, "Hey, you look like a yogi!" And Larry Berra was Yogi from then on.

Bobby Hofman reached the Giants in 1949, spent the 1950 and '51 seasons in the minor leagues, and came back up in 1952. He was a member of their 1954 World Champions, and he remained in the major leagues through their last season in New York, 1957.

After that, he became a minor-league manager, and later coached in the majors with the Kansas City and Oakland Athletics, the Washington Senators and the Cleveland Indians. In 1974, under his former Giant teammate Alvin Dark, he won another World Series with the A's. He later worked in the A's' and Yankees' front offices, and died in 1994, at the age of 68.

October 5, 1926: Game 3 of the World Series. Jesse Haines pitches a 5-hit shutout and hits a home run, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Yankees 4-0. The Cardinals take a 2 games to 1 lead.

October 5, 1927: Game 1 of the World Series. Legend has it that, seeing the Yankees smack the ball all over Forbes Field in batting practice, the host Pittsburgh Pirates were intimidated and never had a chance. All the Pirates who were later interviewed about the subject said that this was not the case.

A bases-loaded walk of Bob Meusel by Ray Kremer leads to a 3-run inning, giving the Yankees a 5-4 win. The Yankees end up sweeping the Series, but they didn't dominate that much.

October 5, 1928: Game 2 of the World Series. The Yankees gain a measure of revenge on Grover Cleveland Alexander and the Cardinals for their dramatic Game 7 win 2 years earlier. In the 1st inning, Lou Gehrig hits a 3-run homer, and ends up with 6 RBIs. The Cards tie the game in the 2nd‚ but George Pipgras shuts them out on 2 hits the rest of the way. Alexander is nicked for one in the 2nd and is driven to cover by a 4-run outburst in the 3rd. The Yankees win 9-3.

October 5, 1929: Duke Stadium opens on the campus of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. The lidlifter does not go well for the Blue Devils, as the University of Pittsburgh crush them 52-7.

On New Year's Day 1942, as an accommodation for the West Coast blackout following the bombing of Pearl Harbor the previous month, Duke, which had accepted a Rose Bowl berth to play Oregon State, offered Duke Stadium as an alternative site. And so, for (so far) the only time ever, the Rose Bowl was played outside the city of Pasadena, California, and Oregon State won 20-16.

In 1967, the stadium was renamed for longtime Duke coach (and National Championship-winning coach at Alabama) Wallace Wade. In 2015, the playing surface was renamed, and so now it is Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium. It is currently undergoing renovations that will allow it to seat 40,000.

Also on this day, Iowa Stadium opens on the campus of the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Iowa defeats Monmouth College -- the one in Illinois, not the one in New Jersey -- 46-0. In 1972, it is renamed Kinnick Stadium, for Nile Kinnick, the 1939 Heisman Trophy winner, who was killed in a flight training accident in World War II in 1943.

Also on this day, William Wadsworth Wirtz is born in Chicago. He inherited ownership of the Chicago Blackhawks, the Ice Follies and Holiday on Ice from his father Arthur in 1983, but ran the hockey team into the ground. When he died in 2007, the team, one of the NHL's "Original Six" and one of the most popular, didn't even have a TV contract.

His son William Rockwell Wirtz, a.k.a. Rocky Wirtz, has restored the team, winning 3 Stanley Cups in 6 seasons from 2010 to 2015. I don't want to say it's a good thing that someone died, but Bill Wirtz's death was the best thing that could have happened to the Blackhawks. In spite of this, he's in the Hockey Hall of Fame.


October 5, 1931: Game 3 of the World Series. Burleigh Grimes of the Cardinals, the last remaining pitcher who was permitted to throw a spitball, has a no-hitter over the Philadelphia Athletics until the 8th inning, and ends up winning 5-2.

October 5, 1932: Dean Sutherland Prentice is born in Schumacher, Ontario. A left wing, he scored 391 goals in an NHL career that lasted from 1952 to 1974, including 1952 to 1963 with the Rangers. His only trip to the Stanley Cup Finals was in 1966, with the Detroit Red Wings. He is still alive.

October 5, 1934: Ronald Cope (no middle name) is born in Crewe, Cheshire, England. A centreback, Ronnie Cope was called up to the senior squad at Manchester United after the 1958 Munich Air Disaster, and helped them reach the FA Cup Final. He died this past August 27.

October 5, 1935: José Manuel Conceiçāo Neto is born in Montijo, Portugal. A midfielder, José Neto won 4 League titles and the 1961 and 1962 European Cups playing for Lisbon soccer team Benfica. He died in 1987, only 51 years old.

October 5, 1936, 80 years ago: Game 5 of the World Series. The New York Giants stave off elimination by beating the Yankees 5-4 in 10 innings. George Selkirk had homered for the Yankees, but it wasn't enough.

As for the other team in New York, on this day, the Brooklyn Dodgers fire their manager, Casey Stengel. Grimes, who had pitched for the Dodgers and was Casey's pitching coach, is named to replace him. He will be no better, and will be replaced after 2 years by shortstop Leo Durocher. Grimes would never manage again. Stengel would.

Also on this day, Bobby Ray Franklin is born in Clarksdale, Mississippi. A safety, he is a surviving member of the 1964 NFL Champions Cleveland Browns -- until this past June, the last Cleveland team to win a World Championship.

Also on this day, Gerald Ward (no middle name) is born in Stepney, East London. A left wing, Gerry Ward made his debut for North London team Arsenal on August 22, 1953, a 0-0 draw with Huddersfield Town at Highbury.

Just short of turning 17, he became Arsenal's youngest player ever. He has since been surpassed in that regard by Jermaine Pennant and Cesc Fabregas. In 2008, Jack Wilshere broke his record as the club's youngest player in a League match. But since Wilshere was a substitute in that game, Ward remains the youngest Arsenal player to start a League match.

Unfortunately, he was a bit unlucky. He arrived at Arsenal just after a strong period ended, and his career was interrupted by National Service, and then curtailed by the arrival of a better player at his position, Tommy Docherty, who would go on to become a famous manager. He left Arsenal in 1963, and died in 1994.

Also on this day, Václav Havel is born in Prague, Czechoslovakia. A dissident playwright, his country's Communist government imprisoned him a few times, once for 4 years. After the Velvet Revolution of 1989, he was elected President. Unfortunately, on his watch, Slovakia seceded -- the Velvet Divorce -- and he served as President of the Czech Republic until 2003. He died in 2011.

October 5, 1937: Barry Layne Switzer is born in Crosett, Arkansas. One of the most controversial coaches in football history, he led the University of Oklahoma to 12 Big Eight Conference titles, and 3 National Championships, in 1974, 1975 and 1985. His battles with Nebraska coach Tom Osborne were legendary. So was the trouble he got the Sooners into, seemingly always under NCAA investigation and frequently on probation.

In 1994, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones fired head coach Jimmy Johnson -- who had tangled with Switzer as head coach at Oklahoma State and the University of Miami -- despite winning back-to-back Super Bowls, and hired Switzer. Switzer led them to win Super Bowl XXX, making him, after Johnson, only the 2nd man to coach a National Champion and a Super Bowl winner. (Pete Carroll has since made it 3, and all 3 got their college teams put on probation.)

He resigned after the 1997 season, having had enough of Jones, and has since been a studio analyst on football broadcasts and run business around the OU campus in Norman.

