Harlem Globetrotters’ 8,829-game winning streak snapped

On September 12, 1995, in Vienna, Austria, the Harlem Globetrotters tip off the third game of an 11-game exhibition series in Europe against a team of retired basketball stars led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, aptly named “Kareem’s All-Stars.” Unlike the previous 8,829 games, the Globetrotters lose, 91-85—the team’s first loss since 1971. The Globetrotters’ games are usually scripted, but this game is not.  

Despite being 48 years old, Abdul-Jabbar put the team on his back, scoring 34 points. Bo Kimble, a former college standout and New York Knick, scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Abdul-Jabbar and Kimble were aided by a handful of other old, former NBA standouts such as Artis Gilmore, Jo-Jo White, Nate “Tiny” Archibald and, the youngest player on the team, 40-year-old Cedric “Cornbread” Maxwell.

The victory had additional significance for Abdul-Jabbar, who was no stranger to the Globetrotters. In 1969, the Globetrotters—known primarily for their on-court antics—reportedly offered him a $1 million contract to play with them after his historic collegiate career at UCLA. Abdul-Jabbar turned the deal down and went onto become the No. 1 pick of the 1969 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks. 

After the win, Abdul-Jabbar complimented the Globetrotters, saying they were “a very good basketball team” and that “they impressed our team with their poise in this loss.”

Meanwhile, the Globetrotters, who had won the first two games of the 11-game series in Switzerland and Germany, took the loss fairly hard. “The guys are really upset …,”  Reggie “Regulator” Phillips told the media. “After being part of the team for over 300 straight wins, it is a strange feeling to lose a game.” The Globetrotters defeated the All-Stars in their next “game.”

READ MORE: 10 things you may not know about the Harlem Globetrotters

At the end of this somewhat strange series featuring basketball entertainers and NBA has-beens, Maxwell summed up the experience humorously, telling the New York Times: “You look at us after these games, we are on Tylenol, Excedrin, Advil—all kinds of painkillers, anti-inflammatories. We’re one big pharmaceutical shop. If they do this next year, they ought to look at one of those drugs companies sponsoring it. They can call it the Kareem-Harlem Globetrotters Pain Tour.”

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New floating bridge opens in Seattle; I-90 stretches from coast to coast

Year
1993
Month Day
September 12

On September 12, 1993, the rebuilt Lacey V. Murrow Bridge over Lake Washington opens in Seattle. The new bridge, which was actually the eastbound lanes of Interstate 90 (the westbound lanes cross the lake on a separate bridge), connects the city and its eastern suburbs. It replaced the original Murrow Bridge, the first floating concrete bridge in the world, which was destroyed by a flood in November 1990.

In December 1938, Washington governor Clarence Martin and Lacey V. Murrow, the director of the Washington Toll Bridge Authority, broke ground on what would be the largest floating structure in the world: the Lake Washington Floating Bridge, also known as the Mercer Island Bridge, between Seattle to the west and Bellevue, Washington, to the east. (It was renamed for Murrow in 1967.) At the time the bridge was built, it carried US Route 10 across the lake; a few decades later, that highway became Interstate 90. The bridge was a Public Works Administration-financed project designed to give work to unemployed Washingtonians and to make the towns across the lake from Seattle more accessible to suburban development.

When the bridge opened in 1940, the Seattle Times called it “the biggest thing afloat.” It was almost two miles long, contained 100,000 tons of steel, floated on more than 20 hollow concrete pontoons, and carried 5,000 cars each day. (By 1989, its daily load was closer to 100,000 cars.)

In 1990, while the bridge was closed for repairs, construction workers punched giant holes in the pontoons that kept it afloat and went home for the weekend. A few days of rain and high winds filled the pontoons with water, and the bridge broke apart and sank.

Repairing it was no easy task: The sinking pontoons had pulled more than a half-mile of highway into the lake with them, and the structure needed to be rebuilt from scratch. This project took three years and cost $93 million. When the bridge finally reopened, it closed one of the last remaining gaps in the interstate highway system: a person could drive from Boston to Seattle without ever leaving I-90.

