April 20, 1977: Annie Hall premieres. The movie starred Woody Allen and Diane Keaton and was directed by Allen. The screen play was written by Allen and Marshall Brickman and produced by Charles H. Joffe. The role of Annie Hall was written specifically for Keaton and the film explores the reasons for the failure of a relationship between Hall and Alvy Singer, played by Allen. Filming began on May 19, 1976 on Long Island and continued for the next ten months with breaks between filming sessions for the 93 minute movie. The cost of filming was $4 million and the movie made $38,251,425 at the box office. The film was screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival in March 1977 before its official opening on this date.
The film explores many different facets of a relationship doomed from the start by the disparity of the two participants. There are many who believe the movie to be autobiographical, something Allen dismisses. Although he and Keaton did have a relationship, Allen maintains that the movie roles are too enmeshed in hyperbole to be actual people. Areas covered by the movie itself point out differences between New York City and Los Angeles as well as the stereotypes of differences in sexuality displayed by the two protagonists. Also visited are the Jewish identity and the use of psychoanalysis and modernism.
Diane Keaton, nee Hall, was born on January 5, 1946 in Los Angeles. She is an actress, director, producer, and screenwriter. She made her acting debut in 1970 and her first major role was in The Godfather (1972). She made several movies with Allen and this, her fourth, won her the Oscar for Best Actress. After this movie, she made a concerted effort to break out of the mold created by Annie Hall and expand her repertoire of roles. She has acted in dozens of films which have brought in over $1 billion total at the box office. She is currently filming three different movies with two due to be released this year and the third, Finding Dory, to be released in 2016. She has won many awards over the years with seven of them for this movie alone.
Woody Allen, nee Allan Stewart Konigsberg, was born on December 1, 1935 in The Bronx, New York. He is an actor, director, and producer whose career has spanned more than half a century. He began working as a comedy writer and wrote short humorous pieces. His early stand-up comedy persona was that of an insecure, intellectual, fretful nebbish (Jewish milquetoast). He played the part so well he has had to work to convince the world it is only a role. His first movie, What’s New Pussycat? came out in 1965 and his latest film in which he acted is Fading Gigolo, due out later this year. He has been nominated for 59 major awards and won fifteen times as well as many other awards. His personal life has been chaotic and has made headlines many times.
Sex without love is a meaningless experience, but as far as meaningless experiences go its pretty damn good.
If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.
I believe there is something out there watching us. Unfortunately, it’s the government.
Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering – and it’s all over much too soon. – all from Woody Allen
Also on this day: Whodunit? – In 1841, the first mystery story is published.
Germ Theory – In 1862, Pasteur demonstrated his new theory.
Ludlow Massacre – In 1914, mining riots took place in Colorado resulting in 22 dead.
Two – In 1964, BBC2 launched.
April 19, 1897: The first Boston Marathon is run. The run was inspired by the revival the marathon race for the 1896 Summer Olympics held in Athens. It is the oldest continuously running marathon in the US and the second oldest footrace in North America. The Buffalo Turkey Trot is the oldest by only five months. The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) had been in existence for ten years by this time and they were the proud sponsors of the first marathon which covered a distance of 24.5 miles. It was scheduled to be run on the newly established Patriots Day and was intended to link the Athenian and American struggles for freedom. It has been held every year since its inception.
In 1924, the starting line was moved from Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland to Hopkinton Green and the course was lengthened to 26 miles and 385 yards to conform to standards set at the Summer Olympics held in 1908 and codified by the IAAF in 1921. Originally a local event, fame spread and the status of running the Boston Marathon is now a worldwide phenomenon. In the early years, the race was free and the only prize went to the winner who was given a wreath woven of olive branches. In the 1980s, corporations began to sponsor the event so that cash prizes could be awarded since professionals would not race without this incentive. The first cash prize was awarded in 1986.
In 1951, during the Korean War, Walter A. Brown (President of the BAA) would not permit Koreans to run in the race. The first woman to be recognized as running the entire race was Roberta Gibb in 1966. The next year, KV Switzer entered and was given a race number, making Kathrine the first to achieve that. Women were only officially permitted to enter beginning in 1972. However, in 1996 the BAA retroactively recognized as champions the women who won between 1966 and 1971. In 2011, about 43% of the entrants were women. In 1980 Rosie Ruiz came from nowhere to win the race, but officials were suspicious when she wasn’t found in any videotapes of the race. She had not run most of the race but joined only for the last mile and was disqualified.
