September Classic Moments

"Classic Moments, " the biggest sports news event of the day in the 20th century, began airing on Sept. 7. Each day's highlights will be archived in this area.

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Other months:

Sept. 7
1908: Billy Papke, the "Illinois Thunderbolt," ignores the rules of etiquette to become middleweight champion, taking the title from Stanley Ketchel, the "Michigan Assassin."

At the beginning of their bout in Vernon, Calif., Ketchel moves to the center of the ring and reaches out to touch gloves with the challenger, as is tradition. But Papke disregards the outstretched hand and unloads a savage left hook to Ketchel's jaw and follows it up with a hard right. Ketchel doesn't go down, but he is out on his feet. Papke pounds Ketchel bloody for 11 rounds, and in the 12th round he knocks him out with a crushing right to the head.

Papke's cheap shot inspires the ref's instruction: "Shake hands and come out fighting."

Ketchel, who had defeated Papke in June, is infuriated by Papke's tactic and is obsessed with a rematch. On Nov. 26 he makes mincemeat of his hated foe, and that bloody affair is stopped in the 11th round.

1992: Acting one last time in what he calls the "best interests of baseball," Fay Vincent, bowing to the will of the owners, resigns as commissioner. Although Vincent had told the owners that he would never resign, he changes his mind after an 18-9 vote by the owners asking him to step down four days earlier. The owners had wanted Vincent to represent their best interests, not the best interests of the game.

Vincent, who became commissioner after his good friend Bart Giamatti died on Sept. 1, 1989, had considered taking the owners to court if fired. But he decides against it. "I've concluded that resignation -- not litigation -- should be my final act as commissioner 'in the best interests of baseball,' " he says in a statement. "A fight based solely on principle does not justify the disruption when there is not greater support among ownership for my views."

1963: The National Professional Football Hall of Fame is dedicated in Canton, Ohio, with all the color and excitement of a Hollywood premiere. It was in Canton in 1920 that 11 men formed the American Professional Football Association, later to be known as the National Football League. The $600,000 Hall is a circular structure crowned by a football-shaped dome. Thousands line the streets for an 89-unit parade, including 17 bands. Commissioner Pete Rozelle describes the museum as "a warm and living memorial to professional football."

The ceremonies are highlighted by the induction of the 17 charter members to the Hall. The 11 members present are George Halas, Red Grange, Sammy Baugh, Don Hutson, Bronko Nagurksi, Ernie Nevers, Mel Hein, Cal Hubbard, Curly Lambeau, Johnny "Blood" McNally and Dutch Clark. George Marshall is ill and unable to attend. Deceased members are Jim Thorpe, Bert Bell, Tim Mara, Joe Carr and Pete "Fats" Henry.
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Sept. 8
1950: This is the third bout in a grudge-match series between popular featherweights Willie Pep and Sandy Saddler. Saddler had won the first fight, Pep the second. Before a crowd of 38,781 at Yankee Stadium, 8-5 favorite Saddler regains the title from Pep on an eighth-round TKO.

Saddler registers a knockdown with a looping left hook in the third round, but Pep rebounds to take control of this nasty bout, with each boxer committing his share of dirty tactics. In the seventh round, the fighters scuffle along the ropes. Wincing in pain, Pep returns to his corner with a dislocated shoulder. Though he is ahead on all three cards, he doesn't answer the bell for the eighth round. Pep says Saddler beat him with a double arm lock; Saddler says a punch to the kidneys made the difference.

They will fight a fourth time, in 1951, and Saddler will win on a 10th-round TKO in one of the dirtiest bouts in history. Both fighters subsequently were suspended by the New York State Athletic Commission.

1955: The Brooklyn Dodgers, who won their first 10 games and started the season 22-2, record the earliest clinching date in National League history with a 10-2 victory over the Milwaukee Braves. However, in terms of games played, the Dodgers, in clinching in their 138th game, fail to break the record of the 1904 New York Giants, who clinched in their 137th.

The Dodgers finish with a 98-55 record, 13½ games ahead of the second-place Braves, in gaining their fifth pennant in nine years. Duke Snider leads the hitters with 42 homers and a league-leading 136 runs batted in, and Don Newcombe is the ace of the pitching staff with a 20-5 record and 3.20 earned-run average. In October, Brooklyn will win its first World Series, beating the New York Yankees in seven games.
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Sept. 9
1968: It is the first U.S. Open, the first time pros are eligible to compete in the most prestigious tournament in the United States. The top four seeds are all Australian pros. But in a surprise, American amateur Arthur Ashe wins the tournament, becoming the first African-American male to capture a Grand Slam event.

"The triumph (is) the most notable achievement made in the sport by a Negro male athlete," Dave Anderson writes in The New York Times after the fifth-seeded Ashe's 14-12, 5-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory over No. 8 Tom Okker of the Netherlands in the 2-hour, 40-minute final. Ashe serves 26 aces in a half-filled Forest Hills Stadium.