Also on this day, Eli Solomon Jacobs is born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A lawyer and a financier, in 1988 he bought the Baltimore Orioles from the estate of Edward Bennett Williams. In a book about the Orioles, Ted Patterson was unkind:

Nevertheless, he oversaw the plan (already in place) to build Oriole Park at Camden Yards, securing the club's long-term future in Baltimore. But buying the club wrecked his own finances, and in 1993 he was forced to sell the team, the buyer being Peter Angelos, who still owns them today. Jacobs is still alive.

October 5, 1938: Game 1 of the World Series. Bill Dickey ties a Series record with 4 hits, and the Yankees beat the Cubs 3-1 at Wrigley Field.

October 5, 1939: Game 2 of the World Series. Monte Pearson of the Yankees is 5 outs away from a no-hitter when Ernie Lombardi singles for the Cincinnati Reds. Pearson wins 4-0, thanks to a home run and a double by Babe Dahlgren, the 1st baseman who replaced Lou Gehrig. This turns out to be the last time Gehrig, still officially the Yankee Captain, suited up. It may have been the last time he entered Yankee Stadium.


October 5, 1940: Game 4 of the World Series. Paul Derringer, who had lost 4 Series games for the Cardinals in 1931 and the Reds in 1939 and in Game 1 this time, finally wins one, 5-2 over the Tigers.

October 5, 1941, 75 years ago: Larry Glueck is born in the Philadelphia suburb of Norristown, Pennsylvania. A defensive back, he is 1 of 16 surviving members of the 1963 NFL Champion Chicago Bears. He also coached Fordham University to Liberty Conference titles in 1987 and 1988.

Also on this day, Louis Brandeis died of a heart attack in Washington, D.C. He was 84. He was the 1st Jewish Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, serving from 1916 to 1939, and is considered the father of the right to privacy. A university with a largely Jewish student body, outside Boston, and the University of Louisville's School of Law are named for him. Louisville was his hometown, and he and his wife are buried at the School.

October 5, 1942: Game 5 of the World Series. The Cardinals win the Series, as 3rd baseman Whitey Kurowski hits a tiebreaking home run off Red Ruffing in the 9th inning, 4-2. The Cards had taken the last 3 games at Yankee Stadium after splitting the 1st 2 in St. Louis.

This is the only World Series the Yankees will lose between 1926 and 1955. It beings a 5-season stretch in which the Cards win 4 Pennants and 3 World Championships. The year they will miss the World Series will be 1945 -- the first full season since his arrival that Stan Musial was not in Cardinal red. (He was in Navy blue instead.)

Musial would turn out to be the last survivor of the '42 Cards, living until 2013.

October 5, 1943: Game 1 of the World Series. The Yankees are eager to avenge the previous season's loss to the Cardinals, and a Joe Gordon homer backs American League Most Valuable Player Spurgeon "Spud" Chandler for a 4-2 victory.

October 5, 1945: Game 3 of the World Series. Claude Passeau of the Cubs allows a single in the 2nd to Rudy York of the Tigers, but that's the only hit he allows. The Cubs beat the Tigers 3-0.

October 5, 1946, 70 years ago: Jean Perron (no middle name -- odd for a French Catholic of that period) is born in Saint-Isidore-d'Auckland, Québec. He never played in the NHL, but in 1986, as a rookie head coach, led the Montréal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup.

He later coached their Provincial rivals, the Québec Nordiques, and now coaches the Israeli national team. Yes, they play hockey in Israel. He was also an analyst for hockey broadcasts, including for the Francophone Québec network TQS (now named simply "V"). But he's one of these sportscasters noted for fractured syntax, even when he speaks his native French, and a book titled Les Perronismes collected his goofs and gaffes.

Also on this day, David Vernon Watson is born in Stapleford, Nottingham, England. A centreback, he began his soccer career for one of his local clubs, Notts County, and won the FA Cup with Sunderland in 1973 and the League Cup for Manchester City in 1976.

Because England was loaded with good defenders in 1970, did not qualify for the 1974 and 1978 World Cups, and he was too old by 1982, he never played in a World Cup, although he did play for England in Euro 1980. He later played in the original North American Soccer League, albeit at opposite corners of the continent, for the Vancouver Whitecaps in 1983 and the Fort Lauderdale Sun in 1984. He is still alive.

October 5, 1947: Game 6 of the World Series. The Yankees trail the Dodgers 8-5 in the bottom of the 6th, but have 2 men on. DiMaggio rips the ball deep to left-center field, but, in Yankee Stadium, that's "Death Valley." Al Gionfriddo makes a leaping catch near the bullpen gate. The Yankees can close to within 8-6, but that was it. Game 7 is tomorrow.

Gionfriddo becomes a hero, but, like Game 4 heroes Bill Bevens and Cookie Lavagetto, he never plays another major league game after the next day's Game 7. He played in the minors until 1953, managed in the minors until 1959, and died in 2003.

October 5, 1949: Game 1 of the World Series. Allie Reynolds of the Yankees and Don Newcombe of the Dodgers pitch a scoreless game, taking it to the bottom of the 9th.

Tommy Henrich leads that inning off for the Yankees, and shows why Yankee broadcaster Mel Allen nicknamed him "Old Reliable." Or maybe he just liked hitting against the Dodgers. Or maybe he liked October 5 -- it was, after all, the 8th anniversary of his benefit of Mickey Owen's Muff. Henrich hits a home run into the right-field stands, and the Yankees win, 1-0.
The greatest outfield ever? Charlie "King Kong" Keller,
"Yankee Clipper" Joe DiMaggio and "Ol' Reliable" Tommy Henrich.

That was pretty much the Series: Despite putting together one of the best teams in franchise history, the Dodgers couldn't beat the Yankees, winning only Game 2 on a shutout by Preacher Roe. Henrich's shot is the first game-ending home run in the history of postseason baseball, the first October "walkoff."

Newcombe is the only Dodger still alive who played in this game, 66 years later. Yogi Berra was the last surviving Yankee.

On this same day, George William James is born in Holton, Kansas. He would later be known as the author of the Bill James Baseball Abstract, beginning the serious study of baseball statistics. Later still, he would join the front office of the Boston Red Sox, where he would become a cheater by association.


October 5, 1950: Game 2 of the World Series. An exhausted Robin Roberts somehow manages to hold the Yankees to a 1-1 tie for the Phillies, into the top of the 10th inning. But DiMaggio hits a home run into the left-field stands at Shibe Park, and the Yankees win, 2-1.

The 1st 3 games of this Series are all close, so the Phillies did have their chances. And it should be noted that their 2nd-best pitcher, behind the future Hall-of-Famer Roberts, was Curt Simmons, and he had been drafted to serve in the Korean War. But the Yankees would sweep the Series.

The only player from this game who is still alive, 66 years later, is Phillies reserve Ralph "Putsy" Caballero. Yogi Berra was the last surviving Yankee who played in it. Whitey Ford would start and win Game 4, and is still alive, but did not appear in Game 2.

October 5, 1951: Game 2 of the World Series. The Yanks and Eddie Lopat even up the Series against the Giants by winning 3-1 over Larry Jansen. But the big story comes in the top of the 5th.

The Giants' big rookie, Willie Mays, hits a fly ball to right-center. The Yankees' big rookie, Mickey Mantle, already a big story and not yet 20 years old for another 15 days (Mays had turned 20 in May), sees DiMaggio calling for it, and stops short. But Mantle steps in a water sprinkler that had been mistakenly left open, catching his spikes and tearing his right knee.

