March Classic Moments

"Classic Moments," the biggest sports news event of the day in the 20th century, is archived in this area.

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Other months:

March 1
The Mick calls it quits. Mickey Mantle, the 37-year-old slugger for the New York Yankees, announces his retirement with a total lack of emotion. He has neither a lump in his throat nor a tear in his eye at his press conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

"I can't hit any more," says Mantle, whose .245 and .237 averages the last two seasons dropped his career mark to .298. "I feel bad that I didn't hit .300. But there's now way I could go back and get it over .300 again."

Despite being injured for much of his 18-year career, Mantle was one of the game's shining stars, and his 536 homers trail only Babe Ruth's 714 and Willie Mays' 587. The Yankees' center fielder won three MVP awards, four home-run titles and in 1956 won the Triple Crown with a .353 average, 52 homers and 130 runs batted in.
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March 2
Pro basketball
In a season in which he averages 50 points, Wilt Chamberlain puts on the most dominating performance of his career when he scores the incredible total of 100 points. "It's a record I'd hate to try to break myself," says the Philadelphia Warrior center.

Perhaps more amazing than the 100 points is that Chamberlain, a notorious poor foul shooter, makes 28-of-32 free throws in the 169-147 victory over the Knicks. "I wasn't even thinking of hitting 100, but after putting in nine straight free throws I was thinking about a foul-shooting record," he says. "It was my greatest game."

When the 7-foot-1 center reaches the century mark on a dunk with 46 seconds left, many in the crowd of 4,124 in Hershey, Pa., swarm the court to mob him.

Chamberlain connects on 36-of-63 field goals (both records) in breaking his own NBA mark of 78 points, set earlier this season in triple overtime. He also breaks the record for most points in a half with 59 in the final two periods.
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March 3
In two weeks, lightweight Bob Montgomery goes from flat on his back to top of the world. Montgomery, who was knocked out in the first round by welterweight Al Davis in February, registers an upset 15-round split decision over Beau Jack to regain the lightweight title.

This is the third bout between Montgomery and Jack in 10 months. Montgomery won the first decision to take the title, but Jack regained the crown via decision in the rematch.

Montgomery, a 9-5 underdog, takes charge in the early and middle rounds in tonight's fight at Madison Square Garden. But Jack rallies and the fight is up for grabs with two rounds left. Montgomery wins them convincingly to gain the decision.

The archrivals will fight one more time, five months later, with Montgomery taking a 10-round decision in a non-title bout.
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March 4
College basketball
As a junior last season, Loyola Marymount forward Hank Gathers was the NCAA's leading scorer and rebounder. But early this season, he blacked out during a game. Doctors cleared him to play again, placing on medication to regulate his arrhythmia -- an erratic heartbeat.

Today against Portland in the semifinals of the West Coast Conference tournament, the 6-foot-7 Gathers slams home a dunk, enthusiastically high fives a teammate and trots back to midcourt. Suddenly, he puts his hands on his knees and crumples to the floor at Loyola's gym. He goes into convulsions, then rolls over and gets to his hands and knees before collapsing again.

Gathers is given cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the court and on his way to the hospital. While relatives and teammates wait outside the emergency room, Gathers is pronounced dead. "We tried resuscitating him for over an hour and we were unable to generate any activity," cardiologist Dr. Mason Weiss says.

Hank Gathers was 23.
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March 5
It's a vote that will change the relationship between baseball owners and players forever. Labor relations expert Marvin Miller, assistant to the president of the United Steelworkers Union, is chosen by the player representatives of the 20 teams to become executive director of the Major League Baseball Players' Association.

His selection will be rubber-stamped by the players and Miller will begin his new job on July 1 at an annual salary of $50,000 for two years.

The players previously were counseled by Milwaukee Circuit Court Judge Robert Cannon, who held a similar job on a part-time, but unpaid, basis.

The players' association handles pension matters and negotiations with club owners on minimum salaries, travel and expense rules, and other regulations of common interest.
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March 6
Johnny Weissmuller, who will later gain fame as "Tarzan," becomes the first swimmer to break five minutes for 440 yards. Weissmuller, representing the Illinois Athletic Club, finishes in 4:57, clipping 11 seconds off his own world record of 5:08.

