John’s Believe It Or Not… April 7th

John Fioravanti standing at the front of his classroom.

It’s Fabulous Friday! Did you know…

*1977 – Toronto Blue Jays play their inaugural regular season baseball game. (The Toronto Blue Jays came into existence in 1976, as one of two teams slated to join the American League for the following season (the other being the Seattle Mariners), via the 1977 Major League Baseball expansion. Toronto had been mentioned as a potential major league city as early as the 1880s and had been home to the Toronto Maple Leafs baseball team of the International League, from 1896 to 1967. They became World Series Champions in 1992-1993 and repeated in 1993-1994)

Photo of Opening Day the field is covered in snow!
April 7, 1977, is a famous date in Toronto sports history: The first home opener in Blue Jays history on a snow-covered field. In this photo, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Zamboni (borrowed from Maple Leaf Gardens hockey arena) squeegees the infield prior to first pitch.

* 1994 The Rwandan genocide. (Rwandan armed forces kill 10 Belgian peacekeeping officers in a successful effort to discourage international intervention in their genocide that had begun only hours earlier. In less than three months, Hutu extremists who controlled Rwanda murdered an estimated 800,000 innocent civilian Tutsis in the worst episode of genocide since World War II. The Tutsis, a minority group that made up about 10 percent of Rwanda’s population, received no assistance from the international community, although the United Nations later conceded that a mere 5,000 soldiers deployed at the outset would have stopped the wholesale slaughter.)

Photo of thousands of Rwandans fleeing.
During the 1994 genocide, thousands of Rwandans fled to safety, trying to escape the atrocities unfolding around them. Photo: IFRC

* 1776 U.S. Navy captures first British warship. (On this day in 1776, Navy Captain John Barry, commander of the American warship Lexington, makes the first American naval capture of a British vessel when he takes command of the British warship HMS Edward off the coast of Virginia. The capture of the Edward and its cargo turned Captain Barry into a national hero and boosted the morale of the Continental forces. Barry served with distinction throughout the American Revolution. At sea, he had continued success with the Lexington. On land, he raised a volunteer force to assist General Washington in the surprisingly successful Trenton, New Jersey, the campaign of 1776-77. On May 29, 1781, Barry was wounded while successfully capturing the HMS Atlanta and the HMS Trepassy while in command of a new ship, Alliance. He recovered and successfully concluded the final naval battle of the Revolutionary War with a victory over the HMS Sybille in March 1783.)

Painting of the sea battle.
U.S. Naval History in 1776, the Continental brig Lexington captures the British tender Edward near the Virginia Capes.

* 1947 Auto pioneer Henry Ford dies. (On this day in 1947, Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company, which developed the first affordable, mass-produced car–the Model T–and also helped pioneer assembly-line manufacturing, dies at his estate in Dearborn, Michigan, at the age of 83. Ford was born July 30, 1863, on a farm located in present-day Dearborn. The eldest of six children, he was educated in a one-room schoolhouse and as a teenager trained as an apprentice machinist in Detroit. During the 1890s, while working as an engineer, Ford experimented with internal combustion engines and in 1896 built his first self-propelled, gas-engine vehicle, known as the Quadricycle.)

Henry Ford sits at the tiller of the first car he built, the Ford Quadricycle, 1896.
Henry Ford sits at the tiller of the first car he built, the Ford Quadricycle, 1896.

* 1954 Eisenhower gives famous “domino theory” speech. (President Dwight D. Eisenhower coins one of the most famous Cold War phrases when he suggests the fall of French Indochina to the communists could create a “domino” effect in Southeast Asia. The so-called “domino theory” dominated U.S. thinking about Vietnam for the next decade. Eisenhower’s words had little direct immediate impact–a month later, Dien Bien Phu fell to the communists, and an agreement was reached at the Geneva Conference that left Ho’s forces in control of northern Vietnam. In the long run, however, Eisenhower’s announcement of the “domino theory” laid the foundation for U.S. involvement in Vietnam. John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson both used the theory to justify their calls for increased U.S. economic and military assistance to non-communist South Vietnam and, eventually, the commitment of U.S. armed forces in 1965.)

Look who was born on this date!

Head shot of Billie Holiday* Billie Holiday in 1915. (American Jazz Musician:  Nicknamed “Lady Day”, she had a seminal influence on jazz and pop singing. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo.)



head shot of Gallo* Joe Gallo in 1929. (American Gangster:  Nicknamed “Crazy Joe”, he was a celebrated New York City gangster for the Profaci crime family, which later became the Colombo crime family. He initiated one of the bloodiest mob conflicts since the 1931 Castellammarese War and was murdered as a result of it in 1972.)


Head shot of Russel Crowe* Russel Crowe in 1964. (New Zealand Actor: Came to international attention for his role as the Roman General Maximus Decimus Meridius in the 2000 historical epic film “Gladiator”, directed by Ridley Scott, for which Crowe won an Academy Award for Best Actor. His portrayal of mathematician and Nobel Prize winner John F. Nash in the biopic “A Beautiful Mind” also brought him numerous awards.)


Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December, 2013, and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

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