February Moments

Updated: October 18, 2005, 6:37 PM ET

February 1
NBA
1995:
Needing 11 assists to break Magic Johnson's all-time NBA mark of 9,221, Utah Jazz guard John Stockton passes Magic before the first half is over against Denver. And, appropriately, the record-breaking assist comes via a pass to Karl Malone.

With a sellout crowd of 19,911 in the Delta Center in Salt Lake City standing and roaring in anticipation, Stockton's bounce pass to Malone comes off the floor just a bit high. But the Mailman snares it before it goes out of bounds, squares to the basket and delivers on a 17-foot baseline jumper with 6:22 left in the first half.

Asked about Malone converting, Stockton says, "He's been responsible for so many (of the assists), it does seem fitting. Like I've said all along, this isn't my record. These guys have had to make the shots, and Karl has made a zillion of them."

Stockton gets five more assists in Utah's 129-98 win, giving him 16 for the game and 9,227 for his 10-year career. The record breaker comes in Stockton's 860th game; Magic needed 874 for his total.

In a message to Stockton via Jumbotron, a smiling Magic says, "John, from one assist man to another, you are the greatest team leader I have ever played against."

1984: Executive vice president David Stern replaces Larry O'Brien, who announced his resignation last year, as NBA commissioner. The 41-year-old Stern is the league's fourth commissioner, with Maurice Podoloff, J. Walter Kennedy and O'Brien preceding him.

Stern is an attorney who had worked on several cases involving the NBA before becoming its first general counsel. He was promoted to executive vice president in charge of legal and business affairs under O'Brien.

Stern will develop and expand NBA Properties, the league's marketing arm, and NBA Entertainment. He will establish NBA International to focus on the league's role in the worldwide growth of basketball. He will oversee the launch of the WNBA in 1997. He also will be the NBA's key man in the lockout of the players that will delay the start of the 1998-99 season three months.


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February 2
Golf
1949:
Early one hazy Texas morning, about 150 miles east of El Paso, Ben Hogan almost dies when a Greyhound bus, swinging out to pass a truck, collides with his car. When it becomes clear a crash is unavoidable, Hogan heroically throws himself in front of his wife Valerie, who is in the passenger's seat.

"It's a good thing he did, because the engine of our car was tossed back into the (driver's) seat and the steering gear was shoved into the rear seat," Valerie says.

While she suffers only minor injuries, Hogan suffers a broken collarbone, a smashed rib, a double fracture of the pelvis and a broken ankle.

Hogan will make a remarkable recovery and 16 months later he will win the U.S. Open.

Baseball
1936:
In the first voting for Baseball's Hall of Fame, a singles hitter beats out the sport's greatest slugger. Ty Cobb, who had 4,191 hits, receives 222 of 226 votes from players and writers. Babe Ruth, who bashed 714 home runs, and Honus Wagner are tied for second in the balloting, with 215 votes each.

Also elected to the Hall in Cooperstown, N.Y., are Christy Mathewson (205) and Walter Johnson (189). Among the players not getting the 75 percent of the total votes needed for election are Nap Lajoie (146), Tris Speaker (133), Cy Young (111), Rogers Hornsby (105) and Mickey Cochrane (80).

Cobb is uncharacteristically modest when told of his receiving the most votes. "I deeply appreciate the honor," says the Georgia Peach, interrupting a round of golf in San Francisco. "I am overwhelmed. I am glad they (the players and writers who elected him) feel that way about me. I want to thank them all."

Besides his hits record, Cobb also is No. 1 in games (3,034), at-bats (11,429), runs (2,245), batting championships (12) and most seasons hitting .300 (23).

NHL
1980:
With two goals against the Washington Capitals, New York Rangers center Phil Esposito joins Gordie Howe as the only NHL players to score 700 regular-season goals.

No. 699 comes late in the second period on a power play. It is the kind of goal that Esposito has all but patented. Taking a pass in the crease from Ron Greschner, the 37-year-old Espo snaps the puck past Washington goalie Wayne Stephenson. No. 700 comes early in the third period when he breaks in with a pass from Don Maloney and his wrist shot goes off Stephenson and bounces into the net.

"The one I remember best of all of those 700 goals was No. 1, against Montreal, when I was with Chicago and Bobby Hull got an assist on it," Esposito says after the Rangers' 6-1 victory in Landover, Md. "I'll never catch Gordie. He'll probably still be playing when I retire."

The 51-year-old Howe, who has 797 goals, will score four more before retiring at the end of the season. Espo will finish his 18-year career in 1981 with 717 goals.


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February 3
Baseball
1993:
For uttering racial and ethnic slurs, Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott is suspended for a year, beginning March 1, from running the team by Major League Baseball. She can be reinstated in eight months if she complies with conditions of the suspension. She also is fined $25,000, the maximum permitted of an individual under the Major League agreement, and ordered to undergo multicultural sensitivity training.

In a compromise -- Schott dropped plans for a legal challenge -- she keeps her right to attend Reds games, maintains her position as managing general partner, and is allowed to name her interim successor: general manager Jim Bowden.

"I know Marge is laughing all the way to wherever it is she is going," says Hank Aaron, baseball's all-time home-run leader and a senior vice president for the Atlanta Braves. "She won this one. I'm very disappointed."

Schott's lawyer says she is "very upset. Depressed. She feels that she has been singled out."

Horse racing
1990:
Shoe's ending isn't Hollywood. At Santa Anita Park, in the last race of his illustrious career, 58-year-old Willie Shoemaker takes a brief lead on Patchy Groundfog with about an eighth of a mile to run. But late speed comes on down the stretch, and Patchy Groundfog, a seven-year-old chestnut, fades to fourth in the $107,850 Legend's Last Ride Handicap, a farewell that brings 64,573 fans to the California track.

They cheer Shoemaker all the way back to a postrace interview tent. On the way, he gives one of the two pair of goggles that he wore in his 40,350th race to an eight-year-old boy.

