Monday, September 30, 2013

September 30, 1984: The Rams Set a Record For Safeties In One Game

On September 30, 1984, at the Coliseum in L.A. the Los Angeles Rams set an NFL record by scoring three safeties in a 33-12 win over the New York Giants. Things weren't looking good for the Rams from the start, they fumbled the opening kickoff and it was picked up by Phil McConkey who took it in for a quick score, the Giants failed to convert the extra point which was just the beginning of a long list of problems they would experience in this one. One of the biggest highlights of the second quarter was an 83 yard punt return by Henry Ellard that gave the Rams a 14-6 advantage.  By the end of the second they were up 17-6 and there was no looking back. The three safeties all came in the third, the first one came on a blocked punt by Ivory Sully that went out of the back of the endzone, the second came when Jack Youngblood and Reggie Doss dragged down Phil Simms in the endzone, and the third came on another blocked punt in the endzone, this time it was Norwood Vann getting in on the action. The Giants added 6 more points to the board with a touchdown in the fourth but at that point they were beaten. The three safeties in a game is not only a record for a single team in one game it's the most recorded by both teams in a game. As I dug into this one I was a little surprised that it hasn't been broken.

Here's the box score:

Sunday, September 29, 2013

September 29, 1954: Willie Mays "The Catch"

On September 29, 1954, one of the most sensational defensive plays in the history of the game was made by New York Giants center fielder Willie Mays during Game One of the World Series at the Polo Grounds in New York. With the score tied 2-2 in the top of the eighth the Cleveland Indians were threatening to take the lead after starter Sal Maglie walked Larry Doby then gave up a single to Al Rosen. The Giants skipper Leo Durocher decided he was going to call on a lefty by the name of Don Liddle to pitch to left-handed hitter Vic Wertz then Mays made a play that will be remembered forever. On a 2-1 count Wertz took one of Liddle's pitch for a long ride deep to center, the 23 year old Mays, who was in his first full year in the majors was playing in shallow center and took off for the ball that looked like Superman would have had trouble catching. He tracked it down and made the over-the-shoulder grab on the warning track which was 420 feet away from home plate. After he made the grab Mays turned around and gunned the ball back to the infield, Doby might have been able to score if he would have tagged up in time, but since it looked as if there was no way he would make the play Doby was only able to tag up in time to get to third base while Rosen was still stuck at first. Wertz was the only batter Liddle faced that day, he joked that at least he got his man, I hope he bought Mays a nice steak for helping him get that man. Marv Grissom took over pitching duties for the Giants and walked a man before sitting down the next two to get the Giants out of the jam. With the crowd still buzzing in the tenth, Mays drew a one out walk, after Mays stole second the Cleveland starter Bob Lemon walked Hank Thompson  in hopes of an inning ending double play. Durocher called on Dusty Rhodes to pinch hit for Monte Irvin and the move won him the ballgame as Rhodes took pounced on the first pitch he saw and parked it over the wall in right. The crazy thing about Rhodes' homer was it barely cleared the wall which was a little more than 270 feet away from the dish. What would have been a sure home run in most ballparks was stolen away from the Indians in the eighth, then what looked like a lazy fly ball in the tenth beat them. It can be a crazy game, the Giants would go onto sweep their way to a Championship, it was their fifth title in the history of the franchise and their last in New York.

Watch Mays Make The Grab Here:

Here's the box score:

Saturday, September 28, 2013

September 28, 1941: Ted Williams Tops .400

On September 28, 1941, Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox refused to sit out of a doubleheader at Shibe Park in Philadelphia as he was sitting on a batting average of .39955 and his manager Joe Cronin offered to let him ride the pine so he could maintain the rounded up .400 average. The 23 year old Williams said "I don't want to be known as a .400 hitter with a lousy average of .39955." Williams came out and put on a show at the plate as he went 6 for 8 and brought that lousy average up to .406. In the first game "The Splendid Splinter" went 4 for 5 as his club battled their way to a 12-11 victory over the hometown A's. Three of those four hits were singles, the fourth was his 37th home run of the season which was good for the league lead. After the first game Williams had brought his average up to .403 but that didn't keep him from taking the field in an effort to preserve it, he wanted to add to the total and that's exactly what he did. He went 2 for 3 with a double in the 7-1 win that  brought his average up to .406 as he completed one of the most sensational seasons any batter has ever seen. In that '41 season, Williams played in 143 ballgames, he picked up 185 hits in 456 plate appearances, which included 151 walks, he knocked in 120 runs while scoring 135 of them himself. One of the most astounding stats besides hitting .400 of course is the fact that he only struck out 26 times during that campaign. Williams was the first person to hit .400 since Bill Terry of the New York Giants hit .401 in 1930 and it was the first time it had been done in the American League since Detroit's Harry Heilmann finished with a .403 average in 1923. Williams is the last man to accomplish the feat, it is a threshold that I doubt is crossed anytime soon or ever.

