August Classic Moments

Each day, ESPN will highlight one or more "Classic Moments," the biggest sports news event of the day in the 20th century. Check back as each new day's highlights are posted on this page.

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Other months:

August 1
Barely 18 months after her feet were almost amputated as a result of radiation treatment for Graves' disease, Gail Devers wins the 100-meter dash at the Olympics in Barcelona in a five-woman photo finish. In an incredibly tight race, the five runners are within .06 seconds of Devers' winning time of 10.82.

At the press conference following her victory, the 25-year-old Devers tells how radiation had destroyed her thyroid gland and began affecting her extremities, particularly her feet. Her condition degenerated to the point that her father had to carry her around her apartment. But a change of medication enabled her to recover.

Gwen Torrence, the pre-race favorite who finishes fourth in 10.86 seconds, accuses three of the women in the race, including two medalists, of using drugs in their training. She insists she is not fingering Devers. This means she thinks silver medalist Juliet Cuthbert and bronze medalist Irina Privalova are the drug users.

After Pete Rose hit safely yesterday to extend his hitting streak to a National League record-tying 44 games, the Union Plaza sports book in Las Vegas dropped its odds from 10-1 to an incredibly low 3-1 that Rose would hit in his next 12 games. "But it's a very popular bet," says a Union Plaza spokesman. "It opened at 40-1 after he passed Tommy Holmes [at 37] and just kept going down. People keep betting on him."

The sports book didn't take any bets against Rose. Tonight, the sports book and Joe DiMaggio come out winners when the Atlanta Braves' rookie left-handed starter, Larry McWilliams, and their veteran right-handed reliever, Gene Garber, hold the Cincinnati Reds' leadoff man hitless in five plate appearances (0-for-4 with a walk).

Rose is frustrated about two hard liners he hit and angry with the way Garber struck him out on a sidearm breaking ball to end the Reds' 16-4 defeat. The first liner is speared by McWilliams at his ankles in the second inning; the second, off Garber, is a bullet to third baseman Bob Horner in the seventh.

As for the strikeout, Rose sounds like sour grapes when he says, "I was a little surprised that in a game that was 16-4, he [Garber] pitched me like it was the seventh game of the World Series. I guess he thought it was Joe DiMaggio up there."

August 2
After Jackie Joyner-Kersee wins Olympic gold in the heptathlon in Barcelona, she takes a victory lap and waves a tiny American flag. Then Bruce Jenner, the 1976 Olympic decathlon champion, tells her, "You have proved to the world that you are the greatest athlete who ever lived, male or female. You have done what no one has ever done."

Joyner-Kersee is the first to win consecutive gold medals in the grueling seven-event competition. The Germans try to intimidate her, but it doesn't work. Going into today's final three events, she leads by 129 points. She expands her advantage with a leap of 23 feet, 3+ inches in her specialty, the long jump. Then she throws the javelin 147 feet, 7 inches and runs the 800 meters in 2:11.78 to finish with 7,044, a margin of 199 over runner-up Irina Belova.

The next day, The New York Times headline on Joyner-Kersee's feat will be: "America's Seventh Wonder of the Games."

Thurman Munson, the New York Yankees' first captain since Lou Gehrig, is killed when the plane he is piloting crashes short of the runway on an attempted landing at the Akron-Canton Airport in Ohio.

The Cessna Citation twin-engine jet loses its wings and bursts into flames after the crash. The two passengers try to remove Munson from the plane, but they can't because of the fire. The two are taken to the hospital with burns. Munson had a passion for flying and frequently flew home on off-days to be with his family in Canton. The 32-year-old catcher gets in at about 3 a.m. this morning from Chicago. He thinks the plane isn't acting right and this afternoon he takes it up to find out what was wrong.

Munson was the American League's Rookie of the Year in 1970 and the MVP in 1976; the first Yankee to win both awards. According to a club spokesman, Yankees manager Billy Martin "cried like a baby" when told of Munson's death.
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August 3
Mary Lou Retton knows she needs an outstanding performance in her final event to win the individual all-around Olympic gold medal in Los Angeles. A 9.95 would enable the 16-year-old pixie to tie for first place; a 10 would give her the gold by herself.

The nerveless Retton responds by being perfect on her vault -- a full back somersault in layout position with a full twist. She is the first American woman to win an Olympic medal of any kind in gymnastics.

"I vault best under pressure," says the 4-foot-9, 94-pound bundle of energy. "It makes me fight harder. I knew if I stuck that vault I'd win it. I kept thinking, 'stick, stick, stick.' I knew I had to get a 10." She certainly sticks it. She descends from her midair twisting and turning in perfect form, landing upright and rock still.

Former Negro Leagues star Satchel Paige is successful in his first start in the American League. Before 72,434 fans -- the largest crowd to attend a night game in Cleveland -- the lanky Indians right-hander defeats the Washington Senators, 5-3.

Paige starts off uncommonly wild. Not having walked anybody unintentionally in his 18 innings as a reliever, he walks two Senators in the first before giving up a two-run triple. But then he settles down, allowing just one more run to gain his second victory in three decisions.

The 42-year old rookie scatters seven hits, walks four and strikes out six in seven innings. When asked if he is ready to go every four days, Ol' Satch replies, "I used to start every second day and then do relief in between. Why that every four days would be a vacation."

Seventeen days later, Paige will shut out the Chicago White Sox in Cleveland before 78,382 fans, the largest night crowd in history.

1921: Last night, several hundred spectators in a Chicago courtroom boomed "Hooray for the clean Sox!" when seven former White Sox players and two gamblers were acquitted by a jury on charges that they conspired to defraud the public through the throwing of the 1919 World Series.

The players' joy doesn't last 24 hours. Today, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis bans the eight Black Sox for life. Landis issues this statement: "Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player that throws a ballgame; no player that undertakes or promises to throw a ballgame; no player that sits in a conference with a bunch of crooked players and gamblers where the ways and means of throwing games are planned and discussed and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball."

