To celebrate and remember the games and events we are missing, the Globe presents a collection of vintage photography and marking significant moments in sports history chosen by the editors on our sports desk. We will add to it daily.
June 2, 1941: Lou Gehrig dies
Precisely 16 years to the day after he replaced first baseman Wally Pipp in the starting lineup for the New York Yankees – the second of a record 2,130 consecutive games he would play for the Bronx Bombers – the Iron Horse passed away. While that streak formed a large part of his baseball legacy, just as it did for Cal Ripken, Jr., the player who ultimately eclipsed the mark, his death was equally affecting. His “luckiest man on the face of this earth” speech that he gave to a packed Yankee Stadium on Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, barely two months after he played his last game in the major leagues, is considered one of the greatest speeches in sports history, while his passing, from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), put a human face on what we also know as ‘Lou Gehrig’s Disease'
June 1, 2010: Roger Federer loses as Robin Soderling pulls stunner at French Open
A year and a day after he shocked four-time defending champion Rafael Nadal in the French Open’s fourth round, Robin Soderling upset 2009 winner Roger Federer in the quarter-finals at Roland Garros. The Swede won 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 to end Federer’s record 23 Grand Slam semi-final appearances in a row. Roland Garros was also the Grand Slam where Federer had previously failed to reach a semi-final – losing in the 2004 third round to three-time champion Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil. As Tom Tebbutt wrote in The Globe and Mail at the time, ‘On a grim, rainy day in a place widely known as the City of Light, Federer was pounded into the damp red clay by the onslaught of Soderling’s forehand.’ It was the only time Soderling, 25, beat Federer, 28, in 17 attempts, including a straight-sets loss to him a year earlier in the final in Court Philippe-Chatrier. The Swiss has since gone on to win four more Slams to reach a total of 20. Soderling, whose career-high ranking was No. 4 in 2010, contracted mononucleosis in 2011 and was never the same, retiring in 2015.
May 31, 2008: Usain Bolt breaks 100m record
The greatest sprinter of all time set a new record on this day when he ran the 100 metres in 9.72 seconds at the Reebok grand prix in New York. Only 21 at the time, Bolt would take the running world by storm that year, winning his first two olympic gold medals in the 100 and 200 metres at the Summer Games in Beijing. Nearly a decade of dominance would follow, culminating in his triple-gold-medal showing in Rio at the 2016 games.
May 30, 1947: Jocelyne Bourassa is born
Canada has a strong history of successful women golfers – Ada Mackenzie, Marlene Stewart Streit, Sandra Post, Brooke Henderson, among others – but one of the true pioneers of the sport is Jocelyne Bourassa, from Shawinigan, Que. Bourassa was one of Canada’s top amateurs in the 1960s, and turned pro in 1972, when she won the LPGA rookie-of-the-year award. In 1973, she won the inaugural women’s Canadian Open (known then as La Canadienne). She was a solid player on the LPGA Tour, but occasionally hampered by injuries. She retired in 1979. But Bourassa’s golf career wasn’t nearly over. She was the executive director of the du Maurier Classic (one of the LPGA’s majors) from 1980 until 2000. She is in numerous halls of fame and a Member of the Order of Canada. As an ambassador to women’s golf, she likely influenced generations of Canadians to take up the sport. Five years ago, acknowledging Bourassa’s success and reputation, the LPGA called her, ‘the original Brooke Henderson.’
May 29, 1977: Janet Guthrie becomes first woman to drive in Indy 500
There were likely few sports with a glass ceiling as impenetrable as that of the good ol’ boys club of auto racing. But Janet Guthrie shattered it. Guthrie, who graduated from the University of Michigan as an aerospace engineer, took up racing in 1963 and was a full-time driver by 1972. Early in 1977, she turned the heads of all the Bubbas in male-dominated NASCAR when she became the first woman to qualify for the stock-car circuit’s biggest race, the Daytona 500 (she finished 12th). But when she became the first woman to qualify for IndyCar’s biggest race, the Indianapolis 500, more people took notice. Driving an underpowered Rolla Vollstedt Lightning, she qualified 26th, and started in the ninth row (of 11). In deference to Guthrie, the traditional announcement at the start of the race was changed to, ‘In company with the first lady ever to qualify at Indianapolis, gentlemen, start your engines.’ Sadly for Guthrie, she had engine problems and finished 29th. But the glass ceiling had been broken.
May 28, 1995:Jacques Villeneuve becomes first Canadian to win Indy 500
As the son of Formula One legend Gilles Villeneuve, it seemed like destiny that Jacques Villeneuve would also be a champion driver. The native of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu was in his early teens when he first got behind the wheel and he eventually worked his way up the racing ranks until, by 1994, he was in the IndyCar World Series. The next year, Villeneuve – already touted for Formula One – captured the biggest prize of his life, the Indianapolis 500. The race wasn’t without its difficulties: The 24-year-old took a mid-race two-lap penalty and twice he stalled leaving pit row. By lap 65 (of 200), he was two laps down. But he kept chewing his way back and when countryman and race leader Scott Goodyear made a critical mistake after a restart on lap 191, Villeneuve soared on to a two-second win over Brazilian Christian Fittipaldi. Villeneuve went on to win the CART driver’s championship and two years later, the F1 title.
