Today in History: Sept. 28

The Norman forces led by William, Duke of Normandy, landed at Pevensey in Sussex, in the south of England, 950 years ago today.

A few years later, the event was depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry, the enormous (230 feet long) artwork that commemorates the Norman invasion and victory at the Battle of Hastings. (Seen above.)

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“The affair between Boston and Ted Williams has been no mere summer romance; it has been a marriage, composed of spats, mutual disappointments, and, toward the end, a mellowing hoard of shared memories. It falls into three stages, which may be termed Youth, Maturity, and Age; or Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis; or Jason, Achilles, and Nestor.”—John Updike, “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu,” October 22, 1960, The New Yorker


Ted Williams (nicknamed The Kid) hit the final home run of his career in the final at-bat of his career on this date in 1960. He had announced his retirement earlier in the year, and this season’s end saw the Boston Red Sox in seventh place. Williams did not make plans to travel with the team on its final road trip of the season, so this last home game at Fenway Park was going to be his last game, period.

Ted Williams was 41 years old, had played in only 112 games and had recorded merely 97 hits in 307 at-bats up until his final at-bat in his last season. Of those hits, 28 had been home runs, however, which brought him across 500 for his career.

In the bottom of the eighth, he came to the plate with the Sox down by two. Only 10,000 people were in attendance; unlike players of recent vintage, this final season for Ted Williams was no “farewell tour,” with gifts from opposing teams. There were no banners from his own home team marking the end. It was just another game as a seventh-place team played out its string.

And so it ended for Williams and the Red Sox with business as it had once been usual: a blast to deep center and a heads-down quick run around the bases and no tip of the cap to the fans, no curtain call, although some say the fans there clamored for one and his teammates urged him to step out and doff his cap. “Gods do not answer letters,” John Updike wrote a month later.

Williams finished his career with 2832 runs created, behind only Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb at the time. A clip of the moment from the Ken Burns film, Baseball:

 
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The first episode of Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, a 13-part television essay by Carl Sagan, premiered on PBS on this date in 1980.

 
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The discovery of flowing water on Mars was announced by NASA one year ago today.

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President Gamal Abdel Nasser died on this date in 1970. His vice president, Anwar Sadat, replaced him as Egypt’s president.

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Pope John Paul I died on this date in 1978, after only 33 days as pope. Miles Davis died 25 years ago today. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau died 16 years ago today.

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William S. Paley was born on this date in 1901. Ed Sullivan was born in 1901 on this date. John Gilmore of the Sun Ra Arkestra was born 85 years ago today:

 
Ben E. King was born 78 years ago today.

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Governor Madeleine M. Kunin is 83. Brigitte Bardot is 82. Jon Snow is 69 today. John Sayles is 66. Janeane Garofalo is 52.

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