Here are the box scores from that day in Philly
Game 1:
Game 2:

Friday, September 27, 2013

September 27, 1940: Floyd Giebell Pitches The Tigers To a Pennant

On September 27, 1940, 30 year old Detroit rookie Floyd Giebell outdueled Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians in a 2-0 pennant clinching win for the Tigers. The Tigers club hadn't been on the radar at the beginning of the season, however, they battled to the end and found themselves in a heated pennant race with the Yankees and Indians. The day before the contest that decided the season the Yankees fell out of contention with a 6-2 loss to the Philadelphia A's. With both the Indians and Tigers sitting on 89 wins apiece it all came down to the one game, surprisingly Detroit's manager Del Baker decided to start Giebell rather than aces Schoolboy Rowe or Bobo Newsom. The choice to pitch Giebell paid off as he scattered 6 hits in the unlikely victory over the ace of the Indians. Feller allowed just three hits with one of them being a fluke double by Hank Greenberg that was lost in the sun by Indians center fielder Roy Weatherly. The hit that hurt the most came off the bat of Detroit's Rudy York in the fourth, with two out, Charlie Gehringer received a free pass before York came to the dish and hit a towering two run home run that would be all that Giebell needed to pitch the Tigers to the A.L. Pennant. Giebell had spent most of his season with a minor league club before he found himself on the major league roster. He had recorded one win before this all important game with a hostile crowd in Cleveland. Before the game even began the crowd was throwing fruits, vegetables, and eggs at the Tigers players. After the game began the hostility continued, one fan dropped a fruit basket from the upper deck and hit catcher Birdie Tebetts in the head knocking him out cold, the way it was reported in the paper the next day the catcher was not seriously injured by the falling fruit. The Chief umpire Bill Summers had to warn the crowd that if it continued that every flyball any Cleveland player hit in the air would be called out if the visitors were interfered with. The hostile crowd made Giebell's victory that much more impressive, he rarely went to his fastball as he worked the corners to keep hitters off balance. Four times the Indians put two men on in an inning but Giebell pitched like a pro and kept them from doing damage as he pitched his team to a pennant. It was the highlight of Giebell's career, it was just his second of three major league victories and an important victory it was. The Tigers would fall to Reds in 7 games in the World Series. Giebell wasn't allowed to pitch in the series because he only appeared in two games during the regular season. That second appearance in 1940 punched a ticket to the Fall Classic.

Check out the box score:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

September 26, 1973: Wilt Heads To The San Diego Conquistadors

On September 26, 1973, Wilt Chamberlain signed a 3 year $600,000 deal with the San Diego Conquistadors to become a player/coach of the ABA club. This marked the end of his storied NBA career and the beginning of a legal battle for the former superstar. Chamberlain's former team the Los Angeles Lakers refused to let him play as they still had an option on his contract. The team had no issues with him coaching but promised a legal fight if he were to play. The Lakers won the battle that followed and Chamberlain wasn't able to play for the Conquistadors, instead he took on coaching duties. Chamberlain's run as a coach was nowhere near as legendary as his run as a player. He left most of the coaching duties to his assistant Stan Albeck as the team posted a 37-47 record in the '73-'74 season then lost in the Division Semi-Finals to the Utah Stars. That one season proved to be the only season Chamberlain would spend with the Conquistadors, coaching just wasn't for him. He officially retired following that one campaign in San Diego.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

September 25, 1986: Mike Scott Clinches a Division Title With a No-No

On September 25, 1986, Astros hurler Mike Scott pulled off s double dose of history when he no-hit the San Francisco Giants in a 2-0 win in front of more than 32,000 at the Astrodome in Houston. Scott's no-no also clinched the National League West Title for the Astros. It was the first time in the history of the game that a no-hitter had been tossed in a clincher. The 31 year old righty had a filthy splitter working for him which ironically he learned from the manager of the Giants, Roger Craig. The Giants skipper realized by the fourth or fifth inning that there was a very real possibility that Scott was going to achieve the no-hitter and he called it one of the most dominating performances he had ever seen. Scott needed just 102 pitches to complete the no-hitter. He began the game by hitting Dan Gladden then made quick work out of the next three men he faced. The second inning started with a walk of Chili Davis then Scott retired the next 19 men in a row before giving up a eighth inning walk to Phil Ouellette. The final out of the ballgame was a soft grounder off the bat of Will Clark that completed the no-no. The dominant performance by Scott only had three balls make it out of the infield as he struck out 13 men on his way to putting himself in the history books. The victory moved Scott to 18-10 and locked down a Cy Young award for the hurler who finished that season with 306 K's. When interviewed after the game Scott said "I'm numb, I'm tired, but this is fantastic," he went onto say "Right now, I hope I don't fall down and pass out." The crowd in the Astrodome was so electrified by the historic performance that they sat in the stands for more than a half hour after the game ended chanting "We want Scott!!!" Finally the pitcher appeared, to the delight of the crowd his teammates carried him onto the field as they cheered on the man who turned in one of the best performances in the history of a clincher. The Astros went on to meet the New York Mets in the NLCS. Despite two outstanding performances by Scott in that series they ended up losing in 6 games to the team that would go onto win the World Series. While the season didn't have the storybook ending that Scott and his teammates would have hoped for it was a season that had many great moments including a no-no that clinched them a division title.

This a great video about Scott's No-No:

Check out the box score:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September 24, 1988: Jackie Joyner-Kersee Takes Home The Gold

On September 24, 1988, Jackie Joyner-Kersee battled through a knee injury and won the gold medal in the seven pronged heptathlon event at the Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea. On the first day of the event Joyner-Kersee opened up a big lead despite injuring her knee in the second event of the day. She still managed personal bests in the 100 meter and the shot put before seeking therapy for the injured knee. Like all great athletes she put the pain aside and performed admirably. With her best event on tap the long jump she had to compensate for the injured knee by pushing off on her right foot, normally it would have been her left. The only way you would know she was injured was if you were told, she pulled off a record setting 23 feet 10 and 1/4 inches in the long jump and was on track to win the gold. The knee did hamper her in the javelin throw but she finished strong with another personal best in the 800 meters to win the gold medal. The East St. Louis native's final score for the heptathlon was a record 7,291 points, that record still stands today. Joyner-Kersee was arguably the best woman athlete of her time, she won a total of four gold, one silver, and two bronze medals in four trips to the Olympic Games.