The race ends a much-publicized international tour, from Malaysia to Paris, for which the 4-foot-11, 98-pound jockey has earned about $1 million, including a reported $100,000 for today's appearance.

Shoemaker retires with a record 8,833 winners, including four in the Kentucky Derby, two in the Preakness and five in the Belmont.

"No win, no place, no show, no matter," writes Los Angeles Times columnist Mike Downey. "He was still king of the sport of kings, the Greatest Shoe on Earth."


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February 4
Olympics
1932:
On the opening day of the 1932 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, N.Y., speed skater Irving Jaffee drives through a bitter wind and raging snowstorm to dethrone Norway's Ivar Ballangrud, the world record holder, in the 5,000 meters. Jaffee edges out fellow American Eddie Murphy.

Jack Shea of Lake Placid is a popular victor in the 500 meters, beating co-defending champ Bernt Evensen of Norway by five yards.

The subhead of the Olympic story in The New York Times says: "Jaffee and Shea Win Over Alien Skaters in Record Time."

Both Jaffee and Shea will become double gold medalists, with Jaffee winning the 10,000 meters and Shea tacking on the 1,000 meters.

The only U.S. setback today is a 2-1 loss to Canada in hockey.

America's Cup
1987:
Four years ago, Dennis Conner was a goat, the first American skipper to lose the America's Cup in the 132-year history of the event. Today, he's riding the wave of success. The Los Angeles Times headline will proclaim: "Conner Re-Earns His Stripes as Star of America's Cup."

Led by the single-minded and determined San Diego yachtsman, Stars & Stripes sails to a one-minute-and-59-second victory over Kookaburra III of Australia in the waters off Fremantle, Australia, to complete its 4-0 sweep.

"It's a great moment for America and a great moment for the Stars & Stripes team, a great moment for the Stars & Stripes crew, and a great moment for Dennis Conner," he says. "We all appreciate that the America's Cup is the pinnacle of yachting, on a pedestal and the holy grail of yachting."

The victory boosts Conner's record to 2-1 in the America's Cup, as he also had skippered the winning boat in 1980.


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February 5
Boxing
1943:
Welterweight Sugar Ray Robinson, a 3-1 favorite, suffers the first loss of his career - both pro and amateur - when he's upset by middleweight Jake LaMotta in Detroit.

Late in the eighth round, "The Raging Bull," who at 160 pounds has a 16-pound advantage, belts Robinson with a right to the body followed by a left to the head that knocks Robinson through the ropes on to the ring apron for a count of nine. Robinson is saved by the bell.

At the end of the 10th - and final - round, LaMotta hurts Robinson again, backing him into a corner and pounding away. LaMotta, just up from the preliminary ranks, wins a unanimous decision, avenging the setback he suffered to Robinson four months ago.

Robinson had been 85-0 as an amateur and 40-0 as a pro.

They will fight four more times, and Robinson will win each bout.

Olympics
1948:
At the Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Dick Button enters the freestyle skating event with a commanding lead earned in the compulsory figures and a reputation as the best freestyle skater in the world. The 18-year-old from Englewood, N.J., does not disappoint the capacity crowd in the Olympic Ice Center.

He does five leaps and spins that no other skater attempted, and makes everything look easy. At times, he seems to hang poised in the air. At others, he spins with such rapidity as to be only a blur. From the most exacting maneuvers he emerges with a big smile.

Button is rewarded with sensational scores, getting no lower than a 5.5 from any judge and even receiving a perfect 6.0 from one judge (an American). In easily defeating runner-up Hans Gerschwiler of Switzerland, the world champion, Button becomes the first American figure skater to win an Olympic gold medal.

Button will successfully defend his Olympic title in 1952.

NBA
1960:
Grabbing three rebounds in the final 36 seconds, Bill Russell becomes the first player to pull down 50 in a game. The 6-foot-10 Boston Celtics center finishes with 51, breaking the NBA mark of 49 he set on Nov. 16, 1957.

Coach Red Auerbach is told about Russell's chance for the record and lets him play the entire 48 minutes. Russell gets 24 rebounds in the first half and 27 in the second half in the Celtics' 124-100 romp over the Syracuse Nationals before 5,518 fans in Boston. He also scores 23 points, making 8-of-16 field-goal attempts, and has five assists.

Russell's record will last only 9 months. Arch-rival Wilt Chamberlain of Philadelphia will grab 55 rebounds against Russell and the Celtics on Nov. 24.


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February 6
Pro hockey
1990:
The Golden Brett joins the Golden Jet as the first father-son combination to score 50 goals in a season.

Early in the third period, Brett Hull of the St. Louis Blues scores his 50th goal on a breakaway. Hull, who is usually indecisive on breakaways, changes his mind before sliding the puck low to Toronto goalie Jeff Reese's stick side into the lower left corner of the net.

Bobby Hull, who scored 50 goals five times for Chicago, is at the game in St. Louis.

"I wasn't really nervous until I saw him in warmups," Brett says after the 6-4 victory. "I said, 'Oh, no, now he put a little pressure on me. I've got to do it.' It makes it all the better that he's here."

Pro basketball
1988:
Michael Jordan and Dominque Wilkins are involved in a high-flying battle for the Slam Dunk crown in Chicago. Wilkins holds a 100-97 lead going into the final dunk and then he makes a wicked two-handed jam coming from the left side. However, the five judges award him only 45 points (Jordan says he would have scored it 49), keeping alive his Airness' chances.

With the crowd on its feet, rising to a deafening crescendo, Jordan starts his approach from the opposite foul line. Four dribbles and an amazing leap later, he slams the ball home. Needing 49 to win, he scores a perfect 50.

"My Julius Erving," Jordan says. "I was just looking up into the crowd for inspiration for that last one. Finally, I spotted the man who started it all, Dr. J. He motioned to me to move back, to go back and take off from the line. That was the best advice I got all day."

The next day, Jordan will cap his fabulous weekend by scoring 40 points in the All-Star Game and be named MVP.

