HistoryBuff.com September 2011 Newsletter
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So-called Handicapped Professional Sports Players

Seeing the recent movie Soul Surfer started me to conduct research to see if there are any other so-called handicapped people that accomplished remarkable feats. Hereís what I found.

Erik Weihenmayer was born on born September 23, 1968 and lost his vision capabilities when he was thirteen-years-old. A former middle-school teacher and wrestling coach, he became the first blind person to climb all of the Seven Summits, the highest peaks on each of the seven continents: North America's Mt. McKinley (1995), Africa's Kilimanjaro (1997), South America's Aconcagua (1999), Antarctica's Mt. Vinson (2000), Asia's Mt. Everest (2001), Europe's Mt. Elbrus (2002), and Australia's Kosciusko (2002). He has also scaled the 3000 foot vertical rock face of El Capitan and the 3000 foot ice face of Polar Circus in the Canadian Rockies. In 2005, he was also the first disabled athlete to participate in the 1,161-mile Iditarod Trail Sled in Alaska.

Usually, most professional basketball players are tall - at least 6 foot, but likely much taller. The odds of high school and college basketball players making it into the National Basketball Association (NBA) are estimated being 40 to ten million against it - and thatís for players over six-foot in height. Despite the odds, three players well under six-foot made it into the NBA.

The first was Anthony "Spud" Webb. He was five-foot seven. He played in the NBA for twelve seasons. He had an amazing forty-two inch vertical jump and won victory at the 1986 NBA Slam Dunk Championship where he defeated many high-flying artists that were more than a foot taller than him, including Atlanta Hawks teammate Dominique Wilkins.

Earl Boykins, only 5 feet, 5 inches, is now in his eighth season playing in the NBA. He is a point guard for the Denver Nuggets, and is the NBA leading scorer off the bench.

The very shortest to play in the NBA is Tyrone "Mugsy" Bogues. He is only five-foot, three inches. Aside from being the all-time shortest NBA player, Bogues was also the shortest to be able to DUNK the ball.

The odds of high school or collage baseball players making it into the playing professional baseball are quite huge. It is hard enough to make it into the MLB with both arms, but a few players with only one arm made it into the major leagues and that was before they could order custom baseball gloves from HomerunMonkey.com to help them play with their disability.

One was Peter Gray, although he was born with two arms, in a farming accident when he was six-years-old, he had to have his right arm amputated - and he was right-handed. Gray's enthusiasm for baseball led him to learn to bat and field one-handed, catching the ball in his glove and then quickly removing his glove and transferring the ball to his hand in one motion. He played in the outfield. His primary professional career was during World War II.

Jim Abbott was born in 1967 with no right arm. Despite this, he was a pitcher in the major leagues. Jim played for ten seasons on four different teams and ended his big league playing career in 1999. In his first season as a professional he won more games as a rookie than any other previous player without Major League experience.


War is Hell

General William T. Sherman is credited with making the statement: "War is Hell" during the American Civil War. While there is certainly truth to this statement, usually the rate of technology improvements arise out of war. The American Civil War is responsible for many firsts in American warfare and history. Some examples include:

  • Railroad artillery
  • A successful submarine
  • "snorkel" breathing device
  • The periscope for trench warfare
  • Land-mine fields
  • Field trenches on a grand scale
  • Flame throwers
  • Wire entrapments
  • Military telegraph
  • Naval torpedoes
  • Aerial reconnaissance
  • Anti-aircraft fire
  • Repating rifles
  • Telescopic sights for rifles
  • Long-range rifles for general use
  • Fixed ammunition
  • Ironclad navies
  • A steel ship
  • Revolving gun turrets
  • Military railroads
  • Organized medical and nursing corps
  • Hospital ships
  • Army ambulance corps
  • A workable machine gun
  • Legal voting for servicemen
  • U. S. Secret Service
  • The income tax
  • Withholding tax
  • Toabcco tax
  • Cigarette tax
  • American conscription
  • American bread lines
  • The Medal of Honor
  • A wide-ranging corps for press correspondents in battle areas
  • Photography of battles
  • The bugle call "Taps"
  • First Negro U. S. Army officer (Major M. R. Delany)
  • American president assassinated
  • Department of Justice (Confederate)
  • Commissioned American Army chaplains
  • U. S. Navy admiral
  • Electrically exploded bombs and torpedoes
  • The wigwag signal code in battle
  • Wide-scale use of anesthetics for wounded
  • Organized aerial psychological warfare (Dropping of Lincoln's Amnesty Proclamation behind Southern lines.)
  • Camouflage outfits
  • Smoke screen for warfare
  • "Aircraft" carrier (for transporting balloons)
  • Flares


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    August Contest

    CONTEST ONE QUESTION: Four governors of New York went on to be elected president of the United States. Which ones?

    ANSWER: The first 24-hours the August newsletter was online, the question mistakenly only asked for two governors. The question was corrected to four governors. Therefore, for the first day, I accepted any two as correct. After that, I only accepted these four as correct: Martin Van Buren, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt

    CONTEST TWO QUESTION:Of the fifty United States, only one does not have a National Park. Which one?

    ANSWER: Delaware

    Forty-four people entered the contests. Seventeen entries were disqualified due to an incorrect subject heading, incorrect answer or failed to select the prize they wanted if they won. One prize was not awarded.

    The August Contest Winners Were:
    • Woodrow W. Pea - California
    • Tod Forman - Massachusetts
    • Susan Gill - New York
    • Linda Hill - Georgia
    • Carol Wetzel - Virginia

    This Issue's Questions:

    To enter Contest One, answer the question:

    Who was the first president that was inaugurated in Washington, DC?

    To enter Contest Two, answer the question: Where and when was the first World's Fair held in the United States?

    Contest Rules

    • Contest entry deadline is Saturday, Saturday 17, 2011. Later entries will be disqualified. Winners will be notified by email within 72 hours after the contest deadline. Winners' names and states will be published in the next issue of the HistoryBuff.com newsletter.

    • To enter Contest One or Contest Two, email your answer to curator at historyreference.org

    • To enter Contest One, use "Contest One Entry" for the emailed contest entry subject heading and answer the Contest One question. Any other subject heading will be disqualified.

    • To enter Contest Two, use "Contest Two Entry" for the emailed contest entry subject heading and answer the Contest Two question. Any other subject heading will be disqualified.

    • Subscribers may enter both contests, but only win one prize.

    • If entering both contests, entries must be sent in separate emails.

    • If answering the Contest One question, there is no need to specify the prize you want if you win.

    • If answering the Contest Two question, select one prize you want if you win from the Contest Two prize list.

    • From subscribers entering the contest, submitting the correct answer, correct subject heading, submission received by the deadline, as well as advising which ONE contest prize they want to win, SEVEN will be selected to win ONE of the contest prizes below.

    • Subscribers to this newsletter that won a prize in my trivia contests in the last 90 days are ineligible to win.
    September Contest One Prize

    Collection of 10 Kids/Family movies

    When Zachary Beaver Came to Town, Big Foot, Bigfoot 2, Treasure Hunters, and 6 more

    September Contest Two Prize List

    (Select ONE of the prizes below if entering Contest Two)

    Boston Daily Advertiser historic newspaper from 1861

    Daily Morning Chronicle (Washington City) historic newspaper from 1868

    National Daily Republican historic newspaper from 1871
    That's it for this issue.

    Rick Brown

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