June 17th, 1994: A Day to Remember in Sports History

NBC Sports commentator and former professional football player O.J. Simpson sits with a group of ser...

Today marks the 24th anniversary what was perhaps the wildest day in sports history.

Many of the most memorable moments in athletics all happened to place on the same day: June 17, 1994.

Perhaps you remember the 17th as the day your eyes were fixed on your television as OJ Simpson attempted to evade police in a low-speed chase in his White Ford Bronco. Or maybe as the last time golf legend Arnold Palmer would compete in the U.S. Open.

Not ringing a bell? Perhaps you remember this day as the first time the United States hosted the FIFA World Cup, or as Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

One can’t help but reminisce about the iconic events that took place on this date.

Let’s take a look at all the landmark moments that went down 24 years ago today:

The Juice is Loose

O.J. Simpson became famous not only for evading defensive linemen, but for attempting to evade the LAPD.

June 17th, 1994 began with OJ’s lawyer, Robert Shapiro, agreeing to surrender Simpson to authorities for the murders of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman.

Thousands of reporters awaited the former NFL Most Valuable Player’s arrival at court, but he didn’t show.

Instead, OJ Simpson headed down Interstate 405 with longtime friend Al “A.C.” Cowling, contemplating suicide as he tried to escape the LAPD.

Many believed that the day Simpson’s last after what appeared to be a suicide note was discovered after he fled. The letter was read to the world by his friend and lawyer Robert Kardashian, father of Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, and Rob, at a press conference.

In the letter, Simpson said goodbye to his family and friends and assured the public of his innocence.

Simpson would emerge from chase alive, returning to his home in Brentwood, Los Angeles to see his mother before surrendering to the police. Police said that he was allowed to use the bathroom, speak with his mother, and have a glass of OJ.

After he was detained, the police found some damning evidence in his vehicle, including a change of clothes, 8,000 dollars, a loaded weapon, a passport, pictures of his family, and a fake goatee and mustache— all in all, the textbook starter-kit for a fugitive.

Of course, O.J. would eventually be acquitted of all criminal charges relating to the deaths of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman.

The King’s Final Round at the U.S. Open

Arnold Palmer—perhaps the biggest name in the history of golf—played his final round at the U.S. Open on this day.

Palmer’s greatness speaks for itself with his impressive professional career which spanned 50 years. He won four Masters Tournaments, one U.S Open, and the Open Championship. Additionally, he is a 2-time PGA Player of the Year and ranks 5th all-time with 62 PGA Tour wins.

He was clearly emotional when he finished off the day. When asked how he felt in this moment, he replied, “It’s been 40 years, and when you walk off the 18th, and you get an ovation like that, I guess that says it all.”

His victory was well deserved to say the least. Palmer is credited with being the man that took golf from being a hobby to the competitive sport that it is today.

The Kid Ties Babe Ruth’s Home Run Record

Ken Griffey Jr. made history in the baseball world on this day, hitting his 30th home run of the season in only 65 total games. This tied Babe Ruth’s record of the most home runs hit before June 30th in a season.

The 1994 MLB season would end in a player strike on August 11th, becoming the first season without a World Series since 1904.

This is just one of the many accomplishments that made Griffey a franchise player. He’s a 13-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glover, and 7-time Silver Slugger Award winner. Former MVP. Griffey Jr. was able to lead the American League in home runs four times as well.

USA Hosts 1994 FIFA World Cup

June 17th, 1994 was the first time that the FIFA World Cup was held in the United States.

President Bill Clinton addressed the crowd with wise words regarding the power of sports and their ability to bring people together across different cultures.

Brazil would go on to win the title after an Italian player missed a penalty kick in the final seconds of the game. They became the first country to win four championships.

The New York Rangers Celebrate Their Stanley Cup Win

New York hockey fans took to the streets of Broadway to celebrate the unthinkable: the New York Rangers being named Stanley Cup Champions.

The Rangers beat the Vancouver Canucks in seven games, winning their first championship since 1940. Many fans thought they would never make it to the Rangers Cup Parade in their lifetimes, but the team managed to pull it off.

Game 5 of the NBA Finals

The Knicks were locked in a head-to-head battle with the Houston Rockets in pursuit of an NBA Championship. Superstar centers Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing clashed in Game 5 of the Finals. The Knicks wound up victorious with a score of 91-84.

What really stood out to basketball fans was the game being interrupted with news of the Simpson chase. NBC news split the screen to display both events, with the Finals being displayed in a box smaller than the police pursuit. The audio detailed Simpson’s antics rather than the series tiebreaker. Here’s a look at the broadcast:

The Knicks couldn’t hold on to their 3-2 lead, losing in Game 7 after a brilliant performance from Olajuwon. He was the X-factor for the Rockets, outscoring Patrick Ewing in every game of the series to help his team secure the title.

New York has not won a championship since 1973.

So many different events occurred on this day 24 years ago, becoming one of the most action-packed days that sports fans around the globe had ever seen.


Featured Image Via Flickr/Alan Light

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