The Dark Day of June 17, 1994 in Sports History


Thirty years ago today marked one of the most unforgettable and infamous days in sports history.

The excitement of celebrating iconic sports figures was ultimately overshadowed by the late O.J. Simpson and his white Ford Bronco.

Friday, June 17, 1994, was filled with notable sports events: Arnold Palmer's final U.S. Open round, the Los Angeles police bringing Simpson into custody after a two-hour, low-speed car chase, a championship buzz in New York City, the first World Cup held on U.S. soil, and Ken Griffey Jr. achieving a feat only Babe Ruth had previously managed.

However, the dark cloud of murder charges filed against Simpson tied all these events together.

Simpson had leveraged his football success into a fruitful career in acting, football analysis, and commercial endorsements.

9:07 a.m. | Arnold Palmer Tees Off at Final U.S. Open Round

Arnold Palmer teed off for his final U.S. Open round, thanks to an exemption from the USGA to play at Oakmont. Although Palmer missed the cut at 16-over, the immense support from the crowd moved him to tears after the round.

Ernie Els ultimately won his first major at the age of 24, defeating Loren Roberts in a sudden-death hole.

10:17 a.m. | Rangers' Stanley Cup Parade Rolls Through New York

The New York Rangers ended their 54-year Stanley Cup drought, with Mark Messier scoring the decisive goal against the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7. The team paraded the Cup up New York's "Canyon of Heroes," where approximately 1.5 million people packed the streets.

The celebration concluded with players receiving keys to the city from Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Unfortunately, the Rangers haven't won a Stanley Cup since 1994, encountering losses against the Los Angeles Kings in 2014 and in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final to the Florida Panthers this year.

11:09 a.m. | Murder Charges Filed Against O.J. Simpson

News broke that murder charges had been filed against Simpson, accusing him of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman. Their bodies were found just days earlier outside Brown Simpson's house, both brutally stabbed to death. Simpson rapidly became the Los Angeles Police Department's prime suspect.

1:55 p.m. | LAPD Press Conference

LAPD Commander David Gascon held a press conference about Simpson, announcing that authorities were searching for him, as he had not turned himself in after the charges were filed.

3:00 p.m. | United States Hosts Its First World Cup Match

The 1994 FIFA World Cup marked a historic first for the United States as the event was held on American soil. The opening ceremonies took place at Soldier Field, featuring Oprah Winfrey introducing Diana Ross, who performed on the field before President Bill Clinton addressed the crowd.

The first World Cup match on American soil featured Germany and Bolivia, with Germany securing a 1-0 victory. The United States advanced to the knockout stage but was eliminated by Brazil, who went on to win its fourth World Cup title.

8:06 p.m. | Ken Griffey Jr. Ties Babe Ruth with 30 Home Runs Before June 30

Ken Griffey Jr. had an outstanding start to the 1994 MLB season, hitting home runs at a pace not seen since Babe Ruth. Griffey hit a solo home run off Kansas City Royals pitcher David Cone, tying Ruth as the only players to hit 30 home runs before June 30. Unfortunately, the 1994-95 strike ended the season on August 11, leading to the cancellation of the World Series for just the second time in history.

Earlier that day, MLBPA executive director Donald Fehr met with 55 players to discuss the owners' proposal for a salary cap.

8:56 p.m. | Police Pursuit of O.J. Simpson Begins

Simpson and Al “AC” Cowlings fled from police in a white Ford Bronco, embarking on a low-speed chase that lasted a couple of hours and covered roughly 60 miles of California pavement. The chase was broadcast live on every news channel in America. Simpson, who had a gun in the car, was eventually talked down by police and returned home without incident. Crowds lined the streets to get a glimpse of the chase, which ended when Simpson pulled into his driveway at 10:57 p.m.

9:00 p.m. | NBA Finals Game 5: Knicks vs. Rockets

As Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Houston Rockets and New York Knicks was underway, NBC briefly preempted the game to provide updates on Simpson's whereabouts, showing the police chase in the main picture. Despite the distractions, the Knicks pulled off a 91-84 win behind Patrick Ewing's 25 points. Houston's Hakeem Olajuwon led all scorers with 27 points.

However, the Knicks went on to lose Games 6 and 7 in Houston, while Houston swept the Orlando Magic the following season. New York was later defeated by the San Antonio Spurs in 1999.

11:47 p.m. | LAPD Takes Simpson Into Custody

After ditching his gun, Simpson exited the Bronco, entered his home, called his mother, and drank a glass of orange juice. The LAPD subsequently took Simpson into custody, charging him with the murders of his ex-wife and Ronald Goldman. The high-profile murder trial began in January 1995 and lasted until October, ultimately resulting in Simpson's acquittal.

However, in a 1997 civil lawsuit, Simpson was found liable for wrongful death and battery, and was ordered to pay more than $30 million in damages. Simpson passed away on April 10, 2024, at the age of 76 after a battle with cancer.


"We spoke to Mr. [Robert] Shapiro, we expressed our dismay, and we indicated to him that we expect to see Mr. Simpson immediately, if not sooner."