Tennis
1993:
Arthur Ashe, the first African-American to win the U.S. Open (1968), Australian Open (1970) and Wimbledon (1975), dies of pneumonia, a complication of AIDS, at New York Hospital in Manhattan.

Ashe, who said he believed he contracted HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, through a transfusion of tainted blood during heart bypass surgery in 1983, first learned of his infection after undergoing emergency brain surgery in 1988. Ashe didn't reveal his illness to the public until April 1992, when he learned that news articles were being prepared about his condition.

A serious and thoughtful man, he was among the first African-American athletes to urge other blacks in sports to use their success to promote civil rights at home and abroad. After retiring from tennis, he spent the rest of his life as a scholar and activist, using his fame in sports as a platform to address inequities in society.

"He was one of the best men of his generation," said Magic Johnson, also infected with the virus that causes AIDS, "and his loss is a loss for all of us."

Arthur Ashe was 49.


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February 7
College basketball
1970:
LSU's Pete Maravich comes into the game against Alabama with two pulled muscles and late in the contest hurts an ankle. Despite the injuries, he scores an incredible 47 points in the second half to finish with 69, setting an NCAA record for most points against a Division I opponent. Maravich breaks the record of 68 established by Niagara's Calvin Murphy 14 months earlier.

Pistol Pete fires shots at a machine-gun rate, finishing with 57. He connects on 26 (45.6 percent). On the foul line he's 17-for-21.

After LSU's 106-104 loss in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Maravich pursues a fan before being restrained. Press Maravich, LSU's coach and Pete's dad, says the fan had hit Pete on the back.

Maravich's record will last almost 21 years, until Kevin Bradshaw of U.S. International scores 72 against Loyola Marymount on Jan. 5, 1991.

Track and field
1942:
Cornelius Warmerdam is the first man to pole vault 15 feet outdoors. Tonight he becomes the first to reach that height indoors. And the California school teacher accomplishes this feat without his favorite bamboo pole, which was delayed in transit from the West Coast.

Competing with a borrowed pole that is shorter than the one he's accustomed to using, Warmerdam is a paragon of grace and agility as he soars steadily upward at the 35th annual Millrose Games. The lithe 185-pounder doesn't miss a jump until after clearing the milestone.

At 14 feet, 8 and one-quarter inches, Warmerdam breaks the world indoor record. Then, racing down the 140-foot runway in Madison Square Garden, the man who has jumped 15 feet a dozen times outdoors does it for the first time indoors with a vault of 15 feet, three-eighths of an inch. The capacity crowd of 16,000 roars its approval.

Warmerdam keeps on going, but he fails three times to clear 15-4.


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February 8
NBA
1975:
Offering no explanation, former Boston Celtics great Bill Russell shuns the Basketball Hall of Fame, saying he will refuse induction. In his first year of eligibility, the five-time NBA MVP is voted into the Hall today.

"For my own personal reasons, which I don't want to discuss, I don't want to be a part of it," says Russell, the Seattle Sonics coach. "I'm not going."

Speculation is that Russell's decision has racial undertones since there are no other African-American players from the NBA in the Hall.

"If that's so, then he (Russell) is wrong," says Lee Williams, executive director of the Hall. "We have the original Rens in our honors court. They were elected in 1961 and consist of seven black players. Also, Robert Douglas, owner and manager of the Rens, is in the Hall of Fame."

NFL
1936:
After finishing with the worst record in the nine-team National Football League last season at 2-9, the Philadelphia Eagles have the first choice in today's inaugural NFL draft. They use it to select University of Chicago halfback Jay Berwanger, who had won the first Downtown Athletic Trophy as the best college player east of the Mississippi in 1935. (The name of the award will be changed to the Heisman Trophy in 1936.)

The Chicago Bears will acquire Berwanger's rights and owner-coach George Halas meets with the player in the lobby of a Chicago hotel. When Halas asks how much Berwanger wants, he says $25,000 for two years, no cut. (The highest paid player in 1935 was Bronko Nagurski, who reportedly received $7,000.) Halas turns to Berwanger's date and says, "Nice to meet you," and then says to Berwanger, "We'll see you around, Jay."

Berwanger will never play pro football. During World War II, he will serve as a Navy aviator. After the war, he will launch a business career that will make him a millionaire. From 1941 to 1955, he also will referee Big Ten games.


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February 9
Boxing
1991:
At 34, Ray Leonard looks more sour than sweet. He is no match for Terry Norris, who knocks down the once graceful master in the second and seventh rounds on the way to a unanimous decision that enables him to keep his WBC junior middleweight title. One official gives the 23-year-old Norris all 12 rounds.

"It just wasn't there," Leonard says. "He was too quick, too smart. He was a young Sugar Ray Leonard."

It's no mas for the old Leonard. With his left eye swollen shut and lip split open, the former champ grabs the microphone in the ring in Madison Square Garden and tells the crowd, "This is my last fight. Thank you for coming."

It is the fifth time that Leonard announces his retirement. It won't be his last.

Pro basketball
1992:
Three months after announcing his retirement from the Lakers because he had tested HIV positive, Magic Johnson returns to play in the All-Star Game. Voted a starter by the fans despite not playing a game, Magic puts on a clinic in Orlando.

In 29 minutes, he has game-highs of 25 points (shooting 9-of-14 from the field, including 3-for-3 from three-point range) and nine assists. He wins the MVP award as the West whips the East, 153-113.

"It's like I'm in a dream right now, and I don't ever want to wake up," Johnson says. "Because for one day, I got the NBA back in me, for one day. And it was great.

"This was like the perfect ending to the story. I've been trying to write this story all week, and (the game) was like I was at my typewriter, and I said, 'Here's my ending.' Period."

Baseball
1920:
Attempting to provide hitters with help, Major League Baseball outlaws the spitball and all other "freak deliveries" that involve defacing or applying a foreign substance to the ball. This includes resin, talcum powder, paraffin, and the shine and emery ball. A pitcher caught cheating will be ejected and suspended 10 days.

