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The ‘shocking’ debate gaffe that reshaped a presidential election

Going into the second debate on Oct. 6, 1976, in San Francisco, President Gerald Ford had cut into Democrat Jimmy Carter’s lead. He had momentum on his side — until he uttered this infamous line: “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration.” If this were a movie, the next thing you’d hear would be a needle-scratch sound effect. (June 26, 2024)

His MLB debut at 15 was a disaster. Eight years later, he came back.

Still too young to drive, Joe Nuhxhall took the bus 30 miles from Hamilton, Ohio, to Crosley Field in Cincinnati on June 10, 1944, and was shelled for five runs in less than one inning. (June 24, 2024)

Remembering 10-Cent Beer Night, one of baseball’s most infamous fiascos

Drunk, streaking and stoned fans turned Cleveland's baseball stadium into a scene of '70 sports chaos, leading to an Indians forfeit to the hated Texas Rangers. (June 4, 2024)

Josh Gibson, excluded by MLB, takes his place in baseball history

I wrote about the amazing career of Negro League star Josh Gibson, who MLB now recognizes as holding the sport's highest career batting average, at .372. (May 29, 2024)

Josh Gibson, excluded by MLB, takes his place in baseball history

I wrote about the amazing career of Negro League star Josh Gibson, who MLB now recognizes as holding the sport's highest career batting average, at .372. (May 29, 2024)

Under Biden and Trump, the presidential first pitch has disappeared

With Joe Biden and Donald Trump set for a rematch this fall, the D.C. presidential first pitch — like complete games and pitchers taking their turn at bat — could be headed to oblivion. (March 31, 2024)

A PR stunt put her behind an MLB stadium mic. She made the most of it.

In 1966, Joy Hawkins made history as MLB's first public address announcer for a single game in DC at the suggestion of the team’s publicity director - her father, who said,  “We have tried everything else. Maybe this will be something pleasing and novel for baseball fans — to have a girl announcer." (March 25, 2024)

Decades before Shohei Ohtani, ‘Mashi’ was a Japanese trailblazer

 I wrote about the first Japanese MLB player, who did so well in his debut season with the Giants in 1964 that his old team in Japan fought to get him back, poisoning relations between American & Japanese baseball. It would be 30 years before another Japanese MLBer.  (Feb. 23, 2024)

Before Taylor and Travis, there was Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio

Nearly 75 years before Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce became a public obsession, Americans were similarly infatuated with the growing romance of Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio. (Feb. 6, 2024)

D.C. finally won home rule 50 years ago — but its limits remain

 On Christmas Eve a half-century ago, President Richard M. Nixon, losing his grip on power by the day, signed a law giving Washingtonians power over their own government for the first time in 100 years. (Dec. 24, 2023)

Two days after JFK’s assassination, the NFL played on

 Like tens of millions of Americans, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle was distraught about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on a Friday in late November 1963. But he compounded his troubles by making a fateful decision — to play that Sunday’s slate of games just two days later. (Nov. 21, 2023)

Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura’s shocking election 25 years ago previewed Trump’s

 In the lead-up to the 2016 presidential race, Ventura was “ecstatic” as Donald Trump mounted a run. And now? Ventura compares Trump to Charles Manson and looks back “shamefully” on how his upset victory in 1998 served as a catalyst for Trump’s win. “Oh, he watched my playbook, don't kid yourself," he told me. (Nov. 3, 2023)

Fifty years ago, an MLB playoff series nearly ended in a riot

I interviewed Pete Rose about an infamous playoff series when Mets fans threw beer cans, whiskey bottles and food at him in left field. After the series, his Reds teammates stood guard brandishing bats in case the unruly mob came for him. The chaos seemed to capture the vibe of crime-ridden early-1970s New York City. (Oct. 25, 2023)

The 1948 baseball photo with a radical message of acceptance

Larry Doby, the AL's 1st first Black player who endured racist taunts from fans and opposing players, discrimination in hotels and restaurants and even hostility from his teammates., said an embrace with a white teammate at the 1948 World Series "made up for everything I went through." (Oct. 9, 2023)

The racist incident that shook baseball nine years before integration

I wrote about how a racist comment by a Yankees outfielder led to a national backlash in 1938 that put baseball on the defensive. It was the top-read story on the Washington Post sports section. (Sept. 13, 2023)

The MLB umpire who didn’t always call them like he saw them

Umpires have been calling their own strike zones for more than a century — perhaps none as unapologetically and colorfully as Ron Luciano, who wrote that he sometimes outsourced calls to catchers. (Aug. 11, 2023)

In Babe Ruth’s final steps on public stage, two brushes with history

Seventy-five years ago, a dying Babe Ruth met with future President George H.W. Bush on the Yale baseball field, then had his uniform # retired a week later at a poignant Yankee Stadium goodbye (June 13, 2023)

The Knicks were dazzling champs in the 1970s. They haven’t won since.

