Baseball and hot dogs still big on July 4
On July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote a letter to his wife.
In it, our founding father discussed the decision to split from Great Britain, correctly labeling it the most memorable day in the country’s history.
Actually, Adams was talking about July 2, the day Congress voted to separate. While that passes without much fanfare (try convincing your boss it’s the real holiday next year), Adams’ sentiment certainly applies to the Fourth of July.
He predicted we would celebrate with parades, games, guns, bonfires, “illuminations” and, yes, sports.
If you’re not a big baseball fan, the Fourth will likely pass without much excitement in the way of professional sports. Other options include Wimbledon, the Tour de France and “Tim Tebow’s Wild Rise,” which airs on E!
I’ve long felt this day should be celebrated with a U.S. vs. England soccer match. I know, the World Cup and European Championship would present potential scheduling conflicts, but let’s be honest — both teams would be knocked out in plenty of time for the showdown.
Nothing would give our friends across the pond an ego boost like pounding us on the pitch, and there’s no better way for us to humiliate them than by beating them at their own game and then calling it soccer.
But until the day that dream comes true, I’m left looking back at some of the best Fourth of July sports moments from the past.
While there are certainly “greater” moments, like the racially charged 1910 “Fight of the Century” between Jack Johnson and James Jeffries, and Lou Gehrig’s famous “luckiest man on the face of the earth” speech in 1939, these are my three favorites:
1976: The grand slam single. Before Tim McCarver became a broadcaster, he celebrated America’s bicentennial with an all-time sports gaffe. Playing for the Phillies, McCarver belted a grand slam against Pittsburgh and then passed his teammate on the basepaths. He was called out and credited with a three-RBI single.
1981: John McEnroe beats Bjorn Borg at Wimbledon. Johnny Mac snapped Borg’s five-year reign as champion and became the first winner in the tournament’s history to not receive an honorary membership to the host site, the All England Club.
That was because of McEnroe’s outbursts along the way, which included the iconic, “You cannot be serious!”
2007: Joey Chestnut topples Takeru Kobayashi in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Maybe not a real sport, but it makes the list for cultural significance. No one eats like America, yet Japan’s Kobayashi had won the event six years running.
In a televised battle that included a “reversal” from Kobayashi (which is far more disgusting than it sounds), Chestnut reclaimed our rightful place atop the pyramid of gluttony by throwing down a world-record 66 dogs in 12 minutes. As an ESPN commentator put it, it was “the greatest moment in the history of American sports.”
Hard to disagree.