In 2011, Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya finished in 02:03:02, the fastest runner. The fastest woman runner was Margaret Okayo of Kenya who finished in 2002 with a time of 02:20:43. The course used at Boston does not qualify for world record ratification in two different areas. The course drops 459 feet between start and finish and the start is west by a fair margin from the finish allowing for a favorable tailwind. In 1897, John J McDermott of the US won the race with a time of 02:55:10. Ronald J MacDonald of Canada won the next year. In 1932, the first European won when Paul de Bruyn finished in 02:33:36. Winners have now spanned the globe and the 2013 winner was Lelisa Desisa Benti (Ethiopia) for the men and Rita Japtoo (Kenya) for the women.
If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon. – Emil Zatopek
When you run the marathon, you run against the distance, not against the other runners and not against the time. – Haile Gebrselassie
I’ve run the Boston Marathon 6 times before. I think the best aspects of the marathon are the beautiful changes of the scenery along the route and the warmth of the people’s support. I feel happier every time I enter this marathon. – Haruki Murakami
Marathon running, for me, was the most controlled test of mettle that I could ever think of. It’s you against Darwin. – Ryan Reynolds
Also on this day: Look It Up – In 1928, the last fascicle of the Oxford English Dictionary is published.
Trippin’ – In 1943, Albert Hofmann tried LSD.
Sex Is Obscene - In 1927, Mae West was sentenced to jail for her play, Sex.
Jump – In 1919, Leslie Leroy Irvin jumped from a plane.
April 18, 1924: Simon & Schuster publish the first crossword puzzle book. Crossword puzzles are said to be the most popular word game in the world. They first appeared in England in the 1800s in an elementary form and a type called Double Diamond Puzzles appeared in a magazine called St. Nicholas. An Italian magazine first published a crossword puzzle in 1890 and was called (in Italian) “To pass the time”. This simple puzzle was a four by four grid without shaded squares, but it included both horizontal and vertical clues. On December 21, 1913 a puzzle that looks fairly similar to today’s puzzles was first published in New York World, a newspaper published in New York City. They were a hit and soon the Boston Globe also began putting a puzzle in the papers as a weekly feature.
When Simon & Schuster began published books full of the puzzles, they attached a pencil to the book to make sure all equipment was available. The same year as the first puzzle books appeared, the New York Times complained of the “sinful waste in the utterly futile finding of words the letters of which will fit into a prearranged pattern, more or less complex. This is not a game at all, and it hardly can be called a sport… [solvers] get nothing out of it except a primitive form of mental exercise, and success or failure in any given attempt is equally irrelevant to mental development.” The prestigious paper did not start published crossword puzzles until 1942.
There are several different types of grids available for standard crossword puzzle construction. Many of them have a 180-degree or rotational symmetry meaning the grid looks the same even if the page is turned upside down. American and Japanese style look quite similar but there are two extra rules for the Japanese grid – the shaded spaces may not share a side and all four corners must be white. The lattice structure is used in England and many of her colonies. The Swedish style does not have lists of clues or any numbers as the clues are inside the cell that would be shaded in other countries. Arrows indicate which way the answer should run. There are many other types of grids, as well.
There can be themed puzzles and clues can be direct or indirect. Sometimes the clues are purposely ambiguous and at other times clues are linked to each other and solving one word helps to solve the other. The New York Times, when they did finally join in, added another layer of fun. Earlier in the week, the puzzles are easier. But as the week progresses, they get more and more difficult until by Sunday, one can spend the entire day working on the larger puzzled included for the day of rest. As leisure time increased, so did the different types of puzzles available and today there are many ways to play with words and numbers while filling in a grid. There are also many varieties of puzzles available online.
It’s the boredom that kills you. You read until you’re tired of that. You do crossword puzzles until you’re tired of that. This is torture. This is mental torture. – Jack Kevorkian
The nice thing about doing a crossword puzzle is, you know there is a solution. – Stephen Sondheim
I am interested in a lot of things – not just show business and my passion for animals. I try to keep current in what’s going on in the world. I do mental exercises. I don’t have any trouble memorizing lines because of the crossword puzzles I do every day to keep my mind a little limber. I don’t sit and vegetate. – Betty White
I get up, go and get a coffee, and go do the crossword – I’m loyal to one particular paper, the ‘Guardian’ – and that’s my idea of a perfect morning. – Laura Marling
Also on this day: The Great Quake – In 1906, a large earthquake devastates San Francisco.
