Mark Story: If you could go back in time, which big games would you want to see live?

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistSeptember 8, 2012 

Executing a cool idea, ESPN has been asking major-league baseball players one question: If you had a time machine and could attend any baseball game ever played, which would you pick?

It prompted me to wonder that if I had the capability to travel through time, what games would I most want to see from all the major American sports?

My guidelines: I'm picking only games that I did not see in person nor live on TV. Most, but not all, of my picks happened before I was born in 1964.

I am starting with the University of Kentucky men's basketball and football games from history I'd most liked to have seen.

UK basketball

Would be a blast to travel back to Memorial Coliseum on Dec. 7, 1957. In overtime with Kentucky down two, UK guard Vernon Hatton hit a 47-foot, two-handed set shot with one second left to tie Temple and force a second OT. The game eventually went to three overtimes, and Hatton scored UK's final six points for an 85-83 win. Fifty-five years later, "Hatton's heave" remains the most famous shot in the storied history of UK men's hoops.

UK football

Would have wanted to be among the 82,000 in New Orleans on New Year's Day, 1951. Bob Gain, Babe Parilli and Coach Bear Bryant helped Kentucky to an upset of No. 1 Oklahoma 13-7 in the Sugar Bowl. The UK victory, aided by a monster defensive performance by tackle Walt Yowarsky and two touchdowns from Wilbur Jamerson, snapped a 31-game Sooners winning streak. To this day, it stands as the most significant victory in Kentucky pigskin history.

College basketball

On Dec. 23, 1982, in Hawaii, occurred what I consider the most mind-boggling sports result of my lifetime. On that night, a tiny NAIA school, Chaminade, coached by a full-time high school guidance counselor, Merv Lopes, upset the No. 1 ranked team in NCAA Division I basketball, Virginia, which was led by dominant 7-foot-4 center Ralph Sampson.

In that pre-historic era of communication, I remember seeing "Chaminade 77, Virginia 72" in The Courier-Journal's late scores list on Christmas Day, 1982, and assuming it was a typo.

College football

Would have loved to be in Cambridge, Mass., on Oct. 29, 1921, to see the football matchup between mighty Harvard and little Centre College. Believe it or not, at that time the Ivy League was to college football what the SEC is now and Harvard — which had not lost a game in five seasons — was Alabama.

How fun it would have been to see Centre star Bo McMillin score on a 31-yard, stop-and-start touchdown run and see the Praying Colonels defense make it stand up in a 6-0 win that was proclaimed college football's upset of the 20th century.

Major League Baseball

Dodgers fan that I am, I would journey to Oct. 4, 1955, in Yankee Stadium for Game 7 of the World Series. The heroics of Johnny Podres (shutout pitching) and Sandy Amoros (game-saving catch in left field) would allow Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese and the rest of the Boys of Summer to beat the hated New York Yankees 2-0 and produce something, as Roger Kahn wrote, so special it could only happen once:

A Brooklyn Dodgers World Series championship.

NBA

How could you not choose to be in Hershey, Pa., on March 2, 1962, to see Wilt Chamberlain hit 36 of 63 field goals and (amazingly for him) 28 of 32 free throws and score a cool 100 points — 100 points! — for the Philadelphia Warriors in a 169-147 victory over the New York Knicks.

NFL

The game that has always captured my imagination came at Wrigley Field on Dec. 12, 1965. Playing on a field that was essentially a massive mud pie, Gale Sayers somehow managed to score six touchdowns. Included were an 80-yard jaunt with a pass, a 65-yard punt return and a 50-yard run as the Chicago Bears obliterated San Francisco 61-20.

NASCAR

Before Jerry Carroll built Kentucky Speedway and Bruton Smith finally got a Sprint Cup date for the state, only one "Cup level" race had ever been run in the commonwealth. So, with a time machine, I would have been at Corbin Speedway on Aug. 29, 1954, to see Lee Petty, father of The King, make a dramatic pass of Hershel McGriff and drive the No. 42 Petty Engineering Chrysler to victory over the dirt track.

It would be a lot of fun, a time machine.

Mark Story: (859) 231-3230 Email: mstory@herald-leader.comTwitter: @markcstoryBlog: markstory.bloginky.com

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