You can watch a short video about the event here:

Monday, September 23, 2013

September 23, 1908: Merkle's Boner

On September 23, 1908, with Giants in the middle of a heated pennant race at the Polo Grounds in New York, first baseman Fred Merkle committed a mental error that became known as "Merkle's Boner." The mistake cost the Giants the pennant. They were in a fierce battle with the Cubs and had them in town for what was sure to be a great battle. The two teams found themselves tied at 1 as they headed into the bottom of the ninth. The Giants quickly found themselves with two outs before Frank McCormick reached first base with a single, then the 19 year-old Merkle came to the plate and delivered a single that put McCormick on third just 90 feet away from victory. Shortstop Al Bridwell came through with a what looked to be the game winning single that brought fans storming onto the field. In all the commotion Merkle simply ran toward the locker room and did not touch second, an alert Johnny Evers called for the ball then tagged second base and Merkle was called out and the run did not score. With the players already in the locker rooms the game was called a tie. Despite protests the tie stood and the game was replayed on October 8th with the Cubs winning 4-2, the replay win secured the pennant for the Cubs and they went onto win the World Series in 5 games over the Detroit Tigers. That play might have the funniest nickname in the history of sports and the picture that goes along with it makes me laugh, however, that one play defined his career, and gave him the nickname of "Bonehead." Despite the mistake Merkle put together a solid 14 year career with the Giants, Dodgers, then his last 4 seasons were spent with the Cubs. Sort of an irony there that he would end up playing for the team that he had helped win a pennant by committing a mental error. While I find the nickname of the play funny, and the picture that goes along with it even funnier, I can't help but feel sorry for the guy as he had to carry it with him for the rest of his life.

Some believe the Cubs curse started that year. I guess they look at it as the baseball gods getting even.

Here is a 2 part video that documents the events and the things that followed.
The Fred Merkle Story
Part 1:

Part 2:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

September 22, 1927: Tunney vs. Dempsey "The Long Count Fight"

On September 22, 1927, with more than a 100,000 people on hand at Soldier Field in Chicago, Gene Tunney retained his heavyweight title by beating Jack Dempsey with a unanimous decision after ten rounds of battle. The fight will forever be known as the long count fight because of a a seventh round knockdown of Tunney that took nearly 15 seconds for the fighter to pick himself up off the canvas. Tunney put on a dominant performance through the first six rounds then Dempsey came out in the seventh and let the champ have it, he unleashed a combo that sent Tunney to the canvas. It was the first time in Tunney's career that he had been knocked down and he was dazed and confused. By the rules of the Illinois State Athletic Commission a boxer had to return to his corner after knocking down his opponent, the count would not begin until he was in his corner. After Dempsey put him on the floor he hovered around him for 5 or 6 seconds while the referee was trying to direct him to his corner so he could begin the count. When he finally got over there the count began and the disoriented Tunney began to get himself together and by the count of nine he was back on his feet. The mistake by Dempsey cost him the title that he had lost to Tunney one year earlier. Once Tunney was back on his feet he regained control of the fight the rest of the way to to take the match by unanimous decision. It was a very controversial fight at the time as some people thought it may have been fixed. I tend to see it as a major mistake by one of the great boxers of the era that cost him a title. It was the last fight of Dempsey's career and the next to last fight for Tunney. In July of '28 Tunney successfully defended his title against Tom Heeney, within days of that fight he announced his retirement.

You can watch footage of the fight here:

Saturday, September 21, 2013

September 21, 1986: The Jets and The Dolphins Play a Wild One In New York

On September 21, 1986, with more than 71,000 fans in the stands at The Meadowlands in New York, the Jets outlasted the Miami Dolphins in a record setting 51-45 overtime win. It was a quarterback duel between the Dolphins Dan Marino and the Jets Ken O'Brien. Marino hit 30 of 50 passes for 448 yards and recorded a career best 6 touchdown passes. On the other side of the ball Ken O'Brien had quite the day himself, the Jets signal caller hit 29 of 43 for 479 yards and 4 touchdowns all to wideout Wesley Walker. The two teams combined for 884 net passing yards which surpassed the former mark of 883 set by San Diego and Cincinnati in 1982. Walker thought he gave the game away late in the fourth quarter after he fumbled the ball that led to a Miami touchdown that put them in front 45-38. Walker was able to put the fumble to bed by catching a 21 yard pass by O'Brien that tied the ballgame as time expired. Walker said he was in shock after he scored the touchdown and he didn't even realize there was no time left on the clock. The best was yet to come for the speedy wide receiver, in overtime he caught a 43 yard bomb from O'Brien to win it for the Jets. The 96 total points set a record for most points scored in an overtime contest, it was matched by the Arizona Cardinals and the Green Bay Packers in 2010. Pretty wild day for Walker and the J-E-T-S.

