Today in history

There is a specific event of note today. See if you can find it in this list of today in …

350 A.D.: Nepotianus proclaims himself emperor of Rome, backed up by the parade of gladiators who accompany him into Rome.

713: Byzantine emperor Philippicus is blinded, deposed and sent into exile by conspirators within the Opsikion Army in Thrace. Think of it as similar to the finish of …

1083: Henry IV of Germany storms Rome, capturing St. Peter’s Cathedral.

1326: The Treaty of Novgorod determines the borders between Russia and the portion of Finnmark known as Norway.

1509: Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon, his first (but not last) wife.

1539: Hernando de Soto lands at Ucita, Fla., and claims Florida for Spain.

1540: Having taken a year to get there, de Soto is the first European to cross the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina — a trip that now takes about 11½ hours by car.

1621: The Dutch West India Company receives a charter for New Netherlands, known today as New York City.

1781: Jack Jouett, not Paul Revere, begins his midnight ride to warn Virginia Gov. Thomas Jefferson and legislature, not Boston, and Thomas Jefferson of an impending raid by British Gen. Banastre “Bloody Ban” Tarleton.

1800: President John Adams moves to Washington, D.C., and lives in a tavern, because the White House isn’t finished yet. Adams moved in later in 1800, only to move out after he lost the 1800 presidential election to Thomas Jefferson.

1804: Richard Cobden, British economist and statesman known as the Apostle of Free Trade, is born.

1808: Jefferson Davis, the only president of the Confederacy, is born.

1839: In Humen, China, Lin Tse-hsü destroys 1.2 million kilograms of opium taken away from British merchants, starting the First Opium War.

1851: The New York Knickerbockers baseball team wears a straw hat, white shirt and long blue trousers — the first recognized baseball uniform. (Presumably previous teams wore clothes, but not uniform clothes.)

1861: Stephen A. Douglas, who defeated Abraham Lincoln for the U.S. Senate in 1858 after the Lincoln–Douglas debates, but was defeated for president by Lincoln in 1860, dies. (Here’s a historical what-if for you: Douglas, the Northern Democratic candidate for president, received just 12 electoral votes, finishing fourth. But what if Douglas had won, and then died three months after taking office, in the midst of tensions that led to the Civil War? The Civil War began before Douglas’ death, but one wonders if an insurrection wasn’t inevitable regardless of who was elected president, given that Southern Democrats bolted both Democratic conventions — the first one was adjourned after 57 ballots for the presidential nomination — and nominated their own candidate, Vice President John Breckinridge. The 1860 northern Democrats’ vice presidential candidate was Georgia Gov. Herschel Vespasian Johnson, chosen to balance the ticket.)

1864: On Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ 56th birthday, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee wins his last victory of the Civil War at the Battle of Cold Harbor, Va., where more than 6,000 Union soldiers were killed or wounded in one hour. (Perhaps that’s why June 3 is Confederate Memorial Day in Kentucky, Louisiana and Tennessee.) That same day, Ransom Eli Olds, who created the Oldsmobile car and REO truck (for which the rock group REO Speedwagon) was born.

1876: Harper’s Weekly publishes a front-page cartoon by Thomas Nast about Congress’ attempt to impeach President Ulysses Grant. Congress had just impeached Grant’s war secretary, William Belknap, despite the fact that Belknap resigned before the impeachment vote. Other Congressional attempts to impeach Grant focused around an accusation that Grant had used public funds for his 1872 reelection campaign, an accusation that foundered when the accuser was discovered to be an escapee from an insane asylum, and a complaint that Grant had been out of Washington an excessive number of times. (You cannot make these things up.) A century later, Richard Nixon was impeached in committee, an impeachment attempt was made against Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton was impeached, and impeachment attempts were  made against George W. Bush.

1880: Alexander Graham Bell transmitted the first wireless phone message from the top of the Franklin School in Washington, D.C.,  on his new “photophone,” which transmits sound via light beams.

1881: A 55-year-old Japanese giant salamander, believed to have been the oldest amphibian, dies in a Dutch zoo.

1886: Charles Lwanga, a Catholic catechist, 11 other Catholic men and boys and nine Anglicans are burned alive by the orders of King Mwanga II of Uganda. Pope Paul VI canonized Lwanga and the other Catholics in 1964 and named June 3 the Feast Day of Charles Lwanga and Companions.

1888: Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s “Casey at the Bat” is published in the San Francisco Examiner.

1904: Charles Richard Drew, who pioneered blood plasma research, is born.

1906: Singer Josephine Baker is born.

1911: Actress Ellen Corby, Grandma of The Waltons, is born in Racine.

1925: Actor Tony Curtis is born, presumably not wearing women’s clothes.

1929: Producer Chuck Barris, creator of The Gong Show, is born. (If you’ve never heard of The Gong Show, or you think TV is bizarre now, watch this and this.)