Because of his amateur status, Ashe, a 25-year-old lieutenant in the Army, is ineligible to receive the first prize of $14,000 in the $100,000 event -- at the time the richest tournament in tennis history. Instead, the slender American collects $280 in expenses, at $20 per diem for 14 days. He is the first American to win the U.S. title since Tony Trabert in 1955.

1965: Sandy Koufax had missed a perfect game in 1964 when he walked the Philadelphia Phillies' Dick Allen on a full-count pitch. Allen was the only baserunner in Koufax's third no-hitter. But on this day, nobody gets on base. The Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander becomes the sixth pitcher this century to throw a perfect game in the regular season and the only one to pitch four no-hitters in the National League when he outduels the Chicago Cubs' Bob Hendley 1-0.

"I got stronger as I went along, and that's something that had not happened to me before this year," says Koufax, who strikes out the last six Cubs (Harvey Kuenn is the final victim) to give him 14.

The Dodgers manage just one hit off Hendley -- a bloop double by Lou Johnson -- and it doesn't figure in the scoring. They score on a walk to Johnson, a sacrifice, a steal and an error by the catcher on the throw to third.
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Sept. 10
1972: We wuz robbed! The United States basketball team has good reason to feel this way after losing 51-50 to the Soviet Union in the Olympic final. The Americans' streak of winning every game and every gold medal since basketball joined the Olympics in 1936 ends in bitter controversy.

After Doug Collins' two foul shots with three seconds left give the U.S. its first lead at 50-49 some time after 1 a.m. in Munich, the Soviet Union gets three scoring opportunities. On the first, an inbounds pass is deflected at midcourt and a crowd rushes the court, thinking the U.S. has won. But the clock still shows one second left and the Soviets get another chance. When the second inbounds pass is short, the U.S. celebrates its "victory."

But a high-ranking international basketball official says the clock had not been reset and orders three seconds -- not one -- be put on the clock. Aleksander Belov outmuscles two Americans to catch the full-court inbounds pass and scores a layup to give the Soviets their victory. A U.S. protest is denied and the team refuses to accept its silver medals, not appearing at the awards ceremony that night.
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Sept. 11
1985: Cincinnati Reds player-manager Pete Rose, the 44-year-old man who still plays baseball with the joy of a boy, lines a single to left-center off San Diego's Eric Show in the first inning for his 4,192nd hit, breaking Ty Cobb's 57-year-old major league record for career hits.

His teammates mob the 23-year veteran and owner Marge Schott presents him with a red Corvette, driven in from behind the outfield fence. While the sellout crowd of 47,237 at Riverfront Stadium enthusiastically cheers, Rose weeps as he waves to the fans and then throws his head on first-base coach Tommy Helms' shoulder.

Then from the dugout comes another No. 14 with the same name on his back. It's 15-year-old Petey Rose Jr. He falls into his father's arms at first base and the two embrace with tears in their eyes.

Rose triples for hit No. 4,193 later in the game. When he retires after the 1986 season, his total will be up to 4,256.
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Sept. 12
1951: With a hideous gash over his left eye threatening to cause the fight to be stopped, Sugar Ray Robinson unleashes a savage attack in the 10th round and regains the middleweight crown from Britain's Randy Turpin before 61,370 sweltering fans at the Polo Grounds in New York. Robinson, who had been upset by Turpin two months earlier, is winning by a slim margin when the fighters collide early in the 10th round, opening the big cut over Robinson's eye.

"I was having a tough time anyway," Robinson says. "I figured I had to do something. So I went at him. It was do or die."

A desperate Robinson throws a smashing right cross to the jaw, sending Turpin to the canvas. Turpin rises at the count of nine. Then Robinson pounds away at Turpin's body and head, one vicious blow after another, before referee Ruby Goldstein stops the onslaught at 2:52 of the 10th round.

1962: Tom Cheney accomplishes what no pitcher in the history of major league baseball had ever done before -- or has done since. Making good use of his crackling curve, he strikes out 21 batters in one game. The only catch is the Washington Senators right-hander needs 16 innings to get the record. Just moments before church bells strike midnight in Baltimore, Cheney whiffs pinch-hitter Dick Williams for No. 21 and the final out in Washington's 2-1 victory.

"I'm more stiff than tired," says Cheney. Apparently! Cheney ends up posting a record of 19-29 in an eight-year career.

The modern record had been 18 strikeouts, by Bob Feller and Sandy Koufax in nine-inning games and by Jack Coombs (twice) and Warren Spahn in extra innings. Rogers Clemens (twice) and Kerry Woods will later strike out 20 in a nine-inning game, but nobody has bettered Cheney's extra-inning mark.

College football
1981: Kelvin Bryant, a junior tailback for North Carolina, opens the season by rushing for a school-record six touchdowns in a 56-0 rout of East Carolina. The next game, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Bryant will score five touchdowns in a 49-7 mauling of Miami of Ohio, giving him an NCAA record 11 touchdowns in two consecutive games. When Bryant scores four in the third game, a 56-14 beating of Boston College, he has another NCAA record -- the most touchdowns in three consecutive games, 15.

