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Minor League Team Has John Rocker Awareness Night – July 7, 2000

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John Rocker doesn't like kids with purple hair, queers, 20-year-old moms with four kids, foreigners, or rednecks

John Rocker doesn’t like kids with purple hair, queers, 20-year-old moms with four kids, foreigners, or rednecks

The Butte Copper Kings of the Pioneer League offered free admission to anyone belonging to a group insulted by Atlanta Braves reliever John Rocker in a December, 1999 Sports Illustrated interview.

That night they had their best attendance of the season as 676 fans (presumably some not mentioned by Rocker in the interview, and thus having to pay in order to see the ballgame) watched the Copper Kings get slaughtered by the Idaho Falls Padres, 18-6.

Among those eligible were

    Kids with purple hair
    Queers with AIDS
    Dudes who just got out of jail for the fourth time
    20-year-old moms with four kids.


First All-Star Game Babe Ruth Homers July 6, 1933

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The First All-Star Game was played in 1933 at Comiskey Park, in Chicago. Never intended to be an annual event, its whole purpose was to lift attendance at the struggling Chicago Worlds Fair.

While the “Century of Progress” World’s Fair was in full swing, anevent occurred on this day that changed baseball history: the first All-Star game. A few months earlier, Chicago Mayor Edward J. Kelly had gone to Col. Robert R. McCormick, publisher of the Tribune, with an idea. He wanted to arrange a sports event as an adjunct to the fair. “`We’ve got the man right here,’ McCormick said.

Ten minutes later, sports editor Arch Ward was in McCormick’s office,” as Ward’s biographer, Tom Littlewood, recounted the meeting.
Ward knew what he wanted: a matchup of the best players in the American and National Leagues.
Chicago Tribune

The Giants legendary skipper, John McGraw, came out of retirement to manage the National League. Connie Mack was at the helm for the American League. The National League lineup included Hall of Famers Frankie Frisch, Gabby Hartnett, Carl Hubbell, Chuck Klein, Bill Terry, Pie Traynor, and Paul Waner.

If you think that lineup wasn’t too shabby, compare it to the American League’s which featured Joe Cronin, Bill Dickey, Jimmy Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Charlie Gehringer, Lefty Gomez, Lefty Grove, Tony Lazzari, Al Simmmons, and oh yeah, a 38-year-old veteran outfielder by the name of Babe Ruth. The old boy hit a second inning two run homer that put the American League ahead 3-0. The game ended with the AL on top, 4-2.

Babe Ruth Major League Debut – July 11, 1914

Babe Ruth Sold for $100K in 1920. His Shirt sold for $4MM in 2012


Serena and Venus Wimbledon Final July 5, 2002

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Serena and Venus Williams faced each other in the final at Wimbledon on July 5, 2002. It was hardly the first time the sisters were matched in professional competition, nor was it the first time they had competed in a Grand Slam final. They passed that milestone the previous September at the U.S. Open, when Venus coasted by her little sister; 6-2 6-4. The following spring, Serena “broke back” defeating Venus at the French Open, 7-5, 6-3.

Incredibly, by the time the Williams Sisters came to center court for the final at Wimbledon, the whole thing was beginning to get a little old. The New York Times wrote “One player after another has joined a conga line for those experiencing Williams sister fatigue, each bored with the monotony of watching Venus and Serena turn the major finals into a family reunion.
Of course, their opponents are only concerned about the fans, They are worried about the audience becom¬ing weary of witnessing the same old unforced errors and awkward mo¬ments that have marked the all-Wil¬liams finals of the past.”

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — The balance of power in the Williams household has shifted. It’s Serena who’s in command now.
Serena beat older sister Venus in straight sets for the Wimbledon title Saturday in the best of their all-in-the-family Grand Slam finals so far.
In a match featuring ferocious hitting by both players, Serena outslugged Venus 7-6 (4), 6-3 for her first Wimbledon championship and third major title.

