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This Day in History: 07/20/1969 - Armstrong Walks on Moon

This Day in History: 07/20/1969 - Armstrong Walks on Moon



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In This Day in History video clip: At 10:56 p.m. EDT, American astronaut Neil Armstrong, 240,000 miles from Earth, speaks these words to more than a billion people listening at home: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." This video clip is courtesy of The History Channel.


The story of Gaylord Perry, the Moon landing and a most unlikely home run

Gaylord Perry is a baseball legend. Over a 22-year career spent mostly with the Giants, he established himself as one of the best right-handed pitchers of all-time -- a Hall of Famer and 300-game winner with a 3.11 lifetime ERA, 3,534 strikeouts and two Cy Young Awards to his name. It's because of all that success that we feel comfortable saying the following: Perry was a really, really bad hitter.
The righty played almost all of his career before the advent of the DH, so he got a fair amount of work with the bat -- 1,220 plate appearances in all. His slash line over that span: .131/.153/.164, good for an OPS+ of -10 (yes, negative 10, meaning his OPS was 110 percent below league-average).
Naturally, Perry's teammates felt compelled to give their ace some good-natured ragging -- none more so than Alvin Dark, his manager in San Francisco from 1962-1964. One day during the ོ season, Dark and San Francisco Examiner reporter Harry Jupiter looked on as Perry smacked some home runs during batting practice. Jupiter told Dark that Perry looked pretty good with a bat in his hands and remarked that the pitcher might even hit a home run one of these days. Dark's response set in motion one of the weirdest coincidences in baseball history: "Mark my words," he said , "a man will land on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run."


July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong walks on moon

At 10:56 p.m. EDT, American astronaut Neil Armstrong, 240,000 miles from Earth, speaks these words to more than a billion people listening at home: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Stepping off the lunar landing module Eagle, Armstrong became the first human to walk on the surface of the moon.

The American effort to send astronauts to the moon has its origins in a famous appeal President John F. Kennedy made to a special joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961: “I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.” At the time, the United States was still trailing the Soviet Union in space developments, and Cold War-era America welcomed Kennedy’s bold proposal.

In 1966, after five years of work by an international team of scientists and engineers, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) conducted the first unmanned Apollo mission, testing the structural integrity of the proposed launch vehicle and spacecraft combination. Then, on January 27, 1967, tragedy struck at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, when a fire broke out during a manned launch-pad test of the Apollo spacecraft and Saturn rocket. Three astronauts were killed in the fire.

Despite the setback, NASA and its thousands of employees forged ahead, and in October 1968, Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo mission, orbited Earth and successfully tested many of the sophisticated systems needed to conduct a moon journey and landing. In December of the same year, Apollo 8 took three astronauts to the far side of the moon and back, and in March 1969 Apollo 9 tested the lunar module for the first time while in Earth orbit. Then in May, the three astronauts of Apollo 10 took the first complete Apollo spacecraft around the moon in a dry run for the scheduled July landing mission.

At 9:32 a.m. on July 16, with the world watching, Apollo 11 took off from Kennedy Space Center with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin Jr., and Michael Collins aboard. Armstrong, a 38-year-old civilian research pilot, was the commander of the mission. After traveling 240,000 miles in 76 hours, Apollo 11 entered into a lunar orbit on July 19. The next day, at 1:46 p.m., the lunar module Eagle, manned by Armstrong and Aldrin, separated from the command module, where Collins remained. Two hours later, the Eagle began its descent to the lunar surface, and at 4:18 p.m. the craft touched down on the southwestern edge of the Sea of Tranquility. Armstrong immediately radioed to Mission Control in Houston, Texas, a famous message: “The Eagle has landed.”

At 10:39 p.m., five hours ahead of the original schedule, Armstrong opened the hatch of the lunar module. As he made his way down the lunar module’s ladder, a television camera attached to the craft recorded his progress and beamed the signal back to Earth, where hundreds of millions watched in great anticipation. At 10:56 p.m., Armstrong spoke his famous quote, which he later contended was slightly garbled by his microphone and meant to be “that’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” He then planted his left foot on the gray, powdery surface, took a cautious step forward, and humanity had walked on the moon.

“Buzz” Aldrin joined him on the moon’s surface at 11:11 p.m., and together they took photographs of the terrain, planted a U.S. flag, ran a few simple scientific tests, and spoke with President Richard M. Nixon via Houston. By 1:11 a.m. on July 21, both astronauts were back in the lunar module and the hatch was closed. The two men slept that night on the surface of the moon, and at 1:54 p.m. the Eagle began its ascent back to the command module. Among the items left on the surface of the moon was a plaque that read: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the moon–July 1969 A.D–We came in peace for all mankind.”

