Sidd Finch: Fast forward to 1985. That's when Sports Illustrated published a story about a new rookie pitcher who planned to play for the Mets. His name was Sidd Finch, and he could throw a baseball at 168 mph -- 65 mph faster than the previous record.
Finch had mastered the "art of the pitch" in a Tibetan monastery under the guidance of the "great poet-saint Lama Milaraspa."
Let's just say that many Mets fans were enthusiastic about their team's good fortune. Too bad Finch didn't exist, well, except in the imaginations of the author, George Plimpton.
"There are just an enormous number of people who kind of fondly have these great memories of Sidd Finch," Boese said. "For me, the best April Fools' Day pranks actually need to fool a lot of people. It's easy to think up some ridiculous story, but fool nobody. That's the trick: to think up something absurd that actually does trick people. Sidd Finch really took in a huge number of sports fans."
The Taco Liberty Bell: We've all seen stadiums named after corporations. But what about our national treasures? In 1996, Taco Bell announced it had bought the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell.
It wasn't just the folks in Philadelphia who were upset, but citizens across the country.
By 10 a.m., the company issued a news release saying the announcement was all in good fun. Taco Bell estimated that the prank generated anywhere from $20 million to $25 million of free publicity.
The joke made it all the way to the White House, where then press secretary Mike McCurry announced during a briefing that Ford was paying to refurbish the Lincoln Memorial in exchange for calling it "the Lincoln Mercury Memorial."
"Since the 1970s, April Fools' Day has really been picked up by the advertising industry," Boese said. "It's almost become like the Super Bowl in which people watch it for the advertisements."
The Left-Handed Whopper: Another example of a company playing off the day came in 1998 when Burger King introduced the Left-Handed Whopper. In a full-page newspaper ad, Burger King said it had introduced a Whopper specifically for the 32 million left-handed Americans. It had all the same ingredients, but the condiments were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of their left-handed customers.
There was no shortage of customers requesting the new Whopper. And, according to the company, plenty of others made sure to request the old "right-handed" version of the burger.
Nixon for President, Again: He might have left office in disgrace but in 1992, National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation" show announced that Richard Nixon was running for president again.
His new campaign slogan was "I didn't do anything wrong, and I won't do it again," NPR reported.
To go along with the news segment, there were sound bites of Nixon giving a speech announcing his candidacy.
Listeners called into the show outraged at the announcement. Only later on during the broadcast did NPR say it was a hoax. Nixon's voice was impersonated by comedian Rich Little.
Alabama Changes the Value of Pi
In April 1998, an obscure newsletter reported that the Alabama state legislature had voted to change the value of pi from 3.14159 to the "Biblical value' of 3.0."