Today in Sports History: September 19th


(Mantle rounds third on homer run No. 535. Photo courtesy of Bettman/Corbis)

Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Avast ye mateys!

Today, September 19th, is International Talk Like a Pirate Day! And believe it or not, there is a sports connection. The holiday was created by two men, John Bauer and Mark Summers, who came up with the idea after the two of them were playing racquetball. Eventually, one of them yelled "Aargh" when they were hit with the ball, causing the brainstorm that led to I.T.L.A.P.D.

"We originally came up with the idea on June 6th, 1995," Bauer told NPR in September 2002, "and then we realized, 'Gosh, June 6th is D-Day. We can't do it on D-Day.'" Bauer asked Summers what another memorable date would be, and Summers chose September 19th -- the birthday of his ex-wife. And so, thanks in part to racquetball, people everywhere now get to talk like pirate on September 19th.

On a side note, International Talk Like a Pirate Day is a major holiday for Pastafarians, or people who believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. To them, pirates are considered "absolute divine beings" whose disappearance over time is the sole reason for the rise in global warming.

9/19/1968 - Mantle hits home run off McLain

The Detroit Tigers were leading the New York Yankees 6-1 in the final game of their regular season series. Denny McLain was on the mound for Detroit, and he knew that with the run support he had, he'd come away with his 31st victory of the year. And even if he somehow didn't, his Tigers had an insurmountable lead in the AL pennant race. So when Mickey Mantle stepped to the plate with one out in eighth inning, McLain decided to do him a favor. He walked over to catcher Jim Price and told him that he was going to let Mantle hit a home run.

"I said 'I want you to tell Mantle to be ready,'" He recalled on Outside the Lines. "He said, 'what do you mean be ready?' I said, 'you know, just let him hit the ball, but let him know that something is going on.' 'He said, you mean cheat?'"

Mantle was playing in the final year of his career and was tied with Jimmie Foxx for third on the all-time home run list. McLain had idolized him growing up and felt that it'd be an honor to give up the historic blast to him.

"And I threw the first pitch literally on an arc, the ball came in on an arc. Strike one, Mantle takes it. He doesn't know what the hell is going on. I throw the next pitch, Mantle takes it again for strike two. And I said, where the hell do you want the pitch. And he put his hand out about belt-high, in the middle inside part of the plate."

McLain threw a "fat" pitch precisely there, and Mantle responded by hammering the baseball to the upper deck of Tiger Stadium. As Mantle rounded the bases for his 535th home run, McLain saluted the Yankee legend. The next Yankee to step to the plate, Joe Pepitone, reacted to the give-away homer by waving the bat where he'd like to hit it. McLain answered by dusting him off the plate.

9/19/2002 - First base coach attacked

Two fans -- a dad-son combination -- run onto the field of a baseball game and attack the Royals first base coach. Both fans got off easy, and after seeing replays of the event over and over again, the next Royals-White Sox had a similar result.

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

Further reading:

'Tis time to talk pirate, me hearties [CNN]

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