Splashing alone in the pool in New Haven, Conn., he swims with ease, exerting himself only at the end. The record is the 47th set by Weissmuller. Official representatives of the AAU clock Weissmuller.
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March 7
Twenty-one months earlier, fighting for the heavyweight championship vacated by Joe Louis, Ezzard Charles took a 15-round unanimous decision from Jersey Joe Walcott to win the title. The result is the same in tonight's rematch in Detroit, with Charles, the 4-1 favorite, winning by an even bigger margin, according to the officials' scorecards.

Charles, who weighs 186 pounds (the heaviest of his career), scores the only knockdown of the fight when a fast right and a left hook to the jaw send the 37-year-old challenger to the canvas in the ninth round.

While Charles is the clear victor (the officials have him winning by 10, 16 and 18 points), he comes out of the fight looking worse than Walcott, whose only wound is a slight cut above his left eye. Charles' left eye is swollen and his left ear is so puffed up that he will need surgery tomorrow to prevent the ear from becoming permanently misshapen.
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March 8
Two undefeated heavyweights step into the ring in Madison Square Garden in what is billed as "The Fight of the Century." Champion Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, who had been stripped of his title four years earlier for refusing induction into the military, each receive record purses of $2.5 million. The long awaited showdown is a social, political and athletic event rolled into one. Frank Sinatra is there, shooting photographs for "Life."

Remarkably, the fight lives up to the hype. The heavyweights punch at a furious pace, with Frazier applying unrelenting pressure, and Ali answering with rapid combinations. It is a brutal 45 minutes of action.

Frazier shows the strength of a champion in the final five rounds, and decks Ali with a sweeping left hook in the 15th round. While Frazier leaves with a battered face from the hard jabs and the flashing rights of Ali, he also leaves with the unanimous decision in the first of their three fights.

"That man can sure take some punches," Frazier says. "I went to the country, back home, for some of the shots I hit him with."

Lured to spring training under a false pretense, Casey Stengel learns that he's been elected to the Hall of Fame in a rare special act. The ceremony in St. Petersburg, Fla., is a surprise to the 75-year-old Stengel, the former Mets manager who had been told he was to present plaques to manager Wes Westrum and executive George Weiss.

Normally, the fun-loving Stengel would not have been eligible for the Hall because of the five-year waiting period after retirement. But unknown to Stengel, the rules were recently changed (because of Stengel) and Hall of Fame eligibles over the age of 65 could be voted in six months after leaving the game. In a special election, the veteran committee unanimously elects Stengel.

Stengel broke his hip last July 25 and officially retired as Mets manager on August 30. He started his career as an outfielder with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1912, and played 14 seasons in the majors, compiling a .284 lifetime batting average. In his more than five decades in the game, his greatest accomplishment was winning 10 pennants and seven World Series (including five straight) as Yankees manager from 1949-60.
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March 9
College basketball
In what is probably the greatest game in Atlantic Coast Conference history, top-ranked North Carolina State tops Maryland, 103-100, in overtime to win the conference tournament. The victory earns North Carolina State the conference's bid to the NCAA tournament, as only one team from each league is eligible.

The game features five players who receive first or second-team All-American honors in their careers (including three-time first-team All-American David Thompson) and 11 players who will be drafted by the NBA. Seven-foot-four center Tom Burleson scores 38 points and Thompson 29 as N.C. State (26-1) overcomes a 13-point first-half deficit.

Phil Spence's layup gives N.C. State a 101-100 lead with 2:04 left in overtime. Monte Towe's two foul shots with six seconds remaining seal the Wolfpack's 24th straight victory and stretches its winning streak over ACC teams to 32. While Maryland -- which is led by Tom McMillen (22 points), John Lucas (18) and Len Elmore (18) -- falls to 23-5, three of its losses come against the Wolfpack.

N.C. State will go on to win the NCAA tournament, dethroning Bill Walton's UCLA team in double overtime in the semifinals and beating Marquette in the final.
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March 10
Track & Field
Glenn Cunningham, the greatest American miler of the thirties who learned to run after doctors said he might never walk again, dies at his farm in Menifee, Ark. He was 78.