The House that Ruth Built – In 1923, Yankee Stadium opened.
One if by Land; Two if by Sea - In 1775, Paul Revere took a ride through the countryside.
Suicide Bomber – In 1983, the US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon was destroyed.
April 17, 1875: The game of snooker, a variation of pool, is invented by Sir Neville Chamberlain. Cue sports, also called billiard sports, are games played on a specially built table with pockets to catch balls that are moved across the field by use of a cue stick. The sides of the table are padded, allowing for rebounds and freer movement of the balls. All cue sports are thought to have evolved from an outdoor stick and ball game and are therefore related in some ways to trucco, croquet, and golf. An outdoor form of billiards was being played as early as the 1340s and King Louis XI of France had the first known indoor billiard table and he went on to refine the game.
Snooker was invented in India and played on a table that accurately measures 11 feet 8.5 inches by 5 feet 10 inches but is called a 12 x 6 table for convenience. The baize cloth covering the table has a nap running in the direction from the baulk end toward the end with the black ball spot. There are 22 snooker balls: one white cue ball, 15 red balls each worth one point, and six different color balls each with a different point value – yellow is 2, green is 3, brown is 4, blue is 5, pink is 6, and black is 7. The game can be played between individuals or between teams. Points are awarded for potting a ball and the player or team with the highest score wins.
British Army officers stationed in India played billiards. The addition to this game was to add the colored balls and the series of point values. The rules were formalized by Chamberlain in Ootacamund. The term snooker has military origins and was slang for first-year cadets or inexperienced personnel. The legend behind the naming of the game comes from an opponent’s failure to pot a ball and being called a Snooker by Chamberlain. It became attached to the game as played in the outlying region and inexperienced players were called snookers. Although it grew in popularity even back in England, it was still a game for the gentry and many gentlemen’s clubs would not permit nonmembers to play. These outcasts formed their own snooker clubs.
Neville Francis Fitzgerald Chamberlain was born in 1856 and should be confused with the later Prime Minister. He was born into a military family and educated at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was commissioned a sub-lieutenant in 1873 and promoted to lieutenant a year later. He was stationed in Afghanistan and wounded (slightly) in the Battle of Kandahar. He rose to the rank of colonel and served in both India and South Africa. In 1900 he was appointed Inspector-General of the Royal Irish Constabulary and worked in that capacity for many years. He received many awards and retired in March 1938. He returned to live in Ascot, Berkshire, England where he remained until his death in 1944 at the age of 88.
Snooker is a game of simple shots played to perfection. – Joe Davies
I think it’s a great idea to talk during sex, as long as it’s about snooker. – Steve Davis
A lot of people think international relations is like a game of chess. But it’s not a game of chess, where people sit quietly, thinking out their strategy, taking their time between moves. It’s more like a game of billiard, with a bund of balls clustered together. – Madeleine Albright
The game of golf would lose a great deal if croquet mallets and billiard cues were allowed on the putting green. – Ernest Hemingway
Also on this day: America’s Renaissance Man – In 1790, Benjamin Franklin dies.
FedEx – In 1973, FedEx began operation.
Stories - In 1397, Chaucer presented the Canterbury Tales for the first time.
Frenchman Takes Off – In 1944, Henri Giraud escaped a POW prison.
April 16, 1818: The Rush-Bagot Treaty is ratified in the US. The treaty was between the US and Britain following the War of 1812. That war was fought between June 18, 1812 and February 18, 1815 and ended in a draw with little accomplished other than thousands killed and many more wounded. Many of the battles took place on the Great Lakes. The US allies included the Choctaw, Cherokee, and Creek while the British were helped by over a dozen tribes and Spain. Their rule of Canada remained intact at the end of the war. The war did finalize some of the unresolved issued left over from the Revolutionary War but no borders were changed and Canada remained a British colony.
The purpose of the treaty signed on this date was to demilitarize the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain. The British maintained several different military installations along the international boundary and these were to be dismantled and vacated. British North America and the US could each maintain one and only one ship of not more than 100 tons burden on both Lake Ontario and Lake Champlain. They could each have one and only one cannon not to exceed eighteen pounds at each site as well. The other four of the Great Lakes could each have two ships of similar size and cannon also within this limit. Between this treaty and the one actually ending the war, it was set up to demilitarize the boundary between the US and Canada.
