Monthly Archives: March 2013

Hank Aaron Tied Babe Ruth’s Home Run Record On Opening Day 1974

Many know that Hank Aaron was the first player to tie and break Babe Ruth’s all time home run record.  However most don’t know that the historic tying home run came on Opening Day.  On April 4th, 1974 the Hank Arron and Atlanta Braves played the Reds in Cincinnati, Oh.  It was in that game that Aaron hit his 714th career home run.  The historic home run came in Hank Aaron’s first at bat of the 1974 season.  Jack Billingham was the pitcher that gave up the home run.

Hank Aaron being congratulated on home run 714. (Getty Images)

Hank Aaron being congratulated after home run 714. (Getty Images)

There was no better place for this incredible moment to happen in Cincinnati.  The city is home to the first ever professional baseball team, the Reds.  Everyday until 1990 the Reds had thrown the first pitch in every baseball season.  Opening Day is even an official holiday in the city, complete with a parade.

That great Opening day moment almost never happened.  Prior to the season opener the Braves management was worried that Aaron would not only tie but break the record in Cincinnati.  They were so concerned that he was going to sit out the first series of the season until the team returned to Atlanta.  The Braves were forced to play Aaron in at least two games of the three game series.

Hank Aaron would not hit another home run until April 8th, 1974 in Atlanta.  That home run would be his 715th and broke Ruth’s all time record.  Aaron retired after the 1976 season with the Brewers.  When his career was over Aaron had 755 career home runs.

History Now: Kobe Bryant Reaches 4th On The All Time Scoring List

On Saturday night March 30, 2013 Kobe Bryant moved up on the all time scoring list.  Kobe Bryant surpassed NBA Hall Of Famer Wilt Chamberlain to become 4th on the list of the basketball greatest scorers.  Bryant scored 19 points in the Lakers victory over the Kings in Sacramento, CA.  Bryant now stands at 31,434 points for his career.

He now is behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Michael Jordan.  Jordan is holding the 3rd spot on the list with 32,292.  There are only 858 points separating Jordan and Kobe now.  Bryant has already scored 1931 points this season.  He has scored 2,000 points per season through his career.  It is highly likely he will pass Jordan next season and take the 3rd position on the all time scoring list.  When he passes Jordan he will elevate his legacy to the highest degree.  Jordan is the Babe Ruth of basketball and this feat will cause many to rethink who was greater.

Kobe Bryant (Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant (Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant has been a very talented, entertaining and accomplished player during his career.  He has had some off court issues and even some locker room drama.  However when his career is over, his off court issues will pail in comparison to what he accomplished in the game.  Kobe Bryant is a legendary player and we are lucky to be able to see the greatness he produces every night.  This will be an exciting year coming up.

Quick Fact: The Madness Began On This Day In 1939

On march 27th, 1939 the first ever NCAA Basketball Tournament began.  The first game was between Oregon and Ohio State University.  The tournament is now know as March Madness.   The interesting thing about the tournament is that it was developed before many homes had a television.  Now the Tournament dominates television ratings every year.  This year will be the 74th year the tournament has ruled March.

Mike Piazza’s Five games With The Florida Marlins

Mike Pizza began his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a long shot.  The Dodgers drafted him with the 1,390th pick in the 1988 draft.  He was truly a diamond in the rough.  By 1992 he made his Major League debut.  He was named the 1993 rookie of the year.  When his career ended in 2007 he had a lifetime batting average of .308, hit 427 home runs and batted in 1,335 runs.  A 12 time All Star, Mike Piazza was one of the most popular and talented catchers of the 1990s.  One part of his career many people over look or don’t even know about is his time with the Florida Marlins.

On May 15th, 1998 after playing 6 seasons with the Dodgers he was included in a blockbuster trade to the Marlins.  The Marlins still trying to dump players from their World Series team traded 5 players including Gary Sheffield and Bobby Bonilla for Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile.  The deal was a strange one that no one saw coming.  Many were excited to see Piazza play for the Marlins.  His addition gave the fans of Florida a chance for hope after almost all of their players had been sent packing in the infamous 1997 fire sale.

Mike Piazza as a Florida Marlin (Getty Images)

Mike Piazza as a Florida Marlin (Getty Images)

Mike Piazza’s Marlins career would be short lived.  Piazza was traded 8 days later to the New York Mets after just 5 games with the Fish.  During this stint Piazza batted .278, scored 1 run, batted in 5 runs and even landed a triple.  Sure it was not the most exciting run but that only because it was so short lived.  While it is just a small part of his baseball career it will remain an unusual situation and always be a cool trivial fact you can stump your friends with.

