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Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Ah, yes — Cinco De Mayo. A treasured celebration of Mexican pride, tradition and martial history. Or, as America views it, that perfect drinking bridge to help you between St. Patrick’s Day and Independence Day.

But May 5 also holds some history in sports. On this date, Cy Young threw baseball’s first perfect game of the 20th century. He was 37 years old at the time, which made him the oldest player to throw any kind of no-hitter until Randy Johnson put up a perfecto against the Braves at age 40 in 2004. Young struck out eight Philadelphia A’s on that day, but not Ossee Schreckengost, which has to be an alias. I don’t know who Ossee is, but that name makes me what to know more.

Also, I didn’t know until today that Cy’s real middle name was True. True story.

At the age of 37, Pete Rose recorded his 3,000th hit on May 5, 1978. A line-drive single to left was the achieving hit and it come off of Expos pitcher Steve Rogers. The two would become teammates in Montreal for the 1984 season. Despite his age, Rose finished 1978 with 198 hits. He immediately followed that with two more seasons of at least 185 hits. His 140 hits during the strike-shortened 1981 season led all of baseball. He was 40 years old. It’s hard for me to realistically imagine that 4,256 will ever be broken.

The fabled Boston Garden hosted its final NBA game on this day in 1995 as the Celtics lost to Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway and the Orlando Magic, 95-92, eliminating Boston from the playoffs in the first round. I never went to the Garden, but I heard it was a rough place to watch a game, with no air conditioning, seats not made for the modern 6-foot man and pillars obstructing your view. But hey, it made for one hell of a home-court advantage. Garden saw it’s final sporting event on May 14, 1995, in an NHL playoff game between the Bruins and the New Jersey Devils. The Garden was demolished in 1997 after standing for 67 years and is now the site of what I’m sure is a fantastic parking lot.

And a sidebar to that note about the Celtics’ final game in the Garden. That was the last game of Eric Montross’ rookie season. Because I remember attending the 1993 NCAA Final Four so vividly, he is simply one of those guys who I will never forget, even though I should have a long time ago. He was taken with the ninth pick in the ’94 draft, and that obviously didn’t work out. But looking back at the draft, there wasn’t much to take. Sure, there were players available who would go on to have pretty nice careers. But the lack of All-Star or All-NBA depth in that draft is rare. From 1989 — when the NBA moved to its current two-round draft format — through 2006, there was only one other draft in which no players selected after the 10th pick made it onto an All-NBA or All-Star team. In 1997, Tracy McGrady was drafted ninth overall.  Not a whole lot to speak of past him that year.

As for players from beyond 2006, let’s give those classes a bit more time to prove themselves.

May 5 isn’t a very strong day for sports birthdays, but it does represent Muhsin Muhammad, who is 38. Harold “Baby Jordan” Minor is 40. The original “fat toad,” Hideki Irabu, is 42. Charles Nagy is 44 and still seeing Edgar Renteria in his nightmares. And MLB Hall of Famer Chief Bender is 127 years young! Well, he would have been.

So, there’s some knowledge you can take out into the world tonight as you get revved up for Cinco De Mayo parties. Of course, you will just forget all of it by tomorrow because everyone wants to drink tequila on Cinco De Mayo and ends up blacking out by 11:30. I don’t get it. You don’t see everyone clamoring for Irish whiskey on St. Patty’s Day. You know why? Because Irish Whisky is awful, like piss mixed with gasoline. Stick with what you know, kids. Don’t expand your alcohol repertoires just to fall in with the occasion. Stick with what you know.

Pace yourselves.

Don’t drive drunk — or at least concentrate REALLY hard. (On second thought, don’t do that either)

And most importantly, no counting.


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