6thThe most famous baseball player of all-time ‘Babe’ Ruth was born in 1895, as George Herman Ruth. Originally a pitcher, he went on to become the greatest batter in the history of the game, and helped establish the New York Yankees as one of the top teams in the 1930s. He scored 2174 runs and 714 home runs during his career. Former England football captain Billy Wright was born in 1924. The first man to win 100 international caps, he captained England a record 90 times (later equalled by Bobby Moore). Former fast bowler Fred Trueman was born in 1931. The first man to take 300 Test wickets, he played for England 67 times. In 1932, the first Olympic Dog Sled race took place, as a demonstration sport in Lake Placid. Adolf Hitler opened the 4th Winter Olympics at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany today in 1936. This day in 1958 was one of the blackest in British football history, when eight members of the Manchester United team moulded by Matt Busby perished in an air crash at Munich Airport. Busby’s ‘Babes’ were on their way home after beating Red star Belgrade to reach the semi-final of the European Cup when their BEA Elizabethan crashed on take-off after refuelling at Munich. In 1961 footballer Danny Blanchflower became the first person to refuse to appear on This Is Your Life. Paris and London agree to build a rail tunnel under the English Channel on this day in 1964. Stanley Matthews played his last Football League game in 1965, at the age of 50 years and six days. The 10th Winter Olympic Games were opened in Grenoble, France on this day in 1968. Today in 1971, Apollo 14 astronaut Alan Shepard became the first man to play golf on the moon, using a ball and golf club head he had smuggled on board inside his space suit. He hit two balls just before lift-off, and drove them, as he put it, “miles and miles and miles”. Major Anthony Peter Roylance “Tony” Rolt, died today in 2008, aged 89. He was a British racing driver, soldier and engineer. A war hero, Major Rolt MC maintained a long connection with the sport, albeit behind the scenes. The Ferguson 4WD project he was involved in paid off with spectacular results, and he was involved in other engineering projects. At his death, he was the longest surviving participant of the first ever World Championship Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1950. He was one of the last pre-war winners remaining too – he won the 1939 British Empire Trophy, aged just 20 in 1939 – this was after he started his career in 1935, as a 16 year old, in a 3-wheeler Morgan in speed trials. He won the 1953 24 Hours of Le Mans and participated in three Formula One World Championship Grands Prix.


7th In 1818 the first successful US educational magazine, Academician, begins publication in New York City. Today in 1914 Charlie Chaplin debuts ‘The Tramp’ in Kid Auto Races at Venice. Gerald Davies, one of the finest all-round rugby players, was born in 1945. His acceleration and sidesteps were as fine as any seen in the game and were a major factor in the success of the Welsh international side in the 1970s. He played for Wales 46 times and scored a then record 20 tries. He also toured with the Lions in 1968 and 1971. On this day in 1964 Cassius Clay converts to Islam and is renamed Muhammad Ali. Top German swimmer Kristin Otto was born in 1965. At Seoul in 1988 she set a women’s Olympic record by winning six gold medals, just one short of Mark Spitz’s the all-time record haul at one Games. She took gold in the 100m freestyle, butterfly and backstroke, 50m freestyle and 4x100m freestyle and medley relays. Previously she had won seven gold medals at the World Championships in 1982 and 1986. Two women made history today in 1976 when Joan Bazely made history at Croydon, Surrey, by becoming the first women to referee a football match between two male teams (namely Croydon Old Boys and Saints Athletics) and Diana Thorne became the first woman jockey to win under National Hunt Rules on Ben Ruler at Stratford. Ill-health forced Bob Paisley to quit the Liverpool Board of Directors in 1992, ending a relationship with the club that had lasted since he joined them as a player, from Bishop Auckland in 1939. He had to wait until after the war before making his debut. A successful playing career was followed by a stint on the coaching staff and, in 1974, the call to replace Bill Shankly as manager. Paisley went on to become one of the most successful managers in English football. Today in 1995 saw the last day Test Cricket for both Graham Gooch and Mike Gatting. The 18th Winter Olympic Games opened today at Nagano, Japan in 1998. Today in 2005 Britain’s Ellen MacArthur sailed into record books when she completed her single-handed round-the-world voyage in record-breaking time. She crossed the finish line beating the previous mark set by Francis Joyon of 72 days, 22 hours, 54 mins and 22 secs. The Isle of Wight-based yachtswoman completed the 27,000-mile voyage in 71 days and under 15 hours. After achieving the record time, MacArthur said: “I feel exhausted but I’m elated to be here.”She added: “It has been an unbelievable journey. “The whole voyage has been very draining, and there’s a lot of things going round in my head. “But it’s great that I can finally switch my brain off and relax in the company of others, which I’ve really missed.” Two months later she became the youngest person to date to receive a damehood. On this day in 2014 the 22nd Winter Olympic Games opened at Sochi in Russia.


