Major sports headlines from the year you were born
Sports fans live their entire lives remembering where they were when their favorite ballplayer crushed a grand slam when it mattered most, when their hockey team's goalie got his glove up just in the nick of time, and when their most reliable point guard sunk a three just before the buzzer sounded. Some teams, like the Red Sox, Cubs, and Eagles, won championships that broke generational losing streaks handed down from grandfather to father, father to son. For others, like the Yankees and the Canadiens, winning is such a part of the team's culture that anything short of perfection is considered a disappointment.
Although sports are nothing more than grownups playing children's games, although modern athletes are paid exorbitant sums of money, and cable companies profit from their subscribers by bundling sports networks they know they'll never watch into basic TV packages, the magic of sports is real. Few things if any unite the races, genders, and entire geographic regions like cheering for the home team. When a big game is on the line, the political persuasion of the person in the next stadium seat over doesn't matter—only the right jersey. The highs and lows, the victories and defeats, the disappointment and jubilation are all real, not only for the millionaires on the field, the court, and the ice, but for the fans in the stands, watching at home, and listening at work who are deeply invested, both emotionally and financially, in the teams they love.
Much more than just pucks slamming into nets or balls sailing over fences, the drama of sports has broken color barriers and gender barriers, turned athletes into activists, changed U.S. politics, and united entire countries. Before the era of real-time online updates, fantasy leagues, and all-encompassing cable sports packages, the drama of sports played out on newspaper sports pages. Here's a look at some of those moments, as told by the headline writers who determined how the greatest stories in sports history would be told.
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1919: WHITE SOX LOSE IN OPENER, 9-1
The Chicago White Sox were the best team in baseball when they squared off against Cincinnati in the 1919 World Series. To the shock of fans and pundits alike, the Reds crushed the Sox in Game 1, a moment captured in this Oct. 2 Chicago Tribune headline. Their shock at a lopsided upset, however, would be dwarfed by the off-field drama that would soon unfold—the greatest scandal in the history of sports.
1920: EIGHT WHITE SOX PLAYERS ARE INDICTED
The Reds shocked fans and sportswriters—as well as bookies and oddsmakers—around the world by defeating the Sox five games to three in the best-of-nine 1919 World Series, but rumors soon began swirling that something was amiss. Investigations quickly uncovered a massive conspiracy between famed gambler and gangster Arnold Rothstein and several of Chicago's best players to throw the series, which led to headlines like this one from The New York Times on Sept. 29. Eight White Sox—known in the press and popular culture as the "Black Sox"—were tried and acquitted, but nonetheless banned from baseball for life, creating a legend that still captivated the public more than half a century later with movies like "Field of Dreams" and "Eight Men Out."
1921: July 2nd Fight Described by Radiophone
On July 2, 1921, American superstar boxer Jack Dempsey knocked out French challenger Georges Carpentier in what was billed as the fight of the century. The bout, however, was historic for another reason. It was the first world title fight ever to be broadcast over the radio, as described in a headline in the July 1921 issue of The Wireless Age. Radio broadcasts would dominate boxing until the arrival of the television.
1922: RUTH TO GET KING'S RANSOM FROM YANKEES
The Red Sox created the so-called Curse of the Bambino in 1919 when they sold legendary slugger Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in 1919—the Yanks, however, were stuck with the bill. When Ruth re-signed in 1922, he commanded an unheard of $50,000 annual salary—$75,000 with home run bonuses, the same amount President Warren G. Harding declared as his presidential salary on his 1922 tax returns. The gargantuan sum was reflected in this March 6 headline from the Memphis Scimitar.
1923: YANKS WIN SERIES
In the annals of baseball, the New York Yankees are the winningest team in history by a longshot—their 27 World Series titles dwarf by more than double the 11 championships won by the second-place St. Louis Cardinals. It all started in 1923 when the Bronx Bombers beat the New York Giants four games to three for their first World Series title ever. The Youngstown Vindicator summed up the excitement with this headline on Oct. 15.
1924: YANKS AMAZE HOCKEY CROWD AT CHAMONIX
A year later, the word "Yanks" again appeared in headlines on sports pages across the world, like this one from the Times Herald in Olean, N.Y., on Jan. 31. This time, however, it was slang for the U.S. hockey team, which grabbed the silver medal after a series of stunning victories over highly regarded European teams at the world's first Winter Olympics in France. America, suddenly, was a force to be reckoned with in the sport of hockey.
1925: BRILLIANT GATHERING OF 17,000 PERSONS AT FORMAL OPENING OF GARDEN
On Dec. 16, 1965, The New York Times reported on a hockey game, but not just any hockey game. The day before, the Montreal Canadiens beat the New York Americans 3-1 in the first-ever contest at Madison Square Garden, which would go on to become the most famous athletic arena in the world.
1926: GERTRUDE EDERLE SWIMS ENGLISH CHANNEL
Gertrude Ederle has loomed large over the sport of endurance swimming since she successfully swam across the English Channel in 1926, despite stormy seas and large waves, a feat reported by the Omaha Sunday Bee on Aug. 8. Not only was she the first woman ever to swim from France to England, but she did it in 14 hours and 31 minutes. That's two hours faster than the fastest of the five men who did it before her.
1927: RUTH SMASHES OWN HOME RUN RECORD
On Oct. 1, 1927, the San Francisco Sporting Green headline chronicled the latest triumph of the man who was then the most famous athlete in the world: George Herman "Babe" Ruth. Ruth set baseball's first long-term record when be crushed his own record to end the season with 60 home runs. That record would stand for 34 years.
1928: HOPES OF MACKMEN FADE WHEN BABE HITS 49TH HOMER
Although this Sept. 12, 1928, headline in the Omaha Bee-News profiled a major feat by Babe Ruth, the text of the article chronicled a baseball milestone that would turn out to be even more significant—the last Major League at-bat by Ty Cobb. One of the greatest players in baseball history, the Georgia Peach, as Cobb was known, set an astonishing 90 records, including most career hits, a record that stood until Pete Rose broke it in 1985.