The owners, though, provide an exception: A grandfather clause will allow a handful of spitball artists to continue using the tactic for the 1920 season. After this year, all "freak" pitches will be banned without exception.

Baseball also adopts writer Fred Lieb's proposal that a game-winning homer with men on base be counted as a homer even if its run is not needed to win the game. Two other changes: The intentional walk is banned and everything that happens in a protested game will go in the records.


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February 10
Boxing
1990:
It's sayonara for Mike Tyson. The undefeated heavyweight champ is the victim of the upset of the century when journeyman Buster Douglas, a 42-1 underdog, knocks him out in the 10th round in Tokyo.

Tyson had been supposedly invincible, with 33 knockouts in his 37 victories. But at 220 1/2 pounds, Iron Mike appears flat and poorly conditioned against Douglas. Though Tyson knocks down the 232-pound Douglas with a vicious right in the eighth round, the challenger recovers.

By the 10th round, Tyson's left eye is swollen, and he has difficulty seeing. Douglas throws two rights, a left, a right that sends Tyson spinning and finally a left hook that knocks Tyson's mouthpiece up into the air as the champ goes down. His face is a mask of pain and confusion as the referee counts him out.

"I wasn't afraid of the man," Douglas says. "I'm only afraid of God."

1992: Exactly two years to the day later, Tyson suffers an even worse setback. An Indianapolis jury finds him guilty of raping an 18-year-old Miss Black America beauty pageant contestant who said he lured her to his hotel room and overpowered her.

The jury of eight men and four women, which deliberated almost 10 hours, also finds Tyson guilty of two counts of criminal deviate behavior.

Tyson, 25, stares straight ahead impassively as the verdict is read.

Pro basketball
1949:
Jumpin' Joe Fulks, a 6-foot-5 forward, obliterates the pro scoring record when he registers 63 points for the Philadelphia Warriors in their 108-87 victory over the Indianapolis Jets. Fulks breaks the mark of 48 set by George Mikan, set just 12 days ago, in the third quarter.

Fulks has a mighty tired right arm after the game, having heaved up 56 field-goal attempts. He makes 27. Both are records. He is 9-of-14 from the foul line.

Fulks scores 15 points in each of the first two quarters, 19 in the third and 14 in the fourth, when he's removed with a minute left.

Not many people see Fulks' dynamite game as the crowd in Philadelphia is a season-low 1,500.

The record will last for 10 years, until Elgin Baylor scores 64 points.


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February 11
Boxing
1949:
Only 3 1/2 months after being knocked out by Sandy Saddler, Willie Pep regains the featherweight crown when he takes a unanimous 15-round decision at a sold-out Madison Square Garden.

Pep, a wily nine-year veteran at 26, comes out strong and shows a dazzling array of jabs, hooks and right crosses as he builds up a big lead. The artful dodger's counterpunching cuts up Saddler, who needs seven stitches to patch the wounds over his eyes.

Pep doesn't come away unscathed. He looks as bad as Saddler after the bout, which Ring Magazine calls the "Fight of the Year." He has a mouse under his right eye and needs 11 stitches -- three over each eye and his left cheek, and two on his right cheek.

"I don't think he'll fight me again," Saddler says.

He's wrong. They will fight twice more, with Saddler winning both in bouts considered among the dirtiest ever.


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February 12
Speed skating
1995:
Five-time Olympic gold medalist Bonnie Blair smashes her own world record in the 500 meters in a World Cup speedskating race in Calgary. She finishes in 38.69 seconds, beating her old mark of 38.99.

"I knew the race was off to a good start," Blair says. "I don't remember missing any strokes. I had good contact with the ice. The ice felt good and it seemed like it gave it back to me as well."

Blair goes head-to-head with Susan Auch, who also breaks Blair's old record as she finishes in 38.94 seconds. "Being paired with Susan was a big help for me," Blair says. "I knew I was close to Susan at the 100 (meters). That gave me somebody to chase."


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February 13
Figure skating
1976:
Before Dorothy Hamill takes to the ice for her freestyle routine at the Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, she starts crying after seeing a sign in the stands that says, "Which of the West? Dorothy!"

At first, she thinks detractors made the sign and takes it as a message that she is a witch. In this Cold War era, what the sign-makers are cleverly asking is which Western skater - Hamill or Diane de Leeuw of the Netherlands - is going to defeat East Germany's Christina Errath for the gold medal. Then they answer by saying Dorothy.

Once Hamill realizes the sign is held by her friends, who wanted to shake her out of her usual pre-competition jitters, the three-time U.S. champion feels better. A relaxed Hamill gives a clean and safe performance, skating to music from Errol Flynn movies. She wins the gold medal by a unanimous decision of the nine judges.

At the medals ceremony, the 19-year-old Hamill cries again. "I couldn't help it," she says. "It wasn't because I had finally won the medal. It was seeing the American flag go up and hearing the band play, 'The Star Spangled Banner.'"

Hamill will set a fashion trend as young girls will copy her 'do, which looks like a bowl haircut. She also will become the first female athlete to sign a $1 million-a-year contract, with the Ice Capades, which she will later purchase and manage.


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February 14
Speed skating
1988:
It is the worst day in Dan Jansen's life. In the morning, he speaks to his older sister Jane, who is dying of leukemia back home in West Allis, Wis. A few hours later, the speed skater learns of her death. He spends the afternoon in a quiet room at the Olympic athlete's village in Calgary speaking on the phone to family members.

He decides to compete in the 500 meters, saying "that's what Jane would've wanted." He wants to win for Jane. But emotionally spent and physically tense, Jensen, one of the favorites, false-starts at the line, which he rarely does. This confuses him.

When he sprints from the gun, he catches his blade on the first turn and falls, spinning across the lanes and knocking down the skater paired with him.

"As soon as he fell, my heart sank," says teammate Eric Hendriksen. "I'm not used to seeing so many bad things happen in a short period of time."