At 5:35 p.m., Neil Armstrong and Aldrin successfully docked and rejoined Collins, and at 12:56 a.m. on July 22 Apollo 11 began its journey home, safely splashing down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:51 p.m. on July 24.

There would be five more successful lunar landing missions, and one unplanned lunar swing-by, Apollo 13. The last men to walk on the moon, astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt of the Apollo 17 mission, left the lunar surface on December 14, 1972. The Apollo program was a costly and labor intensive endeavor, involving an estimated 400,000 engineers, technicians, and scientists, and costing $24 billion (close to $100 billion in today’s dollars). The expense was justified by Kennedy’s 1961 mandate to beat the Soviets to the moon, and after the feat was accomplished ongoing missions lost their viability.


July 20, 1969: Man on The Moon, Baseball As Usual

The whole world didn’t stop on July 20, 1969, when astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the Moon. It just seemed that way.

For even as astronaut Neil Armstrong was landing on the powdery surface of the Moon that day, uttering 11 of history’s most famous words – “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” – the sports world carried on.

That famous Sunday featured a full schedule of baseball games, with many teams playing doubleheaders as was the norm in those days.

In Montreal, Bobby Pfeil’s bunt single in the 11th inning scored Ron Swoboda and gave the Mets a 4-3 win over the Expos and a split of their doubleheader. Montreal won the opener, 3-2.

The Mets, who would go on to miracles of their own that October, fell five games behind the Cubs in the National League East. Chicago’s Ferguson Jenkins and Dick Selma both pitched complete games as the Cubbies beat the Phillies, 1-0 and 6-1, at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia.

In Atlanta, Pat Jarvis pitched a six-hit shutout as the Braves maintained their one-game lead over the Giants and Dodgers in the NL West.

Orioles Rule AL East
Meanwhile, Syd O’Brien’s two-run triple in the eighth inning led the Red Sox to a 6-5 win over the Orioles. Despite the loss, Baltimore still led Boston by 11 names in the AL East.

And a shutout by Jim Perry, Gaylord’s brother, helped the AL West leading Twins to a 4-0 win over the Seattle Pilots and a four-game lead over Oakland.

The same day that Eagle landed on the Moon, Oakland left-hander Vida Blue, who went on to win the AL MVP and Cy Young award in 1971, was the losing pitcher in his major league debut. The A’s and Angels split a doubleheader that day.

In the Bronx, Gene Michael’s single drove in Roy White with the winning run as the Yankees beat the Washington Senators, 3-2, in 11 innings. Walk-off win was not yet part of the baseball vernacular.

This was the first year of divisional play in the majors. Four new teams — the Seattle Pilots and Kansas City Royals in the AL and San Diego Padres and Montreal Expos in the NL — joined baseball in 1969.

On that Sunday, July 20, Rod Carew of the Twins at .364 and Matty Alou of the Pirates at .354 and were the batting leaders. Oakland’s Reggie Jackson led the AL with 37 home runs San Francisco’s Willie McCovey was tops in the AL with 30. Atlanta’s Phil Niekro led the majors with 15 wins.

Jacklin Celebrates British Open Win
In other sports, Tony Jacklin was still celebrating his win in the British Open the week before, first by an Englishman in 18 years.

And in football, Joe Namath and the rest of the Super Bowl champion New York Jets were gearing up for training camp at Hofstra University.

That same weekend, a car, shown above, driven by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., plunged off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island near Martha’s Vineyard. Kennedy managed to escape the submerged vehicle, but his passenger, 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne, drowned. (Kennedy subsequently pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and received a suspended two-month jail sentence.)

In 1969, the average family income in the United States was $8,389.00, and the price of gasoline ranged between 29 and 35 cents a gallon. A six pack of Coca Cola was selling for 59 cents and Hershey bar was .10 cents. The cost for a new Ford Mustang was a whopping $2,832.00 for a standard model.

Richard M. Nixon was President of the United States, Woodstock was on the horizon and man was on the Moon.


Today in History, July 20, 1969: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were first to walk on the moon

This detail of a July 20, 1969, photo made available by NASA shows astronaut Neil Armstrong reflected in the helmet visor of Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the moon. The astronauts had a camera mounted to the front of their suits, according to the Universities Space Research Association. (Photo: Neil Armstrong/NASA via AP)

Today is July 20. On this date in:

Congresswoman Alice Mary Robertson of Oklahoma, the second woman to hold a seat in Congress, became the first woman to preside over the floor of U.S. House of Representatives.

