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MLB and NFL Reach Labor Milestones on THE SAME DAY- February 21, 1968

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Major League Baseball and the Major League Players Association reached agreement on the terms of a two-year contract, the first ever negotiated between the league and the players. The agreement called for a minimum salary of $10,000 a year. Many players now make that much, per at bat. Meal money for the players was increased from $12 to $15 per day.

MLB signed its first labor agreement on the same day the NFL recognized the union

MLB signed its first labor agreement on the same day the NFL recognized the union

And on the VERY SAME DAY, the National Football League agreed to recognize the N.F.L. Players Association as the exclusive bargaining agent for the athletes.

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Tara Lipinski Wins Gold-February 20, 1998

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Tara Lipinski won the gold medal in Women’s Figure Skating at the Nagano Olympics, on February 20, 1998. At the age of 15, she was the youngest Olympic gold medalist in the history of the sport.

Tara Lipinski, a 15-year-old girl wearing ice skates, blue sequins and an infectious smile, became the youngest Olympic gold medalist in figure skating history tonight, using a joyful performance to score an upset of fellow U.S. skater Michelle Kwan. Read more, Washington Post.

“I was obviously beyond elated,” she said, looking at a photo of herself at 15 years old reacting to winning figure skating gold. “I think I just felt a lot of relief. Because there was just so much pressure leading up to this — years of training. Then the months right before the Games were very stressful and that week in the competition I was so nervous. I don’t know what I was doing. Obviously I was losing my mind screaming.” Read more NBC.com

Heading into the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, the buzz surrounding Tara Lipinski was incredible. She was fresh off of a World Championship win, becoming the youngest competitor in history win the title. The world wanted to know if she could duplicate those results to become the youngest Olympic Gold Medalist in Winter Games’ history. However, there was a lot of fierce competition in her way. Not only was Michelle Kwan, a fellow American, a very fierce competitor, but China’s Chen Lu was in the ’98 games, more determined than ever to win gold after losing out to Kerrigan and Baiul in the ’94 Lillehammer Games. Read more, Olympics30.com

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Joe Paterno Named Penn State Head Coach – February 19, 1966

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Joe Paterno - co-captain and quarterback - Brown University.

Joe Paterno – co-captain and quarterback – Brown University. Click here to see on eBay

Penn State’s Joe Paterno, whose legacy is both legendary and tragic, was named as the head coach of the school’s football team on February 19, 1966. The 39-year-old Paterno succeeded Rip Engle who had hired him as an assistant in 1950, Engle’s first year coaching at Penn State. Prior to moving to Penn State, Engle coached at Brown University. Paterno was his quarterback there.

Growing up in Brooklyn, Paterno played football, basketball and baseball for Brooklyn Prep, and led “Prep” to its first football win against cross-borough rival, Brooklyn Poly, in 1943.

After Engle retired, nobody was surprised when Paterno won the head coaching job. During their 16 seasons together, Penn State never had a losing season. Paterno became particularly well known for developing quarterbacks. NFL stars Milt Plum and Richie Lucas were among Paterno’s proteges at Penn State, prior to his being named head coach.

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Katarina Witt Wins First Gold Medal – February 18, 1984

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Katarina Witt won the first of her two Olympic gold medals at the Winter games in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (formerly Yugoslavia) on February 18, 1984.
Skating for East Germany, Witt was 18 years old. She was competing against Americans Elaine Zayak and Rosalyn Sumners. Zayak won the World Championship in 1982 and Sumners was champion in 1983.

At Sarajevo, Sumner won the compulsories which counted for 30 percent of the total score. Claudia Leistner of West Germany was second in the compulsories and Witt finished third. Zayak placed a distant 13th.

In the next phase, Witt won the short program (They counted for the 20 percent of the total and the long program counted for fifty percent.) Sumner fell to second place overall after placing fifth in the short program, but the gold medal was still within her reach. If either of two judges would have given Sumner another tenth of point for her long program performance, she would won the competition.

In 1988 Witt won the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Calgary, becoming only the second woman to win back-to-back gold medals in figure skating. Sonja Henie was the first, winning three consecutive gold medals from 1920-1936. Witt attempted a comeback in 1994 and qualified for a spot on the unified German team. At the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway she placed seventh.

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Lindsey Vonn Wins Downhill Gold – February 17, 2010

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A week before her historic win, she told Matt Lauer on the Today show that she couldn’t even get her injured foot into a ski boot, but with the help of a prescription pain killer to quiet her throbbing shin, a rush of adrenaline, and an inordinate amount of guts, Lindsey Vonn smoked the dangerous hill at Whistler, Brittish Columbia and became the first American Woman to win a gold medal in the Downhill, at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

In one of the most stirring descents in Olympic downhill skiing history, Vonn ignored the pain in her injured shin, chased down Mancuso and caught up to nearly a lifetime of expectations to become the first American woman to win an Olympic downhill gold medal. Read more NY Times.

