1. 1971: The end of the Attica prison riots
Hundreds of state police officers storm the Attica Correctional Facility near Buffalo, New York on this date in 1971. This would bring and end to the four-day revolt that had started in the overpopulated maximum security prison. It all started on September 9th when a massive riot took place where the prisoners managed to gain control of one of the sections of the prison after beating a guard to death. Correctional officers regained control of most of the prison, however, there were said to be over 1,200 inmates still maintaining control of the D-Yard exercise field. They did this by holding a total of 39 guards hostage for four days. When negotiations had reached a stand still, Governor of New York, Nelson A Rockefeller, decided enough was enough and sent in the state police to regain control of the prison, by force if needs be. When inmates were given the ultimatum of surrender or police would enter by force, they replied by holding knives to the throats of the hostages. That’s when things got really bad, helicopters dropped tear gas canisters into the D-Yard and then police stormed the area with a hail of gunfire. There was reported to be around 3,000 shots fired into the tear gas haze that not only killed 29 inmates but 10 of the hostages as well. Plus wounding another 89 people. There was initially claims made that the hostages had been killed by the inmates but autopsy reports later verified they were indeed shot and killed when the police entered the area. In total, there was a total of 43 casualties from this horrific event that would go down as the worst prison riot in U.S. history. A class action lawsuit that had been ongoing for more than 26 years finally settled in 2000 with the Attica inmates receiving a total of $8 million for pain and suffering.
2. 2004: Oprah shocks the world by giving away almost 300 cars
What some people believe to be one of the best promotional stunts on television took place on this date in 2004 when Oprah Winfrey announced to her studio audience they all would receive a brand new car. Oprah had apparently told her producers to fill the audience with people that were in desperate need of an automobile. During her broadcast Oprah started jumping up and down waving a giant key ring screaming “Everyone gets a car!” and the audience had no idea. You could tell because there was absolute mayhem in the audience, fainting, and the whole nine yards. There were said to be 276 people in the audience that day, and each one of them received the keys to a brand new Pontiac G6 that had a retail value around $28,500. Now If you were to do the math on that real quick you’ll realize that is just over $7.8 million! Now it turns out that while it may first have appeared that Oprah had purchased the cars herself, that absolutely wasn’t the case. Not only that but it turns out it wasn’t actually a “free car”, but more like “75% off car”. Pontiac is actually the one that not only donated all 276 cars, but also paid the sales tax for each one as well. That still left the state and federal income tax bill for the “winners” to pay. Most people said the total came to roughly $6,000 which is a lot of money for someone to come up with, especially ones that were already in a tough spot trying to get transportation.
3. 1936: 17-year-old phenom strikes out 17
History was made on this day when the 17-year-old phenom “Rapid” Robert Feller strikes out 17 batters which tied Dizzy Deans American League record set just four years prior. Feller was known for his wicked fastball that was once clocked at 107.6mph making it the second fastest pitch ever recorded. Now it must be stated, that speed was determined when he first released the ball versus when crossing home plate like we are accustomed to in modern times. Feller was a farm boy from Van Meter, Iowa who used to practice his pitching by throwing a ball against the old barn. He was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1935 when he was just 16 years old. He went on to start in his first game the following year where he went out and struck out 15 against the St Louis Browns. Just two years after matching Dizzy Dean’s record, Feller set a new record when he struck out 18 against the Detroit Tigers. That record remained intact for over 31 years before it was beaten in 1969. Feller would go on to win more games than any other pitcher in Cleveland Indians history and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962. Which was a great honor especially because it was the first year he became eligible.