Happy Fourth of July! I hope everybody stays safe and keeps being awesome today!
Common Fourth of July Trivia
On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress Congress approved the Declaration of Independence. At Independence Hall in Philidelphia, Pennsylvania on August 2, 1776, the Declaration of Independence. Only two people that signed it would later become presidents of the country that grew from the declaration: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Ironically they both served as Vice Presidents. Jefferson was Vice President under Adams. As their ideas for the country diverged they would be bitter rivals often plotting and planning to undercut the other. They spent many a year not talking to each other. On January 1, 1812, John Adams reached out to Thomas Jefferson to renew their friendship. (Yes, our founding father’s history was very much a soap opera.) They corresponded to each other until their death, on the same day, July 4, 1826.
Let’s not forget it has been 100 years since that infamous Overlook Hotel ball.
Yankees and the Fourth of July
Perhaps the most famous baseball event on the Fourth of July had little to do with the game itself but a player. The effects of ALS forced Lou Gehrig to take himself out after 2,130 consecutive games on May 2, 1939. On July 4, 1939, 62,000 fans flooded into Yankee Stadium for Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day. It was there he gave perhaps the most famous speech in baseball history. His speech started
“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. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.”
Perhaps a young George Steinbrenner heard the speech on his ninth birthday? Yes, the future Yankee owner was born on July 4, 1930, in Rocky River, Ohio. Steinbrenner was active in Northeast Ohio as he took over the family shipping business. He sponsored athletics and field trips of impoverished children in the area. He was involved in local politics, sitting on the board of various museums. Steinbrenner, in his heart, was a sports guy. During college, he was a hurdler, and soon he was a football coach. His father would give him an ultimatum, join the family business or continue his sports career. George loved money more than sports. Steinbrenner attempted, along with former Cleveland player Al Rosen, to buy the Cleveland baseball club. When that fell through, he bought the New York Yankees. From my research, the only owner of a ballclub born on the Fourth of July.
Continuing with the Yankee tradition, Dave Righetti beat the Red Sox 4-0 at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1983. Righetti walked four, struck out nine in no-hitting the Red Sox. The last Yankee no-hitter before Righetti’s? Don Larson’s 1956 World Series perfect game.
Fouth of July Pitching Feats
On July 4, 1908, Hooks Wiltse of the New York Giants threw a ten-inning no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies in game one of a doubleheader. Four years later, the Tigers’ George Mullin would only have to go nine innings to no-hit the St. Louis Browns on the backend of a doubleheader.
The Philadelphia A’s and Rube Waddell took on the Boston and Cy Young on July 4, 1905. The A’s scored two runs in the 20th inning to win 4-2. Young, like Waddell, when the distance. He faces 75 batters and didn’t issue a single base-on-ball in game two of the doubleheader. Waddell issued four walks for the win. He also pitched 2/3. innings in game one of the doubleheader, winning that game also.
Nolan Ryan, pitching for the Houston Astros, struck out César Gerónimo on July 4, 1980, to become the fourth pitcher to reach 3,000 strikeouts. Four years later, knuckleballs Phil Niekro, pitching for the Yankees, would strike out Lance Parrish to join the 3,000 strikeout club.
Happy Birthday To …
Besides George Steinbrenner, some notable people in baseball that were born on the Fourth of July include:
- Hall of Fame Pitcher Mickey Welch
- Chuck Tanner played baseball from 1955-1962. He has a 1,352–1,381 record as a manager. In 1979 he managed the World Series Champions Pittsburg Pirates.
- Mat Kovach (yea, me)
- Vinny Castilla was a member of the first Colorado Rockies team. He was a two-time All-Star and hit at least 40 home runs three times in his career.
Notable Games on the Fourth of July
Twenty years after the Waddell/Young Fourth of July dual, lefties Herb Pennock and Lefty Grove had a 15 inning showdown. Grove, pitching for the A’s, stuck out 10, walked five but gave up 14 hits. Still, he didn’t give up a run until two outs in the bottom of the fourteenth inning, giving the Yankees a 1-0 victory. Pennock in the win struck out five, gave up four hits, and walked none. He started the game by retiring the first 18 batters he faced. He ended the game by retiring 21 straight batters. This two-hour fifty-minute game was game one of a doubleheader.
On July 4, 1985, the New York Mets visited Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium to take on the Atlanta Braves. The game would start at 9:04 PM with fireworks after the game. Six hours and ten minutes later, the Mets would hold on to a 16-13 victory. Fourteen pitchers would appear in the name. Dough Sisk would last the longest with 4 1/3 innings pitched. Fireworks went off, as scheduled, after the game. The start time of the fireworks was approximately 4:00 AM, July 5, 1985.
Photo by Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages on Instagram)