Serena defeats defending champion Venus Williams
In 2002, Venus Williams was the two-time defending champion at Wimbledon. It would also be the last year that she would hold more Grand Slam titles than her baby sister.
Bleacher Report


Lou Gehrig’s Luckiest Man Speech July 4, 1939

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Lou Gehrig’s Luckiest Man Speech, delivered in front of 61,808 fans at Yankee Stadium, on July 4 1939; transcends the sports world and has to be considered one of the most iconic speeches in history. At the time, Gehrig had recently been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a disease that would become more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Gehrig’s illustrious baseball career and his life, were both shortened by the disease. He retired from baseball just a few weeks before “the speech”, and he died June 2, 1941.

On July 4, 1939, the New York Yankees held “Lou Gehrig Day” at Yankee Stadium. Gehrig had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) just two weeks earlier. With more than 62,000 fans in attendance, the Iron Horse took the microphone for what would become one of the most memorable moments in baseball history.

I was at Yankee Stadium on that melancholy afternoon, an 18-year-old sitting in the faraway right-field bleachers, and I was deeply touched by his words. But I thought only that Gehrig’s long career with the Yankees had come to an end. It never crossed my mind that his death was imminent.
NY Times

On July 4, 2002 the late James Gandolfini reprised Gehrig’s speech.

It wasn’t a performance that was immediately acclaimed, shared or remembered Wednesday evening in the first moments after the world learned that James Gandolfini had died.
But in June 2002, Major League Baseball set aside a day to remember Lou Gehrig’s “luckiest man” speech and raise amyotrophic lateral sclerosis awareness, with someone chosen to recite it in each ballpark. Gandolfini was the pick in New York at the old Yankee Stadium. This wasn’t the sort of thing he liked to do, but it was for a cause that was important to him, so he stepped up to read words that are particularly poignant now.
Washington Post


Dick Allen and Frank Thomas Fight July 3, 1965

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One swing of the bat cost Frank Thomas his job with the Phillies. That’s because in batting practice on July 3, 1965, Thomas swung his bat and connected with Dick Allen’s shoulder. (He was still known as Richie Allen then.) The next day when the Phillies released him, Thomas learned that if you’re going to swing your bat at a teammate, it’s better to pick one who was not leading league in hitting (.341) ; or the previous year’s rookie of the year. Allen was both.

Accounts of what happened are varied and conflicting, but the consensus view is that there was a racial aspect, or at least a perceived racial aspect, that triggered it. After his release Thomas gave his side of the story, acknowledging that he told Allen that he was “running off at the mouth like Muhammad Cassius Clay.” Allen refused to speak publicly about the incident, probably because he was told by manager Gene Mauch that he would receive stiff fine if he said anything.


Dempsey Carpentier 1st $Million Gate July 2, 1921

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A crowd of 91,000 assembled in Jersey City, paid legendary promoter Tex Rickard almost $1.8 millionto see Jack Dempsey defend his heavyweight championship, knocking out Frenchman Georges Carpentier, in the 4th round. The crowd was the largest ever to see a sporting in the U.S., and the gate shattered all previous records as well. It was the first time in history that a fight grossed more than a million dollars, and it was forevermore known as The Million Dollar Gate. Dempsey was paid what at that time was, the staggering sum of $300,000. Carpentier went back to France with $200K and no doubt, a very nasty headache.

The official attendance for the fight was 80,183, but by all accounts the stands built for over 91,000 were packed to capacity. Roberts reports that “the fight grossed $1,789,238, well over twice as much as any previous fight” (120). In attendance was a roster of notables: Jersey City Mayor Frank Hague and New Jersey Governor Edward I. Edwards; the three children of Theodore Roosevelt–Kermit Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. and Alice Roosevelt Longworth; industrialists John D. Rockefeller, Jr. William H. Vanderbilt, George H. Gould, Joseph W. Harriman, Vincent Astor, and Henry Ford; entertainers Al Jolson and George M. Cohan; and literary figures H.L. Mencken, Damon Runyon, Arthur Brisbane, and Ring Lardner. Prominent Long Island residents, such as Ralph Pulitzer, Harry Payne Whitney and J.P. Grace, made the trip to Jersey City. Their interest in the fight came from Carpentier’s used an estate on Manhasset Bay as his training camp. A larger than expected turnout of some 2,000 women attended the sporting event. Jersey City Past and Present