I used my my late father's book with Knicks HOF coach Red Holzman as a vehicle to recount the glory days of the franchise. It's been a half-century since their last title. (June 3, 2023)

25 years later, America still loves ‘Seinfeld’ but some hate how it ended

The series was often dubbed a show about nothing, but it was actually a show about everything: life’s daily ups and downs, irritations and challenges, albeit taken to absurd extremes. (May 12, 2023)

The strange history of beer — ‘that wicked brew’ — and Washington baseball

Decades after the repeal of Prohibition, DC's Griffith Stadium remained dry, one of the few MLB ballparks that refused to sell beer. That changed with the installation of a beer garden in 1956. (April 11, 2023)

MLK gave his last Sunday sermon in DC — and warned of a fascist takeover

Following his final Sunday sermon 55 years ago, ​Martin Luther King warned that more riots would lead to a backlash and eventually a fascist takeover in the United State. (March 31, 2023)

Truman integrated the military 75 years ago — and wanted to go further

On the same day that President Harry S. Truman announced his intention to desegregate the military, he asked Congress to go much further, proposing, a federal anti-lynching law and a major increase in political autonomy for the District of Columbia. It marked a remarkable transformation for the grandson of enslavers who earlier in life had referred to Black people with racist slurs and said they belonged in Africa.(Feb. 2, 2023)

‘Schoolhouse Rock’ premiered 50 years ago and shaped a generation

The series of Saturday morning cartoon shorts started when a parent, frustrated that his boys knew the lines to rock songs but couldn’t multiply, asked a co-worker at his advertising agency if he could help by setting multiplication tables to music.(Jan. 28, 2023)

Baseball’s first plan for Negro League stars: A separate Hall of Fame wing

When the Baseball Hall of Fame finally — and belatedly — agreed to admit Negro League stars into its ranks a half-century ago, there was a catch: They would be honored in a separate section. The resulting outrage forced a change in policy, leading to the eventual induction of more than 40 men who spent all or part of their careers in the Negro Leagues.(Jan. 21, 2023)

The World Cup that left human rights behind

The 2022 World Cup wasn't the first one held in a nation with a checkered human rights record. In 1978, FIFA staged the World Cup in Argentina at the height of its "dirty war," in which the military dictatorship tortured, killed and disappeared thousands of political opponents. 

(Dec. 15, 2022)

MLB’s integration struggle started with Jackie Robinson. It didn’t end there.

In 1952, five years after Jackie Robinson's debut, he called out the Yankees for using "racial prejudice" to remain all-white. Only six teams had integrated by then. (Nov. 13, 2022)

How World Series day games went extinct

 The era of kids sneaking transistor radios into class to listen to World Series day games has gone the way of sacrifice bunts and 8-track tapes. (Oct. 27, 2022)

150 years ago, Democrats backed a third-party candidate for president. It backfired.

In the 1872 presidential election, Democrats didn’t have the strongest hand to play. They hadn’t won the White House since 1856, and they were trying to unseat a popular Republican president, Ulysses S. Grant. So they decided not to run a candidate at all. (Oct. 22 2022)

Truman’s Secret Plea to Eisenhower: Take My Job

Some 75 years ago, everyone, it seemed, thought the Democrats would be better off running Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the hero of World War II, instead of Truman, the current president. Among those who secretly proposed the idea: Harry Truman. ((March 27, 2023 )

When Nixon and Kennedy Battled for Jackie Robinson’s Endorsement 

I did a deep dive on Robinson's long, complicated relationship with Richard Nixon, including backing Nixon over JFK in 1960 - a decision Robinson came to regret. (Oct. 28, 2022 )

When Republicans tried to impeach a Supreme Court Justice 

A half-century ago, the right was angry at the court for a series of 1960s liberal rulings. So President Nixon had House Minority Leader Gerald Ford, a Michigan Republican, target liberal Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas for impeachment. (Sept. 16, 2022)

 

Bernie Sanders Can't Fix Baseball

 I did a takeout on MLB's 100-year-old antitrust exemption, and Bernie Sander's 65-year-old grudge at the Dodgers for leaving Brooklyn. Could there be a connection between the two?