Here's the box score:

Friday, September 20, 2013

September 20, 1998: The Iron Man Streak Comes To An End

On September 20, 1998, Cal Ripken Jr. walked into his manager's office and said "I think the time is right." What he meant by that was he was going to sit out the game that night which would be the first time since May 30, 1982 that Ripken was not in the Orioles lineup and it would end his legendary consecutive games played streak at 2,632. Ripken had became the all time Iron Man just two seasons earlier when he played in his 2,131st consecutive game surpassing the great Lou Gehrig. The choice to finally remove himself from the lineup on that day in late September was a surprise as he was just a week away from playing in every game for 16 straight seasons. With his team eliminated from playoff contention he felt like the time had come and he was doing what was best for the team. He felt as if the focus on the streak took away from the focus on the team so the 38 year-old future Hall of Famer put it to bed. When his manager Ray Miller filled out the lineup card rookie Ryan Minor was at the shortstop position and the Iron Man streak was over. The Orioles were taking on the New York Yankees that night at Camden Yards and the club from New York stood on the top stair of their dugout and gave the Iron Man a standing ovation. Ripken tipped his cap to the Yankees then went and took his seat next to his teammates on the bench. As the game progressed Ripken looked comfortable as he laughed and joked with teammates on the bench. He then went out to the O's bullpen and watched the rest of the game, occasionally shaking hands and posing for pictures with the fans. In the sixth he emerged from the bullpen to help warm up the left fielder while the fans gave him a standing ovations. It was truly the end of one of the greatest accomplishment in the history of baseball. While the streak ended Ripken's career was not over, his playing days didn't come to an end until the '01 season when he hung up his cleats after spending all of his 21 years in an Orioles uniform.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

September 19, 1959: Jack Nicklaus Becomes The Second Youngest To Win The Amateur Championship

On September 19, 1959, at the Broadmoor Golf Club in Colorado Springs, Jack Nicklaus became the second youngest golfer to win the United States Ameteur Championship. Nicklaus was just 19 years and 8 months old at the time, only Robert A. Gardner had accomplished winning the amateur championship at a younger age, he was just 3 months younger when he took his title in 1909. Much like Gardner, Nicklaus won a second amateur title before gong pro. Gardner's record stood until Tiger Woods won the first of his 3 amateur championships at the age of 18 years and 8 months old in 1994. The day Nicklaus won his first ameteur title he battled all the way to the 36th and final hole to secure the victory. He walked into that hole tied with the defending champion Charley Coe. Nicklaus put his second shot eight feet from the pin while his opponent landed his on the fringe and had to hit a chip shot just to get on the green. The kid that would become known as "The Golden Bear" dropped the eight footer to secure the victory that was the beginning of  one of the most storied careers in the history of golf. He would go onto win 73 rounds as a pro and sits third on the all time list. He also won a record 18 Major Championships, Tiger Woods sits four behind him on that list and is followed by Walter Hagen, Ben Hogan, and Gary Player.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

September 18, 1966: Johnny Unitas Surpasses Tittle on The All Time Touchdown Passes List

On September 18, 1966, Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas surpassed Y. A. Tittle's record of 212 touchdown passes in a 38-23 comeback win over the Vikings at Metropolitan Stadium in Minnesota.  Unitas' Colts found themselves in a 16-0 hole before Unitas connected with John Mackey on an 83 yard bomb that put the team on the board. The Colts added three more points to the board to make it 16-10 at the half and Johnny U. was far from done. He found Raymond Berry with a 40 yard touchdown pass int he third to tie Tittle's record and give his team their first lead of the day before breaking the record with a 26 yard strike to John Mackey. Despite Unitas' heroics the Vikings didn't go quietly, running back Bill Brown rumbled in from 27 yards out and closed the gap to 24-23 with a little more than 11 minutes to go in the contest. Unfortunately for the fans in Minnesota that was as close as they would get as the Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton fumbled the ball near his own endzone that was initially picked up by a Vikings player before being fumbled again in the endzone, this time it was recovered by Colts linebacker Mike Curtis for a touchdown. Unitas put a little icing on the cake with a 4 yard pass to Tom Matte to bring his touchdown total to 214. Unitas would finish his career with 290 touchdown passes and more than 40,000 yards as he set a number of records including 47 consecutive games with a touchdown pass, many thought that record would never be broken but it fell in 2012 when Drew Brees surpassed the mark. While all of Unitas'records have since been broken he was one of the most prolific signal callers of his time that led to an enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.

To date, Unitas' 290 touchdown passes in good for ninth on the all time list. You can view the list here:

Here's the box score:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

September 17, 1922: Sisler's 41 Game Hit Streak

On September 17, 1922, with more than 31,000 fans in the stands at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, Browns first baseman George Sisler extended his hitting streak to 41 games in a 5-1 win over the New York Yankee. The 41 consecutive games with a hit surpassed Ty Cobb's mark of 40 in a row that he had accomplished 11 years earlier. After he went hitless in his first two at bats Sisler lined a Waite Hoyt pitch up the middle to surpass Cobb and was within three of  Wee Willie Keeler's all time record of 44 games in a row with a hit. After Sisler extended his streak he came around to score on a single by Hank Severeid as the Browns quickly erased a 1-0 deficit by scoring 3 runs in that sixth inning. Sisler's streak began on July 27 when he picked up a hit off of Yankees hurler Joe Bush, ironically Bush would end his streak the day after he surpassed Cobb. The Browns and Yankees were in a heated pennant race and the win pulled the St. Louis squad within a half game of the league lead. The race would go right down to the wire with the Yankees taking the American League Flag with a one game lead over St. Louis. The season by Sisler was one to be remembered, as he led the league with a .420 average on his way to winning the A.L. batting title as well as the league's MVP award, just two years earlier Sisler recorded 257 hits which was a record that stood until Ichiro broke it with 262 hits in 2004. Sisler put together a remarkable career, over 15 years in the big leagues he picked up 2,812 hits, hit 102 home runs, and knocked in 1,175 runs while carrying a .340 average that led to an induction into Cooperstown.