Auto racing
1988:
Growing up, Davey Allison had dreamed about racing against his father, going head-to-head with him in the final lap of an important NASCAR race. "In the dreams I always won," says Davey, smiling.

Today, Davey and dad battle at 195 mph in the final lap of the Daytona 500, but it's Bobby who wins. Davey pulls to the inside but can't get around his father, who holds off his 26-year-old son by 2 car lengths to gain his third Daytona 500 triumph.

"He's just so tough," says Davey. "I didn't think of him as my father until after the checkered flag. If I couldn't win it, I'm just so happy that my dad did."

At 50, Bobby is the oldest to win NASCAR's most prestigious race. This is the first time a father and son finish 1-2 at the Daytona 500 and first time it's happened in any NASCAR race since Lee and Richard Petty finished 1-2 in a minor race in 1960.


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February 15
Auto racing
1998:
Dale Earnhardt is first -- at last. The winner of seven Winston Cup championships, he was 0-for-19 at the Daytona 500. But that losing streak ends today when he wins NASCAR's most prestigious event before 185,000 screaming fans.

Earnhardt leads five times for 107 of the 200 laps, but the victory isn't assured until John Andretti and Lake Speed tangle on lap 199 which brings out the caution lap. Earnhardt averages 172.7 mph and wins a record $1,059,105 as he ends his 59-race winless streak. Earnhardt savors his triumph. He takes a slow drive to Victory Lane, shaking hands and slapping high fives with dozens of crewmen from competing teams who line pit road at Daytona International.

Halfway down pit road, Earnhardt, 46, rides his black No. 3 Chevrolet onto the tri-oval grass, between the pit lane and the front straight, etching a number three in the grass with a couple of joyous donuts.

"Yes! Yes! Yes!" Earnhardt shouts before hugging crew chief Larry McReynolds. "We won it! We won it! We won it!"

1981: A pit stop makes the difference when "The King" takes a gamble and it pays off royally at the Daytona 500. Richard Petty, in fourth place, stops only for fuel with 25 laps left and foregoes changing tires. The three leaders get gas and new tires.

With his crew taking only seven seconds to fill his tank, Petty takes the lead. Running on the worn tires, he holds off Bobby Allison, who probably has the faster car, by four seconds. In winning an unprecedented seventh Daytona 500, Petty collects $90,575.

He credits the victory to Dale Inman, his second cousin and crew chief, and Maurice Petty, his brother and engine builder, for their decision not to change tires. "Dale and Maurice put their heads together and figured that was the way we could win the race, so we took the gamble," Petty says.

"Right off hand, I'd say we had the seventh or eighth fastest car out there. If it came down to three or four running for the lead, we probably wouldn't have been in the show. If it had been one on one, Bobby would have had the advantage."


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February 16
Tennis
1926:
The long awaited match between France's Suzanne Lenglen, the queen of the tennis world, and her most serious challenger, Californian Helen Wills, finally takes place in Cannes.

The New York Times, the New York Tribune and the Chicago Tribune put the story on the front page of the paper.

In the final of the Carlton tournament, Lenglen registers a 6-3, 8-6 victory in a match the Chicago Tribune calls "the most dramatic, most grueling athletic contest ever played by two women."

The New York Times calls it "a game which made continents stand still and was the most important sporting event of modern times exclusively in the hands of the fair sex."

While Lenglen is the overwhelming favorite, Wills takes leads in both sets -- 2-1 in the first and 5-4 in the second. Each time, though, Lenglen comes back.

Pro basketball
1972:
While no other player in the NBA has yet scored 25,000 points -- and only five have 20,000 -- Wilt Chamberlain becomes the first to reach 30,000. The Los Angeles Lakers' 7-1 center, in his 13th year in the league, gains the milestone with 2:09 left in the third quarter on a goaltending call against the Suns' Neal Walk, who touches the ball while it's on the rim.

The game in Phoenix is stopped. Chamberlain is given the ball and receives a standing ovation from the crowd of 12,534.

Another goaltending call, this one against Wilt, decides the game. With three seconds left, Chamberlain's goaltend on Connie Hawkins' drive wipes out the Lakers' only lead of the game and gives the Suns a 110-109 victory.

Auto racing
1975:
Benny Parsons didn't have much success getting to victory lane in NASCAR competition, winning only two of his 175 races. But today the 33-year-old PTA president registers a major upset when he wins the Daytona 500.

While Parsons leads just for four of the 200 laps, he's in front when it counts. Parsons has been steadily gaining on leader David Pearson, but doesn't appear to have enough time to catch him. But on the 198th lap of the 2 1/2-mile speedway, Pearson spins out of control after a tapping incident with another car.

"I guess I'm too big to say this, but I just about cried when I saw Pearson off on the grass and knew I was going to win," says Parsons, who was 100 yards behind Pearson at the time of the accident.

Parsons' victory is even more remarkable considering he starts from the 32nd position. But he gradually moves his Chevy up with the leaders and then takes advantage of Richard Petty giving him a draft in a last-ditch effort to catch Pearson.


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February 17
Auto racing
1991:
Ernie Irvan, winner of only one previous Winston Cup race, is today's unlikely winner of the Daytona 500. Known as Swervin' Irvan, he stays on the straight and narrow and takes advantage of Dale Earnhardt crashing into Davey Allison.

Six laps from the finish, Irvan passes Earnhardt for the lead. On lap 198, Earnhardt and Allison are battling side by side for the right to challenge Irvan when their cars tangle and spin along the back straightaway.

"I lost control and spun, and I spun right into Davey," says Earnhardt, who takes out strong-running Kyle Petty as well as Allison.

Running the final two laps under a yellow caution flag, Irvan's yellow Chevy, which is running out of gas, barely makes it to the finish line. "I had to go down on the apron (to keep the car and its fuel tank level), but I figured I'd get to the finish then, even if I had to run past the pace car to do it," says Irvan, who wins $233,000.


