Throwback Thursday: Sports Edition

When I looked into different events to pull from for this week’s Throwback Thursday, I couldn’t help but notice, in the world of sport, this was a week of moments. I’m not talking about your average “historical fact” or “thrilling OT game”, either. I’m talking about moments celebrating individuals who epitomized the highest level of success in their respective fields. Individuals who share the dichotomy of triumph and tragedy in each of their respective stories. Here’s this week’s Throwback Thursday:

 

Back on April 6th, 1973, the Pirates season began with a somber tribute. One of the baseball’s classiest men and biggest trailblazers, Roberto Clemente, passed in a tragic plane crash on New Year’s Eve in the offseaosn. The Buccos immediately retired Clemente’s number, and held a ceremony before the season and home opener at Three Rivers Stadium. The Bucs found themselves down with 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th inning, but Roberto must have been watching over them that day. The Pirates rallied to beat the Cardinals 7-5 in a game that reflected the spirit of the man being celebrated.

Fast forward to 2001. the Pirates were immortalizing another legend of the game, when on April 7th, the organization unveiled the bronze Willie Stargell statue outside of the brand new PNC Park. The man known with love as “Pops” took his rightful place where his beloved Pirates would be playing in the foreseeable future. The unveiling was rushed due to opening day looming, however Stargell couldn’t make the trip due to an undisclosed illness. Two days later, on opening day, tragedy struck. The same man being immortalized on one of the biggest days in Pirates history, had passed away at the age of 61.

On the lighter side of things (but don’t tell this man that), professional wrestling legend Bruno Sammartino was finally inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on April 6th, 2013. This may seem like a no-brainer to the Steel City, however Sammartino and WWE (formerly known as WWF) were not on speaking terms for decades due to personal issues between Bruno and WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. Arguably the biggest draw in professional wrestling history was being blacklisted from professional wrestling’s most recognized hall of fame. To put Sammartino’s popularity in perspective, the world famous Madison Square Garden has also been called, “The House That Bruno Built”. (Ok, just imagine Beyonce being blacklisted from Top 40 radio. Got it? Good. Let’s move on.) After several conversations with McMahon’s son-in-law and other WWE officials, Sammartino and McMahon finally mended fences in 2012, and Bruno took his rightful place in the 2013 Hall of Fame ceremony. Poetically, at Madison Square Garden.

 

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