The Not-So-Famous Stories from Very Famous Days
About a dozen or so years ago, I bought a book called Baseball Extra. It features actual photocopies of the newspaper pages that featured big events in baseball. Reading the actual story published the day after a big event in baseball history gives that event a very special perspective. Many sports fans remember every detail about the biggest events in baseball history, but who remembers the other things that happened on those days?
On the front page of the Los Angeles Evening Herald Night Edition from Friday, September 30, 1927, the headline reads, "RUTH HITS 60TH HOME RUN". Obviously, Ruth breaking his own record that he set six years earlier was a big story. That story goes on to mention how he hit an 8th inning home run off of Tom Zachary into the right field bleachers, making it 60 for the season and 416 for his career. The other big story on that page, but is likely long forgotten, is the story of federal judge Tilman F. Johnson being shot and wounded in court by a widow named Eliza Simmons. Simmons was angry because of a decision that went against her in a damage suit she filed against Utah Copper Co. over the death of her husband. Simmons fired four shots, wounding the judge, but gave no struggle when a bailiff arrested her.
On the front page of the June 16, 1938 edition of Daily Record "Boston's Home Picture Newspaper" features a below the fold synopsis of Cincinnati Reds pitcher Johnny Van Der Meer's second consecutive no-hitter. While today, we know this to be a major accomplishment, and would make 30 minutes of a one hour Sportscenter, it didn't garner above the fold mention back then. Instead, what was more important according to Daily Record was a horse laugh from the famous War Admiral prior to the Suffolk Downs $50,000 Massachusetts Handicap, where his primary opposition would be Seabiscuit. Could you imagine if a horse's publicity photo took priority over a 2nd consecutive no-hitter today? Twitter would explode!
Many Los Angeles Dodgers fans of old will remember January 28, 1958 very well. That was the day they learned that three-time N.L. MVP Roy Campanella broke his neck in a car accident. At the time, his injuries were considered critical, but not permanent. The writer of the wire story even hinted that he may be able to begin baseball activities in as short as six weeks. While that story certainly was worth dominating the headlines of LA newspapers, a huge scientific milestone was given a 4"X2" space to explain how a monitored "space ball" would be launched with the Army's top-secret missile rocket "Jupiter-C". It was given such little space, that without prior knowledge of the event, you probably would not understand what is so big about it.
These are just three of hundreds of pages of newspapers included in Baseball Extra It truly is a work of genius that Caren and Castle Books put together. It is important, not only to remember the historic accomplishments of the things that interest you, but also the other things in the world that surround your interests.