With today's sports medicine, Mickey would have been operated on the next day, and would have been ready for Opening Day the next April. But they didn't know how to treat a torn-up knee in the Truman years, and the surgery he got is hardly good enough, and it never really heals right. This is why people say, "We never got to see Mickey Mantle on 2 good legs."

October 5, 1952: Game 5 of the World Series. Johnny Mize hits a home run in a 5-run 5th inning for the Yankees, putting them on top after a Duke Snider homer put the Dodgers up 4-0.

In the top of the 11th, Billy Cox gets a hit off Johnny Sain, is moved to 2nd on a Pee Wee Reese single, and then the Duke doubles him home. Carl Erskine pitches all 11 innings for the Brooks, closing it out by retiring future Hall-of-Famers Mickey Mantle, Mize and Yogi Berra. The Dodgers win, 6-5, and lead the Series 3 games to 2.

They only have to win 1 of the last 2 games at home at Ebbets Field. But they will not win another game that counts until April 1953.

Also on this day, Imran Khan Niazi is born in Lahore, Pakistan, and grew up there and in England. I don't know what makes a cricket player great, but, playing, from 1971 to 1992, Imran Khan (he doesn't use his last name) he is regarded as one of the best ever, closing his career by captaining Pakistan to its only win thus far in the Cricket World Cup.

He became a social reformer, specializing in education, and was named Chancellor of the University of Bradford in Yorkshire, serving 9 years, and founded Namal College in Pakistan, which he partnered with the University of Bradford. In 1996, he founded Pakistan Tereek-e-Inshaf, a centrist political party, and since 2013 has served in his country's federal parliament. He may be the most popular living person from Pakistan.

October 5, 1953: Game 6 of the World Series. Billy Martin singles up the middle in the bottom of the 9th, his record-tying 12th hit of the Series, driving in Hank Bauer with the winning run.
It is the Yankees' 16th World Championship, and their 5th in a row.

Since then, 3 in a row has been done, but not 4, and certainly not 5. The Montréal Canadiens would soon start a streak of 5 straight Stanley Cups, but they were unable to make it 6. The Boston Celtics would later win 8 straight NBA Titles, but basketball didn't exactly get the best athletes then.

This was the last World Series, and the last Pennant in either League, won by an all-white team. The next season, the Yanks lost the Pennant to the well-integrated Indians, and the argument of, "Why integrate? We're winning with what we've got" was no longer valid. Elston Howard became the 1st black man to play for the Yankees the following April, and the team went on to win 9 Pennants and 4 World Series in the next 10 years.

Still alive from this game, 63 years later: Only Ford from the Yankees, and Dodgers Carl Erskine and Bobby Morgan. (Newcombe was in the Army for the Korean War in 1952 and '53, as Ford was in '51 and '52.) There are 5 members of the '53 Yanks still alive: Ford, Bob Kuzava, Charlie Silvera, Irv Noren and Art Schallock.

October 5, 1956, 60 years ago: Game 2 of the World Series. Both starting pitchers got shelled in the 2nd inning. Don Newcombe of the Dodgers allowed 5 runs, but was already a legend. Don Larsen of the Yankees was not yet a legend, and allowed 6. But getting knocked out of the box in the 2nd inning allowed manager Casey Stengel to start him on 3 days' rest in Game 5.

Yogi and Duke homered, and Don Bessent held the Yankees to 2 runs over the last 7 innings, and the Dodgers won 13-8. The defending World Champions were now up 2 games to 0, and it looked like they finally had the Yankees number after beating them the season before. This would turn out to not be the case.

October 5, 1957: The 1st World Series game in the State of Wisconsin is played. The Yankees beat the Milwaukee Braves 12-3 at Milwaukee County Stadium in Game 3.

Also on this day, Bernard Jeffrey McCullough is born in Chicago. A standup comic, best known for his Fox sitcom The Bernie Mac Show, he starred in Mr. 3000, about a former player for the Milwaukee Brewers who retires with exactly 3,000 career hits, only to have it discovered when he's 47 years old that one of his games was mistakenly counted twice, and he really only has 2,997, and so he makes a comeback to get back to 3,000.

He suffered from sarcoidosis, and died in 2008, not quite 51 years old.

Also on this day, José Leandro Andrade dies of alcoholism-induced dementia in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo. He was only 55. Known as El Maravilla Negra (The Black Marvel), the midfielder for Montevideo club Nacional was a member of the Uruguay team that won the 1st World Cup, on home soil in 1930.

October 5, 1958: Game 4 of the World Series. Warren Spahn, 37 years old and on just 3 days' rest, not only beats Whitey Ford, but pitches a 3-hit shutout. The Milwaukee Braves beat the Yankees 3-0, and go up 3 games to 1.

The Braves were now just 1 win away from beating the Yankees, and clinching at Yankee Stadium, in back-to-back World Series. Failing that in Game 5, they could win either Game 6 or Game 7 at home at Milwaukee County Stadium.

After the game, Mickey Mantle looked around at his teammates, and said, "This is it, fellas." Everybody laughed, and was reassured by the Mick's good-natured self-deprecating humor. The Braves needed just 1 win in the next 3 games, but wouldn't win again in a game that counted until April 10, 1959.

Also on this day, Neil deGrasse Tyson is born in Manhattan. The director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in his hometown, he hosted Cosmos, an update of the series of the same name by his hero, Carl Sagan.

In an episode of Epic Rap Battles of History, he was played by Charles Stewart, a.k.a. Chali 2na, and rapped against Weird Al Yankovic as Sir Isaac Newton. This was doubly ironic, because the real Tyson considers Newton to be the greatest scientific mind in human history, and Newton did the bulk of his work in England during the reign of King Charles II -- whose non-regnal name was Charles Stuart.


October 5, 1960: Game 1 of the World Series at Forbes Field. Roger Maris becomes the 7th player to hit a home run in his 1st World Series at-bat, but the Yankees fall to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-4. So begins perhaps the strangest World Series ever.

Also on this day, Antônio de Oliveira Filho is born in Araraquara, São Paulo state, Brazil. Known as Careca -- the name means "bald," and he got it because he admired a TV clown who went by that name; his own hair appears intact at age 56 -- the striker led São Paulo FC to the title in Brazil's national league, Campeonato Brasileiro Série A (or simply "Brasileirão") in 1978 (just 17 years old) and 1986. He moved on to Naples-based club Napoli, and, as a teammate of Argentine superstar Diego Maradona, won the 1989 UEFA Cup and the 1990 title in Italy's national league, also named Serie A.

He also played for Brazil in the 1986 and 1990 World Cups, but not on the 1994 team that won it. He has been out of the game since retiring as a player in 1999.

Also on this day, David Edward Kirk is born in Wellington, New Zealand. I don't know what makes a rugby player great, but in 1987, he captained New Zealand to victory in the 1st Rugby World Cup. Then, at age 26, he retired from the sport to accept a Rhodes scholarship. He now runs an investment group and is a commentator on rugby telecasts.

October 5, 1961: Game 2 of the World Series: Despite a home run by Yogi Berra, the Cincinnati Reds beat the Yankees 6-2. Gordy Coleman homers for them, and Joey Jay, who'd won a ring with the Braves in 1957, is the winning pitcher.

This turns out to be the only World Series game the Reds win in a 30-year stretch, from 1940 to 1970.

October 5, 1962: Game 2 of the World Series. Willie McCovey hits a long home run, Jack Sanford pitches a 3-hit shutout, and the Giants have their 1st World Series game win since moving to San Francisco, 2-0 over the Yankees.

