May 9, 2006


Great Moments, great TV (Jeff Merron, 5/08/06, ESPN: Page 2)

"Everyone has a purpose in life," David Letterman once quipped. "Perhaps yours is watching television." Perhaps. If so, it's been a great (sporting) life.

We've picked 20 of the greatest moments in sports television history. Perhaps others will soon be made -- Barbaro winning the Triple Crown or Steve Nash hitting a dramatic shot to lift the Suns to an NBA title or Albert Pujols hitting his 74th home run of the season (hey, we can dream, can't we?).

For now, we have these 20. We listed them in chronological order -- but we want you to rank them. Click here to rank these 20 moments.

The scary part is that I watched 17 of the 20 on TV; I was at one of the events (Game 6, 1986 Series); and wasn't born for one of them (the 1958 Giants-Colts game...and, as a Giants fan, I would have watched it had I been alive). The only one I intentionally missed was Dan Jansen, and frankly, who cares?

In terms of great thrills/chills moments, here are some I would have included: Reggie's 3 homer game in the '77 Series; Hank hitting #715; Norman's collapse at the '96 Masters; Jack's win at the '86 Masters; the Bird/Dominque playoff game; the 3 OT Islanders-Capitals playoff game (1987?); the 1970 All-Star game (Pete Rose v. Ray Fosse); game #6 of the 1991 World Series (Kirby's walk-off homer) and Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals (the Willis Reed Game). And, of course, either the Princeton-Georgetown game (G 50-P49) or Princeton-UCLA (P43-U42), both of which remain staples on ESPN Classic.

I would have left off his list: Women's World Cup (it's women's soccer, so who cares; if we have to have a token soccer game, give me a Germany-Holland match from 1974 or the Cosmos-Tampa Bay (1978?) game where 70,000 people showed up out of nowhere and Pele scored 3 goals); Billie Jean v Riggs (he was almost 60; if she had beaten Connors it would have been worth talking about); US-USSR basketball (we got screwed, but it wasn't particularly compelling TV to watch the Bulgarian (or whatever he was) ref inexplicably adding 8 seconds to the clock and pretending the last play was from a full-contact football game); Dan Jansen (dodn't see it then and I don't regret it); Tonya Harding (freak show, not good sports tv); Scott Norwood (there have been better Super Bowls); McGwire's 62nd (it was exciting, but how can you have that one and not Henry's 715?).

Posted by Glenn Dryfoos at May 9, 2006 8:05 AM

Franz Klammer's downhill gold metal run at the 1976 Innsbruck Winter Olympics. Never before or since have I seen an athletic performance that was so on the edge of disaster.

Posted by: Rick T. at May 9, 2006 9:17 AM

The Miami Dolphins - San Diego Chargers playoff game in 1982.

The 1983 Orange Bowl (Miami vs. Nebraska).

Game 7 of the NLCS, 1992 (Pirates vs. Braves).

The Christmas OT game (Dolphins vs. Chiefs) in 1971.

Super Bowl III.

Games 4 and/or 5 of the 1980 NLCS.

The 1975 Masters.

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 9, 2006 10:59 AM

Bart Starr's sneak in the "Ice Bowl"

President Bush throwing out the ball in Yankee Stadium after 9/11.

Posted by: Bob at May 9, 2006 12:10 PM

Howard Cosell being absent from a Monday Night Football broadcast because of "illness."

Howard Cosell giving a long lecture on how O.J. Simpson couldn't run to his left, immediately followed by O.J. going 60 yards for a touchdown to his left. And Howard crowing, "Who says he can't run to his left?" while a whole nation replied "You. Idiot."

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at May 9, 2006 12:29 PM

Bucky Dent-1978

Franz Klammer's run was an incredible moment.

third game 1978 LCS at Yankee Stadium

Posted by: Tom C.,Stamford,Ct at May 9, 2006 12:47 PM

1999 European Cup Final, Nou Camp Stadium, Barcelona, Spain. Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer score in injury time for Manchester United to crush Bayern Munich, who been leading since early in the match.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 9, 2006 1:26 PM

I agree with Franz Klammer's run 100%.

Joe Carter's home run winning the 1993 World Series for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Posted by: LC at May 9, 2006 2:05 PM

Jim: Stay on topic please. We are talking about sporting events on American TV actually seen by Americans. Thank you.

Posted by: Bob at May 9, 2006 2:05 PM

Game 6, 1998 NBA Finals. Jordan, playing lights out in Salt Lake City while having a very nasty flu. Watching the lady in behind the basket have that "This shot will fall" look when Jordan put it up was priceless.

Posted by: Brad S at May 9, 2006 3:55 PM

Oops. Already mentioned on the list, albeit in a lower ranking.

Posted by: Brad S at May 9, 2006 4:01 PM

BTW, the last two game minutes of Florida State-Nebraska in the 1994 Orange Bowl was definitely a gut-turner.

Posted by: Brad S at May 9, 2006 4:08 PM

ESPN2 Bob dude. Any American who wasn't watching missed one of the great events in world sports.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 9, 2006 4:26 PM

Tune in next Wed afternoon for this year's final. Arsenal v Barcelona. Henry vs Ronaldinho.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 9, 2006 4:27 PM

Speaking of Arsenal, I wonder what the wahoos in the BNP (not to mention a good chunk of NRO writers) think of the new stadium named after something owned by the United Arab Emirates?

Posted by: Brad S at May 9, 2006 9:57 PM

Brad S:

It was a gut-turner for both sides. Who were you rooting for?

Incidentally, that was the worst-refereed game I've ever seen in my life. I didn't believe the rumors that the head referee had been fired until I spotted him at a Arena League game years later.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 9, 2006 10:38 PM

By the way: Not that it matters much, but is there a reason my earlier comment was deleted?

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 9, 2006 10:40 PM