Category Archives: American Heroes

America is filled with everyday heroes who help make this country great. By reading America Fun Fact of the Day, you’ve proven that you yourself are also an American hero. And we salute you.

But there’s no way in hell we’re going to salute you by making a fun fact about you, since this page is reserved for REAL heroes. You know, the people who are important enough to get wikipedia pages and such.

Ranking the Ridiculous Food Items That Might Be Added to the 2017 Menu of the West Michigan Whitecaps Class A Baseball Team

“We will let you choose what gives you your next heart attack.”

~The Western Michigan Whitecaps’ Food Director

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We’ve talked about Minor League Baseball before—specifically, how the menus at Minor League Baseball stadiums tend to be what you might call “eccentric” if you weren’t allowed to use the term “batshit fucking insane what, really, WHAT!?” among polite company.  It makes sense—there’s not necessarily a lot of star power in most minor league games, so owners try to bring in fans with fun gimmicks, which can include wrapping a cheese filled bratwurst with sausage, then bacon, and frying the fucker.  That wasn’t just us making up some random over the top example, that fucking exists.

Which brings us to the Western Michigan Whitecaps, a Single-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers who play, and stay with us because this is confusing, at the Fifth Third Ballpark in the Grand Rapids suburb of Comstock Park.  Yes, we know, our heads hurt too.  Anyway, they take the tradition of “let’s serve crazy shit to fans” to the next level, and since 2009 they have provided fans with a series of food options that they can vote for, with the winner being sold in the stadium for the next season.

Now if you plan on voting, you can do so here, but you don’t want to make this decision uninformed.  So we’re going to go through each potential menu item, giving you a systematic breakdown of each insane item, before telling you what the best option is.  Ready?  Here we go!

Ranking the Ridiculous Food Items That Might Be Added to the 2017 Menu of the West Michigan Whitecaps Class A Baseball Team

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Jackie Coogan: Uncle Fester Was Kind of a Badass

“Holy shit, I can’t believe I got killed by Uncle Fester.”

~An Actual Murderer

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“Actors aren’t as tough as they used to be” sounds like a sentence you’d hear an angry old man shouting from his porch, possibly to children gliding down the sidewalk on Heelys.  But there is some truth to it.  Sure, a lot might have to do with the times we live in, but it’s easy to forget that Hollywood wasn’t always full of glamour and George Clooneys.  The Golden Age of Hollywood was pretty much fueled by animal deaths on set and carefully regimented drug cocktails forced upon strung out teenage actresses off it, and if you managed to pull through that minefield relatively successful and sane, then you had to be made of some pretty solid stuff.

We mention that because while we (correctly) look back at groundbreaking actors such as Charlie Chaplin, John Wayne, and Humphrey Bogart as visionaries and badasses, there’s one actor who probably was the toughest son of a bitch to step in front of a camera (yes, we know that list includes Danny Trejo) if for no other reason than the fact that his childhood, we’re pretty sure, was haunted.  Which probably helped him prepare for the role of Uncle Fester.

Yes, we’re going to talk about Jackie Coogan, who could totally beat you up.

Jackie Coogan:  Uncle Fester Was Kind of a Badass

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Ray Caldwell: The Alcoholic Lightning Rod of Major League Baseball

“*gets hit by lightning*  *chugs a beer*  Don’t worry guys, I’m good.”

~Ray Caldwell

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Most history curriculums are pretty bad at telling us about the crazy things that have actually happened in the world, if you think about it.  Sure, McCarthyism during the Cold War is “something we should know” but how come no one talks about the time we tried to build a military base on the moon in 1959?  Hell, even when history tries to get edgy (like, for instance, the existence of Teddy Roosevelt) it somehow manages to leave out some of the best parts (like how his daughter was a pet-snake keeping badass).  This goes double for history.  We know about Babe Ruth and his philandering, boozy ways, but we don’t know about the pure insanity that was Charlie Sweeney.  Likewise, everyone and their mother knows at least the name “Cy Young” when it comes to pitchers, but was Cy Young an alcoholic who once was struck by lightning during a game that he stayed in and finished?  We didn’t think so.

