April 16: ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
ON THIS DAY IN 1912, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported, “‘The news is that Captain Smith went down with the ship. That is as it should be. It is as he would have had it. He would have gone mad had he lived. There was never a finer or more high-minded man sailed the sea.’ This statement was made to the Eagle today by Captain John N. Smith, who is employed by the White Star Line, though in a minor capacity. But Captain John Smith was a sailing ship captain thirty years ago, under the merchant firm that gave Captain Edward J. Smith, commander of the ill-fated Titanic, his first command. He has had a life-long
acquaintance with the man who was in charge of the ship that was lost. ‘What could have caused the disaster?’ Captain Smith was asked. ‘God only knows,’ he replied. ‘Captain Smith ranked all men in the service, and he ranked them because of carefulness, prudence, skill and long and valuable service.’”
ON THIS DAY IN 1937, the Eagle reported, “WASHINGTON (A.P.) — Informed senators said today that many of the proposals being publicly discussed as compromises for the Roosevelt court bill were submitted privately to the White House weeks ago and have been ignored. Nevertheless, talk of compromise persisted as the Senate Judiciary Committee neared the end of its long hearings on the court measure. James E. Freeman, Episcopal Bishop of the Washington Diocese, was the opposition’s
leading witness today in what may prove to be the last session of the hearings. He was to be followed by former Senator Brookhart of Iowa, a supporter of the bill. The committee will meet tomorrow in closed session to vote on a motion by Senator Hughes (D., Del.) to close the testimony. Members said the motion probably would carry.”
ON THIS DAY IN 1947, the Eagle reported, “This was a historic occasion. For the first time ever, an acknowledged Negro played in a major league championship game. Jackie Roosevelt Robinson played at first base until the top of the ninth when Sukey sent in Steeple Schultz to finish up. He didn’t hit in his first three chances at the plate, but in the seventh he played an important role. He bunted with a man on first, then had the presence of mind to be hit by the first baseman’s throw. Runners wound up on second and third and Pete Reiser won the game with a double off the wall. In the clubhouse, while receiving congratulations upon his launching in the majors, Robbie was asked if Johnny Sain, the competent Boston righthander, was the best pitcher he ever faced. ‘Well, er-r-r,’ Robinson hesitated and then his white teeth showed in a flashing grin, ‘I’ve hit against Feller, you know.’”
ON THIS DAY IN 1963, the Eagle reported, “Weeb Ewbank, former coach of the Baltimore Colts, has been signed as coach and general manager of the New York team in the American Football League. The team formerly known as the Titans has been officially designated the New York Jets and will play its home games in the new Shea Stadium adjacent to the World’s Fair grounds. These announcements were made yesterday by David A. (Sonny) Werblin, president of the Gotham Football Club, Inc., which owns the New York franchise. Gotham is comprised of a five-man group of sportsmen who paid more than
$1,000,000 for the rights several weeks ago. The other owners are Philip H. Iselin, president of Korell Co., Leon Hess, president of Hess Oil and Chemical Co., Donald C. Lillis, partner in Bear Stearns & Co., and Townsend B. Martin, investment banker. … The site of the new stadium between New York’s two major airports, symbols of this speedy, modern age, influenced the selection of the new name ‘Jets.’ It reflects the spirit of these times and the eagerness of all concerned — players, coach and owners — to give New York another worthy team.”
NOTABLE PEOPLE BORN ON THIS DAY include Pope Benedict XVI, who was born in 1927; “Roses are Red” singer Bobby Vinton, who was born in 1935; Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was born in 1947; New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who was born in 1952; “Futurama” star Billy West, who was born in 1952; “Sea of Love” star Ellen Barkin, who was born in 1954; former San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who was born in 1955;
Soul Asylum founder Dave Pirner, who was born in 1964; “Pretty in Pink” star Jon Cryer, who was born in 1965; “Bad Boys” star Martin Lawrence, who was born in 1965; U.S. poet laureate (2017-19) and former Brooklynite Tracy K. Smith, who was born in 1972; Broadway star Kelli O’Hara, who was born in 1976; and “Stranger Things” star Sadie Sink, who was born in 2002.
A NEW BEGINNING: Slavery was abolished in the District of Columbia on this day in 1862. Congress appropriated $1 million to compensate owners of freed slaves, and $100,000 was set aside to pay district slaves who wished to emigrate to Haiti, Liberia, or any other country outside the U.S.
MANY MOONS AGO: Apollo 16 was launched on this day in 1972. Astronauts John W. Young, Charles M. Duke, Jr. and Thomas K. Mattingly left on an 11-day mission that included a 71-hour exploration of the moon. They returned on April 27, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.
Special thanks to “Chase’s Calendar of Events” and Brooklyn Public Library.
“I confess that in 1901 I said to my brother Orville that man would not fly for 50 years.” — aviation pioneer Wilbur Wright, who was born on this day in 1867
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