May 27, 1961: Northern Dancer is born
Northern Dancer, Trent Frayne wrote, could run a hole in the wind. Born at E.P. Taylor’s National Stud Farm near Oshawa, Ont., Northern Dancer was the product of good breeding – his sire was Nearctic and the broodmare was Natalma (a daughter of the great Native Dancer). He was small for a thoroughbred, stocky and raced with unusually short strides. With his chestnut coat, three white socks and white blaze on his face, the plucky high-strung colt was also easy to spot as he won race after race. In 1964, the three-year-old became the first Canadian-bred and -owned horse to win the Kentucky Derby, where he set a record. He won the Preakness, but came third in the Belmont, to miss the Triple Crown. He also won Canada’s 105th Queen’s Plate before being retired to a glorious career as a sire. When he died at age 29, The New York Times said he was the ‘dominant progenitor of his breed.’
May 26, 1954: Lionel Conacher passes away
Though he was perhaps most gifted on the gridiron, where he earned the nickname “Big Train” for his penchant for running over the opposition, Lionel Conacher excelled at almost every sport. At 16, he won a provincial wrestling title and at 20, a light-heavyweight boxing title. He led the Toronto Argonauts to a 23-0 Grey Cup victory over Edmonton in 1921, but that was only after he’d earned two championships in one day in the summer of that year, hitting a game-winning double for baseball’s Toronto Hillcrests before jumping in a cab and high-tailing it to Scarborough Beach, where he scored the tying and winning goals in the fourth quarter to lead his Maitlands lacrosse team to victory. He shocked the sports world in 1925 though, when he traded in football for hockey, a sport he had only started eight years prior. But the NHL was where the money was and the all-star defenceman won the Stanley Cup twice before retiring and entering politics as a member of the Liberal Party. Sports were never far away, however, and at the age of 54, while playing the annual softball game pitting MPs against the media on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Conacher stretched a single into a triple and upon arriving at third base collapsed and died of a heart attack.
May 25, 1965: Ali drops Liston
You would be hard-pressed to find a picture that better encapsulates Muhammad Ali at the peak of his powers. It’s probably the most iconic sports picture ever taken. The fight itself wasn’t much of a match. Ali finished it in about two minutes. But the impression of that picture of him, standing over a fallen Liston, will last an eternity.
May 23, 1971: Kathy Whitworth wins LPGA Suzuki Golf Internationale
Golf fans in the 1960s and early 1970s were absorbed with the PGA Tour’s rivalry among Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus. But over in the LPGA, Kathy Whitworth quietly chewed up most of her competition. The LPGA Suzuki Internationale wasn’t a particularly memorable tournament – it lasted only two years – but it was another example of how Whitworth came to play every day, long before that cliché was even born. It was her 57th tournament win, the second of four tourneys she would win in 1971. She was the Tiger Woods of women’s golf, before Woods was even born. Whitworth, born in Monahans, Tex., ended up winning six majors and 88 LPGA tournaments (more than the PGA Tour wins 82 of Sam Snead and Woods). She was the LPGA player of year seven times between 1966 and 1973. In 1981 she became the first woman to reach career earnings of US$1-million.
May 22, 1994: Toronto’s NBA franchise unveils Raptors logo and GM
The name ‘Raptors’ had been announced for Toronto’s NBA franchise a week before the now-famous logo was unveiled. (The moniker beat out Towers, T-Rex and Tarantulas among others). But it wasn’t until the reveal day that the whole dino-theme – and the first general manager – was disclosed. The team logo resembled the rather nasty Velociraptor from the hit movie Jurassic Park. Because there are no known pictures of a basketball-dribbling dinosaur, who could argue that the team’s colours shouldn’t be bright red, purple, black and a silver (officially Naismith Silver, to recognize the Canadian inventor of the sport). Most noticeably different from other Toronto sports franchises – no blue. Also revealed that day, the recently retired star (and future hall-of-famer) Isiah Thomas as the franchise’s first GM and a vice-president of basketball operations. Twenty-five years later, the team won its first NBA championship and Raptors ruled the Earth.
