Sammy Sosa, shown in 2003, apologized to his team and the commissioner after the corked-bat incident. But he still got a seven-game suspension. Dilip Vishwanat/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images

June 3 in sports history: Sosa secret uncorked

Here's a look back at notable sports news on June 3 through the years.


2003: Sammy Sosa's broken-bat grounder against Tampa Bay was anything but routine.

A piece of the shattered bat was examined by an umpire, who discovered it was stuffed with cork -- which is against the rules. The umps huddled for a discussion. Then chief umpire Tim McClelland gave Sosa the heave-ho.

The Cubs' outfielder, whom many believed had home run power derived from illegal performance enhancers, claimed he merely picked up the wrong bat. "I apologize to my team," Sosa said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "... I apologize to the commissioner of baseball."

"I believe Sammy didn't know [cork] was in there," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. 

Added Chicago pitcher Kerry Wood: "The guy made an honest mistake and he's sorry." 

But two Chicago Tribune columnists didn't mince words. Wrote Rick Morrissey:

"This is the can of worms Sosa opened up for himself Tuesday night, and all the anger and energy he has directed at those of us who dared wonder about his incredible leap in production over the years will have to go toward defending himself in the court of public opinion."

Added Mike Downey: "If it turns out to be absolutely, 100 percent true that Sammy Sosa came to bat Tuesday night at Wrigley Field with a bat that was stuffed with that stuff,  then they have to suspend him from baseball."

Ultimately, Sosa served a seven-game suspension handed down by MLB.

SAYING GOODBYE TO 'THE GREATEST'

2016: Muhammad Ali was perhaps the most famous athlete who ever lived. But he was so much more than just a champion heavyweight boxer. He was a humanitarian, spokesman for the downtrodden and massive influence for change in society.

Here's what Ali -- who died on this date of Parkinson's disease at 74 -- told his hometown Louisville Courier Journal about how wanted to be remembered:

"...as a black man who won the heavyweight title and who was humorous and who treated everyone right. As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him and who helped as many people as he could, financial and also in their fight for freedom, justice and equality ... And if all that’s asking too much, then I guess I’d settle for being remembered only as a great boxing champion who became a preacher and a champion of his people. And I wouldn’t even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was."

Ali, who was born Cassius Clay, became the youngest heavyweight boxer to take the title from a reigning champ when he beat Sonny Liston in 1964. After a brief time out of the sport when he lost his boxing license for refusing to be drafted during the Vietnam War, he was back in the ring and lost the “Fight of the Century” against Joe Frazier but regained his title against George Foreman in the “Rumble in the Jungle” in 1974. 

Wrote New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica:

"[Ali] was capable of moments of cruelty, towards Frazier and Floyd Patterson and even an important champion of the champ's like Howard Cosell. He was an amazing, brave, flawed, complicated, unforgettable, incredibly gifted man, in and out of the ring, one of the giants of the 20th century, one who died quiet, but lived loud. The real title for him, maybe the only one that mattered, was the title of David Remnick's book about him. King of the world. Muhammad Ali retires with that."

MASTERS ON THE MOUND

1971: Cubs lefthander Ken Holtzman pitched his second no-hitter in a 1-0 win over the Reds in Cincinnati. The 25-year-old relied on his fastball, estimating he threw only two curves. Afterward, Cubs GM John Holland rewarded him with a "massive" raise: $1,500.

1989: Nolan Ryan tossed a major league record seven no-hitters during his 27-year big league career. But, man, what might have been.

On this date, 42-year-old  "Big Tex" threw the 11th one-hitter of his career in a 6-1 win over Seattle. Ryan struck out 11 in his 16th low-hit game (no-hitter or one-hitter), breaking Bob Feller’s record of 15.

Ryan's fastball, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, was clocked as high as 99 mph on the radar gun. He averaged 94 mph for the game.

"I thought I had as good a command as I've had in any game this year," Ryan said. Earlier that season, he came close to throwing no-hitters against Milwaukee and Toronto.

1995: Pedro Martinez wasn't in Ryan's class as a power pitcher -- who was? --  but the future Hall of Famer was a masterful pitcher.

Against San Diego, Martinez was perfect through nine innings, retiring all 27 batters. He was the first pitcher to take a perfect game into extra innings since the Pirates' Harvey Haddix in 1959.

Unfortunately, Montreal didn't score until the 10th inning of a 1-0 win. Bip Roberts broke up Martinez's perfect game with a leadoff double in the 10th. Martinez was pulled, and Mel Rojas earned the save.

"That's big-league pitching at its best right there," Padres star Tony Gwynn said afterward. "Not much you can say except superb and awesome."

2008: Like Ryan and Martinez, Randy Johnson, also a future Hall of Famer, could bring the heat, too. "The Big Unit" took over second place on the all-time strikeout list, behind Ryan, by getting Milwaukee's Mike Cameron to go down swinging in the first inning of Arizona's 7-1 loss. 

Johnson, a 21-year vet, wasn't exactly jacked about the achievement: "I think at this point in my career I really just want to win ballgames. Everything else is kind of secondary."

2017: In beating the Diamondbacks, 3-0, the Marlins' Edinson Volquez tossed the sixth no-hitter in team history. He struck out 10 and faced the minumum of 27 batters. He was nearly knocked from the game in the first inning when he rolled his ankle covering first. "I thought I broke my ankle," he said.

BASEBALL NUGGETS

1932: In the Yankees' epic 20-13 win over the Philadelphia A's, New York's Lou Gehrig became the first American League player to hit four home runs in a game.

2017: In a 7-2 win over the Twins, the Angels' Albert Pujols joined the 600-HR club in style -- with a grand slam. Angels star Mike Trout arrived at the ballpark this day soon after thumb surgery because he wanted to see Pujols make history. 

MASTERFUL

1984: Patty Sheehan, one of the greatest female golfers of all time, won the LPGA Championship by a record 10 strokes over Beth Daniel and Pat Bradley. Sheehan led by nine strokes entering the final round. 

"I was nervous because I didn't want to blow it," the 27-year-old told reporters afterward. "If you're just one up and you lose, it's no big deal. But if you're nine up and lose the tournament you look like an idiot."

Happy birthday ...

  • Billy Cunningham, Hall of Famer who spent 17 seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers as a player and coach, winning two championships. (77)
  • Al Horford, who won back-to-back NCAA championships with the Florida Gators before going third overall to Atlanta in the 2007 NBA Draft. The five-time All-Star spent nine seasons with the Hawks, before going to Boston for three years and then to his current team, the 76ers. (34)
  • Tennis superstar Rafael Nadal, ranked No. 2 in the world. Nadal has 19 Grand Slam victories, including a record 12 French Opens.  (34)

R.I.P.

2013: Deacon Jones, the leader of the Rams’ Fearsome Foursome D-line in the ‘60s and early-‘70s. Jones was 74 when he died of natural causes.

2017: Jimmy Piersall, former major league centerfielder and broadcaster whose struggle with bipolar disorder was made public in his biography, “Fear Strikes Out." He was 87.


June 2: 'I kicked the %!@?! out of it'



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