Here is a great highlight video that tells the story of Sisler's career:

Check out the box score:

Monday, September 16, 2013

September 16 1988: Browning Achieves Perfection

On September 16, 1988, 16,591 Cincinnati Reds fans witnessed the first perfect game in the long history of the franchise when Tom Browning tossed a perfecto against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Riverfront Stadium. Browning needed the perfect performance as Tim Belcher tossed a 3 hit gem of his own. Belcher held the Reds hitless through the first five innings, only giving up a walk to Eric Davis in the second. Belcher lost his bid for a no-no when Barry Larkin hit a two out double in the sixth, that was followed with a high bouncer off the bat of Chris Sabo that Dodgers third baseman Jeff Hamilton overthrew his first baseman Mickey Hatcher that allowed Larkin to score an unearned run. Browning had no such hiccups, the Cincy hurler threw 22 of 27 first pitch strikes and struck out 7 while every other ball hit into play was hit right at a teammate for a quick out. Browning had a no-hitter broken up on the 27th out earlier in the season but that wouldn't be the case on this day as he came out and tossed the perfect ninth. He started the inning with a flyball out by Rick Dempsey, then induced Steve Sax into a groundout, before striking out pinch hitter Tracy Woodson to put the perfecto in the record books. It was the first perfect game since Sandy Koufax tossed a perfecto in 1965 and the first time a Reds pitcher achieved perfection.

This is a great video about Browning's quest to perfection:

Here's the box score:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

September 15, 1969: Steve Carlton Breaks The Strikeout Record

On September 15, 1969, at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Cardinals hurler Steve Carlton struck out 19 Mets batters to establish a new major league record. Unfortunately the 24 year old lefty surrendered a pair of two-run homers to New York outfielder Ron Swoboda that proved to be all the Mets needed as they went onto win 4-3. Carlton struck out the side in the first, second, and fourth innings and entered the ninth with 16 Ks which was just two short of  the record that was held by Sandy Koufax, Bob Feller, and Don Wilson. Carlton opened the ninth with a strikeout of pitcher Tug McGraw, then tied the record by striking out Bud Harrelson, before breaking the record with a strikeout of rookie Amos Ortiz, it was the fourth strikeout of the day for the rookie. In the bottom of the ninth the Cardinals briefly threatened as McGraw put a couple men on before he was able to get out of the inning and lock down his 8th win of the season. As dominating as the performance was it turned out the '69 Mets were a team of destiny as they went onto win the World Series. A Variety of men have tied Carlton's record and two have surpassed him Kerry Wood struck out 20 in 1998 and Roger Clemens struck out 20 in 1986 then again in 1996. The game for Carlton was undoubtedly frustrating but he understood it's just how baseball goes, can't win'em all but usually if you fan a record amount of batters your odds are pretty good.

Check out the box score:

Here is the list of men who have recorded 18 or more strikeouts in a game:

Saturday, September 14, 2013

September 14, 1991: Marshall Faulk... One Man Wrecking Crew

On September 14, 1991, in just his second collegiate game San Diego State Aztecs running back Marshall Faulk set an NCAA record with 386 yards on the ground and 7 touchdowns in a 55-34 win over the University of Pacific. The little known running back quickly made a name for himself as he ran right past Anthony Thompson's record of 377 yards that had been set while he was with Indiana  in 1989. Faulk's first carry didn't come until the 10:05 mark of the first quarter, because starter T.C. Wright had suffered a thigh bruise. Usually when a starter goes down one would simply hope the backup can get the job done, Faulk not only got the job done he obliterated records on the way. By the end of the third quarter he had 323 rushing yards that broke the freshman rushing yards record for a running back and he was not finished. He put an exclamation point on the performance with another 63 yards in the fourth to bring his total to the eye popping 386 on the day. He scored on touchdown runs of 9, 5, 61, 7, 47, 2, and 25 yards falling just 1 td short of tying Howard Griffith's mark of 8 touchdowns that had been done just one year earlier. With a two point conversion under his belt Faulk was also just four points shy of Griffith's record of 48 points scored in a single game. Faulk reached his total on 37 carries which was an average of more than 10 yards per carry. In November of that same year Tony Sands of Kansas ran past Faulk's record with with 396 rushing yards against the University of Missouri. Sands' record stood until 1999 when TCU running back LaDainian Tomlinson ran wild against UTEP with 406 yards on the ground. The record day for Faulk turned out to be the beginning of a legendary career that ended in Canton, Ohio.

Friday, September 13, 2013

September 13, 1981: "The Showdown" Leonard vs Hearns

On September 13, 1981, Sugar Ray Leonard pulled off a late rally to beat Thomas The Hit Man Hearns in 14 rounds at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Leonard came into the fight with a 30-1 record while Hearns held a 33-0 record and had never even been knocked down in a fight. The fight was billed "The Showdown" that more than 23,000 got to witness in person while more than 300 million people tuned in on televisions all over the world. They witnessed an epic battle that began with a dominating performance by Hearns through the first five rounds. Leonard was showing the signs of battle with a swollen left eye by the time the bell rang in the fifth before he came back with a vengeance in the 6th and 7th rounds. The momentum shift was short lived as Hearns regrouped and won rounds 9 through 12 on all three scorecards. When Leonard came out in the 13th he looked nearly beaten, his eye was swollen almost completely shut and it looked like Hearns was on his way to a 34-0 record. Then the tide turned, Leonard stunned Hearns with a right cross then followed it up with a fury of punches that sent Hearns to his knees. Hearns was able to get back up then was knocked down again later in the round and was saved by the bell. Leonard carried the momentum into the 14th, he came out with three quick lefts that had Hearns dazed and staggering, Sugar Ray kept the gas pedal to the floor and continued an onslaught before the referee stopped the fight 1 minute and 45 seconds into that 14th round. The victory gave Leonard control of both the WBC and WBA welterweight crowns, making him the first common division champion since Roberto Duran held both title in 1978. The two boxers met again in 1989 only to fight to a split decision even though it looked as if Hearns got the best of Leonard, even Sugar Ray later admitted the decision should have went to his opponent.

