Walter Johnson was the first Major League pitcher to reach the milestone of striking out 3,000 batters. He did it on July 22, 1923. It wasn’t until July 17, 1974, almost 51 years later, when Bob Gibson became the second Major League pitcher to reach the 3,000 strikeout plateau.
On August 2, 1907, a young man later described by Frank Graham as “beyond doubt, the greatest pitcher that ever scuffed a rubber with his spikes” made his big league debut for the Washington Senators, losing a 3-2 decision to the pennant-bound Detroit Tigers. The great Ty Cobb admitted his fastball “made me flinch” and “hissed with danger.” By the time he hung up his spikes 20 years later, Walter Johnson had recorded statistics which seem beyond belief–417 wins and 279 losses, 3,509 strikeouts, 110 shutouts, 12 20-win seasons, 11 seasons with an earned run average below 2.00, and what seems almost incomprehensible a century later, 531 complete games in 666 starts. But, as superlative as his pitching record was, in Shirley Povich’s words, “Walter Johnson, more than any other ballplayer, probably more than any other athlete, professional or amateur, became the symbol of gentlemanly conduct in the heat of battle.”
Read more, SABR.com, Society for American Baseball Reseach
Walter Johnson’s Stats are Staggering.
Writing for BaseballGuru.com, Eric Gartman makes the case why Johnson is the greatest pitcher of all time. Here are Gartman’s top 10.
1. Walter Johnson 2.17/3.00, 20 Seasons
2. Greg Maddux 2.15/3.05, 15 (17) Seasons
3. Roger Clemens 2.63/3.38, 18 (20) Seasons
4. Pete Alexander 2.72/3.31, 18 Seasons
5. Lefty Grove 2.88/3.32, 17 Seasons
6. Christy Mathewson 2.78/3.35, 15 Seasons
7. Cy Young 2.88/3.37, 21 Seasons
8. Tom Seaver 2.72/3.56, 19 Seasons
9. Carl Hubbel 2.72/3.25, 15 Seasons
10. Warren Spahn 2.97/3.62, 20 Seasons
Not until more than 12 years after Jackie Robinson’s debut with the Dodgers, did the first black player take the field for the Red Sox.
On July 21, 1959 the Red Sox were in Chicago, trailing the White Sox 2-1, going into the 8th inning. Vic Wertz hit a lead off single for Boston. Then Red Sox manager Billy Jurges, very belatedly, made history by pulling Wertz in favor of pinch runner, Elijah “Pumpsie” Green. White Sox pitcher Dick Donovan retired the next three batters. Then Green took the field and played short stop for two innings. He didn’t have any fielding opportunities and didn’t get up to bat, as Chicago held on to win the game 2-1.
Green played in 49 more games for Boston in 1959, hitting .239 with one homer and 10 RBIs. He had three more unremarkable seasons with the Red Sox and then wound up his career playing 17 games with the Mets in 1963.
Ironically, Robinson had tried out for the Red Sox in 1945, before Branch Rickey signed him to play for Brooklyn. He went on to lead the Dodgers to six NL pennants and one World Series Win.
In a 1965 Sports Illustrated article Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey had this to say about his team’s lack of black players:
“I have no feeling against colored people,” he says. “I employ a lot of them in the South. But they are clannish, and when that story got around that we didn’t want Negroes they all decided to sign with some other club. Actually, we scouted them right along, but we didn’t want one because he was a Negro. We wanted a ballplayer.”
Howard Bryant, who wrote the book “Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston”, said
The Red Sox were one of the most racist teams in baseball. You’ve got a 50-year legacy of difficulties between the Red Sox and the African-American population.
Harold Friend for Bleacher Report probably hit the nail on the head. He wrote:
The Red Sox rejected Robinson, Jethroe, and Mays, but selected Pumpsie Green. Only two conclusions are possible. Either discrimination existed or the Red Sox were the most incompetent organization in sports history.
While the first successful moon walk was underway on Sunday July 19, 1969 at 4:17 PM EDT; as is the case with every other Sunday in July, a full schedule of Major League baseball games was being played.
In the Bronx, the Yankees and the Senators were all tied at 2-2, in the 8th inning, when announcer Bob Sheppard told the 34,000 fans in attendance (who couldn’t give up seeing two mediocre teams play a meaningless game, rather than staying at home to watch a momentous event on TV) “You will be happy to know that Apollo 11 has landed safely.”
