09 09 09
One of those nutty calendar days today. People dating checks or typing letters are writing 09-09-09, our one screwball date of the year. Next year it will be Oct. 10, 2010 — 10-10-10.
I know some people do all sorts of odd things for the alleged lucky number day. Lottery players may include a bunch of nines on their daily entries. Horse players may follow suit, but choices in New York are limited — Saratoga closed this past Monday, Belmont won’t begin its fall meet until Friday and Finger Lakes is off today. Saratoga Gaming and Raceway and Batavia Downs will be happy to take bets on the 9 in the ninth race.
I do not consider the triple nines a true numerical holy day, because three zeroes are also involved. On Sept. 9, 1999, people could write down 9-9-99 and enjoy four of a kind. They could have done the same thing on Aug. 8, 1988 — 8-8-88. We really haven’t had one of these truly magical number days since September of 1999 I just can’t count Feb. 2, 2002, April 4 of 2004 and June 6 of 2006 as real contenders. Although July 7, 1907 fell on a Saturday, and bunches of people used the Lucky 7 combination as a wedding date. I remember writing a story about the craze two years ago.
I also wrote about the 8-8-88 and 9-9-99 days, which probably makes me the numerology beat reporter here at the old Gazette.
We particularly had fun with the 1999 story, tossing all sorts of “9” references into the piece. Funny how many cultural icons include the number ... and because some readers may have forgotten my piece of 10 years ago, I can return some of those facts to prominence. Nothing like getting a little more mileage out of your research!
* For years, the Eveready Battery Co.’s symbol was a large “9” with a sleek black cat jumping through the circle in the number. The logo is still used on some Eveready products.
* Baseball greats Ted Williams and Roger Maris wore “9” on their uniforms.
* Speaking of baseball, there are nine positions in the field. For score book purposes, each position gets a number. The “9” position is right field. There’s another nine in the game — regulation games go nine innings.
* “Love Potion Number Nine,” “99 Bottles of Beer,” The Beatles’s “Revolution 9” and “99 Luftballons” (also known as “99 Red Balloons”) are four songs that include the digit.
* In the 1960s television spy spoof “Get Smart,” dopey Maxwell Smart’s leading lady was the sexy “Agent 99,” played by Barbara Feldon.
* A popular billiards game is nine ball.
* Babies are born after nine months in the womb.
* “Cloud 9” is a state of elation or great happiness, according to the Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang.
* A “ninety-nine” was once known as a chief fry cook at a lunch counter, says the 1960 “Dictionary of American Slang.” According to the book, the term can also be used to describe out-of-style or damaged merchandise, especially shoes.
* In football, the San Francisco 49ers are nicknamed the “Niners.”
* Mockingbirds were sometimes called “nine-killers” during the late 1800s, according to the 1896 “Dictionary of Americanisms.” Nature experts believed the bird caught nine grasshoppers a day.
* Writer Damon Runyon used the word “nine” as another word for cheat or rob.
* Firefighters use the radio code number “99” to announce a building is on fire.
* Channel 9 is the CB radio channel allocated for emergency use.
* Popular expressions have their share of nines. “Dressed to the nines” means dressed to perfection. “The whole nine yards” means everything possible. “A stitch in time saves nine” means a simple precaution can prevent major trouble.
* The 1940s DC comic book hero Hawkman got his flying powers through the anti-gravity “ninth metal,” also called Nth metal.
* American folk hero John Henry swung a 9-pound hammer.
* Ivory soap is almost immaculate — advertisements say 99 44/100 percent pure.
I might have been stretching it on the last one.
The only spooky nine fact I presented came from Nostradamus, and it’s only spooky if you read the story in 2001.
The famous French astrologer included the year 1999 in one of his predictions. He seer once said a “great king of terror” would come from the sky. One possible translation was something, perhaps a meteor, would appearing during September.
People who take Nostradamus seriously could say the man was just two years off ... the terror from the sky did come, during the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.
Anyway, Sept. 9, 1999 was the last real deal. And Oct. 10, 2010 — the aforementioned 10-10-10 — will be the next one.
People can quibble. The extra numbers in the years — 19 for 1999 and the 20 in 2010 — do throw a monkey wrench into the mojo.
By using that rationale, I guess the last true magic day we had was November 11, 1111. And the next one will be February 2, 2222.
Once again, we’ll miss Saratoga Race Course ... unless NYRA moves the traditional August meet to mid-winter.
With global warming picking up steam during the next 193 years, that might be the case.