Good News in History, February 2

145 years ago today, the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs was formed. The older of the two leagues that make up Major League Baseball (MLB) in the U.S. and Canada, it is the oldest professional team sports league still in existence in the world.

The American League, was founded 25 years later and after much consternation they agreed to recognize each other as major leagues. They drafted rules and each established a team in New York City, and they decided to compete against each other (beginning in the Fall of 1903) in a championship tournament—the first “World Series”. (1876)

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • New York City—first called New Amsterdam—became an official incorporated city (1653)
  • Robinson Crusoe was inspired by this day’s rescue of a shipwrecked man from a desert island (1709)
  • The Knights of Columbus formed in New Haven, Connecticut (1882)
  • Ulysses by James Joyce was published (1922)
  • A dog’s sled reached Nome, Alaska, with an urgently needed diphtheria serum, which later inspired the Iditarod race (1925)

And, 78 years ago today, Nazi forces were finally defeated at the Battle of Stalingrad— the turning point of World War II and the largest and bloodiest battle in all of world history.

2.2 million soldiers were involved, with up to 2 million killed, wounded or captured. After five months of combat in the frigid Soviet winter, the remaining Germans were not only starving and frostbitten, but running out of ammunition, yet Hitler forbade them to surrender. A handful of bitter senior officers were taken to Moscow and joined the National Committee for a Free Germany, signing anti-Hitler statements that were broadcast to German troops. (1943)

2014 Photo by Eric Draper, public domain

Happy birthday to singer / songwriter Graham Nash, who turns 79 today. The English performer formerly of The Hollies is best known for his contributions to the folk-rock supergroup Crosby, Stills Nash & Young. A citizen of both the UK and United States, and author of ‘Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life’, he still records and performs. For instance, Nash releasing a new album in 2016 called, This Path Tonight. (1942)

Photo by David Shankbone, CC license

Happy Birthday to Christie Brinkley who turns 67 today. She gained worldwide fame as a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model in the late 1970s—appearing on an unprecedented three consecutive covers. She spent 25 years as the face of CoverGirl and appeared on over 500 magazine covers and is a lifelong vegetarian. (1954)

And, 31 years ago today, the president of South Africa delivered the speech that marked the beginning of his dismantling of apartheid.

Photo of de Klerk in 1990, by Walter Rutishauser / Bibliothek am Guisanplatz_Sammlung Rutishauser, CC license

In a televised speech to the opening of Parliament, F.W. de Klerk lifted a 30-year political ban against the African National Congress and other groups, freeing them to resume their political activities against white minority rule. And he also vowed to free ANC leader Nelson Mandela from prison. He announced a moratorium on the death penalty, a restoration of some press freedoms, and eased up on a decade-old national state of emergency.

Nine days later Nelson Mandela walked out of prison after 27 years and resumed the leadership of the ANC, which attended bilateral talks with the De Klerk government just three months later. Nobel Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu said of the moment, “He has taken my breath away.” (1990)

And, 45 years ago today, Genesis released A Trick Of The Tail, their seventh studio album, but the first one to feature drummer Phil Collins as full-time lead vocalist two years after the sudden departure of their theatrical singer Peter Gabriel.

After listening to over 400 audition tapes from vocalists, the band entered the studio without a clear idea of who would be their next front man. And, a sort of miracle happened. Although Collins taught the leading candidates some of the songs, no one proved to be a stand-out, so the band let him have a go at singing Squonk. The performance was so strong that he took over as lead on the rest of album, and having been trained as a child actor, proved to be a wonderful replacement at center stage. Genesis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010 which included Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins, and Steve Hackett, along with Peter Gabriel. (1976)

WATCH a clip of interviews with the band about the making of A Trick Of The Tail.

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