September Moments

Updated: October 18, 2005, 6:40 PM ET

September 1
Chess:
1972: Bobby Fischer shows that his game is as grand as his ego as he becomes the first American to win the world chess championship. Fischer gains the title when defending champion Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union, in a losing position in the adjourned 21st game, telephones in his resignation.

In a competition that started July 11 in Reykjavik, Iceland, the 29-year-old, Brooklyn native combines seven victories with 11 draws to register the 12½ points needed for victory.

Fischer won the U.S. championship at 14 and he became the world's youngest grandmaster at 15.

During his match with Spassky, Fischer squabbled over television cameras, the chessboard, noise in the audience and late arrivals. The New York Times describes Fischer as "nervous, arrogant, inconsiderate, petulant, demanding."

Fischer earns $156,250 of the $250,000 purse, while Spassky is richer by $93,750.

Baseball:
1975: On Labor Day, Tom Seaver does not appear to be working hard as he becomes the first pitcher to strike out at least 200 batters for eight consecutive years in a 3-0 whitewashing of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The 30-year-old Mets right-hander sets the record by blowing three fastballs past Manny Sanguillen in the seventh inning, his sixth strikeout of the game. Seaver receives a standing ovation from the paid crowd of 45,991 at Shea Stadium. He finishes with 10 strikeouts in becoming a 20-game winner for the fourth time.

"He threw one fastball to Bob Robertson in the eighth that St. Peter couldn't have hit," says the Pirates' Richie Zisk.

Seaver will extend his record to nine by whiffing 235 batters in 1976, his fifth National League strikeout crown.
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September 2
Olympics:
1960: Americans strike gold in Rome, both on the track and in the pool. Wilma Rudolph wins the 100-meter dash by three yards as she blazes across the finish line in 11 seconds flat. It's announced that Rudolph has set a world record. Later in the day, it's stated officially that her mark would not be recognized because the wind was 2.752 meters per second, exceeding the allowed maximum of two meters.

In the long jump, Ralph Boston wins the gold medal with an Olympic record jump of 26 feet, 7&+190; inches, breaking the oldest Olympic mark in the books, set 24 years ago by Jesse Owens. Also setting an Olympic record is 400-meter hurdler Glenn Davis, who retains his title with a run of 49.3 seconds, breaking his own mark.

In the pool, Mike Troy wins the 200-meter butterfly and lowers his world record to 2:12.8, Bob Webster takes the platform dive with 165.56 points and the U.S. women win the 4x100-meter medley in 4:41.1, breaking the world record by 3&+189; seconds.

Baseball:
1965: When Ernie Banks joined the Chicago Cubs 12 years ago, the first pitcher he faced was left-hander Curt Simmons of the Philadelphia Phillies. Today, Banks belts the 400th homer of his career, reaching the milestone on a pitch thrown by the same Simmons, now with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cubs' 34-year-old first baseman is the 11th player to reach 400 homers.

Banks' three-run homer in the third inning keys a 5-3 Cubs' victory. The blast travels over the left-field stands and a 14-year-old boy catches the ball at an intersection outside Wrigley Field. After the game, the teenager returns the ball to Banks, who gives the fan a new ball.

Mr. Cub will finish his career in 1971 with 512 homers.


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September 3
Boxing:
1906: After more than two hours of actual fighting time in the ring, Joe Gans regains his lightweight title from Battling Nelson when the champion delivers a low blow in the 42nd round. As the fighters break away from a clinch, Nelson, a notorious low puncher, strikes Gans with a punch that lands on the groin far below the belt.

With Gans on the canvas, the referee stops the fight, declaring him the winner. Gans receives $11,000, while Nelson takes home $22,500.

The fight in Goldfield, Nev., is promoted by master showman Tex Rickard, who draws nationwide publicity when he displays the purse in tall, neat stacks of freshly minted gold pieces. More than 8,000 fans attend the fight and the gate of $90,000 is a record.

Baseball:
1972: Hank Aaron breaks the record of one of his idols when he rips a single off Philadelphia third baseman Don Money's glove in the first inning in Atlanta. The single off Steve Carlton gives Aaron 6,135 total bases, snapping his tie with Stan Musial.

First-base umpire Shag Crawford calls time and asks Carlton to present the ball to the Braves' slugger. After the Braves lose 8-0, Aaron calls it "a helluva record." But he says that the record he really wants to break is Babe Ruth's mark of 714 career home runs.


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September 4
Olympics:
1972: Mark Spitz adds to his gold collection when he gains his seventh at the Olympics in Munich. The 22-year-old pre-dental student at Indiana University swims the butterfly leg on the United States' 4x100-meter medley team, which sets a world record of 3:48.16.

Spitz is the first athlete to win seven gold medals in a single Olympiad. All seven wins (four individual, three relay) set world records.

After today's victory, Spitz says he's retiring from swimming. "All the way down that last lap of the pool I kept saying to myself, 'Just a few more strokes and it will be over,'" he says. "Then when I reached the wall I just went up and over it instead of swimming to the side of the pool as the other fellows did. I just couldn't wait to get out of the pool."

College Football:
1993: Penn State is normally a plodding, run-oriented team. Today is its first game in the Big Ten, normally a plodding, run-oriented conference.

But the game is anything but normal. The Nittany Lions surprisingly display a quick-strike offense, with John Sacca throwing four touchdown passes to Bobby Engram in a 38-20 rout of Minnesota. Sacca completes 18-of-32 passes for 274 yards before 95,387 fans in Beaver Stadium.

Penn State leads 28-7 after 16 minutes, with Engram catching TD passes of 29, 31 and 20 yards. The sophomore wide receiver, who missed last season while serving a suspension after pleading no-contest to a charge of stealing audio equipment, makes a lot of noise in his return. His four TD catches are a school record and he finishes with eight receptions for 165 yards.

In all, 100 passes are thrown, with Minnesota accounting for 66.


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September 5
Olympics:
1972: Shortly before 5 a.m. a band of Arab terrorists invade the Israeli quarters at the Olympic Village in Munich. They murder two - wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg and weightlifter Yosef Romano - and take nine Israelis hostage at gunpoint.

About four hours later, the terrorists demand the release of 200 Arab prisoners in Israel, all of whom are named, and an airplane to fly the terrorists and hostages out of West Germany. Negotiations continue all day, and the terrorists are allowed to take the hostages via two helicopters to an airfield outside Munich.

More than five hours after the attack, International Olympic Committee retiring president Avery Brundage shows no compassion for the situation and orders the Games to proceed as scheduled. Not until late in the afternoon, after competition is held in 11 of the 22 sports on the Olympic calendar, are the Games suspended.

In the darkness early the next morning, the West German police will open fire on the terrorists at the airport. They kill five and capture three, but not before the terrorists kill all nine hostages.


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September 6
Baseball:
1995: Baltimore's iron man replaces the Yankees' Iron Horse when Cal Ripken plays in his 2,131st consecutive game, bettering the record that Lou Gehrig held for 56 years.

In the fourth inning, Ripken homers. After the California Angels are retired in the fifth inning, with Baltimore leading, game No. 2,131 is official and Camden Yards erupts. Ripken presenting his jersey and cap to his wife and two small children bring waves of warm applause from the sellout crowd of 46,272, including President Bill Clinton and Joe DiMaggio.

When Ripken heads for the dugout, several teammates push him out. And then the Orioles shortstop, who began the streak 13 years ago, begins an impromptu trot around the perimeter of the ballpark. Ripken slaps the hands of dozens of strangers in his 10- minute jog. A sign in the stands says: "We consider ourselves the luckiest fans on the face of the earth. Thanks Cal."

The ovation for Ripken lasts 22 minutes and 15 seconds.

In a postgame ceremony, DiMaggio says, "Wherever my old teammate Lou Gehrig is today, I'm sure he's tipping his cap to you, Cal Ripken."

The streak will reach 2,632 games before Ripken decides to sit out late in the 1998 season.


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September 7
ESPN:
1979: At 7 p.m., an RCA SATCOM I communications satellite 22,300 miles above the equator, south of Hawaii, receives a signal from an earth station transmitter in Bristol, Conn., and beams the message back to earth and into the homes of about five million cable television viewers across the United States.

The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) hits the air.

Sportscasters George Grande and Lee Leonard introduce the network to viewers. Also present at the debut are Getty Oil executives - Getty has an 85 percent interest in the company - and NCAA officials.

The cable network plans to televise 12-14 hours of sports weekdays and 19 hours on weekends. In a few months, ESPN plans to go 24 hours, seven days a week.

Twenty-four hour sports programming is the brainstorm of ESPN president William Rasmussen, who got the idea for an all-sports network format while stuck in a traffic jam. At first, he planned on a regional network, but when he learned that his satellite fee would be the same if the telecast went to the entire country, he went nationwide.

"What we're creating here," says Scott Rasmussen, Bill's son and ESPN vice-president, "is a network for sports junkies."

Baseball:
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."


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September 8
Tennis:
1957: Earlier in the summer, Althea Gibson became the first African-American - female or male - to win Wimbledon. Today she is the first of her race to win the U.S. title.

At the age of 30 and at the pinnacle of her career, the lithe and muscular Gibson serves and volleys her way to a 6-3, 6-2 win over four-time Wimbledon champion Louise Brough. She doesn't lose a set throughout the entire tournament, played on the grass courts at Forest Hills.

Gibson is presented the champion's trophy, filled with white gladioli and red roses, by Vice President Richard Nixon. She gives a warm thank-you speech, telling the crowd of 12,000, "I hope to wear the crown with dignity and humility."

Baseball:
1998: On the day that the Dow Jones makes history with its biggest one-day point gain ever (380), Mark McGwire also steps into history. In the Cardinals' 145th game, Big Mac scorches a low line drive off the Cubs' Steve Traschel for his 62nd homer of the season, breaking Roger Maris' record.

The drive is estimated at 341 feet, the shortest homer the St. Louis first baseman has hit this year. On his glorious trip around the bases, McGwire slaps hands with the Chicago infielders, taps his heart and points to the sky when he reaches home plate and lifts his 10-year-old son Matt, who is serving as batboy, in a bear hug.

His teammates stream from the dugout and he hugs them, as well as the Cubs' Sammy Sosa, who trots in from right-field. Then McGwire climbs into the Busch Stadium stands near the Cardinals' dugout and embraces members of the Maris family, including the late outfielder's four sons and two daughters.

McGwire, who has repeatedly said that he truly believes Maris is "watching and walking with me," will finish the season with 70 home runs.


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September 9
Tennis:
1990: Pete Sampras shows youth will be served. Or, in this case, it's that a brilliant serve can carry a 19-year-old to the U.S. Open championship. Against Andre Agassi, who recently had made a camera commercial noting that image is everything, Sampras shows reality is a well-placed serve at 120 miles per hour.

In becoming the youngest male U.S. Open champion, Sampras breezes to a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory for his first Grand Slam title. Sampras deals 13 aces, belts another 12 service winners, has only one double fault and loses just 17 points in 13 service games. He never allows Agassi to even reach deuce on his serve. "I've got a heater and a changeup," says Sampras.

Agassi says, "It was a good old-fashioned street mugging. I got my butt kicked."

Sampras hits 27 winners while Agassi has just 10. Approaching the net 62 times (compared to seven for Agassi), Sampras wins 39 points.

Sampras, who had been No. 81 in the world when the year started, rises to No. 6 with the victory. Sports Illustrated will put him on its cover with the headline, "A Star Is Born."

College football:
1972: UCLA won two games last season; Nebraska won the national championship. The Cornhuskers, riding a 32-game unbeaten streak and led by All-American wingback Johnny Rodgers, are three-touchdown favorites in tonight's season opener. But UCLA pulls off a shocker, upsetting the preseason No. 1 team. In his first game as the Bruins' wishbone quarterback, Mark Harmon, a transfer from Pierce College and son of Heisman Trophy winner Tom, throws for a 46-yard touchdown, runs two yards for another TD and leads UCLA on its winning, 57-yard drive late in the fourth quarter.

Confronted with a third-and-11 at the Nebraska 33, Harmon completes a 13-yard pass. This sets up Efren Herrera's 30-yard field goal with 22 seconds left that gives UCLA a stunning 20-17 win before 67,702 fans at the Los Angeles Coliseum.


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September 10
Baseball:
1974: In his most prolific year on the bases, 35-year-old Lou Brock steals two bases tonight to give him 105, breaking Maury Wills' record for most thefts in a season.