The 2 biggest British phenomena of the post-World War II era are linked by this day -- and I don't mean the England soccer team. The Beatles release their 1st single, "Love Me Do," backed with "P.S. I Love You"; and the 1st James Bond film, Dr. No, is released. Of course, America would find out about each of them considerably later (although Ian Fleming's Bond novels had already been published here).

James Bond has never been depicted as a professional athlete, even as a spy's "cover." But, in his various incarnations, he has certainly been athletic. George Lazenby skied and drove a snowmobile in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, while Roger Moore skied in both The Spy Who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only. Moore, Sean Connery, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan have all, technically, raced cars and boats. Brosnan, sort of, raced a tank.

Also on this day, Michael Mario Andretti is born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Son of Mario, brother of Jeff, cousin of John and Adam, father of Marco and uncle of Aldo, his greatest achievement in auto racing is winning the CART IndyCar World Series in 1991. But, that year, he also fell short in his closest call at the Indianapolis 500, a race won in his family only once, by his father in 1969. (Mario is now 76, and while he still runs the family's racing empire, he is long retired from competing.)

October 5, 1963: Game 3 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium. Jim Bouton makes his 1st World Series start, and allows just 1 run on 4 hits. The run scored in the bottom of the 1st, as he walks Jim Gilliam, wild-pitches "Junior" to 2nd, and gives up an RBI single to Tommy Davis.

That's all Don Drysdale needs, as he pitches a 3-hit shutout. Dodgers 1, Yankees 0, and lead the Series 3 games to none. Bouton had won 21 games in the regular season, but was unlucky here -- especially since Joe Pepitone nearly bailed him out in the 9th, with a drive that would have been a home run in Yankee Stadium with its 296-foot right field pole, but was caught by Ron Fairly for the final out.

This also turns out to be Yogi Berra's last game as a Yankee. His pinch-hits for Bouton in the 8th inning, and lines out to right. He does not appear in Game 4, manages the team in 1964, gets them to Game 7 of the World Series, gets fired, is hired as a coach by the Mets, and plays 4 more games for them in early 1965.

Also on this day, Laura Jane Davies (pronounced "DAY-viss," not "DAY-veez," as is usually the case with "Davis" in Britain) is born in Coventry, West Midlands, England. In 1994, she became the 1st non-American to be the LPGA's top money-winner in a year. She won the U.S. Women's Open in 1987, the Women's PGA Championship in 1994 and 1996, and the du Maurier Classic, also considered a major, in 1996. Oddly, she has never come close to winning the Women's British Open. She is in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

October 5, 1965: This was a great day in the history of hockey, although we wouldn't know it for over 20 years, when 2 legends born on this day, both in Québec, began to make their mark on the NHL.

Mario Lemieux (no middle name) is born in Montréal. The top pick in the 1984 NHL Draft, he starred for the Pittsburgh Penguins on and off from 1984 to 2006, missing time due to Hodgkin's lymphoma, a chronic back injury, and general fatigue. In between, he scored 690 goals, led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup in 1991 and 1992, and saved the franchise twice -- first as a player, and later, since his contract made him the team's biggest creditor, as the owner, coming out of retirement to play again, and to build the team that won the 2009 Cup.

He led Canada to the 1987 Canada Cup, the 2002 Olympic Gold Medal, and the 2004 World Cup (successor to the Canada Cup). The Penguins (before he was the owner) not only retired his Number 66, but relisted the address of the Civic Arena as 66 Mario Lemieux Place. If not for him, the Penguins would be playing elsewhere today, Pittsburgh would be without an NHL team, and the Consol Energy Center would never have been built.

In 1998, shortly after his election to the Hockey Hall of Fame, while he was in his 1st retirement (but had, as it turned out, 77 goals to go), The Hockey News listed him at Number 4 on its list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players, behind only Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr and Gordie Howe.

On the same day, Patrick Jacques Roy is born in Québec City. He was Number 22 on that 100 Greatest Hockey Players list, trailing only Terry Sawchuk, Jacques Plante and Glenn Hall among goaltenders -- and he had another 5 seasons to go. He wore Number 33 to Lemieux's 66, but don't think that means he was only half the player Lemieux was: That 33 has been retired by 2 teams, the Montréal Canadiens and the Colorado Avalanche.

Roy won the Stanley Cup as a Rookie with the Canadiens in 1986, and under more trying circumstances in 1993, as the Habs went through several overtime games in the Playoffs. A falling-out with management led to his trade early in the 1995-96 season to the Avalanche. Ironically, the previous season, the Avs had been the Québec Nordiques, his hometown team and a bitter rival of the Habs, including a nasty Playoff series in '93.

The Habs have won 24 Stanley Cups, including 2 with Roy in goal, but have not won the Cup since he was traded. Some have called this "The Curse of St. Patrick." Not until after the reconciliation (with new management) and the retirement of his number did they even reach the Eastern Conference Finals, so there may be something to this.

He helped the Avalanche win the Cup in their 1st season in Denver, including beating the Chicago Blackhawks. Jeremy Roenick scored on a breakaway to send Game 3 to overtime, which the Hawks won. In Game 4, Roy stopped Roenick on another breakaway, but he had help from Avs defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh. Roenick whined about it, but Roy said, "I can't really hear what Jeremy says, because I've got my 2 Stanley Cup rings plugging my ears." Roenick ended a Hall of Fame career with no Stanley Cup rings. Roy ended his with 4, getting his last in 2001, beating my New Jersey Devils, defending Champions, in the Finals despite a gaffe in Game 4 that would be much better remembered if the Devils had won.

He closed his career 2 years later, losing a Game 7 in overtime to the Minnesota Wild. He won 551 games, easily surpassing the record of 447 set by Sawchuk, although was eventually surpassed by the Devils' Martin Brodeur. But his 151 Playoff wins remains a record. He is now the Avalanche's head coach.

Each man has a black mark on his record. Lemieux, as Penguins owner, sided with his fellow owners, betraying his former fellow players, in voting to lock the players out and cancel the entire 2004-05 season. (So did Gretzky, as owner of the team then known as the Phoenix Coyotes.) Roy, as coach of the Québec Ramparts junior team, got involved in violent incidents, as did his sons, Jonathan and Frederick, in separate instances.

Roy is divorced from ex-wife Michelle. Jonathan has left hockey to pursue music, while Frederick is currently playing in college. He has another son in college, Jana. Lemieux remains married to Nathalie, and has daughters Lauren, Stephanie and Alexa, and son Austin. None of them appears to be involved in hockey.

Roy and Lemieux -- in French, their names mean "King" and "The Best."

Also on this day, Raymond Lester Armstrong III is born in the Washington suburb of Bethesda, Maryland, and grows up in Birmingham, Alabama. We know him as Trace Armstrong. Thanks to Lemieux and Roy, he's not the greatest, or even the 2nd-greatest, athlete born on this day, but he was a pretty good one.

An All-America defensive end at the University of Florida, he was elected to their Athletic Hall of Fame. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears, made All-Pro with the Miami Dolphins, and reached Super Bowl XXXVII with the Oakland Raiders.

He now works as an agent, including for Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, whom he knew from his Gators days. Ironically, his son Jared is not only a quarterback, but for arch-rival Florida State.

October 5, 1966, 50 years ago: In the 1st World Series game in Baltimore Orioles history, Polish-born reliever Moe Drabowsky has to bail out Dave McNally, and sets a Series record for relief pitchers that still stands, with 11 strikeouts. Frank Robinson and Brooks Robinson both hit 1st-inning home runs, and the Orioles beat the Dodgers, 5-2. They would go on to sweep, with McNally redeeming himself by winning the clinching game.

