For love of the game
September 27, 2016 8:04 AM   Subscribe

I greatly enjoyed going through this post filled with amazing performances. I was also brought to tears while watching this video of Dee Gordon's home run - his first - after his close friend and teammate Jose Fernandez' tragic death this weekend. This lead me down the rabbit hole of great moments in sports that give me the feels - happy, sad, laughing, crying, amazement, etc. I need more.

In addition to the Gordon home run above, my personal go-to sports videos are

"The Play" Cal vs. Stanford 1982. Always a favorite, but man, that poor trombonist.

"And we'll see you tomorrow night!!" Kirby Puckett's home run in Game 6 of the '91 world series (walk-off to push it to game 7, which they won). Uh, perhaps this one is specific to people of a certain age who grew up in a certain state.

Lou Gehrig's farewell speech.

And don't even get me started on Derek Redmond. Damn.

What've you got?
posted by Elly Vortex to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (39 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Brett Favre on MNF in Dec 2003 the day after his father died, 4 TDs and 399 yards, almost perfect passer rating, 41-7 win.
posted by glenngulia at 8:11 AM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Game 6, 1975. Carlton Fisk.

If you search youtube for "perfect game", "no hitter" or "walk off runs" you'll see a few nice moments.
posted by bondcliff at 8:14 AM on September 27, 2016

I consider Secretariat's run in the Belmont in 1973 to be one of the greatest sports moments ever.
posted by Dolley at 8:16 AM on September 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Also, I have no links for you but if you watch any Red Sox away game late this season, particularly the last few innings in the last game of a series, it has been very touching watching an entire stadium get up and give David Ortiz a standing ovation for what will most likely be his last at-bat in that ball park. I'm really looking forward to see what happens Thursday in New York.
posted by bondcliff at 8:22 AM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

1997 NBA Finals. Game 5, tied 2-2 between the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz. Michael Jordan spends most of the day curled up in bed with a stomach virus or food poisoning. The team trainers say that he can't possibly play. Jordan scores 38 points, Bulls win 90-88, and go on to win their fifth championship.
posted by Etrigan at 8:25 AM on September 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

Kirk Gibson's home run in the 1988 World Series. His knees were so bad that he would not play at all the rest of the series. He came up in the bottom of the ninth as a pinch hitter. It's unlikely he could have beaten a throw to first base, even from the farthest corners of the outfield.
posted by blob at 8:27 AM on September 27, 2016 [7 favorites]

From a previous question:

Shun Fujimoto. In the 1976 Olympics, he contributed to the Japanese gold medal in gymnastics, on a broken leg.

On his last performance, on the rings, not only did he complete the routine but he made a solid landing on both feet and remained standing, to record an incredible 9.7, despite dislocating his kneecap and tearing the ligaments in his leg in the process.

He was forced to retire after the Olympics due to this injury.
posted by blob at 8:28 AM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Rudy Galindo's free skate and victory at the 1996 U.S. National Figure Skating Championships. Back story here.
posted by JanetLand at 8:31 AM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

This may not be quite what you're looking for, but Edinson Volquez didn't find out until after the game that his father had died. It was his first World Series start and they knew how important it was to him. So heartbreaking.
posted by shesbenevolent at 8:31 AM on September 27, 2016 [4 favorites]

my favorite sports videos:

Mine That Bird's come from absolutely nowhere to win the 2009 Kentucky Derby (the horse isn't even mentioned until about ten seconds before the race ends)

Steven Bradbury's gold medal win at the 2002 Olympics (he trailed the other four skaters for the entire race until the last turn, they all crashed, he crossed the line and won)
posted by Lucinda at 8:40 AM on September 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Ray Bourque played hockey for the Boston Bruins for 20 years, serving as captain for many of them and taking the team to the Stanley Cup finals a couple of times but never winning. At the end of his career he asked to be traded to the Colorado Avalanche for a chance at winning the Cup, and in his final year in the NHL the Avalanche did it. Watching Ray Bourque hoist the Stanley Cup for the first time after so many years is pretty special, even if he wasn't able to do it as a Bruin.
posted by usonian at 8:48 AM on September 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'm not a huge fan of gymnastics, but Kerri Strug's performance at the 1996 Olympics is one of the most amazing sporting events I've ever seen.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:08 AM on September 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Oh, and for laughs, nothing will ever top "Here Comes The Pizza".
posted by Rock Steady at 9:09 AM on September 27, 2016 [10 favorites]

Best answer: A brief, delightful moment: Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox) eludes the rundown during the 2013 World Series. (Later I saw a gif of it with a Yakity Sax soundtrack, which made it even better.)
posted by dywypi at 9:14 AM on September 27, 2016 [4 favorites]

Vladimir Konstantinov is handed the Stanley Cup by his teammates a year after he was horribly injured in a career-ending limo crash.
posted by specialagentwebb at 9:15 AM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Shun Fujimoto. In the 1976 Olympics, he contributed to the Japanese gold medal in gymnastics, on a broken leg.