The graceful Bryant, after two seasons playing in the shadow of Amos Lawrence, runs for 211 yards on 19 carries against East Carolina. Then he gains 136 yards on 29 attempts versus Miami of Ohio and 173 yards on 22 rushes against Boston College. In the fourth game, against Georgia Tech, Bryant suffers a knee injury in the first half and is sidelined for a month after surgery.
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Sept. 13
1909: Ty Cobb hits his ninth home run of the season, an inside-the-park drive in a 10-2 win over the St. Louis Browns. All nine are inside-the-park homers, making the Detroit Tigers star the only player in this century to lead a league in homers without hitting one into the stands. In his career, Cobb will hit 118 homers in 11,429 at-bats, with a career-high of 12 in 1921 and 1925.

This is the only season he will lead the American League in home runs, and he will win the Triple Crown (with a .377 batting average and 107 runs batted in). The Georgia Peach also leads the league in runs, total bases and stolen bases. No other player this century has ever led in all six categories the same season.

1932: Joe McCarthy becomes the first manager to win pennants in both leagues as the Yankees clinch the American League title with a 9-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians, their 100th win of the season. Babe Ruth isn't with the team, as he's back in New York, resting for the World Series.

McCarthy, who won the pennant in the National League with the Chicago Cubs in 1929, will beat his former team in this year's World Series. McCarthy will go on to win seven more pennants (and six more World Series) with the Yankees before he resigns during the 1946 season.

Pro football
1981: The Atlanta Falcons, with the defense scoring two touchdowns and special teams setting up another, score 31 points in the fourth quarter to overcome a 17-point deficit and beat the Packers 31-17 at Green Bay. The 31 points tie Oakland's NFL record for most points in a fourth period. The Raiders did it twice, in 1960 and 1963, when they were in the American Football League.

A 53-yard punt return by Reggie Smith to the Packers' 2-yard line sets up William Andrews' TD plunge, cutting Atlanta's deficit to 17-10. Quarterback Steve Bartkowski's 30-yard touchdown pass to Alfred Jenkins ties the game. Linebacker Fulton Keykendall returns a wobbly Glenn Dickey pass 22 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, and linebacker Joel Williams scores the clincher when he picks up Terdell Middleton's fumble and runs the ball back 34 yards.
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Sept. 14
1923: Jack Dempsey and Luis Firpo engage in one of the most exciting bouts in boxing history. Dempsey survives two knockdowns, including one in which he is knocked clear out of the ring by the Argentinean, and retains his heavyweight championship.

Seconds after the opening bell, Dempsey is on one knee after a right to the jaw from "The Wild Bull of the Pampas." Dempsey retaliates by knocking down Firpo seven times.

But before the first round ends, a desperation right by Firpo sends Dempsey through the ropes and onto a sportswriter's typewriter, much to the shock of some 90,000 fans at the Polo Grounds in New York. The writer and a Western Union operator help Dempsey make it back inside the ring before the count of 10.

Firpo, who outweighs Dempsey by 24 pounds, can't put the finishing blow to the champ. Dempsey uses Firpo for a punching bag in the second round before knocking him out, ending the fight after three minutes and 57 seconds of mayhem.

1953: A jubilant Casey Stengel, who has managed the Yankees to four consecutive pennants, nails down a record fifth flag as New York beats the Cleveland Indians 8-5. Yogi Berra hits a two-run homer and Billy Martin knocks in four runs as the Yankees rally from a 5-0 deficit.

The Yankees will go on to win a fifth straight World Series by beating the Brooklyn Dodgers in six games. Although the Yankees look forward to winning a sixth straight pennant in 1954, they'll finish second to the Indians despite winning 103 games.

Pro football
1986: Having already broken Walter Payton's record of rushing for at least 100 yards in nine consecutive games, Raiders running back Marcus Allen pads his mark. His 104 yards in a 10-6 loss to the Washington Redskins is his 11th consecutive 100-yard game.

Although Detroit's Barry Sanders broke the record streak in 1997, Allen's 123 rushing touchdowns remain unsurpassed.
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Sept. 15
1960: Montreal Canadien right wing Maurice Richard, the man many call the Babe Ruth of hockey, retires at age 39 as the leading goal scorer in NHL history with 544 regular-season goals. (First, Gordie Howe and then Wayne Gretzky will break this record.) Among The Rocket's plethora of records is his mark of becoming the first player to score 50 goals in 50 games, in the 1944-45 season.

During his 18-year career, all with Montreal, the fiery Richard was all-league first-team eight times and second-team six times. He helped the Canadiens win eight Stanley Cups, including his last five seasons. Three years of nagging injuries caused the Canadien captain, one of the game's most exciting and explosive players, to retire.

1902: A baseball legend begins on this day. Shortstop Joe Tinker, second baseman Johnny Evers and first baseman Frank Chance turn their first double play for the Cubs in a 6-3 victory over Cincinnati in Chicago. The three infielders couldn't stand each other off the field but worked with consummate smoothness on the diamond. They would help the Cubs win four pennants (and two World Series), from 1906 through 1910.

