It has been 50 years since what has been labeled the greatest NFL game, the 1958 NFL championship game won by the Baltimore Colts over the New York Giants in sudden death in the first nationally televised football broadcast.
It has been argued that the game might not be the greatest NFL game, but perhaps the game with the greatest impact. Five decades and many spine-tingling games later the debate continues. In further commemoration, The Times has decided to put the greatest events in sports up for debate. Our list:
Feb. 18, 1979: Daytona 500
NASCAR's evolution from a largely Southeastern sport into the most popular form of American auto racing started at the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18, 1979, with a wild finish that captivated a nation being served its first live 500-mile stock car race on television.
On the last lap, Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison raced side by side for the lead down the backstretch and then hit each other, both slamming into the outside wall and out of contention. Richard Petty, more than a mile behind, raced past the wreckage to win.
The fireworks weren't over. After Petty took the checkered flag, CBS' Ken Squier announced "And there's a fight!" The TV cameras swung to the infield, where Allison and his brother Bobby -- another driver who had stopped at the crash scene -- traded punches with Yarborough. Years later, Yarborough echoed the consensus in NASCAR when he said "that's the race that turned this whole sport around."
-- Jim Peltz
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
Oct. 3, 1951: New York Giants 5, Brooklyn Dodgers 4
"The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!"
Russ Hodges hollered those words more than half a century ago, and the most famous call in baseball endures to this day. The bitter rivals tied atop the National League standings in the regular season, split the first two playoff games and played to a 1-1 tie through seven innings of the deciding third game, with the World Series awaiting the winner.
The game featured five future Hall of Famers, three for the Dodgers. Those three -- Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider and Jackie Robinson -- each scored in the eighth inning, as the Dodgers took a 4-1 lead. But, with one out in the bottom of the ninth, the Giants scored four times, the final three on what we would now call a "walk-off home run" by Bobby Thomson, against Ralph Branca.
They called it "the shot 'heard round the world," and the echoes linger to this day, in the grace of Thomson and Branca's lasting friendship, in allegations 50 years later that the Giants stole the Dodgers' signs, in Hodges' legendary call and as an essential chapter in the rivalry that transplanted itself to California seven years later, establishing baseball as a truly national sport.
-- Bill Shaikin
June 22, 1938: Joe Louis defeats Max Schmeling by TKO in Yankee Stadium
Seventy years before this country elected a black president, Louis stood as a unifying symbol in the rematch against the German who had knocked him out two years earlier. Schmeling had been instructed by Adolf Hitler to "win for the fatherland," and Franklin D. Roosevelt told Louis in a personal pre-fight meeting that "we need muscles like yours to beat Germany."
More than 70,000 fans packed Yankee Stadium for a bout that essentially previewed World War II, with Germany on the brink of executing a European occupation and Holocaust. "There were still lynchings going on in the South, but Louis epitomized the feelings of blacks and whites," legendary boxing writer Bert Sugar said. "Taking it out of the framework of popularity and financial success -- which it was -- it was still the most important boxing match ever sociologically."
In his dressing room, Louis, the "Brown Bomber," asked sportswriter Jimmy Cannon how long he thought the fight would last, said Sugar, and Cannon said four rounds. Louis responded by holding up his thumb, indicating one round. He knocked Schmeling down three times in the first two minutes, and referee Art Donovan (father of the "Greatest Game" Baltimore Colts player) stopped the bout 124 seconds after it started when Schmeling's corner threw in the towel.
-- Lance Pugmire
March 28, 1992, Philadelphia, NCAA Regional Finals:
Duke 104, Kentucky 103 (0T)
The most important college basketball game ever contested was in 1966, when Don Haskins' all-black lineup at Texas Western in El Paso shocked Adolph Rupp's all-white Kentucky team to win the national title. The game that broke broadcasting ground was Lew Alcindor's UCLA versus Elvin Hayes' Houston at the Astrodome in 1968. Best game in November: Gonzaga's triple-overtime win over Michigan State at the 2005 Maui Invitational.