Day By Day

Thursday, November 12, 2009

This Day In History

Today is "National Chicken Soup Day". In happier times I would urge you all to go out and get a large, steaming bowl of gastronomical goodness, but these days the National Organization of Screaming Ninnies might object. They would condemn the killing of poultry, the amount of energy required to prepare the soup, the cholesterol and trans-fats content, the salt, etc., etc., etc. in their ongoing effort to take all the fun out of life. So, if the opinions of such people matter to you, settle for a glass of room-temperature water and an organic power bar and half an hour on the treadmill that has become your life.

On this day in 1859 the first "daring young man on the flying trapeze" performed at the Napoleon Circus in Paris. He was a sensation and soon the outfit he designed for his performance became the rage of the fashion world. His name? Jules Leotard. Yep, that's where the name came from.

I missed this yesterday, but it could just as easily be noted today. The first fully professional football team in America was the Allegheny Athletic Association in Pittsburgh. It was founded as an amateur association in 1890 and played its first game on November 11th of that year, losing 38-zip to the stalwart young men of Western University of Pittsburgh, which is what Pitt was called back in those days [this was Pitt's first football game too]. The AAA's big rival was the Pittsburgh Athletic Club, which had a number of former college stars on its roster. To beat the Pittsburgh AC, the AAA started paying prominent football players to join their team. The first was "Pudge" Heffelfinger, an All-American from Yale, who is usually considered to be the first fully professional football player ever. On this day in 1892 the two teams met at Recreation Park and the AAA won the game when Heffelfinger forced a fumble, picked it up, and ran it in for a touchdown. This set off a bidding war between the two teams as each sought to sign up college talent. By 1896 the Alleghenies were wholly professional and the Pittsburgh AC nearly so. Ultimately the controversy over professionalization, the constant fighting over players, and the cost of talent undermined the enterprise and America's first professional football team disbanded after playing two games [Against Pittsburgh AC and the Duquesne AC, both of which were shut out]. Thus came to an end Pittsburgh's first foray into professional football. [Read about it here.]

And on this day in 1933 the Iggles played the first Sunday Football game in Philadelphia and on the very same day the Pittsburgh Football Pirates played their first game in Forbes Field, losing to the Brooklyn Football Dodgers 32-zip AND on the very same day Hugh Gray took the first photograph of the "Loch Ness Monster". Coincidence? I thing not!

Happy Birthday to women's rights crusader, Elizabeth Cady Stanton [1815] and to Sun Yat Sen [1866], "Father of the Chinese Nation" who led the fight to overthrow the Qing dynasty and establish the Republic of China. He is the one figure in modern Chinese history who is universally revered and must be recognized as one of the greatest men of the Twentieth Century. And Happy Birthday also to August Rodin, the French sculptor [1840] The largest collection of his work outside France can be seen at the Rodin Museum on the Ben Franklin Parkway in Philly. And while we are on the subject of Philly, a very Happy Birthday to Princess Grace Kelly [1929], one of the city's finest exports.