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February 18
Figure skating
1956:
Carol Heiss, just turned 16, puts on the sweetest performance of her career. With her ponytail whirling like a propeller in the falling snow, she becomes the world figure-skating champion by finally defeating her arch-rival, Tenley Albright, who has beaten her in their first eight meetings, including the Olympics two weeks earlier.

The 5-foot-2, 103-pound Heiss takes the crowd and the judges by storm in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, with her flawless four-minute performance. Wearing an emerald green dress and skating to Adolphe Adam's "If I Were King," she unreels a dazzling series of two double Axels, a double flip, double loops, a flying sit spin and other difficult figures. "Carol was great, better than ever," Albright says. "I have absolutely no complaints. The judging was okay."

Heiss becomes the second youngest woman to win the world title. Sonja Henie won it when she was 15.

Auto racing
1990:
It appears that Dale Earnhardt is about to end his Daytona 500 jinx. He's put on a commanding show all day, leading for 155 laps, and is a mile from victory ... when disaster strikes.

His Chevy hits some road debris -- it turns out to be a bell housing -- and then he hears a pop. His right rear tire is cut. The race falls into the (last) lap of Derrike Cope, who had never won a NASCAR race before and hadn't finished better than 27th in the Daytona 500.

"We had a tire go right in front of the chicken-bone grandstands on the backstretch," Earnhardt says. "I was just sitting there; they couldn't catch me.

"Derrike wins the race, but we beat them all day. They didn't outrun us, they just lucked into it."


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February 19
Pro baseball
1970:
One might have made money betting on Denny McLain in 1968, when the Detroit Tigers right-hander won 31 games, or in 1969, when he won 24. But the major league's last 30-game winner finds it's not rewarding to be involved with bookmakers, as McLain was in 1967.

After meeting for 5 hours with Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, during which McLain candidly admitted his involvement with a bookmaking ring in Detroit, Kuhn says he has no choice and suspends the 25-year-old pitcher indefinitely.

This is the first of three suspensions this season for McLain. He will return on July 1 and go 3-5 with 4.65 ERA before he will be suspended in late August by the Tigers for dousing two Detroit writers with ice water. Then in September he will be suspended for the rest of the season by Kuhn for carrying a gun and violating the terms of his probation.

In October, the Tigers will inflict further damage on McLain by trading him to the Washington Senators.

Pro basketball
1995:
Playing on an empty stomach, Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon grabs the 10,000th rebound of his NBA career in a 122-117 loss to the Knicks this afternoon at Madison Square Garden. He is the 21st player to get 10,000 rebounds.

During Ramadan, the 30-day Muslim fasting period, Olajuwon doesn't eat or drink from sunup to sundown. He has breakfast before the sun comes up, but doesn't sip water during the game. At halftime, he merely rinses out his mouth.

"I was sapped," he says.

Still, he scores 27 points and has nine rebounds in 43 minutes.

Auto racing
1995:
Sterling Marlin is out to show his victory in last year's Daytona 500 was no fluke. He does it in convincing fashion, leading for 105 of the 200 laps in becoming the first driver since Cale Yarborough (1983-84) to win back-to-back Daytona 500s.

Except for pit stops, Marlin never loses the lead. About the only thing that stops him is rain, which halts the race for one hour and 44 minutes after 71 laps. He holds off Dale Earnhardt's late charge and wins by .61 seconds.

"The rumor was circulating through the garage area that the '3' bunch said we couldn't do it again, that we'd find some way to mess up," Marlin says, referring to Earnhardt's car number. "So it feels real good to beat him."

The two Daytona 500 victories are Marlin's only wins in his 310-race Winston Cup career.


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February 20
Figure skating
1998:
Trailing favored Michelle Kwan after the short program, 15-year-old Tara Lipinski gives a brilliant freestyle performance and becomes the youngest ever to earn an Olympic gold medal in women's figure skating. Lipinski is two months younger than Sonja Henie was when she won the first of her three Olympic titles in 1928.

The smallest American Olympian at 4-foot-10 and 82 pounds, Lipinski is technically superior to Kwan, faster, more aggressive and more exuberant in her skating. She consumes the ice in Nagano, Japan, with the sheer delight of performing.

"It was amazing," Lipinski says of standing on the medal podium. "It went by so quick. I was happy, but a little sad, knowing I was going to have to get off. I couldn't think of anything wrong. Everything was perfect." Kwan, the 17-year-old silver medalist, says, "There's nothing more I could have done. It might not be the color medal I wanted, but I'll take it."

Auto racing
1977:
Cale Yarborough goes from last to first. A year after finishing last in the Daytona 500, Yarborough wins the race on a windy day when papers are blowing over the track and causes at least one car to lose an engine.

Yarborough drives the Chevrolet of Junior Johnson, the "Last American Hero" of movie fame and the 1960 Daytona 500 winner, away from Benny Parsons' Chevy on the last few laps to win by 1.39 seconds. Yarborough leads for leads for 137 of the 200 laps, including the last 29. He averages 153.21 mph and earns $63,700.

The top rookie finisher is Janet Guthrie, the first woman to race in the Daytona 500. Booed at the start by the crowd of 135,000, she is cheered after finishing 188 laps and coming in 12th.

This is Yarborough's second Daytona 500 victory. He will win the race twice more. Only Richard Petty (seven victories) will win more Daytona 500s.


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February 21
Figure skating
1992:
Sixteen years ago, when she was four years old and Dorothy Hamill was winning Olympic gold, Kristi Yamaguchi skated while holding a Hamill doll. Tonight, Yamaguchi becomes the United States' first women's figure-skating Olympic champion since Hamill, who visits Yamaguchi before she skates her freestyle program.

After a near-fall on one of the easiest triple jumps in her 4-minute program, Yamaguchi regains her composure and recovers nicely. Landing five triples out of the seven she planned, she is an easy winner in Albertville, France.

In the last 11 months, Yamaguchi has won a world championship, a national crown and now the Olympic title.