How The 1994 MLB Strike Ended Michael Jordan’s Baseball Career

In November of 1993 just shortly after the murder of his father, Michael Jordan retired from basketball.  Jordan had revolutionized basketball with his high skill set and magnetic charisma. He had already cemented his position in the Hall Of Fame and was arguably the most popular athlete in the history of America. After nine seasons in the NBA and three straight NBA titles it was all over.

As 1994 began Michael Jordan soon announced that he would try his hand at professional baseball.  Mostly because it was the one sport his father wanted to see him succeed at when he was growing up.  It would be a tribute to his father he said. The owner of the Chicago Bulls was Jerry Reinsdorf and he also happened to own the Chicago White Sox.  Reinsdorf being the smart and adventurous business man he was knew that Michael Jordan would be a huge money draw in baseball.  He agreed to sign Jordan to a minor league contract and pay him the same amount that he was contracted to receive with his Bulls contract.  It was a done deal and the media and fans clamored to see Jordan make his debut in baseball.

Michael Jordan the "baseball player" (Getty Images)

Michael Jordan the “baseball player” (Getty Images)

As spring training began for the White Sox in Sarasota, Florida the Michael Jordan circus began.  The media was always around and were focused solely on Jordan.  They followed his batting practices, fielding practices and watched his every move.  The fans also swarmed him every chance they could get, hoping they could snag an autograph of one of the greatest basketball players ever.  The attendance for White Sox games that spring shot through the roof and many fans were unable to even get a ticket to the spring games.  Michael Jordan played his first official spring training game on March 3, 1994 as an outfielder.  He would play 17 games that spring and on March 31, 1994 was optioned to the White Sox minor league affiliate the Birmingham Barons.

The city of Birmingham was set on fire by the Michael Jordan experience.  They sold out more games than they had ever before and had major media at almost every game.  It was a treat for the fans of the Barons to get to see such a great athlete trying to make it in a sport he had not played since high school.  Jordan had an average season with many ups and downs.  He batted .202, hit 3 home runs and batted in 51 runs.  Jordan played 127 games in that season and struck out 114 times.  He definitely had a rough time but did make improvements by the end of the season.

Jordan being Jordan wanted to work more on his baseball skills and decided to play in the Arizona Fall League following his first minor league season.  In that short season for the Scottsdale Scorpions Jordan batted a .252.  While not great by professional baseball standards he did improve even more in the fall league and was poised to continue his development in 1995.

Unfortunately Major League Baseball was still dealing with the 1994 players strike when the 1995 Spring Training season was to begin.  As the battle between the owners and the players union intensified the lines were being drawn.  The players were deciding whether to sit out until a deal could be arranged or to play anyways.  Jordan reported to camp in Florida initially in February of 1995. He would end up deciding in March not to be involved in the drama and chose to sit out while the strike continued.

It was during this time in mid march of 1995 Jordan attended a Chicago Bulls game.  just two weeks later he was on the court playing basketball again.  Many fans where excited to have his talents back in basketball and did not care that he quite his baseball career.  Jordan would go onto win three more NBA Titles and retired from basketball for good after the 2002-03 season.

Because his basketball career picked up right where it left off in 1993 not many questioned the decision.  It makes one wonder almost two decade’s later what would have been if not for the baseball players strike of 1994.  Would Michael Jordan continued until he was either cut or made it to the Major Leagues?  That is hard to say but it was clear he was on the right track to eventually play at the Major League level.  He was only 32 when he went back to basketball and had time to develop into an even better baseball player.

We will never know where baseball could have taken Michael Jordan.  We wont ever know where Jordan could have taken baseball had he stayed.  The popularity of baseball would have likely increased after the horrible strike and maybe Jordan could have been the face of baseball.  All we can do now is imagine what could have been but it is clear to see that the baseball strike deterred Jordan from continuing his baseball dream.

1st Anniversary of 2CentsWorthOfSports!

2centsdoublesmaller

The site hit it’s year mark this month.  I have had a lot of fun covering many different sports topics over the last year.  With over 100 articles posted and a few thousand visitors, it has been a fun year!  As you may have notice the site’s direction changed in January from general sports coverage to sports history only.  I will  be keeping you posted on History as it happens and covering the classic moments and accomplishments in sports.  Thank you to all of our readers and stay tuned for more classic reading!