Today in Sports History: March 4th

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(It took a long time for Manny to re-sign. Photo by Harry How, Getty Images)

3/04/1990 - Hank Gathers dies on court

It was one of the most horrendous moments in all of sports.

Seconds after he threw down a dunk, Hank Gathers of Loyola Marymount collapses at midcourt during a conference tournament game against the University of Portland. The 3,000 fans in attendance, among them Gathers' own aunt and mother, watched in stunned silence as doctors rushed onto the floor to try to resuscitate the 23 year-old, who had gone into a seizure. The game was postponed and he was taken to the hospital, where the physicians on-hand were unable to revive him. He was pronounced dead less than two hours later.

"Words are hard right now," said Loyola coach Paul Westhead. "This is the hardest thing I've experienced. To be so close to a player and see him fall and for it to be over. I feel a deep hurt for his family."

Gathers had already made a name for himself in the world of sports. The dynamic duo of him and teammate Bo Kimble had taken an otherwise irrelevant team from the West Coast Conference and made them into a national contender. They were the first two players to score 40 apiece in a single game, led the Lions to 25 games with more than 100 points, and -- with Kimble leading the nation in scoring -- were on pace to become just the second school to post back-to-back years with a different player leading the nation in points. They had even appeared on the Today Show in tandem. At the time of his death, Loyola Marymount was ranked No. 11 in the nation with a 23-5 record, while Gathers was averaging 29 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.

Gathers, who in 1989 became just the second player in Division I basketball to lead the nation in both points and rebounds, was on track to receiving a first round selection in the NBA draft. Later that day, he had planned to take in an NBA game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Minnesota Timberwolves. "It's so ironic," said Lakers coach Pat Riley, who had invited Gathers to several of his team's practices. "The issue of life is so ironic. Mychal Thompson's family just had a baby, James (Worthy) had a baby, and tonight, Larry Drew was helping his wife go through labor with their first child. At a time when new people are coming into this world, a very young one gets taken."

It was not the first time that Gathers had collapsed during a game. In a game just three months earlier, he had fainted as he was about to attempt a free throw. Gathers was subsequently diagnosed with an irregular heart beat and was given large doses of propanolol to even it out. Medical officials determined that the drug was working, but Gathers didn't like it. It was making him sluggish and moody and was hurting his basketball game. He convinced the doctors to wean his body off the drug and he soon began feeling and playing like his old self.

It was a costly mistake; an autopsy revealed that he also had cardiomyopathy, a heart condition that could prove lethal if there was too much stress on the heart. In Gathers' case, it did.

The WCC tournament was canceled and Loyola Marymount, who had a 13-1 record in conference play, was given an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The Lions went on a remarkable run and advanced all the way to the Elite Eight before getting hammered by UNLV, the national champions. Bo Kimble provided the highlight of that year's tournament by shooting his first free throw of each game left-handed, in honor of the left-handed Gathers. Kimble made all three of his lefty freebies.

3/04/2008 - Brett Favre retires (for the first time)

Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre announces that his NFL career has come to an end. Little did he know that his NFL career was alive and kicking, and that his return to football would become an immense headache for his longtime team.

To read the longest article that I've ever written for this site, click here for an in-depth Inhistoric article:

3/04/2009 - Dodgers re-sign Manny Ramirez

Normally when a sports team re-signs someone, the news isn't that significant or relevant. It was, however, for Manny Ramirez when he signed a two-year, $45 million deal with the L.A. Dodgers. Since becoming a free agent, Ramirez and agent Scott Boras had been looking from team to team, hoping to find someone to give Manny a max contract. The Dodgers, who had traded for Manny the previous summer, were offering him $20 million a year. Ramirez declined, stating that he was looking for a long-term deal worth at least $100 million.

No one was willing to give in to Boras' standards. Although Manny was coming off a monster season with the Dodgers, he was 36 years old and was known for his colorful and often tumultuous antics. Ramirez continued to hold out, all the way to spring training, until it became painfully clear that the Dodgers were the only team willing to give him so much money. Ramirez at last accepted the $45 million deal, a deal that he had been offered in December.

In the end, Manny's money holdout was mostly fruitless. In May of that year, Ramirez was suspended 50 games for using a women's fertility drug common among steroid users. By sitting out a third of the season, Manny lost both $7.7 million and the credibility of everyone outside of Los Angeles.
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