(Pictured: George Brett, second from right, is restrained by umpires after being called out in what will be known as the Pine Tar Game.)
July 24, 1983, is a Sunday. The nation is suffering through a record heat wave. Over 80 people have died so far, 38 of them in St. Louis. A front-page story in the New York Times says that the Pentagon wants to double the number of military advisors assisting rebels trying to overthrown the government of Nicaragua. The State Department says 90 Russians have been expelled from Western countries for spying so far this year. The Times continues to cover the aftermath of the recent Diana Ross concert in Central Park. On Thursday night, Ross attracted a crowd estimated at up to 400,000, but her show was cut short by a severe thunderstorm. After the rescheduled Friday night performance, what the Times calls “bands of roving youths” robbed and harassed departing concertgoers and other people in the park. Attacks were reported in Columbus Circle and Times Square, and the famed restaurant Tavern on the Green was “invaded.”
In sports, George Brett of the Kansas City Royals hits a two-run home run in the top of the ninth to give the Royals a 5-4 lead over the Yankees in New York. But Brett is called out and the home run erased when the umpires rule that Brett’s bat has too much pine tar on it. (Pine tar is a sticky substance used to improve a player’s grip; there’s a rule about how far up the bat pine tar can extend.) Brett is the third out, so the Yankees win the game. The Royals protest the ruling. American League officials will side with them, counting the home run and ordering that the game be resumed in the top of the ninth. That won’t happen until August 18, after two lawsuits and an injunction, with the Royals winning 5-4. Tim Richmond wins the NASCAR Like Cola 500. Laurent Fignon of France wins the Tour de France.
On TV tonight, CBS airs 60 Minutes and two episodes of One Day at a Time along with The Jeffersons, Newhart, and Trapper John, M.D. NBC has the adventure series Voyagers!, an episode of Six Pack, starring Don Johnson as a race car driver who befriends a group of orphans, and the TV movie Sex and the Married Woman. ABC’s night opens with Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, followed by Matt Houston and the made-for-TV movie Rooster, starring Paul Williams and Pat McCormick as mismatched detectives. HBO airs a concert special starring Billy Joel. Jaws 3D tops the movie box office for the weekend; last week’s box-office champ, the Saturday Night Fever sequel Staying Alive, drops to #2; Return of the Jedi is #3. Other new movies opening this weekend include Class, a younger-man/older woman comedy starring Rob Lowe and Jacqueline Bisset, and Mr. Mom starring Michael Keaton. Opening next weekend: National Lampoon’s Vacation.
Meat Loaf plays Poughkeepsie, New York, ZZ Top opens a two-night stand in New Haven, Connecticut, and Blue Oyster Cult plays Pasadena. Duran Duran plays Birmingham, England and Journey plays Phoenix. The Little River Band plays Roanoke, Virginia, Steve Winwood plays Costa Mesa, California, and a triple bill starring Iron Maiden, Saxon, and Fastway plays Houston. One day after headlining an all-day bill at Comiskey Park in Chicago with the Fixx, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Simple Minds, Ministry, and A Flock of Seagulls, the Police move on to St. Louis.
At WKTI in Milwaukee, the Police hit “Every Breath You Take” and “1999” by Prince hold at #1 and #2 on the station survey. “Our House” by Madness zooms from #10 to #3; that’s the biggest jump on the survey, although “Maniac” by Michael Sembello is also up seven spots, from #25 to #18. Two songs are new within the Top 10: “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” by Michael Jackson at #8 and “Harden My Heart” by Quarterflash at #9. Four songs debut on the station’s Top 30; the highest is “Human Touch” by Rick Springfield at #26.
Perspective From the Present: I wish I could remember exactly how The Mrs. and I, married less than four months, spent this particular Sunday. Watching the Cubs on TV maybe, or maybe back in my hometown for the county fair, which would have been going on that weekend. We were on the threshold of change, but we didn’t know it yet. We had jobs we liked, a roof over our heads, Like Cola in our fridge—and the unconscious optimism of newlyweds everywhere, sure that everything would work out for the good, somehow, because why wouldn’t it?