8thJules Verne, one of the first writers of science fiction was born today in 1828. Top Italian showjumper Raimondo d’Inzeo was born in 1925. World Champion in 1956 and 1960, he also won the Olympic title on Posillipo in 1960. On this day in 1948 the 5th Winter Olympic Games came to a close in St Moritz, Switzerland. On this day in 1983, the 1981 Derby winner Shergar was kidnapped from his stables in County Kildare. The horse was owned by the Aga Khan. The unidentified kidnappers – numbering at least six – told head groom James Fitzgerald they would telephone a ransom demand. His trainer Michael Stoute said: “Shergar was the best horse I have ever trained and I only hope to God nothing happens to him.” Nicknamed “Shergar the wonder-horse”, he had been valued by Lloyds of London at £10 million at stud and carried an insurance premium of £300,000 when he was in competition. A bay colt with a distinctive white blaze, Shergar was named European Horse of the Year in 1981 and retired from racing that September. The police instigated a nationwide hunt and a ransom of £2million was phoned a few days later. By the end of the day the ransom had dropped to £40,000, the equivalent of £1,000 for each of the 40 stakes in the horse.All the shareholders refused to pay the money because they wanted to deter future kidnappings. Numerous hoax calls and false alarms were received by the police and media about sightings of Shergar, dead and alive. Insurers refused to pay out without evidence of the horse’s death. Shergar has never been found and his kidnappers have never been officially identified. Most evidence points to the involvement of the IRA. Sean O’Callaghan, a former IRA member turned informer, later wrote in his book The Informer that the horse had been killed by his abductors soon after he was taken because they were unable to handle him. O’Callaghan said the IRA had demanded a £5m ransom from the Aga Khan that was never met.  In 1984 the 14th Winter Olympic Games opened in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. Michael Gross swims an 800m freestyle world record of 7:38.75 in 1985. The 16th Winter Olympic Games were opened in Albertville, France on this day in 1992. Kapil Dev set a world record for Test cricket wickets with 432 on this day in 1994. The first female ice hockey game in Olympic history took place today in 1998 when Finland beat Sweden6-0. In 2002 the 19th Winter Olympic Games were opened at Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. On this day in 2014 Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjørndalen equals the Winter Olympic medal record with 13 medals.  He is also the most successful biathlete of all time at the Biathlon World Championships, having won 44 medals, double that of any other biathlete. With 95  World Cup wins, Bjørndalen is ranked first all-time for career victories on the Biathlon World Cup tour, more than twice that of anyone else but Martin Fourcade. He has won the Overall World Cup title six times, in 1997–98, in 2002–03, in 2004–05, in 2005–06, in 2007–08 and in 2008–09, more than any other male biathlete and the same as female record holder Magdalena Forsberg.


9th Back in 1540 the first recorded horserace meeting in England took place at Chester’s Roodee Fields. Today in 1895 William G. Morgan invents a new game – Mintonette. Morgan was born in New York in 1870. He met James Naismith at Springfield College in Massachusetts. Springfield began as a training centres for Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) professionals. The college opened in 1885. Naismith was a faculty member there and most famous for inventing the game of basketball in 1891. Morgan enrolled in 1892 and was impressed by the older man. Morgan moved on to Holyoke and there he invented his new game. Basketball was too vigorous and older men were not able to keep up on the court. Mintonette was a blend of several sports: basketball, baseball, tennis, and handball. Morgan borrowed a tennis net and strung it across the court with the top of the net 78 inches from the floor – which was just above the average man’s head. The court measured 25 x 50 feet and any number of players were permitted. There were nine innings with three serves for each side. The ball travelled across the net after any number of hits. While watching a game, Alfred Halstead remarked on the way the ball went back and forth. The name for the game was changed to reflect that. Volleyball. In 1896, or possibly 1900, Spalding created a special ball for the new game. Rules changed, too. In 1916 the set and spike play was introduced and by 1920 the three hit limit was put into effect. Scoring also changed and a win was granted at 15 points rather than 21 starting in 1917. The game went international in 1900 when Canadians began playing. An international federation was formed in 1947 and the first world championships