I saw an interview with Fujimoto where he was asked if he'd do it again, and he said there was no way he would. He'd been caught up in the moment. But I suspect if there was another such moment, an athlete would be just as caught up in it.

This one is hard to isolate from its context, but at the 2014 world championships, the US Men's Gymnastics team was in a position where they might—might—win a Bronze medal. It came down to Jake Dalton's floor exercise. Dalton is a very reliable gymnast, very consistent, but he needed to do his very best gymnastics. This video of his routine shows the rest of the team and some of the coaches in the background, and watching them start bouncing like excited toddlers as the routine progresses and they realize he's going to do it never gets old for me.
posted by not that girl at 9:18 AM on September 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Pretty much any video of teams passing around the Stanley Cup on the ice after winning does this for me, even when it's a team I hate. The Rangers' 94 Cup win is probably one of the better ones.

It's already been mentioned, but the last ten seconds of the Miracle on Ice are really incomparable.

This didn't happen on the ice, but the Wayne Gretzky trade press conference where he starts crying and says "I promised Mess I wouldn't do this" makes me cry.

The Curt Schilling bloody sock game was pretty emotional at the time, and pretty much any recap of that Sox-Yankees series and the subsequent Sox-Cardinals World Series will choke me up. The one at the end of "Fever Pitch" does a good job of hitting the high points.

Personally, the last play of overtime in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl where Cie Grant pressures Ken Dorsey, and David Boston's game-winning touchdown in the 1997 Rose Bowl are go-to videos for me, but if you're not an Ohio State football fan, they probably won't mean much to you.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:34 AM on September 27, 2016

Kirk Gibson's other famous World Series home run is pretty awesome too. In this one, Gibson (then a Tiger) faces ace reliever Goose Gossage, who positively owned him. Given this fact, when a situation came up (first base open, runner on, weaker hitter coming up) that called for an intentional base on balls, Gossage insisted on pitching to Gibson instead. Sparky Anderson--motivational genius par excellence--shouts incredulously and half tauntingly at Gibson "He don't wanna walk you!" Gibson visibly comes to a boil and hits a moon shot.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:11 AM on September 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

From earlier this year... Pirates pitcher Trevor Williams gets the win in his major league debut and walks to the stands to give his dad the game ball. Tears of joy and nearly unbearable pride ensue.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:13 AM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

I just started crying at work watching Mike Smith talk about Zenyatta.

Watch this 60 Minutes story, then watch all her races on YouTube, but make sure you watch the 2010 Breeders Cup LAST. Then watch coverage of that race.

No spoilers but uffda so much crying.
posted by littlewater at 10:24 AM on September 27, 2016

Skateboard basketball
posted by Mchelly at 10:29 AM on September 27, 2016

posted by Rock Steady at 10:57 AM on September 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Goran Ivanisevic winning Winmbledon in 2001 (skip to minute 12ish for the last few points). My heart broke when he lost in previous finals, and he often seemed like his own worst enemy on court, so to see him win at last was amazing, especially as he was an unseeded wild card entry. Chills, even now!
posted by daisysteiner at 11:41 AM on September 27, 2016

Payne Stewart edging out Phil Mickelson for the US Open in 1999. Phil was about to become a father for the first time (literally the next day), and the two of them had a lovely moment after the last hole.

(Payne tragically passed away a few months later, making this extra bittersweet)
posted by getawaysticks at 11:58 AM on September 27, 2016

Best answer: Figure skater Surya Bonaly's free skate at the 1998 Winter Olympics, her final skate before she retired from amateur competition. She was on her way out, unable to perform her full routine due to injury, out of the running for the gold medal, and likely frustrated from years of notorious rebellion against biased judging standards. So Bonaly decided, "screw it, I'm going out with a bang," and performed her flashy signature move: a backflip landed on one skate (around 3:50), illegal in competition because it's so dangerous.
posted by nicebookrack at 12:51 PM on September 27, 2016 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Last play of 2013 Iron Bowl. The reaction of the Auburn Band is good also.
posted by LoveHam at 1:06 PM on September 27, 2016 [5 favorites]

I posted this in the other thread, but for me it's one of the greatest college football games I've ever seen.
Texas Longhorns - USC Trojans 2005 National Championship

The end of the 2007 Fiesta Bowl will give you this feeling too.

posted by holmesian at 1:37 PM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Clayton Kershaw's no hitter on June 18, 2014. The whole game is thrilling. Vin Scully, the announcer of the famous Kirk Gibson home run, calls the game. Speaking of Vin, he is retiring at the end of the season. Here's a compilation of clips of some great moments in the game: Link
posted by mrcrow at 2:01 PM on September 27, 2016

David Freese's walkoff for the Cardinals in Game 6 in 2011 (really the last several innings of the game are good stuff, back and forth).