The ideas put forth in the treaty were first established in correspondence between acting US Secretary of State Richard Rush and British Minister to Washington Sir Charles Bagot exchanged on April 27 and 28, 1817. The terms were officially written up as the Rush-Bagot Agreement and presented to Congress. On this date, the Senate ratified the treaty. The Treaty of Washington in 1871 completed the disarmament and the entire border was thus affected. In 1946, both the US and Canada agreed through diplomatic exchange, to permit naval vessels on the Great Lakes to be used for training as long as each government was advised prior to the movement of ships to the area. In 2004, the US Coast Guard began to arm its 11 Great Lakes ships with M240 7.62 mm machine guns to help control the increase in smuggling operations on the lakes.
Today, there are still military installations on or near the Great Lakes. Canada maintains 17 such installations scattered throughout Ontario. The US has 11 such installations scattered across five states. This treaty created the longest east-west boundary in the world which stretched for 5,527 miles. Today, the Canada-US border is the longest demilitarized border anywhere. Each of the two countries has a plaque commemorating the Rush-Bagot Agreement and celebrates the ability to live in close proximity without malice and without military protection of an agreed upon border. There is a plaque in Kingston, Ontario, one in Washington, D.C., and a third is located on the ground of Old Fort Niagara (near Youngstown, New York), as well.
When I was crossing the border into Canada, they asked if I had any firearms with me. I said, ‘Well, what do you need?’ – Steven Wright
Canada is the only country in the world that knows how to live without an identity. – Marshall McLuhan
If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia. – Margaret Atwood
Canada is like a loft apartment over a really great party. – Robin Williams
Also on this day: Little Sure Shot – In 1922, a little old lady performs a remarkable marksmanship feat.
Goya Sunk – In 1945, the Russians sunk the German refugee ship.
High Flyer – In 1912. Harriet Quimby became the first woman to fly across the English Channel.
Taking Marbles; Leaving – In 1858, the Wernerian Natural History Society ceased to exist.
April 15, 1755: Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language is published. In June of 1746, a group of London booksellers approached Johnson and asked him to write a dictionary for 1,500 guineas or about £210,000 ($350,000) in today’s money. Dictionaries already existing were simply not up to the task. As more people became literate, a greater number of publications were available and it became economical to also produce a dictionary the masses could afford. With the explosion of printed material, it was necessary to create a set of rules for grammar, definitions, and spellings for the words defined. Johnson thought it would take him about three years to complete a new dictionary – it took nine years, instead.
Over the previous 150 years, there had been over twenty dictionaries published. The oldest was a Latin-English “wordbook” by Sir Thomas Elyot and published in 1538. Sixty years later, an Italian-English dictionary was the first to use quotations as illustrations of word usage. None of these early dictionaries actually included the definition for the English words. Next up was a listing by Robert Cawdrey called “Table Alphabeticall” published in 1604 which made it easier to find the English word one was looking for. It contained 2,449 words and none of them began with the letters w, x, or y. Many more dictionaries were published and by 1721 Nathan Bailey listed 40,000 words in his.
All these remarkable books still did not fit our definition of what a dictionary should be. They were little more than lists, usually poorly organized and poorly researched, of what were considered to be “hard words” which meant they were technical, foreign, obscure, or antiquated. They did not give illustrations of how the words were used in English. Dr. Johnson was given the task of improving on these older books and tried to remedy all these failings from prior works. The hope to get the book into the hands of masses was dashed when the scope of the book was taken into consideration. The English language is full of words. Many words. Too many words.
The book was large and expensive, costing £1,600 – more than Johnson earned to write it. The pages were 18 inches tall an almost 20 inches wide. No bookseller could print it without help. Other than some copies of the Bible, no book of this size had been set to type. There were only 42,773 words included, but they were defined (by synonyms) and illustrated with literary quotations which gave English usage meaning to the words. There were about 114,000 quotations included. Johnson also included notes, sometimes including humor, to give extra shades of meaning to the words. The Oxford English Dictionary, which finally replaced Dr. Johnson’s work, took forty years to complete and contains nearly 750,000 words.
I shall therefore, since the rules of stile, like those of law, arise from precedents often repeated, collect the testimonies of both sides, and endeavour to discover and promulgate the decrees of custom, who has so long possessed whether by right or by usurpation, the sovereignty of words.
