Your Week in History: A bad poker hand and a 'good' TV network - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Your Week in History: A bad poker hand and a 'good' TV network

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Monte Rosa, the highest mountain in Switzerland, was first climbed Aug. 1, 1855. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) Monte Rosa, the highest mountain in Switzerland, was first climbed Aug. 1, 1855. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
An artist's impression of what dwarf planet Eris and its moon look like. (Source: NASA/Wikimedia Commons) An artist's impression of what dwarf planet Eris and its moon look like. (Source: NASA/Wikimedia Commons)
The 1919 Chicago White Sox. Eight of the players were banned from baseball after intentionally losing the World Series. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) The 1919 Chicago White Sox. Eight of the players were banned from baseball after intentionally losing the World Series. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Jesse Owens at the start of the 200-meter dash during the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) Jesse Owens at the start of the 200-meter dash during the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
The crew of PT-109. Future president John F. Kennedy is standing at right. (Source: Department of Defense/Wikimedia Commons) The crew of PT-109. Future president John F. Kennedy is standing at right. (Source: Department of Defense/Wikimedia Commons)

(RNN) - Do you realize that this week will take us to within a month of football season?

That's wonderful, but do you know what's more wonderful than that? You guessed it - the Royal Baby.

His Royal Highness the Prince of Cambridge George Alexander Louis (Mountbatten-Windsor) was introduced to the world by words too small to read chained to a gilded easel and a town crier who turned out to just be some weird old British dude with a ridiculous costume, loud voice and nothing better to do.

His introduction answered many questions, but raised another one that has not yet been sufficiently answered: How did Kate bust her knuckle? I always thought the royal family hired people to have their own knuckles busted in lieu of risking blemishes on their own flawless, alabaster epidermises (epidermii?).

While George Alexander Louis is a much better name than North West, they gave a boy a name whose initials spell "gal." Obviously, this is a subliminal message that they wanted a girl. Or maybe they're just fans of George Louis Costanza, who was portrayed on Seinfeld by Jason Alexander.

It's the second one. It has to be. I mean, they're both bald and who else better to honor?

Here are some of the events of note that happened between July 29 and Aug. 4.

Life and Death

What if I said there were no people I could link to John Wayne this week? I'm sure one week this will happen, but it isn't this one.

Rodolfo Acosta was born July 29, 1920. It doesn't get much more obscure than this, but he had small roles in Hondo and The Sons of Katie Elder. I only found him because there wasn't much in the way of John Wayne connections this week, and I chose to delve deep into the cast of a movie to find one. When Fort Apache turned up nothing, I explored Hondo.

I did that because the other connections I found were Strother Martin, who died Aug. 1, 1980, and was featured once before for his multiple appearances alongside the Duke, and William Quantrill, who is a reach at best and also previously discussed due to a lack of better options. Ironically, that edition of this column discussed the likelihood of my "John Wayne foolishness" jumping the shark, which I think just happened.

Carroll O'Connor was born Aug. 2, 1924, and he was in In Harm's Way in an uncredited role. But now and forever he will always be Archie Bunker. Amazingly, I think I found a clip that won't offend anyone.

Let's move to baseball. Ryan Braun got suspended for the rest of the season last week for drug violations, so he'll have plenty of time to celebrate his birthday, which is July 29, 1980. You have to give commissioner Bud Selig some credit for finally doing something, and he is reportedly about to do more. Perhaps it will come on his birthday, which is July 30, 1934. And finally, all this steroid use in baseball is ripe for a good exploratory documentary. I nominate Ken Burns, who has already won an award for a previous documentary about baseball and was born July 29, 1953.

When you like weird stuff like I do, you run across some really ... weird stuff. I watch Monumental Mysteries on the Travel Channel and last week it discussed Hachaliah Bailey, born July 31, 1775. Bailey is the brother of James Bailey of Barnum and Bailey fame, but Hachaliah Bailey got the whole circus thing started when he had the idea of charging people to see an elephant. Most people didn't even know elephants existed, and it was a wildly successful promotion – until a farmer shot and killed it.

Gin Kanie and Kin Narita were born Aug. 1, 1892. They were identical Japanese twin sisters who lived to be more than 100 years old. Kin died Jan. 23, 2000, and Gin died Feb. 28, 2001.

Louis Vuitton (1821) was born Aug. 4, as was legendary White House correspondent Helen Thomas (1920) and the last president she covered, Barack Obama (1961), before she died a little more than a week ago. Peter Jennings was born July 29, 1938, and the anniversary of his death (Aug. 7, 2005) will come next week.

Wild Bill Hickok died Aug. 2, 1876, after being shot in the head while playing poker. He had two aces and two eights - all black - in his hand at the time of his death, which has come to be known as the "dead man's hand." But, of course, it's disputed. Other reports say one of the aces was red (diamonds, specifically). The fifth card is alleged to be the queen of hearts, but it is also theorized he was killed during a game of five-card draw and was shot while waiting for a fifth card to replace the one he discarded or that the game was still being dealt, and he hadn't received all his cards. The five of diamonds has also been alleged as the fifth card.

Calamity Jane died Aug. 1, 1903, and was buried next to Hickok in Deadwood, SD. She claimed to be married to Hickok following his death, though the claim is fairly dubious, and her burial next to him was allegedly carried out as a posthumous joke on Hickok, who reportedly did not return her affection for him.

