The Fourth of July is all about celebrating America’s independence. In the world of sports, this American holiday has also provided some of the most memorable moments.
Here are the five best sports moments on Independence Day.
5. Nolan Ryan’s 3000th Strikeout
On July 4, 1980, Hall-of-Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan recorded his 3,000th career strikeout. Ryan’s milestone came in his first season as a member of the Houston Astros. At the time, Ryan became only the fourth player in MLB history to reach the 3K club. Pitching until the age of 46, Ryan finished his career with 5,714 strikeouts, which is the most in MLB history. Ryan remains the only pitcher to ever toss more than 5,000 strikeouts in his career.
4. Richard Petty’s Final Win
On July 4, 1984, the consensus greatest Nascar driver of all-time, Richard Petty, crossed the finish line first for the last time in his career at the Daytona “Firecracker 400.” The race was also the first time a sitting president attended a NASCAR race, as Ronald Reagan was in attendance.
The victory marked Petty’s 200th of his career, and although he continued to race until 1992, it marked his final victory. Petty was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010 and still holds the record for most wins in NASCAR history.
3. Dave Righetti’s No-Hitter
On July 4, 1983, New York Yankees pitcher Dave Righetti no-hit theBoston Red Sox, snapping a franchise no-hit drought of 27 years. Righetti recorded the no-hitter at home, in a 4-0 victory over their arch-nemesis.
It was the first Yankees no-hitter since Don Larsen’s in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. It would take another decade before the Yankees added another no-hitter to the history books when pitcher Jim Abbott no-hit the Cleveland Indians in 1993. Interestingly enough, Abbott’s no-hitter resulted in the same final score as Righetti’s, 4-0.
2. John McEnroe Wins First Wimbledon Title
It was a changing of the guard in the world of tennis, and McEnroe’s second Grand Slam title of his career. The future Hall-of-Famer would go on to win Wimbledon two more times, but it was this moment that made McEnroe a household name in the sport.
1. Lou Gehrig Retires
On July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig uttered a statement of immortality when he said, “Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.” After being diagnosed with ALS, Gehrig’s number was retired on Old Timer’s Day and the Hall-of-Famer gave a famous speech saying farewell to the game.
One of the biggest moments in sports history, the legendary first baseman’s positive and brave attitude towards a terminal diagnosis still provides inspiration to this day. Although Gehrig passed away just a few years later, his contributions to this world will never be forgotten.