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 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.
Edwinmoses.com, read more
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.
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 sports.yahoo.com
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
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.