Today in Sports History: September 7th

9/07/1979 - The worldwide leader debuts

It was on this day back in 1979 that ESPN, the first all-sports TV network, came on the airwaves for the first time. Back then the channel didn't have much; they mainly filled time with menial sporting events, the likes of which are now seen on ESPN2. The network soon blossomed into a superpower, and not even a decade after its introduction, ESPN was airing NFL regular season games.

Thousands and thousands of SportsCenters later, ESPN has lived up to its billing as the "worldwide leader in sports." The ESPN brand is one of the most recognizable in the country, and its success spawned spin-off networks ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Classic, ESPN News, and ESPNU, as well as ESPN The Magazine and ESPN Radio.

The channel has undoubtedly played an enormous role in sports over the years. Without all the highlight reels and talk shows, the NBA might have never taken off as a major sport, the NFL and NBA Drafts would probably be irrelevant, and niche events like the NFL Combine would have never seen the light of day. It is impossible to deny how significant it is to have a "sports media" and what that means for hardcore sports fanatics. Without one, major sporting events might still be delivered on tape delay and the phrase "east coast bias" probably wouldn't mean anything.

9/07/1993 - Whiten sets home run, RBI record

"Hard Hittin' " Mark Whiten didn't get his nickname from his 105 career home runs; he got it from a game he had in Cincinnati in 1993. In the second game of a double-header, the St. Louis Cardinals outfielder had one of the greatest single-game performances of all time. He knocked 4 home runs and 12 RBI off pitchers Larry Leubbers, Mike Anderson, and Rob Dibble, tying the single-game records in both categories.

"The last time up, I remember the bat boy asking me, was I going to try to hit another one?" Whiten recalled. "I was like, 'I didn't try to hit the first three, so why should I?' I just went up and made a good swing, and I happened to hit it out of the ballpark."

With his final home run, Whiten received a standing ovation from the road crowd, who had just watched him single-handedly beat the Reds 15-2. The 4 home runs tied the mark shared with four other sluggers, while the 12 RBI tied former Cardinal Jim Bottomley, who did it back in 1924. Whiten also tied the NL record for RBI in a double-header, having also driven in a run in the first game.

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