The Biggest Goosebump Moments in Sports

Andrew BlumettiCorrespondent IJune 13, 2012

The Biggest Goosebump Moments in Sports

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    You didn't think that just because it's summer, you couldn't get goosebumps, right?

    Throughout the years, even over the course of centuries, there's been one constant about sports—they can provide an array of emotions. 

    Think about it—It's a bit of a bold move to follow a team or athlete—immersing yourself into a world you can't control means you'd better buckle in and enjoy the ride. For good, for bad and sometimes for the completely absurd

    Perhaps you Cubs fans pluck out a few extra gray hairs every so often. Maybe that smashed remote control on the floor is a result of a Jets season cut short in January. It could be that you can't watch Aaron Boone's 2003 ALCS walk-off homer without a Kleenex in hand. 

    It can be quite easy to confuse "goosebumps moments" with "great plays" though. When sports give us collective goosebumps, it's a result of added drama, outside circumstances or overcoming adversity when it matters most. We love to see the little guy win, the laughed-at underdog come up on top and the good guy get the credit he deserves. 

    Think about it—no one would've rooted for Rudy the same way if he were built like a grizzly bear. 

    Sometimes it takes something greater than sports to show just how important sports really are.

35. Bo Kimble's Left-Handed Free Throw

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    Lion Goes Southpaw to Honor Fallen Teammate

    When:  1990 NCAA Tournament

    Who:  Loyola Marymount guard

    What:  A fatal heart condition took the life of Hank Gathers, a Loyola Marymount forward who suddenly passed away on the court during a WCC Tournament game. His best friend, Bo Kimble paid tribute to his teammate by shooting his first free-throw of each NCAA Tournament game left-handed. 

    He scored all three initial free-throws that he attempted in the tournament. 

34. National Anthem at the 1991 NHL All-Star Game

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    Why couldn't they have drowned out Roseanne Barr's National Anthem too? 

    Unfortunately, it's often times of distress that bring people together.  On January 19, 1991, a mere two days after the Gulf War began and eight days before Whitney Houston's iconic Super Bowl anthem, the 42nd Annual NHL All-Star Game was held at Chicago Stadium.  

    As soon as Wayne Messmer's lips parted to begin belting out the Star Spangled Banner, the packed crowd in attendance joined in, drowning out Messmer's vocals in a sea of cheers and red, white and blue-soaked pride. 

33. Josh Hamilton's Home Run Derby for the Ages

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    In 2007, the original Yankee Stadium was still rockin' in its penultimate year, and Josh Hamilton was a member of the Cincinnati Reds hoping to rebuild his major-league career that was nearly snuffed-out by drug addiction. 

    Just one year later, things mightily changed. 

    The 2008 All-Star Game, held in the original Yankee Stadium's final season, got off to a booming start as Josh Hamilton, a now slugging member of the Texas Rangers, set the place afire during the Home Run Derby. 

    A chill runs down your spine just watching the 28 first-round rockets Hamilton sent into the seats as the notoriously tough New York fans rose to their feet to cheer on not only a triumph of sport, but of redemption. 

32. Landon Donovan's 2010 World Cup Goal

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    When you have all of America discussing professional soccer around the water cooler, you know you're doing something right. Eat your heart out David Beckham. 

    Landon Donovan's dramatic game-winning goal against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup brought the United States its first group title in 80 years. The win prompted memorable reactions worldwide and opening up a whole new audience to enjoy the "other" football the world loves so much. 

31. Bourque Gets His Cup

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    Ray Bourque played in the NHL for 22 years and only won one Stanley Cup Championship.

    That one championship though? One of the feel-good stories of the game. 

    Bourque had waited longer to hoist the Cup in the air than any other player in NHL history.  Seeing a long-time great player finally achieve success is one of those amazing moments in sports, and to do it in your final game is even more special.

    No it's not because of the ice that you have chills right now. 