The seven Chicago players who were acquitted and banned are Shoeless Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte, Buck Weaver, Swede Risberg, Chick Gandil, Happy Felsch and Lefty Williams. The eighth man out is Fred McMullin, whose case didn't go to trial.
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August 4
Jesse Owens is almost out of the long jump at the Olympics in Berlin shortly after qualifying begins. He fouls on his first two jumps, though he is stunned when officials count a practice run down the runway and into the pit as an attempt.

With one jump remaining, Luz Long, a tall, blue-eyed, blond German long jumper who is his stiffest competition, introduces himself. He suggests that Owens make a mark several inches behind the takeoff board and jump from there to play it safe. Owens takes the advice, and qualifies.

In the finals that afternoon, Long's fifth jump matches Owens' 25 feet, 10 inches. But Owens leaps 26-3¾ on his next attempt and wins his second of four gold medals with a final jump of 26-5½. The first to congratulate the Olympic record holder is Long, who looks like the model Nazi but isn't. The two walk arm in arm in front of Adolf Hitler's box.

"It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler," Owens will say years later. "You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn't be a plating on the 24-karat friendship I felt for Luz Long at that moment. Hitler must have gone crazy watching us embrace. The sad part of the story is I never saw Long again. He was killed in World War II."

Nolan Ryan is known for throwing no-hitters. Tonight, he throws a six-hitter - with his fists.

When Chicago White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura charges the mound after being hit just above the right elbow by a 96 mph Ryan Express, the Texas Ranger pitcher gets the 26-year-old Ventura in a headlock. He delivers six straight shots to the head and face before they can be separated.

"It was just self-preservation," says Ryan, 46. "I was just trying to pitch him inside. I'm not a big believer in fights, but I'll do what it takes to win games."

Ventura, who is hit an inning after White Sox starter Alex Fernandez plunked the Rangers' Juan Gonzalez, says, "It's no secret that he was throwing at me. I don't care who he is. He gave me a couple of noogies, but that was about it." Ventura is ejected, Ryan isn't. Ryan pitches brilliantly after the fight, and gets the victory as the Rangers rally from a 2-0 deficit to win 5-2.
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August 5
Asked once about the pressure he feels because of his incredible winning streak in the 400-meter hurdles, Edwin Moses replied, "It's like going to your execution 15 times a year."

Moses dodges another bullet today when he wins the gold medal at the Olympics in Los Angeles. It is Moses' 105th consecutive victory, including 90 in finals.

He wins by more than three yards over runner-up Danny Harris in a mundane (for him) 47.75 seconds, slower than his time in winning at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. "Had I been pressed, I could have run a much faster race," says the 28-year-old Moses. "At no time did I feel a threat. After waiting eight years and not being able to go in '80 [because of the U.S. boycott], this is a great relief."

Moses ties Paavo Nurmi's feat as the only Olympic runners to win an individual gold medal in the same event eight years apart. The Flying Finn won the 10,000 meters in 1920 and 1928.
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August 6
Lloyd's of London is giving 7-1 odds that Gerturde Ederle won't be able to swim the English Channel. Twice during the swim, her trainer, aboard the tugboat that accompanies Ederle, suggests to the 19-year-old swimmer that she give up her quest. She refuses, confident that she can overcome the ebb and flow of the tide.

During the last few hours, she has to buck a rough sea, the tide running strongly against her and a stinging spray that is hurled into her face as she stubbornly pursues her goal. Finally, a favorable current sweeps her toward Kingsdown Beach in England.

"Pop, I will have that roadster," she tells her father, who had promised her a car if she swam the channel. Not only is she the first woman to swim it, she crosses it one hour and 52 minutes faster than any man has ever swam it. Starting in the morning at Cape Gris-Nez, France, she finishes at night in Kingsdown, 14 hours and 31 minutes in the water. She is the sixth swimmer to cross the channel; the first was in 1875.

Those who bet on Ederle are handsomely rewarded.

In his first game back since leaving the Boston Red Sox to rejoin the Marines as a fighter pilot in Korea, Ted Williams gets a warm welcome from the small crowd of 6,792 at Fenway Park.

With the Red Sox down by a run to the St. Louis Browns in the ninth inning, and runners on first and third base with one out, Williams, called upon as a pinch-hitter, has a chance to be a hero in his first plate appearance in 15 months. The Browns pitcher is Marlin Stuart.

While Williams is an outstanding fisherman, he can't hook this Marlin. He pops up to first base on a screwball.

"It was a good ball to hit on the ground, but I wanted to get it into the air and not hit into a double play," Williams says after the 8-7, 10-inning loss. "I got under it too much."
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August 7
When John McGraw's ego and anger get the best of him, the New York Giants forfeit a game. Yesterday, the Giants' pugnacious manager was ejected by umpire James Johnstone. Today, McGraw is suspended.

So he retaliates by having the turnstile keeper refuse to admit Johnstone to the Polo Grounds. Johnstone then forfeits the game to the Chicago Cubs.

"Whoever heard of an umpire outside of the playing field a half hour or so before the game declaring a game forfeited?" McGraw says.

The second umpire leaves when Johnstone is barred. McGraw sends his team on the field anyway and assigns one of his players, Sammy Strang, to ump. When the Cubs refuse to play without the regular umpires, Strang awards his teammates a victory by forfeit.

National League president Harry Pulliam emphatically backs Johnstone and the Cubs are credited with a 9-0 victory.

When the Boston fans get on Ted Williams, the Red Sox left-fielder is spitting mad. With two outs in the 11th inning, Williams misjudges Mickey Mantle's fly and drops it for a two-base error. The overflow crowd of 36,350 in Fenway Park erupts in boos.

Not even when Williams makes an outstanding catch on the Yankees' next batter, Yogi Berra, to preserve the scoreless tie and end the inning do the fans let up. As tempestuous Ted approaches the dugout -- with the boos far outweighing the cheers -- he spits at the crowd. Just to make sure there is no mistake, the splendid spitter comes out of the dugout and directs another salivary attack at the fans.

In the bottom of the inning, Williams walks with the bases loaded to give the Red Sox a 1-0 victory. As he heads to first base, he throws his bat some 40 feet in the air.

Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey hears Mel Allen's broadcast of the game on radio in New York and calls general manager Joe Cronin, who fines the $100,000-a-year slugger $5,000 for spitting. While Cronin says Williams told him he is sorry about his actions, Williams is unrepentant when he talks with the press.

"I'm not a bit sorry for what I did," Williams says. "I was right and I'd spit again at the same fans who booed me today. Some of them are the worst in the world. Nobody's going to stop me from spitting."
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August 8
For the first time, professional basketball players are allowed to compete in the Olympics. And as expected, the Dream Team romps to the gold medal, cruising to a 117-85 victory over Croatia in the final in Barcelona.

"You will see another team of professionals," says U.S. coach Chuck Daly, "but I don't think you'll ever see another team like this. This team has a mystique and a quality that's been built over 15 years - Magic [Johnson] and Larry [Bird] and now [Michael] Jordan. This is a majestic team."

"Actually, the greatest basketball I've ever been involved in was in Monte Carlo," says Magic, referring to the Dream Team's intra-squad scrimmages.

The Dream Teamers sleep-walk through the first 10 minutes and are actually losing, 25-23. After receiving their wake-up call, they roar back to take a 56-42 halftime lead. Jordan finishes with a team-high 22 points and Charles Barkley scores 17 as seven U.S. players reach double figures.

The Dream Team wins its games by an average of 44 points, but it can't break the mark set by the 1956 U.S. team. The Bill Russell-led club won by an average of 52 points.

Pete Rose, who never cheated anybody with his effort on a baseball field, begins a five-month sentence for cheating on his income taxes. Rose becomes No. 01832061 at the minimum-security camp next to the federal penitentiary in Marion, Ill.

The 49-year-old Rose, reporting two days before his deadline to show up, is fingerprinted, photographed and given his prison number before joining his fellow inmates for dinner.

"We will make every effort to help Mr. Rose maintain his privacy while at the Marion camp and to see that his stay is as uneventful as possible," says Warden John Clark.

Baseball's all-time hits leader, who is banned from the game for betting on baseball, was convicted on two federal counts of failing to report more than $354,000 in income. He earned the money selling memorabilia, signing autographs and gambling.
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August 9
With three gold medals (the 100 and 200-meter races and the long jump), Jesse Owens believed he was finished competing at the Olympics in Berlin. All along, it had been assumed that Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller would be running on the 4x100-meter relay team.

But two days ago, on the morning of the heats, U.S. track coaches unexpectedly replaced Glickman and Stoller, the only Jews on the U.S. track team, with Owens and Ralph Metcalfe. The rumor is that the Nazi hierarchy had asked U.S. officials not to humiliate Germany further by using two Jews to add to the gold medals the African-Americans already had won. Glickman will blame American Olympic Committee president Avery Brundage for acquiescing to the Nazis.

With Owens running leadoff, the U.S. wins the relay by 15 yards. Its world-record time of 39.8 seconds will last 20 years.

While Jackie Robinson integrated baseball, it's the Cleveland Indians' Larry Doby and the St. Louis Browns' Hank Thompson who become the first African-Americans to oppose one another in a major league game. In the second game of a doubleheader in Cleveland, baseball history is made when Doby pinch-hits in the seventh inning and walks in the Indians' 5-4, 10-inning victory. Thompson, the Browns' second baseman, goes 3-for-3.

1988: After 72 years as the daytime home of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field becomes the last major league team to host a game under the lights. Actually, the official party was last night, with all the ceremonies that went with it, but the game between the Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies was rained out in the fourth inning.

"Someone said that it's kind of like the good Lord letting us know that He's a little sad, too," said Cubs pitcher Rick Sutcliffe.

When the 540 lights in six banks are turned on tonight, almost 24 hours after a sellout crowd had screamed "Let there be light," there is no response. There are also no tuxedos, top hats and evening dresses in the crowd, as there had been last night.

The Cubs score four runs in the seventh inning to break a 2-2 tie on the way to a 6-4 victory before 36,399 witnesses to the first night game at Wrigley.
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August 10
Mary Decker's bid for Olympic gold in Los Angeles comes to a crashing halt. With a little more than three laps left in the 3,000 meters and running in the inside lane, Decker's right foot becomes tangled with the left foot of the leader, Zola Budd, the 18-year-old African who runs for Britain. Reaching out as she falls, Decker tries to grab something -- all she gets is the number 151 off Budd's back. She tries to get up, but can't. She collapses in tears.

The distraught Budd, spiked by Decker, continues the race, also in tears. The bare-footed runner fades badly on the final lap and finishes seventh. Afterwards, she tries to apologize to Decker, but is rebuffed. "Don't bother," Decker says. "Get out of here. I don't want to talk to you."

Publicly and angrily, Decker blames Budd for the collision, though not all track people believe it is Budd's fault.

"Zola Budd tried to cut in without being actually ahead," insists Decker, who suffered a torn gluteus muscle in her left hip. "Her foot upset me. To avoid pushing her, I fell. Looking back, I should have pushed her. But the headlines tomorrow would have read, 'Mary Decker Pushes Zola.'"

Grover Cleveland Alexander, in his 19th season in the majors, wins his 373rd -- and final -- game. Pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals, the 42-year-old right-hander relieves in the eighth inning and holds the Phillies scoreless for four innings as the Cardinals win, 11-9, in 11 innings in the second game of a doubleheader in Philadelphia.

At the time, it is reported that Alexander passes Christy Mathewson for most wins in the National League. However, in later years, Mathewson will be credited with one more victory and the two share the National League record.

Though Alexander will pitch nine games next season for the Phillies, he won't win any of his three decisions. Alexander was a 20-game winner nine times, including three consecutive seasons (1915-17) with at least 30 victories for the Phillies.
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August 11
Carl Lewis' goal at the Olympics: duplicate Jesse Owens' performance at the 1936 Olympics by winning gold medals in the same four events that Owens did.

Lewis, the track star with the designer clothes and Grace Jones haircut, already has won three - the 100- and 200-meter dashes and the long jump. Today, he equals his hero's mark as anchor for the U.S. 4x100 relay team. He blazes through his 100 meters in 8.94 seconds as the team sets a world record of 37.83 seconds.

