June 25, 1976, is a Friday. It is the 100th anniversary of Custer’s Last Stand at the Little Big Horn in Montana. In Wisconsin, it’s a cool day, although warmer than yesterday, when the temperature didn’t get out of the 60s. Looking ahead to the fall, Wisconsin Governor Patrick Lucey signs a bill appropriating $800,000 for a swine flu vaccination program. The United States Supreme Court rules that private schools may not discriminate against students by race, and that whites as well as blacks are protected against racial discrimination in private employment. Songwriter Johnny Mercer, who collaborated on such American standards as “Hooray for Hollywood,” “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby,” and “That Old Black Magic,” dies at age 66.
The Omen opens in theaters around the country. On TV tonight, CBS airs Macho Callahan, a 1970 theatrical western starring David Janssen; ABC has two made-for-TV films back-to-back: The Desperate Miles and Panic on the 5:22. At midnight in Madison, Wisconsin, the long-running horror showcase Lenny’s Inferno features Vincent Price in four tales by Edgar Allan Poe.
Former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali faces wrestler Antonio Inoki tonight (US time) in Tokyo in a hybrid boxing/wrestling match that is being billed as the World Martial Arts Championship. Their bout, televised in the States on closed circuit in theaters, will end in a draw and leave fans feeling shafted. Female players at Wimbledon threaten to boycott the tournament next year if the women’s prize money isn’t increased to equal the amount male players receive. In the majors, shortstop Mike Phillips of the New York Mets hits for the cycle in a 7-4 win over the Chicago Cubs. In church league softball, the Monroe United Methodist team loses again, 8-6 to the Assembly of God.
Leonard Cohen plays Montreal, the Grateful Dead plays Chicago, and Elvis Presley plays Buffalo. Fleetwood Mac played in Milwaukee last night and is in Peoria, Illinois, tonight. ZZ Top takes the Worldwide Texas Tour to Cape Cod, and Aerosmith plays San Antonio. At WLS in Chicago, “Silly Love Songs” will be knocked out of the Number-One spot on the new survey that comes out tomorrow, replaced by the Captain and Tennille’s “Shop Around.” Once again, the hottest record on WLS is “The Boys Are Back in Town” by Thin Lizzy, which explodes from 13 to 5. “Sara Smile” by Hall and Oates is also new in the Top Ten. “Got to Get You Into My Life,” the single released from the Beatles’ Rock and Roll Music compilation album, vaults from 29 to 19, chased closely by “Let Her In,” the first single by TV heartthrob John Travolta, which moves from 32 to 20. The single biggest move on the chart belongs to Heart, whose debut single, “Crazy on You,” jumps from 36 to 22. On the album chart, Wings at the Speed of Sound continues to hold the top spot, while Aerosmith’s Rocks, Fleetwood Mac, Frampton Comes Alive!, and Presence by Led Zeppelin continue to slug it out in the top five.
Perspective From the Present: The Church League still plays in my hometown, although I don’t know if the games are still on Fridays. (Games started as late as 10:00 back then, which seems hard to believe now.) Although the league ostensibly existed to promote Christian sportsmanship, it was in fact the most bloodthirsty league I ever played in. Games were minimally officiated (sometimes by agreement between both teams), and both physical play and un-Christian language were frequent. Our team wasn’t all that good and neither was I, but there was still something delicious about being on the field as night fell and the ballpark lights took hold (and the bugs rose up from the creek nearby). It was the feeling of being precisely where I wanted to be and doing precisely what I wanted to be doing. I would learn in years to come that we are not always, or even usually, so fortunate as to feel that way.