History Matters

Published 8:00 am Sunday, January 8, 2023

A biweekly feature courtesy of

The Grateful American Book Prize

Showing our children that their past is prelude to their future

by John Grimaldi and David Bruce Smith

January 1 to January 15

On January 5, 1920, George Herman Ruth— “The Babe”—was sold by the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees for $125,000—or approximately $2 Million in today’s currency.

The announcement fevered up the baseball fans in Boston. Ruth was a legend, who had guided his home team through three World Series wins.

“The deal paid off—in spades—for New York, as Ruth went on to smash his own home run record in 1920, hitting 54 home runs,” according to History.com. “He connected for 59 homers in 1921, dominating the game and increasing Yankee revenues to the point that the team was able to leave the Polo Grounds (shared with the New York Giants baseball team) and build Yankee Stadium, which opened in 1923 and became known as “the house that Ruth built.”

The Grateful American Book Prize recommends The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth by Leigh Montville.

###

 

Wildcatters started drilling for Texas oil during the last of the 1800s, but the first major gusher wasn’t discovered until January 10, 1901, at Spindletop Hill near Beaumont, Texas. The crude soared high and wide, flowing at an initial rate of more than 100,000 barrels each day.

It took nine days to cap the well.

“Following the discovery, petroleum, which until that time had been used in the U.S. primarily as a lubricant and in kerosene for lamps, would become the main fuel source for new inventions such as cars and airplanes; coal-powered forms of transportation including ships and trains would also convert to the liquid fuel,” says History.com.

It was the beginning of the world’s first trillion-dollar industry.

The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Giant Under the Hill: A History of the Spindletop Oil Discovery at Beaumont, Texas, in 1901 by Jo Stiles, Judith Walker Linsley and Ellen Walker Rienstra.

###

On January 15th, the nation will celebrate the birth of Michael Luther King Jr. His father, Michael Senior, apparently got inspired by the German protestant reformer, Martin Luther, changed his name–and his son’s– to Martin Luther King. Each morphed into civil rights reformers.

Martin Luther King, Jr., was a compassionate, intelligent person who skipped grades nine through 12, and–in 1944–enrolled in Morehouse College, according to History.com. He earned his “divinity degree from Pennsylvania’s Crozer Theological Seminary [then] attended graduate school at Boston University, where he received his Ph.D. degree in 1955 … on May 17, 1957, before a crowd estimated at between 15,000 and 30,000, King delivered his first national address on the topic of voting rights. His speech, in which he urged America to ‘give us the ballot,’ drew strong reviews and positioned him at the forefront of the civil rights leadership.”

The night before King’s April 4, 1968, murder in Memphis, he addressed the congregation at the Mason Temple Church. “Like anybody,” he said, “I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now … I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not go there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. And I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

The Grateful American Book Prize recommends The Trumpet of Conscience by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.