Best July 4th Moments in Sports
By Michael Weber.
Our Nation celebrates its 238th birthday this weekend. This is the time of year where patriotic Americans like myself, often reflect on the things that make this country great. Just as national pride and love of country bring people together, so does sport. Over the years, Americans have been fortunate to witness some memorable sporting events on Independence Day. Here is a rundown of some of those events:
Lou Gehrig’s Farewell Speech
1939 – Several weeks after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the “Iron Horse” delivered one of the most memorable speeches in sports history to a packed crowd at Yankee Stadium. His opening words were “Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” After the speech the audience applauded for two full minutes and Babe Ruth came out to hug Gehrig. The Yankees retired Gehrig’s number 4 jersey that day – the first person in major league baseball to receive that honor. Gehrig passed away two years later at the age of 37.
20 Inning Marathon
1905 – In game two of a doubleheader between the Philadelphia Athletics and the Boston Red Sox, starting pitchers Rube Waddell of the A’s and Cy Young of the Sox each pitched all 20 innings of the game. Waddell stuck out 11 and Young didn’t allow any walks. With a final score of 4 – 2, Waddell was victorious and celebrated by cartwheeling off the field.
Grand Slam Single
1976 – Future broadcaster Tim McCarver of the Philadelphia Phillies hit what everyone thought was a game wining grand slam against the Pittsburgh Pirates. In his run around the bases, McCarver passed teammate Garry Maddox. The umpires scored the play a three run single, still enough to be the game winning hit.
1981 – Animated tennis star John McEnroe won Wimbledon for the first time, defeating Bjorn Borg in four sets. Borg had enjoyed a five-year run as champion until this match.
1980 & 1984 – Nolan Ryan of the Houston Astros and Phil Niekro of the New York Yankees recorded their 3,000th career strikeout, respectively. Ryan struck out Cesar Geronimo of the Cincinnati Reds, who turned out to be the only player in history to give a pitcher their 3,000th strikeout on two occasions, doing it six years earlier facing Bob Gibson. Niekro’s strikeout came against Larry Parrish of the Texas Rangers, where the third strike was a swing and miss that passed the catcher. Parrish reached first base, but the strikeout counted.
Will sports history be made this July 4th? We’ll just have to watch.