ESPN.comESPN.com's Page 2 writers provide their memories of the 100 moments ...
91MJ calls it quits at 30
Michael Jordan was 30 years old in 1993, at the peak of his ability and the very rumors of his retirement during a White Sox/Blue Jays playoff game sent such a buzz through Comiskey Park that it could have lit up all of Illinois and parts of Indiana.
How big was the announcement? The press conference the next day drew so many reporters it was like a dry run for the Second Coming. Even Tom Brokaw showed up.
The big question was why? Why would the greatest player in the game's history suddenly retire? Why would he just walk away from the game? Why was he leaving us?
As it turned out, there wasn't a very good explanation. Certainly not at Double-A Birmingham the following spring.
So Jordan came back. And then he retired again. And then he came back
again. And the fuss over his first retirement now seems silly. We're so
used to his retirements now that he ought to have a neon sign like at a
roadside motel. "Retired/Not Retired."
92Eric Heiden wins fifth gold medal
I grew up in Long Beach, California. We played basketball, baseball, football, and a little tennis in my neighborhood. We did not skate, except on hard floors under disco balls at Skateland, with Journey tunes blaring in our ears. Ice was a thing we put in our drinks.
Heiden changed us. He had us glued to our sets. We watched him the way our parents had watched Armstrong walk on the moon, like he was doing some unthinkable thing in some far off world. Everything about it was exotic and thrilling. The day after he won his fifth gold, I made my mom take me to the sporting goods store to buy some roller skates with urethane wheels and sealed bearings (inline skates didn't exist yet). We had to strike a deal: no allowance for six weeks, I'd wash her car every Sunday, etc.
They were blue and gold Spotbilts. I chose
them because I thought they looked like Heiden's sleek, gold aerodynamic
suit. I spent that first afternoon, and dozens like it, skating in circles
around my block, working on my arm swing, and imagining the warm, black
slurry-seal was cold blue ice in upsate New York.
93Baseball retires Robinson's #42
When the Mets-Dodgers game of April 15, 1997, was interrupted for 35 minutes for Bud Selig's announcement, it brought back a simple memory, one that I had carried with me since I was a child: Jackie and Branch Rickey, sitting together in the general managers office in Brooklyn, with Rickey asking Robinson if he's ready to take on the toughest task of all: turning the other cheek.
It was one of the first sports stories I ever read on my own, and boy, has it stuck. I can call it up as if I were a first-hand witness. When Selig said that Jackie was the only player, ever, who was "bigger than the game," I thought that perhaps never before has a cliché been used with such eloquence, and with such appropriateness.
It also brought back memories of seeing photos of Robinson, and maybe some TV appearances, after his playing days had ended. His hair had turned prematurely gray long before his early death, at 53, in 1972. He had turned the other cheek. He had absorbed enormous abuse. It had, in the long run, cost him. But what a gift he gave us all.
94Olympian Derek Redmond leans on dad
Even after 12 years, the replay in my mind, of the British sprinter being helped by his father, Jim, makes me bawl like a baby. First, Jim reaching Derek and telling his son, "You don't have to do this." Then, seeing that his son did have to finish, saying, "Well, then, we're going to finish this together."
Simple words. Words I didn't hear while watching on TV, but read about later. Words that bubble up all the times my father, almost always wordlessly, did the exact same thing for me. Over and over.
Memories of all the time my dad, with his 12-hour workdays and so many pressures and problems of his own, put in for my modest dream, to break 2:50 in the marathon and qualify for the Boston Marathon. There were a lot of long drives, a lot of lousy motels, and a lot of disappointments along the way. But I did it, I qualified, on my 19th birthday. I thought back then, "I did the work, I picked myself up after three straight failures and tried again and succeeded."
I was too young, too stupid, too selfish, to see my dad's own version of "we're in this together." I was no Olympian, not even a good runner. But it was my sport. And long before I realized what he'd really, really done for me, with me, he was gone. He died before I grew up enough to thank him. Which is why that short, simple, spontaneous gesture by Jim Redmond conjures, for me, 20 years of regret, all for the want of two words I should have said sooner: "Thanks, Dad."
95Clemens hurls bat at Piazza in 2001 World Series
I believed Roger Clemens. As a Mets fan, a Red Sox rooter, and a bully-hater, I couldn't stand the guy. But when he repeated, again and again, that there was "no intent" to throw the bat at Piazza, that the action was borne of adrenaline and confusion. I believed him. Still do.
But it was, and is, a half-assed, half-baked, and totally unsatisfactory response. "Intent" is not the end of the explanation. It's only a small part (and we still haven't heard the rest).
The incident, in my mind, at least, provides a perfect example of how someone, through good fortune and hard work, can rise to the top of their profession, make millions, enjoy incredible success -- and still not have a damn clue.
And the perfect counter, an exemplar of how someone can, with grace and class and wisdom and intelligence, handle fame and fortune on a mighty big stage? Mike Piazza.
-- Jeff Merron
96Henderson's homer stuns Angels
A woman totaled my Mustang just before the 1986 playoffs and my parents offered to drive me around to look at replacements. They also tried to get me to buy a 1981 Grand Prix (an absolute whale) from my mother's hairdresser for $2,400. Naturally, I didn't want it. I wanted something smaller, sleeker, hipper -- something that wasn't driven by my mother's hairdresser.
The only problem is the only day my parents could drive up to Seattle was the afternoon of Game 5 of the Red Sox-Angels series. I really needed to buy a car so I very reluctantly agreed to spend the day visiting used car lots while listening to the game on the radio. As we drove around looking at cars and the Red Sox fell behind, I grew increasingly irritated. I test-drove a bunch of cars but my heart wasn't in it. I certainly wasn't able to give the cars my full attention. Who could think about Honda Civics when the Sox were on the verge of elimination?
Finally, with Boston trailing 3-2 in the top of the seventh, I said enough was enough. Screw the car, I would buy one later. I needed to see the game now.
So we drove to my apartment and when I turned on the TV, the Sox trailed 5-2. I sat on the couch stewing, upset the Sox were going to get beat and lose the playoffs. My parents, upset that they had driven three hours to spend the day looking for cars (when the hairdresser had a perfectly good one to sell me) only to have me watch the game, sat stewing next to me.
And then Baylor homered. And then Hendu homered. I cheered. My dad cheered. My mother cheered. And I was so happy -- I don't think any sporting event has ever made me happier -- that I agreed on the spot to buy the Grand Prix.
The Sox won, my parents went home satisfied and I must say, I drove that
car for eight years and it was a damn good car.
-- Jim Caple
97The Fridge scores on Monday Night Football
When I was a kid, my sister Erinn and I used to listen to an old Bill Cosby record with a routine called "Buck Buck" on it. Buck Buck was a game where five kids, bent over at the waist, held onto each other to build a bridge, and then other kids would come running down the street and jump on the bridge to try to break it. "Buck Buck #1 coming ...!" Whomp! "Buck Buck #2 coming ...!" Whomp! And so on, until the bridge collapses.
"Buck Buck" was a Fat Albert routine, and Cosby did this hilarious bit about the kids in the bridge waiting, like condemned prisoners before a firing line, for Albert to come running and jumping. My sister and I started to giggle at the mention of Albert's name, and by the time he called out "Buck Buck," we were rolling on the floor at the thought of those poor saps who were about get Alberted and there wasn't a thing they could do about it.
It was the same way the night the Fridge made the Packers his personal Buck Buck bridge. First he
slammed in as a blocker for a Sweetness touchdown, and Erinn and I giggled.
Then he did it again, and we laughed. Then he lined up at halfback, and
Erinn said "Buck Buck #1 coming ...!" and we were rolling on the floor.
98Jack Buck's Tribute to America: Baseball returns after 9/11
It was a baseball game. But that doesn't quite describe it.
It was a baseball game where choirs sang. And managers sang, too. The mayor came draped in a flag.
The organ played the rarified strains of the "Marine Corps" song. The ROTC color guard got a standing ovation. A Lee Greenwood video made a stadium full of Americans cry.
Something went on Monday night -- in Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium, in ballparks across North America. But it was something more powerful than baseball, something more transcendant than the resumption of the pennant races.
"That wasn't a baseball game to me," said Phillies third baseman Scott Rolen, after a two-homer evening on the night America's ballparks opened again -- after six days that felt like six months. "It was something different. It wasn't Opening Day. It wasn't what I assume the playoffs are like. But it was an emotional game.
"That whole game," Rolen said, "there was a feeling on the field I haven't had before. I can't explain it. There was a big difference in the crowd. It seemed like they were rooting for the country. They were not Braves fans or Phillies fans. They were Americans."
99Dr. J's amazing reverse layup in '80 Finals
What I remember is not seeing it again after that night. We didn't have a VCR at the time. There must have been replays right after he did it, but I don't remember seeing them.
Still, the layup lived in my imagination for years. It was a thing you'd try on the courts at school, just to remember the wildness of it. It was a thing you'd talk about with friends, with people you just met, just to recall its crazy genius. It was a thing you'd try to replay with your eyes closed.
As the years went by, I figured I was exaggerating it, remembering it romantically, making the trip behind the basket more pronounced than it was, making the ball flip and bank higher than they were. I figured it was great, sure, but not as great as I remembered it.
Then last year, for the first time, I saw it on tape on some NBA Legends show on ESPN Classic. Sure enough, I got it wrong. It wasn't the way I remembered it. It was better.
100Twins beat Braves in 1991 World Series
There are certain moments we'll never forget, certain moments that will always provoke wonder, certain moments that still inspire goose bumps so large that it looks like we're on steroids.
Michael Jordan launching a shot with the seconds draining down against Utah. John Elway stepping up to the Broncos' 2-yard line with the minutes winding down on a cold day in Cleveland. Mark McGwire circling the basepaths in St. Louis with an entire nation riding on his shoulders.
And that late October night under a Teflon roof in Minnesota when stubborn old Jack Morris walked out to the mound miles from his boyhood home to shut out Atlanta for the 10th inning.
"Damn, can you believe that? He's going out there again."
-- Jim Caple