America’s pastime: Top 5 moments from July 4th

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From a famous speech that has echoed for decades to a crazy slugfest at Coors Field, baseball has had its share of memorable moments on July Fourth. Here’s a look back at some of the all-time moments of the day.

  1. GEHRIG’S FAREWELL: Delivering one of the most hallowed speeches in sports history, Lou Gehrig spoke between games of a New York Yankees doubleheader with the Washington Senators on July 4, 1939. It came two weeks after he retired, having been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Gehrig played only eight games that season, driving in one run and hitting .143.

The “Luckiest Man” speech has been played countless times.

  1. RAGS’ NO-NO: Forty-four years after Gehrig retired, Dave Righetti provided a July Fourth highlight for the Yankees, pitching a no-hitter against rival Boston. It was the first no-hitter by New York since Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series and the first by a Yankees left-hander since 1917. Righetti got the final out by striking out Wade Boggs, much to the delight of owner George Steinbrenner, who was celebrating his 53rd birthday that day in 1983.

“I did it on the right day, I guess. I guess they replay it every year in New York,” said Righetti, now the pitching coach for the San Francisco Giants. “I haven’t watched it in years. My family watches it. It’s funny. If I go outside and walk anywhere and am recognized, it comes up 95 percent of the time.”

  1. FIREWORKS AT 4 A.M.: One of the greatest games played on July Fourth didn’t end until almost 4 a.m. the next morning because the New York Mets needed 19 innings to beat the Atlanta Braves 16-13 on a rainy night in 1985. Dwight Gooden started and Ron Darling finally closed it out for the Mets.

“So many guys had been used and there was only a few of us left on the field coming in, and my memory is of the most jubilant clubhouse other than postseason that I’ve ever been in,” Darling said. “Budweiser beer cans and Chick-Fil-A wrappers everywhere. That’s all I can remember.”

  1. SLUGFEST AT COORS FIELD: Fans crammed into the ballpark to see the postgame fireworks — but the show started early. Colorado staged the biggest comeback in franchise history, rallying from nine runs down to beat the Florida Marlins 18-17 in 2008. The Rockies hit six homers and Chris Iannetta singled home the winning run off Kevin Gregg in the ninth inning. The teams combined for 43 hits, 21 for extra bases, and eight home runs. Soon after he was removed from the game, Colorado slugger Troy Tulowitzki slammed his bat into the ground and the splintered end sliced his right palm. The All-Star shortstop required 16 stitches.

  2. TIRED ARMS: Hall of Famers Rube Waddell and Cy Young locked up in a pitchers’ duel for 19 innings in 1905 before the Philadelphia Athletics scored twice in the 20th for a 4-2 win. Waddell gave up two runs in the first, then pitched 19 scoreless innings. Young also went the distance. Waddell’s day wasn’t done, either. He came back to get the final two outs in the second game of the doubleheader.

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