The Biggest Days in Chicago Sports History

The Biggest Days in Chicago Sports History
Brent Seabrook's overtime goal gave the Blackhawks a 2-1 win and the greatest comecback in Chicago Sports History.

Chicago has had a lot of memorable moments in its sports history. Often the sports have intersected on the same day to create memorable moments and games in two sports. Many of us can pinpoint where we were on what we were doing on those days.

Four events captured the attention of the city and were big enough events on their own that they made the day in question one of the biggest in the history of Chicago Sports enough to stand on their own.

October 9th, 1906- Game One of World Series Between White Sox and Cubs

The first time two Chicago sports teams intersected. This was also the first World Series between two teams from the same city in the current World Series format of American League against the National League. Amazingly, snow flurries fell on the opening game of the supposed fall classic.

The Cubs were prohibitive favorites. Their .763 winning percentage and 116 wins (since tied by the 2001 Seattle Mariners) still stand as major league records.

Nick Altrock and Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown staged a pitchers duel in the opening game. Both men gave up just one earned run in pitching complete games. A dropped throw at home by Cubs catcher Johnny Kling proved to be the difference.

MVP’s were not given in the World Series until 1955.Ed Walsh was one of the White Sox early stars and would likely have been the MVP of the 1906 World Series. He went 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA in two starts.

After splitting the first two games, the White Sox scored 16 runs off the Cubs major league best pitching staff. The completed the six game series win off the then West Siders to capture the only true crosstown series.

October 7, 1984- Payton breaks record and Cubs eliminated from NLCS

Walter Payton entered the Bears sixth game of the 1984 season needing just 67 yards to break Jim Brown’s all-time career rushing record.

Fittingly on a sweep around left end in the second quarter, Payton broke the record. He finished the day with 154 yards and a touchdown. The Bears beat the Saints 20-7 to improve to 4-2. They would finish the season 10-6 to capture their first division title since 1963 and first since the NFL-AFL merger.

Later that same day, the Cubs and Padres met in a deciding game five in the national league championship series. After winning the first two games at Wrigley Field the series shifted to San Diego.

Many were anticipating a rematch of the 1945 World Series between the Cubs and Tigers.

The Cubs took a 3-0 lead after two innings. The Padres roared back with two in the sixth and four in the seventh. A Leon Durham error was crucial and allowed the game tying run to score.

The Cubs ultimately lost the game and the series and broke the hearts of at least half of Chicago.

January 26, 1986 Bears win Super Bowl XX

The sporting event that captured Chicago more than any other. The Bears 15-1 season, the super bowl shuffle, the 46 defense and a roster full of eccentric characters had most of Chicago glued to the television to watch Superbowl XX.

After falling behind 3-0 early after a Payton fumble, the Bears dominated the remainder of the game. Many contend that had the Bears not given up the early points they would have likely been able to post the Super Bowl's only shutout.

The Patriots didn’t score until 1:46 into the fourth quarter. That ended a run of 44 consecutive Bears points. A Henry Waechter safety ended the scoring to give the Bears a fitting 46-10 victory.

October 5, 1993-Rumors Swirl About Michael Jordan Retiring, White Sox ALCS Game One

Making their first postseason appearance in ten years, the buzz around Chicago was focused on the White Sox. The White Sox won 94 games, one behind defending World Champion Toronto. The format in that era alternated home field every other year between the West and East divisions.

The White Sox hosted game one with Cy Young award winner Jack McDowell on the mound. The Blue Jays scored two in the top of the fourth to take a 2-0 lead. The White Sox rallied to take a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Toronto scored three in the top of the fifth to regain the lead 5-3.

Michael Jordan threw out the first pitch for game one. Somewhere around the sixth inning, word began to spread of a possible Jordan retirement. According to an L.A. times article at the time, Jordan left his seat in the sixth inning after word got around the ballpark about his impending retirement.

I was at the game and with my watchman, everyone in my section wanted to know what was going on.

The White Sox went on to lose game one 7-3 and the series four games to two.

The next day Jordan announced his retirement saying to the Sun Times “I know a lot of people are going to be shocked by this decision and probably won't understand. But I've talked it over with my family and friends, and most of all I'm at peace with myself."

Then Los Angeles Clippers coach Bob Weiss was the most prophetic at the time saying "I could easily see him coming back in a year of half a year after he's had time to get away from it and see that he misses it,"

Jordan returned on March 19, 1995 after almost two years away from the game and a failed attempt at playing baseball. Jordan announced his return via fax by simply saying “I’m Back”

June 17, 1994 World Cup Opening Ceremonies and Game

The date is remembered more in the United States for game five of the NBA finals and the O.J. Simpson car chase.

World Wide, this was a day that put Chicago on the international sports map and later paved the way for a bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Chicago hosted the opening ceremonies and inaugural game of the 1994 FIFA World Cup between defending champion Germany and Bolivia. Germany won 1-0 on a Juergen Klinsmann goal in front of 63,117.

Fans from all over the world descended on Chicago. Oprah hosted the opening ceremonies and Jon Secada and Diana Ross performed.

One of the most memorable occurrences happened when some German fans were arrested swimming in what they referred to as “Bundy Fountain”. The iconic Buckingham Fountain was seen around the world on Married with Children.

January 19, 2002 Bears Lose in Divisional Playoffs to Eagles, Jordan Returns

After a surprising 13-3 season good enough for the second seed in the NFC, the Bears hosted Chicago native Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the Playoffs.

After a back and forth first two and a half quarters, the Eagles pulled away. Their first touchdown of the game came from McNabb to Evanston high school alum Cecil Martin.

McNabb scorched the Bears for 262 yards and two touchdowns and 37 yards and a touchdown on the ground

Just like that the Bears magical season was over.

Another favorite son of Chicago also made his triumphant return that day. After his second retirement following the Bulls second three-peat (and six titles in eight years). Michael Jordan made his second comeback with the Washington Wizards.

In an awful display of basketball, the Bulls managed only 38 points through three quarters before exploding for 33 in the fourth. The Wizards led 55-38 after three and won 77-68.

The teams combined to shoots 29.8 percent, the Bulls just 24.7. The buzz of Jordan’s return was killed by the horrible performance from both teams. The Bulls finished the season 21-61, one of their worst ever.

April 18, 2009 Bulls and Blackhawks Playoff Wins

The Bulls fortunes were changed when they won the lottery rights to draft another hometown favorite, Derrick Rose.

Rose had an exhilarating rookie season. He won the Rookie of the year award by capturing 111 of the 120 first place votes.

Rose had one of the most memorable postseason debuts in history. Rose posted 36 points and 11 assists before fouling out. His 36 points tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record.

The Bulls shocked the defending champion Celtics 105-103 in overtime in Boston. The series is one of the most memorable in NBA history as four of the seven games went to overtime. Joakim Noah’s game six steal and dunk over Paul Pierce is one of the signature moments of his career.

Later that night the Blackhawks came back from a 2-0 deficit after one to post a second straight 3-2 win and go up two games to none on the Calgary Flames. The Blackhawks were making their first postseason appearance in seven years and just their second in 12 seasons.

Jonathan Toews opened the scoring with a goal 46 second into the second period and gave the Blackhawks the lead for good with 24 seconds remaining in the second. They would go on to win the series to advance to the Western conference finals before losing to Detroit.

It was their first series win since 1996 and their first conference finals appearance since losing the Detroit in 1995.

October 2, 2009 Chicago Loses Olympic Bid

The anticipation leading up to the announcement of the host city for the 2016 Olympics in Copenhagen was the buzz around Chicago. Daley plaza will filled with tens of thousands of Chicagoans waiting to celebrate when IOC President Jacques Rogge would announce that the games of the 31st Olympiad would be awarded to Chicago.

Chicago was the favorite going into the announcement and it just seemed like a formality. Rio was regarded as the main challenger. When Rogge announced that Chicago was eliminated, gasps from the Chicago delegation could be heard on the telecast.

I was excited to be a part of the announcement. My wife and I were on the metra train on our way downtown when her mother called us to ask if we heard Chicago had been eliminated.

Less than a year after President Obama’s grand Grant Park celebration on election night, the eyes of the World were going to be on Chicago for another celebration.

Daley plaza became a community mourning center. Even with President Obama and Oprah amongst the celebrities and power brokers behind Chicago, it wasn’t enough to put Chicago back on the international sports map.

June 11, 2010- Blackhawks Stanley Cup Parade, White Sox-Cubs

Arguably the coolest day in the history of Chicago Sports. Two days after winning their first Stanley Cup in 49 years and on the day of their parade the Blackhawks brought the Cup to Wrigley Field.

The Blackhawks posed for a picture with the White Sox and Cubs on the mound of Wrigley before the opener of the Crosstown classic.

After a competitive game for four innings, the White Sox blew it open with three in the fifth, one in the seventh and four in the eighth. A.J. Pierzynski, Alex Rios and Carlos Quentin all hit home runs and Rios and Pierzynski had four hits to back Jake Peavy. in a 10-5 White Sox victory.

May 29, 2013-Blackhawks-Red Wings Game Seven, White Sox-Cubs

The buzz surrounding the Crosstown classic isn’t what it once was. The combination of a game seven against the hated Red Wings and the White Sox and Cubs showdown at Wrigley Field after two games at U.S. Cellular Field created one of the biggest days in Chicago Sports history.

The Crosstown classic produced the series most unlikely moment as Cubs backup catcher Dioner Navarro hit three home runs in a 9-3 Cubs victory.

Later that night, many fans made their way to the United Center for a unique Chicago Sports doubleheader.

After trailing three games to one, the Blackhawks came back to force a game seven on home ice. With 1:47 remaining in the third period, Niklas Hjalmarsson scored what appeared to be the game tying goal was disallowed after it was determined the whistle had been blown just moments before he scored.  Questionable incidental roughing minors had been called on the Red Wings Kyle Quincey and the Blackhawks Brandon Saad.

The Blackhawks were not able to duplicate the goal in regulation. It took the Blackhawks just 3:35 into overtime to post the game winner. After a big hit by Dave Bolland, Brent Seabrook retrieved the puck, skated into the Wings zone and fired a wrist shot past Jimmy Howard to cap the greatest comeback in Chicago Sports History.



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