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Looking back: this week in sports history August 20-26


August 20, 1938: The Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig, hit the 23rd and final grand slam of his career on August 20, 1938, his last full season with the New York Yankees. Gehrig knocked the ball out of the park with bases loaded in the top of the first inning, as the Bronx Bombers faced Philadelphia. It took 75 years, and another Yankee, to break his record. Alex Rodriguez broke the record in September of 2013.

August 20, 1974: You can mark this day as the day Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan entered the history books as well as the Guinness Book of World Records. On August 20, 1974, Ryan clocked at 100.9 mph pitch, a record at the time. The speed was apparently measured by a laser radar when it was only about ten feet from the plate. If measured from 50 feet, it would have been clocked at 108.1 mph.

August 20, 1991: If you look at this contract now, it may not seem like much for one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. But when Dan Marino signed his five-year extension with the Miami Dolphins on August 20, 1991, he became the highest paid NFL player. The contract extension was worth $25 million and included a $3 million signing bonus. Before Marino signed the contract, Hall of Fame QB Joe Montana was the league’s highest paid player.

August 21, 1931: Babe Ruth is one of the greatest players to ever step foot on a baseball field, if not the greatest. The Sultan of Swat set a number of records which players have struggled to break over the years. One of those records was his home run record. He was the first player to reach 600 home runs (though he would go on to hit 714). Ruth knocked no. 600 out of the park on August 21, 1931.

August 22, 1950: Before Arthur Ashe there was Althea Gibson. On August 22 she became the first black competitor in US national tennis competition at Forest Hills, New York. A year later, in 1951, she became the first black competitor at Wimbledon.

althea gibson

August 22, 1989: Nolan Ryan was the king on the mound. The Hall of Fame pitcher struck out 5,714 batters throughout his career. On August 22, 1989, he struck out his 5,000th batter, the first pitcher in MLB history to do so. He was 42 years old at the time, playing in his 22nd season in the league.

August 24, 1972: On August 24, 1972, two NHL greats, Gordie Howe and Jean Beliveau were inducted into Hall of Fame. Both were inducted just a year after they retired from the league. Beliveau, a life-long Canadien, played 20 seasons in the league, scoring 507 goals and winning the Cup ten times. Howe spent 25 years in Detroit, and only joined another team several years after his induction, when he played for the Whalers. He scored 786 goals while in a Red Wings uniform, winning four Cups along the way.

August 26, 1971: On August 26, 1971, Bobby Orr signed the first million dollar contract in the NHL. The Hall of Famer was coming off of a record-setting season, scoring 139 points and was already the league’s top-paid player. He signed a five-year contract with the Boston Bruins that would pay him $200,000 a season.

bobby orr

Notable birthdays

August 21, 1936 Legendary NBA player and all-time rebounds leader, Wilt Chamberlain was born in Philadelphia, PA

August 21, 1986 Recently retired Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, was born in  Sherwood Content, Jamaica

August 22, 1941 Hall of Fame NFL coach Bill Parcells was born in Englewood, NJ

August 23, 1978 LA Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was born in Philadelphia, PA

August 24, 1952 Former NFL head coach Mike Shanahan was born in Oak Park, IL

August 24, 1960 legendary MLB infielder, “The Iron Man” Cal Ripken was born in Havre de Grace, MD

August 25, 1927  The first black tennis player to compete in a US national championship, Althea Gibson, was born in Clarendon County, SC

August 25, 1970 Seven-time NBA champion, Big Shot Bob, Robert Horry, was born in Harford County, MD