Today in Sports History: September 27th

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(Happy birthday yellow first down line!)

9/27/1914 - Lajoie joins 3,000 club

Cleveland third baseman Nap Lajoie, the first player in baseball to ever be intentionally walked with the bases loaded, gets the 3,000th hit of his career against the New York Yankees. Lajoie would finish with 3,242 hits and was among the first induction of players to join the Baseball Hall of Fame. Lajoie was so popular that when he became Cleveland's manager, as well as their star player, the team renamed themselves the "Naps." When he retired, a newspaper contest was held and the team changed its name to the "Indians," a name which would become rather controversial in later years.

9/27/1995 - The glove didn't fit

The most famous line from the O.J. Simpson murder trial is uttered, as lead attorney Johnnie Cochran espouses the innocence of the Hall of Fame running back. "If I put this knit cap on, who am I?" he asked after putting on a snow cap. "I'm still Johnnie Cochran in a knit cap... and O.J. Simpson in a knit cap from two blocks away is still O.J. Simpson. It's no disguise. It makes no sense. If it doesn't fit." Then, referencing a previous moment in the trial where Simpson struggled to put on the gloves found at the scene, he stated, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."

9/27/1996 - Alomar spits on umpire

Orioles infielder Roberto Alomar spits on a baseball umpire. Alomar's suspension was seen as light, and many took umbrage with the lack of a serious penalty. But what about the man he spit on? Were they able to reconcile their differences?

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

9/27/1998 - The first down line debuts

In a Sunday Night Football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens, ESPN debuts Sportvision's "1st & Ten" line, which marked onscreen where the first down line was. Only TV viewers were able to see it, even though it appeared to be a solid yellow line that the players could step on.

It was a huge success. TV viewers no longer had to guess how far a team was from a first down -- now they had luxury of seeing it for themselves, something that those in attendance did not. A 1999 Harris poll found that 92% of football fans approved of the onscreen graphic. Within two years of its inception, the first and ten line was used by every network that aired football games.

1st & Ten's creators, the Sportvision company, were the same people who created the glowing hockey puck that the NHL used for a few years. They were also the company that created superimposed advertisements behind the catcher in baseball games, ads that only the television viewer can see. But hey, you gotta take the good with the bad.

9/27/2009 - Blowers gives greatest prediction ever

Babe Ruth has got nothing on Mike Blowers.

Towards the end of the 2009 season, Blowers -- the Seattle Mariners' television color commentator -- was doing the "Pick to Click" segment on the 710 ESPN pregame show. Blowers predicted that Matt Tuiasosopo, a recently-called up rookie, would hit his first career home run in the Mariners' game at Toronto. Blowers also predicted that the home run would occur in his second at-bat, on a 3-1 count, off a fastball, and that he would hit it to the second deck, in left-center field. It was hardly a vanilla prediction.

Later that day, Tuiasosopo came to the plate in the fifth inning. The count ran to 3-1. The pitcher threw a fastball and Tuiasosopo -- incredibly -- smacked it into the left field stands, just missing the second deck. "I don't believe it!" screamed Mariners radio announcer Dave Niehaus, who was privy to the absurd prediction. "I see the light! I believe you Mike!"

Further reading:

How the first down line works [Tom Rowles]

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