Happy Fourth of July!
One of my favorite trick questions for kids is, "Hey, do they have the Fourth of July in England?'' The kid says no and you say, "Yeah, they have the Fourth of July everywhere. Only we celebrate it.''
Ah, teasing kids. Who doesn’t love it? Anyway, with that, we celebrate the Fourth of July here at Two Cents. I don't have hot dogs or fireworks for you, but I do have some interesting tidbits about sports on July 4. So, happy Fourth of July.
Famous sporting events from July 4
July 4, 1910. The first so-called "Fight of the Century.'' Jack Johnson defeats James Jeffries, who is fighting for the first time in six years. Jeffries quits after the 15th round. The African-American's victory sparks riots in the nation's biggest cities and 23 African-Americans are killed in the most tragic Independence Day ever.
July 4, 1919. Jack Dempsey wins the heavyweight championship with a savage knockout of champion Jess Williard. In the first round alone, Williard suffers a broken jaw, a broken cheekbone and cracked ribs, loses several teeth and claims to have permanently lost hearing in one of his ears. Somehow Williard wills himself for another two rounds before finally quitting in the third.
July 4, 1939. It was on this day that the legendary Lou Gehrig considers himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. His famous speech comes less than two years before his death on June 2, 1941 at age 37.
July 4, 1983. On the anniversary of Lou Gehrig's famous speech at Yankee Stadium, Yankees lefty Dave Righetti throws the first no-hitter in franchise history since Don Larson’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series. He no-hits Boston, 4-0, striking out Wade Boggs on the last pitch.
July 4, 1985. One of the greatest and strangest and longest games in baseball history started on this date. The Braves and Mets play a rain-delayed marathon slugfest. The Mets lead 11-10 in the bottom of the 18th when the Braves, out of non-pitchers, are forced to send up pitcher Rick Camp to hit. Incredibly, Camp hits a tying homer. The Mets ultimately win, 16-13, in 19 innings in a game that ends just before 4 a.m. When it is over, the few hundred fans left are treated to what they came to see in the first place: fireworks.
July 4, 1987. Martina Navratilova, still perhaps the greatest women's tennis player ever, wins her sixth straight Wimbledon. Think a second just how incredible that is. She beats a young upstart named Steffi Graf 7-5, 6-3.
July 4, 1999. In an American showdown at Wimbledon, Pete Sampras is nearly flawless in beating long-time rival Andre Agassi in straight sets. After the match, Agassi simply shakes his heads and says that Sampras "walks on water.'' It is American tennis at its finest.
2. Al Davis. Oakland Raiders owner. Happy 102nd birthday, Al! What? You’re only 78? Geez. Sorry.
3. Vinny Castilla. Former Devil Rays third baseman turns 40. A member of the Rays' infamous "Hit Show,'' Castilla smacked eight homers and hit .218 in 109 games with the Rays. They could've come up with a more appropriate name than Hit Show.
4. Pam Shriver. Tennis player. Shriver turns 45 today. A grinder who won a 1991 doubles championship and went on to become a tennis commentator.
Four patriotic names
1. World B. Free. Former NBA player. Legally changed his name from Lloyd in 1980. He currently works for the Philadelphia 76ers as a director of player development.
2. David Justice. Former MLB player. Truth, David Justice and the American way.
3. George Washington. Chicago White Sox pitcher. (Uh, that's not him to the left. It's another George Washington). The George Washington I'm talking about played in 1935-36. He had a wooden bat, but I don’t think he had wooden teeth.
4. Lincoln Kennedy. Tampa Bay Storm defender and former NFL player, above. Two presidential names in one.
Three patriotic sports terms
1. Statue of Liberty Play. Football term when the quarterback fakes a pass, holds the ball over his head or behind his back and the receiver grabs it and takes off. Works about as much as when the pitcher fakes a pickoff to third and then first.
2. Eagle. When a golfer shoots two-under par on one hole. At least that’s what they tell me it’s called.
3. Double reverse. Everyone knows it’s a football term. And, of course, a political term. Our senators and congressman do it all the time.
Stockton and Malone. The Americans won the Olympic gold medal with a 117-85 victory over Croatia.