1. 1921: First Miss America pageant
It was on this date in 1921 that the first Miss America pageant was held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It originally started as a marketing ploy to attract tourists to extend their Labor Day weekend, but has since morphed into a global phenomenon. There were said to be around 1,500 photograph entries sent from females all over the country. There were cash prizes for the winners, but the ultimate prize was the Golden Mermaid Award presented to the overall winner. It originally went under the name Atlantic City’s Inter-City Beauty Contest and it was slightly different than the Miss America pageants we see today. The winners were determined not only by the judges, but the public counted as 50% of the final score. In the end, the winner was Margaret Gorman representing Washington D.C. She would come back to compete for the following year but because Washington D.C. had already selected another contested to represent the area it was decided that she would be able to compete but under the title of Miss America.
2. 1974: The Nixon pardon
President Gerald Ford issued a presidential pardon to his predecessor, Richard Nixon, for any involvement in the Watergate Scandal that took place in 1972. Ford had become U.S. President almost immediately following Nixon’s resignation from the highest office in the land. Nixon had been accused by Congress of obstruction of justice during the investigations looking into potential wiretaps and illegal break-ins. There ended up being White House audio recordings revealing that Nixon was well aware of the wrongdoings that took place at the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate Hotel in Washington D.C. To save himself, and maybe his country some embarrassment, Nixon decided to resign from office rather than facing impeachment on August 8, 1974. President Ford’s decision to offer the full pardon to Nixon was not very popular with the public. He claimed his reasoning was to prevent a long and drawn-out trial that would continue to bring shame to our nation, and that he wanted to put the disruptive scandal behind us all. Many people feel as if this ended up costing Ford his potential re-election in 1976.
3. 1998: Mark McGwire break Roger Maris’ record
It was on this date in 1998 that Major League Baseball history was made when St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire hit his shortest home run of the season that also happened to be his 62nd on the year. This broke the record of 61 held by Roger Maris for 27 years at that point. That was one of the best years in baseball, Sammy Sosa who played for the Chicago Cubs was also on pace to break the record so he and McGwire had gone back and forth all year long swapping the title of home run leader. When McGwire hit his 62nd they were actually playing the Cubs and Sosa was still was hung up on 58. By the end of the season, Sosa had also beaten the record and set his own by finishing with 66 on the year. McGwire however, kept on swinging and managed to pull in 5 homers in his last 3 games bringing him to a total of 70 on the year. It was believed by many that his record of 70 would last even longer than Maris’ did. Turns out it was only three years later, San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds went out and hit 73.