READ MORE: The Epic Road Trip That Inspired the Interstate Highway System

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Nikita Khrushchev elected Soviet leader

Year
1953
Month Day
September 12

Six months after the death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev succeeds him with his election as first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Born into a Ukrainian peasant family in 1894, Khrushchev worked as a mine mechanic before joining the Soviet Communist Party in 1918. In 1929, he went to Moscow and steadily rose in the party ranks and in 1938 was made first secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party. He became a close associate of Joseph Stalin, the authoritative leader of the Soviet Union since 1924. In 1953, Stalin died, and Khrushchev grappled with Stalin’s chosen successor, Georgy Malenkov, for the position of first secretary of the Communist Party. Khrushchev won the power struggle, and Malenkov was made premier, a more ceremonial post. In 1955, Malenkov was replaced by Bulganin, Khrushchev’s hand-picked nominee.

In 1956, Khrushchev denounced Stalin and his totalitarian policies at the 20th Party Congress, leading to a “thaw” in the USSR that saw the release of millions of political prisoners. Almost immediately, the new atmosphere of freedom led to anti-Soviet uprisings in Poland and Hungary. Khrushchev flew to Poland and negotiated a diplomatic solution, but the Hungarian rebellion was crushed by Warsaw Pact troops and tanks.

READ MORE: Communism Timeline 

Khrushchev’s policies were opposed by some hard-liners in the Communist Party, and in June 1957 he was nearly ousted from his position as first secretary. After a brief struggle, he secured the removal of top party members who opposed him, and in 1958 Khrushchev prepared to take on the post of premier. On March 27, 1958, the Supreme Soviet–the Soviet legislature–voted unanimously to make First Secretary Khrushchev also Soviet premier, thus formally recognizing him as the undisputed leader of the USSR.

In foreign affairs, Premier Khrushchev’s stated policy was one of “peaceful coexistence” with the West. He said, “We offer the capitalist countries peaceful competition” and gave the Soviet Union an early lead in the space race by launching the first Soviet satellites and cosmonauts. A visit to the United States by Khrushchev in 1959 was hailed as a new high in U.S.-Soviet relations, but superpower relations would hit dangerous new lows in the early 1960s.

In 1960, Khrushchev walked out of a long-awaited four-powers summit in protest of U.S. spy plane activity over Russia, and in 1961 he authorized construction of the Berlin Wall as a drastic solution to the East German question. Then, in October 1962, the United States and the USSR came close to nuclear war over the USSR’s placement of nuclear missiles in Cuba. After 13 tense days, the Cuban Missile Crisis came to an end when Khrushchev agreed to withdraw the offensive weapons in exchange for a secret U.S. pledge not to invade Cuba.

The humiliating resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis, an agricultural crisis at home, and the deterioration of Soviet-Chinese relations due to Khrushchev’s moderate policies all led to growing opposition to Khrushchev in the party ranks. On October 14, 1964, Leonid Brezhnev, Khrushchev’s protégé and deputy, organized a successful coup against him, and Khrushchev abruptly stepped down as first secretary and premier. He retired to obscurity outside Moscow and lived there until his death in 1971.

READ MORE: The Cuban Missile Crisis Timeline

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Violence erupts in Boston over desegregation busing

Year
1974
Month Day
September 12

In Boston, Massachusetts, opposition to court-ordered school “busing” turns violent on the opening day of classes. School buses carrying African American children were pelted with eggs, bricks, and bottles, and police in combat gear fought to control angry white protesters besieging the schools.

U.S. District Judge Arthur Garrity ordered the busing of African American students to predominantly white schools and white students to black schools in an effort to integrate Boston’s geographically segregated public schools. In his June 1974 ruling in Morgan v. Hennigan, Garrity stated that Boston’s de facto school segregation discriminated against black children. The beginning of forced busing on September 12 was met with massive protests, particularly in South Boston, the city’s main Irish-Catholic neighborhood. Protests continued unabated for months, and many parents, white and black, kept their children at home. In October, the National Guard was mobilized to enforce the federal desegregation order.

READ MORE: What Led to Desegregation Busing—And Did It Work?

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Lascaux cave paintings discovered

Year
1940
Month Day
September 12

Near Montignac, France, a collection of prehistoric cave paintings are discovered by four teenagers who stumbled upon the ancient artwork after following their dog down a narrow entrance into a cavern. The 15,000- to 17,000-year-old paintings, consisting mostly of animal representations, are among the finest examples of art from the Upper Paleolithic period.