were held in 1949 for men and 1952 for women. The game was played as a demonstration event in the 1924 Summer Olympics and became officially part of the Games for the 1964 Summer Olympics. The former England cricketer Jim Laker was born on this day in 1922. He spent most of his career with the great Surrey team of the 1950s. In 46 Test appearances for England, Laker took 193 wickets. His most remarkable year was 1956, at Old Trafford he took 19 Australian wickets for 90 runs and at the Oval, for Surrey, he took another 10 wickets in an innings, also against the Australians. Laker died in 1986. Gallacher and Lyle, the Ryder Cup players not the pop group, both enjoy birthdays today. Bernard Gallacher, who was appointed Ryder Cup captain in 1989 in succession to Tony Jacklin, was born in 1949, Sandy Lyle, the first British Open winner for 16 years in 1985, was born in 1958. Lyle went on to become the first British winner of the US Master in 1988. The 9th Winter Olympic Games closed today at Innsbruck, Austria today in 1964. Lotte Friis, Danish swimmer was born on this day in 1988. She finished third in the 1500m freestyle at the European Championships 2008 in Eindhoven she won her first major long course medal. At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, she won bronze in the 800m freestyle competition. At the 2009 World Championships she won silver in the 1500m freestyle competition and gold in the 800m freestyle with the second fastest time ever and a new championship record. At the 2011 World Aquatics Championships in Shanghai Friis won gold in the women’s 1500m freestyle and silver in the women’s 800m freestyle. Friis participated in the women’s 400m freestyle and made it to the final. She ended 5th in the time 4:04.68, which was a new Nordic record. In 1992 Heike Henkel high jumped a female indoor world record of 2.07m. On this day in 1994 Nelson Mandela becomes the first black president of South Africa. Keiko Fukuda died on this day in 2013. She was a Japanese American martial artist. She was the highest-ranked female judoka in history, holding the rank of 9th dan from the Kodokan (2006), and 10th dan from USA Judo (July 2011) and from the United States Judo Federation (USJF) (September 2011), and was the last surviving student of Kanō Jigorō, founder of judo. She was a renowned pioneer of women’s judo, together with her senpai Masako Noritomi, being the first woman promoted to 6th dan (c. 1972). In 2006 the Kodokan promoted Fukuda to 9th dan.  She is also the first and, so far, only woman to have been promoted to 10th dan in the art of judo. After completing her formal education in Japan, Fukuda visited the United States of America to teach in the 1950s and 1960s, and eventually settled there. She continued to teach her art in the San Francisco Bay Area until she died at the age of 99.


10thTennis player Bill Tilden was born in 1893. Tilden was the first US winner of the Wimbledon singles title in 1920. He also won a then record-equalling seven US titles. Today in 1908 Tommy Burns knocked out Jack Palmer in the 4th round to win the heavyweight boxing title.  On this day in 1933 a boxing match held at Madison Square Garden in New York City ends in tragedy. Primo Carnera met Ernie Schaaf in the ring. Primo won the fight with a knockout in the 13th round. Schaaf was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1908. He was taller than most boxers at 6’2″ and weighed 207 lbs. He met future heavyweight champion Max Baer on August 31, 1932. During that fight with 2 seconds left in the final round, Ernie was knocked out cold. It took several minutes to revive him and he suffered from headaches afterwards. He had three intervening fights, two wins and one loss, before getting into the ring with Primo. Ernie took another KO loss and suffered another head injury. He was in a coma and although he underwent immediate surgery, he died three days later. He was 24. Mark Spitz, the swimmer who won seven gold medals at the 1972 Olympics, a record haul at the time, was born on this day in 1950. He won nine Olympic golds during his career and set 26 world records. Australian golfer Greg Norman was born in 1958. Known as the ‘Great White Shark’ Norman won the 1986 British Open aided by a round of 63. He regained the title in 1993. The first Oxford-Cambridge University rugby match, at The Parks, ended in a win for the Dark Blues. The quarter final of the southern section of the 1987 Freight Rover Trophy, between Aldershot and Fulham, was decided by a penalty shoot-out of epic proportions. A score line of 1-1 at the end of extra time was transformed into an 11-10 win for Aldershot, after a British record 28 penalties. In 1992, and exactly two years to the day after losing his title to Buster Douglas, Mike Tyson was found guilty of rape.  The 20th Winter Olympic Games were opened on this day in 2006 at Turin in Italy.


