Today in Sports History: April 13th


(Russell fights for the rebound over Bob Pettit. Photo by Richard Meek, SI Photos)

4/13/1957 - Celtics win Finals in thriller

The Boston Celtics win their first NBA championship in style, narrowly beating the St. Louis Hawks in a 125-123 double overtime victory -- one of the most exciting Game 7's in history. The game came to a close when Bob Pettit, the Hawks' All-Star forward who led the game with 39 points, missed a shot at the buzzer that would have tied the score.

"It's my greatest day in basketball," said Celtics owner Walter Brown. "I've waited for this a long time. There have been rough times but now every minute has been worth it."

Celtics' forward Tommy Heinsohn -- who later called it the greatest game in NBA history -- led the C's with 37 points and 23 rebounds, while Bill Russell chipped in with 19 points, 32 rebounds, and five blocks. Boston pulled away with the win despite terrible shooting games from Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman, who went a combine 5-40 from the floor.

The following season, the Hawks got their revenge by beating the Celtics in the Finals in six games.


(Mmmm.... chocolate....)

4/13/1978 - Yankees hand out Reggie Jackson candy bars

Back when he was a member of the Oakland Athletics, outfielder Reggie Jackson once said, "If I played in New York, they'd name a candy bar after me." Reggie was of course referencing the Baby Ruth candy bar, which was actually named after Grover Cleveland's daughter and not, as many people believe, after the Sultan of Swat.

Nonetheless, people took track of what Mr. Jackson said, particularly the Curtiss Candy Company which made the Baby Ruth bar. A couple years later, Reggie Jackson was playing for the none other the New York Yankees when his prediction came true. In the Yankees' home opener for the '78 season, Curtiss produced "Reggie!" bars that were passed out to each spectator at Yankee Stadium.

The 25-cent candy was a combination of chocolate, peanuts, caramel, and corn syrup. Though technically not a bar, the circular candy was wrapped in a square, orange covering with a picture of Jackson in mid-swing.

In the first inning, Jackson got off on the right track with a towering home run off of knuckleball-thrower Wilbur Wood. The crowd chanted "Reggie! Reggie!" as he rounded the bases. Almost instantly, fans began throwing the candy bars onto the field, a celebratory style mostly seen in hockey. In a sport based on tradition and gamesmanship, the site of thousand and thousands of Reggie! bars landing onto the Yankee Stadium lawn was a site that will likely never be equaled.

When Jackson left the Yankees for the California Angels in 1982, the Reggie! bar went with him. Only briefly, when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993, did the now legendary promotion make a return to stores.

4/13/1997 - Tiger destroys the field at the Masters

In his first major tournament as a professional, Tiger Woods wins the illustrious Masters by an astounding 12 shots. It was the most watched golfing event of all time and the official beginning of the Tiger Woods era.

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


(The Ortiz jersey that was pulled from the concrete. Photo courtesy of AP Photos)

4/13/2008 - Yankees dig up Sox jersey

This next story is one that you'll think is either really neat or really stupid. Either way, it signifies how seriously many people take the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.

In April 2008, two construction workers told that the New York Post that one of the workers helping build the new Yankee Stadium had buried a Red Sox jersey somewhere in the confines. The men came forward in fear that the buried jersey, which was planted in the ground as an attempt to hex the Yankees, would do just that. Said one of the men, "I don't want to be responsible for sinking the franchise. I respect the stadium."

The man who planted the jersey was revealed to be Gino Castignoli, a longtime Red Sox fan who wore the uniform to work and buried it somewhere along the third base line. Most organizations would have ignored the superstitious burial of a rival's product -- but not the Yankees. On this day in 2008, the Yankees had construction workers dig at the site for hours until they exhumed a tattered jersey emblazoned with the name of Red Sox slugger David Oritz. It had been buried under two feet of concrete.

The jersey was later donated to Boston's Jimmy Fund, leading Yankees president Randy Levine to say, "We turned this dastardly act into a positive one."

Ever the diplomat, Yankees owner Hank Steinbrenner said of Mr. Castignoli, "I hope his co-workers kick the living [expletive] out of him," to which Mr. Castignoli replied, "Tell Hank he can come meet me if he wants to try -- and tell him to bring [catcher Jorge] Posada, because he's the one Yankee I can't stand."

Humorously, Castignoli had previously plead guilty for being in an illegal gambling ring tying to the Gambino crime family. A man with Mafia connections who works in the cement business? The Yankees should have been glad there was just a jersey buried there.

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