Roman co-emperors Balbinus and Pupienus died July 29, 238. Because of the early date, very little is known or verified regarding their three-month reign, but both were suspicious of the other and wary of being assassinated. So, naturally, they argued a lot, and during one of these arguments they were both assassinated by the Praetorian Guard, whose role was to protect them.

Vincent van Gogh died July 29, 1890, after shooting himself in the chest two days earlier.

The first of the "Son of Sam" murders occurred July 29, 1976, and the last happened July 31, 1977. I'll discuss this more next week (and preview it below).

The mother and father of Lizzie Borden were found murdered Aug. 4, 1892. Borden was arrested, tried for the crime but found not guilty after less than two hours of jury deliberation. Other theories abound as to the killer, but no one else was ever charged.

Overlooked Anniversaries

Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer were married July 29, 1981, at St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

Maybe this should have gone under death, but Jimmy Hoffa disappeared July 30, 1975. What happened to him after that, no one knows. Well, someone knows, but whoever that is has never said anything. Every couple of years, his body is supposedly buried in somebody's back yard, but it never turns out to be true.

Supposedly, Hoffa was put through a wood chipper, buried in Giants Stadium, dumped in the Everglades and maybe even shipped to Japan. MythBusters tested Giants Stadium and found nothing. Perhaps that's because Hoffa was found by Jim Carrey in Buffalo, NY, buried with a birth certificate and dental records.

Vigdis Finnbogadottir became the first democratically elected female head of state when she was chosen as Ireland's president Aug. 1, 1980. She holds the record for longest reign by an elected female head of state with 16 years.

The first U.S. patent was issued July 31, 1790, for a new potash process, "In God We Trust" was made the national motto July 30, 1956, Medicare and Medicaid were established July 30, 1965, New York International Airport (later renamed for John F. Kennedy) was dedicated July 31, 1948, NORAD was formed Aug. 1, 1957, the first U.S. census was conducted Aug. 2, 1790, and the Billboard Hot 100 was published for the first time Aug. 4, 1958.

NASA was created July 29, 1958, and the dwarf planet Eris was discovered the same day in 2005.

MTV launched Aug. 1, 1981, and arrogantly kicked off its programming with the music video for Video Killed the Radio Star. Now, 32 years later, MTV has abandoned the "M" in Music Television, sparked a reality TV craze and introduced the world to such classic programming as Beavis and Butthead, Say What? Karaoke, Celebrity Deathmatch, Punk'd, 16 and Pregnant and Jersey Shore.

K2, the second highest mountain on earth, was first ascended July 31, 1954. It is one of the most challenging mountains to climb in the world - roughly 20 percent of all climbers die while attempting to reach the summit - and the summit has never been reached in winter. Monte Rosa, the highest mountain in Switzerland, was first climbed Aug. 1, 1855.

Colorado became a state Aug. 1, 1876. True Grit was filmed in Colorado, so it can definitely stay.

Something About Sports

Eight players from the 1919 Chicago White Sox were banned from baseball for life Aug. 3, 1921, the day after they were acquitted in a criminal trial for throwing the World Series, but the trial is alleged to have been as crooked as the World Series was. The team is still considered one of the best ever and had three future Hall of Famers. At least two more players would likely have been inducted into the Hall of Fame if not for the lifetime ban.

Two of my favorite baseball movies use the scandal as their backdrop, but the guilt of two players in particular is hotly debated.

Third baseman Buck Weaver knew other players were planning to throw the series, but didn't report it. He played well and is not thought to have contributed to the losses or to have received any money, but the most widely disputed of the conspirators is outfielder "Shoeless" Joe Jackson. Jackson had perhaps the best World Series performance in baseball history, but reliable information about his involvement is hard to come by. Allegations range from him being complicit, to only being used to give the scam credibility with gamblers. Jackson's illiteracy has also cast many questions over the incident as well.

Jesse Owens won the 100-meter dash during the 1936 Olympics in Berlin on Aug. 3, 1936. During the next two days, he won the long jump and 200-meter dash as well. He was part of the world record-setting 4-by-100 relay Aug. 9.

In more cricket achievements I don't understand, Jim Lake became the first man to take all 10 wickets in a test match July 31, 1956. For what it's worth, it's only been done one other time.

Michael Phelps broke the overall Olympics medal record held by Larisa Latynina on July 31, 2012.

The Week in Warfare

PT-109 sunk Aug. 2, 1943, and made a hero out of John F. Kennedy. The boat was rammed by a Japanese destroyer and split into two pieces before sinking. Two men were killed. Kennedy swam about 2 1/2 miles looking for help and directed the survivors to an island where they could be rescued.

USS Indianapolis was sunk July 30, 1945, just days after delivering the uranium that would be used in the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. She was struck by two torpedoes and sank in about 10 minutes, taking 300 men down with her. About 800 men were set adrift and nearly 500 of them died in the water due to dehydration, hypothermia and shark attacks. It remains the deadliest shark attack on record.

USS Nevada was sunk July 31, 1948, after being the target of two atomic bomb tests. The ship survived both explosions and was towed back to Pearl Harbor where three ships used her as a target for their guns. The ship still did not sink, and was finished off with an aerial torpedo blast.

Holiday You Should Celebrate

International Tiger Day is July 29. It was created in 2010 to raise awareness of tiger conservation. At least one NFL player is on board.

Preview of next week

"What took you so long?"

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