They were the snappiest double-play combo of their time and were immortalized in a poem by New York sportswriter Franklin Adams that begins:

These are the saddest of possible words:
Tinkers to Evers to Chance.
Trio of Bear Cubs and fleeter than birds,
Tinker to Evers to Chance.

1938: Known as "Little Poison" and "Big Poison," Pittsburgh's brother act of Lloyd and Paul Waner hit back-to-back homers in the Pirates' 7-2 victory over the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds. Lloyd, the leadoff hitter, breaks a 2-2 tie with a two-run homer in the fifth inning and Paul follows with his homer. Paul also homers in his next at-bat.

Combined, the Hall of Famers, Paul (3,152 hits) and Lloyd (2,459) will total 5,611 career hits -- 758 more than the total of Joe (2,214), Vince (959) and Dom (1,680) DiMaggio -- making them the most productive brother act in history.
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Sept. 16
College basketball
1974: Phog Allen, who learned his basketball from the game's inventor, James Naismith, dies at the age of 88 in Lawrence, Kan. With a career record of 746-264 in 48 seasons, he was the NCAA's winningest coach when he retired from Kansas in 1956.

A 1906 Kansas graduate, he coached his alma mater in 1908-09 and from 1920 through 1956. Allen's coaching strategies revolutionized the game, as he pioneered "set" plays and taught zone defense. His Jayhawks won 24 Missouri Valley, Big Six and Big Seven conference championships and the NCAA championship in 1952.

Allen, who was dubbed Phog by sportswriters for the quality of his foghorn voice, also coached at Baker University in Kansas (1906-08), Haskell Institute (1909) and Central Missouri State (1913-19).

1988: The game against the Dodgers is delayed 2 hours, 27 minutes at the start because of rain, but the Reds' Tom Browning doesn't mind the wait. The left-hander, who had lost a no-hitter in the ninth inning earlier in the season, pitches the ninth perfect game in the regular season this century when he beats Los Angeles 1-0 before 16,591 fans at Riverfront Stadium. It is the first perfect game in the National League since Sandy Koufax threw one for the Dodgers in 1965.

Browning strikes out seven and is in control all the way against the first-place Dodgers. In the ninth, the 28-year-old native of Casper, Wyo., completes the third perfect game in the National League this century by getting Rick Dempsey on a fly ball to the warning track in left, Steve Sax on a grounder to short and pinch-hitter Tracy Woodson on a strikeout.

Browning will finish the season with an 18-5 record.
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Sept. 17
1922: It's a matchup of the Babe against a babe in the woods -- Ruth versus Hub Pruett, a 135-pound, 22-year-old rookie left-hander with the St. Louis Browns. Until this day, the matchup had been completely one-sided -- Pruett, using his fadeaway, a tricky kind of screwball, to strike out the Babe in nine of 10 at-bats. But today, the Browns catcher calls for a curve, and Ruth lines a homer over the low right-field wall in old Sportman's Park in St. Louis. It accounts for the Yankees' only run in a 5-1 loss to Pruett.

The Babe will homer again off Pruett in 1923 but he will strike out four more times.

Pruett, who is nicknamed "Shucks" because that happens to be the strongest word in his vocabulary, finishes with a 7-7 record and a 2.33 ERA in the 1922 season, but he goes on to just a 29-48 record for his seven-year career. The University of Missouri graduate stays in baseball because it provides the money for him to attend medical school. He then becomes a doctor, like his father.
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Sept. 18
1920: As Molla Bjurstedt of Norway, she won four consecutive United States National championships starting in 1915. Now, on this day, as Molla Bjurstedt Mallory after marrying stockbroker Franklin Mallory, she is gunning for No. 5 as a U.S. citizen. She has little difficulty, needing just 30 minutes to dethrone defending champion Marion Zinderstein 6-3, 6-1 in Philadelphia.

Mallory will go on to win three more U.S. titles after the women's tournament shifts to Forest Hills the next year, and her eight championships are still the record today.

1919: The Chicago White Sox turn Black Sox. Three weeks before Chicago plays the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series, first baseman Chick Gandil meets clandestinely with Boston gambler and bookmaker George "Sport" Sullivan in Boston's Hotel Buckminster. Gandil tells Sullivan he can fix the Series, and Sullivan agrees to pay Gandil $80,000 to turn his teammates into losers. The Black Sox lose in eight games.

While Gandil and seven other Chicago players will be acquitted of charges of throwing the Series by a jury in 1921, the eight Black Sox will be banned from baseball for life by commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
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Sept. 19
1988: Greg Louganis does the unthinkable in attempting to defend his three-meter springboard Olympic title. In the preliminary round, he hits his head on the board while performing his ninth of 11 dives, a reverse 2½ somersault pike. He receives temporary sutures to close the gash in his scalp. "I didn't realize I was that close to the board," Louganis says later. "When I hit it, it was kind of a shock. But I think my pride was hurt more than anything else."

