Sept. 19, 1947 - Jackie Robinson became the first player to win Rookie of the Year

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A 28-year old in only his third professional season, Jackie Robinson played first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, a position he had never played before. He finished the season having played in 151 games for the Dodgers, with a batting average of .297, an on-base percentage of .383, and a .427 slugging percentage. He had 175 hits (scoring 125 runs) including 31 doubles, 5 triples, 12 home runs, driving in 48 runs for the year. Robinson led the league in sacrifice hits, with 28, and in stolen bases, with 29. His cumulative performance earned him the inaugural Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year Award (separate National and American League Rookie of the Year honors were not awarded until 1949). The rookie of the year award was renamed the Jackie Robinson Award in July 1987.

Sept. 18, 1996 - Roger Clemens struck out 20 batters, tying his own record set 10 years earlier

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Roger Clemens started the game out strong striking out fifteen Detroit Tigers in the first six innings, Clemens played on the aggressiveness of the Detroit batters, throwing seemingly hittable fastballs by their bats and fooling them with hard sliders in the dirt. Going into the ninth inning, Clemens was unaware that he had already racked up19 strikeouts and was just one away from tying his own record. The first Detroit batter, Alan Trammell, hit an easy pop fly for the first out. The second, Ruben Sierra, singled before Tony Clark, who had already struck out three times, hit another fly ball for the second out. Travis Fryman then struck out swinging to become Clemens’ 20th victim. With the 4-0 win, Clemens also tied his team’s record for most shutouts by a pitcher (38) and most wins (192), both of which were set by legendary Sox pitcher Cy Young in 1911.

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Sept. 17, 1954 - Rocky Marciano knocked out Ezzard Charles to move his record to 47-0 and retain the heavyweight title

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Rocky Marciano fought consecutive bouts against former World Heavyweight Champion and light heavyweight legend Ezzard Charles, who became the only man to ever last fifteen rounds against Marciano. Marciano won the first fight on points and the second by an eighth-round knockout, moving his record to 47-0.

Marciano’s professional boxing career went from September 23, 1952, to April 27, 1956. He is the only person to hold the heavyweight title and go untied and undefeated throughout his career. Marciano defended his title six times, against Jersey Joe Walcott, Roland LaStarza, Ezzard Charles (twice), Don Cockell, and Archie Moore.

Sept. 16, 1973 - O. J. Simpson became the first player in NFL to rush for 250 yards in one game

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This was the greatest rushing performance on opening weekend history. Dating back to 1933, no back has ever turned in a better kickoff-weekend effort than Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson. The Buffalo Bills former bruiser burned the New England Patriots for 250 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries in a brilliant Week 1 showing. Simpson scored on an 80-yard run in the first quarter and a 22-yard run in the third quarter.

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(via athleticpoetics)

Sept. 15, 1978 - Ali defeated Spinks to become first boxer to win the heavyweight title three times

Leon Spinks made history on February 15, 1978, by beating Muhammad Ali on a 15-round decision in Las Vegas. Spinks won the world heavyweight title in his professional eighth fight, the shortest time in its history. Having sparred less than two dozen rounds in preparation for the fight, and coming in seriously out of shape by the opening bell, the aging Ali had expected an easy and lost the title by unanimous decision. It was one of the few occasions when Ali left the ring with a bruised and puffy face. Spinks’ victory over Ali was the peak of his career. He was the only man to take a title from Muhammad Ali in the ring. Ali’s other losses were non-title contests or bouts where Ali was the challenger.

A rematch followed shortly thereafter in New Orleans, which broke attendance records. Ali won a unanimous decision in an uninspiring fight, making him the first heavyweight champion to win the belt three times. Following his victory, Ali retired from boxing, only to make a brief comeback two years later. Ali, who once claimed he could “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” left the sport permanently in 1981.

Sept, 14, 2003 - Jamal Lewis set the then NFL record for yards gained in a single-game with 295

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Jamal Lewis broke the previous record of 278 single-game rushing yards held by Corey Dillon and finished the game with two touchdowns as the Baltimore Ravens beat the Cleveland Browns 33-13. Lewis would go on to log 2,066 yards for the season, second most at the time. Lewis was rewarded by being named NFL Offensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press.

Lewis’s single-game rushing record was later broken by Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings on November 4, 2007, when he ran for 296 yards against the San Diego Chargers.

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Sept. 13, 1996 - Charlie O’Brien is the first catcher to wear a hockey goalie-like catcher’s mask

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Charlie O’Brien was a solid defensive catcher and a modest right-handed batter. He is best remembered for pioneering the hockey-style catcher’s mask. He was playing with the Toronto Blue Jays when he invented this different style of mask.

After getting hit in his mask by two consecutive foul-tip balls in a game, O’Brien had the idea for a new catcher’s mask while he was watching a hockey game. He worked with Van Velden Mask Inc., of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, to develop his idea. The new design, called the All-Star MVP, was approved in 1996 by Major League Baseball. In his 15-year career, O’Brien batted .221 with 56 home runs and 261 runs batted in. He was part of the 1995 World Series Champion Atlanta Braves.

