10 of Sports' Biggest Upsets
Rising Tennis star Robin Soderling has some upsetting characteristics. Don't believe me, just ask the world’s top two male players. This week the Swede upset French Open number one seed Roger Federer. Last year Soderling did the same to 2009 French Open top seed, Rafael Nadal.
Soderling's efforts combined with the recent comeback of the Philadelphia Flyers from a three games to none deficit in the NHL's Eastern Conference Semi-Finals verses the Boston Bruins, sparked my curiosity.
So, with that in mind, check out my list of Ten Different Sports and Their Ten Biggest upsets.
The upsets are listed in no particular order.
2004 American League Championship Series: Sox Vs Yanks
Boston, Mass. Oct 20. 2004. On this chilly New England night, the Boston Red Sox accomplished something no team in the history of Baseball had ever accomplished.
For starters, they beat their arch rival, the New York Yankees in game seven of the American League championship series.
It was the first time in 100 years the Sox had beaten the Yanks to claim the AL title, but what really made the victory even sweeter, was that Boston had to rally from a three games to none series deficit to do so.
No team in Major League Baseball History had ever won a seven game series after losing the first three games. After pulling off the improbable, Boston joined the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and 1975 New York Islanders as the only three teams in all of sports to win a best-of-seven series after being down three games to none.
The Philadelphia Flyers recent rally from a three game deficit to beat the Boston Bruins in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs now makes Four. By the way, The Red Sox went on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals to in the World Series.
1955 US Open Golf Championship: Fleck & Hogan
San Francisco, Ca. June 19, 1955. It was a Sunny afternoon at the Olympic Club that day as legendary golfer Ben Hogan worked his way around the course, seemingly on the way to a fifth straight U.S. Open Golf title.
As a matter of fact, NBC (National Broadcast Company) had the first contracted TV coverage of a U.S. Open that year for one hour. When NBC signed off the air that day the network had already proclaimed Hogan the winner.
Just one problem, there was a young golfer by the name of Jack Fleck who had battled back from three holes down to tie Hogan and force a playoff, a play-off he would eventually win, beating Hogan with a score of 69-to-72.
Super Bowl III: Jets Vs Colts
Miami, Fla. Jan 12, 1969. It was the Super bowl game that led to the eventual NFL (National Football League), AFL (American Football League) merger.
The game featured the mighty Baltimore Colts (13-1) led by football legends with names like Johnny Unitas, Earl Morrall, Don Maynard & Bubba Smith.
Their opponent, the 11-3 New York Jets, whose field general was a brash young quarterback by the name Joe Namath. It was Namath who predicted he and his heavily underdog teammates would upset Baltimore.
Namath failed to throw a single touchdown pass that day, completing 17 of 28 passes for 206 yards, but his prediction rang true as the eventual Super Bowl MVP guided his Jets to the 16-7 upset victory.
1950 World Cup: England Vs USA
Belo Horizonte, Brazil June 29, 1950. The United States Men’s National Soccer team lead by Walter Bahr shocked the football world when they upset world power England 1-0 in the opening round of World Cup Play.
The lone American goal coming off the head of Joe Gaetjens, a last minute addition to the squad. The U.S. lost its next game 5-2 to Chile before finishing the tournament 1-0-2.
With the current United States Men’s National Team scheduled to meet England June 12 in opening round play of the 2010 World Cup Tournament in South Africa, this upset becomes even more poignant.
1985 NCAA Basketball Title Game: Georgetown Vs.Villanova
Lexington, Kentucky April 1, 1985. Sports illustrated described Villanova’s 66-64 upset of Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA Basketball National Championship Game as “Seismic”.
That night the underdog Wildcats played the perfect game against a Hoya team led by future NBA all star center Patrick Ewing.
Heavyweight Boxing: Mike Tyson Vs. Buster Douglas
Tokyo, Japan Feb 11, 1990. James “Buster” Douglas went from being a journeyman heavyweight to the talk of the heavyweight boxing world.
Douglas was installed as a 35-1 underdog against unbeaten heavyweight champion Iron Mike Tyson, one of the most feared fighters of his era.
Unfortunately Tyson took his opponent lightly that night and paid the price. It was in the ninth round where Douglas recorded his knockout punch heard around the World.
With the upset victory Douglas claimed the IBF, WBA and WBC to become the eighth undisputed Heavyweight Champ in history.
Horse Racing: Man O War Vs. The 100-1 Underdog
Saratoga Springs, New York Aug. 14, 1919. Man O War is without question one of the greatest Thoroughbreds in American horse racing history.
Man O War won 20 of the 21 races he entered, but it was the one race he lost that often becomes an amusing topic of conversation.
You see, prior to the 1919 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga Springs, NY the chestnut colored stallion was tabbed the odds on favorite to win; however, the race was eventually won by a horse who started the race as a 100-1 underdog. Ironically, that horses name was UPSET.
2009 French Open: Soberling Vs. Nadal
Paris, France May 21, 2009. World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, who had never lost at Roland Garros, was upset in four sets by 23rd seed Robin Soderling in a French Open fourth-round match.
Nadal was a four-time defending champion and had won his previous 31 French Open matches. Nadal hadn't lost a set in the 2009 Open until Soderling broke his serve twice in the opening set, while on his way to the eventual 6-2, 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) upset victory.
1994 NBA Playoffs: Nuggets Vs. Super Sonics
Seattle, Washington, May 7, 1994. The Seattle Super Sonics finished the regular season with an NBA best, 63-19 record.
As a result the Sonics grabbed the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs and actually played the part of a number seed, beating the Denver Nuggets by 24 and 10 points respectively in games one and two of their best of five first round series.
Then the shocker. The Nuggets battled their way back from the 2-0 deficit to defeat Seattle in 5 games, winning games four and five in overtime. It was the first time in NBA history that an 8th-seeded team defeated a top seed.
•Game 1 @ Seattle: Seattle 106, Denver 82
•Game 2 @ Seattle: Seattle 97, Denver 87
•Game 3 @ Denver: Denver 110, Seattle 93
•Game 4 @ Denver: Denver 94, Seattle 85 (OT)
•Game 5 @ Seattle: Denver 98, Seattle 94 (OT)
1980 Winter Olympics: The Miracle on Ice.
Lake Placid, NY Feb 22, 1980. The U.S. Men’s Olympic ice hockey team consisting of college amateur’s upsets the mighty Soviet Union.
At the time the Soviets were considered hockey’s perennial world power. U.S. team Captain Mike Eruzione provided the eventual 4-3 game winning goal.
Several days later the Americans would defeat Finland in the Gold Medal game to complete their ultimate adventure. To this day the upset of the Soviets is considered one of the biggest upsets in international sports history. AKA, “The Miracle on Ice”.