Illinois vs. Arizona in the 2005 NCAA tournament.
posted by brentajones at 3:45 PM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: On Monday 9th January 2012, a veteran, soon-to-retire striker found himself standing on the touchlines at an FA Cup soccer match watching the team he loved struggle to break down a stubborn side.

The club itself was at arguably its lowest point in nearly a decade. Though still one of the most trophied and successful clubs in English history, it had not won a trophy for seven years. In that season, 2003-2004, they had accomplished something incredible and likely never to be repeated - they had gone undefeated for an entire season, winning the coveted league and cup double in the process.

Since then, however, nothing.

The striker standing on the sidelines that day had been part of that team. He had joined them in 1999 after bumping into his old club manager from when he was a young player in France on a plane. The player, then regarded as a midfielder and languishing unhappily on the subs bench at Juventus in Italy, had begged his old manager - now managing in England - to sign him. He'd play anywhere and do anything, the player had pleaded. He just wanted to play, and to enjoy football again.

The manager promised he'd sign him, but the player left expecting nothing. A few months later, however he was on a plane to England. The manager had kept his word.

When the player arrived, the manager reminded him of his promise - he had promised to do whatever the manager said, he reminded him, and the manager said he was going to play up front. The player was a striker, the manager told him, not a midfielder - despite what the rest of the world (including the player himself) thought.

The player did what he was told. In his first season, he was the Premier League top scorer. A title he would rarely relinquish for the rest of his time in England. In England, he would later say, he finally realised who he was - and who he could be.

Indeed by time he left the club in 2007 the striker wasn't just the Premier League top scorer, but the club's all time top scorer in its entire 130 year history. He was its captain, and he was a legend. But, before his career ended, he wanted one final challenge - to play for Barcelona, the greatest team in the world. Despite this, when Barca came calling he first refused to go, staying another year with the club. In the end though, it was too good an opportunity to miss and when they came calling again the following season he made the move to Spain. No fans begrudged him the move. He was, and always would be, their captain and their legend.

In 2011, in the middle of their low point, the club had celebrated their 125th anniversary. Outside their new stadium, to celebrate, they erected a small series of bronze statues of the greatest players ever to play for the club. There was no shadow of a doubt that this player was among those ranks, and so the statue was cast and the player himself - now seeing out his career (and still turning on the style) in America - returned for the unveiling.

At the ceremony, he broke down in tears. He had joined the club as a player, he admitted, but never expected it to become his home. When he left, he explained, he realised that is what it had become and what it always would be. He was no longer a player, he had become a fan.

Just months later, he was standing on that side line again, five years after he had first left the club. No one, not the fans nor the player, could quite believe it. But a curious series of events had conspired to get him there.

That January the club was in the midst of a striker crisis - injuries, suspensions and tournament absences had left them short up front. Meanwhile the player was simply training at the club to keep his fitness levels up whilst Major League Soccer was on its break when the manager - the same one who had signed him to begin with - approached him with a final request. They needed a striker. Probably just someone to sit on the bench for a few weeks until the rest trickled back. The player's US club, NY Red Bulls, had agreed that the player could join on loan for a few weeks if he wanted to.

Would, the manager asked, he consider putting on the colours one final time? The player agreed without so much as a pause to think. Just to wear that shirt again officially, he said later in a TV interview, would have been enough.

And that was how Thierry Henry, one of the greatest strikers the world of football has ever produced, found himself standing on the side of the pitch as Arsenal struggled to break down a stubborn Leeds team in the dying moments of an FA Cup game. The crowd were quiet, grumbling. You could cut the tension and the atmosphere with a knife.

Suddenly, the manager, Arsene Wenger, told Henry to get his shirt on and warm up. Wenger was making a final change. Henry was going on.

The crowd soon sensed what was happening - five years after his last appearance, it seemed like they were going to get to watch Henry in an Arsenal shirt one final time. To many it no longer mattered whether the game was won or lost. Certainly no one expected Henry to change things, by his own admission he was older, slower and not as fit as he used to be. Just to see him again though... that would be magic. Something you'd tell the kids about.

By the time he came on the pitch, the fans had already voted him man of the match just for being there. They roared as he walked on, remembering the legend and honouring the man. It was enough. It would have been enough.

And then, a few minutes later, this happened.

I was watching it in on the TV. I remember crying. I remember looking round, embarrassed, expecting to be laughed at (in a friendly way) by the rest of the people who were watching it with me. But the thing was, they were all crying too.

Because, for one brief moment our Thierry, our captain, our legend was back and it was 2003 all over again.