Not everyone was watching television at the time. In ten cities across the country, major league baseball games were scheduled, including five double-headers. The games did not all start at the same time, though, so the moon landing hit them all differently. In Seattle, for example:
“…pregame ceremonies before an American League baseball game between the hometown Pilots and the Minnesota Twins were interrupted by an announcement of the moon landing. The fans cheered, stood up and sang ‘America the Beautiful.’”
Read More Wezenball.com
The Mets Can Win, According Casey Stengel
Casey Stengel always said the Mets would win when they put a man on the Moon. Both miracles happened in 1969.
The whole world didn’t stop on July 20, 1969, when astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the Moon. It just seemed that way.
For even as astronaut Neil Armstrong was landing on the powdery surface of the Moon that day, uttering 11 of history’s most famous words – “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” – the sports world carried on.
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The Mike Tyson Rape story began, early in the morning of July 19, 1991, when Desiree Washington, a contestant in the Miss Black America Pageant, accused Tyson of having non-consensual sex with her.
After meeting Washington the day before in Indianapolis, during a rehearsal for the pageant, Tyson called Washington from his limousine at 1:30 AM, and invited her to meet him in the lobby of the hotel where she was staying.
1. The subject said:
“…we can go around Indianapolis and everything…”
The subject should be asked to clarify what she means by “…and everything…”
2. The subject said:
“I wasn’t really thinking anything bad.”
a. The word “really” reduces commitment.
b. The subject should be asked to clarify what she means by “bad”.
Tyson won the heavyweight championship in 1986, at the age of 20. He was considered by many to be the most feared boxer of all time, until he was knocked out by 42-1 underdog, Buster Douglas, in 1990.
Tyson attended the Miss Black America pageant in Indianapolis to lend his celebrity to the event. At a photo opportunity with the contestants, Tyson flirted with the women by grabbing and hugging them. Later, several women would testify that Tyson had made disgusting propositions to them. Still, the boxer impressed Desiree Washington, a college student from Rhode Island.
Read more History.com
Nadia Comaneci scored a perfect 10, competing on the uneven bars at the Montreal Olympics; July 18, 1976. A few months shy of her 15th birthday, barely five feet tall, and weighing in at 88 pounds (soaking wet); the tiny Roumanian gymnast in addition to memorizing the judges, stole the hearts of an international audience that numbered in the hundreds of millions.
However not everybody was so impressed. The Washington Post reported that:
Russian coach Larissa Latynina, upset at the prospect of Comaneci’s stealing the thunder from Soviet stars Ludmila Tourischeva and Olga Korbut, was critical of the judges decision. “I question the performance,” she said, shaking her head in disgust. “1 can see a 9.5, but it should not have been a 10. There Were some flaws. It was not perfect.” “I knew it would come out well and I was very glad,” Nadia said through an interpreter. The Russian’s Olga Korbut, darling of the 1972 Munich games, questioned Comanci’s perfect mark, first in modern Olympic history but Nadia’s 17th. “I question the 10.0 that was given because there were two flaws in the performance,” said Korbut, vying with Nadia for both meals and popularity.
Knowledgeable gymnastics fans were not the least bit surprised by Comaneci’s performance. At the 1975 European Championships, at Skien, Norway. she won four gold medals and a silver. She also introduced the world to a new dismount on the uneven parallel bars, which the International Gymnastics Federation officially named “The Comaneci Come Down”.
After Comaneci nailed her perfect 10, Omega showed a 1.00.
The Swiss company Omega has had responsibility for the timing and scoring of Olympic events since 1932. Before the 1976 Games they contacted the International Olympic Committee with a question about the scoreboards they were constructing for the gymnastics. Would it be better, they asked, to replace the traditional boards, which had room for three digits such as, say, 9.50, or 9.85, with one that could display four digits, such as 10.00?
“I was told, ‘a 10.00 is not possible,’” recalls Daniel Baumat, now the director of Swiss Timing, which like Omega is part of the Swatch Group. “So we only did three digits.”
