This day in sports history: May 1


We all know what the curse of the Bambino is, even though back in 1920, I don’t think anyone in the Red Sox organization could imagine the long term “consequences” (I use that term in quotation marks because we can’t necessarily prove that Boston’s championship drought had anything to do with trading Babe Ruth). Regardless, it’s only fitting that Babe Ruth’s first home run as a Yankee, and his career 50th, came against the Boston Red Sox at Polo Grounds on May 1, 1920. Not many people were in the stands on Saturday afternoon to witness his first long shot as a Yankee, but the Bombers would go on to become the first club to attract more than a million fans to the park. That year, Ruth would go on to hit 54 home runs for the Bronx Bombers, shattering his previous record of 29.

Mickey Mantle’s 1st home run, 1951

From one baseball legend to another. On this day in 1951, Mickey Mantle hit his first home run. He started the game as the right fielder and leadoff batter for the Yankees. Mantle faced Randy Gumpert in the sixth inning. Gumpert, trying to fool the rookie, threw a changeup. The White Sox pitcher would later describe that exact moment saying “Mickey smacked the ball in dead center field right into the bullpen… it must have traveled 450 feet in the air!” The Bombers backup catcher, Charlie Silvera, caught the ball in the bullpen and saved it for Mantle, his first home run ball. Little did they all know he would go on to hit 536 home runs during his career, all for the Yankees.

Billie Jean King is outed, 1981

On may 1, 1981, tennis player Billie Jean King became a pioneer for gay rights: she was outed as a lesbian and acknowledged her sexual orientation after her partner, Marilyn Barnett, filed a palimony lawsuit against her. King once told the Boston Globe that she wanted to retire from the sport after the incident. But she had lost all of her endorsements within a day, an estimated $2 million, and couldn’t step away from the game. She would later describe being outed as traumatic, because every person should be able to reveal their sexual preferences on their own terms. King admitted her parents were homophobic and she was raised homophobic, and says wasn’t comfortable in her own skin until her 50s.

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