May 21, 1948: DiMaggio hits for the cycle
Having been achieved on 330 occasions throughout the history of major-league baseball – most recently by Cavan Biggio of the Toronto Blue Jays last September – hitting for the cycle is almost as rare as throwing a no-hitter (303 occurrences). But by the time Joe DiMaggio was done with the Chicago White Sox, going 5-for-6 at Comiskey Park with two home runs and six runs batted in to go along with a single, a double and a triple, it was old hat to the Yankee Clipper. He had actually done slightly better the first time he hit for the cycle in 1937, registering seven RBI in going 5-for-5 with two home runs. And although his efforts on this day in 1948 allowed him to draw level with fellow Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig as Yankees, who had hit for the cycle twice during the 13-2 victory over the Sox, he would never catch his predecessor in the pinstripes, Bob Meusel, one of only four players to do it three times.
May 20, 2018: Golden Knights become second team to reach final in first season
Fifty years after the St. Louis Blues became just the second NHL team to end its inaugural season by reaching the Stanley Cup final – after the Toronto Arenas in 1918 – the Vegas Golden Knights repeat the feat, beating the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 in Game 5 of the Western Conference final to advance. Winnipeg native Ryan Reaves scored the decisive goal – just his second career playoff goal in his 42nd postseason contest – at 13:21 of the second period to silence the 15,321 Jets fans in attendance at the Bell MTS Place and dash any hopes they had of making a first Stanley Cup trip of their own. And thanks in large part to his sparkling .938 save percentage in the five-game series, Vegas goaltender Marc-André Fleury became the first netminder in NHL history to reach the final in consecutive seasons with different teams, having helped the Pittsburgh Penguins into the winners’ circle in both 2016 and 2017.
May 19, 1984: Gretzky leads Oilers to first Stanley Cup
After being swept aside by the ruthless New York Islanders in their first appearance in the Stanley Cup final in 1983, there was a feeling that Wayne Gretzky and his fellow upstarts from Edmonton placed too much emphasis on offence to win hockey’s ultimate prize. But the Oilers doubled down one year later, scoring an NHL-record 446 goals in the regular season before powering through the playoffs to set up a final rematch with the dynasty from Long Island. After showcasing their defensive acumen with a 1-0 shutout win on the road in Game 1, the Oilers returned home with the series tied at 1-1. Mark Messier, the eventual playoff MVP, helped shift the momentum in Edmonton’s favour with a crucial goal in Game 3, before Gretzky, who had been held without a goal through the first seven games he had played in the final, potted four in Games 4 and 5 to lead his team to a pair of victories. That would be all the Oilers would need to capture the Stanley Cup, a first for a former World Hockey Association team and the first time Lord Stanley’s prized possession would call Alberta home.
May 18, 2013: Yelena Isinbayeva wins women’s pole vault in Shanghai
Yelena Isinbayeva was (and maybe still is) Russia’s biggest track-and-field star. The pole vaulter was virtually unbeatable between 2003 and 2008. She won gold at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, and bronze in 2012. World-championship victories galore. But by 2013, her best days were behind her and she had contemplated retirement. But at the Diamond League athletics competition in Shanghai, the flamboyant Russian showed she could still rise to the occasion, leaping 4.70 metres to take first place against higher-ranked competitors. Isinbayeva’s success was attributed in part to her height, 5 feet 9 inches, and her impeccable technique, but clearly she was also driven. She was barred from competing at the 2016 Rio Games, along with more than 100 of her teammates, after revelations of systemic, state-sponsored doping in Russian sport. Isinbayeva still holds the world outdoor record of 5.06 m.
May 17, 1964: Tim Horton opens his first coffee and doughnut store in Hamilton, Ont.
Who knew the man best known as Leafs player in his day would build something so big and iconic that it would become a part of the national fabric? When Horton opened his first shop, he only sold two varieties of doughnuts: Dutchies and apple fritters. Three years later, he’d opened three stores. By 1991, there were 500; and by 2006 there were 3,000. As he grew his business, Horton kept busy on the ice, playing in 1,446 NHL games before his untimely death in 1974.
May 16, 1957: Joan Benoit Samuelson is born
When Joan Benoit was a teenager, she learned long-distance running by racing around an abandoned army base in Maine. She hasn’t stopped since. In 1979, when she was 21, she ran, and won, her first Boston Marathon, clipping eight minutes off the record. She won again in 1983. At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics – the first Games in which women were allowed to run the marathon – everyone expected a duel between her and the legendary Grete Waitz, who had won five of the six previous New York Marathons. But Benoit (who that year married Scott Samuelson) left her Norwegian rival behind on the hot streets of Tinseltown. Cheered on by 70,000 people in the L.A. Coliseum, the American crossed the finish line a minute and a half ahead of Waitz to take the gold. The races, and marathons, never stopped. Had the London Marathon taken place this past spring, Benoit Samuelson would have been there. When she does eventually compete in it, she will have run a marathon in six consecutive decades.