This is the first time three American women finish in the top four, as Nancy Kerrigan, Yamaguchi's roommate and good friend, finishes third, and Tonya Harding, the 1991 U.S. national champion, takes fourth. Japan's Midori Ito prevents a U.S. sweep by winning the silver medal.

Hockey
1970:
Bobby Hull always seems to score a milestone goal against the New York Rangers. His first 50-goal season came with a goal against Gump Worsley in 1962 and when he became the first NHL player to score more than 50 in 1966, the 51st was scored against Cesare Maniago.

Tonight, in the Chicago Blackhawks' 4-2 victory over the Rangers, the Golden Jet becomes the third player to score 500 career goals, joining Rocket Richard and Gordie Howe in the exclusive club. Hull, 31 and playing in his 861st game, is given credit for No. 499 when a shot caroms off his skate and past goalie Eddie Giacomin in the second period.

Later in the period, Hull, standing on the left side of the crease, slams No. 500 past Giacomin. The crowd of 18,000 in Chicago Stadium gives the 13-year veteran a two-minute ovation. Hull will finish his NHL career with 610 goals in 1,063 games.


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February 22
Hockey
1980:
Do you believe in miracles?

Almost nobody expected the United States hockey team, composed mostly of college players, to defeat the veteran Soviet Union juggernaut at the Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y.

But in a heated battle on ice, America's Team wins this cold war, shocking the Soviets -- and the rest of the world -- with a dramatic 4-3 victory. It's the Soviets' first loss in the Olympics since 1968.

Just two weeks ago, the U.S. had lost to the Soviets 10-3. Today, though, it enters the final period trailing only 3-2 despite being outshot 12-2 in the second period. After not getting a shot on Soviet goalie Vladimir Myshkin for the first 7 1/2 minutes of the final period, the U.S. ties the game at 8:39 on a goal by Wisconsin fireplug Mark Johnson. Then halfway through the period captain Mike Eruzione's screened shot beats Myshkin and gives the U.S. its first lead.

With the standing room only crowd wildly cheering them on, the Americans, who have just 16 shots for the game, hold on for the stunning upset. Goalie Jim Craig finishes with 36 saves, nine in the final period.

In the locker room, the U.S. players sing "God Bless America," even though they can't remember all the words. Coach Herb Brooks locks himself in the men's room with his emotions. "Finally, I snuck into the hall," he says, "and the state troopers were all standing there crying."


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February 23
Speed skating
1980:
Celebrating with the U.S. hockey team last night after its stunning victory over the Soviet Union, speed skater Eric Heiden oversleeps before his 10,000-meter race.

"I was supposed to get up at 6:30," he says. "At 20 to 8 they were pounding on my door, wanting to know where I was. So I ran by the cafeteria, grabbed three slices of bread and hurried to the track."

And on his near-empty stomach, Heiden becomes the first person to win five individual gold medals in one Olympics by shattering the world record by 6.2 seconds. He finishes in 14:28.13.

Sounding neither arrogant nor flippant, Heiden says about his five gold medals: "I guess I'll put them with the rest of the trophies and stuff. In my mom's dresser. They'll collect dust. The medals just don't mean that much to me in themselves. What can you do with them?

"I'd rather win a nice warm-up suit, something I can use. Maybe I'll sell them when I get old and I need the money."

Pro basketball
1987:
The Seattle Sonics' Nate McMillan dishes out 25 assists to tie the NBA's record for most assists by a rookie in a game set by Buffalo's Ernie DiGregorio 13 years earlier. McMillan's previous high in a game had been 13.

McMillan, a 6-5 guard out of North Carolina State, leads the Sonics to a 124-112 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in Seattle.

"Nate really gives us emotion," says Sonics coach Bernie Bickerstaff. "The players know that if they run the court and they're open, they will get the ball from Nate."


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February 24
Hockey
1980:
Even with its victory over the mighty Soviets two days earlier, the seventh-seeded U.S. hockey team still needs to beat Finland today to win the Olympic gold medal at Lake Placid, N.Y. A loss, and the gold goes to the Soviet Union.

Left wing Rob McClanahan says he didn't sleep after the Soviet victory "and I won't sleep again tonight. Because if I sleep, there'll always be the chance that this was a dream."

It's no dream, though it looks like a potential nightmare as the U.S. trails Finland 2-1 after two periods. But then Phil Verchota ties the game, McClanahan scores the game-winner and Mark Johnson tacks on a late short-handed goal to give Team America (6-0-1) the 4-2 victory and the gold medal.

And when it's over, the country is treated to one more unforgettable moment. There's goalie Jim Craig, draped in an American flag, skating around the ice and searching the stands for his widowed father.

In the locker room, the U.S. team receives a congratulatory call from President Jimmy Carter, just as it had two days earlier. Coach Herb Brooks tells the President, "This is a great win for the American people. It proves our way of life is the right way."


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February 25
Boxing
1964:
Few give 22-year-old Cassius Clay much of a chance to dethrone heavyweight champ Sonny Liston. Only three of 46 writers covering the fight in Miami Beach had picked Clay, a 7-1 underdog. Most thought of him as a loud-mouthed braggart.

But the kid with the quick quip, who kept insisting he would "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee," lives up to his words, showing his hands are even faster than his mouth. His long left jab keeps bouncing off Liston's face.

Clay's most troublesome time comes after the fourth round, when he is blinded by ointment applied to Liston's cut. He talks of quitting, but trainer Angelo Dundee forces him to continue. A round later, Clay's vision is clear, and he lands several solid blows, opening a cut under Liston's left eye.

The fight is even after six rounds, according to the three officials. Before the seventh starts, a bleeding Liston remains in his corner, complaining of numbness in his left shoulder down to his forearm. Clay is the champion on a TKO.

"I shocked the world!" Ali repeatedly screams after he, er, shocks the world.

Pro basketball
1977:
Midway in the fourth quarter against the New York Knicks, a New Orleans Jazz teammate tells Pistol Pete Maravich, "You better get a new firing pin, Pistol, 'cause you're wearing that one out."

