Danica Patrick, who retired from racing in 2018, made her Indianapolis 500 debut in 2005. She made eight starts at the Brickyard during her career. Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

May 29 in sports history: 'Goober stupid'? Nah. She was fabulous

Here's a look back at notable sports news on May 29 through the years. 


2005: Danica Patrick said she didn't give her historic performance much thought, but in finishing fourth at the Indianapolis 500, the 23-year-old became the first woman to lead at the Brickyard.

"I'm just racing," Patrick said of her epic debut at Indy, according to the Orlando Sentinel. "It sounds so goober stupid, but I just don't think about it."

Patrick, who led for 19 laps, was finally passed with seven laps to go by Dan Wheldon, who won the Indy 500 for the first time. He didn't mind disappointing many of the crowd of 250,000-plus who hoped to see Patrick win. "Don't care one bit," he said, half-kiddingly

"From my side of it, gosh, did I make some mistakes," Patrick said. "I stalled it (in the pits) and went back to 16th place. Near the end, I was checking up on a restart and spun it. I can't believe my car didn't get completely demolished because I got hit twice. Somebody is sitting on my side."

David Letterman — yes, that guy — watched the race from the pit. The co-owner of Patrick's Rahal Letterman Racing team was blown away by her performance: "I don't know how you have all that misfortune befall you and still come back to almost win the race."

Twenty-eight years earlier at Indy,  Janet Guthrie became the first woman to race at the Brickyard. In a race won by A.J. Foyt for the fourth time, she dropped out after 27 laps with mechanical problems and finished 29th, ahead of the celebrated Johnny Rutherford, who finished 33rd and last.

"This race is everything everyone says it was," she told reporters about her first race at the track. "There's nothing like it in the world."

PERFECTION

2010: In his Hall of Fame career, Roy Halladay won two Cy Youngs, made eight All-Star teams and tossed two no-hitters. On this date in the Miami suburbs, he achieved perfection, retiring all 27 Marlins in Philadelphia's 1-0 win. Halladay struck out 11 and went to either 3-1 or 3-2 counts seven times.

"Early in my bullpen [pitching session] I was hitting spots more than I have been," Halladay told reporters. "I felt like I just carried that out there."

Halladay's gem was the second perfect game of the season — the first time that had happened in the modern era in the majors. In beating Tampa Bay, 4-0, on Mother's Day, Dallas Braden of the A's tossed a perfect game. (Was he really hung over?)

After the game, vice president Joe Biden dialed up the Phillies' clubhouse to congratulate Halladay. In 2017, Halladay died in a plane crash off the Florida coast.

BASEBALL NUGGETS

1942: It's a miracle! The Yankees' Lefty Gomez, who struck out 252 times in 904 at-bats during his career, had four hits and pitched a four-hitter in a 16-1 win over the Senators. Gomez's lifetime batting average was .147.

1965: Richie Allen, one of those Hall of Very Good players, was one of the better power hitters of his time. In a 4-2 win over the Cubs, the Phillies slugger jacked a 500-plus-foot homer over the roof in left field at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia. The ball landed 60 feet across the street from the rickety ball park. The Philadelphia Inquirer called it a "transcontinental clout."  A stadium usher listening to the game on the radio near left field retrieved the ball.

Asked if it was his longest homer, Allen told reporters, "I didn't see it, I didn't clock it, but I knew I hit it good." 

"The funny part is," Phillies manager Gene Mauch told the Inquirer, "he didn't look good hitting it. He actually fell into it, which shows what a hitter like he can do. I've seen him hit balls better."

1976: In the Astros' 4-3 win over the Braves, the winning pitcher was Joe Niekro, who went yard on his brother, knuckleballer Phil Niekro. It was the only home run Joe hit in his 22-year major league career. He didn't rub it in, though. He trotted around the bases without looking at Phil. "All I was worried about," he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "was touching all the bases."

1990: In a 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays in Oakland, the Athletics' Rickey Henderson stole third base with two outs — one of those unwritten baseball rules no-no's — to break Ty Cobb’s 62-year-old American League record for stolen bases. "I'm happy for him, but if he doesn't make it, he's broken a major rule in baseball," said Toronto's Kelly Gruber. 

Bleh. 

Henderson said rain was forecast the next day, and he wanted to break the record at home.

"In this situation," Henderson said, "we needed something to happen. To me it was the right time to steal a base." Henderson broke Lou Brock's big league record for steals the next season.

BASEBALL EXPOSED

2002: Former NL MVP Ken Caminiti set the baseball world abuzz by alleging in Sports Illustrated that 50 percent of current major league players used some form of steroids. MLB commissioner Bud Selig was troubled by Caminiti's allegations, saying, "... the problem needs to be addressed."

"Fifty percent? That's ridiculous," Phillies catcher Mike Lieberthal said. "Fifty percent would mean half our guys. I think I would know if half our guys were taking steroids."

WAYNE'S WORLD 

1993: Criticized for lackluster performances earlier in the series, Wayne Gretzky scored in overtime to give the L.A. Kings a 5-4 win over Toronto in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final. "I do not think I have ever had this much personal satisfaction in winning a series," The Great One said afterward.


They say it's your birthday, Melo! Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Happy birthday ... 

  • Carmelo Anthony, taken third overall by the Nuggets in the 2003 NBA Draft, two spots behind his buddy, LeBron James. “Melo," a 10-time All-Star, was the 2013 scoring champ. He hoops for the Blazers now. (36)
  • Markelle Fultz, 2017 No. 1 NBA Draft pick by the 76ers. Fultz entered the pros after just one season at the University of Washington. Fultz became the youngest player at the time to score a triple-double, in April 2018. (22) 
  • Fay Vincent who took over as MLB commissioner in 1989 after the unexpected death of Bart Giamatti. (82) 
  • Two–time All-Star and three-time World Series winner Johnny “Blue Moon” Odom. The right-handed pitcher spent 13 seasons in the majors, 12 with the A’s. (75)

R.I.P.

1993: Billy “The Pittsburgh Kid” Conn, Hall of Fame boxer who held the light heavyweight title from 1939-41. Conn’s losing bout against Joe Louis on June 18, 1941, was described as one of the best fights of the century. He retired with a 63-12-1 record. He was 75. 

1972: Morris “Moe” Berg, MLB player who might’ve been known more for his off-the-field accomplishments. Berg, a catcher who hit only six homers in his 15-year career with five teams, impressed his teammates more with his stories as an agent for the Office of Strategic Services in WWII, charged with posing as a businessman to find German atomic energy secrets. Berg died at 70. 


May 28: Making a splash from deep

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