May 15, 2010: Jessica Watson becomes youngest person to sail solo, non-stop, unassisted around the world
Jessica Watson, born in Australia to New Zealander parents, grew up on a cabin cruiser. No wonder she was keening for watery adventure when she got ‘older.' In October of 2009, Watson set off from Sydney, Australia, on a 10.2-metre yacht called Ella’s Pink Lady. And 210 days later, on this date in 2010, she arrived back in Sydney harbour, three days shy of her 17th birthday. What motivated her? ‘I wanted to challenge people’s expectations of what they thought young people, particularly young girls, were capable of,’ she said. Despite her monumental achievement, it wasn’t officially recognized because, according to the definition set by the World Sailing Speed Record Council, the 19,631.9 nautical miles was less than the required distance of 21,000 nautical miles. Bureaucrats. Watson never thought of herself as a hero. She was just an ‘ordinary person, who had a dream, worked hard at it and proved that anything really is possible.’
May 14, 1997: Baseball’s executive council suspends Yankees owner George Steinbrenner
There were few personalities in baseball as colourful or controversial as George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees. Hands on? He fired and hired manager Billy Martin five times. The Boss was constantly in brushes with authorities within his own sport – having twice been banned from the game. On this day in 1997, it was a third strike – suspended from baseball’s ruling executive council because of his recently filed lawsuit against other owners and every high-level executive in Major League Baseball. (The Yankees and Adidas sued baseball after officials in the commissioner’s office ordered the club to stop selling and using merchandise with Adidas logos.) Except baseball owners weren’t allowed to sue their commissioner, thus the suspension. Steinbrenner was reinstated to the sport a year later when the Yankees and Adidas dropped their antitrust lawsuit.
May 13, 2018: Salah breaks breaks Premier League’s 38-game goal record
Expectations were muted following Mohamed Salah’s arrival at Anfield from Roma in 2017, mostly because of the forward’s lackadasical 13-game stint with Chelsea over two seasons. But the Egyptian striker showed he had developed as a player during his season-long sojourn in Italy, and wasted little time putting his talent on display by scoring on his Liverpool debut against Watford. By the end of the year, Salah had erased all doubts, and added an exclamation point in scoring the opener in a 4-0 win over Brighton in the season finale for his 32nd tally to break a tie with Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez and Alan Shearer for most goals in a 38-game EPL season.
May 12, 2019: The Shot
Game No. 7 of the NBA Eastern Conference semi-final, Toronto Raptors versus the Philadelphia 76ers, the waning seconds of a tie game at Scotiabank Arena. We remember the shot like it was a year ago.
After four agonizing rim-bounces and with no time left on the clock, the Spalding ball finally settled into the 76ers’ hoop. Though the home team Raptors had won the game (and with it, the series), the realization had yet to register on the faces on the court and in the crowd.
May 11, 2009: Johnson beats Cabrera in battle of the giants
Randy Johnson wasn’t just a tall drink of water, he was the whole pitcher. On this day in history, Johnson, a 6-foot-10 left-hander with the San Francisco Giants, faced Daniel Cabrera, a 6-foot-9 right-hander with the Washington Nationals in the tallest matchup of starters in baseball history. A combined 163 inches of hurling power. But this interleague night game at San Francisco’s AT&T Park was not a pitcher’s duel. Johnson – whose rather unflattering nickname was The Big Unit – threw five innings with nine strikeouts and gave up eight hits and four runs to get the win as the Giants prevailed 11-7. It was the 298th victory for the intimidating Johnson. Cabrera lasted 4 2/3 innings and gave up eight hits, eight runs and six walks to take the loss.
May 10, 1970: Orr scores and soars
Is there a more iconic hockey photo than Bobby Orr, widely considered the greatest defenseman to ever lace up skates, flying through the air after scoring the game-winning goal over the St. Louis Blues in a Stanley Cup final overtime match? Probably not.
May 9, 1928: Barbara Ann Scott is born
The term ‘Canada’s Sweetheart’ is too sexist to use now, but it was a nickname that stuck for Barbara Ann Scott. Scott, who grew up near Ottawa, began figure skating when she was 7, won her first national junior title at 11 and the Canadian senior ladies championship when she was 15. In 1947, she became the first North American to win both the European and world figure skating championship. But 1948 – that was her big year. She won the women’s figure skating gold at the St. Moritz Winter Games – still the only Canadian female to have won an Olympic singles skating gold medal – and followed that up with another win at the world championship. She returned to Canada a national hero. At a celebration parade in Ottawa, she was presented with a brand-new yellow Buick convertible, licence plate 48-U-1.
May 8, 2018: Canadian James Paxton throws no-hitter against Blue Jays
They called him Big Maple. Seattle Mariners starter James Paxton, 29, from Ladner, B.C., a flame-throwing lefty, 6 feet 4 inches, with a tattoo of a maple leaf on this right forearm. He used to be famous for having had an eagle land on him in a pregame ceremony in Minneapolis. And then, he threw the first no-hitter of his career – only the second Canadian in history to throw a no-hitter after Dick Fowler of the Philadelphia A’s in 1945 – in Toronto, with more than 20,000 fans at Rogers Centre cheering him on with a standing ovation. He threw 99 pitches as the Mariners won 5-0. ‘To have it happen in Canada. What are the odds?’ said Paxton, who was drafted by Toronto in 2009 but did not sign with the team. ‘It’s pretty amazing. Just very special. And against the Blue Jays? You couldn’t write this stuff.’