"Jesse Owens is still the same man to me he was before," says Lewis. "He is a legend. I'm just a person. I still feel like the same Carl Lewis I was six years ago, except I'm a little older and a lot more people come to my press conference."

At the medal ceremony, Lewis wears new jogging shoes that are white and trimmed in gold, of course.
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August 12
New England Patriots wide receiver Darryl Stingley suffers a broken neck and is paralyzed from the chest down after taking a savage hit from Oakland Raiders safety Jack Tatum in an exhibition game.

"There's been a fracture and dislocation of the fourth and fifth vertebrae," says a Patriots team doctor, "and a subsequent compression of the spinal cord that immediately rendered Darryl quadriplegic."

Stingley is hurt while running a crossing pattern over the middle in the second period. Tatum knocks Stingley out cold with a forearm and doesn't think he has done anything wrong.

Tatum, who had met Stingley once or twice, says he regrets the incident, "but you can't get emotional about it. You don't like to see any player get hurt, but football is a contact sport and that's a real dangerous pattern. We don't even run it in practice. But I had to do what I had to do. It was my job, and he was doing his job."

In his last start, Nolan Ryan came within one out of a no-hitter. Tonight, the California Angels fireballer is looking for a strikeout record. And an error by shortstop Bobby Valentine helps him achieve it.

Fanning the side in the eighth inning gives Ryan 17 strikeouts. After walking Boston's Carl Yastrzemski and allowing a single to Dwight Evans in the ninth, Ryan strikes out Rick Miller to tie Bob Feller's American League record of 18 in a nine-inning game.

Doug Griffin then hits a double-play grounder, but Valentine boots it. Instead of the game being over, Ryan gets a chance for more strikeouts. He takes advantage of it by fanning pinch-hitter Bernie Carbo, bettering Feller's mark and tying the major league record of 19 held by Tom Seaver and Steve Carlton.

A woman comes out of the stands in Anaheim Stadium and tries to kiss him, but Ryan turns away.

Ryan gets two strikes on rookie Rick Burleson, but his bid to become the first to whiff 20 in a nine-inning game (Tom Cheyney fanned 21, but it took him 16 innings) is thwarted when Burleson lines out to right as Ryan wins, 4-2.
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August 13
Horse racing:
His winning streak is at six when undefeated two-year-old Man o' War races in the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga. It is Man o' War's most remembered race -- because it is the only one he would ever lose.

Starting gates are not yet used and horses are led up to a tape barrier. A fill-in starter has difficulty getting the horses ready and they mill around. While Man o' War apparently is backing up, the tape is sprung. Man o' War "was almost left at the post," the Louisville Courier-Journal reports.

After a slow start, Man o' War is third as the field heads for home in the six-furlough race. Blocked by close quarters, he has to go to the outside in the final eighth and though he gamely makes up ground, he misses by a half-length of overtaking the winner, who at 115 pounds carries 15 fewer pounds than the 11-20 favorite.

The winner is named, rather appropriately, Upset.

For more than 40 years Mickey Mantle left empty glasses before he checked into the Betty Ford Clinic in 1994.

On June 8, the former New York Yankee center-fielder underwent a transplant operation to replace a liver ravaged by cancer, hepatitis and cirrhosis. It didn't work. Four days ago, the doctors found the cancer had spread to his abdomen.

Today, at the age of 63, Mantle dies of the disease at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.

"The hope in this is that Mickey left behind a legacy," says Dr. Goran Klintmalm, medical director of transplant services at Baylor. "Mickey has already made an enormous impact by increasing the awareness of organ donation. This may become Mickey's ultimate home run."

Mantle hit 536 homers in his 18-year career and set a World Series record with 18 home runs. He won three MVPs and helped the Yankees win seven World Series and 12 pennants.
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August 14
During the first Olympic men's basketball tournament, the International Basketball Federation approved a rule in which all players over 6-foot-3 would be banned from play. The rule was withdrawn after the United States, which would have lost three players, objected.

One of those players is "College Joe" Fortenberry, a 6-foot-8 center who scores a game-high eight points in leading the U.S. to an 19-8 victory over Canada in today's final. Fortenberry is one of four U.S. players from McPherson, Kan. The four account for 17 points.

The teams play in a sea of mud in Berlin as the game is played outdoors in a tennis stadium on courts of clay and sand. The U.S. leads 15-4 at halftime, but in the second half, played in a blinding rain, each team scores only four points.

The U.S. will win the next six gold medals as well and stretch its Olympic winning streak to 62 games until it is beaten in a controversial final to the Soviet Union in 1972.

Having said many times that he would never pitch a no-hitter, Bob Gibson proves to be a better pitcher than prophet. The St. Louis Cardinals' 35-year-old right-hander, who had pitched two one-hitters in his career, no-hits the Pirates, 11-0, in Pittsburgh.

Coming back from a series of injuries, Gibson completes his no-no by striking out Willie Stargell for the third time. Mixing his fastballs and sliders -- and even throwing a few changeups -- he strikes out 10 and walks three.

The closest the Pirates come to a hit is Milt Mays' long drive to left-center in the seventh inning, but after a long run center-fielder Jose Cruz snares it with a one-handed grab.

Gibson realizes he had a no-hitter all along. "You keep looking up at that big scoreboard and see they don't have any hits," says Gibson. "Starting in the seventh, I was really concentrating, but I kept figuring that something would happen pretty soon."

Another bad prediction by Gibson.
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August 15
Babe Didrikson Zaharias earns $1,200 for winning the third U.S. Open, but she misses out on another $1,000 when she misses a five-foot putt on the final hole.

In winning the tournament by eight strokes over Betty Hicks, the long-driving Zaharias shoots a final-round 78 to finish at an even 300 at the Atlantic City Country Club in Northfield, N.J. A member of the country club had offered a $1,000 prize to any of the 11 pros who scored less than 300.

"That's the kind of game I've played," Babe says. "Couldn't get a putt down. It doesn't make a difference to me because I'd only have to give the $1,000 to the government. I'm in that kind of tax bracket."

Babe will go on to win two more U.S. Opens, in 1950 and 1954.