First studied by the French archaeologist Henri-Édouard-Prosper Breuil, the Lascaux grotto consists of a main cavern 66 feet wide and 16 feet high. The walls of the cavern are decorated with some 600 painted and drawn animals and symbols and nearly 1,500 engravings. The pictures depict in excellent detail numerous types of animals, including horses, red deer, stags, bovines, felines, and what appear to be mythical creatures. There is only one human figure depicted in the cave: a bird-headed man with an erect phallus. Archaeologists believe that the cave was used over a long period of time as a center for hunting and religious rites.

The Lascaux grotto was opened to the public in 1948 but was closed in 1963 because artificial lights had faded the vivid colors of the paintings and caused algae to grow over some of them. A replica of the Lascaux cave was opened nearby in 1983 and receives tens of thousands of visitors annually.

READ MORE: The Prehistoric Ages: How Humans Lived Before Written Records

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The Laconia is sunk

Year
1942
Month Day
September 12

A German U-boat sinks a British troop ship, the Laconia, killing more than 1,400 men on September 12, 1942. The commander of the German sub, Capt. Werner Hartenstein, realizing that Italians POWs were among the passengers, strove to aid in their rescue.

The Laconia, a former Cunard White Star ship put to use to transport troops, including prisoners of war, was in the South Atlantic bound for England when it encountered U-156, a German sub. The sub attacked, sinking the troop ship and imperiling the lives of more than 2,200 passengers. But as Hartenstein, the sub commander, was to learn from survivors he began taking onboard, among those passengers were 1,500 Italians POWs. Realizing that he had just endangered the lives of so many of his fellow Axis members, he put out a call to an Italian submarine and two other German U-boats in the area to help rescue the survivors.

In the meantime, one French and two British warships sped to the scene to aid in the rescue. The German subs immediately informed the Allied ships that they had surfaced for humanitarian reasons. The Allies assumed it was a trap. Suddenly, an American B-24 bomber, the Liberator, flying from its South Atlantic base on Ascension Island, saw the German sub and bombed it—despite the fact that Hartenstein had draped a Red Cross flag prominently on the hull of the surfaced sub. The U-156, damaged by the air attack, immediately submerged. Admiral Karl Donitz, supreme commander of the German U-boat forces, had been monitoring the rescue efforts. He ordered that “all attempts to rescue the crews of sunken ships…cease forthwith.” Consequently, more than 1,400 of the Laconia‘s passengers, which included Polish guards and British crewmen, drowned.

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Sugar Ray Robinson wins back belt

Year
1951
Month Day
September 12

On September 12, 1951, former middleweight champion Sugar Ray Robinson defeats Randy Turpin to win back the belt in front of 61,370 spectators at the Polo Grounds in New York City. Robinson, a New York City native, had lost the belt to Turpin two months prior in Turpin’s native London.

By 1951, Sugar Ray Robinson was considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in boxing history. That summer, Robinson traveled to Great Britain for a vacation and publicity tour before his scheduled July 10 bout with Turpin, in which Sugar Ray was heavily favored. To the surprise of his fans around the world, however, the surprisingly strong Turpin battered Robinson and won the match in a 15-round decision. Afterward, Robinson requested and was granted a rematch.

Two months later on September 12, the Polo Grounds set a middleweight fight attendance record for the rematch. The crowd was filled with well-known personalities from U.S. Army General Douglas MacArthur to stars of film and stage. Robinson, intent on avenging his loss, trained intensely for the rematch, refusing to once again take his opponent too lightly. From the first ring of the bell, the 31-year-old Robinson dictated the pace of the fight to his 23-year-old opponent, and won each of the first seven rounds decisively. In the eighth round, however, Robinson appeared to tire, and Turpin fought with a new intensity, hitting and hurting Robinson for the first time in the fight. In the ninth round, Turpin delivered numerous right hands to Robinson’s head, opening a cut over his left eye. Still, Robinson was able to wrest back control of the fight in the 10th, when he knocked Turpin down with a right to the jaw. When Turpin was ready to continue, Robinson, re-energized, unleashed an onslaught to his head and body. Two minutes and 52 seconds into the 10th round, referee Rudy Goldstein stopped the fight, and Robinson was showered with adulation from the adoring hometown crowd.

Robinson retired from boxing in 1965 with 110 knockouts to his credit. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1967 and died in 1989. 

