Today in Sports History: September 28th

9/28/1941 - Williams hits .406

Entering the final day of the regular season, Ted William's batting average stood at .3995. Statistically, Williams was assured that his batting average would be rounded up to .400, which would make him the first man to bat that high since Bill Terry of the New York Giants did it in 1930. Red Sox manager Joe Cronin asked Williams if he wanted to sit out and preserve his average; Williams didn't want to reach the mark by default and decided to play.

The Sox finished the season with a double-header against the Philadelphia Athletics. As Williams stepped to the plate for the first time, A's catcher Frankie Hayes told him, “I wish you all the luck in the world, Ted, but Mr. Mack told us he’d run us all out of baseball if we let up on you. You’re going to have to earn it.”

He did earn it. Playing in both parts of the double-header, Williams went a combined 6 for 8 with a double and a home run. By not sitting out, Williams raised his batting average to a lofty .406 and received unanimous praise for his determination. To date, Williams is also the last man to ever bat .400, making his feat even more impressive.

Williams did not win the MVP in 1941, as Joe DiMaggio had captured the hearts of the writers with his 56-game hitting streak. Williams' 1941 campaign is among the greatest of all time to not win the MVP -- along with his astronomical average, Williams led the league in walks, runs, home runs, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. He even posted ten fewer strikeouts (27) than home runs (17).

9/28/1960 - The Splendid Splitter says goodbye

In the last game of his major league career, Ted Williams goes out in style. It was Boston's final home game of the year, with still three more road games to be played in New York. Williams had already told the team that he wasn't going on the road trip, and with the team 29 games out of the pennant, no one argued with the Sox legend.

In the eighth inning, Williams stepped to the plate for the final time in his lauded career. In probably the most remembered call of his career, announcer Curt Gowdy described the moment:

"Everybody quiet now here at Fenway Park after they gave him a standing ovation of two minutes, knowing that this is probably his last time at bat. One out, nobody on, last of the eighth inning. Jack Fisher into his windup, here's the pitch. Williams swings -- and there's a long drive to deep right! The ball is going and it is gone! A home run for Ted Williams in his last time at bat in the major leagues!"

As Williams circled the bases, his adoring fans handed him another standing ovation. When he got to the dugout, the crowd pleaded with him to give a curtain call. But Williams, who after a bad run-in with the fans had promised to never tip his cap, sat quietly in the dugout. The audience would get a de facto curtain call anyway, as Williams trotted out to left field for the top of the ninth. He was then instantly pulled from the game, receiving another loud ovation as he returned to the bench with a genuine smile.

9/28/2003 - Limbaugh calls out McNabb

Rush Limbaugh, the No. 1 host in AM radio, used to sell tickets for the Kansas City Royals. It wasn't much, but it was enough to allow ESPN to add him to their weekly football show, labeling him as the voice of the fan. However, when Limbaugh stated that McNabb's claim to fame was through the color of his skin, the average fan wasn't so thrilled, and Limbaugh was soon out of a job at ESPN.

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

9/28/2008 - The Mets collapse... again

For the second consecutive year, the New York Mets lose on the last day of the regular season to the Florida Marlins, at home. And for the second straight year, they deprive themselves from forcing a one-game tiebreaker (this time with the Milwaukee Brewers), missing the postseason altogether. Once again, they choked away their season after leading the division, and subsequently the wildcard spot, for most of September.

Eighteen days earlier, the Mets were 3.5 games ahead of the Phillies in the NL East and were tied in the loss column with the Brewers for the wilcard. In the end, they lost six of their final nine games and missed out on both playoff spots. While the collapse wasn't as bad as the year before's (where they choked away a 7-game lead), throwing it all away on the last day of the season in back-to-back years, in the final game ever played Shea Stadium, was pretty pathetic.
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