THERE'S NOTHING LIKE BEING THERE
I've been a rabid sports fan since I was a kid. My parents told me long ago that the first word I ever said was "ball". I've been to sporting events all over the place and I've been lucky enough to witness some great sports moments.
Today about 76,500 football fans will see the Super Bowl in person and will probably put this day on their own lists of great sports moments. Because we're 11 News, here's my list of the 11 most memorable sports moments I've seen in person. I had to look up some of the specifics, but I remember them all very well.
11) Wimbledon 1977 - London, England - I was a big tennis fan as a kid in the era of Borg and Connors, Evert and King. My family lived in England at the time and we had a chance to go to the opening day at Wimbledon, the 100th anniversary year. I remember watching Englishman John Lloyd beat American Roscoe Tanner and being very angry. Great day though. Here's a blog I wrote last July about that Wimbledon experience. http://www.kktv.com/blogs/blogwithdon/49980517.html
10) First Regular Season Game At Invesco Field At Mile High. September, 2001, Denver - It was a celebration that night, great Broncos players from the past all gathered to open the new stadium, and usher in a new era. I was working for KWGN-TV in Denver at the time, so I was sent to cover it. For that reason I was in the "guts" of the building pre-game..walking past the likes of Elway and many others. I was on the sidelines for most of the game. What an experience. Broncos star receiver Ed McCaffrey broke his leg that night and we all thought it was the worst thing ever. By the next morning, it didn't matter as much....this game was played on the night of September 10th, 2001.
9) Fraternity Cup Final-1987 maybe? Boulder - This one's a little personal. My fraternity at CU, Lambda Chi Alpha, had a few really good hockey players. A lot of us played...I was in the "can-barely-skate-well-enough-to-allow-checking" league. It was the most fun I've ever had playing any sport. But these other guys were really, really good. They took on and took care of all the other frats in the bracket and made it to the final. It was against a fraternity that was much bigger, and considered itself much better, but our guys won the game and the cup. There was a pretty good party that night back at the house.
8) Cardinals Baseball Game - 1974 or early 1975. St. Louis, MO. - We were living right outside St. Louis, in O'Fallon Illinois (near Scott AFB for you military folks). That year there were plans for O'Fallon night at Busch Stadium, home of my heroes the Cardinals. Some organization in O'Fallon had an essay contest for kids. The topic was "What living in O'Fallon means to me." My sister Cindy is a little older, and maybe just a little smarter than me. She entered the contest....and won. That meant her essay would be read on the field before the game. That also meant she would be in the dugout before the game. I threw a fit the way only an 8 year old can until it was decided that I got to go along with her as sibling support. What that really meant was I got to meet my heroes!...in their dugout!... right before a game. Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Ted Sizemore, Joe Torre, Bake McBride, they were all there. So was my favorite. The only baseball position my parents never let me play was catcher, so my favorite player, of course, was Cardinals catcher Ted Simmons. I remember walking up to him, while he was putting on his shin guards. I said, "Mr. Simmons, you're my favorite player." He replied, "Thanks, pal.", and signed my autograph book. I don't remember who they played that day, but boy do I remember that dugout before the game. I still have all the autographs..thanks Cindy!
7)Broncos vs Chargers November 17th, 1985, Denver - Not the most important game ever, but it had one, well two, remarkable moments. One of those fraternity brothers had a few tickets so a few of us went. In overtime..the Broncos blocked a field goal, cornerback Louis Wright scooped up the loose ball and ran it all the way back for a touchdown. Unfortunately it was all called back for some sort of penalty on the Broncos. The Chargers were going to kick again. We all kind of joked, "Well Louis will just have to do it again! ha ha." That's just what he did. Another block, another LW runback..in OT, Broncos win 30-24. Wow.
6) Kentucky Derby May, 1997 Louisville KY. I don't really like horse racing, but you can't help but like the Derby. This was my 2nd year working for a station in Louisville and I knew it was going to be my last, I had already decided to move on when my contract expired in a month or so. I was reporting on the atmosphere outside Churchill Downs that day, but I did have a pass to get in. Just as the race was about to start I used that pass, walked in and stood right behind the real fans who probably paid thousands for their seats, being very careful not to block the view of any of those ticket-holders. I watched "the most exciting 2 minutes in sports" then went outside again to do my live reports.
