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Mark McGwire Breaks Maris Record – September 8, 1998

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Look at the video. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa seem to be so happy. Do they not know – or not care that their accomplishments are tainted because they took performance enhancing drugs?
Mark McGwire breaks Roger Maris record. He is congratulated by home run rival Sammy Sosa.

Mark McGwire breaks Roger Maris record. He is congratulated by home run rival Sammy Sosa.
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Mark McGwire broke the single season home run record that Roger Maris had previously set. Maris’s 61st home run came on October 1, 1961 during the 162nd and last day of the season. McGwire notched his 62nd blast on Septemeber 8, 1998, during the 145th game of the season. Both Maris’s and McGwire’s accomplishments were shrouded in controversy.

Ford Frick, who was Baseball Commissioner in 1961, decided that Maris’s record needed an asterisk because it took him 162 games to break Babe Ruth’s 1927 single season record of 60 home runs. Ruth got his 60th home run during the old 154 game schedule. Maris, unlike McGwire, was completely innocent of any wrong-doing.

On the day the McGwire broke Maris’s record, the Cardinals, despite McGwire’s home run, lost to the Sammy Sosa led Cubs, 6-3. At that point in the season, Sosa had 58 home runs. Sosa would get his 62nd home run of the 1998 season on September 14. By then McGwire had “gone quiet” for six days and the two were actually tied for the lead. When the season finally ended, McGwire had collected 70 home runs to Sosa’s 66.

While it was happening, and before we all knew what really happened (or maybe before we all emerged from denial), it was fun to watch.


John McEnroe Wins 1980 U.S. Open – September 7, 1980

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Defeats Bjorn Borg 7-6, 6-1, 6-7, 5-7, 6-4.

McEenroe Borg U.S. Open 1980 - Autographed 8x10 Click here to see this and more 1980 U.S. Open collectibles

McEenroe Borg U.S. Open 1980 – Autographed 8×10
Click here to see this and more 1980 U.S. Open collectibles

Ali and Frazier had their trilogy which culminated with the “Thrilla in Manilla” in 1975. Five years later John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg staged their own epic battles. Granted, it was tennis not boxing; but arguably just exciting, and well, maybe more athletic as well.

The first time they faced each other in a Grand Slam final was at Wiimbledon. The “Gentlemen’s Singles” (I said it wasn’t as bloody.) was played on July 5, 1980. Borg won it, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 7-6. The 18-16 fourth set tie breaker is considered to be one of, if not the greatest moments in the history of tennis.

Borg was the undisputed King of the tennis world, at least in terms of the French Open and Wimbledon. He won the French in 1974, 1975, 1977, 1979 and in 1980. 1980 also marked the fifth straight year that Borg won at Wimbledon.

The U.S. open was another story. He lost in the finals to Connors in 1976, and again in 1978.

In 1981 Borg defended his French Open title. It was Borg’s last Grand Slam victory. McEnroe finally ended Borg’s streak at Wimbledon, and then he beat him again at the U.S. Open.

John McEnroe Defeats Bjorn Borg U.S. Open 1980

John McEnroe Defeats Bjorn Borg U.S. Open 1980 Click here


Peyton Manning Debut – September 6, 1998

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Peyton  Manning Debut September 6, 1998

Peyton Manning Debut
September 6, 1998 Click Here

16 years and 64,964 passing yards ago, Peyton Manning was making his NFL debut, on September 6, 1998. (If you’re reading this after the start of the 2014 NFL season, add more yards, and whenever you read this you can also add at least 6,589 yards for post season play.)

Manning played in his first game a little less than three years before 9/11. It was also before you had a cell phone or a Facebook account, and you probably didn’t know what Wifi was.

The game was played at the RCA Dome in Indiana (Remember RCA? Remember the Dome? Click here to watch it implode.)as the Colts hosted Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins.

Expectations for Manning were high. His father was NFL Hall-of-Famer, Archie Manning. Peyton had won the Heisman Trophy playing for the University of Tennessee, and he was the number one draft pick. By some measures his debut was not a disappointment. He completed 21 of 37 passes for an impressive 302 yards. One of his throws was a 6-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marvin Harrison.

Then again, Manning was intercepted three times, including one that Terrell Buckley ran back 21 yards for a touchdown. And more importantly, Manning and his Colts lost to Miami 24-15. Indianapolis went 3-13 for the season

After the game Harrison told the Philadelphia Tribune (Harrison graduated from Roman Catholic High School in Philadelphia.) “Peyton Manning is going to be a good quarterback. Right now he is still learning the game. He should have a big impact on our team. I know a lot of people will have a chance to see him play.”



Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) wins Olympic Gold – September 5, 1960

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The brilliant Shirley Povitch did not overlook the amusing coincidence of a man named Cassius, competing for a gold medal at the Rome Olympics. He wrote “Cassius has come back to Rome. He is an esteemed member of the U.S. compound in the Olympic Village. But ‘yon Cassius is not out of Shakespeare. He is out of Louisville, Kentucky, and on him the lean and hungry look looks good.”