Last year, San Francisco left-hander Dave Dravecky developed a cancerous growth in his pitching arm. After an operation and a long recuperation, he tries to come back this year.

But more tragedy awaits the 33-year-old Dravecky. In his second start, he has a 3-1 lead over the Expos when his left arm breaks with a sound audible throughout Montreal's Olympic Stadium as he throws a pitch to Tim Raines in the sixth inning. He falls to the ground as if he were shot.

Dravecky is conscious as he's carried off the field on a stretcher and is holding his arm. "It was a sharp, painful pop," he tells trainers. "It was the strangest experience I've ever felt."

It is the last pitch that Dravecky will ever throw. His arm will be amputated, ending a once-promising career.
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August 16
Babe Ruth, the man who transformed baseball with his powerful swing, dies of cancer of the throat after a two-year battle with the disease. He was 53.

Ruth, who set home-run records for a season (60) and a career (714), had been in critical condition for the past five days at Memorial Hospital in New York. Tonight, he slips into a partial coma. Ruth's wife Claire, their two adopted daughters, his sister and several close friends are at his bedside when he dies. Gathered below on the grimy Manhattan street are more than 150 children.

A half-hour before Ruth's death, he is blessed by Father Thomas Kaufman of the Roman Catholic Church. When asked for Ruth's last words, Father Kaufman replies, "The Babe said his prayers to the very end. He received all the last rites and he died a good Catholic."

In the fifth inning at the Polo Grounds, Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman is batting in his peculiar crouch and crowding the plate, as he normally does. New York Yankees right-hander Carl Mays throws a submarine-style pitch, as he normally does.

The fastball sails up and in on Chapman, who ducks his head - but not enough. The ball strikes him on the left temple and bounces back toward Mays. Some, including Mays, think the pitch had hit Chapman's bat because of the resounding crack, but quickly realize their error when they see Chapman fall to the ground.

Assisted by his teammates, Chapman begins the long walk to the clubhouse in center-field before he collapses and is carried the rest of the way. He recovers consciousness just briefly. An operation on his fractured skull proves unsuccessful and early the next morning Chapman will pass away, the only fatality to occur in a major league game. Ray Chapman was 29.
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August 17
Having won the featherweight and welterweight championships in the past 10 months, Henry Armstrong seeks to become the first fighter to hold three titles simultaneously when he battles lightweight champ Lou Ambers in Yankee Stadium.

Armstrong, the 17-5 favorite, knocks down Ambers in the fifth and sixth rounds, but Ambers cuts him severely. "If you spit any more blood on that floor," referee Billy Cavanaugh tells Armstrong, "I'm going to stop this fight."

Homicide Hank has his cornermen remove his mouthpiece so he can swallow the blood flowing in his mouth the last five rounds. Despite almost blacking out in the 15th, losing three rounds on fouls, having both eyes cut and swollen, and needing 37 stitches to close the wound inside his mouth, Armstrong wins on a split decision.

While the crowd boos the decision, Armstrong has fulfilled his goal -- he reigns as champion over three divisions, the only man to ever do so.

Willie Mays continues to climb the home-run ladder. Going into the season fifth all-time with 505 homers, the San Francisco Giants center-fielder passes Mel Ott (511), Ted Williams (521) and today Jimmie Foxx (534). No. 535 is a line drive over the right-field fence in Candlestick Park off St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Ray Washburn in the fourth inning.

The only man ahead of Mays is Babe Ruth (714), and the 35-year-old Mays doesn't expect to catch him. "I won't be able to play that often as long as I'd need to," he says after playing in his 2,018th game, a 4-3 Giants' victory.

Mays is right. The homer is his 30th of the season and he will finish 1966 with 37, but he will never hit more than 28 in a year again. He will bang out another 125 homers after today, giving him 660, but that still leaves him 54 short of the Babe when he retires after the 1973 season.
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August 18
It's the end of an era as a chronically troublesome back forces Larry Bird to retire before he wanted to. During the last two seasons, the Boston Celtics forward had missed 59 games because of the back, undergone surgery and still couldn't endure the rigors of an NBA season.

"I would have liked to play a little longer, but I've had enough pain to last me a lifetime," he says in a press conference in Boston Garden. "I can't shake it. I don't care if I could go out and score 60 points each night. It just is not worth it." Bird is the only non-center to win three consecutive MVP awards (1984-86). He led the Celtics to three NBA titles, winning Finals MVP twice. He averaged 24.3 points, 10 rebounds and 6.3 assists in his 13-year career. He appeared in 10 All-Star Games, starting nine, and was all-NBA first-team his first nine seasons.

The promising career of Boston Red Sox right-fielder Tony Conigliaro is short-circuited when he's beaned by a fastball from the California Angels' Jack Hamilton. The pitch strikes him just below his left temple, knocking him unconscious.

The 22-year-old Conigliaro is hospitalized with a fractured cheekbone, severe concussion, scalp cuts and a badly bruised eye.

"There was no way I could get out of the way of it," Tony C. says after regaining consciousness in the Red Sox clubhouse. "But I know Hamilton wasn't throwing at me."

Newspaper stories the next day say that the outfielder will be sidelined at least three weeks. But it will be a lot longer than three weeks before he returns  Conigliaro will miss the rest of the season and all of 1968 before coming back in 1969.
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August 19
In life, Babe Ruth filled Yankee Stadium. In death, he fills St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Three days after he died of throat cancer at the age of 53, St. Patrick's is jammed to capacity as 6,000 mourners attend Ruth's funeral mass. Heedless of the intermittent heavy rain, there are another 75,000 outside the stately church in midtown Manhattan. It also was estimated that between 75,000 and 100,000 had filed by Ruth's coffin in the past two days as he lay in state in Yankee Stadium, known as "the House that Ruth Built."

Among those attending today's mass, presided over by Cardinal Spellman, are Joe DiMaggio, Jack Dempsey, Connie Mack, Hank Greenberg, Leo Durocher, Mel Ott, several of Ruth's former teammates, New York Governor Thomas Dewey and New York City Mayor Bill O'Dwyer.