30. "Call to the Post" at the Kentucky Derby

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    The three legs of the Triple Crown of horse-racing add up to about six minutes of total action...and boy howdy, what a six minutes they are. 

    "The Sport of Kings" is one of the most unpredictable, dangerous and classically beautiful sports. 

    With very few changes in its illustrious history, it's two minutes of half-ton regal animals on toothpick thin legs, inches apart, charging at breakneck speed, kicking up clumps of mud, darting and weaving in and out between one another all to cross the finish-line first.

    ...and it all begins with the blow of a bugle. 

    Once a year, we get to hear that call, a few short notes that lead up to the first leg of one of the truly special and unique yearly events. The anticipation is unmatched. 

29. Kevin Everett Walks Again

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    Some men become legends by doing the superhuman. Some do it by taking a few steps. 

    One week into the 2007 season, Buffalo Bills tight end, Kevin Everett, was carted off the field after sustaining a cervical spine injury. The chances of Everett ever walking again were bleak, and his injuries were even life-threatening.

    Miraculously, Everett defied the dark odds as he began to regain movement in his arms, legs and hands. 

    By December of that year, only 100 days after the catastrophic incident, Kevin Everett, once thought to be paralyzed for life, walked out on the field of the Bills' final home game against the New York Giants to a stadium of cheers and tears. 

28. Softball Opponents Carry Injured Player Around the Bases

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    Next time there's a story of a dirty player like Ron Artest, errr..."Metta World Peace" elbowing an opponent or attacking a fan, watch this video of true integrity.

    Just another small softball game between Central Washington and Western Oregon became the example for good—make that great—sportsmanship all players should follow.

    Western Oregon's Sarah Tucholsky hit a rare home run, but in her excitement, missed touching first while rounding the bases. Upon turning back to retouch it, she tore her ACL, hit the ground and laid there in excruciating pain. 

    To make things worse, if her teammates touched her to help, she would be considered out. 

    In a show of the utmost character, two members of the Central Washington team then picked up Tucholsky and carried her around the diamond, keeping her home run intact. 

27. Angels' Tribute to Nick Adenhart

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    Nick Adenhart, a promising young pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, had his life tragically cut short early into the 2009 season by a drunk driver.

    Shaken by the death of their teammate, the Angels hung up his jersey in the dugout during games and put up a tribute to Adenhart in center field, where the team would go to pay their respects to their fallen friend. 

    When the Angels won the 2009 ALDS, the team ran to the outfield photo and celebrated their series victory in honor of Nick Adenhart. 

26. Dan Jansen Finally Wins Olympic Gold

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    "I remember standing on that podium...and for the first time probably before or since, wishing our national anthem had more verses."

    - Dan Jansen

25. Jim Abbott's No-Hitter

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    • Jim Abbott defied the odds by playing baseball despite being born without a right hand.
    • Jim Abbott defied the odds by becoming a major league player, despite being born without a right hand
    • Jim Abbott defied the odds in 1993 by pitching a no-hitter, something all pitchers dream of but most will never accomplish, despite being born without a right hand. 
    • Jim Abbott defied the odds by later appearing on "Boy Meets World", despite the fact he had to work with Ben Savage.

    Well, three out of four ain't bad. Congrats again Jim, a true inspiration to us all. 

24. Kirk Gibson's Home Run

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    Don't act like you haven't replicated this fist-pump before. 

    The power of the baseball mustache...

23. Mariano Rivera's "Enter Sandman" Entrance

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    (Metallica may sue me for mentioning their name, but I'll roll the dice here.)

    Yankee Stadium... as the top of the ninth inning rolls around, ominous guitar notes fill the walls as fans rise to their feet. It's a level of comfort, excitement and the knowledge that they're seeing a master of his craft operating at a level none have achieved before.

    The humble Mariano Rivera picked a heavy metal song for his entrance music, but it couldn't be any more fitting. The closer and future Hall of Famer has been defying time and the odds by being the best of the best in sending opposing teams to the showers. 

