Albert Hill a 31 year-old railway guard who fought through many bitter campaigns in the war, was finally rewarded with a couple of medals at the sixth Olympic Games in Antwerp. The talented British athlete who spent his best years in the trenches in stead of on the track, took the 800 and the 1500 metres titles. He won five races in five days.
Hill’s double was enthusiastically appreciated by his hosts, who had been through four years of occupation. They did a remarkable job in organising these games only 28 months after the enemy guns had been silenced. Many of the world’s best athletes were missing, lost in action, and Austria, Germany, Hungary and Turkey were not invited.
The games were a stage for the intense rivalry between Paavo Nurmi of Finland and Joseph Guillemot (Fr). The Frenchman won the 5,000 metres on August 17 and three days later Nurmi pipped him in the 10,000 metres to add to his gold medal in the cross-country. Britain won 15 gold medals, 15 silver and 13 bronze.
.BASEBALL - Ray Chapman the Cleveland short-stop was killed by a pitch from Carl Mays of the New York Yankees.
GOLF - Spikes were fitted to golf shoes for the first time.
RUGBY UNION - The French Rugby Union was formed.
TENNIS - Suzanne Lenglen won all three Wimbledon titles without dropping a set.
AMERICAN FOOTBALL - Fourteen teams formed the American Football Association, the forerunner of the National Football League, and elected, Jim Thorpe as their president.
Apart from owning the Boston Red Sox, Harry Frazee also staged Broadway shows. To finance his latest production he sold the heart of his team to the New York Yankees. Babe Ruth went for $125,000 plus a $300,000 loan and it was a bargain. The Red Sox went from good to bad to worse, while Ruth took the Yankees from strength to strength.
Ruth hit a record 54 home runs for the Yankees in 1920, with an all time slugging percentage of .847. Then, in probably his best season ever, he hit even harder - raising his own record to 59 home runs. The Yankees reached the World Series for the first time. Although they lost to their local rivals, the Giants, Ruth had established the foundations of a dynasty that saw the Yankees win 29 divisional titles and 20 World Series in 44 years.
More than 800,000 swamped Boyle’s Thirty Acres in New Jersey to see Jack Dempsey retain his world heavyweight title against the dashing Frenchman Georges Carpentier on July 2. The crowd generated the first million-dollar gate.
Dempsey won the first round, but Carpentier almost knocked out the champion with stunning right hand. Somehow Dempsey clung on. But that blow was the challengers undoing: he damaged his right thumb and, in the next two rounds, took a fearful beating until the Manassa Mauler dispatched his lighter opponent in the fourth.
CRICKET - Glamorgan became the 17th county to join the championship. They finished last.
FOOTBALL - Southport were admitted to the League. They did not have a player sent off in 1,027 matches until Walter Taylor was dismissed on October 18th, 1952.
Burnley were unbeaten in 30 matches in the First Division. They won 21, drew 9 and scored 68 goals.
The Third Division North was formed. Of the original 20 clubs, eight have since lost their league status.
GOLF - Jim Barnes won the 25th US Open by nine strokes after leading every round.
TENNIS - The Wimbledon championships were held at Worple Road for the last time.
When Walter Hagen arrived at Sandwich for the 29th Open championship he was far from happy with British protocol. As a professional he was not allowed to change of eat in the clubhouse. So Hagen hired a stretch limousine, parked it in front of the clubhouse and used it for changing and eating. He appeared to have thrown away his opportunity to win when he shot 79 in the third round. That left him two strokes behind the defending champion Jock Hutchison. In a howling wind and driving rain Hutchison faded in the last round and, instead, Hagen had to hold off a late challenge from George Duncan, who needed a four on the last to force a play-off.
Duncan’s second shot landed in a hollow on the edge of the green. He left his pitch 15 feet short and two-putted. Hagen was the first American born player to win the Open and the little hollow at the 18th at Sandwich became known as “Duncan’s Hollow”
When Hagen was presented with the prize for winning he looked at the amount on the cheque - and handed it to his caddie. Hagen was the picture of sartorial elegance with his well-cut suits and sleek sports cars, he was the first man to make a million from Golf.
A burgeoning interest in tennis forced the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club to move to new premises for the Wimbledon championships. And the club moved to Church Road, its present site. The new venue took two years to prepare and cost £140,000.
Leslie Godfree was quick to realise the significance of being the first man to serve on the Centre Court. Algy Kingscote hit his return into the net and Godfree grabbed the ball, put it in his pocket and kept it as a souvenir. The Wimbledon committee decided to abolish the challenge round, which had operated since 1877. Gerald Patterson and Suzanne Lenglen were the first men’s and women’s champions at the new Wimbledon.
The Italians hosted the first European Grand Prix at Monza on September 10. Because the Italians were able to charge for admission it made motor racing something of a commercial proposition, particularly as some 150,000 people turned up. The total prize money was 500,000 lire (£6000). However the actual race was one of the dullest ever, as the Fiats were completely dominant, finishing first and second. They were so far ahead of the third car that it was flagged down seven laps behind the second and nine behind the winner.
FOOTBALL - Billy Minter scored seven goals for St. Albans in their match against Dulwich in the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup. But Dulwich won 8 - 7 making Minter’s seven goals the most scored by a player on a losing side in any competition.
MOTOR RACING - There was a mass start for the first time at the French Grand Prix in Strasbourg.
One of Scotland’s faint hopes of breaking England’s domination of the Five Nations championship lay in Eric Liddell using his phenomenal speed to upset his opponents. But the Edinburgh University winger could not stop England clinching their fourth Grand Slam with an 8 - 6 win at Inverleith.
Liddell, who had scored four tries in seven internationals, retired from rugby. He decided to concentrate on athletics and the next year returned to the Stade Colombes in Paris, where he had made his international rugby debut in 1922, to win the Olympic 400
For 3mins. 57 secs. Jack Dempsey and Luis Firpo slugged it out in New York on September 4 for the World Heavyweight title. It was quickly called the greatest fight ever. As the bout started Dempsey threw a left hook and missed. The 6ft.3in Argentinean. Appropriately called the Wild Bull of the Pampas, countered with a right that caught Dempsey flush on the chin. Dempsey fell forward, jumped up without a count and had Firpo down seven times in the first round.
Firpo, however still managed to land a straight right that knocked Dempsey through the ropes. If it had not been for illegal hands pushing him back into the ring he would have lost his title. But the near-unconscious Dempsey was saved by the bell. In the second round both boxers were in a bad way, Dempsey summoned the strength from somewhere to knock Firpo down twice more. When he got up after a count of four, Firpo was defenceless and the Manassa Mauler demolished him with two hooks after 57 seconds of the round.
BASEBALL - Yankee Stadium “the house that Ruth built” opened. Most of the construction costs were paid for by the bigger crowds generated by Babe Ruth. Fittingly, Ruth hit a winning home run in the first game in the new stadium.
FOOTBALL - Littlewoods distributed the first pools coupon outside Old Trafford. Exeter City went 20 months - April 12, 1923 - November 7, 1924, without scoring an away goal. Scotland initiated a Third Division but it folded without completing its third season.
GOLF - Arthur Havers became the last Briton in 11 years to win the British Open. Gene Sarazan made his first appearance but was caught in a storm and failed to qualify.
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