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Ray Chapman Dies – Killed by a Pitch – August 17, 1920

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Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians was hit by a pitch that killed him. It was the only fatality caused by a pitched ball in Major League history. The Yankees Carl Mays threw the killer pitch, at the Polo Grounds in New York, on August 16, 1920. He died the following day.

Leading off the 5th inning in New York on 8/16/1920, Ray Chapman, a righthanded batter, took a ball and a strike from pitcher Carl Mays. The third pitch, a rising fastball, from the righthanded submariner struck Chapman in the head with a thunderous crack. The ball rolled toward third base, where Mays, believing the ball hit Chapman’s bat handle, fielded it and threw to first. Yankees manager Miller Huggins and the Indians Ray Caldwell both said that Chapman ducked into the pitch.

Chapman immediately dropped in the batter’s box, bleeding from his left ear. Umpire Tom Connolly called for medical assistance. Several doctors from the stands attended to the fallen player. Chapman responded after several minutes and was assisted by two teammates to the clubhouse in centerfield; however, Chapman collapsed again on the field and was quickly carried to the clubhouse and whisked away to St. Lawrence Hospital in Manhattan.
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Ray Chapman, star shortstop for nine seasons with the Cleveland Indians, might have ended up in the Hall of Fame had he not been fatally injured by a Carl Mays fastball at the Polo Grounds on August 16, 1920. An ideal number two hitter who crowded the plate, the 5′ 10″, 170-pound Chapman led the league in sacrifice hits three times. His total of 67 sacrifices in 1917 is a major league record, and he stands in sixth place on the all-time career list with 334. Chapman was also a legitimate offensive force in his own right: the right-handed batter led Cleveland in runs scored three times during his career, and paced the entire American League in runs and walks in 1918, with 84 of each. He also led the Indians in stolen bases five times, and his 52 thefts in 1917 remained the franchise record until 1980. In addition to his offensive skills, Chapman was also an excellent fielder who led the American League in putouts three times and assists once. Put it all together, and Chapman was, in the view of the Cleveland News, the “greatest shortstop, that is, considering all-around ability, batting, throwing, base-running, bunting, fielding and ground covering ability, to mention nothing of his fight, spirit and conscientiousness, ever to wear a Cleveland uniform.”
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Sports Illustrated First Issue August 16, 1954

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The first issue of Sports Illustrated was dated August 16, 1954. However, as is the case with most magazines, the August 16 edition hit the newsstands a few days earlier, on August 12. On August 2, 1954, The Wall Street Journal reported that “More than 300,000 persons to date have subscribed for Sports Illustrated, Time Magazine’s new weekly magazine, President Roy E. Larsen announced. The sport magazine will be on sale on newsstands on August 12. Mr. Larsen said some $1,250,000 worth of advertising space, with rates based on an average net paid circulation of 450,000, has been sold.”

First Issue of Sports Illustrated Click here to see on eBay

First Issue of Sports Illustrated Click photo to see on eBay

On September 12, 1954 Orville Hopkins in the Washington Post wrote:

You’d have to say I guess, that the new Luce book, Sports Illustrated, is a pretty hot, item. They could have christened it, judging from this week’s issue, Sports Spectacular. You never saw so many high-class color photos, dynamic action shots (including one of a a party in short, pants grappling with a big fish under water), detailed diagrams and big name writers in your natural life. Red Smith writes—I guess it was inevitable—the piece about Walter Alston, the Brooklyn manager. (And, for Red, it isn’t much good.) Budd Schulberg writes about Marciano and Charles, who are having a fight this week. Philip Wylie pens a complaint about spear-fishermen. And Herman Hickman selects Maryland as one of his “eleven best elevens” for this season. Altogether, big.

More sports history in the 50s

In 1997 Michael MacCambridge wrote “The Franchise: A History of Sports Illustrated Magazine”.

This is an exhaustively researched and detailed tell-all chronicle of Sports Illustrated’s first 43 years. As such it is also the story of the rise of big-time sports in the latter third of this century from Balkanized rinky-dinkdom to today’s megabillion-dollar industry, second in Americans’ affection only to sex. So intertwined are the two tales that it is impossible to say precisely how much S.I. did to fuel the boom and how much the boom did to fuel S.I., but the evidence as presented here suggests that the one probably couldn’t have reached its staggering success without the other.
Read the Whole NY Times Review


Cal Ripken Gets First Hit – August 16, 1981

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For most of the 1981 season he played for the Triple A Rochester Red Wings, but two weeks shy of his 21st birthday, Cal Ripken made his Major League debut, on August 10, 1981. He came into the game as a pinch runner, replacing Ken Singleton. Ripken moved to second base after Eddie Murray walked, and he scored on a walk-off single by John Lowenstein. Ripken got his first hit on August 16, 1981 in the third inning against the White Sox’ Dennis Lamp.