(June 12, 2022)

Before Lincoln Issued the Emancipation Proclamation, This Russian Czar Freed 20 Million Serfs

Relations between the U.S. and Russia haven’t always been so frosty. A century and a half ago, in the 1860s, the countries’ leaders—President Abraham Lincoln and Czar Alexander II—had a common purpose: ending servitude in their respective nations (Aug. 30, 2022)

 

‘Truman, Trump/Steinbrenner: how the Yankees owner fired a president’s ego

When Donald Trump was looking to make his mark in 1980s Manhattan, he found a role model up in the Bronx: New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.. (March 12, 2023)

‘Our democratic process’: Truman, Eisenhower and the peaceful transfer of power

Seventy years ago, an outgoing Democratic president, Harry Truman, used his farewell speech to talk about the peaceful transfer of power to a Republican, Dwight D Eisenhower. "I think a real precedent has been set," Truman said. (Jan. 15, 2023)

Opinion: How could a baseball player be worth $700 million?

I argue that baseball's pitch clock will revive baseball the way that the 24-second shot clock made the NBA a more exciting sport nearly 70 years ago. (Feb. 18, 2023)

Opinion: A clock saved the NBA. Can it now save baseball?

I argue that baseball's pitch clock will revive baseball the way that the 24-second shot clock made the NBA a more exciting sport nearly 70 years ago. (Feb. 18, 2023)

What was behind Richard Nixon going to bat for A’s ace Vida Blue?

 A half-century ago, as young Oakland A’s star pitcher Vida Blue sought to get paid what he deserved, he found an unlikely advocate: President Richard Nixon, who called him "the most underpaid player in the game."​ (July 17, 2022)

 

What happened the day Jackie Robinson made his major-league debut

 As Jackie Robinson prepared to take the field as the first Black player in modern baseball history on Opening Day 75 years ago, an Associated Press reporter asked if he had any butterflies in his stomach. “Not a one," Robinson said with a grin. (April 15, 2022)

From the Archives ...

 

It’s been 50 years since Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard made Hall of Fame history

  The two men, who played for the Homestead Grays and were known as “the Black Babe Ruth” and “the Black Lou Gehrig,” never got a shot in the major leagues. But in 1972, they became the first exclusively Negro League players inducted into Cooperstown. (Aug. 6, 2022) 

When two liberal justices nearly doomed Roe v. Wade — by retiring

 Many abortion rights advocates were convinced that the early 1990s retirements of Thurgood Marshall and William Brennan would lead the Supreme Court to overturn Roe. But Justice David Souter, President Bush's pick to replace Brennan, saved the decision. (June 6, 2022)

 

A Supreme Court justice’s solution to gun violence: Repeal Second Amendment

Former Justice John Paul Stevens made the proposal in a 2018 NYT op-ed. (May 28, 2022)

Steve Kerr's life was shaken by gun violence when it took his father

When Warriors Coach Steve Kerr assailed Republican senators for failing to take action on gun control following a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school, his emotional plea to “do something” was grounded in personal experience with gun violence. (May 25, 2022)

The most important decisions the Supreme Court has overturned

The Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade marked a significant — but not unprecedented — reversal of a court ruling. (May 12, 2022)

Justice Ginsburg thought Roe was the wrong case to settle abortion issue

 Criticizing the decision before and after she joined the Supreme Court, RBG argued that it would have been better to take a more incremental approach to legalizing abortion, rather than the nationwide ruling in Roe that invalidated dozens of state antiabortion laws. (May 6, 2022​)

Lincoln tried to free the enslaved in D.C. years before he succeeded

 More than a dozen years before President Abe Lincoln signed legislation that freed enslaved people in DC, he made a similar effort as a freshman House member. Congressman Lincoln wound up dropping the 1849 legislation after local support for it evaporated. (April 16, 2022)

The Olympic boycott movement that failed 

As pressure builds to boycott the Beijing Olympics, I looked back at the robust American effort to boycott the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, which came within a whisker of succeeding. This story was listed in The Athletic's Best writing and reporting of 2021, from sports and beyond​.