In 1933, Cunningham, a master of the middle distances, was voted the Sullivan Award as the best amateur athlete in the country. The "Kansas Flyer" set a world record for the mile of 4:06.7 in 1934 in Princeton, N.J. Two years later, he won a silver medal in the 1,500 meters in the Berlin Olympics.

He won the Wanamaker Mile at New York's Millrose Games six times in the thirties. In 1979 he was named the best track performer in the history of Madison Square Garden, where he set six world records in the mile and 1,500 meters and another at 1,000 yards.

As a youngster, Cunningham had suffered life-threatening burns on both legs when a stove in a classroom in Everetts, Kan., exploded, killing his older brother Floyd. He spent seven months in bed, and then received daily massages from his mother, who kneaded his damaged muscles and sped his way to walking and then running.

Pro basketball
Dick Motta joins an exclusive club, becoming just the fourth NBA coach to win 700 regular-season games when his Dallas Mavericks rout the Nets, 126-113, in East Rutherford, N.J. Red Auerbach, Jack Ramsay and Gene Shue are the other 700-club members.

After the victory, Motta recalls that when he began coaching in the NBA, with the Chicago Bulls in 1968 after coaching at Weber State, he had doubts about how long he would last. "I didn't think I would make it until Christmas that first year," he says. "I had so many battles with management and players.

"I never expected to stay this long. I thought I would use the pros to get a better college job. But I like the game much better. I like the purity of it. There is no cheating here. You just go out there with the ball under your arm, pick up your lunch pail and go to work."
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March 11
John McGraw, manager of the Baltimore Orioles, is considering playing a Cherokee Indian named Chief Tokohama, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

However, McGraw's Tokohama is actually an African-American named Charlie Grant.

McGraw's plan will fail when Chicago White Sox owner Charles Comiskey learns that Grant is a member of the Columbia Giants, an African-American team that plays in Chicago.

"I'm not going to stand for McGraw bringing in an Indian on the Baltimore team," Comiskey will say. "If Muggsy (McGraw) really keeps this Indian, I will get a Chinaman of my acquaintance and put him on third. Probably I might whitewash a colored man.

"Somebody said this Cherokee of McGraw's is really Grant, the crack Negro second baseman, fixed up with war paint and a bunch of feathers." While African-Americans had played in the majors in the 19th century, owners will keep them on the outside in the 20th century until Jackie Robinson will crack the color barrier in 1947.
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March 12
College football
Woody Hayes once said that when he died, he wanted it to be on the 50-yard line at Ohio Stadium. Instead, he succumbs in his sleep to a heart attack at his home in a Columbus suburb. He was 74.

In Hayes' controversial 28-year career (1951-78) as Ohio State coach, he won two national championships (1954 and 1968) and won or shared 13 Big 10 titles. His Buckeyes went 205-61-10. Overall, Hayes, who coached at his alma mater Denison and Miami of Ohio for five seasons, had a 238-72-10 record. "He's like a volcano waiting to explode," said Esco Sarkkinen, a Hayes assistant for 27 years at Ohio State.

Hayes' final explosion on the gridiron came when he punched a Clemson player during Ohio State's loss in the 1978 Gator Bowl. He was fired the next day.

A favorite story in Ohio is about the man who went to heaven, where at a football game he saw a fat old man in a baseball cap jumping up and down on the sidelines. "Who is that madman?" the new arrival asked St. Peter.

"That's God," St. Peter replied. "But he thinks he's Woody Hayes."

Pro baseball
While the eight Chicago White Sox accused of throwing the 1919 World Series await trial, baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, just two months on the job, suspends the players. Landis' ruling follows a report that the trial in Chicago will be delayed.

"I deeply regret the postponement of these cases." Landis says. "However, baseball is not powerless to protect itself. All of the indicted players have today been placed on the ineligible list."

The eight players are Shoeless Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte, Chick Gandil, Swede Risberg, Buck Weaver, Claude "Lefty" Williams, "Happy" Felsch and Fred McMullen. They will be acquitted by a jury in August, but Landis will ban the Black Sox for life.

