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Dotson Lewis' Blog

Fireworks and barbeques may be the first things to come to mind when thinking of the Fourth of July, but a number of notable events in the world of sports have also occurred on Independence Day.


This is the 4th of July sports event that stands out in my memory



Close to 62,000 fans packed Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939 for an event called "Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day." With the ailing player retiring, the Yankees retired his No. 4 uniform as players, coaches and dignitaries feted the captain. In a speech that has now become famous, Gehrig told the fans in attendance "I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth."
Do you recall hearing of any of these? Do you have others?


1910: Former undefeated heavyweight champion Jim Jeffries came out of retirement in with the sole purpose of defeating African-American boxer Jack Johnson. The anticipated fight took place on July 4th that year in front of 22,000 people. When the bout was stopped in the 15th round after Jeffries had been knocked down twice, Johnson was declared the winner. The result sparked race riots across the country.
1919:  Jack Dempsey knocked out defending champion Jess Willard in four rounds to become the heavyweight champion of the world.
1964: Although the game between the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles was tied 6-6, officials stopped play because of a Baltimore curfew to permit a fireworks show to take place. The game was also notable because Kansas City's Manny Jimenez, who hadn't hit a single home run in 1963, went deep three times in the tie.
1976:  Philadelphia Phillies catcher Tim McCarver hit what should have been a Grand Slam homerun. Instead, it became known as a “Grand Slam Single,” as McCarver passed his teammate Garry Maddox on the bases. The Phillies still beat the Pirates, 10-5.
1980: As a member of the Houston Astros, Nolan Ryan earned the 3000th strikeout of his career. He fanned Ceasar Geronimo of the Cincinnati Reds to achieve that impressive mark.
1983: New York Yankees pitcher Dave Righetti's 4-0 win, was special for two major reasons. First, it came against the Boston Red Sox, and second, it was a no-hitter.
1984: NASCAR legend Richard Petty took the checkered flag in the Firecracker 400.  Not only was it the final race he would win in his storied career, but it was also Petty's 200th career victory.
1985: By the time the 19-inning, six hour and 10 minute game between the Mets and Braves was finished, the calendar had rolled over from July 4, to July 5. Despite the late hour of 4 a.m. and despite the Braves' 16-13 loss, fireworks were set off at Atlanta Fulton Country Stadium. While the 1000 fans left at the game considered it a treat, the ballpark's neighbors did not. According to reports, 911 operators received many calls fearful the city was under attack.
1993: It was an "All-American" championship at Wimbledon, as Pete Sampras faced off against Jim Courier. Winning the first of his seven titles at the All England Club, Sampras prevailed in four sets, 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3.
1999: As a member of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Jose Canseco became the first player in Major League history to hit 30 home runs with four different teams (the A's, Rangers and Blue Jays are the others).
2001: Team USA soccer captain Cindy Parlow became the youngest player in U.S. history with 100 international appearances in a 1-0 victory over Canada.  She was just 23 years old at the time.


2001:  Fifty people were stranded on the Ferris wheel ride at Comerica Park during a game between the Royals and Tigers.  After two hours they were rescued by firefighters and given tickets to another game, free dinner and team autographs from the Tigers.
2004: The All-Star Game selections were announced on July 4th that year. For the first time in MLB All-Star history, three players with 500 career home runs started in the game. Those players were Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr. and Sammy Sosa (all from the NL).
2006:  Mets closer Billy Wagner induced Juan Castillo to hit into a fielder's choice for the final out, becoming the 20th pitcher in Major League Baseball history to record 300 career saves.
2007: Six-time Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest champion Takeru Kobayashi was upset by Joey Chestnut .  Chestnut won by downing a record 66 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes.
Dotson’s note: If you know of any memorable sports events that happened on July 4th, please call the Benchwarmers, ESPN Corpus Christi AM 1440, weekdays 4-6 pm, 361-560-5397.Listen/call in  for the best in local sports talk.