15 Most memorable Phila. sports moments.

Posted: May 29, 2009

During The Inquirer's 180 years, a city that loves sports has seen some amazing events. Here are sportswriter Frank Fitzpatrick's picks for the most memorable:

1. Oct. 30, 1871: The Philadelphia Athletics, featuring Al Reach, a future sporting goods mogul, won the championship of the National Association in the initial season of the nation's first professional baseball league.

2. Oct. 26, 1907: People snickered at Jim Thorpe and his Carlisle Indian teammates until they trounced a powerful University of Pennsylvania team, 26-6, before an overflow crowd of 20,000 at Franklin Field. With Thorpe displaying speed the Quakers had never encountered, Carlisle thumped a Penn team that had outscored its opponents by 179-10.

3. April 12, 1909: The Philadelphia Athletics debuted Shibe Park, the nation's first concrete-and-steel ballpark. The $300,000 facility at 21st and Lehigh ushered in a new generation of comfortable ballparks that included Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. Hailed as "the Pride of Philadelphia," it attracted crowds that would help Connie Mack's A's win five World Series in the next 21 years.

4. Sept. 23, 1926: As part of the nation's 150th birthday celebration, Philadelphia staged the heavyweight championship fight between champion Jack Dempsey and challenger Gene Tunney. Tunney outboxed the champ in the rain, scoring a 10-round decision before a celebrity-packed crowd of 120,000 at the city's new Sesquicentennial Stadium.

5. Oct. 11-14, 1929: In two of the most memorable World Series games ever, the Philadelphia A's captured the Series by defeating the Chicago Cubs in Games 4 and 5 at Shibe Park. In Game 4, the A's overcame an 8-0 deficit with 10 runs in the bottom of the seventh. In Game 5, with President Herbert Hoover on hand, they scored three in the ninth to clinch the Series with a 3-2 victory.

6. Sept. 27, 1930: Bobby Jones, the gentlemanly amateur, became the first and only golfer to win the sport's Grand Slam when he defeated Gene Homas in the final of the U.S. Amateur at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore. The crowds were so large and interest was so intense that Marines were assigned to guard Jones, who effortlessly disposed of Homas.

7. Feb. 8, 1936: The NFL, wanting merely to eliminate bidding wars for college players, conducted its first draft, at a Rittenhouse Square hotel. The Eagles, with the first overall pick, took Jay Berwanger, a Heisman Trophy winner, who never signed with them. Of the 81 players selected by the nine teams that Saturday, only one was a quarterback.

8. June 11, 1950: Eleven months after a bus plowed into his car, breaking his collarbone, pelvis, and ankle, and crushing a rib, Ben Hogan won the U.S. Open at Merion in a three-way playoff with Lloyd Mangrum and George Fazio. His famous 1-iron shot on the 18th hole was immortalized in a photo that now hangs in pro shops around the country.

9. July 18-19, 1959: At a time the Cold War was at its hottest, diplomats, believing track-and-field competition might lower the temperature, scheduled two meets. The first took place in Moscow, the second at Franklin Field, where a host of future legends - Parry O'Brien, Wilma Rudolph, Vasily Kuznetsov, and Igor Ter-Ovanesyan - went head-to-head on a weekend track devotees still discuss.

10. Dec. 26, 1960: The Eagles won their last NFL championship, defeating Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers, 17-13. A 35-yard touchdown pass from Norm Van Brocklin to Tommy McDonald and Ted Dean's 5-yard fourth-quarter touchdown run helped Buck Shaw's Eagles hand Lombardi his only title-game defeat.

11. March 2, 1962: West Philadelphia's Wilt Chamberlain became the first and only player in NBA history to score 100 points in a game. In what was a meaningless late-season contest that drew just 4,124 fans to Hersheypark Arena in Hershey, Pa., Chamberlain was unstoppable as his Philadelphia Warriors defeated the New York Knicks, 169-147.

12. May 19, 1974: The Flyers, whose bruising play had earned them the nickname "Broad Street Bullies" and captivated the city, won their first Stanley Cup championship. Rick MacLeish's goal and brilliant goaltending by Bernie Parent gave Philadelphia a 1-0 cup-clinching victory over Bobby Orr and the Boston Bruins in Game 6, which had begun with Kate Smith singing "God Bless America" at the Spectrum's center ice.

13. October 21, 1980: After 97 years of frustration that included the memorable collapse of 1964, the Phillies finally won their first World Series. When Tug McGraw leaped into Mike Schmidt's arms after striking out Kansas City's Willie Wilson to end Game 6, the long-suffering city exploded with joy.

14. April 1, 1985: In what is considered the greatest upset in the history of championship games at the NCAA basketball tournament, Rollie Massimino's Villanova Wildcats, an eighth seed, played almost perfectly in defeating top-seeded Georgetown, 66-64. In what would be the last NCAA game without a shot clock, Villanova missed just one shot in the second half.

15. March 27, 1992: With 2.1 seconds left in overtime in the NCAA tournament's East Regional final at the Spectrum, and with his Duke team trailing Kentucky, 103-102, Christian Laettner took a full-court pass from Grant Hill, spun, and hit the winning shot in what is widely regarded as one of the tournament's greatest games.

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