In the first and seventh innings, the St. Louis Cardinal left-fielder steals second against the Philadelphia battery of Dick Ruthven and Bob Boone. Fans in the left-field bleachers at Busch Stadium, headquarters for Brock's "Base Burglars 105 Club," go wild, as does the rest of the crowd of 27,285, when he sets the record with No. 105. His teammates pour on to the field to congratulate him.

He is presented second base by "Cool Papa" Bell, the Hall of Fame base thief of the Negro Leagues. "They decided to give him this base so he could take it home," Bell says. "If not, he'd steal it anyway."

Besides passing Wills, Brock also sets the National League career record for steals with 740, two more than Max Carey. Brock will finish the season with 118 steals and he'll end his career in 1979 with 938.

Baseball: 1969: In their first seven years, the New York Mets had never finished closer than 24 games to first place (five times being at least 40 games out). Their best record was 16 games under .500.

It's different this season. During a twinight doubleheader against the Montreal Expos, the Mets, who trailed the Chicago Cubs by 9-1/2 games on August 14, move into first place. Their 3-2, 12-inning victory in the opener at Shea Stadium puts them a percentage point ahead of the Cubs in the National League East.

When the Cubs lose, 6-2, to the Philadelphia Phillies and the Mets win the nightcap, 7-1, behind Nolan Ryan's three-hitter, New York leads by a game. In the clubhouse, the players are drinking champagne, even if it is a New York State brand that comes with plastic stoppers instead of corks.

The Miracle Mets will go on to win their division by eight games with a 100-62 record, then beat the Atlanta Braves for the National League pennant and stun the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series.


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September 11
Tennis:
1994: Maybe image isn't everything when it comes to Andre Agassi. The Las Vegas native, known more for his commercials and flashy outfits than for his formidable skills on the court, notches a 6-1, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5 victory over Michael Stich in the U.S. Open final.

Agassi is the first unseeded man to win the Open. The last non-seed to win the U.S. title was Fred Stolle, who captured it in 1966, two years before the championship became open to pros.

Agassi dominates from the start, breaking the German at love and plowing through the opening set in only 24 minutes. Agassi is stingy with his mistakes, making only 14 unforced errors in the one-hour-and-56-minute match, and allows Stich just two break points, both of which he saves.

It is Agassi's fifth Grand Slam final appearance and second title. His first came in a storybook run at Wimbledon in 1992.

Previously known for his impatience and lack of focus on the court, the popular star is finally able to complement his impressive topspin return and blazing ground strokes with mental composure. "There were times when I might have found a way to lose a Grand Slam match like this," he says. "But those days are behind me."

Baseball:
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 in the first inning off San Diego's Eric Show 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 lays 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 4,256.

1918: Boston concludes a brilliant stretch in which it wins five of the first 15 World Series. In going 5-for-5 in the Series, the Red Sox gain their latest crown with a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs. Carl Mays pitches a three-hitter in the sixth game as they take the Series four games to two.

The Red Sox score both their runs in the third inning without benefit of a hit. Two walks by Lefty Tyler put the runners on base and they score with two outs when right-fielder Max Flack fluffs clean-up hitter George Whiteman's line drive.

Whiteman is 35 years old and only has played in 86 regular-season games, over three seasons. This is his final game in the majors and he goes out in grand fashion when he robs pinch-hitter Turner Barber of an extra-base hit with an outstanding catch in left-field. He injures himself on the play and is replaced later in the inning by Babe Ruth. The Babe had won Games 1 and 4 as a pitcher, allowing just two runs in 17 innings.

As the 20th century draws to a close, the Red Sox have yet to win another Series.

College Football:
1985: Tragedy strikes during the Illinois-Michigan State game when referee Richard McVay suffers a massive heart attack and dies.

McVay, 55, suddenly falls to the ground with about 10 minutes remaining in the second period. Official Frank Strocchia comes to the sideline crying as silence sweeps the crowd of 66,162 at Champaign, Ill. Several doctors and trainers from both teams work furiously on McVay for about 10 minutes before he is rushed to a Champaign hospital. Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation fails.

"This makes a little game of football fairly insignificant," says Illinois coach Mike White after his team's 23-16 victory. "This brings us back to the realities of life."

McVay, who refereed the 1982 Rose Bowl, was a Big 10 official since 1974 and a football official at various levels since 1956.


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September 12
Baseball:
1979: Carl Yastrzemski, the man who replaced Ted Williams in left-field for the Boston Red Sox, reaches a milestone that not even the Splendid Splinter could attain. In fact, no other American League player has ever accomplished this perfecta.

The 40-year-old Yaz achieves his goal of 3,000 hits and 400 homers when he grounds a single to right off the Yankees' Jim Beattie in the eighth inning of Boston's 9-2 win at Fenway Park. The crowd of 34,337 chants "Yaz, Yaz, Yaz" as his son, Carl Michael Yastrzemski Jr., is the first to reach him at first base.

After the game, Yaz gives a gold watch to Red Sox bullpen coach Walt Hriniak. The inscription on the back says: "To Walt: Thanks. Wouldn't Have Made 400-3,000 Without You."

The only three players to achieve that milestone are all National Leaguers - Stan Musial, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. Yaz is the 15th player to reach 3,000 hits, but only the second American Leaguer to do so since 1925 (Al Kaline in 1974 was the other).

1984:
With his overpowering heater and out-of-this-world curve, Dwight Gooden becomes the rookie king of the K. Needing 11 strikeouts to pass Herb Score's rookie record of 245, the New York Mets' 19-year-old right-hander with the poise of a veteran whiffs 16 Pittsburgh Pirates, giving him 251.

It is the 14th time Gooden strikes out at least 10, snapping Tom Seaver's Mets' record. He doesn't walk a batter in his 2-0 victory before just 12,876 fans at Shea Stadium.

Gooden ties Score's record in the sixth inning by freezing Pirates pitcher John Tudor with a curve. "I'd like to throw one pitch like that in my whole career," Tudor marvels.

Then Gooden snaps the record by fanning the next hitter, Marvell Wynne, on a high fastball.

"Sometimes I think to myself before I go to bed, 'Is this a dream? Am I really having all this success?'" Gooden says. "I've come to have confidence in myself. I go out there and try to intimidate hitters."

Gooden will finish the season with 276 strikeouts, still the rookie record, in 218 innings.