1932: In Shibe Park in Philadelphia, New York Yankee Lou Gehrig hits four home runs in a game, while Tony Lazzeri hits for the natural cycle — in order, single, double, triple and home run. The Yankees beat the Philadelphia (later Kansas City and Oakland) A’s 20–13. (No, that’s not preseason football.) One of the pitchers in this pitching non-duel was Lew Krausse, father of former Brewers pitcher Lew Krausse.

1937: Edward VIII marries American Wallis Warfield Simpson.  Negro Leagues baseball player Josh Gibson celebrates by hitting a 580-foot home run at Yankee Stadium.

1939: Steve Dalkowski, on whom the Nuke LaLoosh character in “Bull Durham” and the Steve Nebraska character in “The Scout,” is born. In an era before radar guns, the left-handed Dalkowski could regularly throw over 100 mph, but not necessarily over the plate, which is why Dalkowski never pitched in the majors. He did have the reported distinction of having the highest number of strikeouts and walks per nine innings of any pitcher in pro baseball history.

1940: While the German Luftwaffe bombs Paris, Allied forces exit Dunkirk, France, saving their troops but losing all their equipment.

1943: In Los Angeles, Navy sailors and Marines fight Latino youths in the Zoot Suit riots.

1944: Italians say “Arrivederci” as German forces exit Rome.

1946: Members of three iconic classic rock groups are born today — Ian Hunter of Mott the Hoople, bassist John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, and drummer Michael Clarke of The Byrds.

1949: “Dragnet” premieres on radio in Los Angeles, the start of a franchise that included four TV series and two movies, and those are just the facts.

1954: Dan Hill, who foisted the horrifyingly bad “Sometimes When We Touch” on radio listeners, is born.

1957: Howard Cosell’s first TV show premieres. Complaints about Cosell begin approximately 12 seconds after the show begins.

1963: Pope John XXIII dies, taking one pope off St. Malachy’s list. (Four more have been taken off the list since then. Pope Francis is the last pope on Malachy’s list.)

1964: The Rolling Stones begin their first U.S. tour with Johnny Rivers and Bobby Goldsboro. (Putting the Stones and Goldsboro in the same concert would be like putting Korn and Michael Bolton in the same concert today.)

1965: Body-builder Suzan Kaminga, actor and singer Jeff Blumenkranz, actor Daniel Selby and Phish bass player Mike Gordon are born. American astronaut Edward White, having flown into space on Gemini 4 earlier in the day, makes the first U.S. spacewalk.

In a hospital room in Madison, a nun shoos the people watching the spacewalk out of the only room on the nursery floor with a TV, so that the new mother inside can get some rest before her constantly hungry newborn son wants to eat again.

1967: Anderson Cooper of CNN is born.

1969: The last, and arguably worst, episode of “Star Trek” airs on NBC. It is certainly the worst episode in TV history that does not have the words “Brain and brain! What is brain?” in it. During an exercise in the South China Sea the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne collides with the Navy destroyer USS Frank E. Evans, cutting the Evans in half and killing 74 of its crew. That crash came five years after the Melbourne cut the destroyer HMAS Voyager in two, killing 82 of the Voyager’s crew.

1973: The Soviet supersonic jet era ends shortly after it begins when the Tupolev TU-144 crashes at an air show in Paris:

1980: Seven tornadoes hit the Grand Island, Neb., area, killing five, injuring 357 and causing $300 million in damages. A movie, “Night of the Twisters,” is made based on the tornado outbreak.

1989: Chinese troops kill hundreds of pro-democracy students in Beijing. The same day, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran dies.

1990: The first WIAA state track meet at UW–La Crosse, where state moved after decades at Madison’s Mansfield Stadium, is interrupted, for the first time in decades, by rain. WIAA officials are not happy, with the face of one of them looking as foreboding as the skies.

1992: A newspaper geek celebrates his 27th birthday by buying half of the Tri-County Press in Cuba City.

1997: Dennis James, the host of TV’s first game show and TV’s first telethon, dies.

2000: The editor of a business magazine goes for a 150-mph ride in a NASCAR race truck at Road America in Elkhart Lake.

2001: Mel Brooks’ “The Producers” wins a record 12 Tony Awards. CBS-TV, which carries the Tony Awards, anticipates the big day for “Springtime for Hitler” by having Bialystock & Bloom (actually, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick) emcee the awards. That same day, actor Anthony Quinn dies.

2009: “Kung Fu” actor David Carradine dies.

2011: Actor James Arness, the older (and taller) brother of actor Peter Graves, dies …

… on the same day that singer Andrew Gold, formerly Linda Ronstadt’s guitar player, dies.

2014: I announce the first game I have ever announced on June 3, possibly ironically in my mother’s hometown.

And let me be the first to wish you a Happy Opium Suppression Movement Day. (See June 3, 1839.)

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