Jackie Robinson’s last plea to MLB: ‘Wake up’ and hire Black managers

 Washington Post, April 14, 2022

 In what turned out to be his dying wish, Robinson used an appearance on baseball’s biggest stage 50 years ago to press the sport to give Black managers a chance.

Baseball’s first commissioner faced impeachment for taking the job

 Washington Post, April 9, 2022

Kenesaw Mountain Landis accepted the new position without stepping down from the bench, leading to a congressional impeachment effort a censure from the American Bar Association.

Ukraine war gives Gen Xers flashbacks to 1980s nuclear war songs and movies

 Washington Post, March 20, 2022

As tensions build between the U.S. and Russia, songs like "Two Tribes" and films like"War Games" no longer see like relics from the scarry days of the Cold War.

When Soviet-Led Forces Crushed the 1968 ‘Prague Spring’

 History.com, March 14, 2022

In my first piece for The History Channel website, I wrote about how Soviet tanks rolled into Prague in 1968 to crush reform efforts there. We see echoes of that today in Ukraine.

The DH once threatened pitchers’ pride — and their manhood. Now it’s universal.

 Washington Post, March 11, 2022

As MLB prepares to go all-DH for the first time, I explained how some pitchers were angry when the American League added the rule in '73, and NYT columnist Red Smith compared the move to "a lot of tone‐deaf hacks rewriting Beethoven.”

The first Super Bowls were blacked out in the host cities. Then Nixon got mad.

 Washington Post, Feb. 13, 2022

As the Super Bowl returned to LA, I took a look back how Angelinos couldn't watch the first Super Bowl on TV because of the NFL's blackout policy - which ultimately cause Nixon to take action.

The modern NFL didn’t have a Black head coach until 1989. Here’s his story.

 Washington Post, Feb. 6, 2022

By the time Art Shell became the first Black head coach in modern NFL history, there had already been 18 Black head coaches in the NBA and four Black baseball managers.

Why the Reds became the Redlegs during the Cold War's Red Scare

 Washington Post, Jan. 26, 2022

Nearly 70 years ago, the Cincinnati Reds decided their name wouldn’t cut it in a political climate of anti-communist hysteria, back when "Reds" was used to smear political opponents.

Fifty years ago, baseball left Washington in a chaotic stampede

 Washington Post, Sept.  29, 2021

A half-century ago, Washington baseball came to a screeching halt when fans rushed onto the field in the Senators last game before moving to Texas, resulting in a forfeit to the Yankees.

The Orioles haven't been this bad since they moved to Baltimore from St. Louis in '54

 Baltimore Sun, Sept. 28, 2021

I looked back at the team's last year in St. Louis and first two in Baltimore, which were terrible years - but not as bad as the last three full seasons the O's have played.

How baseball’s response to RFK’s death inspired some players to fight back and sit out

 Washington Post, June 6, 2021

I dove into a long-forgotten chapter of athlete activism - when several MLB players refused to play on the weekend of Robert F. Kennedy's funeral in 1968. As Ron Swoboda told me, “We felt like there wasn’t any choice at all. This guy was probably going to be the next president.”

Trump never made it to an Opening Day. Will Biden bring the tradition back?

 Washington Post, March 30, 2021

On the eve of the 2021 baseball season, I urge President Biden to throw out the first pitch at Nats Park, resuming a 111-year tradition that Donald Trump skipped in his four years in office; and contrast Trump's divisive approach to previous presidents such as FDR and Richard Nixon.

‘Baseball Bugs’ at 75: How a Looney Tunes classic left its mark on baseball

 Washington Post, Feb. 25, 2021

I dove into the famed cartoon featuring Bugs Bunny striking out three men on one slowball, which gave baseball the term "Bugs Bunny Changeup,' and ending with Bugs making a game-winning catch on a skyscraper. The editor of Axios Sports called it "The Best Thing I Read" in his March 2 newsletter. 

