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76ers Sign (Stiff) Shawn Bradley for $44 Million July 30, 1993


Shawn Bradley, the 7’6″ former Brigham Young star, signed an eight year, $44 million deal with the Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers. It happened on July 30, 1993.

The Sixers were hoping to follow the pattern set by the Orlando Magic who the previous year signed Shaquille O’Neal to a slightly less generous pact. ($35 million, seven years). O’Neal won the rookie of the year award, practically by acclamation, and went on to have a spectacular twenty-one year NBA career. Things did not turn out quite so well for Bradley and the Sixers, although amazingly, he managed to hang around the NBA for sixteen mediocre seasons.

Earlier in 1993, the Sixers selected Bradley with the second overall pick in the draft. Ten players who were drafted after Bradley scored more points more during their NBA careers, including such luminaries as: Rodney Rogers, Lindsey Hunter, and Calbert Cheaney.

The list of even better known players from the Class of ’93 who were drafted after Bradley includes:
Sam Cassell (24)
Allan Houston (11)
Nick Van Exel (37)
Vin Baker (8)
Jamal Mashburn (4)
Anfernee Hardaway (3)
Isaiah Rider (5)

At the time Shawn Bradley signed his contract with Philadelphia, he hadn’t played a competitive game of basketball for two years.(He was on a Mormon mission in Australia.) Prior to that, he played one season for Brigham Young averaging 14.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.

Sixers general manager Jimmy Lynam defending his choice of the inexperienced Bradley, said that he was “”arguably as good an athlete at that size as we’ve ever seen.”

Rachel Shuster’s assessment of Bradley proved to me more prophetic than Lynam’s who who compared him to Bill Walton. “The game flowed through Walton. He was the focal point for everything. Shawn can be, too. He has terrific hands, he sees others so well, he can make others better.”, Lynam said. Shuster didn’t buy it. She wrote in USA Today, when Bradley signed with Philly, “Bradley is a project in the truest sense of the word, an athlete with skills (14.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 5.2 blocked shots a game at BYU) who lacks bulk and conditioning.”

Martinez, Rogers Perfect Games July 28 1991 and 1994


Dennis Martinez pitched a perfect game on July 28, 1991. Three years later, to the day, Kenny Rogers also pitched a perfect game. Martinez’s and Roger’s gems were only the 12th and 13th perfect games ever pitched (in the modern era of the Major Leagues).

Since 1994, perfect games have become slightly less of a rare phenomenon. There have been nine perfect games thrown since Rogers did it. The last one was by Felix Hernandez on August 15, 2012.

Cy Young pitched the first and shortest perfect game on May 5, 1904; for the Boston Americans (They weren’t known as the Red Sox until 1908.) against The Philadelphia Athletics. The game only lasted an hour and twenty-five minutes. Four years later Addie Joss turned the trick for the Cleveland Naps (Not to be known as the Indians until 1915.

Fourteen years passed before before Charlie Robertson retired all twenty-seven Detroit Tigers, for the Chicago White Sox. Another forty-four years elapsed before Don Larsen threw what is arguably the most famous pitching performance of all time; his World Series perfect game in 1956, against the Dodgers.

There were three more perfect games pitched in the sixties, none in the the seventies, and three in the eighties. Two more perfect games followed Rogers’ in the nineties, and since then, there have been seven more perfect games, including three in 2012 alone.

Tommy John Commits 3 Errors – in 1 Play! July 27, 1988

Autographed Tommy John Poster $40.08

Autographed Tommy John Poster $40.08
More Tommy John collectibles click here

You might see a 9-year-old do this in a Little League game, but you don’t expect to see a Major League ball player, especially a very good one like Tommy John, commit three errors in the same play. He managed to pull off this dubious accomplishment while pitching for the Yankees, against the Milwaukee Brewers. It happened on July 27, 1988.

At the time, John was a 45-year-old veteran, pitching his 25th season in the big leagues. Although he came into the game with a record of 284 wins against 214 losses, by this point in his career, and probably forevermore, he was, and will always be, better known for the surgery that was performed on his on his elbow in 1974. If medical professionals want to show off, they might refer to his procedure as an ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction, but everybody else just calls it “Tommy John Surgery”.

