• On Aug. 2, 1876, “Wild Bill” Hickok, one of the greatest gunfighters of the American West, is murdered in a saloon in Deadwood, S.D., by a gunslinger named Jack McCall. According to legend, Hickok held a pair of black aces and eights when he died, a poker combination that has since been known as the “Dead Man’s Hand.”
• On July 28, 1932, during the Great Depression, President Herbert Hoover orders the U.S. Army under Gen. Douglas MacArthur to use force to evict the Bonus Marchers from the nation’s capital. The group of some 1,000 unemployed World War I veterans was seeking cash payments for their veterans’ bonus certificates.
• On Aug. 1, 1942, Grateful Dead singer Jerry Garcia is born in San Francisco. At age 15, he traded a birthday gift from his mother — an accordion — for an electric guitar and was soon playing in San Francisco coffeehouses. The Grateful Dead’s only Top 10 hit was “Touch of Grey” in 1987.
• On July 29, 1958, the U.S. Congress passes legislation establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, a civilian agency responsible for coordinating America’s activities in space. NASA was created in response to the Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of its first satellite, Sputnik I.
• On July 30, 1976, singing star and radio personality Kate Smith makes her last public appearance. She sang her trademark number, “God Bless America,” on a TV program honoring the U.S. Bicentennial. Smith launched her first radio show in 1931. She died in 1986.
• On July 31, 1990, Nolan Ryan wins the 300th game of his career, leading the Texas Rangers to an 11-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. Ryan believed that pitching power comes from the legs, not the arms, and he ran every day. He pitched for 27 years in the big leagues, with the Mets, Angels, Astros and Rangers.
(c) 2009 King Features Synd.