The strange, one-of-a-kind political campaign that almost landed Walter Johnson in Congress

 Washington Post, Oct. 29, 2020

Eighty years ago, Republicans threw everything they could at President Franklin D. Roosevelt, including one of the hardest throwers in baseball history, Hall of Fame pitcher Walter Johnson,  who was running in his own congressional race that year, but mounted a low-energy effort that came up short.

A WWII hero with one leg wanted to pitch in the MLB. In 1945, he got his chance.

 Washington Post, Aug. 3, 2020

Bert Shepard’s major league debut 75 years ago  capped a remarkable tale of perseverance that began when his P-38 Lightning fighter was shot down in Germany on May 21, 1944.

Nats World Series Win Extinguishes Century's Worth of  Baseball Heartache

 Washington Post, Nov. 1, 2019

The championship came after 2 gut-wrenching Fall Classic losses, 5 decades of awful baseball, losing 2 franchises and having no team for 33 years, and crashing out of the playoffs in agonizing fashion.

The Washington Nationals are making D.C. a baseball city again

Washington Post, Oct. 22, 2019

Move over, Washington Redskins. There's a new top sport in town. The Nats' success - and

the Redskins' troubles - have made DC a baseball town again - just like it was a century ago.

When Baseball Was Bigger Than Politics

POLITICO Magazine, Oct. 22, 2019

A deep dive on the 1924 World Series champion Washington Senators, who were the

nation's sentimental favorites. People were sick of the Yankees winning the pennant every year.

Nationals’ Game 5 win had eerie echoes of Washington’s baseball past

Washington Post, Oct. 11, 2019

There were some striking similarities between the Nats' dramatic Game 5 NLDS victory over the

Dodgers and the last time a DC team won a postseason series - Game 7 of the 1924 World Series.

D.C. could finally get revenge for the Washington Senators leaving town 

Washington Post, Sept. 27, 2019

A look at a possible World Series grudge match between the Nationals and the team

formerly known as the Washington Senators. With cameos from Lewis Black and Maury Povich.

50 years ago, Nixon and Ted Williams made their comeback

 POLITICO Magazine, March 2019

Half a century ago, Ted Williams came to Washington to turn around the woeful Senators.

His biggest fan had just won the White House. The good times wouldn't last.

Way before Bryce Harper, this baseball mega deal shocked DC 

Washington Post, Dec. 2018 

With serious money on the table, Washington reluctantly parted with the face of the franchise — an all-star and future Hall of Famer — reasoning it was the best move for the team in the long run. That’s how it happened 84 years ago, when the Washington Senators sold their star player-manager, shortstop Joe Cronin, to the Boston Red Sox for $250,000 and could happen again with Bryce Harper.  

Can baseball make a comeback?

 CNN October 2018

With strikeouts piling up, scoring plummeting, attendance falling and games often descending into all-or-nothing bores, it's no wonder that some people are calling for radical change to baseball. The sport faced a similar challenge 50 years ago, dogged by a scoring depression and lagging fan interest, and took steps to make the game more exciting. MLB needs to try a similar strategy again.

The Yankees-Nats rivalry was once so fierce it required a police riot squad

Washington Post, 2018

Good news, Nationals fans: Rookie managers have historically done well in D.C.

Washington Post Outlook Section, 2018

From FDR to JFK, Presidents Took Center Stage at Baseball All-Star Games in DC

NBC Washington, 2018

Alex Bregman wins All-Star Game MVP Award in DC debut 50 years

After grandfather recruited Senators owner who would move team to Texas

(SB Nation’s Federal Baseball, 2018)

For Nationals, hope in the (long-ago) past?

(Washington Post, 2017)

Game 5 loss for Washington Nationals echoes Senators’ 1925 World Series defeat

SB Nation 2017

When the Nation's Capital Came Together for the MLB All-Star Game

The Atlantic, 2017

How a Half-Deaf Outfielder, a One-Legged Pitcher,

And a Team of Misfits Made a Run for the World Series

Washingtonian, 2017

Forget the Cubs. Washington fans are baseball's real sob story

Washington Post Outlook Section, 2016

Congress Should Build a Monument for Bryce Harper

Washingtonian 2014

Changing Sports Uniforms Can Fuel the Rivalry

New York Times, 2014

The Last Time America Rooted for Washington

POLITICO Magazine, 2014

Natitude: It’s Even Sweeter Than You Thought

POLITICO Magazine, 2014

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