Monday, April 13, 2009

Historically Speaking: 4-13-09

We're running late this morning, kids, and there's a lot of reading to do, so make haste.

* Let's kick things off with an interesting twist, shall we? It was 1946 when Eddie Klepp, signed by the Negro League champion Cleveland Buckeyes, is barred from the field in Birmingham, Alabama. Why? Because he was white, or as I like to insist, European-American.

* Today was an important day in Milwaukee Braves history, as it marked the debut of one Hank Aaron. Aaron went 0-5 in Milwaukee's loss, while, for Cincinnati, Jim Greengrass hit four doubles in his first game. Speaking of Cincinnati baseball, in 1963, this day would deliver Pete Rose's first hit in Major League Baseball. Rose had previously gone hitless in 11 straight at bats, and his first hit was a triple off of Pittsburgh's Bob Friend, who was called for an impressive four balks in the game. Rick Honeycutt of Oakland, on this day in 1988 would be the second pitcher in two days to be called for four balks in four innings, an event that had not occurred since Friend's outing against the Reds. A record 924 balks would be called in '88, as umpires are ordered to closely monitor the complete-stop rule.

* In keeping pace with an allegedly fantastic Masters Tournament finish yesterday, we'll reflect upon a few of years past: George Archer's 281 was good enough to win it in 1969; Billy Caper won the next year with a 279; the victor was Jack Nicklaus in '75 with a 276; and the champ was Nicklaus again in 1986 when he shot a 279 for his sixth win at Augusta. Eleven years later, Tiger Woods would set a number of Masters records: his 18-under-par score of 270 was a best, his age of 21 was a low, and his race of African-American, a first for the tournament. Then of course, in 1997, Mike Weir became the first Canadian to win it, an event fondly remembered by nobody whatsoever.

* Today in 1996, the Detroit Red Wings close the regular season with the jaw-dropping record of 62 wins.

* And sadly, this date the following year would mark the final NHL game for the Hartford Whalers.

And your Sports Illustrated quote of the day came from the mouth of... whiz Lee Trevino, who, circa 1971, reflected upon his youth: "My family was so poor," he said, "they couldn't afford any kids. The lady next door had me."