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October 13 history lesson

I officially turned 40 a few minutes ago. I was born at 9:16 a.m. October 13, 1976, a sunny Wednesday, at Baptist Hospital on Napoleon Avenue in New Orleans.

Two hundred and four days before my birth, a baby boy who went on to become much more famous than I was born in the same hospital. His name: Peyton Williams Manning, the second child of Elisha Archibald (Archie) Manning and Olivia Williams Manning.

I’ve always wondered why my parents chose Baptist Hospital, which was pretty far from our residence in suburban St. Bernard Parish (county), to give birth. My brother, Jason, was also born at Baptist on February 24, 1978. Now for the Mannings, Baptist was the closest hospital, since they lived on First Street in the swanky Garden District.

Maybe it’s appropriate I have become immersed in sports, given Peyton (and Eli) were born there, and October 13 is a birthday for many notable sports personalities. A few of them:

  • 1876–Rube Waddell, Hall of Fame pitcher for the Pirates and Philadelphia Athletics in the first decade of the 20th century. Heavy drinking hastened his death at age 38.
  • 1931–Eddie Mathews, slugging third baseman for the Milwaukee Braves; member of the Baseball Hall of Fame who finished his career with 512 home runs
  • 1942–Jerry Jones. Yes, THAT Jerry Jones, the one who went on to play football for Frank Broyles with the Arkansas Razorbacks, and later bought some NFL team.
  • 1949–Tom Mees, one of the first ESPN SportsCenter anchors, and one of the foremost experts on the National Hockey League. Died tragically at age 47 in 1996 when he drowned attempting to rescue his son from the swimming pool at his family’s Connecticut home.
  • 1953–Pat Day, jockey who won 8,803 races, including 9 Triple Crown events (5 Preakness, 3 Belmont, 1 Kentucky Derby), and earned $298 million in purses during a Hall of Fame career.
  • 1957–Reggie Theus, standout basketball player for the New Mexico State Aggies and later in the NBA for the Bulls, Kings (in both Kansas City and Sacramento) and Hawks.
  • 1961–Doc Rivers, coach of the Clippers. Coached Celtics to the 2008 NBA championship. Also had a standout career as a point guard, mostly with the Hawks, feeding Dominique Wilkins (the Human Highlight Film) for many spectacular dunks.
  • 1962–Jerry Rice. Who the hell is he? Doesn’t he hold some NFL receiving record? Or several?
  • 1969–Nancy Kerrigan. I won’t go into detail about what happened with Tonya Harding, but she did win the silver medal at Lillehammer in 1994 despite the serious injury to her right knee.
  • 1972–Summer Sanders, American swimmer who won two gold medals, one silver and one bronze at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Later became co-host for NBA Inside Stuff with Ahmad Rashad.
  • 1973–Brian Dawkins, four-time first team All-Pro cornerback for the Eagles (1996-2008). Played three seasons with the Broncos, earning second team All-Pro honors in 2009.
  • 1978–Paul Pierce, former Kansas Jayhawk superstar who led the Celtics to the 2008 NBA championship.
  • 1982–Ian Thorpe, Australian swimmer who captured five Olympic gold medals and nine medals overall between the 2000 games in Sydney and 2004 in Athens.

Speaking of sports, a few notable events have taken place on October 13:

  • 1960–Bill Mazeroski takes Larned native Ralph Terry deep at Forbes Field in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 of the World Series, lifting the Pirates to a 10-9 victory over the Yankees and an improbable World Series championship. Pittsburgh was outscored 55-27 in the series and out-hit 90-60 by the Bronx Bombers, yet won its first championship since 1925.
  • 1965–the Twins force a seventh game in the World Series, defeating the Dodgers 5-1 at Bloomington. The next day, Sandy Koufax, pitching on two days rest, strikes out 10 and pitches a three-hit shutout to lift Los Angeles to a 2-0 victory and its third championship in seven seasons. Koufax, who struck out 382 batters in 1965 and pitched a perfect game vs. the Cubs (the same night Hurricane Betsy devastated Louisiana), would pitch only one more season before retiring at age 30. Game 7 was the only one won by the visiting team in that series.
  • 1967–the American Basketball Association debuts in Oakland. The hometown Oaks defeat the Anaheim Amigos 134-129.
  • 1971–the first World Series night game is played at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium. Thanks to a superb pitching performance by Pirate rookie Bruce Kison, the home team wins 4-3. The Pirates went on to win the series in seven games, winning the deciding game in Baltimore, the only one won by the visiting team.
  • 1972–a Uruguayan plane carrying the nation’s rugby union team crashes in the Andes Mountains along the Argentina-Chile border. The survivors of the crash are not found until December 23, by which time 29 people aboard the plane had perished. It was reported the survivors ate body parts of their dead compatriots in order to live. That anyone survived that long is a miracle, since the body needs extraordinary amounts of food to survive in high altitude, and oxygen is in extremely short supply at that elevation.
  • 1984–ESPN broadcasts live from LSU’s Tiger Stadium for the first time. The Bayou Bengals build a 34-6 lead early in the second half vs. Vanderbilt, but have to hold on for a 34-27 victory.
  • 1985–the New York Giants’ Phil Simms passes for 513 yards, but they lose 35-30 to the Bengals in Cincinnati.
  • 1991–the Saints improve to 6-0 with a 13-6 victory in Philadelphia. New Orleans would win its first division title that season.

Some other notable people born on October 13:

  • 1947–Sammy Hagar, iconic rocker
  • 1948–John Ford Coley, singer and songwriter who had a huge hit in 1976 with England Dan, “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight”
  • 1958–Maria Cantwell, U.S. Senator (D-Washington)
  • 1962–Kelly Preston (Mrs. John Travolta), actress
  • 1967–Kate Walsh, actress (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice)
  • 1971–Sacha Baron Cohen, actress (Mr. Isla Fisher)

The most famous people to DIE on October 13 are probably Roman Emperor Claudius (56) and Ed Sullivan (1974), whose eponymous television show on CBS was must-see viewing on Sunday nights from 1948-71.

It is believed Claudius was poisoned by his stepson, Nero, who ascended to the throne at age 17. That would turn out well, now wouldn’t it?

Robert Hershey, who founded the world-famous chocolate company, died on October 13, 1945, 41 days after World War II ended. I need to find a Krackel bar today.

A few hours after my birth, the Kansas City Royals defeated the New York Yankees 7-4 in the Bronx to force a fifth and deciding game of the American League Championship Series. The next night, Chris Chambliss hit the first pitch of the bottom of the ninth inning over the right-center field fence to give the Yankees their first pennant since 1964, and what turned out to be their last win of 1976. Seven days later, they were swept out of the World Series by Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine.

A more important event took place on the day of my birth.

In Atlanta, Dr. F.A. Murphy, a microbiologist with the Centers for Disease Control, observed something he had never seen before under an electron microscope.

It was the Ebola virus. Murphy, now a professor emeritus at the University of California at Davis (the school which gave the NFL quarterback Ken O’Brien), has gained worldwide renown for his research.

Maybe I should have attended Georgia Tech. It was founded on October 13, 1885, after all. Oh well, LSU was a great choice.

Ghosts of birthdays past

In my previous post, I explained just how bad my 39th birthday was. I don’t want to remember it if I can help it. That’s not possible given my memory.

My last birthday party was way back in 1983, when I turned seven. It was at Showbiz Pizza, which was a competitor of Chuck-E-Cheese in the late 1970s and 1980s. I have reminded Rosemarie Renz (now Huguet) she came and I have thanked her profusely.

My 13th birthday (1989) was on Friday the 13th. I’ll never forget Emile Fair, a PE and science teacher and football coach at Brother Martin, needling me about how I was doubly cursed.

I spent my 20th birthday in 1996 at a Saints-Bears game in the Superdome. New Orleans won 27-24. It turned out to be Jim Mora’s last game coaching the Saints in the Superdome, and Mora’s 93rd and last victory coaching New Orleans. Eight days later, following a loss to the Panthers in Charlotte, Mora quit in a huff.