With some Lidocaine cream numbing the bothersome bruise, some advice from her husband and a heap of skill and confidence, Vonn set everything else aside Wednesday and did what she does better than every other woman in the world: ski fast. Read more ESPN.com

Throbbing or not, the much-reported injury didn’t keep Vonn, a reigning two-time World Cup overall champion, from scoring the Gold in the women’s downhill ski event Wednesday – the first American ever to do so. (Her American teammate Julia Mancuso took the silver.) Read more People Magazine

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Frazier KO’s Jimmy Ellis to Win WBA Title – February 16, 1970

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Joe Frazier knocked out Jimmy Ellis in the fifth round of their re-unification title bout, on February 16, 1970, at Madison Square Garden in New York. By winning the fight, the undefeated Frazier layed claim to the title of undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. The only problem with that was, there was that other undefeated, undisputed heavyweight champion who hadn’t exactly gone into hiding. His name was Muhammad Ali.

In 1967 Ali was stripped of his title when he refused induction into the Army. Ali claimed that he should have been exempt from the draft because he was a Muslim minister.

Ellis, a close associate and former sparring partner of Ali, won the WBA championship after he survived its eight-man elimination tournament between 1967 and 1968. Frazier had also been invited to compete in the tournament, but he chose not to participate. Instead, he fought and knocked out Buster Mathis (who was undefeated, but not selected by the WBA for their tournament) to win the New York State version of the title. Five other states also recognized Frazier as the champion.

Ali watched a close circuit broadcast of the Frazier-Ellis fight (along with a sold out crowd) at the old Arena, in Frazier’s home town of Philadelphia. Ali was also living in Philadelphia at that time.

The Philadelphia Bulletin reported:

The deposed champ, trim in white shirt, black tie and flared gray pin-striped trousers, did take over the audience as soon as the televised battle was over.

Feinting and mugging and shouting, he soon had the throng cheering him on. When
he got outside, Clay danced down Market Street to renewed shouts of, “Here comes the champ!” At the parking lot he climbed atop a car and shouted, to the delight of the shoving crowd trying to touch him, that “I want Frazier! I’m starting my comeback now! This town is too small for both of us!” Ali drove off to his newly purchased, $92.000 Overbrook home in a lavender Cadillac with a white top. But he did not rush. He seemed to savor the sight of fans climbing over hoods of cars to surround him.

Even during the match he found it impossible to devote himself entirely to his blow-by-blow analysis for the magazine [Esquire Magazine paid Ali $8,000 to record his reactions to the fight.], to make sure the crowd knew exactly where he was sitting, he leaped up in his seat from time to time, shouting, waving, shadow boring.

“There’s the champ.” partisans shouted. Heads turned from seats on the floor, grandstand and upper deck. He arrived while the preceding bout was on, carved a path through the crowd outside that could not get into the sold-out Arena, and held up tickets to show that he was not getting free seat favoritism.

Meanwhile, joining Frazier and Ellis on the under card, there was still another undefeated heavyweight by the name of George Foreman, who was roundly booed by the Garden crowd after he was awarded a unanimous decision following his unimpressive ten round showing against Gregorio Peralta.

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Sonja Henie Wins 3rd Consecutive Gold Medal – February 15, 1936

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Sonja Henie won the gold medal in Women’s Figure Skating on February 15, 1936, in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. She is the only woman to ever win three consecutive Olympic skating titles.

At the age of 11 she represented Norway at the 1924 Winter Olympics in Chamonix, France. That year she came in last among a field of eight.

Henie won her first of 10 consecutive World Championships in 1927 and the following hear she won her first Olympic gold medal in St. Moritz, Switzerland. She won again at Lake Placid, New York in 1932.

Skating in Berlin, ahead of the 1936 Winter Olympics, Sonja was told that Hitler and his entourage had been seated. She skated into the rink at full speed, did her sharp little skid stop in front of the Führer, raised her arm and declared, “Heil Hitler.” The crowd went mad. The next day, her compatriots in Scandinavia were distraught, the newspapers asking, “Is Sonja a Nazi?” Her impulsive act was a stain on her white velvet. At the Olympics, a chastened Sonja did not salute, though word that she and her parents had lunched with Hitler at his retreat in the mountains didn’t help matters. According to her brother’s writings, Sonja’s response to the uproar was “I don’t even know what a Nazi is.” Read more VanityFair.com

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