Before he won his ticket to Rome, Clay TKO’d Allen Hudson in the third round in the finals of the Olympic trials at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. The bout was not a cakewalk for Clay. Hudson knocked him down earlier in the round. But Clay came back and nailed Hudson with a pair of rights to the head, and the referee stopped the fight.

On September 5, 1960, Clay won the gold medal defeating Zbigniew Pietrzykowski of Poland in the final. On the way to facing Pietryzykowski, Clay had to win three fights in the qualifying rounds.

For a good part of the fight for the gold medal, it appeared that Clay, and not Pietrzykowsi would be the footnote to history. Povitch wrote that Clay “was taking a beating from Ziggy, a good puncher who has 292 fights, and Clay was seemingly the most over-rated of all the U.S. finalists…Clay could salvage this fight only by a knockout, or close to it, and that last is exactly how he did so. All of a sudden Ziggy had a bloody nose, and it seemed that Clay could hit harder than it appeared, and then the Pole had a bloody mouth, because Clay had hit him again, and then Ziggy’s whole face was a bloody mask.”

The Pole managed to stay on his feet until the final bell, but when the judges announced their decision, it was 5-0 in favor the 18-year-old Cassius Clay.


Moneyball A’s Blow 11-Run Lead September 4, 2002

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If you saw the movie “Moneyball” you probably remember how Billy Beane’s (Brad Pitt) A’s extended their winning streak to 20 games, on September 4, 2002. If you haven’t seen the movie (What are you waiting for? finish reading this post, watch the Youtube video, and then go over to Netflix and get it!), or in case you saw it and forgot, here’s what happened.

The A’s were three games under .500 at the start of June. Then they started to win. On August 12 after losing a game to Toronto, their record stood at 68-51. They trailed Seattle in the AL West by 4.5 games. Then they won 19 games in a row. That brings us up to September 4 when they hosted the Royals in front of 55,528 at Network Associates Coliseum in Oakland.

In the first inning the A’s were off and running, scoring six runs off of the Royals Paul Byrd. Then Kansas City brought in Darrell May who pitched five innings of so-called relief. May gave up four runs in the second inning and one in the third before “settling down” for two scoreless innings.

Meanwhile, the Royals rallied in the fourth, scoring five runs on five hits off of the A’s Tim Hudson. There was no more scoring until the eighth innings when the Royals scored five more runs. What had been an 11-0 blowout for the A’s, was now an 11-10 game.

The A’s went down quietly in the bottom of the eighth, and in “as you can’t make this up,” the Royals tied the game in the ninth on two singles and a bunt. Then in the bottom of the ninth, Scott Hatteberg (played by Chris Pratt in the movie) hit one over the fence in center field, giving the A’s a 12-11 win and a 20-game win streak.


Mickey Mantle Hits 50th HR. Maris already has 53 – September 3, 1961

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Click image to see in eBay

Click image to see in eBay

Mickey Mantle his 49th and 50th home runs of the season on September 3, 1961. He joined Roger Maris in “the 50 home run club”. Maris at that point already had 53 homers. Both Mantle and Maris were now ahead of Babe Ruth’s 1927 60 home run (in 154 games, per Commissioner Ford Frick’s edict) pace.

Bob Holbrook, in the Boston Globe wrote.

Luis Arroyo said it nicely “You got those home run heeters, you don’t get hurt too much. You don’t get beat by one run.”

What Holbrook was referring to with his early sixties-era, pre-politically correct depiction of the Yankees’ star reliever’s Puerto Rican accent; was that in the ninth inning against the Tigers, Arroyo had blown a 4-3 lead. but the Yankees’ home run “heeters” bailed him out.

Mantle led off the ninth inning with the Yankees trailing 5-4. He homered to right field and tied the game. Yogi Berra singled and Arroyo sacrificed him to second. Moose Skowron was intentionally walked and Elston drove everybody home with a three run blast into the left field stands.

Arroyo got the win, but he would have also been tagged with a blown save if anybody had been tracking those statistics in 1961.

This was the only time in baseball history when two players hit 50 or more home runs in a season for the same team.

It was a pretty good game for a guy who the Chicago Tribune described as “The Magnificent Invalid”. Mantle commented on his performance, “Give the iceman an assist” he said, “The arm pained me considerably especially when I swung and missed. The ice really helped between innings”. The slugger explained how he managed to hit his two homers, “I was trying to swing hard most of the time”, he said, “but the times I did swing hard, I missed the ball. Both times I really tried to swing easy, the ball went out of the park.”


Dave Wottle (The Hat) wins Olympic 800 – September 2, 1972

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Dave Wottle always wore an old golf cap when he trained and competed, and this made him immediately recognisable in the opening rounds of the 800m at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich (see photo above). In the final, Wottle immediately dropped to the rear of the field, and stayed there for the first 600m, at which point he started his characteristic late drive, passing runner after runner up the straight, and finally grabbing the lead in the final metres to win by just 0.03sec. At the victory ceremony, Wottle had unconsciously forgotten to remove his golf cap. This was interpreted as a form of protest, which drew a tearful apology to the American people from Wottle when he was questioned about it at a press conference. Read more,

Dave Wottle wins Olympic 800 1972

Dave Wottle wins Olympic 800 1972


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