May 7, 2006: Joe Torre wins his 1,000th game as New York Yankees manager
Imagine winning your 1,000th game as a baseball team’s manager, and your record isn’t even in the franchise’s top three? Such was the case for Joe Torre, when, with an 8-5 victory over the hometown Texas Rangers, he became the fourth skipper in the fabled history of the New York Yankees to reach that milestone. He still trailed Joe McCarthy (1,460), Casey Stengel (1,149) and Miller Huggins (1,067). 'How about another 1,000?’ one of Torre’s coaches said to him after the 1,000th Yankee win, to which he replied, ‘No, no, no.’ Torre joined the Yankees on a two-year contract in 1996 after having spent his his earlier managerial career in the National League. By the time he left the Yankees in 2007 (after four World Series wins) he had 1,173 wins, second only to McCarthy. Today, the 79-year-old is MLB’s chief baseball officer.
May 6, 1954: Bannister breaks four-minute mile
After finishing fourth in the 1,500-metre final at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, Roger Bannister briefly considered hanging up his running spikes for good. But, galvanized by the disappointment, the Englishman set a new goal – to be the first person to run a sub-four-minute mile. He was in a race against time to do so in more ways than one though, as both American Wes Santee and Australian John Landy had come close. But on a gusty Oxfordshire morning, Bannister ascended to athletic immortality at the Iffley Road Track, and after breaking the tape it was left to stadium announcer Norris McWhirter, who would go on to co-publish The Guinness Book of Records, to broadcast history. “The time was three minutes, 59.4 seconds.”
May 5, 1973: Secretariat wins Kentucky Derby
Rounding the final bend at Churchill Downs, it seemed as though history was about to repeat itself. In a final warmup for the Run for the Roses, at the Wood Memorial in Queens, Sham had edged Secretariat into third, and now the two favourites for the Kentucky Derby were locked in a similar battle, with Sham once again holding the upper hand. But ridden by Canadian jockey Ron Turcotte, Big Red, as Secretariat was nicknamed, roared down the final stretch, besting Sham to win in 1:59.40 and becoming the first horse to go under two minutes at the Derby. Two weeks later, Secretariat and Sham would resume their rivalry, with the same result, allowing one of the most famous thoroughbreds of the 20th century to wrap up the first American Triple Crown in 25 years at the Belmont Stakes that June.
May 4, 2015: Country House wins Kentucky Derby after Maximum Security is disqualified
The Kentucky Derby has occurred 16 times on this day in history, but none was as controversial as last year at the 145th edition of the Run for the Roses. On a sloppy Churchill Downs track, Maximum Security crossed the line first. But there was an immediate inquiry. After 22 minutes, racing stewards elevated runner-up Country House, a 65-to-1 long shot, to the winner’s circle. The judges ruled that Maximum Security had drifted into the path of War of Will, setting off a dustup that affected at least two other horses. Maximum Security, at 9-to-2 the second betting choice – and the first winner to be disqualified for an in-race foul – was officially placed 17th in the 19-horse field.
May 3, 2015: Chelsea crowned Premier League champions
Chelsea won the Premier League for the first time in five years, securing the title with three games to spare with a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace.The title-winning goal came from Eden Hazard, a week after the Belgium winger’s dynamic, individual displays were honored by his fellow professionals with the player of the year award. AP
May 2, 1967: Maple Leafs win Stanley Cup
It was Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final in Toronto, Maple Leafs against the Montreal Canadiens. First period, no scoring. Second period, Ron Ellis and Jim Pappin scored for the Leafs. Third period, Dick Duff scored for the Habs and collars began to tighten. But Terry Sawchuk stood firm in the Toronto net, stopped 40 shots, and Leafs captain George Armstrong scored an empty-netter with a minute to go. The Leafs won 3-1, and the series 4-2 – Toronto’s fourth NHL championship in six years. Alas, poor Leaf fans have had little to celebrate since. Pessimistic fans might say it was Toronto’s last Stanley Cup. Optimists might say it was the most recent. Semantics, perhaps. Was this the season the curse would have ended? We may never know.
May 1, 2000; May 1, 2004: Barry Bonds loves May Day
When a baseball player has 762 home runs to his name, it’s fair to say he has enjoyed his share of memorable moments. But May Day has an indelible place in the life of slugger Barry Bonds, who marked the date with his very own career double play. In 2000, he debuted the first Splash Hit – the name given to home runs deposited over the right-field wall of Oracle Park and into San Francisco Bay by Giants sluggers. And in another home game four years later, Bonds set a major-league record by being intentionally walked four times in a nine-inning game by the Florida Marlins. It was the only season in major league baseball history in which a player had more than twice as many intentional walks (120) as strikeouts (41).
