Sports have been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. As soon as I could read, every summer day began with the Major League Baseball box scores in the Monroe Morning World. As an adult, I cried the day Mickey Mantle died and again recently at the death of Muhammad Ali, the greatest athlete of the 20th century and a hero who truly transcended sports.
One of the blessings of being an inmate at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp is being able to watch sporting events with a bunch of rowdy felons. Sports discussions are better, too. Ali's death has caused me to think back on the greatest events I have witnessed in sports, mostly through the miracle of live television. Here's my Top Ten List. You'll see that one is on my list because it didn't happen.
1. The Miracle on Ice at the 1980 Winter Olympics
2. Secretariat wins the Belmont Stakes to complete the 1973 Triple Crown in horseracing
3. Sandy Koufax refuses to pitch for the LA Dodgers in the opening game of the 1965 World Series because the game fell on Yom Kippur. (He was still the series MVP, pitching 3 complete games and winning game 7 on 2 days rest, which I saw)
4. Muhammad Ali defeats Joe Frazier when Frazier could not leave his corner for the 15th round bell in "The Thrilla in Manila" to win the Heavyweight Title for the 3rd time in 1975
5. Juan Carlos and Tommy Smith, after winning gold and bronze medals in the 200 meter dash at the 1968 Olympics, stand on the victory podium with raised black-gloved fists and lowered heads during the playing of the National Anthem
6. Roger Maris hits his 61st home run in 1961
7. Casius Clay, at age 22, defeats Sonny Liston in the 7th round to win the Heavyweight Title for the 1st time in 1963
8. Tiger Woods wins the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines with a broken leg and a torn ACL
9. Bill Mazerowski's 9th inning walk-off homerun to win game 7 of the 1960 World Series over my beloved New York Yankees
10. Baylor defeats the Texas Longhorns 34-24, going on to win the 1974 Southwest Conference for the 1st time in 50 years.
There are also some Honorable Mentions, in no particular order:
* The Texas Longhorns defeat the USC Trojans at the Rose Bowl to win the 2005 National Championship
* Jack Nicholas wins the 1986 Masters at age 46
* The Houston Cougars lose to NC State in the 1982 NCAA Basketball finals
* The Texas Longhorns defeat the Arkansas Razorbacks 14-13 to win the 1969 National Championship
* The 1967 Ice Bowl between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys * Billy Cannon's punt return to seal the LSU Tigers' 1960 Halloween Night win over the Ole Miss Rebels (I heard it on the radio) * The Richwood Tigers defeat the Winnsboro Wildcats in a 1970 high school football district game by the score of 108-20 * The first time I saw the Texas Aggie Band in 1974
If you have a Top Ten List or a suggestion, please mail it to me. And may you always "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee."