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Today in Sports History: March 10th


3/10/1976 - The Fat Lady sings

On this day in 1976, one of the most famous sports adages in the nation is born, according to Fred Shapiro's The Yale Book of Quotations. The Dallas Morning News published an article on this day that stated:

Despite his obvious allegiance to the Red Raiders, Texas Tech sports information director Ralph Carpenter was the picture of professional objectivity when the Aggies rallied for a 72-72 tie late in the SWC tournament finals. "Hey, Ralph," said Bill Morgan, "this... is going to be a tight one after all." "Right," said Ralph. "The opera ain’t over until the fat lady sings."

This is this earliest recorded usage or variation of the now popular phrase, "It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings." Although Carpenter is now recognized as its originator, the phrase was long credited to Washington Bullets coach Dick Motta, who popularized it by making it the team's motto in 1978. That was the year the Bullets shocked everyone and won the championship despite a mediocre 44-38 record. By the time Motta celebrated the title with a shirt that read "The Opera Isn't Over 'Til The Fat Lady Sings," the phrase had been entered into the American lexicon.

Motta first heard the adage when his Bullets were visiting the San Antonio Spurs. Dan Cook, a local sports writer, used the phrase in an effort to encourage Spurs fans that they could beat the Bullets. Motta took a liking to it.

In 1979, the Bullets went back to the finals against the same team they beat in 1978: the Seattle SuperSonics. This time, the Sonics came out on top with a 4-1 series victory.