April 30, 1993: Monica Seles stabbed in the back by a deranged fan
Monica Seles was 19 and ranked No. 1 in the world. While she was seated courtside during a change-over in a Hamburg Open quarter-final match, Gunter Parche, an unemployed German lathe operator, climbed out of the stands and lunged at her with a five-inch boning knife. He stabbed her between the shoulder blades, narrowly missing her spinal cord. Parche was an obsessed fan of German Steffi Graf, Seles’s long-time rival. He was charged with causing grievous bodily harm, but was found ‘psychologically abnormal’ during his trial, receiving a two-year suspended sentence. Seles famously made her return 27 months later at the Canadian Open in Toronto, winning the title with ease. But she never regained the form that allowed her to win seven of the previous eight Grand Slam events she played in – and won just one more at the 1996 Australian Open.
April 29, 1986: Clemens registers first 20-strikeout game
With the Celtics locked in a playoff battle with the Atlanta Hawks at Boston Garden on their way to a 16th NBA title, the Red Sox were very much playing second fiddle on a cool spring evening. Just 13,414 fans showed up at Fenway Park to watch Roger Clemens take the mound, but their loyalty was duly rewarded. The 23-year-old right-hander came out firing on all cylinders against the Seattle Mariners, striking out the first three batters he faced and 12 through five innings. After finally picking up some run support in the bottom of the seventh courtesy of a three-run homer from Dwight Evans, the Rocket tied the major-league record of 19 strikeouts in the ninth inning, before punching out Phil Bradley for the fourth time on the night to set the new mark in a 3-1 victory. As if to prove it was no fluke, Clemens repeated the feat 10 years later in his last season with the Sox before leaving for the Blue Jays.
April 28, 1967: Ali refuses the draft
Having already stated he would not serve if drafted into the Vietnam War the previous year, Muhammad Ali arrived in Houston for his scheduled induction into the United States Armed Forces after his application for conscientious-objector status had been denied. Three times he refused to step forward and take the oath of induction when his birth name – Cassius Clay – was called out, and despite being warned of the consequences if he persisted, Ali again stood firm. The 25-year-old was promptly arrested and had his boxing licence revoked the same day, while the World Boxing Association and the New York State Athletic Commission stripped him of the heavyweight title, a belt he would not regain for more than seven years.
April 27, 2014: Lydia Ko wins first LPGA tournament as a pro
Lydia Ko was no stranger to Canadian golf fans – as an amateur, the South Korean-born New Zealander won the CN Canadian Women’s Open in 2012 and 2013 (her prize money went to the runner-up). But Ko finally gave the whole golf world what it wanted when she turned professional in October of 2013. By the following April, it was no surprise when she finally won her first LPGA Tour event as a pro. Ko held off Stacy Lewis and Jenny Shin to win the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic and three days after she had turned 17, she pocketed US$270,000 (which she got to keep). Nine months later, she became the youngest golfer of either gender to be ranked No. 1 in pro golf. Now 23, she’s won more than US$10-million.
April 26, 2017: Gift Ngoepe debuts
It came as a rare glimmer of good news in a country struggling with economic and political crises: a South African has crossed a historic barrier by becoming the first African to reach baseball’s major leagues. Gift Ngoepe’s landmark debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates was a boost for baseball’s global ambitions, adding another potential market to its checklist for world expansion. But it meant even more for Ngoepe. Born in the final years of apartheid, the son of a Johannesburg domestic worker, he had toiled in the minor leagues for nearly nine years after first learning the sport in a country where baseball is an obscure and largely foreign game.
April 25, 1964: Leafs win third Stanley Cup in a row
A few days after Maple Leafs defenceman Bobby Baun scored a Game 6 overtime winner on a broken ankle, goalie Johnny Bower shut out the Detroit Red Wings 4-0 at Maple Leaf Gardens as Toronto took Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. It was the Leafs’ third NHL crown in a row. Afterward, as historian/educator J.D.M. Stewart recounts, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson 'went to the winning dressing room to congratulate the players. Pearson spoke to journeyman player Gerry Ehman. “Congratulations, Mr. Ehman,” the prime minister said. “Put ‘er there, Mike,” was the player’s reply as he stuck out his hand.’ The championship didn’t seem to resonate with spoiled Toronto sports fans then; only 8,000 people reportedly turned out a few days later to watch yet another Stanley Cup victory parade.