Thirty-five minutes after the mishap, Louganis is back on the board and finishes qualifying for the final. He goes to a hospital, where the sutures are replaced by five stitches. The next day, he will win easily, scoring 730.80 points -- Tan Liangde of China will finish second with 704.88 points -- to become the first diver to win the three-meter springboard in consecutive Olympics.
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Sept. 20
1913: In the ultimate local-boy-makes-good story, 20-year-old Francis Ouimet, a virtual unknown whose most significant title is the Massachusetts State Championship, shocks the golfing world by becoming the first amateur to win the United States Open. In an 18-hole playoff, Ouimet shoots a 2-under-par 72 to win by five strokes over English pro Harry Vardon, who is considered the world's best player, and six strokes over another English pro, Ted Ray, the 1912 British Open champion.

The triumph takes place at The Country Club in Brookline, a Boston suburb, across the street from Ouimet's home. Ouimet, the son of a gardener, had forced the playoff the day before with two birdies on the final six holes on a wet course to tie Vardon and Ray at 8-over 304. A sporting-goods salesman, Ouimet had not planned on playing in the U.S. Open until encouraged to compete by his boss.

1987: It is not one of Walter Payton's big games, as the NFL's career rushing leader manages only 24 yards on 15 carries. But there's one run the Chicago Bears running back will never forget in a 20-3 win over Tampa Bay. It's for only one yard, but it takes him into the end zone for his first touchdown of the season, giving him 107 rushing TDs for his career and breaking his tie with Jim Brown for most touchdowns on the ground.

This is Payton's 13th and final season. He will tack on three more rushing touchdowns to give him 110, but this record will be broken by Marcus Allen with 123. Payton still holds the record for most rushing yards with 16,726.
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Sept. 21
1955: It's the Brockton Blockbuster against the Ol' Mongoose, heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano defending his title against light-heavyweight champ Archie Moore. It's the unbeaten Marciano's final fight, though he's not sure of it when he enters the ring. What he is sure of afterward is that the aging Moore still knows how to box with the best.

Moore, a 4-1 underdog, stuns the crowd of 61,574 at Yankee Stadium with a beautifully executed right-hand sneak punch that drops the strong-jawed Marciano to the canvas in the second round. A dazed Marciano survives the round. In the sixth, he decks the valiant Moore twice. In the ninth, The Rock knocks out the Ol' Mongoose for his 43 KO in 49 fights.

When the 32-year-old Marciano announces his retirement on April 27, 1956, he will be the only heavyweight champion to exit with a perfect record.

1934: The day after Dizzy Dean delivered the dizzy prediction that the Dodgers "will be pitching against one-hit Dean and no-hit Dean" in today's doubleheader at Ebbets Field, it almost comes true. The St. Louis right-hander allows three hits instead of one in the opener. In the nightcap, younger brother Daffy pitches the predicted no-hitter.

Dizzy and Dazzy leave the Dodgers in a daze. Dizzy has a no-hitter for seven innings before yielding a hit in the eighth of the Cardinals' 13-0 laugher. But Daffy, a rookie, outdoes his big brother in the 3-0 nightcap. He allows only one baserunner, walking Len Koenecke with two out in the first inning.

The Deans will account for 49 of the pennant-winning Cardinals' 95 victories this season, with Dizzy going 30-7 and Daffy 19-11. The Cardinals will win the World Series in seven games, with the Dean brothers gaining all four wins.

1970: Are you ready for some football? Some prime-time football? ABC Sports president Roone Arledge is. It's the debut of Monday Night Football, with the New York Jets and Broadway Joe Namath visiting the Cleveland Browns. Arledge has a vision of pro football being prime-time television entertainment -- more cameras, new angles, better graphics and information, and dramatic halftime highlights. He wants to show football is more than a game of Xs and Os.

That's why he has the outspoken and controversial Howard Cosell in the announcing booth at Cleveland's Municipal Stadium to complement Keith Jackson's play-by-play and the homespun humor of analyst Don Meredith. One game and ABC knows it has a hit. While the Jets lose 31-21, everybody else -- television, the NFL, the audience -- is a winner as a new cultural habit is born.
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Sept. 22
1927: It is the most famous fight in the Golden Age of Sports. It is the night of the Long Count in Chicago. It is the fight when Jack Dempsey knocks Gene Tunney to the canvas for more than the 10 seconds required for a knockout but loses the heavyweight championship fight anyway. Dempsey, the challenger seeking to regain his title in this rematch, has only himself to blame.

After Tunney hits the floor in the seventh round and the timekeeper begins his count, Dempsey ignores referee Dave Barry's attempt to get him to a neutral corner. Barry again points to the neutral corner, and only now does Dempsey begin to leave his own corner and head across the ring. When Barry sees Dempsey in his proper place, he begins the count. But instead of picking up the timekeeper's count of five, he calls out, "One."

As Barry continues his count, a dazed Tunney raises his eyes from the floor and looks up at the ref. At nine, Tunney, holding the rope, pulls himself to his feet after being down for about 14 seconds. He survives the seventh round, and then knocks down Dempsey in the eighth. He badly batters Dempsey in the final rounds and retains his title on a unanimous decision.