NFL:
1982: Not having beaten the New York Jets in eight games, Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula resorts to trickery in the season opener at Shea Stadium. Leading 24-14 in the third quarter and with the ball on the Jets' 15, Shula calls play "438 - Shotgun Sweep Right Pass."

Quarterback David Woodley takes the snap out of the shotgun and hands off in front of him to Tony Nathan. Woodley wanders innocently to left, his job apparently finished. But Nathan stops after running a few steps to his right and throws back across the field to Woodley, all alone. Woodley strolls into the end zone.

"The quarterback is an eligible receiver out of the shotgun," Shula says after Miami's 45-28 victory. "The Jets are a good pursuit team and we counted on them really going after Tony and leaving David alone on the other side. Defenses have a tendency to forget about the quarterback once he gets rid of the ball in the shotgun."


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September 13
Baseball:
1998: Sammy Sosa becomes the second player to hit more than 61 homers in a season - but also the second this season. The Chicago Cubs star crushes two drives over Wrigley Field's left-field bleachers into Waveland Avenue as he joins Mark McGwire with 62 homers.

After the Cubs' 11-10, 10-inning victory, Sosa has this message for Big Mac: "I wish you could be with me today, but I know you're watching me. . . . This is for you. I love you." And then Sosa gives his signature gesture, kissing the tips of his first two fingers and pointing toward the television cameras.

No. 61 comes in the fifth inning, No. 62 in the ninth. The largest Wrigley crowd of the season (40,846) rises and chants, "Samm-ee, Samm-ee" and "MVP, MVP."

The former shoeshine boy in the Dominican Republic will finish the season with 66 homers, second best in history to McGwire's 70. He will win the National League MVP award.

1965: In his 14th season, Willie Mays becomes just the fifth player to reach the exclusive 500-homers club. He belts a pitch from Astros right-hander Don Nottebart 440 feet into the center-field bleachers in the fourth inning in Houston. It's Mays' 47th homer of the season.

Warren Spahn, who gave up Mays' first homer, in 1951, is now his teammate on the San Francisco Giants and watches No. 500 in awe. "You're a wonder," he tells the 34-year-old Mays.

After San Francisco's 5-1 victory, only eight writers surround Mays for an interview.

1971: Exactly six years to the day later, Frank Robinson joins the 500 club. The Baltimore Orioles right-fielder opens and closes a doubleheader split with homers against the Detroit Tigers.

Robinson's 499th is a three-run drive in the first inning of a 9-1 victory. In his final at-bat, Robinson hits a two-run shot off Fred Scherman with two outs in the ninth inning of a 10-5 loss in the nightcap. It travels three rows deep, about 320 feet, into the left-field stands in Baltimore.

In his 16th season, the 36-year-old Robinson is the 11th player to reach 500 homers.

NFL: 1992: There is plenty of offensive action in Buffalo's 34-31 victory over San Francisco, but the 49ers' Klaus Wilmsmeyer and Bills' Chris Mohr are bored. That's because neither player gets a chance to do his thing. They are punters, and for the only time in NFL history, a game is played without either team punting.

Wilmsmeyer and Mohr warm up several times, but neither gets the call. Both teams have third down in their own half of the field four times, when they might have been forced to punt, but it never gets to fourth down in those situations.

"You just do your normal routine, get ready, get ready, get ready, and hope they make a first down," Mohr says. "Eventually, you look at the clock and say, 'I guess I'm not going to punt today.'"

Quarterbacks Steve Young and Jim Kelly are the prime reasons for the no-punt game. SF's Young passes for 449 yards and three touchdowns, while the Bills' Kelly passes for 403 yards and three TDs as the teams account for 1,086 yards of offense.


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September 14
Baseball:
1968: Denny McLain is the first pitcher to reach the magic number of 30 wins in a season in 34 years when the Detroit Tigers rally for a 5-4 victory over the Oakland A's. The 24-year-old right-hander also will be the last to accomplish the feat this century.

In the crowd of 44,087 at Tiger Stadium is Dizzy Dean, the former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher who was the last to win 30 games, back in 1934. He throws his arms around McLain amid the wild scene after the victory.

McLain, who has just five losses, gains the milestone in dramatic fashion. Though his pitching is solid -- 10 strikeouts, one walk, six hits -- two home runs by Reggie Jackson leave McLain and the Tigers trailing 4-3 going into the bottom of the ninth. However, a spirited comeback by the Tigers -- ending with a game-winning hit by Willie Horton -- enables McLain to go from loser to history maker.


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September 15
Boxing:
1978: At 36, Muhammad Ali shows he still can occasionally float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. While just a shell of his former self, that's enough for him to avenge his loss to Leon Spinks seven months ago.

Before a crowd of some 70,000 at the Superdome in New Orleans, Ali, the 2-1 favorite, is in control throughout and registers an easy unanimous decision over the 25-year-old former Marine. Counterpunching with a left hook that beats a steady tattoo on the side of Spinks' battered head, Ali becomes the first to win the heavyweight title three times.

"It was as one-sided as a lynching," writes Pulitzer Prize-winner Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times. "I've seen better fights in Hollywood nightclubs. Leon Spinks had a no-hitter the last time I looked."

Baseball:
1931: Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics, who won the last two World Series, clinch their third consecutive American League pennant. With shortstop Dib Williams going 5-for-5, the Athletics pound the Cleveland Indians, 13-4, to improve their record to 99-43 and increase their lead to 13 games.

However, it is not until after the players leave the ballpark that Mack's ninth pennant is officially clinched. Later in the afternoon, the second-place Washington Senators drop a 5-4 decision to the St. Louis Browns.

When told of Washington's loss, the 68-year-old Mack says, "This agrees with my calculations that we would have the flag clinched by September 15."

While the Athletics will finish 107-45 (their best record ever), they will lose the World Series in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals. Though Mack will manage another 19 years, he won't win another pennant.


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September 16
College Football:
1989: In a war between No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Michigan, the difference is a "Rocket." Notre Dame sophomore Raghib Ismail, nicknamed "The Rocket" by an eighth-grade track coach, scores two touchdowns on kickoff returns to lead the defending national champion Irish to a 24-19 victory before 105,912 fans in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The 5-foot-10, 175-pound speed demon (he has been timed at 4.28 in the 40) takes the second-half kickoff on a short jog and breaks free down the sideline for an 88-yard touchdown to boost Notre Dame's lead to 14-6.

