This Day in History: Oct. 21

Thomas Edison perfects a workable electric light; President Richard Nixon nominates Lewis F. Powell and William H. Rehnquist to Supreme Court


On this day, Oct. 21 …

1975: Boston Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk, batting in the 12th inning of Game 6 of the World Series, hit a dramatic Game 6 home run to help his team beat the Big Red Machine Cincinnati Reds. In a now iconic image, Fisk gestured at the ball, directing its path to stay fair as it approached the Fenway Park foul pole.

Also on this day:

  • 1892: Schoolchildren across the U.S. observe Columbus Day (according to the Gregorian date) by reciting, for the first time, the original version of "The Pledge of Allegiance," written by Francis Bellamy for The Youth's Companion. 
  • 1797: The U.S. Navy frigate Constitution, also known as "Old Ironsides," is christened in Boston's harbor.
  • 1892: Thomas Edison perfects a workable electric light at his laboratory in Menlo Park, N.J.
  • 1917: Members of the 1st Division of the U.S. Army training in Luneville, France, become the first Americans to see action on the front lines of World War I.
  • 1960: Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Richard M. Nixon clash in their fourth and final presidential debate in New York.
  • 1967: Tens of thousands of Vietnam War protesters begin two days of demonstrations in Washington, D.C.
  • 1971: President Richard Nixon nominates Lewis F. Powell and William H. Rehnquist to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Both nominees would be confirmed.)
  • 1975: Carlton Fisk hits a dramatic home run in the 12th inning to give the Boston Red Sox a 7-6 victory over the Reds in Game 6 of the World Series, forcing a Game 7. The image of Fisk waving - and willing - the ball fair would become one of the most iconic moments in Major League Baseball history.
  • 1976: Saul Bellow wins the Nobel Prize for literature, the first American honored since John Steinbeck in 1962.
  • 1985: Former San Francisco Supervisor Dan White — who'd served five years in prison for killing Mayor George Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk, a gay-rights advocate — is found dead in a garage, a suicide.
  • 1996: President Clinton's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military survives its first Supreme Court test.
  • 2001: Washington, D.C., postal worker Thomas L. Morris Jr. dies of inhalation anthrax as officials begin testing thousands of postal employees.
  • 2018: A growing caravan of Honduran migrants continues through southern Mexico toward the United States, after getting past Mexican agents who briefly blocked them at the Guatemalan border.