1969: Willie Mays is supposed to be resting this night. Instead, he makes history. The San Francisco Giants center fielder becomes the second player to hit 600 home runs (Babe Ruth is the first) when he pinch-hits in the seventh inning of a 2-2 game and delivers his 13th homer of the season. The drive off Padres rookie right-hander Mike Corkins lands in the left-center field pavilion before a crowd of only 4,779 in San Diego.

"The pressure was building up," Mays, 38, said after the Giants' 4-2 win. "I had been trying too hard to hit home runs."

The Adirondack Bat Company, whose stick Mays uses, presents him with one share of stock for each foot the homer traveled (371 feet). The stock is quoted at $9 a share. He also receives a $12,000 sports car.

Mays will finish his career with 660 homers, third in history to Hank Aaron's 755 and Ruth's 714.
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Sept. 23
1908: It's the bottom of the ninth in a 1-1 tie, runners on the corners for the Giants, and it appears as if New York will defeat the Cubs when Al Bridwell hits an apparent single to center. However, when 19-year-old Fred Merkle, the runner on first, sees Moose McCormick touch home plate with the "winning" run, he leaves the basepath before touching second base and heads for the clubhouse in center field at the Polo Grounds.

Chicago second baseman Johnny Evers calls for the center fielder to throw him the ball so he can get a forceout at second on Merkle. The ball is thrown in, and in the tussle, pitcher "Iron Man" McGinnity, who had been coaching at third base, winds up with it and throws it into the stands. Somehow, though, a ball appears in Evers' hand and he touches second base. Umpire Hank O'Day calls Merkle out and, with the Giants already having left the field and the fans swarming it, calls the game a 1-1 tie.

The play will forever be known as the "Merkle boner."

Later, National League president Harry Pulliam will uphold O'Day's decision. The game will be replayed after the regular schedule is finished, with the teams tied for first place. The Cubs will win the replay to capture the pennant and will go on to win the World Series. Ninety years later, they haven't won another Series.
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Sept. 24
1938: Having previously won Wimbledon and the French and Australian titles, Don Budge needs only to win the U.S. Nationals to become the first player to capture the Grand Slam. Six days of rain force the final back to today, but neither the wait nor his doubles partner can prevent the 23-year-old redhead from making history.

On the grass at Forest Hills, N.Y., before a less than capacity crowd of 12,000, defending champion Budge beats Gene Mako in the first set 6-3 before losing the next set 8-6, the only set he loses in the tournament. But then he cruises 6-2, 6-1 in the final two sets to gain the Slam.

This is the closest of Budge's four Slam finals as he won the first three in straight sets. The Californian also won the doubles title at Forest Hills with Mako as his partner.
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Sept. 25
1988: Mark Spitz set the standard of excellence in American swimming by winning seven gold medals at the 1972 Olympics. Sixteen years later, the torch is passed to Matt Biondi, the butterflyer/freestyler who becomes the most decorated athlete of the Seoul Games by winning seven medals, including five gold.

The fifth gold comes tonight when he swims the second-fastest butterfly leg in history as the U.S. destroys the world record in winning the 4x100-meter medley relay. Biondi's other gold medals had come in the 4x200 free relay, 100 free, 4x100 free and 50 free. All that after he started out with a bronze in the 200 free and a silver in the 100 butterfly.

Afterward, Biondi says, "It's the path getting there that counts, not the cheese at the end of the maze."

1965: Some 10,000 fans light up Kansas City's Municipal Stadium and serenade ageless wonder Satchel Paige with "The Old Gray Mare" as the Negro League pitching legend comes out of retirement to start for the Athletics. At the invitation of Kansas City owner Charley Finley, Paige -- reportedly 59, though many believe he's older -- makes his first appearance in the majors since 1953.

Paige, who didn't get a chance to pitch in the majors until 1948, amazes all by pitching three scoreless innings against the Boston Red Sox. He strikes out one and does not issue a walk. The only hit he allows is a double to another future Hall of Famer, Carl Yastrzemski.
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Sept. 26
1983: One hundred and thirty-two years of tradition are torpedoed. America's Cup, which has never left our shores, is headed Down Under after Australia II completes its remarkable comeback by defeating Liberty in the seventh race by 41 seconds. Down 3-1, Australia II wins the final three races to gain possession of the ornate silver pitcher that has been bolted to a glass-enclosed table in the New York Yacht Club.

Captain Dennis Conner's Liberty leads by 57 seconds as the boats round the fourth of six legs on Rhode Island Sound. But Australia II, driven by a light southwesternly breeze, uses her superior downwind speed to pull ahead midway through the fifth leg of the 24.3-mile race. Australia II, skippered by John Bertrand, goes on to win by about six boat lengths.

Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke declares a national holiday for the next day in Australia, where millions stay awake through the night to watch and listen to race reports. Despite it now being Australia's cup, the trophy will continue to be called America's Cup.