After the mass, Ruth is buried in Mount Pleasant, N.Y., 30 miles north of New York City in the highlands of the Hudson River.

In perhaps his most outrageous stunt, St. Louis Browns president Bill Veeck sends a midget to bat. Eddie Gaedel, all of 3-foot-7, pops out of a giant-sized cake and a few minutes later is sent up to pinch-hit for the Browns' leadoff hitter in the home first inning in the second game of a doubleheader against Detroit.

When "No. 1 / 8, Eddie Gaedel, batting for Saucier" is announced over the loudspeaker, home-plate umpire Ed Hurley points to the Browns dugout. Manager Zack Taylor hands Hurley the official American League contract for the 26-year-old stuntman from Chicago.

Tigers left-hander Bob Cain walks Gaedel on four pitches (all high, naturally). Replaced by a pinch-runner, Gaedel bows and doffs his cap repeatedly, to the delight of a paid crowd of 18,369.

"For a minute, I felt like Babe Ruth," Gaedel says after the game.

Veeck is prepared for Gaedel thinking he was the Babe and taking some swings. Before the game he tells Gaedel, who has never played baseball in his life, not to swing. He warns him that he has placed sharpshooters on the roof who are ready to fire if he takes a cut.

Gaedel never appears in another game. Major League Baseball will bar the midget from playing again.
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August 20
The American Professional Football Conference-- the forerunner of the National Football League -- is formed in Canton, Ohio, in the offices of Ralph Hay at the Jordan and Hupmobile auto showroom. Hay is also the business manager of the Canton Bulldogs and he is chosen secretary of the new league.

The purpose of the APFC is to keep salaries down by eliminating the bidding for star players between rival teams, to have clubs and players honor the athletes' contracts, and to secure cooperation for the formation of schedules.

Cleveland, Dayton, Akron, Canton, Buffalo, Hammond (Ind.) and Rochester (N.Y.) are the charter members, with Massillon still an uncertainty. (By the end of the season, 14 teams will have played in the new league.)

At a meeting in September, the league will change its name to the American Professional Football Association, which will become the NFL in 1922.

The struggling Cleveland Indians need money so owner Charles Somers deals star outfielder "Shoeless" Joe Jackson to the Chicago White Sox. In exchange for Jackson, who is hitting .331 and for the past four seasons has batted between .338 and .408, the Indians get outfielder Braggo Roth and two seldom-used players, outfielder Larry Chappell and pitcher Ed Klepfer. Most important, the Indians also receive cash, with reports varying from $15,000 to $31,500.

In his first appearance with the White Sox the next day, Jackson will receive a bunch of big red roses before his first at-bat. He will go 1-for-7 with a walk in a doubleheader split against the New York Yankees.

The left-handed hitting Jackson will finish his career with a .356 batting average (third all-time) before being banned from baseball in 1921. He will be one of eight Black Sox accused of throwing the 1919 World Series.
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August 21
In only his second U.S. Open, 21-year-old Walter Hagen led after each round in winning the two-day, 72-hole tournament at the Midlothian Country Club in Blue Island, Ill., just outside Chicago.

Hagen shot a marvelous 68 in yesterday's first round and then a 74 in the afternoon to take a one-stroke lead at the halfway point. Today's rounds of 75 and 73 (35 on the back nine) give him a two-over-par 290, one stroke better than charging amateur Chick Evans, who fires rounds of 71 and 70.

Evans needs an eagle two on the final hole, a short 277-yard par-4, to tie Hagen. He hits a wonderful drive just off the edge of the green, but his 30-foot putt misses by 12 inches.

Hagen earns $300 for the first of his 11 major titles. The key to his victory is that he birdied the 18th hole each round, something no champion has done before or since.

Rollie Fingers pitches the final two innings of the Milwaukee Brewers' 3-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners to become the first to save 300 games. While Fingers keeps the ball -- after getting it away from teammate Gorman Thomas, who had promised to throw the memento into the stands -- he seems upset about the manner in which he achieves the milestone.

"It wasn't particularly pretty," he says, referring to Dave Revering's two-run homer in the ninth inning.

When asked what the milestone means to him, Fingers says, "A lot of gray hairs . . . a lot of miles for the ulcers . . . a lot of pitches thrown."

Fingers will retire after the 1985 season with 341 saves in 17 seasons. He will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.
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August 22
A year after taking the lightweight title from Lou Ambers, Henry Armstrong loses the crown back to Ambers in their rematch before 29,088 fans at Yankee Stadium. It's another brawl as the fighters pound each other for 15 rounds. Armstrong is penalized five rounds by referee Arthur Donovan for punching low, and that costs him the fight as two officials have Ambers winning 8-7.

Donovan says he knew "that some day Henry would lose the lightweight title if he kept punching low. It had to be. I knew Armstrong was going to do that some night, and that I'd have to penalize him."

Ambers gains the distinction of becoming the first to regain the lightweight crown from the fighter to whom he lost it.

After the decision is announced, a battle of words begins; both managers and the New York State Athletic Commission are the participants. Armstrong's manager, Eddie Mead, shouts his fighter was robbed and will be suspended 13 months after accusing commissioner Bill Brown of favoring Ambers. Al Weill, Ambers' manager, will be suspended four months for his unsportsmanlike behavior.

Bad blood in the heated rivalry between the Dodgers and Giants erupts. After a throw from John Roseboro comes close to San Francisco's Juan Marichal's face as the Los Angeles catcher returns the ball to pitcher Sandy Koufax, Marichal goes berserk and strikes Roseboro with his bat.

A bleeding Roseboro suffers a two-inch gash above his forehead and has a knot in the middle of his head that would require one's whole hand to cover. Marichal's bat swinging precipitates a 14-minute brawl, in which Koufax and the Giants' Willie Mays serve as peacemakers.

Dodgers' right-fielder Ron Fairly says he wants Marichal kicked out of baseball. "Never in my life have I ever seen a guy attack a man with a bat," he says.

