Sports always have a way of providing unforgettable moments. From the “Miracle on Ice” when the United States upset the Soviet Union in the ice hockey tournament of the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York to the Dream Team when the United States sent the very best of its NBA players to the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, sports always give us an exhilarating feeling we will never forget. Hockey fans will always remember where they were and what they were doing when the NHL All-Star team finally beat the visiting team of the mighty Soviets in the 1970s, English fans will always shake their head in both dismay and amazement when they recall Diego Maradona’s goals against their team in the 1986 World Cup, and South Africans will always revel at the memory of their country finally coming together to win the World Cup of Rugby in 1995.
But along with the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat are laughter and fun brought about by our sporting heroes. Here is a list of the top 10 funniest moments in sports.
10. Casey Stengel’s Subtle Collective Criticism
In 1962, the National League of baseball’s Major League made its comeback to New York City. New York had lost its National League teams in the mid 50s when both the Dodgers and the Giants left, with the former making a move to Los Angeles from Brooklyn and the latter transferring to San Francisco from Manhattan. The new team was called the Mets and they were going to be based in Queens, though they had to play in the old Polo Grounds in Manhattan initially. The season went so bad for the Mets that they ended up with 120 losses, allowing 948 runs in the process, the worst in the majors. It got so bad that the manager, Casey Stengel, once asked out loud, “Can’t anybody here play this game?” The team is considered to be the worst team in Major League Baseball ever. After the season gratefully ended, Stengel sarcastically said, “This has been a team effort. No one or two guys could have done all this.”
9. Frank Layden’s Concern
Frank Layden used to be the head coach of the New Orleans Jazz, which is now known as the Utah Jazz. He was instrumental in the team getting two of the greatest players of all time in John Stockton and Karl Malone. In 1984, Layden got the Coach of the Year, Executive of the Year and NBA Citizenship awards. Layden is known for trying to convince the referees to let him start a non-NBA player in the second half after the guy made a shot from halfcourt during halftime festivities. In one game, he was so exasperated with a player that he asked, “Son, what is it with you? Is it ignorance or apathy?” The player replied, “Coach, I don’t know and I don’t care.”
8. Golota’s Time
Andrew Golota is a Polish boxer known for his dirty tactics, thus earning him the nickname Foul Pole. He once kept hitting Riddick Bowe below the belt despite the fact that he was probably leading and controlling the fight. What most people don’t know is that he follows a strict training routine. When asked about it, his trainer Lou Duva said, “He’s a guy who gets up at six o’ clock in the morning regardless of what time it is.”
7. Tampa Bay’s Futility
In 1976, Tampa Bay got its own NFL franchise. Their team, however, failed to win a single game. During the middle of the season, as the losses piled up, their coach, John Mckay, famously said, “We’ve determined that we can’t win at home and we can’t win on the road. What we need is a neutral site.” When asked how he felt about his team’s execution, he said “I’m in favor of it.”
6. Canseco’s Homerun
Jose Canseco formed half the Bash Brothers of the Oakland Athletics along with Mark McGwire. While playing for the Texas Rangers, he scored another homerun. Unfortunately, he was not at bat. He was playing outfield when a fly ball bounced off his head into the stands.
5. Popovich Hacks Shaq
Opposing teams always take advantage of Shaquille O’Neal’s free throw ineptitude by intentionally fouling him. It tested the patience of the big man and he promised to make his opponents pay. During opening night in 2008, while playing for the Phoenix Suns, the San Antonio Spurs fouled Shaq two seconds into the game. A confused Shaq looked around, then chuckled as he saw Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich smiling and giving him the two-thumbs up sign.
4. McGraw’s Money
Tug McGraw was a relief pitcher who won two World Series rings. Asked what he would do with their money after getting a fat contract in 1975, McGraw said, “Ninety percent, I’ll spend on good times, women and Irish whiskey. The other 10 percent, I’ll probably waste.”
3. Barkley on Angola
The 1992 Dream Team attracted a lot of fans, even from opposing players who sought their autographs. Asked whether they have scouted Angola and what they know about their opponents, Charles Barkley replied, “All I know about Angola is Angola’s in trouble.”
2. Twickenham Streak
England was playing France in a rugby match in 1974 in front of nearly 48,000 people, including some royalty. Suddenly, during halftime, a naked man appeared out of nowhere and started running around the field. It was Michael O’Brien, who did it to win a 10-pound bet. He was caught…and fined 10 pounds. Plus, he got fired from his job. The policeman who used his helmet to cover up O’Brien said, “It was a cold day. He had nothing to be proud of.” Copycats have tried the same stunt ever since.
1. The Play
In a game that Stanford fans would rather forget, its football team had just taken a one-point lead with just four seconds left. In the ensuing kickoff, Stanford’s hated rivals, the University of California, made five lateral passes as it tried to march its way to a touchdown. Thinking the game was over, Stanford’s band had already started to come into the field. Unfortunately, Stanford never made a tackle, thus allowing Cal to score the winning touchdown. The only Stanford student who hit a Cal player was the trombone player who was ran over in the end zone.