1908: Chicago Cubs right-hander Ed Reulbach has a day for the baseball ages. In the opener of a doubleheader against Brooklyn, he pitches a 5-0 shutout in Washington Park. With his pitching staff tired, manager Frank Chance decides to use Reulbach in the nightcap as well, and he responds with another shutout, this one 3-0. Reulbach allows just eight hits and five walks, while striking out 10, in becoming the only pitcher to throw two shutouts in the same day.

The two victories by Reulbach, whose eyesight is so poor his catchers use white-painted gloves, are among his 20th century National League record nine victories against Brooklyn this season. He goes on to post a 24-7 record (.774 winning percentage), and for the third consecutive season leads in winning percentage, another still-standing NL record.

College football
1981: It looks as if No. 2 Oklahoma might win despite its 10 fumbles, five of which it lost, in its battle against No. 1 USC before 85,651 fans at the L.A. Coliseum. With 13 minutes left, the Sooners take a 24-14 lead. But tailback Marcus Allen, who will run for 208 yards, scores his second touchdown as USC closes the deficit to three points with 6½ minutes left.

Two minutes later, the Trojans regain possession, 78 yards away from the end zone. Sophomore quarterback John Mazur takes USC to the Oklahoma 7-yard line and then passes to Allen crossing to his right and open in the end zone. But suddenly, coming from the other direction, unintentionally tipping the pass away is leaping tight end Fred Cornwell, not knowing the pass is intended for Allen.

But in one play Cornwell goes from goat to hero. He runs the same route on the next play and catches the winning touchdown pass with two seconds left. "That," Cornwell says after the 28-24 victory, "was fun."
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Sept. 27
1930: Bobby Jones is one victory away from becoming the only golfer to win the Grand Slam. Already the winner of the British Amateur and Open and the U.S. Open in the past five months, he's playing Eugene Homans in the 36-hole final of the U.S. Amateur at the Merion Cricket Club, outside Philadelphia. Jones, a child prodigy who has become The Man, has little difficulty concluding the Slam with his 8-and-7 victory.

After the match ends at the 29th hole, his bodyguard of U.S. Marines saves Jones from being crushed by his idolatrous fans in the crowd of 18,000. Besides the victory giving him the Slam, it also gives him records of five U.S. Amateur championships and 13 major titles (later broken by Jack Nicklaus), all accomplished in the past eight years.

Jones, 28, will retire from competitive golf in less than two months.

1968: St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Bob Gibson, tuning up for his opening-game World Series assignment against the Detroit Tigers, completes a fantastic season by throwing his 13th shutout and lowering his earned-run average to 1.12, a modern National League record. He allows the Houston Astros only six hits, doesn't walk a batter and strikes out 11 in a 1-0 victory. The victory gives Gibson a 22-9 record. He finishes with a league-leading 268 strikeouts, while walking just 62, in 304 2/3 innings.

Gibson, who in his next start will set a Series record by striking out 17 Tigers, will win the National League MVP and Cy Young Awards.

1964: The Chicago Bears have been around for more than four decades but they have never suffered a defeat like the one the Baltimore Colts hand them. When the onslaught ends, the score is 52-0.

"Our offense did poorly, our defense did poorly," rages Papa Bear George Halas, 69. "I apologize to the fans, and I promise it won't happen again."

Baltimore quarterback Johnny Unitas shows why Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi has called him "the greatest football player in the world." Unitas shreds the Bears' defense for 247 yards and three touchdowns, completing 11 of 13 passes. "A great quarterback," Halas says. "A great day."
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Sept. 28
College football
1940: The Michigan football team flew to California -- the first Wolverine team to travel by air to a game. In honor of All-American Tommy Harmon's 21st birthday today, Forest Evashevski, Harmon's best friend and his blocking back, asks the team to make a special effort.

Harmon is as hard to snare as a greased pig. He returns the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown. In the second period, he swerves and dodges from one side of the field to the other in returning a punt 72 yards for a touchdown. Later in the quarter, he scores on an 86-yard run, eluding a frustrated fan who comes on to the field and tries to tackle him. In the final period, Harmon caps his day by scoring another touchdown, standing up an 8-yard run, and throwing a 5-yard touchdown pass. He also kicks four extra points in Michigan's 41-0 blowout of the University of California.

After the season, Harmon will receive the Heisman Trophy. During World War II, he will be awarded the Purple Heart and the Silver Star.

1941: The idea of his .39955 batting average being rounded up to .400 doesn't sit well with Ted Williams. So, on the final day of the season, Williams refuses to sit out and risks his ".400" average. The 23-year-old Boston Red Sox cleanup-hitter raps his major league-leading 37th homer and three singles in five at-bats in the opener of a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Athletics, raising his average to .404.

The Splendid Splinter doesn't sit out the nightcap either, getting a double and single in three at-bats in a game called after eight innings because of darkness. He finishes the season at .406, the first player to hit .400 since Bill Terry in 1930 and the last to do it this century. He goes 185-for-456 with 120 RBIs. He also leads the majors with 135 runs and 145 walks while striking out just 27 times.