You can watch the final round here:

You can watch the entire fight here:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

September 12, 1962: Cheney Breaks The Strikeout Record

On September 12, 1962, Washington Senators pitcher Tom Cheney struck out 21 Orioles batters over 16 innings at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. The 21 Ks set a major league record that still stands today for most strikeouts in one game. The Senators jumped out to a 1-0 lead with an rbi by Bud Zipfel only to have the O's knot things up with a pinch hit rbi single by Charlie Lau in the seventh. While the Orioles starter Milt Pappas went 7 innings before he handed it over to his bullpen, the 27 year old Cheney was in it for the long haul and a long haul it was. The Senators hurler only had 13 strikeouts after the regulation nine innings. But as the game dragged on the total just kept rising as he struck out two in the 10th, two in the 11th, then two more in the 14th to set a modern major league record with 19. He surpassed the record with his 20th K in the 15th before Bud Zipfel hit a solo shot in the top of the 16th to put his Senators ahead 2-1. In the bottom of the 16th Cheney allowed a his tenth hit of the game before he finished off the Orioles with his 21st strikeout of the game as he caught Dick Williams looking for the record setting K. Before that day Sandy Koufax and Bob Feller shared the modern record for most strikeouts in one game with 18, they both did it in the regulation nine. Cheney pitched 8 years in the majors posting a 19-29 record, one of those 19 wins proved to be a record setting performance that has stood the test of time. A variety of pitchers have recorded 20 K's in one contest but only one has recorded 21.

Check out the box score:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11, 1983: Elway Gets Booed Out of Baltimore

On September 11, 1983, Broncos rookie quarterback John Elway was pulled in the third quarter of a game against the Colts in Baltimore.  It was the first time Elway played in the city of Baltimore since he was drafted first overall by the Colts in the '83 draft, then refused to play for the organization. The fans in Baltimore made it known that he would not receive a warm welcome and they stayed true to their word. The crowd of 52,000+ was so loud as they booed and chanted obscenities when the quarterback was under center. The Denver squad couldn't get a play off, and every time they failed to get the play off the crowd fed off of it and got even louder. The head coach of the Broncos, Dan Reeves seemed to only have one choice and that was to remove his up and coming star from the game with the score knotted up at 3. Elway's Broncos got the last laugh. After the Colts jumped ahead 10-3 in the fourth quarter, Denver backup Steve DeBerg engineered two scoring drives that led to a 17-10 win for the Broncos. There is an old saying that I am going to twist a bit... Hell hath no fury like an entire city scorned. I don't know anyone personally from the Baltimore area so I'm not sure how they feel about Elway today but I would imagine there isn't a lot of love for him after he made that decision. From the outside looking in perspective, it definitely doesn't seem like he made a bad choice after building a legendary career in Denver.

Here's the Box Score:

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

September 10, 1881: Roger Connor Hits The First Major League Grand Slam

On September 10, 1881, at the Haymakers Grounds in Troy, New York, Roger Connor of the Troy Haymakers hit the first ever grand slam in the history of the major leagues. Connor's historic shot came with the game on the line in the bottom of the ninth with his Haymakers trailing the Worcester Ruby Legs by three runs. The first ever grand slam came off of Ruby Legs hurler Lee Richmond and propelled the Haymakers to an 8-7 walkoff win.  Many historians consider Connor baseball's first great slugger, the fact that he played in the deadball era might make people look at his 138 career home runs and scoff, however, Connor's 138 homers were the major league record until Babe Ruth surpassed him in 1921. Connor led in a wide variety of offensive categories throughout his 18 year career but hardly got the recognition. After Hank Aaron surpassed Babe Ruth's home run record in 1974, Connor's name began to be tossed around since he was the man that the Babe had surpassed so many years before. In 1976 a Special Veterans Committee elected Connor into the Baseball Hall of Fame, nearly a decade after he hit the first grand slam in the history of the game, he was among baseball's immortals.

If you would like to read an extensive bio on Connor's life and times check this out:

This link will provide you with Connor's career stats and accomplishments:

Monday, September 9, 2013

September 9, 1960: The Broncos and Pats Battle In The First Ever AFL Game

On September 9, 1960, the first ever AFL regular season game was played. The game was a contest between the Denver Broncos and the Boston Patriots at Nickerson Field in Boston. The Broncos surprised everyone by pulling off a 13-10 victory after losing all 5 of their preseason games. The charge by the Denver squad was led by quarterback Frank Tripucka and running backs Al Carmichael and Gene Mingo. The quarterback threw for 180 yards with a touchdown and a pick, while his running back Carmichael proved to be his go to guy as he hauled in 130 of the 180 yards Tripucka produced. Mingo's contributed with 66 yards on the ground and a 79 yard punt return touchdown in the third quarter that proved to be the decider in the first ever AFL game. The Pats did score late with a Jim Colcough pass to Butch Songin but the Denver defense held them off and pulled off the upset to kickoff the season.