On this night in Yankee Stadium, John was cruising along nicely. In the first three innings, the only Milwaukee batter to reach base was Rob Deer who singled in the second inning, but was doubled up the next play when Dale Sveum lined out. John pitched a clean inning in the third, and he started out the fourth by getting Paul Molitor to ground out. Then he walked Jim Gantner and maybe it affected his concentration. On the next play Jeffrey Leonard hit a dribbler to the mound. John booted it – for error number one. Then he threw the ball wildly passed first baseman Don Mattingly, into right field – for error number two. By the time Dave Winfield chased it down, Gantner was trying to score. John caught Winfield’s relay throw, and fired it over catcher Don Slaught’s head,allowing both Gantner and Leonard to score. – And that was error number three. Then Robin Yount came up and hit a single, but John stranded him at first as Deer lined out and Sveum was called out looking.
Meanwhile, after all that, the Yankees still led 4-2 and wound cruising to a 16-3 win. John got the win after pitching eight very respectable innings in which he allowed only six hits and two earned runs.

Mathias Repeats in Olympic Decathlon July 26, 1952


After winning the Gold in the decathlon for the U.S., at the 1948 London Olympics, Bob Mathias delivered a repeat performance at the Helsinki games. Although he finished 8th in the 1,500 meters on July 26, 1952; the last of the grueling, 2 day, 10 event competition; Mathias had built enough of a lead in the prior events to to break the world decathlon record along the way to winning a second gold medal.

The first day of the competition was on July 25. Mathias took an early lead, winning the 100 meters with a time of 10.9 seconds. In the long jump he leaped 22′ 10.80″, which was only good enough for 6th place, but then he won the shot put with a toss of 50′ 2.37″. He took third place in the high jump, with leap of 6′ 2.81″. In the last event of the first day, Mathias ran the 400 meters in 50.2 seconds, and blew the field away. After five events he had 4,367 points, and a comfortable lead over his closest competitors, Milton Campbell and Floyd Simmons; both Americans.

Mathias began day two of the decathlon, running the 110 meter hurdles in 10.91 seconds, and took second place. He won the discuss with a throw of 46.89 feet. He cleared 13′ 1.47″ in the pole vault, for third place, and he threw the javelin 194′ 3.15″, winning the event.

Mathias scored a total of 7,887 points in Helsinki, beating his own world record of 7,825 which he set at the Olympic Trials in Los Angeles.

Edwin Moses Wins First Olympic Gold July 25, 1976


Edwin Moses won the gold medal in the 400 meter hurdles at the Montreal Olympics on July 25, 1976. In winning the race, Moses, who at that time was a 20 year old engineering student at Morehouse College, also set a world record for the event, with a time of 47.64 seconds. His 1976 Olympic win would mark beginning of Moses’ domination in the 400 meter hurdles. He reigned virtually unchallenged for more than a decade, winning another Olympic gold medal at Los Angeles in 1984. (The U.S. boycotted the 1980 Moscow Games, or would have undoubtedly won there as well.) Moses also bested in own record, three more times. His fastest time ever was 47.03, in 1983. The record stood for years. Moses remained unbeaten in his event from 1977 to 1987, winning victories in more than 100 consecutive finals.

Born 31st August 1955, in Dayton, Ohio, the second of three sons, Moses began his athletic career in age group competitions and later in high school in the 180 yard low hurdles and 440 yard dash. Guided by his parents’ influence on him as educators, he accepted an academic scholarship in engineering from Morehouse College rather than an athletic scholarship elsewhere. Although there was no track at Morehouse College, Moses trained for the 1976 Olympic trials using the public high school facilities around Atlanta. He subsequently won the trials in the 400 meter hurdles with an American record of 48.30 seconds, making his first Olympic team. At the summer Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada, he became the Olympic Champion, bettering the Olympic and World Records with a time of 47.63 seconds. For the next decade he dominated the hurdles accumulating the most amazing string of consecutive victories ever amassed by an individual athlete. Over a period of nine years, nine months and nine days, from August 1977 until May 1987, Moses collected 122 straight victories, 107 of these were finals; this winning streak has remained unbeaten and stands in the Guinness Book of Records to this date., read more

1976 Montreal Summer Olympics Edwin Moses Gold Medal Ticket Stub 400m Hurdles

1976 Montreal Summer Olympics Edwin Moses Gold Medal Ticket Stub 400m Hurdles
Click here to see on eBay

George Brett Pine Tar Incident July 24, 1983


July 24, 1983 – It was the top of the 9th inning. The Kansas City Royals were down to their last out, trailing the Yankees 4-3. However, U.L. Washington breathed some life into the Royals, hitting a single to left, off of Dale Murray. That brought up George Brett, hitting .352. Billy Martin decided to bring in Rich Gossage to face him. After fouling off the first pitch, Brett crushed Gossage’s next one into the right field stands, and it appeared that the Royals had taken a 5-4 lead.

