Today in Sports History: October 13th

10/13/1903 - Americans win first World Series

In the eighth game of a best-of-nine series -- the first championship played between the American and National Leagues -- the Boston Americans beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-0. The Americans, also known as the Pilgrims and later known as the Red Sox, raised their championship flag over the Huffington Avenue Grounds; they played there until 1912, when they moved to Fenway Park.

The championship bout between the two leagues was so successful that it became an annual event. Named the "World Series" the following season, it was later shortened to a best-of-seven series, which became the standard length for all sports playoffs. The Americans' win also gave the American League a greater amount of credibility, which they had previously lacked as the newer of the two leagues.

10/13/1967 - First ABA Game

The Oakland Oaks defeat the Anaheim Amigos, 135-129, in the inaugural game of the American Basketball Association.

The ABA was founded much in the same way that the American Football League was. In 1967, the NBA had teams in ten major cities and was content to leave things as they were -- mainly because they lacked the resources to expand thoroughly. Dennis Murphy, encouraged by the AFL's success in combining with the NFL, founded the rival league with the hope that it could eventually merge with the NBA -- he later started the World Hockey Association in the hope of doing the same thing with the NHL (it lasted from 1972 to 1979).

The ABA's nine-year existence was marred with financial woes. All of the AFL franchises survived because the team owners were wealthy enough to handle the initial setbacks. The ABA owners on the other hand were not nearly as luxurious and many were forced to sell or move their team -- the Anaheim Amigos became the Utah Stars while the Oakland Oaks became the Washington Caps. Strapped for cash, teams tried everything to attract paying customers. Halftime shows and double features were frequent among the teams. In one of the most famous stunts, the Miami Floridians put the ball girls in bikinis, then positioned them behind the basket to distract the opposing team; in another game, they gave away free pantyhose to the first 500 women who appeared at the arena.

It was through its search to differentiate from the NBA that the ABA stumbled onto something great. The ABA invented the three-point line, the slam dunk competition, and the red-white-and-blue basketball. It introduced Julius Erving, Artis Gilmore, Connie Hawkins, David Thompson, and George Gervin to the world. But most importantly, the league offered a style of basketball that had never been seen before, one with high-scoring games, flashy dunks, and players who were not afraid to sport giant Afros. Although the ABA never threatened the NBA's popularity, it won over millions of fans who found it to be more exciting than regular basketball. Today, the league is considered the forebear of the modern NBA and is one of the most quintessential things of the 1970's.

The ABA eventually merged with the NBA in 1976. In the 1977 All-Star Game, 10 of the 24 players had played in the ABA, and within a few years, many of the most innovative aspects of the ABA were incorporated into the framework of the league.

10/13/1985 - Tarp 1, Coleman 0

In 1985, Vince Coleman set a rookie record with 110 stolen bases and won the Rookie of the Year award. But his '85 season would be best remembered for how it ended, which remains one of the freakiest incidents in baseball history.

It was Game 4 of the NLCS, and Coleman was stretching out his legs when rain began to fall on Busch Stadium. The start of the game was delayed, and the grounds crew began to roll out the tarp to cover the field. But Coleman wasn't paying attention, and before he knew it, the tarp had swallowed up his entire left leg. It took half a minute for assistants to come over and push the roller off of him, but the damage had been done. Coleman's left leg was badly bruised and he had to be taken off the field in a stretcher. It remains one of the most bizarre season-ending injuries ever seen on a field.

"That tarp was a real man-eater," Coleman later joked. His replacement, Tito Landrum, did a fine job in his replacement, knocking four hits and three RBI as his St. Louis Cardinals thumped the Los Angeles Dodgers, 12-2. Even without Coleman, the Cards made it all the way to the World Series, where they lost in seven games to the Kansas City Royals.

10/13/2001 - Jeter throws out Giambi

In a do-or-die playoff game with the Oakland A's, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter saves his team's season by throwing out Jeremy Giambi at home plate. The play is considered one of the greatest defensive efforts in MLB history, and allowed his Yankees to advance to the next round and then to the World Series.

To read more about this story, click here for an in-depth Inhistoric article:

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