The first detachment of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps – later known as WACs – began basic training at Fort Des Moines, Iowa.

Women with the Women's Army Corps stand at Seventh and Locust streets in Des Moines, Iowa, October 1942. (Photo: The Des Moines Register)

An attempt by a group of German officials to assassinate Adolf Hitler with a bomb failed as the explosion only wounded the Nazi leader.

A pair of Polaris missiles were fired from the submerged USS George Washington off Cape Canaveral, Fla., at a target more than 1,100 miles away.

The first International Special Olympics Summer Games, organized by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, were held at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Bruce Lee in 1973's iconic martial-arts film "Enter the Dragon." (Photo: Warner Bros. Home Video)

Martial-arts expert and actor Bruce Lee died at age 32, one month before his film “Enter the Dragon” was released in the United States.

NASA’s Viking 1 lander set down on Mars on the Chryse Planitia region, the first U.S. craft to land on the planet.

A flash flood hit Johnstown, Pennsylvania, killing more than 80 people and causing $350 million worth of damage.

Irish Republican Army bombs exploded in two London parks, killing eight British soldiers, along with seven horses belonging to the Queen’s Household Cavalry.

Gunman James Holmes opened fire inside a crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 people and wounding 70 others.


Moon landing 51st anniversary: A look back at July 20, 1969

On July 20, 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped down from Apollo 11's lunar module onto the surface of the moon, the first human in history to do so. By touching down on the lunar surface, Armstrong and his fellow Apollo 11 crew members Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins changed the course of history inspiring generations across the globe.

The journey to the Apollo 11 mission was a process that stretched back several years. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy gave a speech to Congress, asking for a robust space exploration program that would put a man on the moon. The speech came just a month after Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to enter outer space, and just shortly after Alan Shepard became the first American to enter space.

In 1962, Kennedy spoke at Rice University in Houston, further stressing the national goal to reach the moon.

"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard," Kennedy proclaimed. "Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

Kennedy's dream was realized in 1969 with Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins' successful voyage. When Armstrong stepped down onto the moon's surface, he uttered the immortal words "that's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind."

The trio returned to Earth as heroes, with their successful voyage considered one of the greatest accomplishments in history. Since then, humanity's exploration of space has broadened exponentially, with Armstrong and the Apollo 11 crew's journey having inspired countless generations to reach for the stars.


July 20 1969 Neil Armstrong walks on moon

On July 20th 1969, at 10:56 p.m. American EDT, American astronaut Neil Armstrong, 240,000 miles from Earth, spoke these words to more than a billion people listening at home: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Stepping off the lunar landing module Eagle, Armstrong became the first human to walk on the surface of the moon.

The American effort to send astronauts to the moon has its origins in a famous appeal President John F. Kennedy made to a special joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961: “I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.” At the time, the United States was still trailing the Soviet Union in space developments, and Cold War-era America welcomed Kennedy’s bold proposal.

In 1966, after five years of work by an international team of scientists and engineers, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) conducted the first unmanned Apollo mission, testing the structural integrity of the proposed launch vehicle and spacecraft combination. Then, on January 27, 1967, tragedy struck at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, when a fire broke out during a manned launch-pad test of the Apollo spacecraft and Saturn rocket. Three astronauts were killed in the fire.

Despite the setback, NASA and its thousands of employees forged ahead, and in October 1968, Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo mission, orbited Earth and successfully tested many of the sophisticated systems needed to conduct a moon journey and landing. In December of the same year, Apollo 8 took three astronauts to the dark side of the moon and back, and in March 1969 Apollo 9 tested the lunar module for the first time while in Earth orbit. Then in May, the three astronauts of Apollo 10 took the first complete Apollo spacecraft around the moon in a dry run for the scheduled July landing mission.

At 9:32 a.m. on July 16, with the world watching, Apollo 11 took off from Kennedy Space Center with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin Jr., and Michael Collins aboard. Armstrong, a 38-year-old civilian research pilot, was the commander of the mission. After traveling 240,000 miles in 76 hours, Apollo 11 entered into a lunar orbit on July 19. The next day, at 1:46 p.m., the lunar module Eagle, manned by Armstrong and Aldrin, separated from the command module, where Collins remained. Two hours later, the Eagle began its descent to the lunar surface, and at 4:18 p.m. the craft touched down on the southwestern edge of the Sea of Tranquility. Armstrong immediately radioed to Mission Control in Houston, Texas, a famous message: “The Eagle has landed.”