Dempsey, a rough-and-tumble figure from Manassa, Colorado, was prolific and widely disliked. He did not become a soldier in the First World War, gaining exemption from the U. S. draft board because of economic commitments to his family. He was tried on charges of draft evasion in 1920, the case exacerbated by a messy divorce from his wife and a publicity photo that showed Dempsey ‘working’ in a Pennsylvania shipyard while wearing expensive dress shoes.

Though Dempsey was acquitted, criticism was heavy. Tex Rickard, who promoted several of Dempsey’s most important fights as lavish extravaganzas, hooked onto the publicity value of a fight between Carpentier and Dempsey. Carpentier was given no significant chance of winning, but Rickard saw the French war hero and the alleged draft-dodger as an ideal confrontation for both sports history and the wallets of investors.

The Million-Dollar Gate
July 2, 1921 JERSEY CITY-Jack Dempsey is still heavyweight champion of the world-it might almost be said that for the first time he is really the champion. Georges Carpentier, in many respects the most serious opponent Dempsey has ever faced, stood up against him this afternoon in Tex Rickard’s stadium here and could not last through the fourth round. And at that, Carpentier fought better than most American critics believed possible.


Comiskey Park Opens July 1, 1910

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July 1, 10 was a glorious day for the city of Chicago. It marked the first time a game was played in Charles Comiskey’s “baseball palace”. When it opened, the stadium was called White Sox Park, but it took on the owner’s name and forevermore was known as Comiskey Park.

The Tribune’s I.E. Sanborne described it as follows “Charles Comiskey’s big housewarming party went off without a hitch yesterday, unless the subsidiary fact that the Saint Louis Browns were ungracious enough to beat our boys, 2-0, in their first game at their splendid new home was construed as a disappointment by some of the throng which gathered from all parts of the baseball world to do honor to the occasion.”

On July 1, 1910, the White Sox played their first game in the fireproof park, made entirely of steel and concrete, which seated 32,000, including 7,000 in twenty-five-cent bleachers. A trolley from downtown brought businessmen to late-afternoon games after work. Fans from nearby South Side communities attended on Sundays. Night baseball, initiated August 14, 1939, allowed working-class fans even greater access. Growing numbers of African Americans attended Comiskey as well. From 1933 to 1950, Comiskey Park hosted the Negro League East-West All-Star Game. On July 5, 1947, Larry Doby of the Cleveland Indians became the first African American to play in the American League, debuting during a doubleheader at Comiskey.Encyclopedia of Chicago

Comiskey Park was one of the game’s treasures. It notably hosted the first-ever All-Star game in 1933 but may be better remembered as the place where Bill Veeck’s innovative “exploding” scoreboard first came to life in 1960. During the park’s eight decades of active duty it welcomed 72,801,381 fans to watch the White Sox.

It never saw its home team win a World Championship on its field in its 80 year-year history (that is if you don’t count the Chicago Cardinals 1947 NFL Championship thrilling 28-21 come-from-behind win over the Philadelphia Eagles on December 28, 1947).

It did, however, witness some incredible history and is one of the most hallowed grounds in our nation’s history. Comiskey Park witnessed pivotal moments in our country’s civil rights history, as well as baseball history, serving as the epicenter of Negro League baseball and the birthplace of the MLB All-Star game in 1933 and hosting four World Series (1917, 1919, 1959 for the White Sox and in 1918 for the Cubs – yes the Cubs who during the WWI-shortened season feared that the Red Sox pitcher Babe Ruth would find Weeghman Park — now better known as Wrigley Field’s short right field porch in 1918 — too inviting at 356 feet and its 14,000 seating capacity inadequate for the World Series).


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