Excise: a hateful tax levied upon commodities and adjudged not by the common judges of property but wretches hired by those to whom excise is paid
Lexicographer: a writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge that busies himself in tracing the original and detailing the signification of words
Oats: a grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people – all from Samuel Johnson
Also on this day: Going for the Gold – In 1896, the first Modern Olympic Games come to an end.
Cartography – in 1924, Rand McNally published its first atlas.
Leonardo - In 1452, Leonardo da Vinci was born.
Sunk – In 1912, the Titanic sunk.
April 14, 1881: A very short gunfight breaks out on El Paso Street in El Paso, Texas. The gunfight was so newsworthy it got its own name. It is called Four Dead in Five Seconds and most of the witnesses state that is the time it took from first to last shot. There are others, in the minority, who claim it may have lasted ten seconds. Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire was responsible for three of the four deaths. He was using twin .44 caliber Colt revolvers during the fracas.
Sanchez and Juarique were tracking stolen cattle and went missing. A posse of 75 heavily armed Mexicans came looking for them, believing them to have tracked the cattle to Johnny Hale’s ranch outside El Paso. Indeed, the bodies of the two men were found close by the Hale ranch as Constable Gus Kermpkau escorted the posse with mayor Solomon Schutz’s permission. A court in El Paso held an inquest. Kermpkau was fluent in Spanish and acted as interpreter. The court found that American cattle russlers, including Hale, were afraid they were being tracked. Two men, Pervey and Fredericks, were accused of the murders of Sanchez and Juarique after the Americans were overhead bragging about it.
A large group of men including Hale and his friend, the former Marshal George Campbell, gathered outside. The two Americans were formally charged at the inquest and the Mexicans left town with their friends bodies. The trial for the murders would be held later. Stoudenmire, a noted gunman, had just started working as Marshal on April 11. He was across the street from the courthouse eating dinner. Constable Krempkau went to the saloon next door to retrieve his guns. Campbell and Hale began to berate him about his translation and accused him of being friendly with the Mexicans. Hale, who was drunk, grabbed one of Campbell’s pistols and shot Krempkau. He slumped backwards and drew his pistol.
Stoudenmire heard the shots and left the restaurant with guns drawn. One warning shot he fired killed an innocent bystander. Hale jumped from behind cover and Stoudenmire shot and killed him instantly. Campbell broke cover and Krempkau shot at him, hitting his arm. As Campbell was trying to retrieve his gun, Stoudenmire whirled and shot him in the stomach. Both Campbell and Krempkau died within minutes. Three days later, James Manning (a friend of Hale and Campbell) convinced a former deputy to assassinate Stoudenmire, but the attempt was unsuccessful. Stoudenmire did manage to kill his attacker. This led to a feud between Manning and Stoudenmire which led to Stoudenmire’s death for which Manning was exonerated by a stacked jury.
Stoudenmire had a checkered background, having used his talents both for and against the law. - Justin McHugh
As the pressure increased, Stoudenmire himself began hitting the booze. His Brother-in-law, Doc Cummings, was killed by the Manning brothers, or one of their retinue. The marshal became surly and more dangerous under the burdens of grief and sourmash whiskey, and an alarmed city administration maneuvered him into resigning. – Skeeter Skelton
Guns are part of the American psyche, aren’t they? This is collateral damage for having a Wild West mentality. It’s intrinsic to the American psyche. It’s never going to change. – Nick Cave
It’s been a great place to get in touch with what people are really thinking. And to make contact with readers and other writers. Egalitarian, wide open, like the Wild West! – Greg Bear
Also on this day: “I’m the King of the World!” – In 1912, RMS Titanic strikes an iceberg.
Westward, Ho! – In 1846, the Donner Party began their trek west.
Black Sunday – In 1935, the dust bowl got a lot dustier.
Too Early for July Fourth – In 1944, the SS Fort Stikine exploded.
April 13, 1863: The Society for the Relief of the Ruptured and Crippled is incorporated in the State of New York. Today, it is known as the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS). Located in New York City, it specializes in the orthopedic surgery and the treatment of rheumatologic conditions. It is the oldest orthopedic hospital in the US and is considered to be one of the world’s best institutions for joint replacement surgery. They are also famous for spinal surgery both from congenital and acute causes and sports medicine. They also offer limb lengthening procedures. Included are programs for medical education. They are associated with Weill Cornell Medical College and have 277 active medical staff led by Thomas Sculco, MD and Louis Shapiro. They run a 205 bed facility.
