Today in Sports History: April 26th

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(Hal McRae loses it in front a camera crew.)

4/26/1993 - Put that in your pipe and smoke it

Kansas City manager Hal McRae was known as a mild-mannered guy. But after a tough 5-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers, there was nothing mild about him. One reporter, of several who had followed him in to his office after the game, asked him "Did you consider Brett for Miller with the bases loaded in the 7th?" It was obviously the wrong question. McRae reacted by going on a profanity-laced tirade and throwing everything in sight. One reporter was left bleeding thanks to a tape recorder in the face, while another had to dodge a telephone that was flung from his desk.

And, after everyone had backed out of McRae's office, the Royals coach offered a final sound bite to an already memorable performance: "Now, put that in your #&%!@* pipe and smoke it!" Unfortunately for McRae, a cameraman had been filming the entire episode. And thus, McRae joined the pantheon of the greatest coaching tirades in sports.

On a side note, McRae is also notable for being partly responsible for the "Pine Tar Incident." McRae was the batter on deck after Royals third baseman George Brett, and could have prevented the entire ordeal from happening by picking up Brett's bat before the umpires could look at it. "If I'd have done that," he later told Baseball Digest, "there never would have been a pine tar incident."

4/26/2006 - Bryant changes his number

It is first reported that Kobe Bryant will be changing his jersey number from #8 to #24. The switch was significant not only because Bryant was the biggest star in the NBA, but because he was perhaps the athlete most synonymous with his jersey number. If someone said "the ocho scored 50 last night," there was no ambiguity over who they were talking about.

Bryant first wore #24 in his freshman year in high school, and then #33 to honor his father, Joe Bryant, who also wore #33. Bryant was drafted by the Lakers in 1996, who had already retired the #33 jersey, as worn by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Kobe instead chose to wear #8, citing that he wore the number when he played in Italy.

As for the change, Bryant said it was to indicate the second half of his playing career. The following season, Bryant reclaimed his position as the No. 1 jersey-seller in the NBA, something he had lost since the sexual assault case of 2003.

4/26/2006 - Delmon Young throws bat

Delmon Young, the reigning Minor League Player of the Year, left a terrible impression to the media on this day in 2006. Playing for the Durham Bulls (the AAA affiliate of the Devil Rays), Delmon Young was called out on a high third strike in the first inning. The regular umpires were on strike, so high school and college-level umpires had been filling in.

Delmon, the 20-year old brother of major leaguer Dmitri Young, wasn't so forgiving to the scab home plate chief. After arguing the call, Young was tossed from the game for refusing to leave the batter's box. Seconds after being ejected, Young underhandedly tossed the bat straight at the umpire.

Young was criticized harshly for his lack of professionalism. His actions handed him a 50-game reprieve, the largest suspension in the 123-year history of the International League. He was also given 50 hours of probation and he collectively lost about $145,000 in salary. The following season, the Rays traded Young to the Minnesota Twins.

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