Famous missed opportunities in history, or, hindsight is 20/20

I have this daily calendar on my desk at work which deals with great stupid moments in history. Of course, there’s no way to know what would have happened otherwise.

Here’s a few of mine:

The guy at Decca who turned down the Beatles.
Whoever thought: talking movies, color TV, pay TV, home computers, etc. wouldn’t sell.

What are yours?

The Germans who voted a Nazi plurality in 1933.

The guy who took Sam Bowie over Hakeem and Michael in 1984 in the draft.

Hakeem was the 1st pick Bowie was the 2nd and MJ was the 3rd.

You get the point. Even then it was a stupid pick, Michael being the 2-time College Player of the Year at North Carolina, where it ain’t at all easy to stand out that much, especially under Dean Smith.

John D. Rockefeller began his business career in Cleveland, Ohio. Had the city and state not subjected him to endless legal and financial battles, Rockefeller might never have moved his headquarters to New York, and Cleveland might have been the beneficiary of the largesse that resulted in such “Big Apple” developments as Rockefeller Center. As this page states,, “Rockefeller even declared that New York City was the better for Cleveland’s unfair treatment of him.”

Cleveland also had – and blew – chances for prominence in the automotive, aviation, and space industries, and even in baseball. As this article details, Henry Ford, Glenn Martin (Martin-Marietta founding father), and George Steinbrenner all joined Rockefeller in finding fortune elsewhere.

I would have liked to see the Phillipines*, Cuba, and Puerto Rico all incorporated as States in the union after the end of the Spanish American War. I don’t see how it could have happened, racism being what it was at the time, but I still think it would have been interesting.

*Okay, probably three different states for the Phillipines, but still…

The 1969 New York Mets. :slight_smile:

The TrailBlazer’s were the team that passe over MJ. Bowie was actually a very good player, and the Blazers may well have had a mini-dynasty if he hadn’t broken his leg - twice!! The Blazer’s had Drexler, who was no where near as good as MJ, but still good. The Blazer’s needed a center.


Given that a key reason given by the US for “liberating” these places in the first place was to save them from Spanish imperialism, maybe the best course of action America could have taken after the war was to give all of them proper independence, rather than doing everything possible to suppress local calls for self-determination and killing large numbers of the local population (in the case of the Phillipines).

William Adelin, only legitimate son of King Henry I of England, drowned in the disastrous wreck of the White Ship. When the ship was breaking up, he actually made it to a lifeboat, but insisted on going back to try to rescue his sister, the Countess of Perche. The lifeboat was capsized, and everyone died.

William Adelin’s death led to a bloody 20-year civil war known as the Anarchy, the coming of the Plantagenet kings of England, and the Angevin empire. If he hadn’t gotten on the White Ship, or hadn’t gone back for his sister, he would’ve been King William III, the fourth Norman king of England.

He really didn’t turn down the Beatles. He just didn’t think them anything special, giving Brian Epstein time to shop them to EMI(?).

He said that guitar bands were on the way out and that he didn’t like their sound. If that’s not a turn down…

In the US, the Beatles were on Capitol and on Parlophone in the UK.

No, no, no. The team that blew that draft was Houston. The Rockets should’ve traded Ralph Sampson to the Blazers for the 2nd pick and then selected Jordan. With Hakeem and Jordan they would’ve ruled the NBA for 10 years. Winning two titles with Olajowon is nothing to sneeze at, of course, but with the 2 of them the sky would’ve been the limit.

Interesting point about my hometown of Cleveland, Sternvogel. Now I’m really depressed.

When Britain and France didn’t tell Hitler that they’d fight him out of Czechoslovakia. From what I’ve read, even Hitler didn’t think at the time that Germany could defeat France if they really stood up to him.

Didn’t someone recently post that Nixon had the opportunity to sign something that would have started the development of the internet that much sooner?

And of course there’s the infamous deal that sent Babe Ruth to the Yankees.

mhendo, I agree, that too, would have been better. I just offered what I think would have been an ideal. IIRC, there would have been a great deal of support for such an idea from the various peoples, if they’d been treated as equals.

Even more of a mistake: letting Hitler remiliartarize the Rhineland. Hitler knew he couldn’t have stood up to any real challenge if anyone wanted to call him on it.

By the time of Munich, Great Britain was at a disadvantage if they had forced the issue over Czechoslovakia, and the Munich treaty was, in part, a way to buy them time to catch up.

Yes, the post referred to “Six Outrageous Plans That Didn’t Happen”, a section of The Book of Lists #2. Here is a blog entry which discusses the scheme cooked up by Nixon and H.R. Haldeman.

On a similiar note: do something to prevent Len Bias from trying cocaine on June 19th, 1986. I think Len might have turned out to be better than MJ. He certainly outplayed him in some of their ACC games, and he had a better vertical leap, softer and bigger hands, and a better jump shot than MJ.