The next day, National League president Warren Giles will suspend Marichal for eight playing dates (nine games since there's a doubleheader on one date) and fines him $1,750. "Gutless," "ridiculous," "a miscarriage of justice," and "a joke" are some of the comments by the Dodgers after they learn of Giles' ruling.
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August 23
Gaylord Perry, 43 years old and in his 21st major league season, has been accused of throwing a doctored baseball for years, but he's never been ejected for the act. Until tonight.

In the fifth inning of a game against the Boston Red Sox, the Seattle Mariners right-hander is warned by home-plate umpire Dave Phillips after finding "a funny substance on the ball. I told him he would be ejected either by putting something else on the ball, or by the flight of the ball, as the rules provide."

Two innings later, Phillips does not even check the ball after Boston's Rick Miller misses a 1-0 pitch. Phillips immediately thumbs Perry. "If I think he's throwing an illegal pitch and I think this was obviously an illegal pitch, I can throw him out," Phillips says.

While Perry objects to his ejection, he never says whether he threw a doctored baseball or not.

Little League Baseball:
Taiwan begins its domination of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. It wins the 23rd annual tournament before a crowd of 30,000, which includes thousands of Chinese waving Republic of China flags.

Tsu-Yen Chen, a slender right-hander who struck out 21 in Taiwan's opening-game, nine-inning win over Canada, shuts out Santa Clara, Calif., 5-0. He fans 11, walks two and allows three hits.

This is the first of 10 titles in 13 years for Taiwan.

Mickey Mantle is the color man on ABC-TV's "Wide World of Sports" broadcast of the game.
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August 24
Pete Rose, baseball's all-time hits leader, is out -- of baseball. He accepts an agreement with Commissioner Bart Giamatti that permanently bans him from baseball, although he can apply for reinstatement after a year.

There is nothing in the five-page agreement that can be deemed either an admission or a denial by Rose of the allegation that he bet on major league games. However, at a news conference in New York announcing the Cincinnati Reds manager's "banishment for life," Giamatti makes it clear where he stands.

"In the absence of a hearing and therefore in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I am confronted by the factual record of the Dowd report, and on the basis of that, yes, I have concluded that he bet on baseball," he says.

And on the Reds? "Yes," he says.

Rose, at his own news conference in Cincinnati, insists he never bet on baseball. Asked if he expected to be reinstated by the commissioner as soon as he is eligible, Rose replies, "Absolutely. Without a doubt."
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August 25
Tiger Woods ends his amateur career by winning one of the most dramatic matches in golfing history. Down by five holes with 16 to go, the 20-year-old Stanford student shows the eye of the tiger in becoming the first to win three consecutive U.S. Amateur championships.

Steve Scott, a University of Florida student, is on his way to a major upset after taking a five-hole lead in the morning round at the Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Cornelius, Ore. While Tiger rallies in the afternoon, he's still trailing by two with three holes left. But then he birdies 16 and 17 (on a 30-foot putt) to force a playoff. On the second extra hole, Woods wins it with a par. His putter falls from his hands and he raises his arms above his head.

"This is by far the best," says Woods, who two years ago was the first black to win the U.S. Amateur. "By far. Thirty-eight holes, the comeback, it's just an unbelievable feeling for me."
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August 26
Helen Wills Moody had dominated her competition, not losing a match - rarely even losing a set - since 1926. But that streak ends today.

In the final of the U.S. Nationals at Forest Hills, N.Y., Jacobs falls behind in the third set and then defaults to the woman known as Helen the Second, Helen Jacobs. In a well-played match, Jacobs wins the first set, 8-6, and Moody, who is wearing a back brace for her ailing right hip and right leg, takes the second, 6-3.

When Jacobs wins the first three games of the third set, Moody tells an amazed Jacobs that she can't go on. In a display of good sportsmanship, Jacobs, the defending champion, suggests they take a rest and then continue, but Moody declines.

"In the third set I felt as if I were going to faint," Moody says in a statement, "because of the pain in my back and hip, and a complete numbness of my right leg."

It is the first time Jacobs beats Moody in their eight matches.

Television and major league baseball are joined for the first time. Ebbets Field is the site and Red Barber, Brooklyn's radio announcer, is the broadcaster as RCA-NBC televises the Dodgers splitting a doubleheader with the Cincinnati Reds. There are some 500 television sets in the New York metropolitan area.

Two cameras are placed slightly to the left of home plate, and at no time is the entire field visible. When long shots are attempted, third base, shortstop and left-field are completely out of the picture.

The cameramen are inexperienced at this kind of coverage and often plays are missed. They practically restrict the cameras to home plate and first base, showing little more than the batter, catcher and umpire and the plays at first base.
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August 27
Rickey Henderson becomes baseball's all-time single-season record-holder for steals when he breaks Lou Brock's record of 118, set in 1974. Not only does Henderson pilfer No. 119, he adds to his mark by stealing three more, giving him 122.

In the third inning of Oakland's 5-4 loss to Milwaukee, the A's left-fielder draws a walk from Doc Medich. After four throws by Medich to first to hold him close, Henderson swipes second, despite a pitchout.

The crowd of 41,600 in Milwaukee gives Henderson a brief standing ovation. In a short ceremony, Brock presents the 24-year-old speedster with the second-base bag. The base is transported to the box seats near the Oakland dugout and given to Rickey's mother, Bobbie.

Henderson sets the record in 127 games, 26 fewer than Brock needed. Three days ago, Henderson had set another record -- for being thrown out the most times attempting to steal in a season, 39. Henderson will finish with 130 thefts, still the record as the century closes.
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August 28
In Pele's last National American Soccer League game, the Brazilian superstar doesn't score on any of his seven shots. However, his New York Cosmos win the league championship by defeating the Seattle Sounders, 2-1, in Portland before 35,548 fans, a record crowd for an NASL title game.

After the game, Pele gives his shirt to 20-year-old Jim McAlister of Seattle, who had asked for it two days ago. "He is a good young American player," says Pele, who will go on a long world-wide tour with the Cosmos. "I said to him, 'Here, I promise you.' "

In the Cosmos' locker room, captain Werner Roth says, "Pele is No. 1 and now we are No. 1 along with him."

Shouts of "Pele, Pele, Pele" ring through the room. Pele, who was lured to the U.S. by a $2.8-million contract three years ago, acknowledges the feeling of his final championship by saying, "God has been kind to me. Now I can die."

