No matter who wins the Masters golf tournament this weekend, it is annually one of the best sporting events on the calendar.
Sometimes, it’s one for the history books, as in 1986 when Jack Nicklaus at 46 rallied to win his sixth green jacket.
In fact, that 1986 tournament is on my personal list of all-time favorite sports moments – that is, those not including Penn State and family events, which otherwise would dominate the list.
MY TOP SPORTS MOMENTS
(In rough order, from top to bottom)
Miracle on Ice: U.S. ice hockey team defeats the supposedly invincible Soviet Union juggernaut in the 1980 Olympics.
Jack Nicklaus winning the 1986 Masters. Men were crying.
Willie Mays of the San Francisco Giants scoring from second on a single at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia in the 1960s. My all-time favorite player makes a head’s-up play in my first Major League game in person.
In a slugfest of unbeatens, Joe Frazier decisions Muhammad Ali in 15 rounds in 1971 to retain the heavyweight boxing championship at Madison Square Garden. Heading into the fight, the boxers were a combined 57-0 with 48 knockouts.
Muhammad Ali lighting the Olympic torch at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. No one saw it coming, and it was riveting.
The Green Bay Packers winning the first Super Bowl in January 1967, when it was not even called the Super Bowl. Sure, the Pack was favored to beat the upstart Kansas City Chiefs of the American Football League, but fans of the more established National Football League were nervous about the outcome.
The Eagles winning the Super Bowl this year. Not the first NFL title for the team, but its first Super Bowl championship, and it was sweet and emotional.
The Phillies winning the World Series in 1980. A first championship for the Phils after many close calls in the 1970s.
The Flyers’ back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and 1975. This was during a time when it seemed every southeastern Pennsylvania neighborhood had a street hockey team, thanks to the popularity of the Flyers. It was also especially delicious for those of us Philly fans on the campus of Penn State, where we had to deal with presumptuous Pittsburgh fans.
The San Francisco Giants winning the 1971 National League West crown after many times finishing second in the NL in the 1960s, before divisions were created.
The Phillies winning the World Series in 2008. Ending a 25-year title drought for all major sports teams in Philadelphia.
The Sixers and Dr. J winning the NBA title in 1983 after many close calls.
Miracle at the New Meadowlands: DeSean Jackson’s lightning bolt punt return for a winning touchdown on the game’s final play to cap a 28-straight-point comeback victory over the rival New York Giants in 2010.
The Duke-Kentucky overtime clash in the 1992 regional final in the NCAA Basketball Tournament, memorable for Christian Laettner’s game-winning shot at the buzzer.
Carli Lloyd scoring a hat trick in the first 16 minutes in the 2015 World Cup final for the U.S. Women’s soccer team.
Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary touchdown pass on the game’s last play to give Boston College a stunning victory over defending national champion Miami in 1984.
Villanova over Georgetown to win the 1985 NCAA basketball title. An upset that no one besides Rollie Massimino thought was possible.
In one of the most surreal moments in Olympic history, Bob Beamon of the U.S. soared more than 29 feet to win the long jump in 1968 in Mexico City and break the previous world record in the event by nearly two feet. Beamon’s record stood for 23 years.
Southern Cal vs. Texas in the Rose Bowl for the national title in January 2006. A tremendous back-and-forth game in which Vince Young’s individual talent came through to beat the two-time defending and unbeaten national champion Trojans in the final seconds.
Secretariat’s Triple Crown triumph in horse racing in 1973. This otherworldly thoroughbred captivated America, including nonsports fans.
Nebraska 35, Oklahoma 31 in a monumental college football showdown of unbeaten powerhouses in 1971.
Underrated but easily the greatest showing in an NCAA basketball title game is Bill Walton pouring in 44 points to lead UCLA to the championship over Memphis State in 1973. Walton took 22 shots – and made 21 of them.
Swimmer Michael Phelps winning eight gold medals in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. And fellow American swimmer Mark Spitz winning seven golds in swimming in 1972 at the Munich Olympics. Perfection.