James A. Knight, MD and Robert M. Hartley began the institution to help those in need. At the time, New York City had a population of around 800,000 and there was little access to medical care, especially for the poor in the city. Hartley funded the idea while Dr. Knight, a general practitioner, opened his private house on Second Avenue and 6th Street to patients. He had 28 inpatient beds in his house and the first patients were brought in on May 1, 1863. Since it was the middle of the US Civil War, there were many patients in need of services provided. In the first year 824 patients were treated. A larger space would be needed to meet the growing demand. John C. Green, a successful New York businessman, began to raise $200,000 for a new building which opened in May 1870 on 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue.
The hospital did well under Dr. Knight. He developed a system called Expectant Treatment which included fresh air, good diet, exercise, electrical stimulation, and gentle rehabilitation. There were few surgeries actually performed while he was Surgeon-in-Chief as he thought surgical intervention was often detrimental. This was a time before sterile technique and antibiotics and infection rates were very high. It wasn’t until 1887 when Dr. Virgil P Gibney became Surgeon-in-Chief that an Operating Room, Hernia Department, and Resident Training program were instituted. Dr. Gibney became the first Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Columbia Medical College. He introduced the use of plaster of Paris, traction, and surgery when absolutely necessary. The hospital again changed locations and by the end of Dr. Gibney’s tenure in 1924, 3,000 surgical procedures had taken place.
The hospital moved to its present location on East River between 70th and 71st Streets in 1955. A fellowship in rheumatology had been introduced in 1944 and in 1955 with Dr. T. Campbell Thompson in charge, expanded orthopedic surgical treatments were brought in. As time passed, more new departments were added to increase the number of conditions which could be treated at the small but highly acclaimed institution. Today, there are seventeen specialized centers focusing on specific problems and patient needs.
To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone. – Reba McEntire
What a dog I got, his favorite bone is in my arm. – Rodney Dangerfield
A broken bone can heal, but the wound a word opens can fester forever. – Jessamyn West
When a gust of wind hits a broken bone, you feel it. – Shia LaBeouf
Also on this day: Houston We Have a Problem – In 1970, there is an explosion on the Apollo 13 lunar mission.
Freedom of Religion – In 1829, Britain granted Roman Catholics to practice their religion.
Hallelujah! - In 1742, Handel’s Messiah debuted.
What Were They Thinking? – In 1953, MK-ULTRA was launched by Allen Dulles.
April 12, 1877: A catcher’s mask is first worn during a baseball game. Baseball is a bat and ball game played between two nine-player teams. The offense is the team batting or
hitting the ball while the defense has positions in the field to prevent a score. The batter, getting a legal hit will advance through the four bases and after completing the diamond, scores a point. The fielding positions are numbered for scoring purposes with the pitcher as 1, catcher as 2, bases as 3, 4, 5, short stop as 6 and the outfield as 7, 8, and 9. The game’s first appeared in type before becoming the game we know today. In 1344 there was an illustration of a game that resembled what is today called baseball. In England, in 1744 a game was called base-ball. Historians tend to agree that the game we have today was one of many regional variations and originated in this form in America.
The catcher, position #2, is placed behind the batter standing at home plate and in front of the umpire. The catcher’s primary duty is to receive the ball from the pitcher. As the only defensive player able to see the entire field, the catcher is in position to direct actions out on the field. The catcher will often use hand signals to let the pitcher know what type of ball to throw. This means the catcher must know both the pitcher’s and the batter’s strengths and weaknesses as well as how the activity on the outfield is shaping up. When a foul tip, or a ball struck by the bat that is not in fair play, occurs, it is also up to the catcher to attempt to catch the ball while still in the air to effect an out. Because of the catcher’s precarious position, he or she is given protective gear which from this date forward featured a mask. Also included today are chest and throat protectors, shin guards, and an extra-thick glove.
Because catchers need such a wide range of skills and knowledge to be effective in their job, they are often given some slack if their offensive activity isn’t as great as that held in other positions. Like the pitcher, low batting statistics are less important. Also, because of their great knowledge of so many aspects of the game itself, there is a disproportionately large number of retired catchers who end up being managers of baseball teams in both the major and minor leagues.
Before the US Civil War, pitches were lobbed to the batter underhand. Because of this type of pitch, many foul tips were hit and the catcher was placed about 20-25 feet behind the batter in order to catch the foul balls. He also wore no protective gear at the time. As pitches went to overhand throws the catcher’s duties and position changed. Pitchers were now trying to strike out the batters by throwing balls that could not be hit and it became a rule that a strike for a missed pitch could only be counted if it was caught by the catcher, thus forcing him to move in closer. Soon, they needed to wear a glove and then the mask followed. At first, this led to having a catcher’s courage questioned but the efficacy soon made it part of the routine uniform. Soon, other protective gear followed.
Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets. – Yogi Berra
There are three types of baseball players: Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen and those who wonder what happens. – Tommy Lasorda
Baseball was, is and always will be to me the best game in the world. – Babe Ruth
A baseball game is simply a nervous breakdown divided into nine innings. – Earl Wilson
Also on this day: Jerry Did Good – In 1996, Yahoo! goes public.
Polio Vaccine – In 1955, Jonas Salk’s vaccine was approved.
Union Jack - In 1606, Great Britain adopted a new flag.
The Columbus of the Cosmos – In 1961, Yuri Gagarin was the first human to go into space.
April 11, 2013: The world loses a great improvisational comedian. Jonathan Harshman Winters III was born in Bellbrook, Ohio on November 11, 1925. His family was relatively wealthy when he was born. Valentine Winters founded Winters National Bank and his grandfather ran it. The bank collapsed during the Great Depression and was sold and is now part of JPMorgan Chase. When Jonathan was seven, his parents divorced and he his mother sent him to Springfield, Ohio to live with her mother. He spent much of his time playing alone in his room where he entertained himself by making strange sound effects which would later become an integral part of his stage presence. He quit high school to join the US Marine Corps during World War II and served two and a half years in the Pacific Theater. He came home and enrolled in college. He married Eileen Schauder on September 11, 1948.
Jonathon lost his watch and couldn’t afford to buy another one. His wife saw a promotion for a talent contest and the first prize was a watch so she told her husband to “go down and win it.” She was confident he would win; he did. This win led to a disk jockey job where his sole task was to introduce songs and give weather reports. His ad libs, sound effects, and effervescent personality took over the show. He was becoming a comedian. He performed as Johnny Winters for two and a half years at WBNS-TV and quit in 1953 when they would not give him a requested $5 raise. He promised his wife he would return to Dayton, Ohio in a year if he didn’t make it in New York City and he got his first national TV performance in 1954 on Chance of a Lifetime.
In 1956, he made TV history when RCA broadcast the first public demonstration of color videotape on The Jonathan Winters Show. He was able to appear as two characters bantering back and forth and created the “video stunt”. During this time he invented some of his most memorable personalities. Maude Frickert was a seemingly sweet old lady but her barbed wit was often a counterpoint to her gray hair and apron. He also used his sound effects talent to impersonate famous people and went so far as to prank Jack Paar, pretending to be US President Kennedy.
He recorded several iconic comedy albums as well as some serious reading of literature. All this did not keep him from acting and he was in more than 50 movies as well as all his television appearances. He had two roles in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and would entertain the other actors for hours as they waited between scenes. He continued working for both the large and small screen and was awarded many times for his performances. In 2004 he was placed at #18 for Comedy Central’s list of the 100 greatest stand-ups of all time. He died of natural causes on this day at the age of 87.
I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it.
Well, the most terrible fear that anybody should have is not war, is not a disease, not cancer or heart problems or food poisoning – it’s a man or a woman without a sense of humor.
Something I’ll always remember – when I was a kid, I shook hands with Orville Wright. Forty years later, I shook hands with Neil Armstrong. The guy that invented the airplane and the guy that walked on the moon. In a lifetime, that’s kinda wild when you think about it.
I’ve done for the most part pretty much what I intended – I ended up doing comedy, writing and painting. I’ve had a ball. And as I get older, I just become an older kid. – all from Jonathan Winters
First he was my idol, then he was my mentor and amazing friend. I’ll miss him huge. He was my Comedy Buddha. Long live the Buddha. – Robin Williams
Also on this day: Coming to America – In 1890, Ellis Island becomes the national immigration center.
Civil Rights Act – In 1968, President Johnson signed the bill into law.
Elks – In 1876, the Elks were organized.
Joe, Not John – In 1890, the Elephant Man died.