Today In History – March 2, 2012

1866 – The Excelsior Needle Company of Wolcottville, Connecticut began making sewing machine needles. 1903 – The Martha Washington Hotel opened for business in New York City. The hotel featured 416 rooms and was the first hotel exclusively for women.

1925 – State and federal highway officials developed a nationwide route-numbering system and adopted the familiar U.S. shield-shaped numbered marker. For instance, in the east, there is U.S. 1 that runs from New England to Florida and in the west, the corresponding highway, U.S. 101, from Tacoma, WA to San Diego, CA.

1927 – Babe Ruth signed a 3-year contract with the New York Yankees for a guarantee of $70,000 a year, thus becoming baseball’s highest paid player.

1940 – The first televised intercollegiate track meet was seen by TV viewers in New York City as W2XBS presented the action live from Madison Square Garden. New York University won the meet.

1944 – The 16th Academy Awards celebration moved from a banquet hall to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood; hosted by comedian/actor Jack Benny. The Outstanding Motion Picture was Casablanca, directed by Michael Curtiz, who won an Oscar for his efforts. Best Actor of 1943 was Paul Lukas for Watch on the Rhine and Best Actor in a Supporting Role was Charles Coburn for The More the Merrier. The Best Actress award was presented to Twenty-four-year-old Jennifer Jones for The Song of Bernadette and Best Actress in a Supporting Role was Katina Paxinou in For Whom the Bell Tolls. Stephen Dunn of The RKO Radio Studio Sound Department and Sound Director for This Land is Mine, picked up the Oscar for … what else? … Sound Recording. Best Music, Song winners were Harry Warren (music), Mack Gordon (lyrics) for the song, You’ll Never Know, from the movie Hello, Frisco, Hello. And, did you know that the United States Navy received an Oscar? It was for the Documentary (Short Subject) they produced, December 7th. That was fun. Now, let’ go outside and look at all the hand prints in the cement along the boulevard.

1957 – Teenage heartthrob Tab Hunter’s song Young Love was number one in the U.S.

1958 – British geologist Dr. Vivian Fuchs reached McMurdo Sound in the Ross Sea, thus completing the first crossing of Antarctica by land. As a part of the International Geophysical Year, the Commonwealth of Nations organized the expedition, which covered 2,158 miles (3,473 kilometers).

1962 – Wilt ‘The Stilt’ Chamberlain scored 100 points and broke an NBA record as the Philadelphia Warriors beat the New York Knicks 169-147. Chamberlain broke NBA marks for the most field goal attempts (63), most field goals made (36), most free throws made (28), most points in a half (59), most field goal attempts in a half (37), most field goals made in a half (22), and most field goal attempts in one quarter (21). The 316 total points scored tied an NBA record. What’s not known is if Chamberlain set the record for most gallons of sweat pouring off a man’s body during a game.

1974 – Stevie Wonder got five Grammy Awards for his album, Innervisions and his hit songs, You Are The Sunshine of My Life and Superstition.

1974 – U.S. Postage stamps jumped from eight to ten cents this day for first-class mail. This way, your first-class letter came with a first-class price as well! Just wait another 20 years and see what happened…

1984 – The first McDonald’s franchise was closed — in Des Plaines, IL. After 30 years of selling burgers, Mickey D’s opened a new drive-in restaurant right across the McStreet.

1985 – Country singer Gary Morris hit #1 on the country charts for the first time with Baby Bye Bye, from his album, Faded Blue.

1987 – Government officials reported that the median price for a new home had topped $100,000 for the first time. The new six-figure price: $110,700, actually, was up from $94,600.

1999 – Singer Dusty Springfield (Wishin’ and Hopin’, The Look of Love, Son of a Preacher Man) lost her battle with breast cancer. She was 59 years old.

2001 – These films opened in the U.S.: The Mexican, starring Brad Pitt. Julia Roberts, James Gandolfini and Bob Balaban; and See Spot Run, with David Arquette, Michael Clarke Duncan, Leslie Bibb and Joe Viterelli.