The Best Fan Moments in Sports
I'll never forget the day Appalachian State beat Michigan.
I was at The Fox and Hound in Philadelphia, a sports bar that was showing just about every college football game happening that day. I was there with friends to watch the Penn State game and was shocked to see legions of Ohio State and Michigan fans there watching their teams as well.
To make a long story short, when App. State blocked the field goal to clinch the game, the Penn State and Ohio State fans went nuts.
But here's what I remember the most: As the Michigan fans angrily exited the bar, the Ohio State and Penn State fans surrounded the exit and loudly clapped to the chagrin of the Wolverines faithful.
It was the epitome of a great rivalry, and the Penn State and Ohio State fans managed to heckle their rivals without throwing punches or sacrificing sophistication. It was a great moment in fandom.
With that in mind, I present you with the greatest fan moments in sports history.
Honorable Mention: The Stare-Down
How badass is that kid?
For the record, I couldn't possibly compile every awesome fan moment from sports, so be sure to share your favorites in the comments.
20. Awesome Fan Sections
There are some awesome fan sections out there. The Dawg Pound in Cleveland. The 12th Man at Texas A&M. The Oakland Zoo at Pitt.
But there is nothing quite like The Black Hole, so they are represented here.
19. Awesome Chants
Again, there are a thousand I could have chosen, but I used this one because I experienced it live.
Let me tell you something—when 100 thousand plus fans are doing a cheer in unison, it gives you goosebumps.
18. The Clever Sign
Not only is this one of the best sports signs ever, it's also one of the best retaliatory fan moments ever.
Well done, Maryland fan.
17. The Court Rush: Chaminade Upsets No. 1 Virginia, 1982
Do you know when it is appropriate to rush the court?
Chaminade players Richard Haenisch and Mark Rodrigues knew the outcome was right, and they celebrated higher than anyone else, climbing on to the rims after the game in what became instant photo classics.
"In the second half, the crowd sounded like 35,000. You could hear them saying 'Oh my God, they can beat these guys,'" Haenisch said. "They rushed on the court and I sat on the rims. It was a great feeling."
(There are other occasions in which it is also appropriate. But it is done way too often these days, rendering the gesture basically meaningless at this point.)
16. The Goofy Fan
Often times, the in-house cameras at stadiums and arenas catch fans at their goofiest and dumbest moments.
Jeremy Fry is here to show you how it should be done.
15. Thank You, Landon Donovan
This has got to be the best fan reaction video I've ever seen.
Anytime you watch a group of people joyously celebrating together—especially across an entire nation—it's a great fan moment.
14. Phillies Fans Rattle Sabathia
Let me set the scene for you:
It's the second inning of Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS between the Phillies and Brewers. Beerleaguer recalls the moment:
With the score knotted 1-1, Victorino’s bases-clearing blast capped an inning for the ages that featured a capacity Citizens Bank Park crowd rise in anticipation over a two-out Brett Myers at bat. A star on the bump and at the dish, fans roared every time Myers fought off a Sabathia pitch and watched as he shimmied a key walk.
It was one of the most unreal moments I've ever seen, as the crowd at Citizens Bank Park got louder and louder each time Myers fouled off another pitch. It was obvious that the crowd had gotten in Sabathia's head after he walked both Myers and then Jimmy Rollins, setting up the Victorino blast.
It truly was one of the rare moments where it was undeniable that the crowd influenced the outcome. Not surprisingly, it wasn't the first moment Philadelphia fans had such an effect on an opposing pitcher.
13. Phillies Fans Chase Burt Hooton off the Mound
It was the 1977 NLCS between the Phillies and Dodgers, again in the second inning, and Hooton had a 2-0 lead. But after not getting a strike called that would have ended the inning, Hooton lost his cool and the Philly faithful jumped all over him.
"I turned and kicked the rubber real hard," Hooton recalled. "Everbody seemed to be watching. A few fans started yelling, then more picked it up and it just started to go around. It got noisier than those jets at Shea Stadium except it went on and on with every pitch. I lost my cool."
Hooton was so rattled that he walked Christenson to load the bases. Then as the crescendo of hoots from 63,000 Philly fans intensified, the flustered hurler walked the next three batters before he was taken out of the game (which the Dodgers won, 6-5).
"I lost my composure and never got it back," Hooton admitted. "The noise from those fans was unbelievable."
It's funny—Philadelphia fans are often lambasted and vilified, yet they make several appearances on this list for being excellent fans. Perhaps the negative stereotypes constantly retold by the national media don't tell the full story.
12. Thunder Fans Show Their Support
After the Thunder were defeated by the Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals, the Thunder faithful showed up at the airport and game their team a hero's welcome.
And that's just awesome.
11. The Green Men
In my opinion, heckling the opponents is the duty of fans in addition to supporting their own squad. And nobody was funnier at doing that then the Green Men.
Well done, gents.
10. She's Got a Pretty Good Arm
See, sporting events are all about having a good time with the family. Even when they cost you a souvenir.
9. Christian Lopez Gives Back Jeter's Ball
After Derek Jeter smacked a home run for his 3,000th career hit, Christian Lopez could have sold the ball for thousands.
Instead, he did the right thing—he returned it to Jeter.
The Yankees rewarded him dearly for the gesture, though the tax burden on their gifts seemed insurmountable for Lopez. That's when others stepped in.
Mr. Lopez said he owed more than $100,000 in student loan debt; he could also face a significant tax burden after receiving season tickets and autographed memorabilia from the Yankees in exchange for the ball, which may have been worth $100,000 or more.
Surrounded by Yankees T-shirts, hats and other merchandise, Mitchell Modell, chief executive of Modell’s Sporting Goods, and Brandon Steiner, chief of the memorabilia company Steiner Sports, pledged Mr. Lopez $25,000 each at a Modell’s shop off Times Square. Mr. Modell will also donate 5 percent of the earnings from Yankees merchandise sold at his shops over the next week to Mr. Lopez.
8. A Young Boy's Kindness
To all of you crazy adults out there that trample over kids in order to gain a measly baseball, take note of the kids in this video.
That's a little something I like to call perspective.
7. Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle Fans Cause an Earthquake
That's right, this run—and namely, the crowd's reaction to it—actually caused an earthquake. Well, sort of:
OK, maybe “earthquake” is an exaggeration, but the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network recorded a small tremor near Qwest Field at exactly 4:43 p.m. Saturday, just as Lynch was reeling off his incredible 67-yard run, presumably meaning the run got the crowd jumping up and down screaming to such an extent that the earth moved.
Any time a crowd causes a geological phenomenon, that's an amazing crowd moment.
6. Who's Your Daddy?
Tom Verducci helps us remember the quote from 2004:
It will go down in Yankees-Red Sox lore as the Daddy Speech, in honor of this highlight in Martinez's interview session after a 6-4 loss to New York on Friday: "What can I say? I tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy."
There was more to it, of course. Martinez, speaking while seated in front of a packed room of reporters in a news conference setting, said he didn't want to pitch against the Yankees again: "I hope they ... disappear and never come back. I would rather like to face any other team right now."
Not surprisingly, Yankees fans took to chanting "Who's Your Daddy?" in Game 2 of the 2004 ALCS between the two teams.
It was a pretty fantastic moment in heckling history, though Martinez and the Red Sox got the last laugh, erasing a 3-0 deficit en route to defeating the Yankees and eventually winning the World Series.
5. Edmonton Oilers Fans Show Their Patriotism
Do you have chills too?
4. Cal Ripken, Jr. Gets a 22-Minute Ovation
Amazingly, this is part two of the ovation for Cal after he broke Lou Gehrig's record.
The next night, he played in his 2,131st consecutive game to set a new Iron Man standard. He homered in this game as well, a 4-2 win over the Angels. When the contest became official, the capacity crowd erupted in a 22-minute ovation, during which Ripken took a victory lap around the field.
He deserved every minute of that ovation.
3. Flyers and Rangers Game Halted for President's Speech
On September 20th, 2001, just days after 9/11, the Flyers and Rangers were playing a preseason game against one another in Philadelphia. During the second intermission, Philadelphia's finest showed their patriotism:
The president's national address on the terrorist attacks to a joint session of Congress was shown on the video screen during the second intermission. But it was turned off when the teams began to come back on the ice, tied at 2-2, after two brawl-filled periods.
When that happened, the fans began to boo, prompting Ron Ryan, the chief operating officer of the Flyers, to order that the address be put back on the screen. For the next 33 minutes, the players and fans watched.
Philadelphia may be one of the few places in the world where booing can beget patriotism. But on this evening, priorities were definitely in order.
Photo from DelcoTimes.com
2. Chicago Fans Roar During National Anthem
With U.S. troops being deployed to Iraq at the onset of the Gulf War in 1991, fans at the NHL All-Star Game showed support for their country.
What resulted still makes the hairs on my arms stand tall.
1. Phillies Fans Chant "U-S-A" After Bin Laden's Death
As news trickled down into the stands in Citizens Bank Park earlier this year that Osama bin Laden had been killed by U.S. forces, the Philadelphia crowd broke out into an impromptu chant of "U-S-A."
I'm not one for cheering a man's death—even a man as terrible as Bin Laden—but the chant of "USA" felt more like a gesture of solidarity and patriotism in support of the many Americans who had lost loved ones, rather than a celebration of death.
Sports fans are known for cheering in support of their team. On this night, that team was America and the fans at Citizens Bank Park made that very clear.