No fan can be everywhere all the time. And as the century draws
to a close, some of our scribes have grown a little wistful as
they look back, wondering what it might have been like to have
sat ringside at Dempsey-Tunney, to have stood on the sideline as
Jim Thorpe rumbled by or to have watched from the press box as
the Babe called his shot (and to have asked him afterward, as
nobody else seems to have: "Babe, what was that about?").
There are a goodly number of events that continue to fire the
imagination in ways that next week's 49ers game won't. Jesse
Owens getting his gold in front of the smoldering Hitler. Lou
Gehrig's speech. And how about that poor guy who ran the wrong
way in the Rose Bowl?
Since SI joined the scene in 1954, we've been pretty good at
registering the appropriate excitement at the moment--we know
the difference between a day at the park and Bill Mazeroski's
home run--but we haven't always had genius on our side. Who
could possibly have recognized Cassius Clay's first drubbing of
Sonny Liston as the beginning of a social, cultural and
political revolution? Who's that smart?
It takes time to sort out stuff like that. So we asked our
writers to look back, to sift through all the plays and games
that changed the world, and many that didn't, and to choose the
one they most wish they'd seen. So, if you will, grant us the
power of omniscience (of omnipresence!) while we return to
Fenway and Pimlico and Wimbledon and enjoy the views.
COLOR PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY DAVID GAZ