Danecdotes: This week in less-discussed history, Vol. VI
There are some fairly significant historical moments this week, but let's talk about some slightly more obscure ones
I’m back at it. After all, I have to use that history degree somehow, right?
There are actually several somewhat significant historical events that occurred this week - including the United States invading Afghanistan - but I’m hoping to provide a slightly different look at some other relatively obscure but significant events that have occurred throughout time.
Oct. 13, 1967 - ABA debuts
I’m sure I enjoy this one more than most, but the American Basketball Association was a very interesting thing in sports history, and was probably the last time the NBA had any major competition for fandom.
Does anyone remember the Minnesota Muskies? How about the Minnesota Pipers? They were the only pro basketball teams the state had between the Lakers leaving in the 1950s and the Timberwolves starting up in 1989. Both played just one season in the ABA in the '60s before shipping off elsewhere.
The league’s goal from the get-go was to entertain the masses. That was evident by the use of a red, white and blue basketball for games and the introduction of events like the slam dunk contest.
The league was also a starting place for some of the game’s greatest athletes - names like Julius Erving, Moses Malone and George Gervin - who moved on to the NBA and had Hall of Fame-worthy careers.
Oct. 14, 1912 - Theodore Roosevelt shot
This is one of my favorite stories in American presidential history, and perhaps the story that really cements ol’ Teddy Roosevelt’s “man’s man” reputation.
Teddy had been out of office for almost four years. His protégé, William Howard Taft, was president, but had done a few things to put him at odds with Roosevelt. So T.R. decided to run against him as part of a new third party called the Progressive Party, or the “Bull Moose” Party.
While Roosevelt was delivering a campaign speech in Milwaukee, a would-be assassin shot him in the chest - saying the ghost of late-president William McKinley told him to kill Roosevelt. Thankfully, Teddy’s speech was about 50 pages long, and he kept a copy of it in his breast pocket, along with his steel eyeglass case.
Because of those things, the bullet wound was very shallow, and Roosevelt decided to give his 90-minute speech anyway, telling the crowd “it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.”
Roosevelt did not win the election - splitting the Republican vote to pave the way for Woodrow Wilson to be elected. But come on, that is a crazy story.
Oct. 16, 1923 - Walt Disney Company founded
The near-monopolistic media franchise had a fairly humble beginning nearly a century ago as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio.
Strangely enough, the thing the company is most famous for - Mickey Mouse - wouldn’t make his debut for another five years. They started with short silent films and cartoons with a rabbit named Oswald.
Cut to 2021. The company is the most powerful name in entertainment, owning powerhouses like Marvel, Star Wars and 20th Century Fox.
Look at a list of the highest-grossing movies in history (not adjusted for inflation). Disney owns the rights to 13 of the top 20.
It’s perhaps the best example of “Everybody starts somewhere.”
That’ll do it for me. Thanks for hanging in there.
Dan Determan may be reached at 218-855-5879 or email@example.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan.