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Today in Sports History: July 14th


(Rose slamming into Fosse. Photo courtesy of AP Photos)

7/14/1967 - Mathews hits #500

Third baseman Eddie Mathews hits the 500th home run of his career. The longtime Milwaukee Brave hit the blast off Giants pitcher Juan Marichal, a future Hall of Famer who always gave Eddie trouble. Mathews became the first third baseman to reach the home run plateau, and he held the mark for most homers at his position for two decades, until Mike Schmidt of the Phillies surpassed him. Mathews finished with 511 home runs and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1978. Besides hitting home runs, Mathews is also notable for being the first athlete to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

7/14/1968 - Aaron copies Mathews

Exactly one year after Mathews hit his 500th career home run, Hank Aaron does the same thing - against the same team no less. Aaron and Mathews were longtime teammates on the Braves, although Mathews hit his blast as a member of the Houston Astros. Aaron's home run came with Mike McCormick on the mound and Willie Mays in the outfield. At the time, no one would have ever put Aaron in the same company as Mays, but as the years grew, and Aaron hit more and more home runs and eventually passed Babe Ruth, Aaron and Mays were considered by many to be equals.

7/14/1970 - Rose barrels over Fosse

The 1970 All-Star Game featured one of the most memorable bang-bang plays in baseball history. With the score tied at 4-4, and with two outs in the bottom of the 12th, Pete Rose was on second base when John Hickman came to the plate. Hickman lined a single to center field and Rose made the turn for home. Amos Otis made a strong throw to catcher Ray Fosse, who was blocking the plate. Rose slammed head-first into Fosse and pried the ball loose. As Fosse hunched over in pain, Rose touched home plate to give the NL the win.

Fosse was never the same after the play. The collision separated his left shoulder and in an era of one-year contracts, Fosse never gave it enough time to heal. "I still feel it,'' Fosse said in 1999. "From time to time, I wake up and it's killing me.''

Some praised Rose for his determination to win the game, while others considered taking out the catcher exuberant for an All-Star Game. "I just want to get to that plate as quickly as I can," Rose said at the time. "Besides, nobody told me they changed it to girls' softball between third and home."

"Probably the thing that was most upsetting is he was quoted as saying that he did it intentionally," Fosse said. "I would like to think it just happened, it was a clean, aggressive play. The quote was basically, 'If I didn't hit him the way I did, I couldn't talk to my father afterward.' When I initially saw the replay, I thought he was going to slide. Then I read where he said he did it on purpose. I don't know.''


(The new Lakers receive their uniforms. Photo by Steve Grayson,

7/14/2004 - Lakers trade Shaq to Heat

The Los Angeles Lakers dynasty comes to an end, as the team trades Shaquille O'Neal to the Miami Heat for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Brian Grant and a pair of draft picks. Shaq had demanded to be traded and Lakers owner Jerry Buss, not willing to continue paying his salary, decided to accommodate him. The loss of Shaq convinced Kobe Bryant to re-sign with the Lakers. Kobe had just become a free agent and had expressed his unwillingness to continue playing with Shaq.

It was the next chapter of the Kobe-Shaq feud -- a rivalry that had been tempered while they tried to win championships together. Now that they were on separate teams, both men readily admitted that their disdain for one another had reached its breaking point in L.A. It was an infamous decision to be sure, as for the second time in six years, an NBA dynasty was broken up by a front office transaction. The Lakers won three titles with Bryant and O'Neal, and they probably would have won more had their petty differences not gotten between each other.

At first, the deal appeared to be a decisive victory for the Miami Heat. Miami went from 42 wins in 2004 to 59 wins in 2005 and 52 wins in 2006. And while Shaq was nowhere near his dominant self in 2000 or 2001, he was still powerful enough to make the duo of him and Dwyane Wade one of the best in the league. In '06, the Heat got past the Dallas Mavericks in six games to win the NBA championship; meanwhile, the Lakers were struggling just to make the postseason. Odom was a good player but wasn't made to be the team's No. 2 scorer, while Caron Butler, who could have been suitable for that role, was foolishly traded to the Washington Wizards for draft bust Kwame Brown. Butler went on to become an All-Star while Brown failed to live up to his giant contract.

But all that changed in 2008, when the Lakers were able to deal Kwame Brown to the Memphis Grizzlies for Pau Gasol. With Gasol, Los Angeles immediately became the beast of the Western Conference and even won the NBA Finals in 2009. Of the Lakers' 2009 championship roster, three of their regulars came from the Shaq deal: Gasol, Odom, and Jordan Farmar, who was one of the draft picks.

In the end, few teams have gotten more out of a deal in which they traded away a future Hall of Famer in his prime than the Lakers did when they traded Shaq.