(RNN) – One event that forever linked sports with the rest of the world took place Oct. 17, 1989.
The Loma Prieta earthquake hit San Francisco about 30 minutes before Game 3 of the 1989 World Series. To me, it's one of the great examples of truth being stranger than fiction.
If you had gone to a Hollywood movie studio with a script that said both teams from the San Francisco Bay area make the World Series and just before a game there is going to be an earthquake that hits during the broadcast and gets shown on live TV, you would be laughed at because it wouldn't be believable, but it actually happened that way.
I remember watching on TV with my dad (Oct. 17 also happens to be his birthday) and the one thing that stuck out to 7-year-old me was that the players were married. They showed the players on the field after the earthquake standing with their wives and children, and I thought it was odd they would be married.
Anyway, the backdrop of the World Series has vaulted the earthquake into fame, and was also cited as the reason the death toll was relatively low. The quake hit after the national anthem was sung but the stadium, which turned out to be one of the safest places to be, was little more than half full, lessening the strain on the structure and possibly preventing additional damage and fatalities.
Officials also said the roads were much clearer at 5:04 p.m. local time than they would have been on a normal Tuesday. It was estimated that many people had left work early to be home in time for the start of the game or had stayed late to attend work-related viewing parties.
Of the 63 people who died in the 6.9 magnitude quake, 42 were killed in the collapse of the Cypress Street Viaduct, a double-decker bridge leading toward the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The Bay Bridge itself had a collapse in one section - resulting in one death - that forced the Oakland Athletics to take a much more circuitous route home around the bay through San Jose.
The pregame broadcast (embedded below; earthquake at 4:30 mark) of the game was cut short and Al Michaels, who was broadcasting the game for ABC, became the network's reporter on the ground. ESPN was still in its infancy, but the network had reporters Chris Berman and Bob Ley at the World Series and they were the first ones to make live reports on air following the quake.
The Goodyear Blimp was being used for aerial shots of the World Series, and after the earthquake it was used to survey the damage and coordinate rescue efforts.
Oakland led the World Series 2-0 over the Giants entering Game 3. The game was delayed until Oct. 27 - the longest delay in World Series history - and the Athletics ended up winning 13-7 and swept the Series in four games over the Giants.
Here are some of the events of note that happened between Oct. 14 and 20.
Montgomery Clift was born Oct. 17, 1920, and stared with John Wayne in Red River. That's all I have in terms of John Wayne connections this week. I have failed you.
There are still plenty of famous actors/actresses to chronicle this week, but none of them had the good sense to do anything worthy of John Wayne's presence. One such person is Bing Crosby, who died Oct. 14, 1977. Crosby won an Oscar for Going My Way and he has three stars on Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is the No. 3 box office draw in movie history behind Clark Gable and John Wayne.
The longest serving James Bond actor, Roger Moore, was born Oct. 14, 1927, The Beverley Hillbillies' Granny, Irene Ryan, was born Oct. 17, 1902, and two-dimensional prison break accomplice Rita Hayworth was born Oct. 17, 1918.
Two nosy TV neighbors were born Oct. 16. Ann Morgan Guilbert (1928) played Millie on The Dick Van Dyke Show and Alice Pearce (1917) played Gladys Kravitz on Bewitched!.
President Dwight Eisenhower was born Oct. 14, 1890, crazy man Evel Knievel was born Oct. 17, 1938, assassin/maybe not assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was born Oct. 18, 1939, and multiple TV show creator Chuck Lorre was born Oct. 18, 1952. Thomas Edison died Oct. 18, 1831, King John died Oct. 19, 1216, and Marie Antoinette was beheaded Oct. 16, 1793.
Lynyrd Skynyrd lead singer Ronnie van Zant was killed when the band's plane crashed Oct. 20, 1977. The band was flying from Greenville, SC, to Baton Rouge, LA, when the plane ran out of gas and crashed in rural Mississippi. Also killed in the crash were guitarist Steve Gaines and backup singer Cassie Gaines and both pilots.
Other members of the band sustained major injuries. Drummer Artimus Pyle suffered broken ribs and was the only member of the band able to walk away from the crash. While trying to find help, he was wounded when a local resident shot him, though accounts vary.
It was not a good week to be a Nazi.
Field Marshal Erwin Rommel died Oct. 14, 1944. When it was discovered Rommel was involved in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Hitler offered Rommel the chance to commit suicide rather than face a court martial. Likely facing execution, Rommel chose to commit suicide. The circumstances of his death were covered up and did not come to light until more than a year later during the Nuremberg Trials.
Ten Nazi officials convicted of war crimes in the Nuremberg Trials were executed by hanging Oct. 16, 1946. A total of 12 men were sentenced to death, but one - Hitler's secretary, Martin Bormann - was not present because he had died earlier, and one - Hitler's successor, Hermann Goring - committed suicide the night before the executions were to take place.