Still alive from this game, 50 years later: Orioles Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, John "Boog" Powell, Luis Aparicio (though better-known as a Chicago White Sock), Russ Snyder, Andy Etchebarren, and future Met manager Davey Johnson; and Dodgers Maury Wills, Tommy Davis, Lou Johnson (black, and no relation to the white Davey), Jim Lefebvre, Wes Parker, Ron Fairly, Joe Moeller, Jim Barbieri, and Fair Lawn, New Jersey native Ron Perranoski.

Future Hall-of-Fame pitchers Sandy Koufax and Jim Palmer, both still alive, did not appear in Game 1, but would oppose each other in Game 2.

Also on this day, Dennis DeWayne Byrd is born in Oklahoma City. A graduate of the University of Tulsa, he was drafted by the New York Jets in the 2nd round of the 1989 NFL Draft, and on November 29, 1992, he was enjoying a modest, not particularly noteworthy career as a defensive end when he took the field against the Kansas City Chiefs at Giants Stadium.

Byrd and teammate Scott Mersereau attempted to sack Chiefs quarterback Dave Krieg, but Krieg got away, resulting in a collision between the Jet defenders. Byrd's helmet hit Mersereau straight in the chest, compressing Byrd's neck and breaking it. This was 1 year after Detroit Lions guard Mike Utley had broken his neck in a game, and just 3 days after an emotional Thanksgiving game in which Utley guided his wheelchair out to midfield and served as Lions' honorary captain.

Like Utley, Byrd was paralyzed from the waist down as a result of his injury. Utley took years before he could even take a few steps unaided, and, essentially, remains in a wheelchair, although he hasn't let that stop him from getting around and raising money for spinal cord research. Byrd was considerably luckier: With intense physical therapy, he was able to walk to midfield for the Jets' 1993 season opener, and serve as honorary captain.

The Jets announced that his Number 90 would never be reissued, and in 2012 it was formally retired. Byrd has been elected to the Jets Ring of Honor. He has made a living as a motivational speaker, and had he been paid for it, he certainly would have earned it on January 16, 2011. He had sent Jet coach Rex Ryan a letter and the jersey that was cut off from him as a result of his accident, to motivate the players before their Playoff against the arch-rival New England Patriots. Ryan saw Byrd's bet and raised it by asking him to come and give the team's pregame pep talk. He did. The Jets won, beating the Patriots 28-21 in Foxboro. It remains the team's greatest moment since Super Bowl III.

UPDATE: Dennis Byrd was killed in a car crash in Oklahoma on October 15, 2016, just 10 days after his 50th birthday.

October 5, 1967: Game 2 of the World Series. Pitching on 3 days' rest in Fenway Park, Cy Young Award winner Jim Lonborg pitches a 1-hitter, Triple Crown winner Carl Yastrzemski hits 2 home runs off Dick Hughes, and the Red Sox beat the Cardinals 5-0.

Also on this day, Rex Everett Chapman is born in Bowling Green, Kentucky. A star guard at the University of Kentucky, he declared early for the NBA Draft because, he said years later, people at that Southern school were angry that he was a white man dating a black woman. He also said that UK had refused to look at then-high school stars Allan Houston and Derek Anderson because they were black. It was 22 years after then-all-white Kentucky was beaten by the all-black starting five from the school now known as Texas-El Paso in the 1966 National Championship game. Clearly, they hadn't learned.

He was an original Charlotte Hornet in 1988, and also played for the Washington Bullets, Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns. He worked in the front offices of the Suns, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Denver Nuggets. He has since become a broadcaster.

Also on this day, Dorian Edward West is born in Wrexham, Wales, but grows up in England, and played rugby for the England national team. He played for the England team that won the 2003 Rugby World Cup. He is now a coach in the sport.


October 5, 1971: Game 3 of the AL Championship Series. Reggie Jackson of the Oakland Athletics makes his 1st big postseason impact, but hardly his last. He hits 2 home runs, but it's not enough, as the Orioles beat the A's 5-3, and complete a sweep. It is Baltimore's 3rd straight Pennant, and their 4th in the last 6 seasons.

Also on this day, Mauricio Andrés Pellegrino Luna is born in Leones, Argentina. A centreback, he played for Buenos Aires soccer team Vélez Sarsfield, winning 4 league titles. He moved on to Spanish club Valencia, reaching the 2001 Champions League Final, but he missed a key penalty to give Bayern Munich the victory.

He closed his playing career in 2006 with Deportivo Alavés, in the Basque country of northern Spain, and now manages them. Apparently, all was forgiven by fans of Valencia, because he has previously managed them as well. Despite a long career, he never played for Argentina in a World Cup.

October 5, 1972: Grant Henry Hill is born in Dallas, the son of Cowboys running back Calvin Hill and his wife Janet, both of whom attended Yale University. Janet was Hillary Rodham's roommate at Yale Law School, and when Grant was drafted into the NBA, he got a congratulatory phone call from Hillary's husband, then-President Bill Clinton.

Grant played basketball instead of football, and helped Duke win its 1st 2 National Championships in 1991 and '92. He was NBA Rookie of the Year with the Detroit Pistons in 1995, but despite being a 7-time All-Star, and so respected that Alvan Adams granted his request to allow him to wear Adams' retired Number 33 with the Phoenix Suns, he never even reached an NBA Finals.

He last played in 2013, with the Los Angeles Clippers. He worked as a TNT basketball analyst, and last year, a group of which he is a member bought the Atlanta Hawks, making him a minority owner under majority owner Tony Ressler. His wife is R&B singer Tamia. They were introduced by another singer, her friend Anita Baker.

Also on this day, Aaron Colin Guiel is born in Vancouver. He played 4 seasons with the Kansas City Royals, before being traded to the Yankees and playing briefly with them in 2006. He played the next 5 seasons in Japan.

October 5, 1975: Game 2 of each League's Championship Series. Tony Perez hits a home run, and Fred Norman shuts the Pirates down, as the Reds win 6-1 at Riverfront Stadium, to go up 2 games to none.

Reggie Jackson hits a home run for the A's, but Carl Yastrzemski and Rico Petrocelli, veterans of Boston's 1967 "Impossible Dream," go yard, and the Red Sox win 6-3 at Fenway. They also go up 2 games to none.

Also on this day, Dianbobo Baldé (no middle name) is born in Marseille, France. The son of immigrant's from France's former African colony of Guinea, "Bobo" Baldé played for that country in 4 African Cups of Nations. The centreback also won 5 Premier League titles and 3 Scottish Cups, including "Doubles" in 2004 and 2007, with Celtic FC of Glasgow.

October 5, 1976, 40 years ago: The NHL version of the Colorado Rockies, who had been the Kansas City Scouts in the 1974-75 and 1975-76 season, make their home debut. They beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 at McNichols Sports Arena.

But they would only make the Playoffs once, in 1978, and move in 1982, to become the New Jersey Devils. (See 1982, below.) Ironically, in 2001, their replacements, the Colorado Avalanche, would beat the Devils in the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals. In 1993, Denver's Major League Baseball team began play, also named the Colorado Rockies. They have been a bit more successful, on the field and especially at the box office.

