The Top 10 All-Time Sports Cinderella Stories
Ahh...The Cinderella Stories. The lift up our hearts and kick off celebrations like none other. For some reason or another, a few teams in history have had a sudden burst of energy and go on a rampage of beating teams who are, in reality, much better than them.
From George Mason to the Miracle on Ice. From Texas Western to Fresno State. From Iraq to a small town in Indiana. This is a story of ten Cinderellas, who got the whole world on their side.
10. 2007 Colorado Rockies
Like always, the Rockies weren't in very good shape heading into September, trailing the San Diego Padres for a wild card spot. Colorado went on to win 13 of their last 14 games and win their tiebraker game with San Diego.
Once in the playoffs, they swept the Phillies and the Diamondbacks in the NLDS and NLCS, and went on to the World Series.
Although they ended up losing that to the Red Sox, it capped off an unprecedented Cinderella run through September and October.
9. 2008 Tampa Bay Rays
At the beginning of the year, a few people were giving the Rays a shot at the playoffs. Most others didn't buy it. But outside of Tampa, nobody expected an American League Championship.
Before 2008, the Rays had never finished above .500. They went on to not only win their division and make the playoffs, but then sweep the White Sox in the ALDS and beat the Red Sox in Game Seven of the ALCS.
After advancing to the World Series, the Rays lost, but baseball will never forget their Cinderella run.
8. 1954 Milan High School (Hoosiers) Basketball
We all know the great Hoosiers story. It happened in 1954, when all sized high schools played in the same division. With only 161 students, Milan is the smallest school to ever win an Indiana State Basketball Title.
They went on an amazing run in the torunament, beating up on small schools and big schools alike. It all came to an end with a 32-30 win over perennial power Muncie Central in the State Championship.
The next day, 40,000 people came to Milan, which only has a normal population of 1,150, to congratulate the Indians.
7. 2008 Davidson Basketball
Led by star player Stephen Curry, the Wildcats made a march to the elite eight of the 2008 NCAA Tournament. While many people did expect them to do well, few expected this. In their greatest triumph, the tenth seeded Wildcats smashed third seeded Wisconsin 73-56.
They went on to the elite eight and almost beat one seeded (and eventual National Champion) Kansas, but nevertheless, it was a great run by the Davidson Wildcats.
6. 2004 and 2007 Iraqi Soccer Team
The 2004 Iraqi soccer team was the exact boost that its country needed. After leaving their war-torn country for the Olympics, Iraq came into the 2004 olympics playing with heart and pride.
After barely even getting in, Iraq first shocked the world with a 4-2 upset win over Portugal. They went on to win their pool and advance to the medal round.
Although they didn't actually win a medal, it was a successful tournament for the team and for the country. In 2007, Iraq went on to win the Asia Cup, stunning the world once again.
5. 1969 New York Mets
After starting of 1969 with a mediocre 21-23 May, the Miracle Mets got red hot. They ended up finishing the season 100-62 and win their division, their first winning season ever.
Their next test was in the World Series against the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles. Baltimore had gone 109-53 that year and was supposed to easily crush the Mets.
The Mets went on to shock Baltimore and the world by winning the world series in just five games.
4. 2008 Fresno State Baseball
Before the 2008 College World Series, Fresno State had never won a Division I sports title. Well, the 2008 Fresno State Bulldogs had something to say about that.
They advanced by winning the WAC championship and were a four seed in their regional (this is like a 13 seed in college basketball).
Somehow, they advanced to the College World Series in Omaha. They faced elimination six times (three times in the College World Series) and won every time.
Their run would be equivalent to beating a four seed, five seed, one seed, two seed, one seed, and two seed as a 13 seed in the College Basketball NCAA Tournament.
3. 1966 Texas Western Basketball
Documented in the movie "Glory Road", Texas Western came into the 1965-1966 season with few expectations. They had just hired girls basketball coach Don Haskins and had virtually nothing to work with. He was told he would be lucky to put a decent team out on the court.
Haskins set out on the recruiting trail though, and came back with seven black players, which did not go over very well in the deep south. Nevertheless, the Miners shocked the country going 23-1 in the regular season.
After advancing to the NCAA Tournament, they won a stunner over Kansas 81-80 in double overtime. In the Championship game against perennial power Kentucky, Haskins played only the black players and won in decisive fashion, 72-65.
2. 1980 US Men's Olympic Hockey Team
This team, coached by Herb Brooks, was a very young team of college players that wasn't supposed to even make the medal round in the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics.
After shockingly advancing to the medal round, they were set to play the Soviet Union in the semifinals, a team they had lost to 10-3 three days before the Olympics. The Soviets hadn't lost since the US beat them in the 1960 Olympics.
With the crowd behind them, the "USA" chant in the background, and stellar play by goalie Jimmy Craig, the US was able to go up 3-2 and hold on to win by that same score.
Two days later, the US beat Finland to win the gold medal.
1. 2006 George Mason Basketball
Ahh... who can forget George Mason. After winning a school record 23 games into the regualar season, head coach Jim Larranaga's Patriots came into the NCAA Tournament not really knowing what to expect. Nobody, probably not even them, could predict what lay ahead. They didn't win their conference tournament, but snatched up an at-large bid.
George Mason entered the tournament as an 11 seed and first captured America's attention by beating sixth seeded Michigan State in the first round. In the next round they captured America's hearts by coming back to beat third seeded North Carolina in the second round.
In the sweet sixteen they beat fellow mid-major Witchita State. Then they beat one seed Connecticut in one of the biggest upsets ever in the NCAA Tournament.
Shortly afterward, the Patriots lost to eventual National Champion Florida in the Final Four, but their amazing Final Four run will always be remembered as one of the greatest Cinderella stories any sport has ever seen.