The next time Michigan has to kickoff - after a fourth-quarter field goal cuts the Wolverines' deficit to 17-12 - one might have thought that coach Bo Schembechler had learned his lesson and would have his kicker avoid booting the ball to Ismail. Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz tells his team that Michigan is going to squib kick.

It doesn't happen. Michigan keeps deep. The Rocket takes it on his eight and blasts out of a couple of arm tackles on his way to a 92-yard touchdown.

"He's faster than the speed of sound," Schembechler says, "and we didn't tackle him."


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September 17
Tennis:
1939: Earlier in the summer, Bobby Riggs and Alice Marble won the Wimbledon singles championships. Today at Forest Hills, they win the most significant tournament on this side of the Atlantic Ocean by taking the U.S. Nationals at Forest Hills.

They do it in contrasting styles. Riggs has an easy time in winning his first of two U.S. titles as he needs only 56 minutes to crush 19-year-old Welby Van Horn, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4. Riggs, who lost only two sets in the entire tournament, serves nine aces against the teenager, only the second unseeded player to reach the final.

Marble ended Helen Jacobs' four-year reign as U.S. champion in 1936 when she won in three sets. She needs to go three sets again to beat Jacobs. Overcoming gusty winds as well as the gutsy Jacobs, Marble overcomes a 3-1 deficit in the deciding set to win, 6-0, 8-10, 6-4. It is Marble's third U.S. title in four years.

Baseball:
1984: Seventeen years to the day after hitting his first homer, Reggie Jackson blasts No. 500. It's a prodigious drive off Kansas City left-hander Bud Black into the right-field terrace at Anaheim Stadium, the same ballpark where he hit No. 1 (only then Reggie was playing for Kansas City).

Upon becoming the 13th player to reach the 500-homer club, the California Angels' 38-year-old slugger admires his shot from the batter's box. "I was very elated when I was going around the bases," he says after the Angels' 10-1 loss to the Royals. "It was a thrill, one of the happiest trots of my life."

He receives a five-minute ovation from the crowd of 28,862. The homer is his 22nd of the season. His 500 homers have come in 8,599 at-bats; 254 homers were hit with the KC/Oakland Athletics, 27 with the Baltimore Orioles, 144 with the Yankees and 75 with the Angels.

Jackson will finish his 21-year career in 1987 with 563 home runs, sixth best all-time.


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September 18
Baseball:
1963: The Polo Grounds, which was rebuilt in 1911 after a fire, has long been a New York landmark. But today, the ballpark goes out with a whimper, not a bang.

Only 1,752 paying fans, the smallest crowd to watch the New York Mets in their two-year history, show up. They see the Mets lose, 5-1, to the Philadelphia Phillies. After Ted Schreiber hits into a double play to end the game, the strains of "Auld Lang Syne" filter through the cavernous ballpark.

Manager Casey Stengel waves his hat to the small crowd. A few fans cheer.

The Mets will play their home games next year in a new venue, Shea Stadium. The Polo Grounds will be razed and in its place will be built the Polo Grounds Towers, four 30-story apartment buildings, and Willie Mays Field, an asphalt playground with six basketball backboards, where center-field used to be, with a historical marker in place.

1931: In 1925, Lefty Grove was purchased by Connie Mack from the minor league Baltimore Orioles for $100,000. After two mediocre seasons, he proved his value from 1927-30, winning at least 20 games each year for Mack's Philadelphia Athletics. This season, he is even better. His 3-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Shibe Park makes Grove the only left-hander to win 30 games in a season this century.

Grove, 30, allows only five hits, including a home run to rookie Billy Sullivan in the first inning, as his record improves to 30-3. He is the first pitcher to win 30 games since Cleveland's Jim Bagby went 31-12 in 1920.

Grove will finish the season 31-4 with a 2.06 ERA. Only St. Louis' Dizzy Dean (30-7) in 1934 and Detroit's Denny McLain (31-6) in 1968 will be 30-game winners the rest of the century.

1996: It's another whiff of history for Boston Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens, who notches 20 strikeouts against the Detroit Tigers, tying his own record set 10 years earlier. Incredibly, just as he did against the Seattle Mariners on April 29, 1986, Clemens does not walk a batter.

Clemens is the only major leaguer to record 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning game. Throwing up to 96 mph, the 34-year-old Rocket holds Detroit to four hits in his 4-0 victory at Tiger Stadium. The Tigers don't even manage to hit a ball past the infield until the sixth inning.

Clemens strikes out at least two batters in all but the ninth inning and three times strikes out the side (second, fifth and sixth innings). With 19 strikeouts entering the ninth, Clemens has a chance to break his record, but the first two outs come on a popout by Alan Trammell and a fly to left by Tony Clark, who had already fanned three times. But Clemens' favorite victim, Travis Fryman, fittingly provides the final strikeout -- his fourth whiff in as many at-bats.

With the victory, Clemens ties Cy Young for both victories by a Red Sox pitcher (192) and most shutouts (38). It is Clemens' last victory for Boston as he will sign as a free agent with the Toronto Blue Jays after the season.

College Football:
1965: A razzle-dazzle pass play and a gutsy two-point conversion spark Georgia past heavily favored and defending national champion Alabama. Trailing 17-10 with a little more than two minutes left and with the ball on Georgia's 27, second-string sophomore quarterback Kirby Moore throws a pass to senior end Pat Hodgson on the 35.

Hodgson flips the ball to halfback Bob Taylor, who races untouched for a touchdown to complete the 73-yard play. "We practiced the play for two weeks, but I thought it would be 1980 before I'd have the nerve to call it in a game," says Georgia coach Vince Dooley.

What the officials don't call, but what a sequence camera reveals, is that Hodgson's knee is on the ground before he lateraled, so the play should have been blown dead at the 35.

The touchdown brings the Bulldogs to within one, and Dooley takes a gamble by going for the two-point conversion. Moore's pass to Hodgson in the end zone gives Georgia a stunning 18-17 upset.

Alabama will not lose another game this season and will be voted the national champion again by the Associated Press after it beats Nebraska in the Orange Bowl and top-ranked Michigan State loses to UCLA in the Rose Bowl.


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September 19
Tennis:
1925: After Bill Tilden lost to Bill Johnston in the final at the U.S. Nationals in 1919, he developed a topspin backhand. Since then, Tilden has not lost a match in the tournament.

In a tense and grueling match, Tilden wins his sixth straight U.S. Championships with a 4-6, 11-9, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 victory at Forest Hills.

