Tiger Hoak was a major league third baseman who played for ten seasons beginning in the mid-1950s; his baseball career followed a stint as a professional boxer that ended after being knocked out in seven straight matches. His biggest claim to fame may have been his writing about a game that took place on January 22, 1951.
Before signing on with the majors in the United States, Hoak played for one season in Cuba with the Winter Baseball League. Hoak described one of those Cuban games in an article “The Day I Batted Against Castro.”
According to Hoak, Castro and some friends commandeered the park where Hoak’s team was playing. Castro was a law student at the University of Havana at the time and a player on an intramural baseball team. Castro took the pitcher’s mound, and after some warmup pitches, turned to face batter Hoak. Castro shouted out something in Spanish that translated to “die, American imperialist pig” or perhaps “batter up.” Castro’s pitches were wild, and Hoak was no doubt thinking at the time “I hope this guy’s never in charge of missiles or anything.” Castro grazed Hoak’s head a couple of times, then beaned him. Hoak turned to the umpire and said, “Get that idiot out of the game!” The umpire spoke to some park policemen, who in turn marched Castro off the field.
Hoak went onto the U.S. majors, and Castro went on to the really big Cuban majors, taking over the government in 1959. In 1960, Castro had his revenge when he outlawed all professional sports, including the Cuban Winter Baseball League.
No, You’re Other West
Doglas Corrigan, born on January 22, 1907, was an American aviator. In 1938, he bought a fixer-upper airplane and rebuilt it himself. Then in July of that year he flew nonstop from California to New York. This wasn’t a first by any means; he only got national attention because no one thought his clunker would make it.
In New York, he filed flight plans for a transatlantic trip but was denied permission by aviation authorities. They did grudgingly give him permission for a return trip to California, and once again he took to the air. Twenty-eight hours later he touched down in Dublin, Ireland, expressing surprise that it didn’t look much like California. When advised of his actual location, he aw shucksed a story about getting confused in the clouds with a bum compass.
No one believed it, and he was grounded and shipped back to the states along with his plane. But “Wrong Way” Corrigan had become a national celebrity.
Your Feet’s Too Big
Sir Walter Raleigh, born on January 22, 1552, was what you might call an English dabbler He colonized, soldiered, explored, spied, wrote poetry, played at politics, and pushed tobacco. He was a favorite courtier of Queen Elizabeth I because, as legend has it, he spread his coat over a puddle so she wouldn’t get her feet wet. He was executed in 1618 by James I, perhaps because he didn’t spread his coat over a puddle so the king wouldn’t get his feet wet.