1951: With top Los Angeles Rams quarterback Bob Waterfield on the bench with injuries, Norm Van Brocklin gets a starting opportunity against the New York Yanks. Van Brocklin, who had been the NFL's leading passer the previous year, responds by becoming the first NFL passer to throw for more than 500 yards in a game, firing for a still-standing record 554 yards before 30,315 fans in Los Angeles. He breaks Johnny Lujack's mark of 468 yards.

The Flying Dutchman connects for five touchdowns -- four to Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch -- in the 54-14 victory by the Rams, who will go on to win the NFL championship. In the first half, Van Brocklin throws 46- and 47-yard TD tosses to Hirsch and a 67-yarder to Vitamin T. Smith, as well as scoring himself from a yard out.
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Sept. 29
Track and field
1988: Florence Griffith Joyner and Jackie Joyner-Kersee already had a gold medal apiece at the Seoul Olympics, Flo Jo having won the 100 meters and her sister-in-law having taken the heptathlon with a world-record performance. Today, they each go for the gold again.

After breaking a 9-year-old world record of 21.71 seconds in the 200 with a clocking of 21.56 seconds in the semifinals, Flo Jo runs even faster 100 minutes later in the final. She pulls away in the last 100 meters and leaps happily across the finish line in winning by four meters in a remarkable 21.34. Joyner-Kersee also gets her second gold when she leaps 24 feet, 3¼ inches, an Olympic record, in the long jump.

Flo Jo will earn two more medals two days later in the relays, getting a gold in the 4x100 and a silver in the 4x440.

On Sept. 21, 1998, at age 38, she died of an epileptic seizure.

1914: In mid-July, in last place in the National League, they were the Boston Braves. By the end of the year, they would be known as the Miracle Braves after winning the World Series.

Today, they clinch their first pennant this century with a 3-2 victory, their fourth straight win over the Chicago Cubs. Managed by George Stallings, they finish the season on a 60-16 spurt to go 94-59 and win the pennant by 10½ games over the New York Giants. Dick Rudolph and "Seattle Bill" James, a pair of 26-game winners, led the pitching staff. No Braves hitter had more than the 78 RBI put up by Rabbit Maranville, who led NL shortstops in assists, putouts and double plays.

1954: The greatest defensive play in baseball history? What about the catch that Willie Mays makes today? The first game of the World Series between the New York Giants and Cleveland Indians is tied 2-2 in the eighth inning when Don Liddle relieves to face Don Wertz, who already has a two-run triple, with runners on first and second and nobody out.

Wertz cracks a drive to deep center field in the Polo Grounds, far over Mays' head. But Mays, traveling on the wings of the wind, races after it and with his back to the infield, catches the ball facing the right-center field bleachers, an estimated 450 feet from home plate. Then he swiftly turns and fires the ball back to the infield.

"I had it all the way," Mays says later with a grin.

In the bottom of the 10th, Mays walks and steals second. After an intentional walk, Dusty Rhodes pinch-hits a three-run homer barely over the right-field wall to give the Giants a 5-2 victory on their way to a surprising Series sweep.
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Sept. 30
1927: When Babe Ruth hit his 50th homer on Sept. 11 he talked of breaking his 1921 record of 59, even though there were just 17 games left in the season. With nine games remaining, Babe still needed seven. With four games left, he needed four, but then he belted three homers in two games, including two grand slams.

In the eighth inning of today's next-to-last game of the season, Babe crushes a pitch from Washington left-hander Tom Zachary down the right-field line at Yankee Stadium, just fair, for No. 60. While Zachary yells, "Foul ball! Foul ball!" and argues with the umpire, Babe makes a regal tour of the bases, jogging around slowly to the joy of some 10,000 fans. His two-run homer gives the Yankees a 4-2 victory. In the clubhouse after the game, Babe whoops it up over breaking the record.

Babe, who walked a major-league leading 138 times, hits his 60 homers in 540 at-bats, a rate of one homer every nine at-bats. His 60 homers are more than any of the other seven American League teams hit that season. He drives in 164 runs, second in the majors to teammate Lou Gehrig, who has 175 RBI and 47 homers.

1972: Roberto Clemente comes to the ballpark after a sleepless night because of all the telephone calls from New York and Puerto Rico following his near-miss in getting his 3,000th hit the night before. Clemente, who had complained bitterly when he felt the official scorer deprived him of his historic hit, finally achieves his cherished goal when he strokes a long double to left-center off Mets left-hander Jon Matlack in the fourth inning in Pittsburgh. The Pirates right fielder becomes the 11th major leaguer to reach 3,000 hits. "I'd rather have it this way," Clemente says after the 5-0 victory, somewhat repentant for his outburst of the previous night.

Nobody knows it at the time, but this will be Clemente's final regular-season at-bat. Three months later, on a flight from Puerto Rico loaded with relief supplies for earthquake victims in Managua, Nicaragua, Clemente dies as the plane crashes. A four-time batting champion, he will become the first Hispanic inducted into the Hall of Fame.
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