Thursday, June 18, 2009

Historically Speaking: Nearly Summer

I imagine we owed all of our fine history pupils a break from the daily lessons once the school year ended. The weather turned hot, though, and those of the blessed variety can stay cool inside with some air conditioning, which means it's time to fire up the old summer school sessions. No reason to worry. We'll keep the pop quizzes to a minimum and we'll even allow you to cheat off one another whenever there's a homework assignment.

Hop past the leap and bring a sharpened No. 2 pencil. There are a gaggle of dates to note, and with the noggin full of cobwebs, it might be a touch confusing. The good news is that we've mixed in some golf and some basketball with our usual smattering of baseball and boxing. So make haste and have a whirl.

* In the spirit of the U.S. Open, we'll look back on a few golfers that won the tourney today: Fred Herd won it with a 328 today in 1898; Alex Smith won it with a 298 in 1910; John Travers earned the honors in 1915 with a 297; it was 1960 when Arnold Palmer took the tourney with a 280; Jack Nicklaus won it in 1967 with a 275, and again in '72 with a 290; Andy North got it with a 285 in 1978; it was Fuzzy Zoeller's turn in 1984 when he shot a 276; Curtis Strange had bragging rights in 1989 with his score of 278; Hale Irwin won it the next year in the first-ever Open sudden death; Corey Pavin won the honors in 1995 with his 280; and good ol' Tiger Woods swept the competition in 2000 with a 272.

* Today in 1941, Joe Louis handled a gentleman by the name of Billy Conn in a 13-round title-defense bout in New York City. The fight was sixth of seven defenses Louis won in that year.

* The year was 1953 when the Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox got together for a friendly game of baseball and broke 17 Major League records in the process.

* Apparently, the ABA and the NBA merged today in 1976, which is odd, considering that the league is alive and well and keeps expanding.

* And today we remember a special Kansas City sports icon in Dick Howser, who passed away on June 17, 1987. He led the Royals to their first and only world championship two years prior, but a brain tumor forced him from the game in '86. His uniform number 10 is one of three that the organization has retired.

And your Sports Illustrated quote of the day came from the mouth of...

...Jack Nicklaus, who in 1966, was asked how he missed an 18-inch putt. His response: "The same way you do."