This is the fifth time Big Bill beats Johnston in the final, the third time in five sets.

In the second set, Tilden three times is a point from falling two sets down. Each time he wins the point, and eventually he takes the set. In the deciding set, the score is 3-3 when Tilden runs off 12 of the final 16 points to gain the championship.

Of the 380 points played, Tilden wins 191, Johnston 189.

Baseball: 1934: Hank Greenberg, the Detroit Tigers' slugging first baseman, has played in all 143 games, including contests on the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. But today is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and the highest of the holy days, and on the advice of both his father and his rabbi, Greenberg sits out the game.

The first-place Tigers lose, 5-2, to the second-place Yankees in Detroit, but their lead remains a healthy 6 games with 10 games left.

It's the only game Greenberg will miss this season as he goes on to help the Tigers win the American League pennant. In his second full season in the league, he will lead the majors with 63 doubles, knock in 139 runs, score 118 runs, hit 26 homers and bat .339.

NFL:
1965: Jim Brown is the best running back in the NFL, but Lenny Moore is the most consistent touchdown maker. A streak that started in 1963 continues in today's season-opener in Baltimore when the versatile Colts' running back scores a touchdown for the 18th consecutive game, extending his NFL record.

Moore, who led pro football with 20 touchdowns in a 14-game season in 1964, reaches the end zone on a one-yard run in the second quarter against Minnesota. Moore's touchdown is the Colts' first score as they rally from a 10-0 deficit to defeat the Vikings, 35-16, before a sellout crowd of 56,562.

No player will seriously challenge the record. O.J. Simpson has the second-best streak, at 14, in 1975.


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September 20
Tennis:
1973: The "Battle of the Sexes" pits the queen of women's tennis, Billie Jean King, against the king of male chauvinists, Bobby Riggs. In a circus-like atmosphere in the Astrodome, Billie Jean is transported into the stadium on a Cleopatra-style gold litter that is held aloft by four muscular track-and-field athletes from nearby Rice University.

Riggs enters in a gold-wheeled rickshaw pulled by six models in tight red-and-gold outfits who have been dubbed, for ample reason, "Bobby's Bosom Buddies." After Riggs presents King with a large candy sucker, she gives him her gift - a brown baby pig.

King, a five-time Wimbledon champ, has the last laugh on the court as well. In a Ms.-match, the 29-year-old King overwhelms the 55-year-old hustler, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, before the largest crowd (30,492) to ever attend a tennis match.

"She was just too quick," says Riggs, the 1939 Wimbledon and U.S. Nationals winner who had beaten Margaret Smith Court on Mother's Day. "I couldn't get the ball past her."

King says, "This is a culmination of 19 years of tennis for me. I've wanted to change the sport and tonight a lot of non-tennis people saw the sport for the first time."

Baseball:
1961: In July, Commissioner Ford Frick ruled that Roger Maris must hit 61 home runs within 154 official games in order to break Babe Ruth's record.

Tonight is the Yankees' 154th game to a decision - there had been one tie - and Maris needs two homers to tie Ruth. In Baltimore, the birthplace of the Babe, Maris hits No. 59 off Milt Pappas into the right-field bleachers in the third inning. Maris has three more cracks at Ruth's record, but Dick Hall retires him twice and then Hoyt Wilhelm gets Maris on a check-swing grounder back to him in the ninth.

"Commissioner Frick makes the rules," says a gracious Maris after the Yankees clinch the pennant with a 4-2 victory. "If all I will be entitled to will be an asterisk, it will be all right with me."

Maris will be saddled with that asterisk, even though he finished with 61 homers after hitting two more dingers in the 162-game season. However, later in the century, Major League Baseball will remove the asterisk and Maris will be awarded the record.

NFL:
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.

The gain is for only one yard, but it takes him into the end zone for his first touchdown of the season. It's the 107th rushing TD of his career and breaks 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.

At the end of the 20th century, Payton still will hold the record for most rushing yards with 16,726.


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September 21
Boxing:
1948: Three months ago, Tony Zale regained the middleweight crown by knocking out Rocky Graziano in their rubber match. Tonight, he doesn't expect much trouble from Marcel Cerdan, and he has predicted he will knock out the Frenchman from Casablanca within seven rounds.

The champion, though, fails to live up to his boasting. The pace sizzles, and the 2-1 underdog Cerdan is dealing out most of the punishment before 19,272 fans at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City. Zale, who had looked so tough against Graziano, suffers a terrible beating.

"All of a sudden, the savage had grown worn and tired, and he was just an old prize fighter who had nothing left," Frank Graham wrote in the New York Journal-American.

At the end of the 11th round, Cerdan's left hook to the jaw floors Zale. The champ's handler help him to the corner, but before the 12th round starts, referee Paul Cavalier stops the fight. Cerdan is the middleweight champ on a 12th-round TKO, the first non-American to hold the title in the 20th century.

Baseball: 1981: Steve Carlton, the Philadelphia Phillies' silent southpaw, needs just two strikeouts in Montreal to pass Bob Gibson as the most prolific strikeout pitcher in National League history. Lefty ties Gibson's mark when he fans Larry Parrish in the second inning and then sets the record by whiffing Andre Dawson with the bases loaded in the third inning.

There are no balloons, fireworks or any kind of celebration. "Lefty might not like that kind of stuff," says Phillies first baseman Pete Rose after the Expos' 1-0 victory in 17 innings.

In pitching 10 scoreless innings, the 36-year-old Carlton strikes out 12, boosting his total to 3,128. Carlton, in his 16th season, moves up to fourth on the all-time major-list strikeout list, behind Walter Johnson (3,508), Gaylord Perry (3,326) and Nolan Ryan (3,229).


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September 22
NFL:
1991: Exactly 28 years ago, Don Shula won his first game as an NFL head coach - a 20-14 Baltimore win in San Francisco with Johnny Unitas engineering a 10-point fourth quarter. Today, Shula gains No. 300, as the Miami Dolphins rally with 10 points in the fourth period to take a sloppy 16-13 decision over the Green Bay Packers at Joe Robbie Stadium.

The second NFL coach to reach 300, Shula gets his first dousing. "Well, you've got to think twice about doing that to coach Shula," says linebacker Cliff Odom.