October 5, 1977: Game 2 of the AL Championship Series at Yankee Stadium. Desperate to win after the Kansas City Royals' win and starting pitcher Don Gullett's injury in Game 1, the Yankees turn to rookie lefthander Ron Guidry, who comes through for the Yankees in a big game for the 1st time. It will not be the last. A Cliff Johnson home run helps them win 6-2, and head out to Kansas City with the series tied.

Also on this day, Game 2 of the NL Championship Series is played at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Dusty Baker of the Dodgers hits a grand slam. The Dodgers beat the Phillies 7-1. This series is also tied.

October 5, 1978: Jesse James Palmer is born in Toronto, and grows up in the Ottawa suburb of Nepean, Ontario. The son of Bill Palmer, a quarterback for the CFL's Ottawa Rough Riders, he impressed Steve Spurrier enough to be taken on at the University of Florida, winning a Southeastern Conference Championship in 2000.

He was a backup on the Giants from 2001 to 2004. If you can't beat out Kerry Collins for a starting quarterback job, you need to look for a new line of work. He became the 1st contestant born outside the U.S. on ABC's The Bachelor, but it quickly failed to work out between him and his choice. He's since become an actor and a sportscaster.

October 5, 1979: Ken Strong dies of a heart attack in New York. He was 73. The halfback was the greatest player in the history of New York University football, and his running and kicking were key to the New York Giants to 5 NFL Championship Games, including winning the 1934 title. (Oddly, he did not play in their 1938 title season.) His Number 50 is retired, and he was one of the earliest inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


October 5, 1980: The Dodgers beat the Houston Astros for the 3rd day in a row, to force a 1-game playoff for the NL West title -- also at Dodger Stadium. Ron Cey hits a 2-run homer in the 8th to win the game 4-3. Los Angeles trailed Houston by 3 games with 3 games left in the season‚ and won all 3 by a single run.

October 5, 1981: Joel Lindpere is born in Tallinn, Estonia. He may be the greatest soccer player his country has ever produced. He led hometown club Flora Tallinn to the Estonian league title in 2002 and '03, CSKA Sofia to Bulgaria's league title in 2005, and the New York Red Bulls to win the MLS Eastern Conference in 2010. A 2-time MLS All-Star, he returned to Estonia, playing for Nõmme Kalju, and winning the Estonian Cup last year, before retiring.

October 5, 1982: The New Jersey Devils play their 1st game, a 3-3 tie against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The 1st goal is scored by team Captain Don Lever. Three days later, the Devils will get their 1st win, against, appropriately enough, the New York Rangers.

Also on this day, Mikhel Roos is born in Taebla, Estonia, and grows up in Vancouver, Washington, a suburb of Portland, Oregon. Unlike his fellow Estonian Lindpere, when I say he played football, I mean he played football. He played offensive tackle for the Tennessee Titans from 2005 to 2014, and was an All-Pro in 2008.

Because he and his wife, Katherine Fossett, are graduates of Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington, outside Spokane, they donated to the school to upgrade its football facilities. The stadium, built in 1967 as Woodward Field, was renamed Roos Field in 2009. It seats 8,600, and has red artificial turf, much as another Northwest college football facility, Albertsons Stadium at Boise State University in Idaho, has blue artificial turf, known as The Smurf Turf.

October 3, 1983: Jesse Adam Eisenberg is born in Queens, New York City, and grows up there and in East Brunswick, New Jersey -- my hometown. He and his sister Hallie Eisenberg -- you might remember her as the little girl from the Pepsi commercials with the voices of Joe Pesci and Aretha Franklin -- both attended East Brunswick High School, my alma mater, before transferring to the performing-arts school in New York made famous by the film Fame.

Hallie, now 24, has mostly done Broadway the last few years, so that she can simultaneously attend college in New York. Jesse has become a much bigger star, nominated for an Oscar for playing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network.

He played Lex Luthor in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and will play the villain again in Justice League, despite atrocious reviews (although that was due more to how the character was written than how Jesse played him). He has made 2 movies with Woody Allen: To Rome With Love and Café Society.

October 4, 1984: Kenwyne Joel Jones is born in Point Fortin, Trinidad and Tobago. A striker, he has starred in Britain for Southampton, Sunderland, Stoke City and ardiff City, and is the Captain of his national team, having played for it at the 2006 World Cup. Next year, he will be an original member of MLS expansion team Atlanta United.

October 5, 1985: The Yankees went into a season-ending at Exhibition Stadium against the Toronto Blue Jays, needing to sweep all 3 games to win the AL East. A win by the Jays in any of the 3, and the Jays would win it. But after Butch Wynegar's home run in the 9th inning tied the Friday night game and the Yankees went on to win it, it looked like the Yankees might be a team of destiny.

But it was not to be. Billy Martin, who had done one of his best managing jobs, started Joe Cowley in the Saturday afternoon game, and he didn't make it out of the 3rd inning, giving up home runs to Ernie Whitt, Willie Upshaw and Lloyd Moseby. Getting out of the 3rd required Cowley, Bob Shirley and Rich Bordi, while getting out of the 4th required Bordi and Dennis Rasmussen. Neil Allen pitched 4 1/3 shutout innings after that, but it was too late.

Doyle Alexander, whom the Yankees had let go twice, pitched a complete game, allowing a double to Ken Griffey Sr., and singles to Dave Winfield (RBI), Don Mattingly, Willie Randolph and Don Baylor. That was it: The Yankees got 1 run on 5 hits and no walks, in their biggest regular-season game since the season-closer against the Red Sox in 1949. (Officially, MLB counts the '78 Playoff game with the Sox as regular-season, but I don't.) Alexander was 35. Winfield's RBI was his 100th of the season, making him the 1st Yankee to both score and drive in 100 runs in the same season since Joe DiMaggio in 1942. But it was the only Yankee run of the game.

The Jays won, 5-1, and clinched their 1st-ever 1st place finish. From 1985 to 1993, a 9-year stretch, they will win the Division 5 times, and nearly make it 8 out of 9: Only in 1986 will they finish more than 2 games out of first place, and even then they were only 5½ back. But since Joe Carter "touched 'em all" to clinch back-to-back World Championships in 1992-93, it took them until 2015 to make the Playoffs again.

The Yankees would win the meaningless finale the next day, for their 97th win of the season, but, with the format then in place, missed miss the Playoffs. Aside from 1954, when 103 wasn't enough to overcome Cleveland's then-AL record of 111, it was their most wins in any season without making the Playoffs. The Yankees wouldn't reach the postseason again for another 10 years.

I was 15 going on 16, and I thought this was the year. It wasn't. This one hurt. This near-miss still bothers me. One more good starting pitcher, alongside Ron Guidry and 46-year-old knuckleball wizard Phil Niekro, and the history of baseball in New York could have been very different.

My consolation was that this was also a rough day for Met fans. The St. Louis Cardinals clinched the NL East by beating the Chicago Cubs, 7-1 at Busch Memorial Stadium. Not that it made a difference, but the Mets lost to the Montréal Expos, 8-3 at Shea. The Cards were now up by 3 with 1 game to play.

The best Met season in 12 years comes to an end tomorrow. They have failed. And yet, before the 1985 postseason has even gotten underway, their fans are already convinced they will win the 1986 World Series. (They did, of course, but it turned out to be a lot harder than they’d imagined.)

Also on this day, the California Angels beat the Texas Rangers 3-1 at Arlington Stadium. Reggie Jackson and Doug DeCinces hit home runs for the Halos, while Rod Carew goes 0-for-2. It is the future Hall-of-Famer's last major league appearance.