Here's the box score:

Sunday, September 8, 2013

September 8, 1993: Darryl Kile No-Hits The Mets

On September 8, 1993, Astros pitcher Darryl Kile no-hit the New York Mets in a 7-1 win at the Astrodome in Houston. Kile retired the first ten batters he faced before issuing a walk to Jeff McKnight who scored on a crazy play with Joe Orsulak at the dish. Kile's pitch got past his catcher Scott Servais and the backstop thought it hit the batter so he didn't go after it, in the meantime Mcknight was wheelin around and headed to third as Jeff Bagwell retrieved the ball and attempted to throw him out at third base. The throw went wide of the bag and McKnight scored while Bagwell was charged with the error. Following McKnight's walk Kile set down the next 17 men he saw despite the defensive miscue that led to the run. Kile had his no-no held together by two outstanding plays in the seventh. The first was a hot shot by Eddie Murray right down the third base line that Ken Caminiti had to dive hard to his left to make the play on, it was the hardest hit ball of the night and Caminiti came up big. One batter later Adujar Cedeno made another sensational grab deep in the hole at short, then turned and set the Mets batter Joe Orsulak down with a strong throw to Bagwell at first to keep the no-no intact. Kile put himself in the record books with a routine grounder by Todd Hundley before striking out Tito Navarro and Chico Walker, making him the ninth member of the Houston Astros to pitch a no-hitter. As soon as the last strike crossed the plate Servais and Kile along with all the other members of the Astros squad ran into celebrate the historic milestone. It was a special moment for the backstop and the hurler as they had made their way through the minors together and had accomplished something that would have just been a dream the day before. Servais joked that they would be on the golf course at 55 years old and Kile would tell him how he went against the pitch the catcher called, while Servais said he would take all the credit, it had to be one of the greatest days in both of their professional careers. Kile and Servais wouldn't get to have that conversation that was joked about because the pitcher passed away in a Chicago hotel in 2002 when he was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. While his life ended way too early, today is a day to remember a great accomplishment in his life, it was great life.

Check out the box score:

Saturday, September 7, 2013

September 7, 1923, Red Sox Hurler Howard Ehmke No-Hits The A's

On September 7, 1923, Boston Red Sox hurler Howard Ehmke no-hit the A's at Shibe Park in Philadelphia. Ehmke was assisted by a 3 for 3 performance by Ire Flagstead that led to the 4-0 no-hit victory. It was the tenth no-hitter in the history of the Red Sox organization. The bid for the no-no was nearly broke up in the seventh when Philadelphia's pitcher Slim Harriss hit what should have been a double but failed to touch first base and was called out to keep the bid alive. It was the only no-hitter Ehmke ever tossed, ironically six years later he was a member of the A's and even started the first game and the final game of the World Series for them as they won the title in five games over the Cubs.

Check out the box score:

Friday, September 6, 2013

September 6, 1953: Leo Durocher and Carl Furillo Throwdown

On September 6, 1953, in the second inning of a game against the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds, Brooklyn Dodgers outfielder Carl Furillo suffered a broken bone in his hand after a melee ensued after he was hit by a Ruben Gomez pitch. While Furillo was at the dish the Giants manager Leo Durocher was yelling as loud as he could "stick it in his ear", Durocher's hurler ended up hitting Furillo in the wrist and the National League's leader in batting average trotted to first while letting Durocher and company know that he was far from happy. Billy Cox followed Furillo in the order and while he was at the dish the words between Furillo and Durocher continued. Then the shit hit the fan, with a 2-0 count on Cox, Furillo had heard enough of Leo's lip and he made an angry charge toward the Giants dugout only to be met by the skipper in front of the dugout where they both wrestled each other to the ground. As players from both teams tried to breakup the fight, Furillo's hand was stepped on which broke the knuckle on his little finger. The injury put Furillo out of service for the rest of the regular season. However, it didn't stop him from winning the batting title or the Dodgers from winning the National League Pennant. Furillo did make it back to the lineup in time to play against the Yankees in the World Series where he hit .333 before the Yankees took the title in six games. When Furillo was asked about the incident he said "I didn't land one punch and neither did he. I would have given a $1,000 just to land one good punch." The Dodgers did win the contest 6-3 behind home runs by Roy Campanella and Jackie Robinson. It was Campanella's 38th dinger of the year which had broken Gabby Hartnett's record for home runs by a catcher, Hartnett hit 37 in 1930 for the Chicago Cubs. Unfortunately, the big story the next day was the big brawl that had put a key player on the shelf, rather than Campanella breaking a record that had stood for 23 years.

Here's the box score:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

September 5, 1960: Cassius Clay Wins Gold

On September 5, 1960, an up and coming 18 year old American boxer by the name of Cassius Clay won Olympic Gold with a unanimous decision over Zbigniew Pietrzykowski, a three time European Champion from Poland. The kid from Louisville, Kentucky that would become known as Muhammad Ali had already won AAU and Golden Glove competitions as he was establishing himself in the world of boxing. When Clay was invited to join the Olympics in Rome he nearly turned down the opportunity due to a fear of flying. Ultimately, Clay chose to make the flight while wearing a parachute just in case he needed it. Once he had his feet on the ground in Italy he became known as "The Mayor of Olympic Village" because of his outgoing personality. Clay beat Belgian Yvon Becaus, Soviet Gennady Shatkov, and Australian Tony Madigan before the gold medal fight against Pietrzykowski. After Pietrzykowski held his own the first two rounds, Clay battered him to the point that he had blood coming from his nose and mouth before the bell rang in the third and final round. Within seconds the decision went to the young Cassius Clay. He was 18 years old, a gold medal winner who was on top of the world. This was just the beginning of the legendary career of Muhammad Ali.