Before hanging up his spikes for good, he collected 3,183 hits, but Cak Ripkin is most famous for his Major League record 2,632 consecutive (over a period of 17 years) games played.

Cal Ripken 1981 Rochester Red Wings Card

Cal Ripken 1981 Rochester Red Wings Card
Click to see this and more Cal Ripken Collectibles on eBay


Tim Donaghy NBA Referee Pleads Guilty August 15, 2007

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Tim Donaghy left the basketball court as a disgraced former N.B.A. referee in July and left a federal court room yesterday as an admitted criminal, a conspirator and a gambling addict.

Donaghy’s downfall and the resulting scandal that has threatened the National Basketball Association’s integrity, came into focus when Donaghy, 40, surrendered to federal authorities and pleaded guilty to two felonies during a hearing at the United States District Court in Brooklyn.
For four years, Donaghy bet on N.B.A. games, including some that he officiated. For at least five months — starting in December 2006 — he advised professional gamblers about which teams to pick, through telephone calls and coded language. And he violated one of the primary tenets for referees by providing the gamblers with information about referee assignments, relationships between referees and players and the health of players.
Those details were disclosed when the charges were unsealed in the 10th-floor court room of Judge Carol B. Amon.
Read more: New York Times

NEW YORK, Aug. 15 — Tim Donaghy, the former NBA referee at the center of a betting scandal that has rocked professional basketball, pleaded guilty Wednesday to two federal conspiracy charges, acknowledging that he used inside information to predict the winners of NBA games and passed on his picks to a professional gambler in return for cash.
Read more: Washington Post

NEW YORK (CNN) — Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy was released on $250,000 bail after pleading guilty Wednesday to two felonies related to wagering on games he officiated and supplying inside information on games to others.

“Today’s guilty plea and charges serve as a warning that easy money often comes at a high price,” said U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf.

Two of Donaghy’s alleged co-conspirators — James Battista, also known as “Baba” and “Sheep,” and Thomas Martino — were also arraigned Wednesday for involvement in the gambling ring.

Neither of them entered a plea, and both also have been released on an unsecured $250,000 bond.
Read more: CNN


U.S. Olympic Basketball Team Wins Gold in Berlin – August 14, 1936

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Americans Win First Olympic Basketball Competition.

Basketball made its debut as an Olympic sport at the 1936 Games in Berlin. On August 14, 1936, the U.S. won the Gold Medal, defeating Canada 19-8. The championship game was played outdoors in similar fashion to all the other basketball games of the Berlin Olympics. The “Master Olympic Planners” hadn’t gotten the memo that basketball was an indoor sport. They set the games on a clay tennis court, which made for less than ideal conditions. On the day of the gold medal round, it not only rained, it poured.

The U.S. began with a forfeit victory over Spain, whose team had been called home because of the start of the Spanish civil war. The Universal players trounced Estonia 52-28 in the second round, and the McPherson platoon followed with a 56-23 victory over the Philippines. A 25-10 U.S. triumph over Mexico in the semifinals set up a gold medal encounter between Naismith’s native Canada and his adopted U.S. Unfortunately, it turned out to be what Balter later described as “a priceless bit of Chaplinesque comedy.”
Read more: Sports Illustrated

The AP noted that “the game might have been better played had it been played under water polo rules”.

Basketball’s inventor, Dr. James Naismith attended the 1936 Olympics. The Boston Globe reported that “he made the trip on funds provided by American basketball fans.” However, Naismith was not exactly treated like a guest of honor by the American Olympic Committee, headed by Avery Brundage. Apparently, Naismith arrived in Berlin without even a pass to see a game. The International Basketball Federation showed the old professor a little more respect. He was given the honor of tossing up the ball for the tip off of the very first Olympic basketball game, between Estonia and France (won by Estonia 34-29). Also at the end of the competition it was Naismith who handed out the medals to winning teams.

First Basketball Game Ever December 21, 1891

Jim Thorpe Gets His Medals 70 Years After They Were Taken Away January 18, 1983


Michael Phelps Wins 10th and 11th Gold – August 13, 2008

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Records are meant to be broken, but with respect to the record for the most Olympic Gold Medals won by an individual, it might have been more correct to say that “records are meant to be tied”. That’s what the Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina did in 1964 when she won her ninth gold medal in 1964, equaling the record of Paavo Nurmi (“The Flying Finn”) who won his ninth Gold Medal in 1928. Swimmer Mark also Spitz joined the “Nine Gold Club” in 1972, and he was followed by track star Carl Lewis, in 1984.

Then on August 13, 2008, Michael Phelps reminded the world that records really are meant to be broken. On that day in Beijing, Phelps swam his way to his 10th and 11th Olympic Gold Medals.

He started working on his Gold Medal collection at the Athens Olympics in 2004. He bagged six of them there. In Beijing in 2008, Phelps also bested Spitz’s record for most Gold Medals won in a single Olympics. He came home from Beijing with eight. Spitz won seven in Munich, 1972.

By the end of the 2008 Olympics, Phelps had won 15 Gold Medals, but he wasn’t finished. He won three more at London in 2012, running his total up to 18.

BEIJING, Aug. 13 — Perhaps the measure of where Michael Phelps now stands — not only in the history of the Olympics, but in the history of athletics — is that he can pull off an unprecedented feat and have disgust wash over his face. Following his performance Wednesday morning — two more races, two more gold medals, two more world records, cue the yawns — Phelps couldn’t escape the idea that even a swim others couldn’t imagine can be flawed.

“I couldn’t see anything for the last 100” meters, he said. “My goggles pretty much filled up with water.”
Read more: Washington Post

US swimmer Michael Phelps broke the record for Olympic gold medals won by taking his 10th and 11th in a double victory on Wednesday.
Phelps, 23, won his fourth gold of the Beijing Olympics and 10th of all time with victory in the 200m butterfly.
And he claimed yet another gold as part of the US 4x200m freestyle team.
Phelps has now surpassed the nine golds won by Paavo Nurmi, Carl Lewis, Mark Spitz and Larysa Latynina to cement his place in Olympic history.
Read more:BBC

Right before he dove into the pool the morning of Aug. 13, Michael Phelps got a text message from one of his buddies back home. “Dude, it’s ridiculous how many times a day I have to see your ugly face,” it read. At the end, his friend left simple instructions. “It’s time to be the best ever.”

Phelps complied. At the Beijing Water Cube around 10:30AM, Michael Phelps swam two races, and won more gold medals. He broke two more world records, and got himself a new title: the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time.
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Baseball Strike Starts, Season Ends – August 12, 1994

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There was no Mr. October, and nobody suffered a September swoon; because they played the last games of the season on August 11. The longest ever baseball strike began on August 12, 1994. It lasted until the beginning of the 1995 season when then Federal Trial Judge Sonia Sotomayor issued an injunction against Major League Baseball that effectively ended the strike.

NEW YORK (AP) — Tony Gwynn knows full well how costly a baseball strike could be.

The last time players walked out and a season was canceled, so too was Gwynn’s run at .400, Matt Williams’ bid for Roger Maris’ home run record, and a magical season in Montreal.

“There were a lot of guys having great years. We were all in the same position,” Gwynn said. “I think we made a mistake in ’94. Looking back on it, I don’t know if we gained very much. I don’t know if the owners gained very much. I think that should be an example. Both sides should look at what they accomplished and what they gained. I don’t think a strike fixed anything.”

Instead, it aborted a memorable season that also had the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians on the verge of ending playoff droughts and Frank Thomas and Albert Belle fighting for a Triple Crown.
Read more:Sports Illustrated

After years of crisis and scandal, everything that baseball touched, it seemed, now turned to gold. The sport looked healthier than ever, raking in record revenues from gate receipts and national television contracts. Its success reflected a rapidly expanding American economy, one fueled by the dot-com boom and government deregulation that encouraged a new, often mysterious brand of go-go capitalism. If it was not always clear how so much money was to be made by new internet services or new financial instruments, it did not seem to matter, so long as investors continued to believe in them.

Donald Fehr talks about distrust between the owners and the players
Bud Selig talks the history between the Players Association and Major League Baseball.
Tom Verducci talks about the bad blood between owners and players.
Donald Fehr talks about distrust between the owners and the players
Baseball’s prosperity, it would turn out, contained its own mysteries. Underneath all the prosperity, all the success on the field, trouble was brewing. The real game, it developed, was off the field, in corporate boardrooms and hotel conference centers, where men in business suits, not baseball uniforms, would bring the sport’s revival to a jolting halt.


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