Branch Rickey, president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, was seeking an African-American to integrate baseball. His scouts had told him about Jackie Robinson, an infielder with the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro League. Today, Rickey meets with the 26-year-old Robinson at the Dodgers' Montague Street offices in Brooklyn.

Rickey wants a man who can restrain himself from responding to the ugliness of the racial hatred that is certain to come. A shorthand version of their fateful conversation:

Rickey: "I know you're a good ballplayer. What I don't know is whether you have the guts."

Robinson: "Mr. Rickey, are you looking for a Negro who is afraid to fight back?"

Rickey, exploding: "Robinson, I'm looking for a ballplayer with guts enough not to fight back."

Rickey decides Robinson is his man, and that October he will sign him to a contract with the Dodgers' top farm team, the Montreal Royals in the International League.
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August 29
At 38, Lou Brock isn't so fast he used to be. But his wheels still are working quick enough. The St. Louis Cardinals left-fielder runs past Ty Cobb and into the record book with two steals against the San Diego Padres.

He leads off the game in San Diego with a walk and then, with a great jump, he steals second, tying Cobb's career record of 892. In the seventh inning of the Cardinals' 4-3 loss, he reaches first on a forceout. The crowd chants, "Lou! Lou! Lou!" Brock responds by making history, again stealing second off the battery of pitcher Dave Freisleben and catcher Dave Roberts.

His teammates rush to mob him. Repeating the first-inning ceremony, the bag at second is unhitched and presented to Brock. "It has not been an easy thing, but the moment is here," he says. Then he grins and says, "Looking back on it, I did it my way."

Brock's 893 steals come in 2,376 games over 17 seasons. Cobb stole his 892 in 3,034 games over 24 years.
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August 30
Track & Field:
Bob Beamon's extraordinary long jump at the 1968 Olympics was the longest-standing track and field record, but if anyone were to break it, the near-unanimous opinion was that it would be Carl Lewis who would accomplish it.

At the World Championships in Tokyo, Beamon's record of 29 feet, 2-1/2 inches is snapped. Lewis puts together the greatest series of jumps in history. Never having reached 29 feet before, he does it three times, including 29, 2-3/4 (wind-aided) and 29, 1-1/4(against the wind).

But it is Mike Powell who breaks both Beamon's record and Lewis' 10-year unbeaten streak in the long jump. On the fifth of his six leaps, Powell soars into the record book with a jump of 29 feet, 4-1/2 inches. "I was four years old when [Beamon] got that record, but it feels great to break it because everyone's been saying that Carl will be the one to do it," Powell says. "Nobody gave me credit. Not to say, 'In your face, but . . . 'In your face.'"

Since suffering a broken hip in a fall last month, New York Mets manager Casey Stengel has been out of uniform. At a press conference today, the 75-year-old Stengel announces his retirement as manager.

"I told them I wouldn't go out and be a cripple on the field," says Stengel, supporting himself on a cane. "How can you manage with a cane? Could you pull out a pitcher by the neck?"

Stengel is made a Mets' vice president in charge of West Coast operations.

An outfielder, he started his baseball career in the minors in 1910, played 14 seasons in the majors (1912-1925), and then became a coach and manager. His best years came as New York Yankees manager when his teams won 10 pennants and seven World Series in 12 seasons (1949-60).
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August 31
Last year, Harry Greb gave light-heavyweight Gene Tunney a severe beating. It would be Tunney's only loss in his career.

Tonight at the Polo Grounds, Greb becomes the middleweight champ when he dethrones Johnny Wilson, easily winning a unanimous decision. Greb is known as "the human windmill" and his two-armed strategy baffles the champion. Greb begins his attack in the first round and doesn't let up for the 15 rounds.

Greb lands two and three blows at a time. To stop Greb's assaults, Wilson clinches frequently.

When the fight ends, Greb is bleeding from the nose, but has few other marks. On the other hand, Wilson is a sorry sight. The bridge of his nose is cut, his mouth is bleeding, his lips are puffed and raw, he has a slight growth under the right eye and his left eye is almost closed.

Signed two days ago by the Seattle Mariners after being released by the Cincinnati Reds, 40-year-old Ken Griffey Sr. is about to make history tonight with his 20-year-old son. They are the first father-and-son tandem to play in a major-league game. Earlier in the day, Griffey Jr. tells family agent Brian Goldberg, "It's really going to be weird tonight, playing with my dad." Later that afternoon, Griffey Sr. tells Goldberg, "It's going to be weird tonight, playing with my son."

As the Griffeys trot to their positions, center-fielder Jr. gives his dad, in left, a quick wave. In the bottom of the first inning, Sr., batting second, singles, the 2,091st hit in his 18-year career. Jr. follows with a single (No. 275). Both score in the Mariners' 5-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

"I wanted to cry or something," Jr. says after going 1-for-4, same as dad. "It just seemed like a father-son game, like we were out playing catch in the backyard. But we were actually playing a real game.

"The weird thing was all the guys are yelling, 'Let's go, Ken,' and I'm yelling, 'Let's go, Dad.'"

Brooklyn's Gil Hodges enters the record book when he hits four home runs in a nine-inning game, becoming the first National Leaguer, and just the second player, to accomplish the feat this century. Lou Gehrig was the first in 1932.

Hodges, who also singles, breaks the modern major league record for total bases in a game with 17. The big first baseman knocks in a team-record nine runs in the Dodgers' 19-3 rout of the Boston Braves. Only 14,226 are on hand at Ebbets Field to witness Hodges' heroics.

The homers come off four pitchers - future Hall of Famer Warren Spahn in the second inning, rookie Normie Roy in the third, Bob Hall in the sixth and Johnny Antonelli in the eighth. "I knew the minute that last one left my bat it was going all the way," Hodges says about his drive to the upper deck in left.

Dodgers manager Burt Shotten expresses his confidence in Hodges by saying, "I was expecting it. That boy is always liable to do something like that."

Only Dodger teammate Pee Wee Reese seems nonplussed by the feat. "All he did was prolong the game," he jokes.
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