Tiger Woods won his second Masters in 2001. Augusta National/Getty Image

April 8 in sports history: Greatest ever? Woods earns another green jacket

Here's a look back at notable sports news on April 8 through the years.


2001: Hyperbole or not? After 25-year-old Tiger Woods won his second Masters on this date, Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke called him the "greatest golfer who ever lived." Woods' two-stroke victory over David Duval made him the champion of all four major tournaments at the same time. "Some of the golf gods were looking down on me in the right way," he said after his victory. "Just as someone once told me about Babe Ruth," Plaschke wrote in his column, "I want to tell you about Tiger Woods." Yikes.

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1941: Heavyweight champ Joe Louis knocked out Tony Musto, a former grocery store clerk from Chicago, in the ninth round to defend his title for the 16th straight time.  "... but it was Musto, leaving the ring with a smile," wrote the New York Daily News, "who received all the cheers" from the crowd in St. Louis. "He may have been cut up externally, but the champion's punches failed to dim the spark and spirit of a fighting heart." Louis, perhaps the greatest heavyweight of all time, "went out into the darkness head down as the huge crowd screamed a scornful symphony of Bronx cheers in condemnation of an unsatisfactory victory."


ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS: April 7


1966: The American Football League named Al Davis — the Oakland Raiders 36-year-old coach/GM — its commissioner. "I realize we are putting a crimp in a brilliant 16-year coaching career which has carried Al Davis to the pinnacle of the pros," Bills owner Ralph Wilson said, "but I'm equally certain he is embarking on a career as commissioner which will be even more illustrious." Well, not quite. Davis resigned as commissioner a few months later, as NFL-AFL merger talks heated up.


Headlines in the New York Daily News after the Mets were embarrassed on Opening Day on April 8, 1969.

1969: In the first MLB game involving a team from Canada, the expansion Montreal Expos edged the Mets, 11-10, at Shea Stadium. "Opening Day for the Mets was historic, hysterical and downright embarrassing," the New York Daily News wrote. The newspaper called Montreal a "grab-bag team resembling the Mets of yesteryear." The Expos (52-110) finished last in the NL East. Stunningly, the "Amazins" went on to win the World Series over Baltimore.

1974: On a cool, rainy night in Atlanta, Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run, breaking Babe Ruth's all-time MLB record. The record blast came in the fourth inning off Dodgers left-hander Al Downing. "I just thank God it's over," Aaron said of the home run chase, which took a physical and mental toll on the 40-year-old. "Good for him," Ruth's widow, Claire, told the Atlanta Constitution when informed Aaron had passed "The Babe."

1975: Against the Yankees in Cleveland, Frank Robinson of the Indians became the first African-American to manage a game in MLB.  He started with a bang — literally. A player-manager, Robinson hit a 390-foot home run over the left field wall in his first at-bat. "I just go blank after I hit [the homer]," he told reporters. "But when I got to third I thought, 'Will wonders never cease?' " Jackie Robinson's widow, Rachel, threw out the first pitch and then told reporters she was "proud, proud, proud" to attend the historic game, won by the Indians, 5-3. 

1984: Juli Inkster won the Nabisco Dinah Shore tournament in a one-hole playoff over Pat Bradley — the first of her seven major titles. Inkster was powered up on the final few holes. "... I get myself psyched up under pressure," the 23-year-old told reporters.

1989: Born without a right hand, Angels pitcher Jim Abbott debuted in the major leagues, pitching four and two-thirds innings in California's 7-0 loss to Seattle. When the rookie exited the game, the crowd at Anaheim Stadium stood and cheered loudly. Abbott, whose fastball was clocked at 94 mph, gave up six runs, six hits and three walks and didn't strike out anyone. "But the numbers ..." the Los Angeles Times wrote, "don't always tell the whole story." Said 21-year-old second baseman Harold Reynolds of the Mariners: "I was surprised with how hard he threw. ... I think the man is going to be a big league pitcher for a long, long time." Abbott pitched 10 years in the majors, finishing with an 87-108 record. With the Yankees in 1993, he pitched his greatest game, a no-hitter against the Indians.

1994: A day before the start of the season, Dodgers outfielder Darryl Strawberry entered The Betty Ford Center because of substance abuse and alcohol issues.  The 32-year-old was later released by the Dodgers and played the 1994 season with the Giants.


Coverage in the Hartford Courant of the national title won by UConn's women's basketball team in 2014.

2003 and 2014: Led by the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, Diana Taurasi, Connecticut beat Tennessee, 73-68, to win the NCAA women's basketball title. Eleven years later on the same date, the UConn women won another national title, beating Notre Dame, 79-58, and putting an exclamation point on a 40-0 season. The previous night, UConn's men's basketball team also won the national title.  "They didn't invent basketball in Storrs," Hartford Courant columnist Jeff Jacobs wrote in reference to the school's location, "but UConn can be forgiven if it feels like it perfected it this week." 

2019: Virginia won its first NCAA basketball title with an 85-77 win in overtime against Texas Tech. Forward De'Andre Hunter, now with the Atlanta Hawks, led the Cavaliers with 27 points.

Happy birthday...

  • Broadcaster Jim Lampley (71)
  • Former NBA star Terry Porter (57)
  • Baseball pitcher Felix Hernandez (34)

R.I.P.

1978: Former MLB commissioner Ford Frick died at 83.

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