Willie McCovey hit his first Major League home run on August 2, 1959.
Unlike like his teammate and San Francisco Giants slugging partner, Willie Mays, who was hitless in his first 12 major league at-bats; the other Willie (some other!), Willie McCovey, let the baseball world know from the gitgo that “The New Willie” was anything but, just another Willie.
McCovey made his Major League debut on July 30, facing Phillies Hall of Fame pitcher, Robin Roberts. The 21-year-old McCovey was so intimidated by Roberts that he went four for four, hitting two singles and two triples. On day-one he racked up eight total bases. He would go on to collect another 4,211 total bases to go along with his 521 home runs and 1.550 RBIs, before ending his career in 1980; a career that spanned four decades.
On his second day in the Majors the Giants played the Pirates, and McCovey gave pitcher Harvey Haddix a break, only managing a single in four at bats. On August 1, Giants manager Bill Rigney batted his new phenom third, between Willie Mays and Orlando Cepeda. McCovey did not disappoint. He hit a first inning double off of Red Witt and scored on Cepeda’s single. It was déjà vous for Witt in the third inning, another McCovey double and another Cepeda single knocking him in. Then the Giants brought in Bennie Daniels who was able to strike out McCovey in the fourth. Daniels pitched three scoreless innings, but in the seventh McCovey touched him up for a single. Then Cepeda also singled, moving McCovey to second. At that point Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh decided to bring in Roy Face to pitch to Willie Kirkland (Yes, another Willie. The Giants had three). Kirkland singled and McCovey scored. Before the inning ended the Giants had four more runs.
McCovey didn’t homer unitl his fourth game, but in the three games leading up to it he was 8-13 (.615) and had 14 total bases, giving him a slugging average of 1.077. In the game when McCovey hit his first homer, it was his only hit in five at bats.
He played in a total of 52 games during the 1959 and wound up with an average of .354. He also hit 13 home runs, had 38 RBIs and was named National League Rookie of the Year.
McCovey never hit for average like that again, although he was National League MVP in 1969 when he hit .320, belted 45 home runs and knocked in 126 RBIs. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1986, his first year of eligibility.
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.
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.
Last game of the 1954 season, Yankees vs. A’s. Casey Stengel “experiments.” Plays Mickey Mantle at Third Base, Yogi Berra at Shortstop, Moose Skowron at Second.
For the Philadelphia Athletics it’s the end of a 54-year run.
The New York Yankees won five consecutive World Series between 1949 and 1953. Their streak ended in 1954, even though the ’54 team posted a better record (103-51) that year than all of the championship teams of the previous five seasons. Despite posting the fourth best record in the history of the franchise, the Yankees closed out the 1954 campaign eight games behind the Cleveland Indians.
The Philadelphia A’s brought a record of 51-102 into Yankee Stadium that day. They were a mere 61 games out of first place. The game was played before a crowd of (if that’s what you want to call it) of 11,670.
For the most part, the Yankees re-positioned players did fine in the field. Berra handled his two opportunities at third without incident. Mantle had two put-outs and four assists, and even participated in a double play. Skowron, playing second base for the first (and next to last) time in his 15-year career, had six fielding opportunities and committed one error.
A month later, Connie Mack, the A’s iconic owner and former manager (1901-1950) announced that he had sold the team, and that Philadelphia Athletics would be moving to Kansas City at the start of the 1955 season.
Sugar Ray Robinson wins back the Middleweight Crown
He knocks out Randy Turpin in the 10th round, in front of 61,000 at the Polo Grounds in New York.
In 1951, Ring Magazine’s Nat Fleischer famously described Robinson as “the greatest all-around fighter pound-for-pound in any division.” More than 60 years later, many boxing experts today still agree with Fleischer’s assessment.
Sugar Ray Robinson is credited with being the reason for the creation of the mythical pound-for-pound rankings that today occupy so much of the debate and discussion that goes on in the boxing world.
Sugar Ray Robinson. Ali’s idol makes number one on my list like every other credible list. Watching him fight was regarded as being ” sweet as sugar” and from the brief footage I’ve seen and from what I’ve read and heard he deserves top spot. In his first twelve years as a professional he only lost one fight and he avenged it many times over.
Read more at http://www.boxingnews24.com/2014/04/the-greatest-15-boxers-pound-4-pound-of-all-time/#fTGaY4dSvCrfwouk.99
“Pound for pound, the best.” The claim has been used to describe many boxers, but it was invented for Sugar Ray Robinson.
After stopping Jake Lamotta on February 14, 1951 (The St. Valentines Day Massacre) Robinson won an unanimous decision in a non-title against Holly Mims on April 5 of that year. Four days later (Things were different then.) he fought another non-title bout against Don Ellis, and he knocked out Ellis in the first round.
Robinson fought and won two non-title bouts in April of 1951. Then he sailed to Europe and fought six non-title fights (Paris, Zurich, Antwerp, Liege, Berlin and Torino). On July 10 he lost his title to Randy Turpin in London. Turpin a “Negro Englishman,” won a 15-round decision in what was is considered to be one of the greatest upsets in the history of boxing. By all accounts Turpin won the fight decisively.
Robinson had a re-match clause in his contract, so the stage was set for Robison-Turpin II. Here’s what Alistair Cooke wrote about the fight in the Manchester Guardian.
Last night Sugar Ray Robinson, tiring to the point of panic before the concrete insensibility of Turpin’s massive flesh, wrung everything he had from a brave heart, fought from his finger-tips, and at last had Turpin helpless against the ropes, his arms by his thighs, his stubborn body reeling back and forth like a beaten bull when the flags go in.
I have never seen a human being receive so much punishment with such dumb bravery. For almost a whole minute Robinson crashed and shot and pounded at him until his head sagged from one side to the other with the flopping rhythm of a broken pendulum. An old man sitting next to me lit a cigar with deadly precision, keeping his eyes steadily above the flame on the crumbling Turpin. “Thirty seconds more” he sold quietly. ” and we’ll have another Flores on our hands.” (Flores, the young boxer killed ten days ago by a similar bravery before just such an onslaught.)
It did seem then that Turpin should be rescued to fight another day. If there had been another minute, I do believe that he would have gone down and out for a long time to come. But pride never lacks pretext and unfortunately there were only eight seconds of that round to go when the referee bounded in and scissored his arms to stop the fight Turpin fell on him in a face-down dive, and it seemed to one no more than twenty feet away that it was a gesture of ox-like gratitude.