This Week in History

October 17, 1660 – Nine “Regicides” are drawn and quartered

The Execution of Charles I
The Execution of Charles I

At the conclusion of the English Civil War in 1649, Parliament appointed “commissioners” to sit in judgment of the defeated king Charles I. He was sentenced to death, with the warrant signed by fifty-nine men. When the monarchy was restored under Charles’ son in 1660, ten of these “Regicides” were sentenced to death themselves. (All were hanged; all but one suffered the additional pain and indignity of having their bodies drawn and quartered). Three more who had died during the Interregnum had their remains disinterred, then hanged, drawn, and quartered. Nineteen were imprisoned the rest of their lives.

I mention this mostly because three of the Regicides — Edward Whalley, William Goffe, and John Dixwell — escaped to the New World and ended up living out their days in New Haven, Connecticut, where streets named after them still intersect. During a good chunk of my grad school career, I lived just off of the street named for John Dixwell, who escaped punishment because everyone in England thought he was already dead.

I also enjoy the fact that Dixwell’s second wife’s name was Bathsheba How. That’s amusing by itself, but it’s even better once you learn that Dixwell went by the name of John Davids while in hiding, so his wife’s name became Bathsheba Davids.

October 18, 1985 – The Nintendo Entertainment System is first released in North America

This is one of those things that I can recognize as being a historically significant event that took place in my lifetime (I was about to turn 10), but at the time it meant absolutely nothing to me. And it still doesn’t.

Good thing, too, or else I think I could reasonably be defined as both a nerd and geek. (Though I don’t like comic books, so that might help offset the fact that I’ve attended multiple Star Trek conventions and read multiple memoirs by members of the Original Series cast.)

October 20, multiple years

Not much interesting happened on the 19th, so let’s skip ahead to what’s easily the most interesting birthday in history.

The Wren Building
The Wren Building - College of William and Mary

Just check out a partial list of the people born on the 20th day of the 10th month: Mickey Mantle (1931), Tom Petty (1950),Viggo Mortensen (1958), John Dewey (1859), Father Mulcahy from M*A*S*H (1932), first baseman and Just for Men endorser Keith Hernandez (1953), poets Arthur Rimbaud (1854) and Robert Pinsky (1940), the designer of the oldest building on the campus of the second oldest American college (1632), the greatest Dracula of all time (1882), Grandpa Jones from Hee Haw (1913), Hall of Fame pitcher Juan Marichal (1937), and Snoop Dogg (1971).

October 21-22, 1975 – Game Six of the World Series

A baseball game so epic that it didn’t even finish the day it started. Interviewed for Ken Burns’ Baseball miniseries, editor Dan Okrent compared it to a Russian novel, and he didn’t even sound ridiculous.

Now, as a Minnesota Twins fan I cannot possibly say that any World Series game is more meaningful than Game Seven of the 1991 World Series, but I will say this: if you had one game in which to convince someone that baseball is the greatest sport ever invented, you would probably take them back in time to Fenway Park for the sixth game of the 1975 Series (delayed three days by rain), with the host Red Sox needing to beat the Cincinnati Reds to push the series to a seventh game.

Here’s a young(er) Peter Gammons’ breathless report if you want full details (plus the boxscore here), but let’s just go to the bottom of the 8th:

  • With two on and two outs and the Reds leading 6-3, pinch-hitter Bernie Carbo (a former Red) crushed a 2-2 pitch from Cincinnati’s rookie closer Rawly Eastwick into the center field bleachers, tying the game. (Eastwick had also given up a game-tying homer in the 9th inning of Game Three, though he ended up winning that game.)
  • After the Reds went three up, three down in the top of the 9th, the Red Sox loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom half of the inning. Sox star Fred Lynn (who had started the scoring with a three-run shot in the 1st inning) hit a short fly down the left field line, and George Foster (who had hit a two-run double to put the Reds in front two innings before) gunned down Denny Doyle at home for the double play. Rico Petrocelli grounded out to Pete Rose at third, and the game went to extra innings.
  • After two Reds failed to plate Dave Concepcion from second in the 10th inning, Cincinnati had Ken Griffey, Sr. on first with one out in the 11th when Joe Morgan sent a deep drive towards the right field bleachers. Dwight Evans made a stunning catch and managed to get the ball back to the infield in time to double up Griffey at first.
  • Yet again, the Reds failed to bring runners home in the top of the 12th, as Concepcion flew out and Cesar Geronimo whiffed. Which brought Red Sox slugger (and New England native) Carlton Fisk to the plate to lead off the bottom half of the inning. After taking a ball from Pat Darcy, the Boston catcher sent the next pitch high down the left field line and into the foul pole, famously waving it fair as he left the batter’s box.

Take it away, Peter Gammons (with the sound of the Fenway Park organist playing Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus in the background):

At 12:34 a.m., in the 12th inning, Fisk’s histrionic home run brought a 7-6 end to a game that will be the pride of historians in the year 2525, a game won and lost what seemed like a dozen times, and a game that brings back summertime one more day. For the seventh game of the World Series.

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