Friday, September 3, 2010

September 3, 1960: Down to the wire

ROME - In the 1956 Olympics at Melbourne, Rafer Johnson suffered an injury that would prevent him from competing in the long jump portion of the decathlon. Despite forfeiting the points from that event, he still finished with the silver medal.

Johnson didn't lose again in the decathlon leading up to the 1960 Olympics in Rome, though he didn't compete as often as he would have liked due to injuries. Still, the former college basketball player at UCLA was considered one of the favorites at the 1960 games, along with college classmate and friend Yang Chuan-Kwang of Taiwan.

Johnson and Yang made the 1960 event their own personal party, as they traded the lead back and forth as the event went on. Yang won five of the 10 individual events in the decathlon, but a 14th-place finish in the shot put and an 11th-place finish in the discus kept Johnson in it. Meanwhile, while Johnson won only 1 event - the shot put - he finished in the top five in each of the first nine events. His consistent performance gave him a slight lead over Yang heading into the last event, the 1,500 meter run.

Yang was considered to be stronger than Johnson in the 1,500, so the 10-event marathon was truly coming down to the final event. Yang had to beat Johnson by 10 seconds to win the gold medal, but Johnson ran the best 1,500 of his life, staying with Yang the entire way to hold on for one of the tightest victories in decathlon victory.

Johnson retired from athletic competition after the 1960 games. He went into movies, getting several starring roles, including in License to Kill. He also worked on Robert Kennedy's presidential campaign and was one of two men who wrestled Kennedy's assassan Sirhan Sirhan to the floor after the shots were fired.

September 3, 1903: POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. - There have been many doubleheaders in baseball history. There have even been triple headers, inlcuding one at the Major League level. But there has only been one quadruple header. A series of rainouts forced Hudson and Poughkeepsie of the short-lived Class D Hudson River League to play four games in one day, September 3, 1903. Hudson won all four games, 2-1, 6-4, 3-1, and 4-2.

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