Often overlooked, Wednesday an important day in sports history
Wednesdays may be, pound-for-pound, best day in sports history
Babe Ruth, Pele, Kobe Bryant, Tom Brady were all born on a Wednesday
Thrilla in Manila, Shot Heard Around the World also occurred on a Wednesday
They don't write songs about Wednesdays. Why would they? Wednesday never inspired anyone. Nobody ever sang Goodbye, Ruby Wednesday or Wednesday Night's Alright for Fighting or (Tell Me Why) I Don't Like Wednesdays, even though you probably don't like Wednesdays. That's because Wednesday, on paper, is the weakest of weekdays, saddled with a nickname so insipid -- Hump Day -- I could barely bring myself to type it just now.
No sports fan ever said "TGIW." Sunday has the secular religions of NFL and NASCAR. Monday asks if you're ready for some football. Thursday, Friday and Saturday mean an NFL Network game, followed by high school and college football, respectively. That leaves Tuesday vs. Wednesday in a one-hole playoff for worst sports day of the week. But Tuesday somehow seems lovelier, doesn't it? Tuesday is ... Tuesday Weld. Wednesday is ... Wednesday Addams.
Take away Champions League soccer, golf pro-ams and the occasional baseball getaway day -- hot dogs half-price -- and what did Wednesday ever give anyone? Nothing but this column and a whistling emptiness, often at the same time.
The other days all have good song titles: Rainy Days and Mondays and Sunday Morning Coming Down and 10:15 Saturday Night. No one will ever write an album called Wednesday Night Fever. There are, of course, a few songs about Wednesday, but they're depressing, pre-dawn numbers about abandoning loved ones under cover of darkness: The Beatles' She's Leaving Home ("Wednesday morning at five o'clock as the day begins ...") and Simon & Garfunkel's Wednesday Morning, 3 a.m. (about a guy who abandons his girlfriend after robbing a liquor store). What did Wednesday do to deserve this?
The famous nursery rhyme goes: "Monday's child is fair of face, Tuesday's child is full of grace," before things take an ugly turn midweek: "Wednesday's child is full of woe, and Thursday's child has far to go."
I'll concede that Thursday's child has far to go -- I was born on a Thursday -- but Wednesday's child ain't full of woe. Far from it. Babe Ruth was born on Wednesday, February 6, 1895. Pele was born on Wednesday, October 23, 1940. Tom Brady was born on Wednesday, August 3, 1977. Kobe Bryant was born on Wednesday, August 23, 1978. If you want to dominate your sport, you better hope your mother delivers on a Wednesday.
Cassius Clay was born on a Saturday in 1942, but he was reborn on a Wednesday -- February 26, 1964 -- as Muhammad Ali. The greatest fighter's greatest fight -- The Thrilla in Manila -- happened, improbably, on a Wednesday: October 1, 1975.
Sports spectacles aren't typically scheduled on Wednesdays -- it's best known in my house as the day the garbage cans go out -- but Wednesdays just might be, pound-for-pound, the best sports days in history. For a day that precludes football or golf or Final Four highlights, Wednesday has claimed a freakish share of sport's lasting memories.
On a Wednesday in Cleveland -- July 16, 1941 -- 15,000 spectators witnessed Joe DiMaggio get three hits to extend his hitting streak to 56 consecutive games, perhaps the most sacred record in sports. On a Wednesday in Arlington, Texas, May 1, 1991 -- 44-year-old Nolan Ryan pitched his seventh no-hitter against the Blue Jays. On a Wednesday in Green Bay -- February 4, 1959 -- the Packers hired a coach named Vince Lombardi.
For a while, Wednesday ruled the world. At the Adelphi pub in Sheffield, England on September 4, 1867 -- a Wednesday -- The Wednesday Cricket Club met and decided to form a soccer team called The Wednesday Football Club. Soccer would give the cricket team -- who played on Wednesdays, when the players had half a day off from their day jobs -- something to do over the winter.
The Wednesday Football Club quickly became renowned, the world over, as "The Wednesday." The Wednesday won three titles in England's First Division, forerunner to today's Premier League. Ah, but Wednesday is a fickle master, and woe unto the man who betrays Hump Day.
In 1929, The Wednesday changed its name to Sheffield Wednesday Football Club. It won another First Division title that season of 1929-30, but has not done so in the 81 years since abandoning what was -- and still would be -- the best name in all of sports: The Wednesday.
No matter. Wednesday is self-effacing. It doesn't want your attention or your pity. It wouldn't want to be known as The Wednesday, in the way that Donald Trump is The Donald. It's vulgar, and Wednesday is anything but.
Wednesday knows what Wednesday's accomplished, even if you don't. Wednesday doesn't need Hank Williams Jr. singing its praises -- "All my rowdy friends are here on Wednesday night." Wednesday doesn't want its name in prime time. You'll never DVR Wednesday Night Lights.
In short, Wednesday isn't needy or showy. Everyone remembers the date October 3, 1951. And many remember the time: 3:58 p.m. But few know what day of the week Bobby Thomson hit his "Shot Heard Round the World," giving the Giants the pennant over the Brooklyn Dodgers.
It was, naturally, a Wednesday -- overlooked, undersung, rock-solid Wednesday. Some are taking notice of its magical powers. The last four years, the World Series has opened on a Wednesday, no doubt to capitalize on Wednesday's secret mojo. It's a good start, but it doesn't go far enough. "Super Bowl Wednesday" has a nice ring, don't you think?
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