I will never forget that moment as long as I live. There aren't many Arsenal fans who witnessed it who will.
"I am enjoying the club as a fan where I wasn't before: now I know how people feel when they score for the club they support. But it wasn't the plan to end up as the hero. I will always remember tonight. I don't know why but, when it comes to Arsenal, something happens with me." - Thierry Henry, 10th January 2012
posted by garius at 5:55 PM on September 27, 2016 [8 favorites]

Well, I could probably put a half dozen different Mario Lemieux moments here but I'll put this one.

Keeping in mind, this guy literally saved hockey in Pittsburgh, a few years earlier had finished his last chemotherapy treatment for cancer and that night scored a goal and an assist (and was cheered in Philadelphia, of all places)....knowing he was retiring at the end of the 96-97 season, the Pens were down to the Flyers in the playoffs and just about everyone expected it to be his last home game in the playoffs - if they lost that night or the next in Philly, they were done. With a minute or so to go.....

Lemieux vs. Flyers 1997

And of course, nobody knew but he'd return in 2000. That night they pulled his number down from the rafters of course he did this:

Lemieux's return
posted by splen at 11:10 AM on September 29, 2016

In 1991, Lakers star Magic Johnson held a press conference to announce he was HIV+ and would be retiring from the game.

Despite the rampant public fears and ignorance about HIV and AIDS (and when some players were afraid to play with him), three months later the fans voted him to start in the All-Star game. He came out on the court to a raucous standing ovation, and after East rival Isiah Thomas ran over and gave Magic a hug and a kiss, the other East players followed. Johnson led the West to a 153–113 win and was crowned All-Star MVP after recording 25 points, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds, including three consecutive three-pointers, the last of which ended the game with 10 seconds left on the clock. (At 6:10 of the video, MVP speech follows.)
posted by Room 641-A at 10:58 AM on October 1, 2016

Someone help me out: I recall as part of the VH1 I Love the 80s segment about the Miracle on Ice, one of the commentators (I'm pretty sure Rich Eisen) getting choked up remembering that just after the big win, one of the US players was on camera skating around by the glass shouting "Where's my dad?" into the stands, so he could share the moment with him...Am I remembering that totally wrong? Maybe it was a different event...Is this a well-known thing that I've just only heard of that one time because I don't follow sports all that closely? In any case, that got to me.
posted by doctornecessiter at 7:42 AM on October 3, 2016

Nevermind, I found it...Jim Craig.
posted by doctornecessiter at 8:00 AM on October 3, 2016

Midnight at Fenway.

The Boston Red Sox were about to be eliminated from the post-season, as they had just dropped three games in a row to their implacable rivals, the New York Yankees, and were down by one in the 9th inning. Irrepressible goofball and dangerous slugger Kevin Millar was walked by ace closer Mariano Rivera, who was 6-for-6 in post season saves.

Boston manager Terry Francona pulls Millar, and puts in Dave Roberts as a pinch-runner.

Dave Roberts is charitably described as a "utility outfielder" - he's moderately handy with a glove, and average-ish at the plate, and a serviceable stand-in for when a starter needs a rest day. That's not his only job. He has a set of wheels on him, a speed merchant with a razor sharp eye, and is the Sox's go-to pinch runner. He is going to try to steal second base.

There is a problem, as successfully stealing a base typically involves an element of surprise.

Everyone in the stadium knew he was going to try to steal second base. Everyone watching at home knew he was going to try to steal second base. There was a blind-deaf hermit monk in the Alps who had been in a sealed hermitage for the past fifty years who knew he was going to try to steal second base. The entire Yankees infield knew he was going to try to steal second base. All-star catcher Jorge Posada and seasoned ace closer Rivera knew he was going to try to steal second base. Tricky.

Dave Roberts steals second base anyway.

This sets the table for an up-the middle single from Bill Meuller that the fleet footed Roberts turned into a tie game... just as the monsters at the top of the Red Sox batting order come to the plate.

The witching hour has just begun.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:01 AM on October 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

David "Big Papi" Ortiz has already been mentioned - I get the impression he's been a well-liked player even outside of Boston (except perhaps in New York) but it's hard to overstate how beloved he is in New England; in his 13 years with the Red Sox he was a clutch hitter who helped the team win 3 World Series after a famous 86 year drought, rallied the city after the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, established a foundation to help provide pediatric care to children in the US and Dominican Republic, and in every interview or media piece simply comes across as such a genuinely decent human being and all-around mencsh. He just played the last game of his career this past Monday, and afterwards took a curtain call at Fenway Park. It's a beat-to-death expression, but it really is the end of an era in Boston.
posted by usonian at 9:30 AM on October 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

(Warning: I had forgotten how many feels the 'all-around mensch' link has. It has all the feels.)
posted by usonian at 9:32 AM on October 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

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