11th Born today in 1800, William Henry Fox Talbot, the photography pioneer, who produced the first book with photographic illustrations – The Pencil of Nature. On this day in 1928 the 2nd Winter Olympic Games opened in St Moritz, Switzerland. John Surtees, the only man to win a world title on two and four wheels was born on this day in 1934. After winning four 500cc and three 350cc motor cycling world titles between 1956 and 1960, Surtees switched to the four-wheeled branch of motor sport. In 1964, driving a Ferrari, he captured the world title. Surtees won six races in 111 starts, including the first victory for Honda in Formula 1, the 1967 Italian Grand Prix. He formed his own team later, but failed to register a win in 118 starts. Today in 1976 British figure skater John Curry won Olympic gold, the first gold in the sport for a British man as well as GB’s first medal at a winter Games for 12 years. Female figure skater Jeanette Altwegg won bronze in 1948 at the St Moritz Games and gold in Oslo in the 1952 Games. Before the winning performance, Britain’s highest place in the men’s figure skating had been fourth. Skating before a crowd of 10,000 in Innsbruck’s Olympic Eisstadion, Curry took to the ice leading the field after the first two stages of the men’s figure skating. His five minute performance was described by The Times as “masterly in its cool beauty of movement”. He executed three immaculate triple jumps, but it was his artistic interpretation of the music that put his performance above those of his rivals. The nine judges awarded him a forest of 5.9s for both technical merit and artistic impression. The Soviet judge was a bit tougher with 5.8 and 5.9 and the Canadian judge gave him two 5.8s. The 26-year-old from Birmingham was showered with carnations as he paused on the ice at the end of his performance to give his mother a wave across the stadium. Another British skater, Robin Cousins, finished 10th and Glyn Jones finished 16th. On 4 March 1976 Curry won the World Championships – the first British man to do so for 37 years. Graham Sharp was the only other Briton to win since the event was first contested in 1896 – but Curry was the first man to take the European, Olympic and World medals in one season. He repeated his Olympic programme – but this time scoring one six for presentation, the other judges awarding 5.9. Once again it was the artistry of his performance which won him the gold medal. He went on to create a company of ice dancers which put on shows like Symphony on Ice at the Albert Hall, the first time the venue had been used for an ice show. Prior to the world championships, John Curry was revealed to be gay by a German tabloid newspaper, Bild-Zeitung. In December 1987 he was diagnosed with HIV. He later spoke openly about his sexuality and the disease and admitted he had had to fight against prejudice in the skating world. He developed Aids and died in 1994. Ellen van Dijk was born today in 1987, a Dutch professional road racing cyclist riding for Team Sunweb. Besides road cycling she was also a track cyclist until 2012. Van Dijk is known as a time trial specialist and is five times world champion. She won her first world title on the track in the scratch race in 2008. She became Road World Champion in 2012, 2013 and 2016 with her respective trade teams in the team time trial and in 2013 also in the individual time trial. In 2015 she won the time trial at the first European Games and the silver medal in the team time trial at the world championships. Van Dijk started as a speed skater and as part of her skating training she undertook cycling as part of cross-training in summer. She excelled at both, competing nationally at junior level. After becoming a national cycling champion for the fifth time in 2007, she quit speed skating and became a full-time cyclist. Along with her world title successes, Van Dijk has also twice been European track champion, twice European time trial champion and has won six World Cup races. In 2012 she competed in three disciplines at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where she helped Marianne Vos win the gold medal in the road race, finished eighth in the time trial and sixth in the team pursuit. On this day in 1995 Britain’s Mark Foster swam a world record time for the 50m butterfly, hitting the timing pads and stopping the clock at 23.55s. Ken Fletcher, Australian tennis player, whose greatest success came in 1963, when he became the only man to win a calendar year Grand Slam in mixed doubles, partnering fellow Australian Margaret Court.  He reached the final of the Australian Open in 1963, losing to Roy Emerson, died at the age of 65 on this day in 2006.