At 10:39 p.m., five hours ahead of the original schedule, Armstrong opened the hatch of the lunar module. As he made his way down the lunar module’s ladder, a television camera attached to the craft recorded his progress and beamed the signal back to Earth, where hundreds of millions watched in great anticipation. At 10:56 p.m., Armstrong spoke his famous quote, which he later contended was slightly garbled by his microphone and meant to be “that’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” He then planted his left foot on the gray, powdery surface, took a cautious step forward, and humanity had walked on the moon.

“Buzz” Aldrin joined him on the moon’s surface at 11:11 p.m., and together they took photographs of the terrain, planted a U.S. flag, ran a few simple scientific tests, and spoke with President Richard M. Nixon via Houston. By 1:11 a.m. on July 21, both astronauts were back in the lunar module and the hatch was closed. The two men slept that night on the surface of the moon, and at 1:54 p.m. the Eagle began its ascent back to the command module. Among the items left on the surface of the moon was a plaque that read: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the moon–July 1969 A.D–We came in peace for all mankind.”

At 5:35 p.m., Armstrong and Aldrin successfully docked and rejoined Collins, and at 12:56 a.m. on July 22 Apollo 11 began its journey home, safely splashing down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:51 p.m. on July 24.

There would be five more successful lunar landing missions, and one unplanned lunar swing-by, Apollo 13. The last men to walk on the moon, astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt of the Apollo 17 mission, left the lunar surface on December 14, 1972. The Apollo program was a costly and labor intensive endeavor, involving an estimated 400,000 engineers, technicians, and scientists, and costing $24 billion (close to $100 billion in today’s dollars). The expense was justified by Kennedy’s 1961 mandate to beat the Soviets to the moon, and after the feat was accomplished ongoing missions lost their viability.


Moon landing 51st anniversary: A look back at July 20, 1969

On July 20, 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped down from Apollo 11's lunar module onto the surface of the moon, the first human in history to do so. By touching down on the lunar surface, Armstrong and his fellow Apollo 11 crew members Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins changed the course of history inspiring generations across the globe.

The journey to the Apollo 11 mission was a process that stretched back several years. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy gave a speech to Congress, asking for a robust space exploration program that would put a man on the moon. The speech came just a month after Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to enter outer space, and just shortly after Alan Shepard became the first American to enter space.

In 1962, Kennedy spoke at Rice University in Houston, further stressing the national goal to reach the moon.

"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard," Kennedy proclaimed. "Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

Kennedy's dream was realized in 1969 with Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins' successful voyage. When Armstrong stepped down onto the moon's surface, he uttered the immortal words "that's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind."

The trio returned to Earth as heroes, with their successful voyage considered one of the greatest accomplishments in history. Since then, humanity's exploration of space has broadened exponentially, with Armstrong and the Apollo 11 crew's journey having inspired countless generations to reach for the stars.


Moon landing 51st anniversary: A look back at July 20, 1969

On July 20, 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped down from Apollo 11's lunar module onto the surface of the moon, the first human in history to do so. By touching down on the lunar surface, Armstrong and his fellow Apollo 11 crew members Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins changed the course of history inspiring generations across the globe.

The journey to the Apollo 11 mission was a process that stretched back several years. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy gave a speech to Congress, asking for a robust space exploration program that would put a man on the moon. The speech came just a month after Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to enter outer space, and just shortly after Alan Shepard became the first American to enter space.

In 1962, Kennedy spoke at Rice University in Houston, further stressing the national goal to reach the moon.

"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard," Kennedy proclaimed. "Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

Kennedy's dream was realized in 1969 with Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins' successful voyage. When Armstrong stepped down onto the moon's surface, he uttered the immortal words "that's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind."

The trio returned to Earth as heroes, with their successful voyage considered one of the greatest accomplishments in history. Since then, humanity's exploration of space has broadened exponentially, with Armstrong and the Apollo 11 crew's journey having inspired countless generations to reach for the stars.


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The landing had some drama. At the last minute, Armstrong had to fly the lunar module manually “in order to avoid a football-sized crater and a large rock field.”

“It really was rough over the target area,” Armstrong told NASA. “It was heavily cratered and some of the rocks may have been bigger than 10 feet around.”

The Eagle touched down at 1:17 p.m., and the astronauts spent six hours in the capsule before venturing outside. When they did, they found it easy to manoeuvre.

“There seems to be no difficulty walking around,” Armstrong said. “As we suspected it’s even easier than the one sixth G that we did in simulations on the ground.”

Armstrong found the surface “fine and powdery.”

“It adheres like powdered charcoal to the boot, but I only go in a small fraction of an inch,” he said. “I can see my footprints in the moon like fine grainy particles.”