A Sports World Look At The 4th Of July …..

July 05, 2010 |

Well, another 4th Of July has come and gone. It was a relatively uneventful holiday in this house; grilling dinner, cold beer and fireworks. But, from a personally historical perspective, I can add a damn good pitching performance by Brian Matusz and a few head scratching All Star selections to my list of things I’ll remember about this July 4th.

The true meaning of INDEPENDENCE DAY is much more important than anything spirited in the realm of sports and competition. From the declaration of a freedom from the Kingdom of Britain, to the inventory of thousands of bodies upon the battlefields of Gettysburg, the day commemorates the inception of the AMERICAN WAY.

Over the last century, the celebration of July 4th has certainly included our love for sports. It’s an absolute tradition. Doesn’t everyone have a “July 4th” sports-themed memory or two (or twenty) from their lifetime?

Of course, just like every other day, the sun rises and sets. People are born, injured, married, arrested, hired, fired and even killed.

But July 4th is still regarded as a day of American Pride and enjoying SPORTS, along with cookouts, fireworks and family. In the truth of it being a very REAL day, here are some distinct memories ….
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1923 – Fists Of Fireworks
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Jack Dempsey knocks out Jess Willard to capture the Heavyweight Championship of the World. He knocked Willard down SEVEN TIMES in the first round.
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Dempsey would finish his career with a 60-7 record, including a 2-0 resume’ during Independence Day fights. He is regarded as the GREATEST BOXER in history, by many experts.
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1929 – How Is This Possible?
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Peter Angelos and Al Davis are born on the same exact day and year. How is THAT possible? I suppose there really is some truth to this whole Astronomy thing, huh?
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Quick, when were Danny Snyder and Jeffrey Loria born? There must be a common connection somewhere along this bizarre trail. ** For the record, I know George Steinbrenner was born on July 4th, too. However, I think he’s dug himself out of this group.
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1939 – The Luckiest Man Retires
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Lou Gehrig, recently diagnosed with ALS humbly bows out from the game that made him a household name in New York and around the world.
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Known and regarded as a great ballplayer in LIFE, Gehrig would be remembered as the “Original Ironman” and a standard of courage after his death.
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1964 – The “Show” Must Go On !!!!
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The Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals square off in a twilght showdown at Memorial Stadium. Although, Boog Powell connected for his 21st homerun of the season, the game is halted as an official 6-6 tie after 8 innings.
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Did it rain? No …. the City of Baltimore stopped the game so that a pre-planned fireworks show could take place. How’s that for 33rd Street trivia?
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1976 – Borg Is Absolutely Perfect
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Bjorn Borg was the definition of UNBEATABLE on this day, just 34 years ago. He defeated Ilie Nastase to capture first of five consecutive (1976-1980) Wimbledon Championships.
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The astonishing part? Bjorn Born didn’t lose a single set during the 1976 Wimbledon Tourney. Now, that’s dominating !!!!
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1980 – “The Express” Notches #3000
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Many baseball fans and insiders consider Nolan Ryan to be the most prolific “power pitcher” in the history of the game. At just 33 years old, he collected his 3000th strikeout on this day.
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As we all know, he had plenty of GAS left in the tank. Nolan Ryan finished his big league career with 5,714 strikeouts …. along with one hugely famous bloody ass-beating of Robin Ventura.
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1983 – No Fireworks For The Red Sox
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You remember Dave Righetti, right? Well, he enjoyed his most masterful pitching performance when no-hitting the rival Boston Red Sox during a matinee matchup.
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Although, he was only 24 years old, it would be Righetti’s only no-hitter. A season later, he would become the Yankees closer and he enjoyed a solid career in that role.
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1998 – No NASCAR @ Daytona
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For the first time in 35 years, NASCAR did not host a race at Daytona International Speedway during a July 4th weekend. A growing swath of wildfires threatened the entire Daytona community, forcing the race’s postponement to October.
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This was an era when NASCAR was dominated by a certain car and driver. Thus, while the race was delayed nearly four months, Jeff Gordon still showed up and ran away with it.
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2004 – A Total Of 1735 Bombs
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Yesterday’s release of the All Star rosters was a mere formality. Heck, many fans haven’t even noticed, yet. There was no pomp and circumstance revolving around final appearances of Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn, or the anticipation of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in the same lineup. The biggest dilemma was “will Stephen Strasburg be an All Star?” He’s not.

On July 4th, 2004, All Star rosters were announced – and it was a historical moment. For the first time in BASEBALL HISTORY, three players with 500+ homeruns were elected to the same All Star squad – to start in the same outfield.
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When the 2004 All Star rosters were announced, a behemoth amount of career dingers were occupying the N.L.’s outfield …. Barry Bonds – 682, Sammy Sosa – 553, Ken Griffey – 500. As we sit here just six years later, we know these homerun totals were inflated and achieved via less than honest means. That said, electing an outfield of 1735 homers is still pretty amazing.
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2009 – Tragedy in Tennessee
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You remember exactly where you were when your phone buzzed with the WNST text, right? I was standing on a pier, in Canton. From that mid-afternoon moment, we browsed the internet, watched the news channels and made Steve McNair the topic of 4th of July conversations.
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It’s still hard to believe Steve McNair is gone. In the year since his death, many controversial disclosures and allegations have surfaced. Most recently, a select group is purporting a cover-up by law enforcement and prosecutors. I’m not buying it; too many people are privy to the situation. A cover-up amounts to a “secret.” And, we all know there is only one way to ensure a secret stays intact – if you’re the only one knows it.
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2010 – 54 Dogs & 1 Arrest
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Somewhere in Chicago, Glenn Clark is celebrating the feat of his hero, Joey Chestnut. The human hoover inhaled 54 weiners to win yesterday’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Yet, as the Coney Island crowd reveled in Chestnut’s title defense, a bit of reality drama broke out …..
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In a scene resembling a WWE Monday Night Raw skit mixed with Jerry Springer, former Eating Champ, Kobayashi, was arrested after storming the stage during Chestnut’s celebration. Kobayashi did not participate this year, because of a “dog dispute.” The arrest footage was pretty funny …. but, I would’ve loved to see him get tasered !!!!

HAPPY 5TH OF JULY – SEE YA TOMORROW @ 2PM !!!!

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