April 24, 1994: Robinson rules
Shaquille O’Neal must have been confident, heading into the last day of the NBA regular season, that he would win the scoring crown. And in O’Neal’s final game, he popped in 32 points as his Orlando Magic beat the New Jersey Nets. But O’Neal, 22, could not have predicted David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs would score 71 points that same day in a win over the L.A. Clippers. Robinson, 28, who had played one game fewer than O’Neal that season, was a man possessed against the Clippers, playing 44 minutes. Robinson’s last-game flurry gave him the NBA scoring title with 2,383 points compared with O’Neal’s 2,377, and a per-game average of 29.787 points compared to O’Neal’s 29.346. Robinson never won the title again; O’Neal won it two other times.
April 23, 1964: Bobby Baun’s broken leg
There are few moments in Toronto hockey history as ingrained in lore as the night an injured Bobby Baun helped save the Maple Leafs from elimination in the Stanley Cup final. It was late in Game 6 at the Olympia against the Red Wings, score tied 3-3 (Detroit led the best-of-seven playoff series 3-2) when the Leaf defenceman used his right ankle to stop a blistering Gordie Howe slap shot. A few plays later, Baun crumpled and was soon carried off the ice. He refused to have an X-ray, but had the ankle taped and frozen. He returned for the extra period and at 1:42 of overtime scored the winner past Terry Sawchuk to tie the series. Toronto went on to win Game 7 and its third successive Stanley Cup. It wasn’t until after game that Baun discovered he had played on a broken fibula – and a legend was born.
April 22, 2008: Smoltz gets strikeout No. 3000
Atlanta’s Turner Field wasn’t even half full to see one of the Braves’ greatest pitchers join one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs. But that did little to dampen the joy for John Smoltz, who struck out Washington Nationals leadoff man Felipe Lopez in the top of the third inning to become just the 16th man to record 3,000 major-league strikeouts. The right-hander would wrap up his Braves tenure after the season, splitting the 2009 campaign between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals before hanging up his cleats for good as the only man with 200 wins and 150 saves in his career. Smoltz was voted into Cooperstown in his first year of eligibility in 2015.
April 21, 1977: Hat trick hero
After losing eight of their first 10 games, the defending American League-champion New York Yankees were running out of ideas. Facing a third straight home loss to the expansion Blue Jays, skipper Billy Martin grabbed his hat and went to work – by pulling his batting lineup out of it. Having tried it previously as a minor-league manager as well as during his time leading the Detroit Tigers, Martin knew it could loosen his team up and for the third straight time it did the trick. A 7-5 victory snapped the skid, and Martin stuck with the same lineup here as his Bronx Bombers took an 8-6 decision over the Jays, before going on to win 12 of their next 14 games and ultimately capturing their first World Series title in 15 years.
April 20, 1986: Michael Jordan sets NBA playoff record with 63 points
Michael Jordan hadn’t played much in the NBA’s regular season of 1985-86 (recovering from a broken foot), but in Game 2 of the best-of-five Eastern Conference first-round series against the Boston Celtics, the young Chicago Bulls star made up for it. He poured in a playoff-record 63 points in one of the most stunning postseason performances in history. Said his awestruck opponent, Larry Bird, ‘He is the most awesome player in the NBA. He put on one of the greatest shows of all time.’ The Bulls lost that game 135-131 in overtime, and the Celtics went on to win the NBA championship, but Jordan was just getting started. — Phil King
April 19, 1991: A battle for the Ages
The heavyweight title bout between an undefeated Evander Holyfield and 42-year-old George Foreman was originally thought of as a farce by the boxing press, who felt an over-the-hill Foreman stood no chance. In the end, it went 12 rounds and set pay-per-view records. Foreman, who had not held the title in 17 years, managed to make a match of it. But despite his best efforts, he was overcome by Holyfield, who retained the belt in a unanimous decision.