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John F. Kennedy marries Jacqueline Bouvier in Newport, Rhode Island

Year
1953
Month Day
September 12

Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy, the future 35th president of the United States, marries Jacqueline Bouvier in Newport, Rhode Island on September 12, 1953. Seven years later, the couple would become the youngest president and first lady in American history.

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy was born into a prominent New York family in 1929 and grew into an avid horsewoman and reader. In 1951, after graduating from George Washington University, Jackie, as she was called, took a tour of Europe. That fall, she returned to the U.S. to begin her first job as the Washington Times-Herald’s “Inquiring Camera Girl.” Shortly afterward, she met a young, handsome senator from Massachusetts named John Kennedy at a dinner party in Georgetown. They dated over the next two years, during which time Jackie mused at the idea that she might actually marry a man who was allergic to horses, something she never thought she would have considered. In 1953, the two were engaged, when Kennedy gave Jackie a 2.88-carat diamond-and-emerald ring from Van Cleef and Arpels.

“Jack,” as Kennedy was called, and Jackie married on September 12, 1953, at St. Mary’s Church in Newport, Rhode Island. Jackie wore an ivory silk gown made by Ann Lowe, an African-American designer. The Catholic mass was attended by 750 guests and an additional 450 people joined the wedding reception at Hammersmith Farm. The couple danced to the Meyer Davis Orchestra’s version of “I Married an Angel.” Davis also performed at Jackie’s parents’ wedding and at Kennedy’s inaugural ball.

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Hopalong Cassidy rides off into his last sunset

Year
1972
Month Day
September 12

After nearly 40 years of riding across millions of American TV and movie screens, the cowboy actor William Boyd, best known for his role as Hopalong Cassidy, dies on September 12, 1972 at the age of 77.

Boyd’s greatest achievement was to be the first cowboy actor to make the transition from movies to television. Following World War II, Americans began to buy television sets in large numbers for the first time, and soon I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners were standard evening fare for millions of families. But despite their proven popularity in movie theaters, westerns were slow to come to the small screen. Many network TV producers scorned westerns as lowbrow “horse operas” unfit for their middle- and upper-class audiences.

Riding to the small screen’s rescue came the movie cowboy, William Boyd. During the 1930s, Boyd made more than 50 cheap but successful “B-grade” westerns starring as Hopalong Cassidy. Together with his always loyal and outlandishly intelligent horse, Topper, Hopalong righted wrongs, saved school marms in distress, and single-handedly fought off hordes of marauding Indians. After the war, Boyd recognized an opportunity to take Hopalong and Topper into the new world of television, and he began to market his old “B” westerns to TV broadcasters in Los Angeles and New York City. A whole new generation of children thrilled to “Hoppy’s” daring adventures, and they soon began to clamor for more.

Rethinking their initial disdain for the genre, producers at NBC contracted with Boyd in 1948 to produce a new series of half-hour westerns for television. By 1950, American children had made Hopalong Cassidy the seventh most popular TV show in America and were madly snapping up genuine “Hoppy” cowboy hats, chaps, and six-shooters, earning Boyd’s venture more than $250 million. Soon other TV westerns followed Boyd’s lead, becoming popular with both children and adults. In 1959, seven of the top-10 shows on national television were westerns like The Rifleman, Rawhide, and Maverick. The golden era of the TV western would finally come to an end in 1975 when the long-running Gunsmoke left the air, three years after Boyd rode off into his last sunset.

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Singer-songwriter Barry White is born

Year
1944
Month Day
September 12

Born in Galveston, Texas, on September 12, 1944, Barry White—or “the Maestro”—went on to stunningly successful career as a pop singer that spanned five decades, and made him a star of the disco era.

Having written several new songs and recorded his vocals for demo purposes only, White was surprised and reluctant when 20th Century Records pushed him to release the songs under his own name. When he finally did so in 1973, he quickly established himself as a star. From 1973 to 1977, sometimes under his own name and sometimes under the name Love Unlimited Orchestra, White recorded a string of steamy soul classics that featured his rumbling bass voice speaking and singing over lush orchestral arrangements of subject matter clearly expressed in his song titles alone: “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe”; “Your Sweetness Is My Weakness”; “It’s Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me”; and “I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More, Baby.”

White died in 2003. 

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