Pistol keeps on firing, and by the time he fouls out with 1:18 remaining, he has 68 points, the most ever for a guard in the NBA. "I could have scored more," Maravich says. "I missed a lot of easy shots early in the game."

In breaking the record of 63 set by the Los Angeles Lakers' Jerry West in 1962, Maravich connects on 26-of-43 field goals and 16-of-19 free throws in the Jazz's 124-107 victory in the Superdome in New Orleans. He also has six assists and six rebounds in his 43 minutes.

He scores 17 in the first quarter, 14 in the second, 17 in the third and 20 in the fourth in bettering his previous high of 50. "He was phenomenal," says Knicks coach Red Holzman.


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February 26
Golf
1978:
Rookie Nancy Lopez gains her first victory on the LPGA tour. After bogeying the 10th and 11th holes in the final round, costing her the lead, Lopez recovers and birdies 17. This gives her a one-shot victory at the $100,000 Bent Tree Classic in Sarasota, Fla.

Tied for the lead after the third round, the 21-year-old Lopez shoots a final-round one-over-par 73 to finish at one-over 289, a stroke ahead of playing partner Jo Ann Washam. Lopez earns $15,000.

Hockey
1981:
The Bruins usually try to intimidate the North Stars at Boston Garden, where Minnesota is 0-27-7. Tonight, the North Stars don't turn the other cheek, but seek an eye-for-an-eye -- or at least a penalty for a penalty. The result is the mother of all hockey brawls.

Seven seconds into the game, the first fight breaks out, between Minnesota's Bobby Smith and Boston's Steve Kasper. By the time the period is over -- an hour and 31 minutes later -- 341 penalty minutes are assessed by referee Dave Newell and 12 players (seven North Stars and five Bruins) are ejected. The 67 penalties in the period are an NHL record.

By the time the game is over, both the Bruins and North Stars are called for 42 penalties and are penalized a total of 406 minutes, an NHL record. Minnesota is penalized a record 211 minutes -- 18 minors, 13 majors, four 10-minute misconducts and seven game misconducts.

And after the Bruins' 5-1 victory -- with three Boston goals coming shorthanded -- Minnesota coach Glen Sonmor and Boston coach Gerry Cheevers almost come to blows.


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February 27
Professional baseball
1901:
The National League Rules Committee declares a foul ball not caught on the fly is a strike unless two strikes have already been called. To cut the cost of foul balls hit into the stands, the committee urges that "batsmen who foul off good pitches are to be disciplined."

In 1903, the American League will adopt the National League's foul ball ruling.

1908: The sacrifice fly rule is adopted. No at-bat is charged if a run scores after the catch of a fly ball. The rule will be repealed in 1931, then reinstated or changed several times before it becomes a permanent part of the rule book for the 1954 season.

Professional basketball
1959:
Bob Cousy, the Celtics' magical playmaker, shatters the NBA record for assists by getting 28 in Boston's record-breaking 173-139 victory over the Minneapolis Lakers. The previous mark had been 21, set by the New York Knicks' Richie Guerin.

In the next 40 years, only two players (Scott Skiles with 30 and Kevin Porter with 29) will surpass Cousy's performance.

Cousy also scores 31 points, second to Tommy Heinsohn's 43, as the Celtics, playing without Bill Russell, score the most points ever in a regulation NBA game. (The Phoenix Suns will tie the record in 1990.) With 52 points in the fourth quarter, Boston breaks by 27 the mark of 146 set by the St. Louis Hawks. The Celtics connect on 72-of-143 field-goal attempts.

League president Maurice Podoloff is shocked when he hears the result. He says he will query officials of both teams to determine whether defensive assignments were faithfully carried out or whether the teams "were goofing."

"One hundred and seventy-three to 139!" Podoloff says in disbelief. "That's unbelievable."

Professional hockey
1977:
Stalled at 499 goals for the past two games, Chicago center Stan Mikita wants to score his milestone 500th before the hometown fans. After tonight's game against Vancouver, the Black Hawks start a six-game road trip. Feeling edgy and "tight as a drum," Mikita arrives at Chicago Stadium at 3 p.m. "so I wouldn't be home yelling at my wife and kids."

With 6:04 left in the third period, it's 14,500 fans at the arena doing the yelling. The 18-year veteran has just scored No. 500, becoming the eighth NHL player to join the club, and receives a four minute and 40 second ovation.

Mikita's goal is a beauty. He scissors between two Vancouver defenders and waits until goalie Cesare Maniago commits himself. When Maniago sprawls to the ice, Mikita lifts the puck over him with a backhander. It is Mikita's fifth - and final - shot on goal and comes on the 14th of his 16 shifts.

Mikita's only regret is that Chicago loses, 4-3.


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February 28
Olympics
1960:
In the past three days, the goaltending of Jack McCartan had helped the United States Olympic hockey team upset co-favorites Canada, 2-1, and the Soviet Union, 3-2, at Squaw Valley, Calif. With a 6-0 record, the United States still needs a victory or tie today against 3-3 Czechoslovakia, which the Americans defeated 7-5 in their opening game, for the gold medal.

After two periods, the U.S. trails 4-3. Soviet captain Nikolai Sologubov makes a surprise visit to the U.S. locker room, and using sign language (he puts his hands over his face and huffs and puffs), suggests the players take oxygen. The trainer runs to find a tank and when he returns, the Americans refuel.

After almost six scoreless minutes, the energized U.S. team scores six goals in a 12-minute span to win 9-4 and capture its first Olympic hockey gold medal. Roger Christian scores three goals in the period, giving him four for the game. Bob Cleary scores two, including the game-winner.

Sologubov and some of his teammates heartily congratulate the victors. Cleary says, "We've been playing those Russian guys so many times the last several years that we know them all. They're real friends.

"Sitting around talking, they don't talk about communism. Like us they talk about hockey -- and girls."


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