October 5, 1986, 30 years ago: The Detroit Tigers beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-3 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. It is the last game as manager for Earl Weaver.

October 5, 1987: Kevin Antonio Joel Gislain Mirallas y Castillo is born in Liège, Belgium to Spanish parents. A winger, he starred for hometown club Standard Liège, French club Saint-Étienne and Greek club Olympiacos, before going to Liverpool to play with his current club, Everton. He helped Olympiacos win the Greek Superleague in 2011 and '12, and helped Belgium knock the U.S. out of the 2014 World Cup.

Also on this day, Timothy Michael Ream is born in St. Louis. I thought the centreback was going to be a big star with the New York Red Bulls, and he did help them win the MLS Eastern Conference regular-season title in 2010. But he wasn't picked for the U.S. team at the 2010 World Cup, and his career has never been the same.

"Metro" sold him to English club Bolton Wanderers, and he was named their player of the year in 2014 and 2015. But that's all he's become: A good player at the level of the Football League Championship, England's 2nd division. He now plays for West London club Fulham, and has made 21 senior appearances for the U.S. team.

October 5, 1988: Game 2 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium. The New York Daily News has hired Mets pitcher David Cone to write a postseason diary. After the Mets' win last night in Game 1, he unfavorably compared Los Angeles closer Jay Howell with New York closer Randy Myers: "We saw Howell throwing curveball after curveball and we were thinking: This is the Dodgers' idea of a stopper? Our idea is Randy, a guy who can blow you away with his heat. Seeing Howell and his curveball reminded us of a high school pitcher."

That got the Dodgers mad, and they take it out on the Mets' Game 2 starter -- who happened to be Cone. They Dodgers score a run in the 1st and 4 in the 2nd, and win, 6-3. The series is tied.

Big mistake, Coney. It's worth mentioning that he was not yet with the Mets when they won the 1986 World Series. It's also worth mentioning that, from this day forward, the Mets have never won another World Series. Cone would go on to win 5, including 4 with the Yankees.

Also on this day, the Omaha Civic Auditorium is home to the Vice Presidential Debate. The Republican nominee, Dan Quayle, is just 41, but has been in the Senate for 8 years, and represented an Indiana district in the House of Representatives for 4 years before that. That's 12 years in the Congress, compared to the 14 years that John F. Kennedy had when he was elected President in 1960.

So when he's asked about his qualifications for the Presidency, in the event his running mate, the incumbent Vice President, George H.W. Bush, should win but die in office, or resign, or be impeached and remove, Quayle says, "I have far more experience than many others that sought the office of Vice President of this country. I have as much experience in the Congress and Jack Kennedy did when he sought the Presidency."

The Democratic nominee, Senator Lloyd Bentsen of Texas, who was 67 years old, and was first elected to Congress in 1948, realizing the flaw in Quayle's reasoning, says, "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

Instead of saying, "I didn't say I was, Senator. I was comparing our experiences," as an intelligent man might have, Quayle got hissy and, incorrectly, said, "That was really uncalled for, Senator." Bentsen: "You are the one that was making the comparison, Senator. And I'm one who knew him well. And, frankly, I think you are so far apart in the objectives you choose for your country that I did not think the comparison was well-taken."

Before this debate, Quayle looked like, as Saturday Night Live would say, a "Not Ready for Prime Time Player." After it, he looked like a naive idiot. Had these been the Presidential nominees, Bentsen would have won in a landslide.

Bush won in a landslide, defeating Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts, winning 40 States for 411 Electoral Votes. No Republican nominee, even the ones who've won (or "won"), has come close to those totals since.

The Omaha Civic Auditorium is also famous for being the site of Elvis Presley's concert on June 19, 1977, taped for a CBS special, but the performance was so bad that CBS was going to shelve it permanently -- until he died, and then they showed it on October 3 of that year, and it has never been repeated, or release in any video form. (It is available on bootlegs and on YouTube.)


October 5, 1990: Game 2 of the NLCS. Right fielder Paul O'Neill drives in both Cincinnati runs and throws out a runner at 3rd base, to spark the Reds to a 2-1 win over the Pirates‚ tying the series at one game apiece. It's Paulie's 1st big postseason moment. It will not be his last.

October 5, 1991, 25 years ago: The Atlanta Braves beat the Houston Astros, 5-2 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, and clinch the National League Western Division title for the 1st time in 9 years. It is the 1st "worst-to-first" season in NL history. Ron Gant hits a home run, and John Smoltz is the winning pitcher.

October 5, 1993: Bob Watson replaces Bill Wood as the general manager of the Astros, making the former Houston 1st baseman the 1st black GM in baseball history. Bill Lucas had performed many similar duties for the Braves in the late 1970s, but he never officially held the title.

Also on this day, the Dallas Stars play their 1st game, after 26 seasons as the Minnesota North Stars. To this day, I don't get why the move to Texas didn't convince them to rename themselves the Lone Stars. Neal Broten scores 2 goals, and the Stars beat the Detroit Red Wings 6-4 at Reunion Arena.

October 5, 1996, 20 years ago: Game 4 of the AL Division Series. After dropping Game 1 to the Texas Rangers, the Yankees have taken the last 3 straight. Bernie Williams of the Yankees and Juan Gonzalez of the Rangers each hit 5 home runs in the series, tying a postseason record. "Burn Baby Bern" hit 2 today, and "Juan Gone" 1, but the Yankees won, 6-4.

Also on this day, the Phoenix Coyotes make their debut, after 24 seasons as the original Winnipeg Jets. Oddly, they play their 1st game against another former NHL team, one that will play just one more season in their current location before moving: The Hartford Whalers. The Whalers win 1-0 at the Hartford Civic Center (now named the XL Center), as Alexander Godynyuk scores the only goal.

Also on this day, the Philadelphia Flyers play their 1st game at their new arena, losing 3-1 to the Florida Panthers. When first proposed, it was going to be named Spectrum II. Then CoreStates Bank bought the naming rights to both the old Spectrum and the new one, so the old one became the CoreStates Spectrum, and the new one the CoreStates Center.

One bank was bought out by another, and so the new arena became the First Union Center (Flyer fans liked calling it "The F.U. Center"), the Wachovia Center, and the Wells Fargo Center. So, in 20 years, the building has had 5 names. It has hosted the Flyers, the 76ers, some Villanova University basketball games, NCAA Tournament games, concerts, and SportsRadio WIP's annual "Wing Bowl" ever since. It hosted the Democratic Convention this Summer, and the Republican Convention in 2000.

October 5, 1997: Game 4 of the AL Division Series. The Yankees are 5 outs away from going up 2 games to 1 on the Indians, but Mariano Rivera gives up a home run to Sandy Alomar Jr., and the Indians win, 3-2. A deciding Game 5 will be played tomorrow.

For a lot of Yankee Fans, this one hurt. It didn't both me much, though it might have if we hadn't won in 1996. But this was the spark that led to the historic 1998 season.

October 5, 1999: Game 1 of the ALDS. Just another day at the office for Joe Torre's Yankees. Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez pitches a 2-hit shutout. Bernie Williams hits a single, a double and a homer for 6 RBIs. The Yankees beat the Rangers 8-0 at The Stadium.


October 5, 2000: Game 2 of the NLDS: The Mets even their series with the Giants at 1 game apiece by winning a 10-inning thriller‚ 5-4. Jay Payton's single drives home the winning run in the top of the 10th, after J.T. Snow's pinch-hit 3-run HR ties the game in the bottom of the 9th. Edgardo Alfonzo hit a 2-run homer in the top half of the frame. Al Leiter pitches into the 9th, and is relieved by Armando Benitez, who gives up the tying homer‚ but gets the win in relief.

