Danecdotes: This week in less-discussed history, Vol. VIII

A week marked by baseball, fireside chats and, of course, Irish saints

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Once again, I am using the opinion page as a means to get my history fix.

This week marks the anniversary of several major historical events — notably the end of fighting in the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945 and the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. — but I’m hoping to highlight a few things that are more under-the-radar.

Here we go.

March 12, 1933: FDR’s first "fireside chat"

Franklin D. Roosevelt is frequently ranked as one of the greatest presidents in United States history by historians and political scientists — often third behind George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. He was the man who led the nation out of the Great Depression and navigated through World War II.

But one of the smaller things he did made this larger-than-life individual seem more down-to-earth than perhaps any president before him — his series of radio addresses known as “fireside chats.”


This was something that had never been done by a U.S. president — more than likely due to technological constraints, but now roughly 90% of Americans owned a radio, which allowed him to reach out to the public far faster than any of his predecessors.

Though I’m sure he had a script in front of him for these chats, FDR seemed to simply be speaking to the American people in these chats. He discussed policies he and Congress implemented, discussed the financial goings-on of the country and even kept Americans updated on the course of the war.

March 15, 1869: Cincinnati Red Stockings

This is typically the time of year when I am really pining for baseball’s return, so let’s talk about that a bit.

More than 150 years ago, the Cincinnati Red Stockings became the first professional baseball team — seven years before Major League Baseball was formed and more than 30 years before just about any team we would recognize joined the MLB.

They were called the “Red Stockings” for a few seasons in the 1880s before changing simply to the Reds we know them as today — although they did change to the “Redlegs” for a few seasons in the 1950s. I have no idea why.

The whole team was put together for about $10,000, which is equal to roughly $220,000 today. To put that into perspective, reigning most valuable player Aaron Judge will make about $247,000 per game this year, assuming he doesn’t miss any time due to injury.

March 16, 1926: First liquid-fueled rocket

Stories about NASA, the “space race” and the moon landing are a dime a dozen in history books, but none of it happens without Robert H. Goddard and his innovations.


The engineer and physicist had worked on rockets for more than a decade before getting a 10-foot rocket made out of pipes to shoot into the air at a speed of about 60 mph.

Rockets of some form or another had existed for more than 500 years, but Goddard's was the first to travel using liquid fuel — specifically liquid oxygen and gasoline.

Similar to the Wright brothers and their manned aircraft from two decades prior, Goddard’s efforts here seem somewhat rudimentary when viewed with a modern lens, but his efforts ushered in the “modern age” as much as nearly anyone who came before him.

March 17, 461: St. Patrick dies

Obviously this one is more often discussed than previous entries, but it’s nearly St. Patrick’s Day! It would be weird not to mention it.

One of the most celebrated saints in all of Christianity, and March 17 marks his death and serves as his feast day.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


Dan Determan, sports writer/staff writer, may be reached at 218-855-5879 or . Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at

Opinion by Dan Determan
Dan Determan has been a reporter for the Echo Journal since 2014, primarily covering sports at Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus
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