Hey, there! And, might I wish all my readers from the land down under a very happy Australia Day! This day was meant to commemorate the first English settlement to settle in Australia (the area currently known as Sydney) in 1788! Of course, these days, the day is an excuse for Australians to grill their favourite foods, set off the sparklers, and possibly throwing boomerangs at party guests!
It's also time for the Tuesday Timeline entry, and while I had hoped to choose an Australian topic for today, I just couldn't find one suitable enough. You'll have to just settle for what I came up with.
In the meantime, have a look at what happened on January 26 throughout history.
1531 - At least 30,000 are killed when an earthquake strikes Lisbon, Portugal
1699 - The Ottoman Empire permanently cedes territory to the Christian powers for the first time ever
1837 - Michigan becomes the twenty-sixth state to join the United States of America
1838 - The state of Tennessee enacts the first prohibition law within the United States
1861 - The state of Louisiana secedes from the Union in the early stages of the American Civil War
1870 - Five years after the end of the American Civil War, Virginia rejoins the United States of America
1905 - Miners in South Africa unearth the world's largest diamond - The Cullinan - weighing a whopping 3,106.75 carats
1911 - Glenn H. Curtiss successfully flies the world's first seaplane
1915 - The Rocky Mountain National Park is established
1925 - Actor and salad dressing entrepreneur Paul Newman (d. 2008) is born in Shaker Heights, Ohio
1934 - The Apollo Theater reopens in Harlem, New York
1942 - American troops begin arriving in Europe for combat missions during World War II
1946 - Movie critic Gene Siskel (d. 1999) is born in Chicago, Illinois
1960 - Danny Heater scores 135 points for his high school basketball team by himself during ONE game - setting a world record
1962 - Mob boss Lucky Luciano dies at the age of 64 from a heart attack
1965 - The Beaumont Children go missing from a beach in South Adelaide, Australia, and as of this writing have never been found
1978 - A huge blizzard paralyzes the Ohio and Great Lakes region, producing 100 mph winds and dumping heavy snow
1992 - Singer/actor Jose Ferrer dies at the age of 80
1997 - Astrologist and psychic Jeane Dixon passes away, aged 93 (I wonder if she saw her death coming?)
1998 - President Bill Clinton goes on television to deny having any sexual relations with White House intern Monica Lewinsky
2005 - Eleven people are killed and another 200 injured following the derailment of a Metrolink train in Glendale, California
And celebrating a birthday today are the following famous faces - Anne Jeffryes, Bob Uecker, Sal Buscema, Huey "Piano" Smith, Scott Glenn, Jean Knight, Jonathan Carroll, David Strathairn, Lucinda Williams, Eddie Van Halen, Anita Baker, Ellen DeGeneres, Craig Anton, Tom Keifer, Andrew Ridgeley, Paul Johansson, Bryan Callen, Kirk Franklin, Tracy Middendorf, Dorian Gregory, Ya Kid K, Vince Carter, Kelly Stables, Sara Rue, Colin O'Donoghue, MarShon Brooks, Emily Hughes, and Christopher Massey.
And, the date that we're going back in time to?
Well, January 26, 1961 sounds like a fine date. Hard to believe it was 55 years ago!
And you know, it's hard to believe that today's Tuesday Timeline subject also happens to be turning 55 today! To me, it just seems like yesterday that my family would turn on Hockey Night in Canada just to see this guy play on the ice - well, in between shots of whatever loud jacket Don Cherry just happened to be wearing that night.
I also have a personal memory of this hockey player going back to my second grade class. And, yes, I can remember back that far.
Our teacher, Miss Johnson, gave us an assignment to do - and I have to say that she really was quite creative in the schoolwork she assigned us because it allowed us to have fun learning. Anyway, she had us write a letter to our favourite hockey players, as hockey season was in full swing at the time, and she would take our letters and mail them for us to see if any of us would get a response!
There was just one problem. I wasn't very knowledgeable in sports (a fact that remains some years later), and I only knew two hockey players that were big at the time. There was Mario Lemieux, as well as today's Tuesday Timeline subject. And, Lemieux was out, as nearly most of the boys in my class were writing to him.
(Though I seem to remember some of the girls writing to Kurt Browning - who as far as I know never played hockey. So, maybe I wasn't as much of a dummy in sports as I thought!)
Anyway, I decided to write a letter to the other player, and enclosed a picture that I drew of him playing for the Edmonton Oilers. It was a very nice picture, and I used just the right colours for the hockey jersey I drew on him.
I come to realize after my teacher mailed the letter that he left the Edmonton Oilers in 1988. I wrote the letter in 1989. Whoops!
Fortunately, the fact that he had started playing for the Los Angeles Kings that year wasn't enough to prevent him from sending me a photo back! And I'm sure that photo exists in my family photo album, but I've no idea where it's located at present time, so I'll just go on the record and say that I have Wayne Gretzky's photograph hidden away at my house somewhere.
Yes, Wayne Gretzky is the subject of today's blog. And I think it is a fair statement to say that he is one of the most respected and celebrated hockey players in recent years.
I think I still have his final hockey game recorded on a VHS tape somewhere in my possession (which I unfortunately can't watch as I don't have a VCR), but appropriately enough, the year he played his final game was also the same as the number he wore on his jersey.
I don't think I'll ever equate the number 99 with anything else other than Gretzky. And possibly Nena and her luftballons.
Let's have a look at Gretzky's other statistics by the numbers, shall we?
4 - The number of teams Gretzky played for in the NHL (Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, New York Rangers)
3 - The number of gold medals won by Gretzky's team in the Canada Cup (1984, 1987, 1991)
60 - The number of NHL records Gretzky still holds as of December 2014
39 - The number of games it took Gretzky to reach 50 goals during the 1981/1982 season, smashing a record set by Maurice Richard
894 - The number of goals that Gretzky scored during his hockey career
1963 - The number of assists Gretzky made during his hockey career
1999 - The year he was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame - and the year he retired from playing professionally
38 - The age Gretzky was when he played his last game
20 - The number of seasons that Gretzky played hockey professionally
17 - The number of points scored by Gretzky at the 1978 World Junior Championship - at 16, he was the youngest player to ever compete in the tournament at that time
2010 - The year that he was chosen to be the final Olympic torch bearer at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia
1988 - The year Gretzky married his wife, Janet Jones
5 - The number of children Gretzky has - his oldest Paulina is a model
1 - The number of animated series that starred him - the series was 1991's "ProStars", and although the cartoon version was voiced by Townsend Coleman, he did make live-action appearances
1981 - The year he guest starred on The Young and the Restless alongside Eric Braeden's memorable character Victor Newman!
Okay, so that last number was more of a fluff number. It still does nothing to showcase just how much talent Gretzky had on the ice. At 55 years old, Gretzky still holds the game of hockey very close to his heart. And I don't think the good ol' hockey game would have been quite the same without his contributions.