April 18, 1999: No. 99 calls it a day
Wayne Gretzky had done it all in his legendary NHL career – scoring records, numerous awards, Stanley Cups. The only thing he had never done was call it quits. But after 20 years, The Great One retired. The Canadian sports hero’s final appearance as a player came at 6:03 p.m. at Madison Square Garden when the Rangers centre re-emerged from the locker room, after New York lost 2-1 to Pittsburgh in overtime. He slowly skated two final laps of the rink. As The Globe and Mail’s Shawna Richer wrote from the Garden, “Fans stood. They clapped and cheered for 10 minutes. ... Gretzky’s last minutes on the ice unfolded with heartbreaking emotion. ... All the man could do was cry.” — Phil King
April 17, 1972: Nina Kuscsik becomes first Boston Marathon women’s winner
Women had entered the Boston Marathon a few times by the late 1960s, but their finishing times weren’t considered official by the governing body that sanctioned the event. That changed in 1972 when Nina Kuscsik, 33, officially became the first woman to win the women’s division of the famed 42.2-kilometre race in a time of 3 hours 10 minutes 26 seconds. After the race, Kuscsik – who had been a New York State women’s champion in speed-skating, roller skating and bicycling – was disappointed she didn’t run faster. Eight women entered the 1972 competition; last year, almost 14,000 women took part. It wasn’t until 1984 that women’s marathon became an official Olympic event. — Phil King
April 16, 1980: Arthur Ashe retires from pro tennis
When Arthur Ashe was growing up, he wasn’t allowed to play against whites or on some tennis courts in segregated parts of Richmond, Va. But he persevered and became the first Black to win the men’s singles titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. and Australian Opens. A popular athlete, he had a flashy, go-for-broke playing style. Controlled and dignified on and off the court, with impeccable manners, the slender, 6-foot-1 American had a heart attack in 1979. He died at 49 in 1993 of complications from HIV, believed to have been acquired after a blood transfusion during heart surgery. The main stadium at the U.S. Open is named in his honour. — Phil King
April 15, 1947: Jackie Robinson makes his MLB appearance
Having led the Montreal Royals to an International League championship in 1946, Jackie Robinson opened the 1947 season by signing a contract with the parent club, the Brooklyn Dodgers, and five days later made his major-league debut. With 26,623 fans thronging Ebbets Field, the then-28-year-old Robinson played first base and went hitless, but scored the winning run in a 5-3 victory over the Boston Braves. More importantly, he became the first African-American to play in the majors since Moses Fleetwood Walker in 1884, and was well on his way to a Hall of Fame career that ultimately resulted in his No. 42 uniform number being retired across baseball exactly 50 years later. — Paul Attfield
April 14, 1969: Expos make their Montreal debut
In the first regular-season Major League Baseball game held outside of the United States, the Montreal Expos played host to the St. Louis Cardinals at Jarry Park Stadium. The announced crowd of 29,184 didn’t have to wait long to get excited in the matinee matchup, as Mack Jones’s three-run homer in the bottom of the first inning put the Expos on top early and propelled them to an eventual 8-7 victory. — Paul Attfield
April 13, 1997: Tiger Woods wins Masters by a record 12 strokes
With a four-foot putt on the 18th hole in the final round, his now-famous fist pump and Sunday red shirt, Tiger Woods marched into history at the 61st Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga. His record 12-shot victory (over Tom Kite) was the first of his five Masters titles and 15 majors. At 21, Woods was the youngest golfer to take the Masters and the first winner of Asian or African descent. His record-low 18-under 270 has never been matched. — Phil King
April 11, 1981: Holmes beats Berbick in 15 rounds for heavyweight title
Larry Holmes, right, giving a powerful left to Canadian heavyweight champion Trevor Berbick, expected to win their WBC championship bout at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. But Berbick, using his quick reflexes and crouching frequently, surprised Holmes by dodging almost everything he threw. But the moral victory wasn’t enough; the fight lasted the full 15 rounds, which the American won in a unanimous decision. — Phil King
April 10, 1956: Canadiens beat Red Wings to win the Stanley Cup
With a regular-season record of 45-15-10, the Montreal Canadiens were overwhelming favourites to win the Stanley Cup. With a murderer’s row lineup of Maurice (Rocket) Richard, Dickie Moore, Jean Béliveau, Doug Harvey and Henri Richard, with Jacques Plante in net, it’s no wonder. The Habs beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 in Montreal in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final that season, with captain Émile (Butch) Bouchard holding the trophy, above. It was the first of five successive Cups won by the Canadiens. — Phil King
April 9, 1989: Rickey Henderson steals his 800th base
Rickey Henderson was likely pretty proud when he stole second base, the 800th steal of his career, in Cleveland’s 4-3 win over the New York Yankees. But Henderson was proud of everything he did, and backed up his braggadocio with results. He ended up with 1,406 steals in his Hall of Fame career and was one of the greatest leadoff hitters in major-league history. — Phil King
April 8, 1974: No. 715 for Hank Aaron
Hank Aaron is all smiles after hitting his 715th career home run in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Atlanta on April 8, 1974. The fourth-inning blast, off Dodgers pitcher Al Downing, gave the Braves slugger one more dinger than the legendary Babe Ruth, who had been baseball’s career home run king since 1921. — Paul Attfield
April 7, 1977: Blue Jays play ball
More than 44,000 fans were on hand on as the Toronto Blue Jays began play with a game against the Chicago White Sox at Exhibition Stadium. Despite a small snow storm that began shortly before the opening pitch, the Blue Jays went on to win, 9-5, led by a pair of home runs from Doug Ault. Although Toronto went on to play many shaky seasons in the following decades, the club had some of their best years in the early nineties, led by a star-studded roster in 1993. — Paul Attfield
April 6, 1992: Oriole Park at Camden Yards opens
When the Orioles opened their new stadium in downtown Baltimore, it marked the dawn of a new era in baseball parks. Soon, almost every team in the majors would eschew their multi-use sports stadiums for baseball-only, grass-turfed homes. — Phil King