In the game's waning seconds, Odom, Hugh Green, Jim Jensen and Pete Stoyanovich dump a Gatorade bucket filled with water over their coach. "I've always wanted to do that to coach Shula, one way or another," Jensen says.

In the locker room, after Shula receives the game ball from the players and a trophy, he says with a grin, "I haven't been a Gatorade guy. It was cold, but I'll tell you, I enjoyed every minute of it."

Shula, in his 22nd season with Miami after seven years with Baltimore, has a record of 300-139-2. Only George Halas, with 324 victories, has won more NFL games.

Baseball:
1904: Jim O'Rourke is 54 and last played in the major leagues 11 years ago. But today he returns to catch one game for John McGraw's New York Giants.

Orator Jim is the oldest major leaguer to play a full game. He gets one hit, a single to center in the fifth inning, in four at-bats and scores a run after reaching base on a wild throw. He also is charged with an error.

The Giants clinch the pennant with a 7-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds behind Iron Man McGinnity in the opener of a doubleheader.

About O'Rourke, The New York Times says, ". . . time has dealt kindly to him. He appears to be as vigorous and strong as ever and received the 'Iron Man's' delivery admirably."

This is the last game in the majors for O'Rourke, who began playing in the National Association in 1872 before joining the fledgling National League in 1876. He hit .310 in 1,774 games in the N.L.


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September 23
Boxing:
1952: In storybook fashion, Rocky triumphs in Philadelphia. Marciano, that is, not Balboa.

Unbeaten in 42 fights, the 29-year-old Marciano doesn't look like a 9-5 favorite when heavyweight champ Jersey Joe Walcott knocks him down with a short left hook in the first round before 40,379 fans at Municipal Stadium. For the first time in his career, Marciano is looking up at his opponent.

The 38-year-old Walcott, a clever boxer, doesn't let up, and after 12 rounds he's in total control, ahead by four rounds from one official, three by another and two by the third. Marciano needs a knockout to gain the title. Early in the 13th Marciano, though battered and bloodied, delivers one of the most devastating punches in boxing history, a short right to the side of Walcott's chin. Walcott sinks to one knee, his left arm hooked around the middle rope, his head resting on the canvas. Jersey Joe is out, the 38th knockout victim of the Brockton Blockbuster, and Marciano is in as heavyweight champ.

College Football:
1978: Last season, the USC Trojans were riding high at No. 1 when Alabama knocked them off their horse, ending their 15-game winning streak with a 21-20 upset in Los Angeles. Today in Birmingham, Ala., USC gains its revenge.

The No. 7 Trojans, 10-point underdogs, stop top-ranked Alabama's 12-game winning streak with a 24-14 upset. Coach John Robinson's game plan is simple: student body left or student body right for Charles White. The tailback scores on a 40-yard run in the first quarter on his way to 199 yards on 29 carries.

"We were just out to physically dominate them," USC offensive tackle Anthony Munoz says. "It was nothing fancy - just our basic offense."

When Alabama quarterback Jeff Rutledge is asked about the Tide's chance for a national championship, he says, "We're not through yet. It's a 12-game season for us."

He's right. Alabama will win its remaining nine games to finish 11-1 and No. 1 in the Associated Press poll. USC will wind up atop the United Press International poll.


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September 24
College Football:
1994: It's called the Miracle in Michigan when Colorado quarterback Kordell Stewart pulls a Flutie. On the game's final play, with Colorado trailing by five and having the ball on its own 36-yard line, Stewart buys time by scrambling in the pocket before letting loose a Hail Mary.

The ball travels 73 yards towards the Michigan goal line. Back-up wide receiver Blake Anderson, son of former Miami Dolphins safety Dick Anderson, leaps and tips the ball away from a Michigan defender back into the end zone.

Michael Westbrook dives for the ball and cradles it for the touchdown that gives No. 7 Colorado the improbable 27-26 victory over No. 4 Michigan, which led by 12 points with 2-1/2 minutes left.

"Only a guy with Kordell's ability could throw that far -- and stay alive to throw that far," Colorado coach Bill McCartney says. "Actually, I didn't think he could throw it that far."

While Westbrook shouts at the Michigan crowd of 106,427, Stewart tearfully kisses the grass in the end zone.


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September 25
Boxing:
1962: With an arrest record as long as his list of knockout victims, Sonny Liston is fearsome both out of the ring and in. The surly challenger had boasted that he would blast Floyd Patterson from his heavyweight throne in five rounds. It didn't take nearly that long.

With a 25-pound weight advantage (214 to 189), Liston takes control from the start, pounding away at the champion's ribs with a two-fisted attack. Then he drops Patterson with a powerful left hook to the jaw. Patterson is counted at 2:06 of the first round and it's several minutes before he can be helped to his corner.

"I felt enough of him under my glove on that last hook to know it was a good enough punch to put any man down hard," Liston says.

Former heavyweight champ Rocky Marciano, who attended the fight in Chicago, says, "I never realized Liston had so much power."

The new heavyweight champ is a man, according to The New York Times, "who was born in poverty, reared in slums and arrested 19 times for various offenses."

Lawsuit:
1978: Women reporters win a significant battle in the courts when Melissa Ludtke, a Sports Illustrated writer, is granted access to locker rooms at Yankee Stadium by U.S. District Court Judge Constance Baker Motley.

Judge Motley rules that barring women writers from the locker room is a violation of the 14th amendment of the Constitution. The New York Yankees are ordered to devise their own ways of protecting players' privacy while granting equal access to reporters. The judge recommends towels.

At the 1977 World Series between the Yankees and Dodgers, Ludtke was barred from the clubhouses at Yankee Stadium while male reporters were allowed in to interview players. The players' privacy was at stake, she was told.

In December 1977, Sports Illustrated filed a lawsuit in federal court; Ludtke was named a plaintiff. The suit asked for equal access for women to interview players. Ludtke charged the Yankees, commissioner Bowie Kuhn and other officials had discriminated against her on the basis of sex.

Ludtke's victory is a giant step for womankind.

Baseball:
1929: New York Yankees manager Miller Huggins, who started the team's dynasty by leading it to six pennants and three World Series in his 12 years at the helm, dies of blood poisoning brought on by an infection beneath his left eye. He was 50.

Huggins' death comes with shocking swiftness. A week ago, he was suffering apparently from only a slight infection. While blood transfusions helped temporarily, the poison spread throughout his system.

