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

Today marks the 24th anniversary of the craziest day in the history of sports. On June 17, 1994, some of the most memorable moments in athletics happened to all take place on the same day. This date touched almost every professional sport—basketball, football, baseball, golf, soccer, and hockey.

Perhaps you remember this day 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 ever compete at the US 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. No matter what June 17th meant to you, you can’t help but reminisce about the iconic events that took place (unless, of course, you were too young—or just not born yet).

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

The Juice is Loose

Besides evading defensive linemen, O.J. Simpson also tried getting away with murder.

The day started 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 arrival of the former NFL Most Valuable Player, but he didn’t show.

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

Many believed that June 17th would be the last for Simpson after he wrote what appeared to be a suicide note before he fled. The letter was read to the world by his friend and lawyer Robert Kardashian at a press conference where he said goodbye to his family and friends, and assured the public of his innocence.

He would come out of the chase alive though, 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 Bronco, including a change of clothes, 8,000 dollars, a loaded weapon, passport, pictures of his family, and a fake goatee and mustache—all in all, the textbook starter-kit for a fugitive of justice.

Of course, O.J would eventually be acquitted of all criminal charges related 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. Spending over 50 years as a golfer, Palmer’s greatness speaks for itself. 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.”

Well deserved to say the least. He is credited with being the man that took golf from being more of a hobby you do with your friends at country clubs to the competitive sport 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 13-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glover, 7-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and former MVP. Griffey Jr. was able to lead the American League in home runs four times as well.

USA Hosts 1994 FIFA World Cup

The FIFA World Cup would kick off today, the first time the United States held the event. President Bill Clinton addressed the crowd with wise words about the power of sports and their ability to bring people together across different cultures.

Brazil would go on to win the title after a player on Italy missed a penalty kick in the final seconds. 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 to win their first and only championship since 1940. Many fans thought they would never make it to the Rangers Cup Parade in their lifetimes, but their 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 by a score of 91-84.

What really stood out to basketball fans was the game being interrupted to bring 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 happened on this day 24 years ago, giving fans around the globe one of the most action-packed days sports fans have ever seen.


Featured Image Via Flickr/Alan Light

Die-hard Knicks, Mets, and Giants fan. I live and breathe all things New York sports but I bleed maize and blue for UMich when it comes to college athletics. I have a passion for writing about sports news and I am not afraid to discuss controversial topics in the industry.

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