My birthdays in 1997 and 1998 (21 & 22), when I was a student at LSU, were pretty bad. In ’97, my father was on business in Brazil, and my mother came to Baton Rouge. It rained that Monday, perfect for the gloomy mood I had been in for all of October that year.

In ’98, I had a three-hour class the night of my birthday. I hated the class. I hated night class. I never looked more forward to my birthday ending, at least until last year. What is it about birthdays which fall on Tuesday?

I spent my birthdays of 2013 and 2014 (37 & 38) at Buffalo Wild Wings. I was alone in 2013 watching the NFL. Liz was not working that Sunday, and I didn’t know too many other employees just yet. It was kind of lonely. I drove back to Russell at night.

In 2014, Brittany and Lisa showed up with their then-boyfriends (now husband for Brittany and now fiancee for Lisa). Lisa got drunk and begged me to do a shot, but Brittany kept telling her I couldn’t because I had work to do the next day, which was true. I also got a couple of unexpected treats: Pam Reid, who is now a manager there, brought me cupcakes, and Alex Mullinax brought me a cookie cake.

In 2007 and 2012 (31 & 36), I was covering the Mid-Continent League volleyball tournament. The 2007 tourney was at WaKeeney, and 2012 was at Phillipsburg. During the 2012 tournament, I did the play-by-play for Smith Center’s television station, and after the championship match, which the Lady Red won, the players, coaches and the players’ parents sang Happy Birthday twice. It got me a little embarrassed, but it was nice to know people cared.

I had to work on my birthday in 2000 (24), covering a football game at Baton Rouge’s Memorial Stadium between Zachary and Capitol. The next day, I was at the LSU-Kentucky game in Tiger Stadium. Sadly, the LSU Radio Network’s engineer, Tom Stevens, dropped dead of a massive heart attack in the press box about two hours prior to kickoff. Jim Hawthorne (play-by-play) and Doug Moreau (color) soldiered on and did the game, but with very heavy hearts. The contest was forgettable: LSU 34, Kentucky 0.

My 30th birthday in 2006 saw me all over the place. I began the morning at the Wichita Marriott, since I had to be Emporia later that day for the Class 4A girls tennis state tournament. I got there at 11 and stayed for a few hours, then had to drive up the Kansas Turnpike Topeka and backtrack to Abilene for Russell’s football game that night. I then drove back to Russell, then left Russell at 6 a.m. the next morning to get to Stockton for the MCL volleyball tournament.

I was in Kansas City in 2008 (32). Buffalo Wild Wings at Zona Rosa wasn’t open, but I did go to the one in Liberty. I brought my laptop and played trivia on a quiet Monday afternoon. It was raining that day, too.

My 27th in 2003 was a Monday, so I was in Baton Rouge doing my regular turn on Jimmy Ott’s radio show at Pocorello’s Italian deli and restaurant. I loved that place. I really miss it. I could go for a muffaleta or an Italian sausage po-boy right now.

My final birthday in Louisiana, my 28th, was almost my last.

Thirty-seven days after my birthday, I woke up with stabbing pains on my right side. It was hard to breathe, hard to bend over, hard to do just about anything. I had to call Robin Fambrough and tell her I could not cover that night’s high school football playoff game in Metairie between Plaquemine and John Curtis.

It got worse over the weekend, and on the Monday before Thanksgiving, my mother took me to her physician, Dr. Joe Johnson.

It wasn’t bad. It was life-threatening.

I had pneumonia and a collapsed right lung caused by a buildup of fluid. I was in the intensive care unit for a week. At first, it didn’t look like I would make it. I had two chest tubes attaches to my right side in order to drain the fluid. It left me immobile for nearly my whole time in the hospital.

Two weeks later, I was back home. Lesson learned. If I’m not feeling well, I had better see a doctor ASAP. Or else.

It’s time to sleep. I have a big decision to sleep on.