May 21, 2003 – Annika Sorenstam Makes History
On May 22, 2003, golfer Annika Sorenstam becomes the first woman to play in a PGA tour event since Babe Didrikson 58 years earlier, after receiving a sponsor’s exemption to compete in the Bank of America Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas.
At the 2003 Colonial in Fort Worth, Sorenstam measured herself against the best players on the men’s side for the first time. With the exception of Vijay Singh, who stirred controversy saying Sorenstam had “no business” on the course, she was a popular presence with players and fans alike. Her galleries were by far the biggest in the tournament, numbering 50,000 people at times. On her first day, Sorenstam shot a 71, just one over par, putting herself in contention to make the cut and play for the championship. On the second day, she shot a four-over 74, leaving her five-over for the first two days, and missing the cut by four shots. She left the course to a standing ovation.
Of course, the standing ovation was from guys like me who always thought Annika was a hot little Swedish meatball who I’d like to fondue.
Meet the USS Williamsburg; once the president’s official yacht.
When the USS Williamsburg was commandeered by Harry Truman to be the President’s personal yacht, she became one of the world’s most famous ships. Dignitaries such as Winston Churchill were invited to conferences on board, while the vessel sailed around the world taking Truman on a series of exotic vacations.
But now the celebrated boat is rusting away in an Italian shipyard – and could be scrapped within a few years if a last-minute attempt to save her fails.
Williamsburg spent much of the war in Iceland, helping safeguard the delivery of supplies from the U.S. to Europe, and also underwent patrols of the North American coast. Soon after the war, she took over from Potomac as the President’s official yacht – much to the delight of Harry Truman, who became President following the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945.
The ship quickly gained a reputation as the ‘seagoing White House’, an iconic symbol of American strength and optimism as the U.S. took the lead in rebuilding the shattered West.
Now this piece is history is rotting in an Italian shipyard. Inexcusable.
The Irish government has pardoned their soldiers who joined the British to fight in World War II.
A pardon for thousands of Irish soldiers who joined the British to fight Nazi Germany will help make amends for the shameful way they were treated after the Second World War, Ireland’s Justice Minister has said.
The Irish Government has enacted legislation to grant an amnesty to the former troops – who were blacklisted and branded deserters at home.
Ahead of the historic move, Alan Shatter said tens of thousands of Irish people put their lives at risk during the global conflict in the fight against fascism and tyranny.
“Unfortunately, many of the individuals whose situation is addressed in this Bill did not live to see the day that this state finally acknowledged the important role that they played in seeking to ensure a free and safe Europe,” he added.
Exactly. This is a nice gesture, but one that came to fruition far too late.
This story is near and dear to my heart, because it showcases the USS Olympia.
May 1, 1898 – The Battle of Manila Bay
At Manila Bay in the Philippines, the U.S. Asiatic Squadron destroys the Spanish Pacific fleet in the first battle of the Spanish-American War. Nearly 400 Spanish sailors were killed and 10 Spanish warships wrecked or captured at the cost of only six Americans wounded.
At 5:41 a.m., at a range of 5,400 yards from the enemy, Commodore Dewey turned to the captain of his flagship, the Olympia, and said, “You may fire when ready, Gridley.” Two hours later, the Spanish fleet was decimated, and Dewey ordered a pause in the fighting. He met with his captains and ordered the crews a second breakfast. The four surviving Spanish vessels, trapped in the little harbor at Cavite, refused to surrender, and at 11:15 a.m. fighting resumed. At 12:30 p.m., a signal was sent from the gunboat USS Petrel to Dewey’s flagship: “The enemy has surrendered.”
115 years later, the ship is rotting in the Delaware River, and Philadelphia politicians couldn’t care less. Disgraceful.
Since we’re suffering through the regime of Jimmy Carter II, I figured today was a good day to remind everyone of Jimmy Carter I.
April 24, 1980 – Hostage Rescue Mission Ends In Disaster
On April 24, 1980, an ill-fated military operation to rescue the 52 American hostages held in Tehran ends with eight U.S. servicemen dead and no hostages rescued.
With the Iran Hostage Crisis stretching into its sixth month and all diplomatic appeals to the Iranian government ending in failure, President Jimmy Carter ordered the military mission as a last ditch attempt to save the hostages. During the operation, three of eight helicopters failed, crippling the crucial airborne plans. The mission was then canceled at the staging area in Iran, but during the withdrawal one of the retreating helicopters collided with one of six C-130 transport planes, killing eight soldiers and injuring five. The next day, a somber Jimmy Carter gave a press conference in which he took full responsibility for the tragedy. The hostages were not released for another 270 days.