    If you're in attendance to witness it, even watch it on television, chills are sure to follow. 

    If you're the visiting team occupying the third base-side dugout, it'll give you the heebie-jeebies too. 

    After 18 seasons, Rivera is approaching the end of his magical career. Make no doubt though, when he runs out from the bullpen across the freshly-cut grass to the mound next April, the opening notes of "Enter Sandman" will be greeted with even louder cheers. 

22. "The Shot" by Christian Laettner

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    The Blue Devils really had angels on their side. 

    "The Shot" is everything that we love about college basketball neatly wrapped up into two of the most exciting seconds to ever take place on hardwood. 

    This is the moment that every team with a last second "chuck it down the court" play hopes to replicate. 

21. Bobby Murcer's Performance Following Thurman Munson's Funeral

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    A mere hours before he took the field, Bobby Murcer gave a eulogy at the funeral of his deceased teammate and friend, New York Yankees Captain, Thurman Munson.

    Yanks' manager Billy Martin urged Murcer to sit out the game, but Murcer insisted on playing, bringing the Yankees back from a 4-0 deficit by hitting a three-run home run and ending the game with a walk-off two-run single in the bottom of the 9th inning. 

    Murcer provided a classic moment from an organization full of them, and a perfectly heroic tribute to a talent lost way too soon.

20. Arizona Cardinals Honor Pat Tillman

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    Honoring a lost hero.

    Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman, who left a talented football career to enlist in the United States Army, tragically lost his life battling for his country in April of 2004.

    That fall, the Cardinals paid tribute to Tillman with a halftime ceremony, retiring his No. 40 during their home opener against the New England Patriots. It was a celebration filled with tears and booming pride for a man who paid the ultimate price. 

19. "The Immaculate Reception"

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    Santa came a couple days early for Pittsburgh Steelers fans that year. 

    "The Immaculate Reception," the final play of a 1972 AFC Divisional game between the Steelers and Raiders, remains one of, it not the most classic plays in NFL history. 

    Crowds jumping onto the field, a vibrant feel of excitement rushing over the stadium—it had the feel of a blistering college bowl game, just wrapped up in an NFL package. 

18. Phil Mickelson's 2010 Masters Victory

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    During the 2010 Masters Tournament, fresh-from-a-scandal Tiger Woods spent his return back to golf missing puts and playing under the scrutiny of a crowd who once loved him.

    At the same time, fan favorite Phil Mickelson celebrated his improbable third Masters victory by walking off the 18th green at Augusta to the arms of his wife Amy, recovering from breast cancer.

    For Mickelson, that moment of winning didn't matter; being able to celebrate it with his loved ones was the important thing to him. This is an image of class and of a true family man, and it makes the game seem insignificant. 

17. J-Mac's Hoop Dream

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    Inspiration isn't just for the pros.

    On February 15, 2006, the few hundred in attendance at Greece Athena High School in Rochester, New York, were treated to one of the best feel-good stories you'll ever hear.

    Jason McElwain, the team manager diagnosed with autism, was put into the game for his first time ever with a little over four minutes to play. Six three-pointers and a two-pointer later, J-Mac closed out the game leading his team in scoring and being mobbed by his friends, classmates and fellow players who stormed the court in jubilant celebration. 

    McElwain's remarkable performance earned him an "ESPY" award from ESPN for "Best Sports Moment" later that year.

16. New York Rangers End Stanley Cup Drought

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    11 Presidents of the United States

    9 Friday the 13th films

    8 Elizabeth Taylor marriages

    7 different James Bond actors

    All of those happened in the 54 year span from 1940 to 1994, the amount of time New York Rangers' faithful had to wait in between Stanley Cup Championships. 

    It's okay Blue Shirts fans, you can still be a bit choked-up watching the Cup hoisted up on the Madison Square Garden ice. 

15. Lance Armstrong's 1999 Tour De France Victory

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    You don't sell millions of yellow bracelets without doing something incredible.

    Lance Armstrong's feat of winning seven straight Tour de France races is one of the ages. Just consider that less than three years prior to his first of those wins, he was fighting the battle of his life, lying in a bed, overcoming testicular cancer.

    At a certain point, Armstrong almost became a given to win, as he was just that dominant when he raced. All of those seven victories were important and impressive, but it was that first yellow jersey in his 1999 race that proved to be an inspiration to all of us of the human resolve.  

    Even with the recent rumors of doping that may one day taint Armstrong's racing legacy, his resilient story still is one of hope and encouragement.

14. Joannie Rochette's Brave Olympic Performance

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    The Olympic Games really are unique.

    In a mere two weeks, virtual unknowns can turn into instant household names. It's the perfect backdrop to witness dreams come true and the most unlikely of stories unfold.

    Unfortunately for Canadian figure skater, Joannie Rochette, that story unfolded in the most tragic of ways during the 2010 Winter Olympics. 

    Less than 48 hours before her short program, Rochette woke to the news that her mother had passed away while in Vancouver. It would have been justifiable to withdraw, but instead, she honored her mother's memory by bringing down the house to a standing ovation. It was the epitome of a heroic moment in sports, and there wasn't a dry eye in the arena.

    Her scores were strong enough to earn her a bronze medal under the hardest of circumstances. 

13. Red Sox Reverse the Curse

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    Both Red Sox and Yankees fans will get chills over this entry, just not for the same reason.

     

    Boston fans say: "Bloody sock!"

    New York fans say: "Bloody Sox!!"

     

    Boston fans say: "Go Idiots!!"

    New York fans say: "No! You idiots!!"

     

    Boston fans say: "There goes the curse!"

    New York fans say: well, lots of curses...

     

    Boston fans say:"What a happy story!"

    New York fans say: "What a sad Torre!"

     

    Boston fans: Forgot about 86 years...

    New York fans: Drank 86 beers to forget...

12. Jack Nicklaus's Final Masters Win

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    •  18th Major Championship
    • 6th Masters Green Jacket
    • Tied a course record on the back nine
    • Oldest Masters winner ever at 46 years old, second oldest major championship winner ever

    Your move Tiger.

     

    Signed,

    The Golden Bear

11. Michael Jordan's Clutch Basket in Game 6 of the 1998 Finals

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    To be fair, Michael Jordan could fill up an entire list of all-time plays. 

    It was this shot in the final seconds of the 1998 Finals against the Utah Jazz that takes the cake. Jordan's final shot in a Chicago Bulls uniform represents his time in the NBA: a fearless leader who shines when it matters most. 

    This is a captivating scene for even non-basketball fans. For such an all-time great, there was no more fitting of a way for him to round out his Chicago career. 

10. Cal vs. Stanford: "The Play"

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    Man, I thought knocking around marching band members ended in high school...

    The 25 seconds of fireworks that make up "The Play" really speak for itself.

    Seeped in controversy and built on a longtime rivalry, "The Play," an improbable and unorthodox kickoff return by the Cal Bears, isn't just a great moment in college football, it's legacy lives on 30 years later as one of the greatest football moments in American history. 

9. Muhammad Ali Lights the Olympic Torch

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    With the effects of Parkinson's Disease clearly evident, Muhammad Ali opened up the 1996 Summer Olympic Games by lighting the Olympic torch to a standing ovation from the crowd in attendance at the Opening Ceremony in Atlanta.

    Ali's heavyweight career will never be matched nor duplicated, but it was those few moments that were truly heroic and poignant for any who witnessed it. 

    While the crippling disease had taken so much from Ali in his life, he wasn't going to let it take away that momentous time. 

8. Kerri Strug's Gold Medal Vault

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    Kerri Strug, (yes the same one from the Wheaties box) came through for her team and her country when they needed her most in the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. 

    To win the gold, the team needed Strug, who was nursing a fresh ankle injury, to land a vault jump on her feet. She nailed it. She immediately hopped onto her one good foot and was carried to the podium by her coach to receive her medal.

    Chris Kattan comically portrayed that fall on Saturday Night Live.

    I still have trouble telling which one is which. 

7. Mike Piazza's Post 9/11 Home Run

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    For as entertaining and thrilling as sports can be, there are times that we need sports. 

    While the country was still reeling from the September 11th terrorist attacks, a return to normalcy was needed more than ever. New York Mets catcher, Mike Piazza was just the man to deliver that. 

    In the first game held in New York following the attacks, Mike Piazza shined and gave the city its first reason to smile in a week-and-a-half. His two-run home run illuminated the night and incited a deafening cheer, sending the crowd home with a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves.   

6. "I Am Iron Man"

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    Can you imagine going to work for 17 years without missing a single day? 

    On September 6, 1995, Cal Ripken Jr. broke one of baseball's unbreakable records, appearing in his 2,131st consecutive game. Lou Gehrig's former record was now Ripken's, and the baseball world was given the "Iron Man"—unlike the other Iron Man, Ozzy Osbourne, who really hasn't "been there" for any day of his life.

    We witnessed a piece of history, watched a career's work reach its pinnacle and saw one of the game's class acts become immortal. If you've ever picked up a bat in your life, you had shivers across your body that September evening. 

5. Derek Redmond's 1992 Olympic Race

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    A tearjerker moment for the ages...

    British track star Derek Redmond's well-documented mishap at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona has become a thing of legend when it comes to heartfelt sporting moments.

    He crossed the finish line in tears, hobbling in pain with his arm around his father who ran out onto the track to aid his ailing son when he went down with a snapped hamstring. 

    Father and son were greeted by the cheers of thousands of fans giving them a standing ovation for a moment to go down in Olympics history. 

4. Jackie Robinson Enters the Majors

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    A story that needs no explanation...

    It didn't matter if Jackie Robinson ever cracked a hit, blasted a home run deep into the crowd or drove in an RBI. Just his walking out onto the field would've provided one of the most inspirational and important moments in American history.

3. Secretariat's Historic 1973 Belmont Stakes

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    If we're lucky, we get to witness the rare perfect athlete. 

    When Michael Jordan touched a basketball, it seemed like he was meant to play, when Tiger Woods grabbed a club, it seemed like a natural extension of his body and Joe Montana could thread a needle like it was a work of art.

    When Secretariat touched a racetrack, it was just that.

    His record-breaking 2:24 second run in the Belmont Stakes has yet to be touched. Jockey Ron Turcotte led the stallion to an ever-growing lead as the race came to an end that has yet to be seen again at such a level.  

    Even more remarkable is that we are talking about an animal. Just on a track, doing what he loves to do. No awareness of Triple Crowns, contracts or record-breaking times. Some may scoff at ranking him so high, but Secretariat is an athlete in the truest sense of the word. 

2. Lou Gehrig's Farewell Speech

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    One of the most memorable moments in baseball history, and the ball wasn't even in play. 

    Lou Gehrig's courageous farewell speech truly stands the test of time. A man who was dealt horribly tragic news approached it with a level of class, decorum and positivity we all only wish we could achieve. 

1. "Do You Believe in Miracles?!?"

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    This is "The Miracle on Ice"

    This isn't. 

    30 years later and this American US Olympic hockey team has remained the quintessential "goosebumps" moment since that February day in 1980. 

    A team of unknowns versus a team of Russian professionals proved to be a tale that captivated a nation that sends chills down the spine decades later.

    With the Cold War as a backdrop, this David and Goliath story is a true example of never ruling out the fight of the underdog. 

    Sports at its best.