I Love Lucy debuted Oct. 15, 1951, and has been on TV ever since. In the first episode, Lucy and Ethel try to play a trick on Ricky and Fred, but they turn the trick around. Come to think of it, that's what happened in almost every episode. Anyway, it's one of the best sitcoms in TV history and one of only three that went off the air while No. 1 in the ratings and still holds the record for the highest rated TV show.
Jack the Ripper's "From Hell" letter was sent Oct. 15, 1888. The letter is full of perhaps intentional misspellings and contained the kidney of one of the victims. It claimed that the author had fried and eaten the other half of the kidney. The letter is considered one of the few authentic pieces of evidence related to the murders, but its current location is unknown.
It was a big week in going really fast. Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier Oct. 14, 1947, Felix Baumgartner became the first person to break the sound barrier by falling Oct. 14, 2012, and on Oct. 15, 1997, the first supersonic land-speed record was set.
Theodore Roosevelt was shot Oct. 14, 1912, while campaigning for president, and being long-winded saved his life. Roosevelt had a 50-page speech in his coat pocket and the bullet passed through the speech before entering his chest. Rather than seek medical treatment, Roosevelt delivered his 90-minute speech shortly after being shot, saying, "It takes more than that to kill a bull moose." He lived seven more years with the bullet still lodged near his heart.
The Patterson-Gimlin film, which supposedly captures images of Bigfoot, was shot Oct. 20, 1967. According to some people (i.e., lunatics), it is proof that Bigfoot exists. To other people (i.e., those that maintained their sanity), it's a dude in a suit. The film has been analyzed countless times and has alternately been determined to be real and fake.
Moby-Dick was first published as The Whale on Oct. 18, 1851, the U.S. took possession of Alaska after buying it from Russia on Oct. 18, 1867, Winnie-the-Pooh was first published Oct. 14, 1926, the Million Man March was held Oct. 16, 1995, Jacqueline Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis Oct. 20, 1968, and Rahima Banu became the last person infected by naturally occurring smallpox Oct. 16, 1975. Banu was treated and made a full recovery.
An earthquake wasn't the only significant World Series event this week. But first, other random sports stuff.
Jim Hines became the first man to run the 100-meter dash in under 10 seconds at the Olympics in Mexico City on Oct. 14, 1968. Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave the Black Power salute on the medal stand two days later. Two days after that, they were suspended from the Olympic team.
The first rules of American football were drafted by Yale, Princeton, Columbia and Rutgers on Oct. 20, 1873.
Now for baseball. Steve Bartman did what any fan sitting in his seat would have done Oct. 14, 2003, when he grabbed for a foul ball. People in Chicago now unfairly blame him for the Cubs not winning the World Series (even though it wasn't a World Series game) and all the sins of mankind. The Cubs were winning 3-0 in the eight inning of Game 6 of the NLCS. Bartman knocked a foul ball away from outfielder Moises Alou and eight runs scored in the inning. The Cubs lost the game 8-3 and lost Game 7 the next day. It happened on the anniversary of the Cubs winning the 1908 World Series. They haven't won another one since.
ESPN produced a good documentary on Bartman called Catching Hell for its 30 for 30 series.
I acquired an intense hatred for the Minnesota Twins' Kent Hrbek on Oct. 20, 1991, when he lifted Ron Gant off the base and tagged him out in Game 2 of the World Series. Video isn't conclusive to support what 9-year-old Atlanta Braves fan me thought, but I'm standing by it.
Kirk Gibson hit one of the greatest home runs in World Series history Oct. 15, 1988. Gibson hit the only come-from-behind game-winning home run in World Series history in Game 1 off Oakland A's closer Dennis Eckersley. It was Gibson's only at-bat in the series and the Dodgers went on to win in five games.
The home run was made even more memorable by announcer Jack Buck's call of "I don't believe what I just saw" and Vin Scully's call of "In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened."
The Battle of Hastings was fought Oct. 14, 1066. William the Conqueror and the Norman invaders defeated English King Harold II. The exact details of the battle aren't known, but it is known the battle was fought at Senlac Hill with the English holding the high ground hill.
The battle lasted all day and featured repeated assaults by the Norman invaders. All that is known specifically about the battle is the both sides suffered heavy losses, with the English being almost completely slaughtered, including Harold II, who according to legend was shot in the eye by an arrow.
Gen. Charles Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, VA, on Oct. 19, 1781, effectively ending the Revolutionary War. Following a three-week siege, Cornwallis surrendered, giving up nearly 8,000 soldiers to George Washington.
Cornwallis claimed to be suffering from an illness and was not at the surrender.
American troops landed in the Philippines on Oct. 20, 1944, prompting Gen. Douglas MacArthur to make his famous statement, "I have returned."
Oct. 19 is Evaluate Your Life Day. On second thought, let's not go there. Oct. 17 is Wear Something Gaudy Day. Eh, let's not go there, either.
Oct. 14 - TODAY! - is National Dessert Day. I can definitely support this.
"… it gets through Buckner …"
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