So we here at America Fun Fact of the Day have decided to do history a favor and help them spice things up a bit by telling you a little bit about Ray Caldwell, one of the most badass pitchers to ever play professional baseball, and one of the few people who can give Charlie Sweeney a run for his money.

Ray Caldwell: The Alcoholic Lightning Rod of Major League Baseball

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The Inventor of Scrabble Was Actually Named Alfred Mosher Butts

“Wait.  His name was Alfred Mosher Butts?  Are you sure?  This wasn’t someone on staff fucking with Wikipedia again, was it?”

~AFFotD’s Fact Checking Team

alfred butts

We’ve all at one time or another played Scrabble—statistically, it’s in 1/3 of every American household, and 95% of every American grandparent household.  If you haven’t played it before, you’re probably not reading this article, due to your severe and truly heartbreaking illiteracy, but on the off chance that someone told you how to use those programs that read websites out loud for blind people, we’ll throw you a bone.  Scrabble is a classic American game where you form words on a grid to get points.  If you said, “Oh, just like Words With Friends?” hello readers who were born after 9/11.  But yes, it’s what Words With Friends ripped off.  It’s a simple, yet enjoyable, game that stupid people absolutely despise for obvious reasons.

But it is an American invention.  And not only that, it was invented by a man that we can’t believe isn’t better known in society.  Partly because he invented an iconic game enjoyed by millions, if not billions.  But also because his name was Alfred Mosher Butts!  We are children, but we don’t care, we will always find that funny.  So let’s talk about him!

The Inventor of Scrabble Was Actually Named Alfred Mosher Butts

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The History of the Senior Professional Baseball Association

“Even to make love, you need experience.”

~Pedro Ramos, 54-year-old pitcher for the Senior Professional Baseball Association.  Seriously.

legends baseball

As a nation, we have more options for live sporting events then we know what to do with.  Between high school, college, and professional levels of football, baseball, basketball, and sure, hockey, Americans could conceivably see a live sporting event every single day of the year without even having to consider lowering themselves to watch a Major League Soccer match.  But with so many games at our disposal, we’ve reached a bit of a saturation point, and trying to add another league to the market is practically impossible.  Remember the XFL?  A multi-millionaire tried to make a new football league, and even with a player named “He Hate Me” basically got laughed out of existence in less than a year.

It’s hard to start a sporting league now and really get enough interest to keep it in existence.  Never was that more obvious than in 1989 when real-estate millionaire Jim Morley decided to start the Senior Professional Baseball Association.  What’s the SPBA, you ask?  Well, unfortunately for those of us that have to type it out, they didn’t call it that.  It went by “The Senior League.”  But the Senior League was a short lived (it lasted one-and-a-half seasons) winter professional baseball league that took place entirely in Florida with players who had to be older than 35 (except the catchers, who could be 32).  And it is probably one of the most delightfully batshit leagues to have ever been played in these United States.  So let’s go on a history lesson, shall we?

The History of the Senior Professional Baseball Association

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Samuel Wilson- The Man Who Was (More or Less) Uncle Sam

Why do people keep asking me about green eggs and ham, dammit?”

~Uncle Sam

 uncle sam

America is a young enough nation that history can pretty accurately tell us about our founders, with some embellishment and omissions because if we’re being honest and cynical enough we can admit that history writers used to pretty much be the old time equivalent of PR agents.  But we know a lot about the lives of the people that helped create this nation.  We know about George Washington’s wooden teeth (which is a myth), we know that Benjamin Franklin flew a kite with a key on it to discover electricity (which was also probably a myth) and we know about Paul Revere riding through the streets warning “The British are coming” (also bullshit).  Okay, so these are some bad examples.  But the point is, the people that represent America, people like Washington, Jefferson, and Monroe, are at least historical figures that we know a decent amount about.

Which is why it’s interesting that we don’t often talk about Uncle Sam, the finger-pointing goateed patriot who is basically timeshares with bald eagles to be America’s mascot.  That’s because we just assume he was an invention created to get people to support various war efforts.  But most of us don’t really think much about his actual origin.  Sure, you might point to Columbia or Brother Jonathan as examples of America-personifying precursors, but you’d have to be a very specific type of person to both know about those examples and want to nerd out over it.  But for the rest of us, not only does Uncle Sam have a relatively rich history, but he’s actually based on a real person.  So let’s talk about Samuel Wilson, the man who actually was Uncle Sam.  Well, at least officially.

Samuel Wilson- The Man Who Was (More or Less) Uncle Sam

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Annie Londonderry, America’s First Star Cyclist

“I like to ride my bicycle.”

~Queen

annie londonderry

The average American exercises only four times a year, terrified with the knowledge that a fifth instance of physical excursion would cause their chest to explode and shower the room with under-digested hot Cheetos.  Don’t hold us to that, but we’re pretty sure we’re right.  And if we’re wrong, don’t tell our doctor because otherwise he’d probably start giving us shit for our lifestyle choices.  However, some Americans are immune to this totally-not-made-up-by-us exercise allergy.  In fact, some manage to get themselves out there past all the marathons and Tough Mudders to find truly badass ways to get their sweat on.

One of those intrepid athletes?  Annie “Londonderry” Kopchovsky, the woman who biked around the world in 1894.

Annie Londonderry, America’s First Star Cyclist

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The National League Blacklisting of 1881

“Listen, we’re just sort of winging this as we go along.”

~1800s Major League Baseball Commissioners

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We’ve been talking a lot about baseball in the past several months, which comes as a bit of a surprise considering that the sport is a topic we have very rarely discussed over the past four years.  Yes, it’s America’s Pastime, but it’s also kind of boring from an outside perspective.  But we stumbled upon something when looking up the silliest Major League Baseball team names that we could find during their early years—before baseball was a bankable commodity, they pretty much let anyone pick up a bat and play for (not much) money.  That led to crazy ballplayers, goofy names, and that one time where a guy got paid a full professional baseball salary to show up to an empty stadium every day and play himself in a disbanded league.

Baseball during the 19th, and somewhat during the start of the 20th, century was at times hilariously inept, completely marginalized, and interesting as fuck.  So we’re going to look into our high tech time machine (read as: Googling shit while drunk) to bring you another chapter from the early annals of America’s most interesting sport that involves players standing still for the majority of each game.

The National League Blacklisting of 1881

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Otto Frederick Rohwedder and the Invention of Sliced Bread

“It’s the greatest invention since sliced bread.”

~Literally every single salesperson you have ever met, every goddamn one

 sliced bread

We take a lot of the simple things in our lives for granted.  That’s just human nature—if something doesn’t look difficult, or inherently present itself as some technological triumph, we tend to assume that these have always existed.  We can marvel at the technology behind, say, a smart phone, but overlook the fact that the first calculator was made in 1959, looked like this, and was able to compute less than your smart phone’s calculator app.

We’re going about this in a roundabout way, but the moral here is that many assume sliced bread has been around since, oh, roughly the same time as bread and knives co-existed, when in reality it’s a 20th century phenomenon.  Yes, sliced bread was first packaged and sold in 1928, and it is an American invention.  Specifically, by an enterprising Midwesterner who devoted over ten years of his life to designing and perfecting a machine to slice whole loaves of bread at once to ensure that we would forever be able to take an arduous step out of the process of making toast and sandwiches.  That man, nay, that hero, was Otto Frederick Rohwedder, and this is his story.

Otto Frederick Rohwedder and the Invention of Sliced Bread

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Even More of the Goofiest Baseball Player Names of the 19th Century