Sports Moments Guaranteed to Get You Misty-Eyed

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2014

Sports Moments Guaranteed to Get You Misty-Eyed

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    We all know the famous quote from the movie A League of Their Own saying, "There's no crying in baseball," but does that mean that there's really no crying in sports?

    As players and fans have shown time and time before, that's not the case.

    And while we don't usually celebrate tears running down our face, there are moments that have proven to make us cry more than others—and these are a few of them.

Michael Jordan Father's Day Game

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    After losing his father a few months after his third-straight NBA title in 1993, Michael Jordan made a life-changing decision to shock the world by retiring from basketball to pursue a baseball career.

    Though Jordan didn’t make it on the baseball diamond, he has admitted that the time away from hoops helped him fall back in love with the game, tempting him to return in 1995.

    The following year, on Father’s Day, MJ officially completed his comeback, winning his fourth career NBA championship, and the first of his second three-peat with the Chicago Bulls.

2001 World Series Paul O'Neill

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    Say what you will about the New York Yankees and their fans, but one thing that they’ve proven over the years is that they have respect for the game.

    With the Yanks playing their final game of the season in old Yankee Stadium during the 2001 World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks—a game in which they were trailing 2-0 in the ninth—fans broke into a “Paul O’Neill” chant that didn’t stop the entire inning, no doubt bringing chills to O’Neill while he was standing in right field.

    A member of the Yanks since 1992, the former All-Star had announced his intentions to retire following the season, and the fans were going to let him know just how much he meant to the franchise which he helped lead to four World Series titles.

Kerri Strug Wins Gold for Team USA

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    Limping around on an injured ankle during the 1996 Summer Olympics and the all-around gymnastics competition, Kerri Strug proved to have the heart of a lion by competing on the vault to help win gold for her teammates—the first all-around medal in U.S. gymnastics history.

    Suffering the injury on her first vault attempt, Strug composed herself enough to give it a go, not knowing what might happen.

    As she landed in pain, she was able to turn to the judges and pose, completing her attempt and giving the U.S. the necessary points to claim the gold medal—as her coach Bela Karolyi carried her around the arena.

    It was a fine day to be an American.

Cal Ripken's Final at-Bat

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    Has there ever been a professional baseball player who couldn't complete his at-bat due to an ovation that made him cry in the batter's box?

    Who knows?

    But it almost happened before Cal Ripken Jr's final plate appearance against the Boston Red Sox back in 2001, when the home Orioles crowd wouldn't stop cheering for everything Cal brought them during his 21 seasons with the team.

Brett Favre After His Dad Died

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    Less than 24 hours.

    That's all that had passed since former quarterback Brett Favre's dad had passed away before a Monday Night Football matchup against the Oakland Raiders in 2003.

    While some may have found it hard to even be away from friends and family, Favre didn't stray from his teammates, displaying the skills that made him an all-time great, tossing for 399 yards and four touchdowns—which, ironically enough, moved him into second-place on the all-time touchdown passes list.

    For so many reasons, Favre's performance was moving.

Meghan Vogel Carries an Opponent

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    Sometimes, people take competition a little bit too seriously.

    And while I admit to having somewhat of a problem with losing, athletes like former West Liberty-Salem High school runner Meghan Vogel reminds me why it's not always do-or-die.

    That's because, during a race in the 3,200-meter finals a few years ago, Meghan helped carry opponent Arden McMatch across the finish line after McMatch had collapsed—allowing both girls to finish the race and tie for last place together.

Eric LeGrand Leads Team onto Field

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    Just the roar of the crowd prior to even seeing the Rutgers football team is enough to get a person choked up, so when the camera actually catches sight of them, holding back tears is tough.

    Led by paralyzed Eric LeGrand—who sustained the injury during a Scarlet Knights game a year earlier—the team stormed through the falling snow to take on the West Virginia Mountaineers.

    Making the story even better, LeGrand continues to overcome doctors' expectations, not only breathing without a ventilator, but accepting his diploma from Rutgers a few months ago and, yes, even being trained to walk again.

2007 Little League World Series

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    There are few things that bring more joy to people than seeing a kid smile after doing something great.

    And when Dalton Carriker of Warner Robins Georgia—who was representing the USA in the International Little League World Series—blasted a walk-off home run to defeat Japan in extra innings, tears of exuberance often fall.

    Maybe it's that this just takes me back to my teenage days, because doing something like this had to put young Dalton on the top of the world.

The New Orleans Saints Return

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    After a year away from the city following the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005, the Saints finally made their way back to the Superdome the following year to play host to the division-rival Atlanta Falcons—and the place was rockin'!

    Entering the field to a deafening ovation, arguably the most memorable play in New Orleans sports history came in the first few minutes of the game, as special teams player Steve Gleason shot through the gap and blocked a punt, leading to a touchdown on the play.

    The play itself is magical, but seeing how the team continues to support Gleason in his battle with ALS makes it even more tear-jerking.

Derek Redmond Helped by His Father

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    A favorite to win the gold medal in the 400-meter sprint at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, British sprinter Derek Redmond injured himself at the worst possible moment—during the semifinals heat.

    Squinting and limping in pain, Redmond was determined not to give up, hoping to cross the finish line.

    Out of nowhere, Jim Redmond—Derek’s dad—embraced his son on the track, wrapping his arms around the Olympian and easing his way towards the finish.

    Sure, he may have finished last, but it was one of the most emotional moments in Olympics history.

Isaiah Austin Gets Drafted

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    This one may have just happened last month during the NBA draft, but I still get choked up whenever I watch it unfold.

    After continuing his career despite being partially blind since his teenage years, former Baylor Bears big man Isaiah Austin was forced to give up on his dream of playing in the league after being diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition during his physicals before the selection process.

    But the NBA did the right thing by honoring him on draft night, selecting him so he could live out the feeling of hearing his name and meeting the commissioner.

Ray Bourque Wins a Stanley Cup

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    Best-known for his 21 seasons with the Boston Bruins, Ray Bourque is easily known as one of the best hockey players of all time, proving to be the ultimate leader of his teammates.

    Yet, one thing had always escaped Bourque during his time in Boston—a Stanley Cup.

    In one of the classiest moves ever by a front office, the B’s top brass traded their former star to the Colorado Avalanche in 2000, giving him hope to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup.

    Losing in seven games to the Dallas Stars a few months later, Bourque returned for another season in 2001 with the Avs, destined to win hockey’s greatest prize.

    Winning the Stanley Cup Finals, Bourque got what he always wanted—hoisting the trophy over his head while his teammates lifted him onto their shoulders, bringing a raucous ovation from everyone in the arena.

Magic Johnson Announces Retirement

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    Whether you're a Los Angeles Lakers fan or not, you had to feel yourself getting choked up the day that Magic Johnson announced to the world that he was HIV positive back in 1991.

    One of the top-10 best players to ever suit up in the NBA, Johnson won five NBA titles and three league MVPs, while bringing a certain charisma and passion that fans adored.

    Magic did make a brief comeback a few years later, but called it quits for good following just 32 games in 1995-96.

    He has since become a major advocate for HIV/AIDS research.

Mariano Rivera's Last Pitch

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    He's the greatest relief pitcher in the history of baseball, but when former New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was taken out of his last performance in Yankee Stadium last year, it couldn't have been scripted better.

    Rather than having his manager Joe Girardi take the ball from him, Mo had teammates Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter give him the hook, with those two having the privilege of calling Rivera their teammate since 1995 (though Pettitte did leave New York briefly).

    The trio not only came into the league together, but helped lead the Yanks to five World Series titles, so it's no wonder there wasn't a dry eye in the place.

Jimmy Valvano's ESPY Speech

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    It’s one of the most famously emotional and inspiring speeches in sports history, and each time I see it, I can’t help but get teary-eyed.

    When former North Carolina State head coach Jim Valvano stepped up to the podium at the 1993 ESPY Awards, he delivered a powerful message about his fight with cancer.

    When Jimmy V exited the stage, he left everyone watching looking for tissues to wipe their tears, as if it was his way of properly saying goodbye.