Not so fast, George

Newsday reporter, Derrick Jackson wrote:
As the home run was in flight, Operation Seize the Bat had begun. Martin lighted out of the dugout and ran to home plate umpire Tim McClelland. Martin and the Yankees yelled to Cerone grab the bat. Cerone spun, looked toward the Royals dugout and his heart started sinking. The bat boy was carting it away. Cerone yelled at the bat boy, 18-year-old Merritt Riley of Levittown, N.Y. Riley returned the bat.

Simple enough? Not quite. Cerone had a lapse of his own, took a look at the bat and surrendered it to Riley again. “I forgot what I was supposed to check the bat for,” Cerone said. “The only thing I remembered at first was that everybody told me it was an illegal bat. Since I couldn’t remember that it was supposed to be pine tar, I checked for cork in the bat. Since there was no cork, I flipped the bat back down.”

But the Yankees kept screaming at Cerone and McClelland. McClelland retrieved the bat. Martin stated his case to the umpires. The Royals started screaming at Riley for giving up the bat. Then all sides grew quiet as the umpires, McClelland, Drew Coble, Nick Bremigan and crew chief Joe Brinkman fondled the bat.

“I was laughing at the umpires when they were deciding what to do,” said Brett, who admitted that umpires had mentioned to him on other occasions to clean the tar on his bat. “Judge Joseph A. Wapner (of the television show The People’s Court) wouldn’t have called it back.”

Without a ruler to measure 18 inches, the umpiring crew decided to lay the bat across the top of the plate, which is 17 inches wide. “The pine tar clearly extended more than another inch,” McClelland said. Now came the matter of what to do with Brett. Rule 1.10 (b) said only that the bat shall be removed from the game. But there is also Rule 6.06 that states that if a bat has anything foreign on or in it, or is altered, the player would be called out and ejected.

Of course the Royals appealed,

and AL President Lee MacPhail ruled in their favor. The home run stood, but Brett was still ejected from the game.

So on August 18, the two teams were back in Yankee Stadium to complete some unfinished business. It was still the bottom of the 9th, the Royals still had two outs, but now they led 5-4. George Frazier, pitching for the Yankees, struck out Hal McRae. Then the Royals took the field, with Dan Quisenberry on the mound. Don Mattingly flew out to center, Roy Smalley flew out to left, and Oscar Gambled grounded out to 2nd. The whole thing took 9 minutes and 41 seconds, not including the 25 days that elapsed from the time of The Pine Tar Incident.

George Brett Pine Tar Bat

George Brett Pine Tar Bat Autographed 16″ X 20″ Photograph $167.95
Click to see this and more George Brett Collectibles

Kerri Strug, Despite Ankle Sprain, Wins Gymnastics Gold for U.S. July 23, 1996


By landing a solid vault on a sprained ankle, Kerri Strug enabled the U.S. to win its first gold medal in the Womens Gymnastics team all around competition.

The irony of Kerri Strug’s moment of a lifetime is that it wasn’t necessary. As it turned out, the final Russian faltered in her floor exercise, rendering Strug’s second vault meaningless in the box score. Thankfully she didn’t know it at the time, because what Strug did in Atlanta in 1996 is the most perfect example of the Olympic ideal, and it’s why sport will forever be the ultimate reality show. Read more

Strug lands hard on both feet, amazingly without stumbling. Yet when she lands, she hears another crack in the same ankle. She gingerly picks up her damaged ankle and folds it behind her, keeping her balance, to the shock of everyone in the crowd and everyone watching on TV. Her mind tells her body to stand upright for the traditional post-performance pose. She hops on one foot to face one side of the crowd, then hops again to face the other, all the while holding up her injured ankle.
ESPN, read more

1996 gymnastics

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