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December  7 A Day Loaded With Sports History

December 7, 1941 is a day that continues to live "in infamy" in American history. There are people who can still remember just where they were when the news came over the radio that America was at war.

In the world of sports it is also a day that strangely enough has lots of interesting things associated with it - some memorable, others forgettable.

On Dec. 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, 43,425 fans were in attendance at Wrigley Field in Chicago to watch the Bears play the Green Bay Packers in a National Football League divisional playoff game. At half-time news of the Japanese attack reached the press box but the game was not interrupted. The Bears won the game, 33-14.

On that date in 1935 one of the most unusual scoring days in football history took place. All the points for both teams were scored by one player. University of Washington halfback Byron Haines scored a touchdown, and he was also pushed over the goal line for a safety giving Southern California its only points of the game.

In 1937, December 7th was a very busy day for baseball. Five of the sport's great pioneers were admitted to the Hall of Fame: Connie Mack, John J. McGraw, Morgan Bulkeley, Ban Johnson and George Wright. On that day the National League approved playing games at night, but the American League refused to get into the act - just yet.

And also on December 7, 1937 the Boston Red Sox acquired the contract of a 19-year-old player from San Diego of the Pacific Coast League. His name -Ted Williams.

On December 7, 1947 Johnny Bench was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Nineteen years later he would begin his major league career as a catcher for the Cincinnati Reds. He was as good as good could be, prompting his manager Sparky Anderson to say, "Please, do not embarrass Johnny Bench or any other catcher by trying to compare him to Bench. There ain't anyone even close to him."

That December 7 date in 1962 was a sad one for the Newsome and Spink families. On that date Bobo Newsome died in Orlando, Florida. Winner of 211 games, he was also the loser of 222 games. Newsome began his major league career pitching with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1929. He ended up with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1953. In between he played for many different teams. J.G. Taylor Spink died in St. Louis on that date - he was the long-time publisher of the "Sporting News."

On December 7, 1963 Army played Navy in their annual football game. CBS television director Tony Verna used instant replay for the first time. Transmission of football on TV would never be the same - brutal collisions became ballets, and end runs and forward passes became miracles of human coordination.

Every day of the year something unusual and interesting happens in the always-newsworthy world of sports. And December 7th, throughout the 20th century, had its share of those.

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You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

About the Author:

Harvey Frommer is in his  38th year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to acclaim in 2011.  The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One. 

His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath, The Sporting News, among other publications.

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Harvey Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz  Frommer are the authors of five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth  College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. 

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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