Sports fans have games — and sometimes moments — that they remember vividly until they can’t remember anything. Here’s my list:
1983: The O’s Finally Get It Done
The Orioles were giants of the 1970s — basically everywhere except in the title column. The Pirates denied them in 1971 and 1979 (the year I just about woke up crying because Game 7 went well past my bedtime…and, well, Baltimore lost). They were stuck fighting the Red Sox and Yankees (where have we heard that before?) for primacy throughout the decade. The 1983 team wasn’t supposed to be a contender, at least not that I can remember, but it got sultry steamy summery hot at the end of the regular season before steamrolling Tony La Russa’s White Sox and then Philadelphia. That wry grin of relief on Scotty McGregor’s face at the end of the World Series Game 5? Likely a result of the torture of losing the Pirates in Game 7 four years earlier.
1983: Pine Tar
I really wish I could find the Royals broadcast of this. By 1983, our family religiously listened to the Royals radio broadcasts — simply because, well, we could get three or four TV broadcasts every year. All I remember was pandemonium. Basically what you saw when George Brett was called out. Good thing the umps herded together like musk oxen. Otherwise things could have gotten really ugly.
1985: One Call
I missed the last few innings of the 1979 World Series. That didn’t happen this time. Dad never pushed his love of the Cardinals or Reds onto us, which made it convenient for the rest of us to root wholeheartedly for the Royals. And, matter of fact, Dad may well have cheered for the underdog KC because we all have a special place in our hearts for underdogs — unless they are a hated rivals. Any way you look at it, Don Denkinger will go to his grave as persona non grata in StL, but it didn’t help matters that Jack Clark misjudged Steve Balboni’s foul pop and a wild pitch pushed runners to second and third with one out. And once the Royals’ comeback was complete in Game 6, of course the underdogs flattened an unraveling Cardinals team in Game 7.
1988: Kirk Gibson
Another sports moment missed, but not because of bedtime. I was nasty sick for Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, but i made it through 8 1/2 before I finally zonked out. Of course, you know what happened. Vin Scully’s call was pretty cool, come to think of it, but Jack Buck nailed it.
2011: David Freese
I know. Wrong announcer reference. But holy cow. And the upper-deck shot is a true YouTube moment to end an amazing baseball game.
Since I really don’t have a true favorite team at the professional level, my moments surround Dear Old Nebraska U.
1970: Game of the Century I
OK, you didn’t have to be born yet (I wasn’t for another month or so) to realize this was one of the best games college football has seen. It doesn’t matter if you’re from Huskerland, Sooner Nation or anywhere. And Lyell Bremser’s call of the Johnny Rodgers punt return will stand the test of time for generations.
1984: Heartbreak in Miami
The Huskers were robbed. But they never would have been in a position to need a two-point conversion if they got off to a good start and Mike Rozier stayed unhurt.
1996: The Run
OK, find me a more impressive football run. Yeah, the game was in hand. Yeah, the Gator defense looked like it was on the boat with a Discovery Channel crew. But this…this was flat-out amazing.
1980: I Believe in Miracles
No backstory needed.
1996: A 3-OT Cup Winner
Colorado wound up sweeping, and truly dominating, the series, but what a classic game. Regulation and four minutes into a third overtime before anyone scored. Chance after chance for both teams denied by John Vanbiesbrouck and Patrick Roy. Poo-poo the low-scoring games if you want, but this was desperation hockey on both ends by the time it finished and Stanley’s holy grail was handed off.
2006: Alexander the Great Undresses An Entire Team
I’ve seen amazing goals. I was looking for Chris Drury’s goal in the playoffs against the Kings in the 1990s for a case in point (one where he effectively sticked his way through both defensemen and scored on the backhand). Guess I’ll have to settle for this one from Alexander Ovechkin. Just one of the most amazing feats of individual hockey ever. And, on a totally separate note, I really miss hearing Curt Keilback.