April 1, 2009

No Foolin'… Top 5 Memorable Sports Moments on April 1st

Print More

While April Fool’s Day conjures up thoughts of practical jokes and frivolity, the serious sports fan is cautioned not to dismiss the notable events of the day. Outstanding athletic achievement occurred on this date such as John Havlicek dropping 54 against the Hawks in a 1973 playoff game and Wayne Gretzky registering his 103rd assist in 1981 to break Bobby Orr’s single season assist record. Notable athletes from knuckleballer Phil Niekro to Brook and Robin Lopez, who broke Cornell’s heart in the 2008 Big Dance, claim this date as their birthdays. However, it is the unusual events of this date that peak one’s curiousity.
My top five sports related stories of this date include in no particular order:
Strike date: Not once, but twice, 1972 and 1980, major league players chose this date to begin a labor union strike. Wishing to get in on the fun, NHL players decided in 1992 this was also a fine date to call their first walkout.
Tragedy at the ballpark:
On the first Opening Day in my memory, April 1,1996, umpire John McSherry collapsed and died on the field at Riverfront Stadium.
The biggest of big flies: April 1,1930 Cub’s Hall of Fame catcher Gabby Hartnett astonishes an April Fool’s Day crowd by catching a baseball dropped from a blimp that reports place somewhere between 550 and 800 above the field.
Cats claw Hoyas:
In one of the greatest upsets in March Madness history coach Rollie Massimino and his No. 8 seeded Villanova Wildcats stun defending national champion Georgetown Hoyas 66-64 to capture the 1985 title. Nearly 25 years later the lingering question remains . . . what exactly is a Hoya?
The A-Roid Era Begins:
In the initial season, 2001, in which Alex will admit to have taken performance enhancing drugs, Rodriguez stars in the first regular season contest held in Puerto Rico as the Blue Jays tangled with the Texas Rangers. While the quarter of a Billion Dollar Man (fresh from signing a $252 million dollar pact) got the season’s first hit and scored the first run, Rodriguez was charged with a throwing error on his first chance and as a harbinger of things to come, led his team to an 8 to 1 drubbing.