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January 16th in NYC History:
Benny Goodman,
Ethel Merman,
Jimmy the Greek,
Hello Dolly,
Minnesota Fats,

Posted: Jan 16, 2013 | 2:09 AM

1908:  Astoria's Ethel Merman, Broadway star, singer, and comedienne for five decades born.

1920:  Prohibition begins and so does the organization, glorification, and international corporatization of crime graduating from street corner thugdom. 

The government gives you what you need; the mob gives you what you want.

1933:  Writer and intellectual Susan Sontag born.

1938:  Benny Goodman's "King of Swing" jazz entertains Carnegie Hall, representing a crossover of Black music to a white audience.  This wasn't the only crossover: Goodman's All-Star band was racially integrated, such as featuring Lionel Hampton.  Goodman advocated for tolerance.

1947:  The New York Knicks made their first major trade, selling forward Ralph Kaplowitz to the Philadelphia Warriors.

I post this to note two things.  First, Basketball 'the city game' used to have many great Jewish players who rose from ghetto playgrounds and schools.  Secondly, college hoops retained dominance over professional basketball for years.  College hoops, such as St Johns and the NIT, would sell out the Garden.  Meanwhile, the Knicks and the rest of the NBA was a creation of arenas who wanted events to fill their seats when their profitable hockey teams were away.

What transformed basketball?  We explore that on our Basketball tour.

1960:  The Knicks played their last home game at the 69th Regiment Armory.  Until this year, the Knicks were displaced from Madison Square Garden 131 times, including 15 playoff games, since its founding in the mid 1940s!

1964:  The Broadway musical "Hello, Dolly!" with Carol Channing opened on Broadway, the first of 2,844 performances.

1970:  Baseball teams' privileges challenged by a traded major player.  Curt Flood, who played 12 years for the St. Louis Cardinals, and the baseball players' union, sued the league over anti-trust laws enabling them to freely trade players.   For six of those seasons Flood won the top ranking of outfielder in his league, the Golden Glove.  He also batted .293.  He stated that he did not deserve to be traded around "like a slave."

The District Court disagreed a few months later, since baseball has an anti-trust exemption, and the Supreme Court agreed in 1972.  In 1976, an arbitrator in baseball enabled free agency for the players.

1974:  Yankees Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  The were teammates on and off the fields.  Ford was a leading southpaw pitcher who held the World Series record for ten pitching victories and 33 consecutive scoreless innings.  Mantle held the World Series record for 18 home runs.

1979:  Brooklyn's singer, Aaliyah born.

1988:  Jimmy "the Greek" Snyder was fired from CBS as a sports commentator for making racist remarks in a television interview.  He died in 1996.

1996:  NYC's Minnesota Fats, Rudy Wanderone, the pool hustler and entertainer who helped popularize the sport, died.  His birth year was unclear: somewhere between 1900 and 1913.


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