Thirty-three years later, Jimmy Carter II is sitting idly by while Iran becomes a nuclear power.
Today’s focus is a legend in Philadelphia sports. Michael Jack Schmidt.
April 17, 1976 – Mike Schmidt Hits Four Consecutive Homers
On this day in 1976, Mike Schmidt of the Philadelphia Phillies hits four consecutive home runs in a game against the Chicago Cubs. Schmidt was only the fourth player in the history of Major League Baseball to accomplish this feat.
In 1976, Schmidt, who became known for a batting stance in which he practically turned his back to the pitcher, knocked out a record 12 homers in the first 15 games of the season. Included in the dozen round trippers were the four in a row he hit on April 17 of that year to help the Phillies defeat the Cubs in 10 innings, 18-16. Bobby Lowe of the Boston Beaneaters was the first player on record to hit four home runs in a row, in a game against the Cincinnati Reds on May 30, 1894. He was followed by Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees on June 3, 1932, in a game against the Philadelphia Athletics. On June 10, 1959, Rocky Colavito of the Cleveland Indians knocked out four straight homers against the Baltimore Orioles.
Wow, pretty good company. Phillies fans (naturally) had a love-hate relationship with Mike Schmidt, but he is arguably one of the best players this town has ever seen.
A ring lost by a Union soldier during the Civil War was returned to his descendants this week. The soldier was unavailable for comment.
A ring lost by a Union soldier from Pennsylvania during the Civil War has completed a long journey home. The ring was worn by Levi Schlegel, a Reading-area native who is believed to have lost it nearly 150 years ago at an encampment near Fredericksburg, Va.
Relic hunter John Blue found the ring at a construction site in 2005. Though it was engraved with Schlegel’s name and unit — “Co. G., 198th P.V.,” or Pennsylvania Volunteers — Blue wasn’t sure how to find Schlegel’s descendants, and kept the ring in a box for several years.
A genealogist ultimately helped Blue track down Schlegel’s family. On Tuesday, Blue presented the ring to a distant cousin during a ceremony at Levi Schlegel’s grave in Reading.
Interestingly, the inside of the ring was engraved with the phrase, “Stonewall Jackson sucks.”
Every time I think about how frakked up America is becoming, I remind myself I don’t live in Mexico.
April 10, 1919 – Zapata Assassinated
Emiliano Zapata, a leader of peasants and indigenous people during the Mexican Revolution, is ambushed and shot to death in Morelos by government forces.
After the revolution began in 1910, he raised an army of peasants in the southern state of Morelos under the slogan “Land and Liberty.” Demanding simple agrarian reforms, Zapata and his guerrilla farmers opposed the central Mexican government under Francisco Madero. Zapata and his followers never gained control of the central Mexican government, but they redistributed land and aided poor farmers within the territory under their control.
So a corrupt government murders a socialist revolutionary, and I’m supposed to care why?
The greatest tragedy in the history of film-making occurred thirty-five years ago today.
April 3, 1978 – Annie Hall Beats Out Star Wars For Best Picture
The rise of the action-adventure blockbuster was on the horizon, but on this night in 1978, the small-scale romantic comedy triumphs over the big-budget space extravaganza. At the 50th annual Academy Awards, held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, Woody Allen’s Annie Hall won the Oscar for Best Picture, beating out George Lucas’ Star Wars.
Nowadays, the only thing people remember about Woody Allen is his diddling of Soon-Yi; his stepdaughter. By comparison, most people can name the general who led the AT-AT assault on Hoth.
Apparently, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade wasn’t an entirely fictional story.
A new exhibition in Germany about archaeology under the Nazis shows how the regime launched a ‘Last Crusade’ expedition in wartime to find the Holy Grail from the Last Supper of Christ.
Now truth turns out to be stranger than fiction in the exhibition ‘Dig for Germania. Archaeology under the Swastika’ in Bremen. It tells how S.S. chief Heinrich Himmler allegedly visited Spain during the war because he believed the grail was at the Montserrat Abbey near Barcelona.
Squads of S.S. men searched in vain for the grail. The S.S. budget for such projects was vast as the Nazis intended their finds to rewrite history to prove Germans were the greatest race in all history.
Hitler and Himmler thought Jesus descended from “Aryan stock;” because you can hardly swing an olive branch without hitting a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Middle-Easterner.