November 29 in history:
The Army and the Navy met each other on the football field for the first time on November 29th, 1890, at West Point. The Army Cadets had the home field advantage, but they were shut out by the Navy 24-0. Now, the contest is usually played at a neutral site, Philadelphia.
The tradition of playing pro football on Thanksgiving began on this date in 1934, when the holiday was still celebrated on the last Thursday of November, instead of the fourth Thursday. The Lions had just moved to Detroit, and as a publicity stunt, the club’s new owner arranged to have the team play a Thanksgiving Day ball game. Detroit has hosted an NFL game on Thanksgiving ever since.
The Lions lost that first Thanksgiving game to the Chicago Bears. Rahm Emanuel, the former White House Chief of Staff elected mayor of Chicago in 2011, was born on November 29th, 1959. Another famous Illinois politician born on November 29th was U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Paul Simon (1928).
November 21 in history:
Thomas Edison became famous for many of his inventions, but the first one that caught on was the phonograph. Edison announced the development of the sound recording device on November 21st, 1877. His machine could both record sound on a metal cylinder and play it back. Edison discovered that the phonograph worked when he recorded “Mary had a little lamb…”
The phonograph eventually led to other recording devices, such as the VCR. No doubt, video recorders all over the U.S. were being used on November 21st, 1980, to tape the season premiere of “Dallas.” It was the first new episode in eight months, since the cliffhanger episode in which bad guy J.R. Ewing was shot and wounded by an offscreen attacker. The answer to the popular question “Who shot J.R.?” was…his mistress Kristin Shepard, played by Mary Crosby. That night, “Dallas” set an American ratings record, broken three years later by the last episode of “M*A*S*H.”
“Dallas” was still on the air in 1989 when quarterback Troy Aikman joined the Dallas Cowboys. He spent his entire NFL career with the Cowboys, leading them to three Super Bowl titles in four years. Aikman was born November 21st, 1966.
November 17 in history:
Television history was made on this day in 1968, when a Sunday afternoon game between the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders was running long. NBC was contracted to broadcast a new version of “Heidi,” sponsored by Timex watches, precisely at 7 p.m. Eastern time that night, whether the game was over or not. A last-minute network decision to delay “Heidi” until after the game did not get to the right people, and the football broadcast for most of the U.S. was cut off with one minute left to play, and the Jets ahead by three points. The game ended with two quick touchdowns by the Raiders, who won by a score of 43-32. The fan uproar that resulted led to the now-common practice of delaying all regular programming on the networks rather than disrupting football games in progress.
President Richard Nixon made history on live television by stating “I’m not a crook” during a broadcast news conference on November 17th, 1973. The question-and-answer session was part of an Associated Press meeting at Disney World, in the middle of the Watergate scandal. Nixon made the “crook” remark while telling the reporters that he had never profited from his years of public service.
The Nixon news conference was aired live on network TV on a Saturday night. The producer of “Saturday Night Live,” Lorne Michaels, was born on this day in 1944…the same day and year as frequent SNL host Danny De Vito, known for the TV series “Taxi” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
TV coverage of a concession speech by Howard Dean has been blamed for costing him the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004. Dean was portrayed as being too emotional and out of control when he shouted to supporters after losing the Iowa caucuses. Dean, a former governor of Vermont, was born on November 17th, 1948.
John Boehner has never run for president, but he was third in line for the Oval Office as Speaker of the House. The Ohio Republican was born on this date in 1949.
November 6 in history:
Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States on November 6th, 1860. Over the next 12 months, several Southern states would secede and form the Confederacy. Their first presidential election was exactly one year after Lincoln’s election, on this date in 1861. Former U.S. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis had already been appointed Confederate president before winning the election.
The Civil War ended and the Confederacy folded before Davis got to finish his six-year term. After a few years under the Stars and Bars, the Southern states returned to the Stars and Stripes, forever. Saaaay, that might make a good song title! Composer John Philip Sousa thought so. “The Stars and Stripes Forever” is one of the most popular marches written by the “March King,” born on November 6th, 1854.
Sousa commissioned the development of the sousaphone, and another musician who has an instrument named after him shares Sousa’s birthday. Belgian Adolphe Sax, born on this date in 1814, patented the saxophone when he was 31.
Both the sousaphone and saxophone are popular marching-band instruments played at football games. The very first official college football game in the U.S. was played in New Jersey on November 6th, 1869, at Rutgers University. In that first contest, each score was worth only one point, and they played until 10 total points had been scored. Rutgers beat Princeton, 6 to 4.
The streets of one New Jersey city inspired the names of spaces on a classic board game for which Parker Brothers obtained patents on this date in 1935. Pass “Go” and collect $200 if you knew that the landmarks on a “Monopoly” board are actual places in Atlantic City.
October 14 in history:
King Harold II of England was killed by Norman invaders during the Battle of Hastings on October 14th, 1066. Harold was the first English king to die in battle.
On this date in 1981, the Egyptian government elected Hosni Mubarak as president, to succeed Anwar Sadat, who had been shot and killed a week earlier. Mubarak remained president until being ousted as a result of protests in 2011.
Former U.S President Theodore Roosevelt was shot and slightly wounded in Milwaukee on October 14th, 1912, while campaigning as the Bull Moose candidate for president. The bullet was slowed down by a folded copy of his speech in his coat pocket, and Roosevelt finished his speech before going to a hospital.
That week in 1912, the Army football team was 2-0 and preparing for a game against Yale. One of the star players for the cadets was halfback and future president Dwight Eisenhower, born on October 14th, 1890.
September 11 in history:
Since 2001, the date of September 11th brings to mind images of the terror attacks which occurred during one day in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. As for other events in history on this day…
The U.S. ambassador to Libya was among four persons killed in an attack at a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya on September 11th, 2012. The Obama White House and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been accused of trying to cover up the true circumstances surrounding the attack.
The Pentagon was hit by one of the airplanes hijacked on 9/11/01. September 11th was the day construction began on the Pentagon in 1941.
One of the airline passengers killed in the Pentagon attack was political commentator Barbara Olson, whose husband Theodore was Solicitor General at the time. Ted Olson was born on September 11th of 1940…the same day as movie director Brian de Palma, who opened the movie “The Bonfire of the Vanities” with a long single-take shot inside the World Trade Center. De Palma’s other films include “Carrie,” “Scarface,” and “The Untouchables.”
September 11th was the day in 1609 that Henry Hudson sailed in what would become New York Harbor, and discovered the mouth of the river eventually named after him.
New York is where Tom Landry began his coaching career in pro football, on the staff of the Giants. Landry, born on September 11th, 1924, left the Giants to become the first head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. He shared his birthday, and a habit of wearing distinctive hats on the sidelines, with another legendary football coach, Alabama’s Paul “Bear” Bryant (born 1913).
February 1st in history:
One of the songs most associated with the Civil War was the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” which put new words to the tune “John Brown’s Body.” Julia Ward Howe’s lyrics for “Battle Hymn” first appeared in the Atlantic Monthly magazine on February 1st, 1862.
Toward the end of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, on this date in 1865. The 2012 Steven Spielberg movie Lincoln mostly deals with President Lincoln’s fight to pass the amendment.
A different freedom — freedom of speech — was under dispute after the Super Bowl halftime show on February 1st, 2004. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fined CBS for broadcasting the brief moment where Justin Timberlake tore part of Janet Jackson’s costume, exposing her breast, in what became known as a “wardrobe malfunction.”