Also on this day, Cătălin Hîldan of Romanian soccer giants Dinamo București suffers a heart attack and dies during a match with FC Oltenița. The midfielder had captained Dinamo to win Romania's league the year before, and seemed to have a fine career ahead of him. He was only 24 years old. The North Stand of Dinamo's stadium is now named for him.

October 5, 2001: At what was then known as Pacific Bell Park (now AT&T Park), Barry Bonds hits his 71st and 72nd home runs of the season, to set a new major league single-season record… which we now know is bogus. The 1st-inning homer, his 71st, is off Dodger pitcher Chan Ho Park.

But the Dodgers win the game, 11-10, and, to make matters worse, the Dodgers' win both clinches the NL West and eliminates the Giants, still their arch-rivals, from Playoff eligibility.

Bonds will raise his total to 73*. With teammate Rich Aurilia's 37 (as far as I know, his are legit), they set a (tainted) NL record for homers by teammates, 110. The major league record remains 115, by Mickey Mantle (54) and Roger Maris (still the legit record of 61) in 1961.

Also on this day, the Seattle Mariners beat the Texas Rangers 6-2, for their 115th win of the season, setting a new AL record. At age 38, Jamie Moyer becomes the oldest 1st-time 20-game winner in history. (Mike Mussina will break that record in 2008.) As it turned out, at an age at which many players are done, Moyer was far from done.

Also on this day, the Montréal Expos defeat the Mets‚ 8-6‚ but the Mets' Lenny Harris ties Manny Mota's major league record with his 150th career pinch hit.

Also on this day, the most famous building in the State of North Dakota opens: The Ralph Engelstad Arena on the campus of the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. UND's Fighting Sioux (now the Fighting Hawks) defeat their arch-rivals, the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, 7-5.

October 5, 2002: Game 4 of the AL Division Series. The Angels shock the Yankees with 8 runs in the 5th inning, knocking David Wells out of the box, and go on to a 9-5 victory. Shawn Wooten homers for the Halos, while Jorge Posada adds a round-tripper in vain for the Bronx Bombers. Jarrod Washburn gets the victory for the Angels.

The win gives the Anaheim club the 1st postseason series victory of their 42-season history‚ 3 games to 1. They had previously lost the ALCS in 1979, 1982 and 1986, and a Playoff for the AL West in 1995.

Also on this day, Chuck Rayner dies of a heart attack in the Vancouver suburb of Langley, British Columbia. He was 82. The goaltender was a 3-time NHL All-Star. In 1950, he pulled off a rare feat for a goalie, winning the Hart Trophy as NHL Most Valuable Player. He also helped the Rangers reach overtime of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, but an exhausted "Bonnie Prince Charlie" couldn't stop the overtime winner of Pete Babando of the Detroit Red Wings.

A 2009 book by Adam Raider and Russ Cohen ranked him Number 16 among 100 Ranger Greats, and he preceded Eddie Giacomin and Mike Richter into the Hockey Hall of Fame. (Henrik Lundqvist? We'll see.)

October 5, 2003: Atlanta Thrashers center Dan Snyder dies, 6 days after a car crash in Atlanta. He was only 25. The car was driven by his teammate, Dany Heatley, who was sentenced to probation.

Despite having played only 49 NHL games, the Thrashers wore patches with his Number 37 on their jerseys, and never reissued it, although they didn't retire it. Since the Thrashers became the Winnipeg Jets in 2011, they didn't reissue it until this year, when the Snyder family gave goaltender Connor Hellebuyck permission to wear it.

October 5, 2004: Rodney Dangerfield dies, shortly before his 83rd birthday. The great comedian had gone into UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles 6 months earlier, and was asked how long he expected to be there. Funny to the end, he said, "If all goes well, about a week. If not, about an hour and a half." He needed brain surgery to improve blood flow for heart surgery. The brain surgery went well. The heart surgery didn't: He went into a coma and never regained consciousness.

As far as I know, Rodney, whose birth name was Jacob Cohen, had no connection to sports. But he did have one great sports joke: "Boy, I wanna tell ya, I grew up in a tough neighborhood." How tough was it? "You shoulda seen some o' the football games. The nicknames. Killer. Spike. Toothless. And that was just the cheerleaders!" Actually, he grew up in Richmond Hill, Queens, graduating from Richmond Hill High School in 1939, 2 years ahead of a quarterback who also played baseball, whose nickname would soon be "Scooter." That's right: He went to the same high school, at the same time, as Phil Rizzuto! "Holy cow!"

His tagline was, "I don't get no respect. No respect at all!" I imagined him doing his routine in the afterlife: "Boy, I tell ya, I don't get no respect, not even in Heaven! All my life, I was Jewish, and my Christian friends told me, 'Jesus loves you!' I get up here, and I find out he only likes me as a friend! And everybody else, when they get up here, gets a golden harp. Me? They gave me a tin tuba!"

He is buried at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. His epitaph is, "There goes the neighborhood."

October 5, 2005: The NHL returns from its year-long lockout. This allows the long-awaited NHL debut of Sidney Crosby. As fate would have it, his Pittsburgh Penguins play their opener away to my New Jersey Devils, at the Meadowlands Arena, then named the Continental Airlines Arena.

The Devils choose to not believe the hype, and, 23 years to the day after their debut, in the same building, against the same team, they win, 5-1.

Also on this night, in a game with nobody for me to root for, the New York Rangers beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3. And, in an "Original Six" matchup, the Montréal Canadiens beat the Boston Bruins 2-1.

October 5, 2006, 10 years ago: Game 2 of the NLCS, at Petco Park in San Diego. Trevor Hoffman of the San Diego Padres, who had recently broken Lee Smith's career record of 478 saves, catches the ceremonial 1st pitch from Smith, who returns to the city (though not the stadium) where he threw his most-remembered pitch, the home run that Steve Garvey hit to win Game 4 of the 1984 NLCS.

Jeff Bleeping Weaver and 4 relievers (this was a Tony LaRussa game) combine for a shutout, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Padres, 2-0.

October 5, 2007: Game 2 of the ALDS at Fenway Park. The Angels blow a 3-2 lead in the 5th inning, and Manny Ramirez takes a Justin Speier pitch over the Green Monster in the 10th inning, giving the Red Sox a 6-3 win.

October 5, 2011: Game 4 of the NLDS. During the 5th inning at Busch Stadium, a squirrel runs across home plate just as Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt begins to deliver a pitch to Skip Schumaker. Umpire Ángel Hernández calls the pitch a ball, much to the chagrin of the righthander, and of Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel, who believe that "no pitch" should be called due to the distraction caused by the grey rodent, immortalized by the Redbirds fans as the "rally squirrel."

Despite the rodential "interference" and the Phils' objections, no runs were scored in the inning. The Cardinals win anyway, 5-3.

October 5, 2012: The 1st-ever regularly scheduled Wild Card play-in games are played. The National League game is played 1st, at Turner Field in Atlanta. Kris Medlen starts for the Braves, and in 12 starts that season, he was 9-0 with a 0.97 ERA. But the Cardinals beat him 6-3, thanks to pitching from Kyle Lohse and a home run by Matt Holliday.

In the American League, Joe Saunders' pitching and an Adam Jones sacrifice fly make the difference, as the Baltimore Orioles beat the Texas Rangers, 5-1 at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.

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