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Top 40 Chicago Sports Moments

CHICAGO’S GOT GAME: Spanning more than 100 years, the city’s 40 most memorable sports moments mix thrilling victories with agonizing defeats

(page 4 of 4)


Top Chicago sports moments

To celebrate our magazine’s 40th anniversary this December, we name the 40 best records, restaurants, movies, and more

10. Panic Button
September 22, 1959
After the White Sox beat the Cleveland Indians to clinch the 1959 American League pennant, Chicago’s fire commissioner, Robert J. Quinn, set off the city’s air raid sirens. Hysterical non-Sox fans took to the streets, convinced that World War III was about to begin.


9. Twilight Zone
September 28, 1938
With night closing in on Wrigley Field, the umpires were ready to call the Cubs’ game against the first-place Pittsburgh Pirates because of darkness, ending it in a tie. But with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Cubs catcher Gabby Hartnett swung and connected on an 0–2 pitch, belting a game-winning homer into the left-center-field gloom. A mob of delirious players and fans circled the bases with Hartnett, whose “homer in the gloamin’” put the Cubs in first place to stay—and remains the most dramatic hit in Cubs history.


8. Storybook Beginning
June 12, 1991
The best era in Chicago sports began when the Bulls won their first championship, beating the Los Angeles Lakers 108–101 in Game 5 of the 1991 NBA finals. Five more championships would follow. For Michael Jordan, it was an emphatic rebuke to critics who had sniped that he was too selfish, too much of a showboat, to win it all. In the visitors’ locker room after the game, with his father at his side, Jordan broke down as he clutched the championship trophy, his tears an outpouring of joy, relief, and vindication. For a great retrospective on Game 5, watch the video below:


7. Buzzer Beater
March 23, 1963
At Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky, Loyola’s Vic Rouse tipped in an errant Les Hunter jumper with one second left in overtime to give the Ramblers a 60–58 victory—and an NCAA basketball title—over the two-time defending champion Cincinnati Bearcats. For footage from the Loyola game, watch the video below:


6. Overtime Marathon
April 10, 1934
The Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings were locked in an epic stalemate to claim the 1934 Stanley Cup, playing three periods and two overtimes without scoring a goal. Then the Blackhawks’ Harold “Mush” March shot from 20 feet out and scored. Immediately, the 140-pound March (a “shrimp of a hockey player,” according to one newspaper account) patted Detroit goalie Wilfrid Cude on the back in sympathy and dove into the net, grabbing the puck for a souvenir. More important, the Blackhawks had won their first Stanley Cup.


5. Down to a T
December 8, 1940
In the NFL championship game of 1940, the Bears were itching for revenge against the trash-talking Washington Redskins, whose owner had called the Bears “crybabies” after his team had beaten them a few weeks earlier. On the second play from scrimmage, using the T formation they had perfected that season, the Bears scored on a 68-yard run by Bill Osmanski—a taste of the carnage to come. By the time it was over, the Bears had their revenge, 73–0, the most lopsided trouncing in NFL history. After this game, most pro teams rushed to adopt the potent T formation, and the modern era of football was born.


4. Solo Series Shot
October 23, 2005
With Game 2 of the White Sox–Astros World Series tied 6–6 in the bottom of the ninth, Sox outfielder Scott Podsednik, who had not hit a home run during the regular season, launched a Brad Lidge fastball into the right-field stands. The Sox were on their way to a sweep—and the city’s first baseball championship since 1917.


3. The Shot
May 7, 1989
Heading into the first round of the 1989 playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers were considered one of the best teams in the NBA, and the Bulls a good team with a great player. But everything changed in the deciding Game 5. With three seconds to go and the Bulls down by one, Michael Jordan nailed a double-pump 15-footer over Craig Ehlo. Jordan’s celebration was almost as good as the shot: leaping, punching the air with his fist, and yelling, “Go home!” to Cleveland’s fans. The Bulls failed to reach the NBA finals that year—losing to the thuggish Detroit Pistons in the conference finals—but “the shot” announced that their time was coming. Watch Michael’s game-winner—and his reaction—in the video below:


2. The Long Count
September 22, 1927
In the seventh round of the most ballyhooed fight of the Jazz Age, 105,000 spectators at Soldier Field watched Jack Dempsey stagger Gene Tunney with a thunderous left hook, then drop him to the canvas with a flurry of blows. But Dempsey failed to retreat to the farthest neutral corner, as the rules required, and the referee delayed the start of his count. That bought Tunney crucial extra time to recover, and he went on to win what came to be known as the “battle of the long count”—one of the most controversial bouts in boxing history.


1. The Finale
June 14, 1998
In a career packed with big shots in gut-check moments, Michael Jordan conjured up a grand finale. His last shot as a Bull was a game-winning 17-foot jumper, after which he held his follow-through for an extra beat, his arm extended like an exclamation point. The shot defeated the Utah Jazz, gave Chicago its sixth NBA title and second three-peat, and proved Jordan could do just about anything—even arrange the perfect goodbye. Watch video of his final shot below:

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