by John Delach
The origin of hat-trick according to Wikipedia: The term first appeared in cricket circa 1858 to describe HH Stephenson’s taking three wickets with three consecutive deliveries. Fans held a collection for Stephenson and presented him with a hat bought with the proceeds. The term was used in print for the first time in 1878 and was eventually adopted by many other sports including hockey, association football, water polo and team handball.
On July 5, 2015, the American midfielder, Carli Lloyd, accomplished a hat-trick by scoring three goals against Japan in the team’s 5-2 victory in the finals of the women’s World Cup. She was the first woman to make a hat trick in World Cup competition and the first athlete to make it in a final match. Ms Lloyd scored her third goal in the 16th minute, another record.
While the mostly partisan American crowd went wild in their spontaneous reaction to this amazing feat, their behavior was nowhere near as intense as two other instances that I have witnessed as part of my experience as a sport’s fan.
The first demonstration occurred during the New York Yankees 1978 home opener, but the reason for it actually happened the previous October. In Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, Reggie Jackson, put the Yankees ahead 4-2 with a two-run homer off Burt Hooten in the fourth inning. In the following inning he went yard again hitting a second two-run blast off of Elias Sosa giving the Bronx Bombers a 7-3 lead. Finally in the eighth, Mr. October parked his third round-tripper served up by Charlie Hough to become the first player since Babe Ruth to make a hat-trick in a World Series Game. Celebration of this event was subsumed by the team’s clinching the series that night and the chaos that followed the victory as unruly fans flooded onto the playing field.
Before Jackson came to New York the brash superstar predicted that if he played in the Bronx, “They would name a candy bar after me.”
And so it came to pass; the Reggie Bar was born, a square shaped concoction of chocolate, nuts and raisons wrapped in a bright orange package showing Reggie’s image about to swing at a suspended ball and emblazoned with REGGIE! in blue letters. The long defunct Wayne Bun Company that made this new treat introduced it at the 1978 home opener distributing individual candy bars to the 50,000 faithful in attendance. The Reggie Bar elicited comments reflecting the over-sized ego of its name sake: “It’s the only candy bar that tells you how good it is,” and, “It tastes like a hot dog.”
As luck would have it, Number 44 blasted a home run his first time at bat and most of the fans decided to celebrate the event and his World Series hat-trick by bombarding the field with his candy bars as he circled the field. The cascade of unopened candy continued until we ran out of ammunition covering the most of the field within reach of the stands in a sea of orange.
My second experience took place at a non-descript Rangers hockey game at Madison Square Garden Unfortunately, I don’t recall the player involved but that night a group of us secured our firm’s corporate box and filled it with a group of insurers who had assisted us in placing a difficult risk. Unbeknownst to any of us, Winston cigarettes was using this venue to showcase their then famous Winston Cup stock car racing series by distributing bright red baseball caps to each arriving fan. You guessed it, that unidentified Ranger scored three goals and the rink was transformed into the frozen Red Sea. Again, a lengthy delay ensued as all of the hats had to be picked up by hand, the Zamboni being useless for this task.
When action resumed, the same player scored a fourth goal bringing on an onslaught of any remaining hats plus packs of Winston cigarettes.
I just wish those fans in Vancouver had the presence of mind to celebrate Ms Lloyd’s achievement in similar fashion. But it can be argued that a jubilant New York City crowd exceeded this wish by showering Ms Lloyd and her teammates with confetti last Friday when the city hosted a parade in their honor up the canyon of heroes on a glorious July day.