Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Ten for Tuesday - Most Iconic Sports Photographs

Hey everyone, Drew back here! After a week off from my new series, Ten for Tuesday, I have returned to bring you something a little different than what we've covered thus far. Over the past month and a half, I have created lists of Hall of Famers who may not deserve to be in, the Best Switch Hitters in Baseball, the players with the best signatures in baseball, among others. But this week, we are slightly shifting gears towards what is featured on the front of the baseball cards most of my readers love: the pictures.

It is safe to say through our love for this hobby we also all share a love for photography, because it is one of the main focal points that makes collecting fun. We complain when we see a set that features the same poses in photos; card after card. We like unique, and with that I decided to highlight the ten most Iconic Photographs in Sports History for you all to feast your eyes on.

10 Most Iconic Sports Photographs of All Time

Honorable Mentions - 

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No Kirk Gibson? No Carlton Fisk? Once again, let me remind you that this is my list, and I was on the verge of putting these unforgettable scenes on this list until others surpassed them. Mazeroski set the baseball world ablaze after defeating my all powerful Yankees dynasty in 1960, while Jackie Robinson snuck his foot into home just a few years before past the man in left field who watched Maz's long fly soar over the fence; Yogi Berra (he was out, by the way). Not many were alive to watch the feeble Lou Gehrig deliver one of the most famous speeches in American sports history, but the images we do have of the event showcase just how impactful and sincere "The Iron Horse" was. And to prove that I attempt to be unbiased, the lone moment I had the pleasure of watching first hand did not crack my top ten. Sorry, David Tyree.

10 - Bobby Orr, The Goal, Taken by Ray Lussier, 1970

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If you've followed my writing long enough, you know that I am in no means a hockey connoisseur. I was proud of myself that I managed to watch a majority of the Rangers' Game 7 victory over the Capitals last Wednesday that ended in an overtime victory. But when sorting through all of these iconic sports moments, this picture of hockey legend Bobby Orr stood out. This picture was a personal reminder of how sports truly are kids games performed by adults. Orr is flying through the air like Peter Pan, the boy who famously refused to ever grow up. The photo was taken after he scored a game winning goal that gave his Bruins a Stanley Cup title over the St. Louis Blues. Their opposing defenseman Noel Picard tripped Orr after he scored the goal, which caused him to take flight, however; the photo almost appears as if he didn't need to be tripped to fly. I know I didn't put Carlton Fisk's famous home run on this list, much to many Boston fans' dismay, but I hope I made up for that with this.

9 - Michael Jordan, Winning First Championship, 1991

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There is no sports photo I find more emotionally gripping than this one. Michael Jordan may just be the most dominant athlete in the history of American sports; perhaps worldwide as well. And this Championship series victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in 1991 was his first of 6 titles, and began the first of two three-peats. He was magical throughout the series, and came away with his first of 6 Finals MVP awards. The word that comes to mind every time I see this is dedication, as nobody out worked, out hustled, or out played #23 in his prime. As tears rush down his face, we can see that the journey was most certainly worth striving for. Hint: This may not be the last we see of the greatest to ever grace the court on this list.

8 - Tommie Smith & John Carlos, Black Power Salute, 1968

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The late 1960's were a controversial period of time in American history, as the Civil Rights Movement was becoming ever more impactful nationwide. The fight for African American equal rights extended throughout all facets of culture, including the sports world. During the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, two male African Americans named Tommie Smith and John Carlos placed first and third in the 200 meter race, respectively. But their actual performance was undermined by how they chose to celebrate their achievements. They made a political statement during the Star Spangled Banner while on the winner's podium, raising their fists with black gloves to bring awareness and salute the rise of black power in the country. It was extremely controversial at the time, and will forever go down as one of the biggest political moments in sports history.

7 - US Men's Hockey Team, Miracle on Ice, Taken by Heinz Kluetmeier, 1980

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USA! USA! USA! There is nothing more patriotic than watching an underdog US Men's Hockey team defeat the Soviets in one of the greatest Olympic upsets of all time! If you've never seen the movie based off of this story, I highly recommend it. Sports Illustrated even called the "Miracle on Ice" the greatest sports moment of the 20th century, and if you really think about it, that's quite an accomplishment. The joy expressed in this photo tells the whole story.

6 - Don Larsen & Yogi Berra, World Series Perfect Game, 1956

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Ah, yes, my lone Yankees selection for the list. Baseball has existed for hundreds of years now, and the World Series has since 1903. And there has only been one perfect game thrown in that series, by the hand of relatively unknown hurler Don Larsen. Larsen's name would forever be scratched into Yankees immortality all thanks in part to his heroic performance, and the image of Yogi Berra jumping into his arms following the 27th out is absolutely priceless.

5 - Dwight Clark, Super Bowl Catch, Taken by Walter Iooss Jr., 1981

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Dwight Clark was a pretty good player for a short period of time, but he picked the right time to shine. The only football moment on this list occurred in the 1981 NFC Championship Game when Clark's 49ers took on the Dallas Cowboys; America's Team. Late in the game, the Niners were down 6 points with minimal time left on the clock, and Hall of Famer Joe Montana led the team down the field. An 83 yard drive led the team to the Cowboys' 6 yard line, where Montana would connect with Clark for a touchdown that would forever be known as simply "The Catch" and would send the 49ers to the Super Bowl; which they would win. Epic catches have been made since then (such as David Tyree and Santonio Holmes' in their Super Bowl triumphs), but this was one of the very first clutch moments in the NFL's illustrious history. And with that, Clark's leap lands 5th on our countdown.

4 - Wilt Chamberlain, 100 Points, 1962

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People often try to rank the records that will be most difficult to break. Hell, I could even write about that in the future. Chances are one of the higher ranked records would be all thanks to this legend, Wilt Chamberlain, who on March 2nd, 1962, scored exactly 100 points in a routing against my New York Knicks. Although the moment was not recognized quite like it should have been (his reward was a piece of paper that said "100" on it), but since only one player has come slightly close to his record in over 50 years (Kobe Bryant, 81 points), a mystique has been given to Chamberlain's achievement. Chamberlain averaged 50.3 points per game in the 1961-1962 season, and topped 70 points twice that season, and twice the next. Talk about domination.

3 - Willie Mays, The Catch, Taken by the Associated Press, 1954

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Many will argue that baseball's version of "The Catch" was not even Willie Mays' finest work. Regardless of how anyone may object, Mays' over the shoulder diving grab in deep right field of the Polo Grounds has been the most recognized defensive play in baseball history. This play came in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series between the then New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians. His catch and quick throw kept Larry Doby from scoring what would have been the go ahead run. Overrated or not, Mays' storied career was personified by this image; showing the effort and perseverance he put into every play for 22 years.

2 - Michael Jordan, The Shot II, Taken by Fernando Medina, 1998

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Guess who's back? Back again; MJ's back. Tell a friend. If any of these legendary players deserved multiple spots on this list, Michael Jordan is as deserving as it gets. Jordan made two particularly remarkable shots that have taken simple names "The Shot 1 & 2" in his career playoff performances. The first came in the 5th game of the Bulls' first round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1989, where his buzzer beater seemed to freeze time. The photograph of Jordan leaping in the air from his 44 point performance is another that was seriously considered for the list, but it was his second "Shot" that took home first prize among all of 23's classic memories. Jordan made this shot against the Utah Jazz to win his 6th and final NBA Finals, and it would go on to be his final shot with the Chicago Bulls. I have always loved this picture because it appears that everyone in Utah's crowd was terrified of the inevitable; that Jordan would crush every chance of them winning a title. Sure enough, he did, and they haven't appeared in the Finals since then.

1 - Muhammad Ali, Defeating Sonny Liston, Taken by Neil Leifer, 1965

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In most cases, I am not sure who will take the top spot on any of my lists until I take some time to calculate, arrange, and rearrange all of the possibilities. This list featured an absolute no brainer. Yesterday was the 50th Anniversary of the day this inspiring photo was taken by Neil Leifer in Miami Beach, Florida. Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) was underestimated the previous year against the ferocious reigning Heavyweight Champion Sonny Liston, and the publicity gained by the fight rivaled our modern day Mayweather-Pacquiao showdown earlier this year. After a six round battle, Ali's moves were too quick for the aging Liston; who failed to answer the bell and was defeated by technical knockout. It was an enormous upset at the time, but Liston wasn't ready to pass the torch just yet. The next year, they were back at it in their second matchup; this time in Lewiston, Maine. This fight was much quicker for the two foes, as Ali made use of a "phantom punch"; knocking Liston onto the floor midway through the first round. This photo above was taken as Ali shouted "Get up and fight, sucka!" at Liston, who rolled in agony and defeat on the ground.

This picture represents exactly who Ali would become: a champion. He may not have been America's hero all throughout his career, but he was always must-see TV. While the two bouts ruined Liston's troubled career, they kickstarted the career of who truly was "The Greatest".

I have often said (to myself, because usually not too many people care) that if I were to own any signed picture (within reason); this would be the one. It is the epiphany of what I love about sports; dominance. I have always been infatuated with larger than life athletes who transcended their individual sports, and Ali became boxing after his career was over. No matter how "undefeated" Floyd Mayweather may be, he would never stand a chance against the man who floated like a butterfly, and stung like a be. This may forever sit atop my wish list, but as long as I continue to get the satisfaction it provides me now, I'll be okay with that.

Happy 50th Anniversary to a moment in sports we will never forget. And hats off to the rest of the moments that have created amazing fans worldwide; on this list, just short, or even just the slightest imprint of talent that may have popped off the screen one day. 

See Ya!

5 comments:

  1. Great post. Trying to rank them 1-10 is almost impossible. If I were to have a top ten list I think the Miracle on Ice would be higher and that Lou Gehrig would make the list.

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  2. Great list. One I think deserves honorable mention-Nov 20, 1960-Eagles v Giants at Yankee Stadium- Chuck Bednarik standing over the almost lifeless body of Frank Gifford.

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  3. Wow! Great post Drew! So many awesome images!

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  4. That first Jordan one was powerful. Great list.

    We've seen it on plenty of cards, but I think Carlton Fisk's 1975 Game 6 home run is a worthy contender for this list, too.

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  5. Thanks for the nice photos now i download one by one

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