After the fifth inning of today's Yankee game in Boston, both teams assemble at home plate and stand with heads bared and bent. The fans, about 7,000, rise and join in the solemn tribute of silence for Huggins.

Tomorrow's American League games are called off by league president Ernest Barnard.

Huggins, a strict disciplinarian, had a 1,413-1,134 record (.555) in his 17 years as a manager, which includes five seasons (1913-17) at the helm of the St. Louis Cardinals before taking over the Yankees in 1918. Only once in his 12 years with New York did the team fail to finish in the first division.

As a second baseman for 13 years (1904-16) with the Cincinnati Reds and Cardinals, the 5-foot-6-1/2 Huggins posted a lifetime batting average of .265.

College Football:
1982: The Northwestern nightmare finally ends. The longest losing streak in major college football history is over at 34 when the Wildcats (usually the Mildcats) rout Northern Illinois, 31-6. The scoreboard at Dyche Stadium in Evanston flashes "Sweet!!!," "Euphoria!!" and "Goodbye Streak" in the closing moments as a large part of the crowd of 22,078 storms the field with 30 seconds left and tears down a goal post.

Northwestern's triumph is a dream for senior running back Ricky Edwards, who in his first start scores four touchdowns, tying a school record shared by Otto Graham and Mike Adamle. He gains 177 yards on 29 carries for a team that had minus 44 yards rushing in its first three games.

"I knew we were going to win," Edwards says. "I dreamed it last night. I also dreamed I scored on a 90-yard run."

That part of the dream is just a little off. His last touchdown is only 80 yards.

The victory is the first in 15 games for head coach Dennis Green.


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September 26
Olympics:
1988: Ben Johnson, the world's fastest human, makes an even quicker dash from champ to cheater. Two days after winning the Olympic 100-meter race in Seoul in an astonishing 9.79 seconds, the International Olympic Committee informs Johnson that he has tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol on the A sample of his urine.

Later in the day, Johnson's B sample is tested before members of the Canadian Olympic Association, and the result is the same.

Johnson passes on being present at the testing.

"The only thing we can say at this stage is that it is a tragedy, a mistake or a sabotage," says Johnson's manager, Larry Heidebrecht.

The IOC strips Johnson of his gold medal and awards it to the race's runner-up, Carl Lewis. "My mother had a dream the other night about my father, who said everything would be all right," Lewis says. "And today it was."

Baseball:
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 uses Reulbach in the nightcap as well, and the pitcher responds with another shutout, 3-0. Reulbach allows just eight hits and five walks, while striking out 10, in becoming the only pitcher to ever 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 National League record.

NFL:
1982: Call it Silent Sunday. Today, for the first time in the 63-year history of the National Football League, no games are played. It's Day 6 of the players' strike and no progress is reported.

The 12 stadiums where games had been scheduled are deserted, 15,000 people are out of work, restaurant and hotel businesses take a sacking, 800,000 fans stay home and losses are estimated at more than $70 million.

The owners of the league's 28 teams say they lost $29 million in revenues - $18 million in television money and $11 million in gate receipts.

The 1,500 striking players - who are paid an average of $100,000 a year, or $6,250 a game - lost about $9.375 million in salaries.


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September 27
Boxing: 1946: Tony Zale won the middleweight championship in 1941, but he hadn't had a title defense in almost five years because he enlisted in the Navy. Though still champ, Zale is a 12-5 underdog to Rocky Graziano for tonight's fight at Yankee Stadium.

Chapter I of the Zale-Graziano trilogy is a war. Zale knocks down the challenger from the Bronx in the first round, but Rocky recovers and knocks down Zale at the end of the second. Graziano continues to pound away savagely, and after five rounds Zale looks like a beaten fighter.

But then comes the unexpected in the sixth round. Showing the heart of a champion, Zale, though having suffered a broken thumb earlier in the bout, gathers the strength to somehow fire a terrific right to Graziano's solar plexus and follows it up with a left hook to the chin. Graziano goes down, and he doesn't rise until just after referee Ruby Goldstein completes the count of 10.

"The count came up on me awful fast," Graziano says. "I heard eight, nine and 10, but I couldn't do anything about it. The blow to the body knocked the breath out of me. Fight him again? He'd knock me out again."

But not before Graziano will win the rematch in 1947 with a sixth-round KO. Obviously, somebody up there must like Graziano. Zale, though, will take the savage series by regaining the title with a third-round knockout in 1948.

Baseball:
1930: On the same day that Bobby Jones is making golf history by completing the Grand Slam, Chicago Cubs slugger Hack Wilson is making some history of his own. When Wilson hacks two homers, he extends his National League record to 56 for the season.

In the fourth inning of the Cubs' 13-8 victory, Wilson hits a two-run homer off Ray Kolp into the left-center bleachers at Wrigley Field, below the end of the scoreboard. In his next at-bat in the sixth, the Cubs' 5-foot-6, 190-pound clean-up hitter belts another two-run homer, into the right-field bleachers off Eppa Rixey.

This is the fourth time in five seasons Wilson leads the National League in homers, but the only time in his career he hits more than 39. His 56 homers will stand as the N.L. record until 1998, when Mark McGwire hits 70 homers.

With 188 runs batted in, Wilson already has broken Lou Gehrig's major league record of 175. He will knock in two more runs in tomorrow's season finale. In 1999, baseball will give Wilson an additional RBI, boosting his record to 191.

1973:
The first 382 strikeouts for Nolan Ryan were comparatively easy. Attaining No. 383, the one that would break Sandy Koufax's record for a season, was much more difficult.

The California Angels right-hander goes into his last start needing 16 strikeouts to pass Koufax. He whiffs 11 Minnesota Twins in five innings and has 14 after seven. He ends the eighth by fanning Steve Brye to tie Koufax.

A tiring Ryan fails to strike out anybody in the ninth, but because the game is tied, it goes into extra innings. Though Ryan suffered a cramp in his right leg in the ninth, he keeps on pitching. But he can't strikeout any of the next 11 Twins he faces. Then, with two outs in the 11th, he ends his season by fanning Rich Reese for the historic strikeout.

The crowd of 9,100 at Anaheim Stadium gives Ryan a five-minute standing ovation. Besides the record, Ryan gets his 21st win when the Angels score in the bottom of the inning for a 5-4 victory.

NFL:
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," raged 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, and leaves in the third quarter with the score 31-0.

"A great quarterback," Halas says. "A great day."


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