You can watch the fight here, the third round starts at 6:25. The video has the wrong date at the beginning of the fight but it was the best footage I couldfind that included audio.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

September 4, 1993: Jim Abbott Tosses a No-No

On September 4, 1993, Jim Abbott no-hit the Cleveland Indians as he led the Yankees to a 4-0 win at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Yankees hurler who was born without a right hand had overcome the obstacle and not only reached the major league level but had achieved something that most pitchers simply can only dream of. Abbott scattered 5 walks throughout and struck out 3 men. With Abbott just three outs away from making history in the ninth, Kenny Lofton led the inning off with a bunt attempt in order to make the one handed pitcher field the ball. It didn't work, Lofton was booed to no end after his feeble attempt that was fouled off before he grounded out to second. Felix Fermin followed Lofton up with a long line drive that Bernie Williams tracked down in the outfield for the second out, before Carlos Baerga hit a routine grounder to short that capped off the eighth no-hitter in the history of the Yankees organization. Abbott credited his defense for playing great behind him, as well as his catcher Matt Nokes for calling a great game. As the crowd of 27,125 stood and cheered Abbott tipped his cap to the crowd, it was a thrilling moment for the pitcher and everyone involved.

Check out the box score:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September 3, 1928: Ty Cobb Reaches 4,191

On September 3, 1928, Ty Cobb picked up a pinch hit double for the Philadelphia A's in a 6-1 loss to the Senators at Griffith Stadium in Washington D.C. The hit proved to be the final and 4,191st hit of his storied career. The man who became known as the "Georgia Peach" picked up his first hit on August 30, 1905 against Jack Chesbro of the New York Highlanders. Cobb's 4,191 hits was an all time best until Pete Rose surpassed him in 1985, only Rose and Cobb reached then surpassed the 4,000 plateau. 3,900 of Cobb's 4,191 came with a Detroit Tigers uniform on, he played 22 of his 24 seasons in Detroit where he established his legendary career that included a plethora of records, including the all time hit record. While some of his records were broken, some still stand, Such as the highest career batting average as he hit .366 in his 24 years in the majors and he won a batting title, a record 12 times, which included 9 in a row from 1907 to 1915. Cobb could do it all, he also held the all time stolen base record with 892 until the great Lou Brock surpassed him in 1977. One of the most astounding numbers that Cobb posted throughout his career was he hit .320 or higher in 23 of his 24 years played. He picked up 200 hits times and he led the American League in the hit department 8 times. His legacy is a strange one since he wasn't very well liked, however, the man was ballplayer who played the game with grit and determination. The simple fact that it took 50+ years for Rose to surpass the hits record is a testament to how hard it was to reach that plateau. While Cobb picked up his last hit on that early September day his final plate appearance didn't come until 8 days later, it was the end of a legendary career that will be remembered forever.

Here's the box score from Cobb's last hit:

Monday, September 2, 2013

September 2, 1960: Wilma Rudolph Wins Gold

On September 2, 1960, 20 year-old Wilma Rudolph took the Gold Medal in the 100 meter while setting a World record for the event as she blazed to victory in 11 seconds flat. Unfortunately, Rudolph wasn't credited with the record becasue of a 2.75 meter tailwind but the gold medal was still hers. The road to gold was a difficult one for Rudolph. After being born premature and only weighing in at 4 1/2 pounds at birth, Rudolph had to overcome bouts with pneumonia and polio that caused paralysis in her left leg. The future gold medal winner had to wear a brace on her leg until she was 9 years old and her mother would rub the leg down and try various treatments that proved to work wonders. By the time she reached high school she had not only overcome the challenges that had been bestowed upon her, she became a talented athlete in basketball and led her team in scoring. While she was still in high school, Ed Temple the track coach at Tennessee State saw her potential and she began practicing with the college squad. In 1956, the 16 year old Rudolph had earned a spot on the United States track team and would go to her first Olympic games in Melbourne where she brought home a Bronze medal. It was just the beginning for Rudolph, she returned to the states and continued to train, after graduating high school she attended Tennessee State and would develop into the best in the world before heading back to the Olympics in Rome in 1960. The young woman that had overcame polio and a variety of other challenges would leave those games dubbed "The fastest woman in the world", she not only took the Gold in the 100 meter, she also took it in the 200 meter, and the 4 X 100 meter relay. The three time gold medal winner was an inspiration to not only young African American women she was also an inspiration to anyone that had ever had to overcome a disability as they watched her achieve her dreams.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September 1, 1973: Foreman vs. Roman

On September 1, 1973, George Foreman traveled to Tokyo, Japan to defend his Championship Title for the first time since he had taken it from Joe Frazier in January of that same year. The opponent that Foreman was set to face, was Jose "The King" Roman. Roman was the first ever Puerto Rican to challenge for the belt. Big George made quick work of the man who called himself the King. From the beginning it looked as if Roman was going to try and dance around his opponent in an attempt to use his speed to avoid the thunderous blows of the champ. They were unavoidable blows, Foreman's strategy was to go for the quick knockout and it worked. Within a minute the champ had Roman reeling as he landed heavy blows that sent him crashing down. After Roman regained his footing Foreman quickly put him right back on the canvas, however, Roman bounced right back up and went back for another serving of Foreman's fists and Forman obliged.  The big man landed several crushing blows before Roman went down like a sack of potatoes. Just two minutes after the fight began Roman was counted out and Foreman remained the Heavyweight Champion of the World. Foreman successfully defended the title against Ken Norton in '74 then it was taken from him by Muhammad Ali later that same year.

Watch the fight here: