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The List: Biggest upsets
From the Page 2 mailbag
1. 1980 Miracle on Ice: (317 letters)
Not only the biggest sports upset of all-time, as a matter of fact, but this event had an impact on so many different levels. This was a political event where democracy won out over communism for one night on the ice and also said something about the attitude of sportsmen in terms of professionals vs. amateurs --need we discuss the Nagano debacle with U.S. professional hockey players? But more importantly, everyone in the United States shared in this moment. When the Yankees win the World Series, New York cares. When the Bulls win the NBA title, Chicago cares. But for one night, people who didn't know a two-line pass from an interference call were fans of the U.S. hockey team. At a time when a country mired in malaise needed something to rally around -- the spirit of a group of young men at Lake Placid, N.Y., filled that prescription.
San Jose, Calif. That simply had everything going for it. The Cold War overtones of the unstoppable, evil Russian empire and their team of professionals vs. the babyfaced kids representing all that was good about amateur sports in the Olympics. Truly a David vs. Goliath story -- these two teams didn't even belong in the same league.
2. Buster Douglas over Mike Tyson (74 letters)
Tyson was a pit-bull. He was on top of the world and he demolished his opponents. The way he just mowed down boxers with extreme power, intensity, and viciousness always had the boxing world and myself in awe.
Bronx, N.Y. At the time, Mike Tyson was truly the greatest, unbelievable fighter. I remember watching it live and being absolutely stunned. Nobody could even faze Tyson and yet Buster Douglas was turning him into a slab of meat. I remember jumping up and down in disbelief when Tyson finally got knocked down. In the team sports, upsets are expected, and it's not like people didn't think it could happen (baseball -- Mets, football -- Jets, basketball -- Nuggets, 'Nova, and NC State), but with Buster Douglas beating Mike Tyson, no one expected it.
3. Rulon Gardner defeats Alexander Karelin (56 letters)
Geoffrey J. Searles
4. Duke tops UNLV (38 letters)
I think that the biggest upset was the 1991 NCAA Tournament semifinal game between the Duke Blue Devils and the UNLV Runnin' Rebels. UNLV was heavily favored and had not lost a game all year. Duke put up a gritty performance from the likes of Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley, Grant Hill, and Thomas Hill. It was just a great win for the Duke program and really helped put them on the map as national title contenders for years to come.
5. Villanova stuns Georgetown (36 letters)
My vote goes to the Villanova upset of Georgetown in the 1984 NCAA final. The fact is that, talent-wise, 'Nova was so inferior to Georgetown that they should have been run out of the building by the Hoyas. But by the grace of God they shot better than 75 percent from the field and 90 percent in the second half, and still only won by two points. Here was a team playing better than they could ever have imagined in their wildest dreams and they were only able to win by two. That tells you how much of a mismatch Georgetown was for them.
6. Super Bowl III (35 letters)
7. Chaminade knocks of Virginia (30 letters)
Chaminade over the University of Virginia -- 1982-83 season. With 7-footer Ralph Sampson leading the way, the University of Virginia was the No. 1-ranked team in college basketball and expected to walk right through the competition in the tournament in Hawaii. Enter Division II Chaminade. After replicating Sampson's size by having a player stand on a chair during practice, Chaminade surprised and embarrassed the top-ranked Cavaliers. While UVa rebounded to still post a strong season, you have to wonder if the doubt put into their heads on that night helped contribute to a pair of late-season losses to another David, eventual NCAA champion NC State.
Winter Park, Fla.
8. North Carolina State grounds Phi Slamma Jamma (19 letters)
Estes Park, Colo.
9. Man O' War loses only race (19 letters)
The biggest upset in sports history was 100-to-1 underdog Upset beating heavily favored Man O' War in the Sanford Memorial. Willie Knapp, who rode Upset, the horse whose name has come to mean "to defeat unexpectedly," described his victory best: "We'd passed the quarter pole and were going to the eighth pole, I guess it was, and I heard something right behind me and I knew it was Big Red (Man O' War) coming at me now. I looked back and there he was. Johnny Loftus was riding [him] like a crazy man and he yelled at me, 'Move out, Willie! I'm coming through!' So I yelled back at him, 'Take off! Take off me, bum, or I'll put you through the rail!' Then I set down to riding and we won." Man O' War had 21 starts in his racing career and he won 20 of them, only being upset once. Thus his defeat in the Sanford Memorial by Upset must be considered the greatest upset of all time.
10. 1969 Miracle Mets(18 letters)
Definitely the 1969 Mets over the Baltimore Orioles. An expansion team over the powerhouse Baltimore team with recent successes. The Orioles had some of the best pitchers of the day led by future Hall-of-Famer Jim Palmer and a powerful lineup including Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, Brooks Robinson among others. Don't forget that the "Amazins" (as they were called) actually lost the first game and still won the series.
Levittown, N.Y. Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories
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