Sept. 12, 1951 - Sugar Ray Robinson defeats Randy Turpin to win back the belt in front of 61,370 spectators

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Two months after losing a 15-round decision to the surprisingly strong Randy Turpin, Sugar Ray Robinson requested and was granted a rematch on September 12. The Polo Grounds set a middleweight fight attendance record for the rematch. The crowd was filled with well-known personalities from U.S. Army General Douglas MacArthur to stars of film and stage. Robinson, intent on avenging his loss, trained intensely for the rematch, refusing to take his opponent lightly.

From the first ring of the bell, the 31-year-old Robinson dictated the pace of the fight to his 23-year-old opponent, and won each of the first seven rounds decisively. In the eighth round, however, Robinson appeared to tire, and Turpin fought with a new intensity, hitting and hurting Robinson for the first time in the fight. In the ninth round, Turpin delivered numerous right hands to Robinson’s head, opening a cut over his left eye. Still, Robinson was able to wrest back control of the fight in the 10th, when he knocked Turpin down with a right to the jaw. When Turpin was ready to continue, Robinson, re-energized, unleashed an onslaught to his head and body. Two minutes and 52 seconds into the 10th round, referee Rudy Goldstein stopped the fight, and Robinson was showered with adulation from the adoring hometown crowd.

(via athleticpoetics)

Sept. 11, 1985 - Pete Rose hits a single to become MLB all-time hit leader with 4,192

With his 4,192nd career hit Cincinnati Reds player-manager Pete Rose broke Ty Cobb’s major league record for career hits. Rose was a folk hero in Cincinnati, a homegrown talent known as “Charlie Hustle” for his relentless work ethic.

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Sept. 10, 1973 - Ali defeated Norton by split decision to win the heavyweight title

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This fight was the rematch of the stunning upset victory of Ken Norton over Muhammad Ali. Norton had a record of 30-1 with 23 knockouts and a lot of confidence going into this fight. Ali was in much better shape for this fight and had a healthy respect for Norton now. Ali had a ring record of 41-2 and was primed for a better performance to get his NABF title back. The title was secondary though, he wanted to prove he wasn’t washed up and come back in a big way. This second battle between the two legends would go down to the wire. Ali shows tremendous determination to win the last round and sneak the close split decision over the irrepressible Norton.

"Norton is a better fighter than any other fighter I’ve fought, except maybe Joe Frazier." - Ali, after the fight.

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Sept. 9, 1965 - Sandy Koufax becomes first pitcher in baseball to pitch four no-hitters

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Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers, by retiring 27 consecutive batters without allowing any to reach base, became the sixth pitcher of the modern era, eighth overall, to throw a perfect game. The game was Koufax’s fourth no-hitter, breaking Bob Feller’s Major League record of three (and later broken by Nolan Ryan, in 1981). Koufax struck out 14 opposing batters, the most ever recorded in a perfect game, and matched only by San Francisco Giants pitcher, Matt Cain, on June 13, 2012.

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Sept. 8, 1998 - Mark McGwire hits 62nd home run of the year, breaks Roger Maris’ single-season record

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Mark McGwire hit a pitch by the Chicago Cubs' Steve Trachsel over the left field wall for his record-breaking 62nd home run, setting off huge celebrations at Busch Stadium. The fact that the game was against the Cubs meant that Sammy Sosa was able to congratulate McGwire personally on his achievement. Members of Roger Maris’ family were also present at the game. The ball was freely, albeit controversially, given to McGwire in a ceremony on the field by the stadium worker who found it. Members of Roger Maris’ family were also present at the game.The ball was freely, albeit controversially, given to McGwire in a ceremony on the field by the stadium worker who found it.

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Sept. 7, 1979 - The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) made its debut

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ESPN made its debut live on the air with the first broadcast of ESPN Sports Center, at 7 p.m. Eastern Time. The brainchild of Bill Rasmussen, the first ESPN broadcast included an introductory segment with Bill Rasmussen explaining the technology behind this new network, which today is the Total Sports Leader known worldwide.

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Sept. 6, 1995 - Cal Ripken Jr broke Lou Gehrig’s record by playing in his 2,131 consecutive game

Baseball fans within and out of the United States tuned into cable TV network ESPN to watch Cal Ripken Jr surpass Lou Gehrig's 56-year-old record for consecutive games played (2,130 games). The game, between the Baltimore Orioles and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim still ranks as one of the network’s most watched baseball games. Cal’s children, Rachel and Ryan, threw out the ceremonial first balls. Both President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore were at the game. Clinton was in the WBAL local radio broadcast booth when Ripken hit a home run in the fourth inning, and called the home run over the air. When the game became official after the Angels’ half of the fifth inning, the numerical banners that displayed Ripken’s streak on the wall of the B&O Warehouse outside the stadium’s right field wall changed from 2130 to 2131.

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Sept. 5, 1960 - Cassius Clay won gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rome, Italy

Before Muhammad Ali, there was an 18 year old named Cassius Clay (178 lbs) that entered the Light Heavyweight division of the 1960 Rome Olympics. Clay went 5-0 on his way to winning gold. He received a first round bye, and then went on to win his next fight due to a referee stoppage in the 2nd round. He would then finish off his last three fights with convincing unanimous decisions. The gold medal fight was against Poland’s Zbigniew Pietrzykowski, who was making a return trip to the Olympics after winning bronze in Melbourne 1956.

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