12th Bobby Peel, English professional cricketer who played first-class cricket for Yorkshire between 1883 and 1897 was born on this day in 1857. Primarily a left-arm spin bowler, Peel was also an effective left-handed batsman who played in the middle order. Between 1884 and 1896, he was regularly selected to represent England, playing 20 Test matches in which he took 101 wickets. Over the course of his career, he scored 12,191 runs and took 1,775 wickets in first-class cricket. A match-winning bowler, particularly when conditions favoured his style, Peel generally opened the attack, an orthodox tactic for a spinner at the time, and was highly regarded by critics. Peel began playing for Yorkshire in 1883 but, after a successful debut, was overshadowed in the team by Edmund Peate and often played only a minor role with the ball. Improvements in his batting and his excellence as a fielder kept him in the team and when Peate was sacked for drunkenness in 1887, Peel became Yorkshire’s main spinner. He had already played for England, touring Australia with two professional teams, although he did not play a Test in England until 1888. Over the following years he regularly took over 100 wickets in each season and often played in the prestigious Gentlemen v Players matches. His best season in county cricket came in 1896, when he recorded the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets, and made his highest first-class score of 210. Among his notable feats in Tests, he bowled England to victory after they had followed on in Australia in 1894–95 and took six for 23 in his final Test. The first English cricketer to reach 100 wickets against Australia, in 1894–95 he also became the first player to fail to score in four successive Test innings. As a player, Peel was very popular and admirers often entertained him socially; he became well known for liking alcohol. On the morning of the match that England won after following on, Peel was intoxicated and had to be sobered up. In 1897, he was suspended by Yorkshire for drunkenness during a match. Although it is unclear what exactly happened—Peel said he slipped when fielding, but Hirst later recalled that he came on the field drunk and when asked to leave, bowled a ball in the wrong direction, he never played for the county again. Decades later, a widely circulated story suggested that Peel urinated on the pitch before being sent away. Historians consider the story unlikely, and attribute it to a misunderstanding by its reporter. Peel continued to play and coach cricket for most of his life and in later years became associated with Yorkshire once again. Among his other jobs, he became the landlord of a public house and worked in a mill. He died in 1941 at the age of 84. In 1861 football teams from neighbouring Sheffield and Hallam clubs met at Sheffield to play the first inter-club game of football. The Russian prima ballerina and choreographer Anna Pavlova was born on this day in 1881. She was a principal artist of the Imperial Russian Ballet and the Ballets Russes of Sergei Diaghilev. Pavlova is most recognized for the creation of the role The Dying Swan and, with her own company, became the first ballerina to tour ballet around the world. After leaving Russia, Pavlova moved to London, settling, in 1912, at the Ivy House on North End Road, Golders Green, north of Hampstead Heath, where she lived for the rest of her life. The house had an ornamental lake where she fed her pet swans, and where now stands a statue of her by the Scots sculptor George Henry Paulin. The house was featured in the film Anna Pavlova. It is now the London Jewish Cultural Centre, but a blue plaque marks it as a site of significant historical interest being Pavlova’s home. While in London, Pavlova was influential in the development of British ballet, most notably inspiring the career of Alicia Markova. The Gate pub, located on the border of Arkley and Totteridge (London Borough of Barnet), has a story, framed on its walls, describing a visit by Pavlova and her dance company. Pavlova was introduced to audiences in the United States by Max Rabinoff during his time as managing director of the Boston Grand Opera Company from 1914 to 1917 and was featured there with her Russian Ballet Company during that period. While touring in The Hague, Pavlova was told that she had pneumonia and required an operation. She was also told that she would never be able to dance again if she went ahead with it. She refused to have the surgery, saying “If I can’t dance then I’d rather be dead.” She died of pleurisy, in the bedroom next to the Japanese Salon of the Hotel Des Indes in The Hague, three weeks short of her 50th birthday. Victor Dandré wrote that Anna Pavlova died a half hour past midnight on Friday, January 23, 1931, with her maid Marguerite Letienne, Dr. Zalevsky and himself at her bedside. Her last words were, “Get my ‘Swan’ costume ready. In accordance with old ballet tradition, on the day she was to have next performed, the show went on as scheduled, with a single spotlight circling an empty stage where she would have been. Anna Pavlova was cremated, and her ashes placed in a columbarium at Golders Green Crematorium, where her urn was adorned with her ballet shoes (which have since been stolen). Today in 1964 saw the end of Richie Benaud’s 63-Test Cricket career. British athlete Steve Backley was born in 1969. He emerged as the finest male javelin thrower produced by Britain, first breaking the world record in July 1990 and in 1992 becoming the first man to throw 300ft (91m) with the modified javelin now used in competition. Despite his world record achiev ements, Backley disappointed in the 1990 Olympics, winning only a bronze medal. The Dutch boxer Bep van Klaveren died on this day in 1992 aged 84. He won the gold medal in the featherweight division at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam. Van Klaveren remains the only Dutch boxer to have won an Olympic gold medal. His younger brother Piet competed as a boxer at the 1952 Olympics. On this day in 1994 the 17th Winter Olympic Games opened in Lillehammer, Norway and on the same date in 2010 saw the opening of the 21st Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada.