I was 12 years old in June of 1994, likely still pube, alcohol, and drug free. I was a sports junkie back then. I watched reruns of SportsCenter, with OGs Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann, every morning while eating Toaster’s Strudels for breakfast. I collected baseball cards, drank Pepsi Big Slams, as per Shaq’s endorsement, and played a modified version of stickball at a friend’s house nearly every afternoon. Death Row Records boomed on the CD player in my bedroom, and I was obsessed with wearing the jerseys of NBA players.
That summer, the Braves, fresh off of their improbable back-to-back-to-back National League West pennants (that’s right kids, the Atlanta Braves used to play in the NL West, and had great rivalries with the Dodgers and Giants), trailed the Montreal Expos (that’s right kids, the Nationals used to play in Canada!) in the newly realigned NL East by some 8 or 9 games approaching the all-star break. This, if I remember correctly, was the inaugural year of the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins, forcing Major League Baseball into the current three-division alignment. The Braves were headed for the possibility of becoming baseball’s first Wild Card selection in the new playoff system. The 1994 Expos were fucking sick. Ultimately, the players’ strike happened, brainwashing most of America into believing that all baseball players were the devil.
Speaking of the devil. The summer of 1994 also forced NFL legend and “actor” OJ Simpson back into the spotlight, when allegations that he brutally stabbed and killed his ex-wife and her alleged boyfriend, made the news. Of course, at age 12, I believed that everyone famous was pure, especially athletes, and could do no wrong. “There’s no god damn way this guy did this,” I thought. “OJ fucking Simpson? He was in The Naked Gun!”
And then, the chase happened.
I remember watching it on the news in my parents living room, thinking, “Why is this former superstar athlete driving a fucking Ford Bronco? I’d be in a Ferarri or Porsche, with 2 hot bitches riding shotgun.” I was probably a little too young to realize the racial strain the ensuing verdict would put on America, although Family Guy made it pretty clear for the younger generation with this clip.
I can still remember a lot of the actors that were dragged through the media during the trial, who eventually became household names – Mark Fuhrman, the LAPD Detective who was grilled on the stand for his past use of the “N” word; Marcia Clark (Prosecuting Attorney); Johnny Cochran (Defense Attorney); Robert Kardashian (Defense Attorney and patriarch of this awful family); Kato Kaelin (OJ’s “house guest” and legendary douche bag); and of course, Bearded Asian Judge Lace Ito.
Lost in the shuffle on the day of the chase, fairly significant stuff happened in sports: Arnold Palmer played his last round in the US Open, The World Cup opened in Chicago, the New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup, and Ken Griffey, Jr. tied Babe Ruth for the most home runs hit before June 30th. And yet, a scumbag like Simpson dominated the headlines.
Where were you during the infamous “chase?” Best story wins a prize.