They were moments of triumph and despair, deeds that wrenched tradition, achievements that set standards for a whole generation of striving. Out of these 20 years, there emerge a few prime movers, a few seminal events that continue to kick up bursts of dust, spray, faith, anguish and jubilation in the memories of fans who cheered and moaned. The photographs on this and the next 27 pages celebrate the athletes, the moments, the turning points.
Pro football went big-time on Dec. 28, 1958, as the Colts' Alan Ameche beat the Giants in sudden death.
Polizei stalked terrorists at the Munich Olympics.
Billie Jean King proved a good woman could beat Bobby Riggs.
Ron Turcotte rode Secretariat as the chestnut colt ran away with the '73 Belmont and the first Triple Crown in 25 years.
THE FORCE AND THE OBJECT
Unimaginable in growth, pervasive in its influence, pro football has added a new all-out, high-pressure oomph to sport, and the pounding heart of the game is hitting. Dick Butkus, the middle linebacker, would hit you and keep on hitting you all over until someone stopped him, even biting your ear if he could. Jim Brown, the fullback, would hit you once, if you got in his way, and then hit somebody else 10 yards downfield one second later. Adding strategic, long-distance and spiritual elements to this countervailing crunching have been some wizard quarterbacks—John Unitas, Bart Starr, Joe Namath—a long blurred line of supersonic pass catchers and, in Vince Lombardi, that rarity in recent public life, an authority figure who held up.
Brown hits a hole that will stay hit.
Butkus, eyed from a respectful distance by an official, closes a hole that will slay closed.
Flat-out Raymond Berry set pass-catching records.
Jerry Kramer reverently totes Vince Lombardi.
Garo Yepremian uncorks Super Bowl quasi-pass.
O.J. breaks Jim Brown's single-season rush mark.
These shoes weren't made for running, because the, knees above them were so bad. But the arm, savvy, release and life-style made Joe Namath's trademark footwear unfillable by anyone else. In the '69 Super Bowl he called his shot, and made the AFL a major league.
A TIMELESS PASTIME
A few years back, baseball suffered a rash of deprecations. It was called dated, too leisurely to gratify modern America's leisure-time urges. But the old ball game kept giving rise to new phenomena like the Mets and the A's, exposing new facets of such beloved classics as Mays, Musial and Stengel, and inspiring notable books by writers ranging from Jim Bouton to Philip Roth. Perhaps because of its measured pace baseball produces more nostalgia material—moments to mull and argue over at length—than other sports. And its heroes retain a distinctive savor. How would you like a bubble-gum card of everyone in flannels shown here?
Sandy Koufax, youngest to enter the Hall of Fame.
Ted Williams' last at bat, last home run.
Stan Musial probably could have hit in this position.
Henry Aaron herewith out-homers the Babe.
If a kid didn't idolize Mickey Mantle, shown rounding third on a game-winning 10th-inning homer, then who was his hero?
Willie Mays turns his back on the world and Vic Wertz' drive, lo capture both.
Jim Lonborg is engulfed by Bostonians after the Sox' last-day '67 pennant win.
The earth shook when the Mets took the Series and the fans look off with the turf.
Juan Marichal goes after John Roseboro in a rarity: a baseball fight with blood.
Yogi Berra, who caught it, and Don Larsen, who threw it: a perfect World Series game.
A STENGELESE SAMPLER
There is no more perdurable and vertiginous Figure than Casey Stengel He said of 20-year-old prospect Greg Goossen, "In 10 years he has a chance to be 30.
He was the first to call the Mets "amazin'," and he asserted lour years ago, "Most people my age are dead at the present time."
He tipped his hat os a player, allowing a sparrow to fly out, and did it again some 50 years later at an old-timers game, on this occasion unveiling a pigeon, and said: "That's inflation."
He explained to a Senate antitrust hearing why Japanese baseball seemed to him inscrutable. "I couldn't understand why they would want to play baseball with short fingers...."
When asked in '73 if he would like to manage again, he said, "Well, to be truthful and honest and perfectly frank about it, I'm 83 years old, which ain't bad. To be truthful and honest and frank about it, the thing I'd like to be right now is an astronaut."
He said, after being honored as baseball's greatest living manager, "I want to thank all my players for giving me the honor of being what I was."
WHEN VROOM GOES BOOM
The point of auto racing is sustained high speed, but the scenes that stick in the memory are of abrupt, rending arrest. During the first lap of the 1966 Indy 500, 11 cars crashed and 14 spectators were hit by flying debris. Graham Hill (far left) escaped unscathed and won.
CENTERS OF ATTENTION
No sports figures have been more pivotal than basketball's mobile big men. Like Fiberglas in pole-vaulting, they raised their game's limits, made it whippier and more spectacular and altered the style of all its participants. The biggest three were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, player and coach.
DANCING ON AIR
Not only sports you watch but sports you do grew by leaps and bounds. Often what was in the ascendancy was a form of descent, such as skydiving—here the West German "Boogey Woogey" team plummets on Pretoria, South Africa—skiing, skin diving and hang gliding.
THE BIGGER THEY WERE
...the giddier they rose and fell. Sonny Liston and George Foreman were called indestructible. They said that Floyd Patterson and Muhammad Ali couldn't come back. You never could tell. The heavyweights produced the super-punch fans demanded, and a stunning unpredictability as well. A good thing, or, despite theater TV, boxing might have died.
Young Cassius Clay, just 19 in '61, made his mark on Alex Miteff.
Floyd Patterson floored Ingemar Johansson in their rubber match.
Joe Frazier knocked Ali down and won the Fight of the Century.
All wound up, Ali wore out Liston to wind up as champ.
George Foreman outsmoked Joe in Jamaica, look his crown.
A punch Slepin Fetchit taught Ali dispatched Liston in Lewiston.
A WISH AND A FALLEN STAR
Jim Ryun's 3:51.1 is still the fastest mile ever run, but the object of his fondest hope, the 1,500-meter Olympic gold medal, eluded him twice. In '68 Kip Keino and the altitude beat him. Here, in 72, a collision with Billy Fordjour of Ghana eliminated him in a heat.
A BAD FLOP AND A LONG RUN
In the '59 Belmont Eddie Arcaro avoided serious injury when Black Hills threw him into the slop. In '66 Johnny Longden, 59, had his 6,032nd win on George Royal.
STRONG MEN IN THE CLUTCH
Whether chasing each other around the course or whatever they were doing, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus were the top dogs of golf. Palmer, who often looks like he just jumped down off the back of a truck, was the first to win a million, Nicklaus, truly a golden bear, the first to win two million. Whom they dance with is their own business.
FORTY SIX PHOTOS