January 1 - A Day of
Sports Firsts and Oddities
For most of the world the first day of the year is
uneventful. It's a combination of brunches, New Year's resolutions,
sleeping late and watching bowl games on TV. But through the years, a lot
has happened in the world of sports on this day.
Back in 1897, the first black collegiate football
game was played. Atlanta University defeated Tuskegee Institute in a game
played in Atlanta.
Tournament of Roses has been celebrated every New Year's Day since 1890
with floats and pageantry, an idea inspired by the Battle of Flowers at
Nice, a feature of that French city's carnival festival staged in the last
days before Lent. On January 1, 1902 the first "Tournament of
Roses" football bowl game was played in Pasadena, California.
Michigan destroyed Stanford, 49-0. On January 1, 1916, Washington State
defeated Brown, 14-0, in the first of the continuing Rose Bowl games.
On January 1, 1911 Hank Greenberg was born in New
York City. He would play thirteen years in the major leagues, be dubbed
"Hammerin' Hank" for his home run power and be admitted to the
Baseball Hall of game in 1956.
On the first day of 1923 the ninth Tournament of
Roses Association football game was officially renamed the Rose Bowl game,
and Southern California trimmed Penn State 14-3.
On that same day, "Wee Willie" Keeler died
in Brooklyn, New York. Keeler had played major league baseball for 19
years and recorded a lifetime batting average of .345 while swinging a bat
that weighed just 30 ounces. The man who "hit 'em where they ain't"
would be admitted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.
On January 1, 1925 Notre Dame defeated Stanford,
27-10, in the Rose Bowl. That was the game where the "Four
Horsemen" backfield of Notre Dame played together for the last time.
On January 1, 1929 in Houston Atlanta University's
football team defeated Prairie View, 6-0. It was called the "Prairie
View Game" and was the first black college bowl game ever played.
On that same day Roy Riegels gained enduring sports
notoriety. He ran 69 yards - the wrong way - as Georgia Tech defeated
California 8-7 in the Rose Bowl.
And speaking of sports notoriety, one of the
strangest moments in the history of college football took place in 1954 at
the Cotton Bowl. Before more than 75,000 fans, Dicky Moegle of Rice was
the victim of "twelfth man" tackle. Alabama's Tommy Lewis came
off the bench to knock down the Rice half-back as he ran towards the goal
line. Moegle and Rice were awarded a touchdown giving the Texas team a
14-6 lead. The final score was Rice 28, Alabama 6. Moegle racked up 264
yards and the Most Valuable Player Award.
Other historical firsts on that first day of the year
include: 1937-- the first Cotton Bowl game - TCU a 16-6 victor over
Marquette at Dallas, Texas; 1946 -- the first Gator Bowl game -- Wake
Forest triumphing 26-14 over South Carolina at Jacksonville, Florida; and
1947 --Buddy Young of Illinois becoming the first black player to score a
touchdown at the Rose Bowl as the Illni defeated UCLA 45-14.