For Canadiens centre Scott Gomez, the holidays are a double whammy of celebration. Two days before learning what Santa Claus has left under the tree, the Alaska native is unwrapping a few extra presents in honour of his birthday.
Among those doing the same: Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, noted daytime diva Susan Lucci, actor Harry Shearer (voice of Ned Flanders and Mr. Burns, among others, on The Simpsons), and former NHL winger Petr Klima.
What else happened on Christmas Eve eve? Here is a selection of events from this day in history.
In 1888, Vincent Van Gogh does something that would define his legacy as much as his art did. Suffering from severe depression, the famed painter cuts off the bottom of his left ear; he later chronicles the event with a painting entitled Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear.
In 1972, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Franco Harris makes a catch that comes to be known as the “Immaculate Reception.” Quarterback Terry Bradshaw launches a pass intended for halfback Frenchy Fuqua. The latter collides with Oakland Raiders safety Jack Tatum, bouncing the ball back towards Harris, who reels it in before it reaches the ground. The catch is a controversial one, as Tatum claims he never touched the ball, meaning the play would be deemed illegal under then-NFL rules; the rule was such that players on the same team couldn’t consecutively make contact with the ball on the same play.
In 1986, Dick Rutan and Jeana Yager make history when they pilot the Voyager airplane around the world on a single fuel load. The flight is the first of its kind, covering 25,012 miles and taking last nine days, three minutes and 44 seconds.
In 2000, Nashville Predators centre David Legwand etches his name into the NHL’s history books when he scores the league’s first-ever overtime penalty shot goal. The goal gives the Predators a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
In 2009, the parents of a young boy claiming their son had accidentally floated away in a giant helium balloon are sentenced to a pair of punishments jail for what turned out to be a hoax. The father receives a 90-day jail sentence while the mother is required to complete 20 days of supervised public work. Both were also put on probation. The couple went through with the hoax in the hopes of landing a reality television show.
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