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September 29 in NYC History

Posted: Sep 29, 2012 | 1:22 AM
1789:  The U.S. War Department establishes a regular army with a strength of several hundred men.  Since NYC is the first capitol of the United States, it happened here.  Specifically: Fraunces Tavern, which was the headquarters, as well as for the Department of Peace (actually "State"), headed by Jefferson, and the Treasury Department, headed by Alexander Hamilton.  The two rivals shared a building.  Fraunces himself set up operations as George Washington's Steward.

1954:  "I don’t rank ‘em, I just catch ‘em."  Willie Mays, the New York Baseball Giants' center-fielder, caught, over his shoulder with his back to the infield, Cleveland Indians' batter Vic Wertz' 450 foot flyball hit in Game 1 of the World Series
.   Then he pivoted around and shot the ball back to the infield.  This catch is considered one of the greatest in baseball history.

1957:  NY Baseball Giants' last game in Harlem's Polo Grounds before their move to San Francisco.
  They lost to Pittsburgh 9-1.  No National League team remained in NYC for four years.

(What a heartbreak!  The Brooklyn Dodgers and Harlem's Giants were championship caliber teams in the 1950s, and then they headed to California.)

1961:  The National League expands back to New York City with the new New York Mets, managed by former Yankee manager Casey Stengel.  In the early 1970s, Willie Mays would return to NYC, finishing his career as a Met.

1973:  W.H. Auden, the St. Marks Place East Village Poet died at age 66.

1997:  Roy Lichtenstein the painter who used comic book style Ben-day dots for his paintings died age 73

2005:  New York Times reporter Judith Miller released from jail after nearly three months for protecting a source who was involved with a conspiracy to blow an intelligence officer's cover for political reasons. 

Her source, Scooter Libby, Vice President Cheney's official, who had hobnobbed with her over the years at posh conferences, wrote her a letter describing the coming autumn outside, reminiscing about how "Aspens turn in clusters."  It seems that he was poetically giving her permission to finally turn against him, to come in from the cold, enjoy freedom, and that they are all in it together, since Aspens are connected. 

Miller had a close relationship with the Bush administration, helping them to promote the invasion of Iraq.  She was a biological warfare (weapons of mass destruction, WMD) expert.  The CIA officer who was outed by Scooter Libby and other Bush Administration officials, Valerie Plame-Wilson, was a WMD specialist.  She was outed because her husband, heroic Ambassador Joseph Wilson wrote an Op-Ed stating that the Bush Administration lied about the danger of Iraqi WMD, which turned out to be non-existent.  Scooter Libby would be convicted of Obstruction of Justice a few years later, but the justice that he obstructed was unfulfilled.

(I call Joseph Wilson a hero for other reasons, including his heroism during the first Iraq War, the Gulf War.)

2012:  Arthur O. (Punch) Sulzberger, the transformative Publisher of the New York Times from the 1960s through the early 1990s, died at 86.  He led the newspaper and its corporation through many changes.  The New York Times won dozens of Pulitzer Prizes, and it won Freedom of the Press court cases, such as publishing the Pentagon Papers, and it became nationally distributed.  The corporation expanded into other media and into a multi-billion dollar publicly traded company.  With the transformation of print media to digital, Punch's era is likely to have been the golden age of the New York Times.  The paper's record edition was a 1987 Sunday paper that was over 1600 pages of print weighing over 12 pounds (5.4 kg).


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