July 1, 1987: The Facts of Life

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(Pictured: Steve Carlton deals during the 1983 World Series.)

July 1, 1987, was a Wednesday. President Reagan nominates U.S. Court of Appeals judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, to fill the seat left by the retirement of Justice Lewis Powell. Within an hour, Senator Ted Kennedy blasts the nominee in a fiery speech on the Senate floor: “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, and schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution.” Also today, Reagan aide Oliver North is grilled about the Iran-Contra affair by House and Senate investigators; his private meeting with them is prelude to public testimony next week. Seventeen months after the Challenger explosion, NASA has devised a rocket-assisted ejection system for future shuttles but has yet to make it work. NASA administrator James Fletcher admits that such a system would not have saved the Challenger crew. Michigan governor James Blanchard has vetoed a bill raising Michigan’s speed limit on rural interstates to 65. At least 34 states have raised limits this year after Congress ended the national limit of 55.

The Green Bay Packers say they traded for quarterback David Woodley earlier this week because they were unable to make any headway with free agent Ron Jaworski. The New York Yankees have the best record in baseball, 49-and-29, after a 6-1, 12-inning win over Toronto tonight. The top record in the National League belongs to the St. Louis Cardinals, even after they drop a 9-6 decision to Montreal. In Cleveland, a couple of relative graybeards square off on the pitcher’s mound: 42-year-old Steve Carlton gets the start for the Indians against 38-year-old Jerry Reuss of the California Angels. Both are gone after the fifth inning, but each gets a decision as the Angels win 10-5. The game attracts a crowd of 5,005 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, capacity 81,000. The Indians have the worst record in baseball.

At 3:00 this afternoon, New York City country radio station WHN becomes WFAN, the first all-sports radio station in America. On TV tonight, CBS presents Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, Magnum P.I., and the night’s top-rated show, The Equalizer. On ABC, it’s Perfect Strangers, Head of the Class, MacGyver, and Hotel. NBC airs Highway to Heaven, The Facts of Life, Night Court, and a news special, Six Days Plus 20 Years: A Dream Is Dying, about Israel’s ongoing occupation of the West Bank after the Six-Day War of 1967. Although it is the only first-run program on the network schedule, it is also the lowest-rated one.

On the current Cash Box chart, “Head to Toe” by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam is in its second week at #1. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston is #2. Also in the Top 10: Heart (“Alone”), Kenny G (“Songbird”), Genesis (“In Too Deep”), Bob Seger (“Shakedown”), Herb Alpert (with Janet Jackson on “Diamonds”), and Smokey Robinson (“Just to See Her”). The biggest mover is “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2, up from #39 to #28. Seven songs are new among the 40. “Wot’s It to Ya” by Robbie Nevil is the highest at #34. Among the other debuts is Fleetwood Mac’s “Seven Wonders” at #38. The highest debut on the Top 100 is “It’s Not Over (Til It’s Over)” by Starship at #66. The oldest record on the chart is Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al,” hanging on at #93 in its 28th week on the chart.

Perspective From the Present: It was another summer weekday in Quad Cities, USA, as I continued my job at the elevator-music station, but the details, not just of  that day but of that summer, at work and at home, are mostly lost in the fog of time. Eighty-seven was a good year for Smokey Robinson, with two Top-10 hits (“Just to See Her” and “One Heartbeat”), his first since 1981 and his last to date. David Woodley never took a snap for the Packers; he was released in August; Jaworski signed with the Miami Dolphins. Steve Carlton would be traded from Cleveland to Minnesota later in July and earn a World Series ring, although he was not on the Twins’ postseason roster. In 1987, some observers considered Ted Kennedy’s Bork speech to be hyperbole at best and slander at worst, but today the Supreme Court has a majority of Borks, and Kennedy’s nightmare vision turns out to have been prescient.

Note to Patrons: If you have not done so already, vote for the decade you’d like to read about on July 4 here. Poll closes tomorrow morning. 

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