Guardian, read more
Joe DiMaggio saw his 56 game hitting streak come to an end on July 17, 1941. 72 years later, nobody, not even DiMaggio himself, has come close to equaling his mark. Before DiMaggio’s streak, which started and ended during the 1941 season, Willie Keeler held the record. Keeler hit safely in the first 44 games of the 1897 season.He also hit safely in the last game of the 1896 season. In the modern era, George Sisler had a 41 game streak in 1922.
The streak began without much fanfare. The game was played in Yankee Stadium in front of a crowd, if that’s what you want to call it, of 9,040. (That would mean there were close to 60,000 empty seats.) Joltin’ Joe went 1-4, with a single and an RBI. Meanwhile, the Yanks got smoked by the White Sox 13-1.
More than two months later, against the Indians in Cleveland, the DiMaggio Streak came to an end.
Since DiMAggio’s feat, Pete Rose is the only Major Leaguer who has been able to hit safely in 40 or more consecutive games. Rose’s 1978 streak lasted 44 games.
Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak began on this day in 1941 with a humble RBI single against the Chicago White Sox. The Yankee Clipper wouldn’t be held hitless again until July 16. That record streak remains one of the most hallowed and admired marks in sports. Andre Ethier of the Los Angeles Dodgers made headlines early this season by putting together a hitting streak barely half as long. In 71 years, no one has come within 12 games of DiMaggio’s record…
The Yankees rallied in the eighth. With one out and three runs already in, Henrich walked to load the bases. Despite Smith’s success with Joe that night, the pitcher was gassed. In came second-generation Major League pitcher Jim Bagby Jr.
DiMaggio had observed, from one knee in the batter’s box, Bagby’s warm-up pitches. Back on June 15, Joe had homered off Bagby, at the time extending The Streak to 28. DiMaggio saw what he wanted. Time to hit. Joe walked purposefully to the batter’s box.
On a 2-1 pitch, DiMaggio swung and bounced a sharp ground ball at shortstop Lou Boudreau. The 24-year-old infielder was celebrating his birthday, but the last hop of this grounder was anything but a gift.
As the ball took an unexpected detour up and to his right, Boudreau stayed with the bad bounce and shoveled to second for a force out. When Ray Mack threw on to first, DiMaggio was the victim of a double play.
An uneventful Yankee ninth inning meant that Cleveland needed to tie in the bottom of the frame for DiMaggio to have any chance to continue his historic run.
Larry Rosenthal’s two-run triple gave DiMaggio’s fans hope, as the score now stood at 4-3. But Yankee reliever Johnny Murphy retired the side, and The Streak ended at 56 straight.
Read about all 56 games in the steak at JoeDiMaggio.com
10.49 controversial record still stands, 25 years later.
Florence Griffith-Joyner, affectionately known as Flo Jo, broke the world record in the women’s 100-meter dash by so much, the broadcasters (see video below) thought for sure that she had run a wind assisted race. Earlier in the day she ran a 10.6, which was faster than the existing world record of 10.76 (Evelyn Ashford, 1984), but her 10.6 actually was wind assisted.
INDIANAPOLIS-As good a runner as she is, Florence Griffith Joyner has been better known through the years for her sense of fashion. Start with the fingernails. At the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, when they were 4 inches long, she painted three of them red, white and blue. She painted a fourth gold, for the color of the medal she hoped to win in the 200 meters. Instead, she finished second and won a silver medal.
NY Times read more
Even more controversial than Flo Joe’s fashion statement, was the race itself. Nick Linthorne argues that the wind was actually +5.5 m/s at the time of the race.
Perhaps as equally stunning as Flojo’s sprint times was the official wind reading for her quarterfinal: 0.0. This wind reading was greeted with universal disbelief by those who witnessed the race. On that day the winds in the stadium were very strong. Of the wind readings taken in the men’s triple jump, which was conducted at the same time on a runway next to the 100m straight, only three of the 46 measurable jumps were wind-legal. In this competition Willie Banks rode a hefty +5.2 wind out to 18.20m, the longest jump recorded under any conditions. The triple jump wind-indicator board showed +4.3 for the jump prior to the first of the three 100m quarterfinals. Yet somehow the official wind reading for quarterfinal I (and Flojo’s world record) was a nowhere-near-believ-able 0.0.
Read the whole article here.