5) MLB All Star Game July 7th, 1998, Denver - I was working in Cincinnati at the time and through a deal that had my travel costs paid by a freelance organization ( I did a couple of quick interviews for them) I was able to convince my bosses in Cincy to give me time to go to the game. It's just so great to be on the field with all the best. Only when you stand next to Cal Ripken do you realize how big and strong he is....then along comes Mark McGwire and you realize these guys are giants. I did an interview with Roger Clemens. I was a Rockies fan by then, so I got to see Larry Walker. I did interview Bret Boone, the only player there from the Reds to make sure I fulfilled my Cincinnati obligations. It was fun to be there with the greats.
4) CU Crushes Nebraska November 23rd, 2001, Folsom Field, Boulder - I'm a huge fan of CU football, a season ticket holder. I've been to Buffs games in California, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arizona, Missouri..and other spots. The CU victory over the Huskers in 1986 was good, but this one stands out. The Buffs put up 582 total yards, Chris Brown and Bobby Purify were an unstoppable tandem. The final score, 62-36 is closer than the game was. There haven't been too many great CU moments in the 21st century, this was one. Most of us in my group of friends in the stands just stood there for 20 minutes or so afterwards and let it all sink in. That was a good day.
3) Olympic Games - World Record In The 100 Meters July 27th, 1996, Atlanta, GA. - A buddy and I went from Louisville to Atlanta for a few days to watch the Olympics in 1996. Tickets were hard to get. We saw Team USA win a match in women's volleyball, that was cool. We also watched a few other lesser-known events. Early in the morning on July 27th that bomb went off in Olympic Park. The next day I did a few phone reports for my station about the tough new security measures. A lot of fans were skittish about going to the big stadium even though we were all being searched. We ran into a guy who was selling his track and field tickets for that night for face value. He didn't want to take his family into that large gathering right after the bomb. We bought his tickets. That night we saw some amazing competition. The highlight was the final of the men's 100 meters. Canadian Donovan Bailey won it in a time of 9.84 seconds. It was a new world record. We saw the fastest race ever run! Bailey's record stood until 1999.
2) Arsenal vs Liverpool April, 2004, London- My time in England as a child turned me into an avid if mediocre soccer player, and a rabid soccer fan. My favorite ream is Liverpool. I was visiting London with an old friend from my English school days when we realized that Liverpool was in the city, playing against another powerhouse team called Arsenal in about 3 hours. We may have had a few pints of something the night before so we really didn't have anything planned. He said our chances of getting in to that game were virtually nil. I thought we should try. We ended up paying about 100 pounds each (nearly 200 dollars at the time) to a scalper but we got in. What an atmosphere. I'd put it up against the vibe in any sports venue anywhere in the world. I've been to other games in the English Premiere League, but this one stands out. My favorite team lost, 4-2, but my favorite player, Micheal Owen, scored a goal for Liverpool. French striker Thierry Henry (now of the infamous hand-ball against Ireland scandal) scored three of the best goals I've ever seen for Arsenal. What a day and we almost didn't even go.
1) Rockies First Home Game April 9th, 1993, Mile High Stadium - Were you there? More than 80,000 of us were for the first home game in franchise history...the largest crowd is baseball history. We had all waited so long for Major League Baseball to come to our state. Finally it was here. I was part of a shared season ticket deal for the first few years of the Rockies, so I got to go to game 1. Bottom of the 1st, the first Rockies player to take a swing at the home park, the least likely to hit a home run..you would think. Eric Young stepped up to the plate and left us breathless..he dropped it over the left field wall for the first home Rockies round-tripper. As soon was we all finished gasping we just cheered....and cheered, and cheered. The roar was overwhelming, the moment, too good to be true. If there was a movie about a new team coming to a baseball-hungry city, and the lead-off batter hit a home run, you'd want your money back. It would seem too contrived, that would never happen.. It did. None of us will ever forget it will we? The Rockies have had their ups and downs since then, but on that sunny April afternoon, for those few seconds as that ball flew over that wall, we were all on top of the world..and that's not counting the altitude. What a day.
So that's my list of 11. Comment with some of yours. Maybe you were at some of these same games. Maybe next year the Broncos will be in the Super Bowl and I'll figure out a way to go! (what do you mean, "yeah right?", who thought Eric Young would lead off with a homer?...you never know) See you there.
We'll talk again soon.