Pro basketball
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, the Denver Nuggets' leading scorer, hasn't stood for the national anthem all season, citing religious beliefs. With only a month left in the season, the NBA decides to punish him today, suspending him without pay until he complies with the rule.

Deputy commissioner Russ Granik says Abdul-Rauf violated a league rule that requires players, coaches and trainers to "stand and line up in a dignified posture" during the U.S. and/or Canadian anthems.

Abdul-Rauf played at LSU as Chris Jackson and adopted the Islamic faith in 1991. He says he does not believe in standing for any nationalistic ideology. The Koran, he says, says that nothing should come between him and Allah.

"My beliefs are more important than anything," he says. Two days later, a compromise will be reached. Abdul-Rauf will stand and pray while the anthem is being played.

"I'll offer a prayer, my own prayer, for those who are suffering," he says. "Muslim, Caucasian. African-American. Asian. That is what I cry out for."

Pro hockey
Chicago's Bobby Hull becomes the first player to score more than 50 goals in a season when his blistering 40-foot slap shot beats screened Rangers goalie Cesare Maniago early in the third period of the Blackhawks' 4-2 victory.

Four times NHL players have scored 50 goals, twice by Hull and one each by Montreal's Rocket Richard and Boom Boom Geoffrion. Hull's record-breaking goal comes in Chicago's 61st game, but it is only the 56th for the left wing, who missed five with knee injuries.

Following Hull's power-play goal, the crowd of 16,666 in Chicago Stadium explodes, giving the Golden Jet an eight-minute ovation and littering the ice with hats and other debris. After receiving congratulations from his teammates, Hull skates to where his wife is seated while photographers take pictures.

"It felt wonderful and certainly was a load off my back," Hull says later. "It was a thrill getting the goal, but the biggest thrill was that roar from the crowd."
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March 13
1961: Before heavyweight champ Floyd Patterson agreed to staging his third fight with Ingemar Johansson in Miami Beach, he insisted that seating be integrated in the Southern site. The condition is met, and African-Americans are spotted freely among the predominantly white crowd in Convention Hall.

The fans watch in shock as Patterson, the 4-1 favorite, is knocked down twice in the first round. "When I went down the first time all I could think about was getting knocked out two years ago," Patterson says after the bout. "I'd trained so hard and so long for this fight and I kept saying to myself, 'Am I going to be knocked down seven times again?' "

He isn't. Before the first round ends, Patterson sends Johansson to the canvas with a left hook and two chopping rights. He doesn't lose another round, ending the fight late in the sixth with two smashing rights to the Swede's jaw. Johansson rises just after referee Bill Regan's count reaches 10.

Patterson wins the entertaining series against Johansson, two knockout victories to one.

1915: During spring training in Daytona Beach, Fla., Brooklyn manager Wilbert Robertson agrees to try to catch a baseball dropped from a plane. But it's not a baseball that comes down from somewhere between 500-700 feet; it's a grapefruit.

The fruit strikes Robinson on his expansive chest. It explodes, splashing on his face. The force of the impact throws him backward and he falls to the ground. Rubbing his face, which is reeking with the juices of the shattered fruit, Robinson thinks he's badly hurt.

But when he assures himself that he's not bleeding or injured, he laughs. It is believed by some that the prank is set up by one of Robinson's outfielders, fun-loving Casey Stengel, who has the team's trainer substitute the grapefruit for the baseball.
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March 14
Pro basketball
1962: Before anybody ever used the term "triple double," Oscar Robertson averages one for an entire NBA season. The Cincinnati Royals' brilliant second-year guard completes his magnificent season in a 136-134 victory over the New York Knicks.

The 6-foot-5 Robertson averages 30.8 points a game (third in the NBA), 12.5 rebounds (eighth) and wins the assist title by handing out 11.4 a game.

"The Big O" shoots .478 from the field, fourth best in the league. His Royals finish in second place in the West with a 43-37 record, but will lose in the first round of the playoffs to the 37-43 Detroit Pistons.
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March 15
College basketball
Early in his career at North Carolina, Dean Smith was hung in effigy. At today's NCAA tournament game, Dean goes to the head of the class.

With 19 former letter-winners in attendance in Winston-Salem, N.C., Smith passes fellow Kansas alum Adolph Rupp, the legendary Kentucky coach, to become college basketball's all-time leader in coaching victories with victory No. 877, a 73-56 win over Colorado.

It is ironic that one coach (Rupp) was known for his racist attitude and the other (Smith) for opening doors for African-Americans.

More than the record, Smith says he is prouder that of the some 200 players who have earned varsity letters since he arrived in Chapel Hill in 1961 that "98 percent of them have graduated and almost half have gone on to some kind of graduate school."
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March 16
1907: During spring training at Warren Park in Augusta, Ga., Detroit Tigers outfielder Ty Cobb, known to be a racist, gets into a fistfight with an African-American groundskeeper he has known for several years.

When the man, nicknamed "Bungy," tries to shake his hand and calls him "Carrie," Cobb pushes Bungy's hand away. When he comes close again, Cobb slaps him and chases him toward the clubhouse.

The groundskeeper's wife runs out of the clubhouse, which she has been cleaning, and yells at Cobb. He grabs her and begins to choke her. Husky Tigers catcher Boss Schmidt, who reputedly had fought an exhibition fight against future heavyweight champ Jack Johnson, intervenes and stops Cobb from hurting her further. Then Cobb and Schmidt get into a fight until separated by their teammates, who generally side with Schmidt.

That night, Detroit manager Hughie Jennings tries to trade Cobb to Cleveland for outfielder Elmer Flick, the 1905 American League batting champion. But he's turned down because Cleveland manager Nap Lajoie thinks Cobb is a troublemaker.

1985: Boston Bruins legend Eddie Shore, the only defenseman to win the NHL's MVP award four times, dies at age 82 in Springfield, Mass. A Hall of Famer, Shore's win-at-any-cost attitude made him the most feared player of the late twenties and thirties.

Renowned for his combative play and devastating body checks, Shore received as well as he gave out. He suffered 978 stitches, 14 broken noses and five broken jaws.

Nicknamed "The Edmonton Express," Shore played on two Stanley Cup champions with the Bruins. He scored 105 goals and 284 points in 550 games. He won his four Hart Trophies in 1933, 1935, 1936 and 1938. In December 1939, he was traded from the Bruins to the New York Americans and soon retired. He then bought the Springfield Indians in the American Hockey League.

"He was the Babe Ruth of the Bruins," a Boston Globe writer said.
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March 17
1965: Amos Alonzo Stagg, the grand old man of football, dies at age 102 of uremic poisoning in a rest home in Stockton, Calif.

As an end for Yale, Stagg was on the first All-American team back in 1889. After quitting divinity school in 1890 he began a 70-year career as a football coach, the first 57 as a head coach.

He is considered the most compelling single force for the tactical growth and ethical elevation of the game. Among his innovations were the forward pass and the T-formation.

In 41 years (1892-1932) at the University of Chicago, his teams won six Big Ten championships and had five unbeaten seasons. Then he coached the College of the Pacific for 14 years. His overall record is 314-199-35.

Rather than retire, he became an assistant coach for 13 years before finally retiring on Sept. 16, 1960 at the age of 98.

1955: NHL president Clarence Campbell, who had suspended Canadiens star Maurice Richard for the remainder of the season for striking a linesman four days earlier, is pelted with fruits, eggs and shoes during a game in Montreal.

When the first period ends with the Detroit Red Wings leading 4-1, a smoke bomb explodes near Campbell. A riot ensues as thousands of fans and Campbell head for the exits. Campbell is attacked by a man who is then arrested by police.

The game is forfeited to Detroit, 4-1.

A not-so-funny thing happens on the way from the Forum. As the crowd pours on to St. Catherine Street, the hooligans turn to vandalism. They break windows and loot stores. It is hours before the police have things under control. More than 60 are arrested.
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March 18
College basketball
In the days when the NIT is king of college basketball, underdog City College of New York eliminated 1949 winner San Francisco in the first round, upset Kentucky in the second round, and routed Duquesne in the semifinals. But it appears the Beavers' magic might have run out tonight as they fall 11 points behind No. 1-ranked Bradley late in the first half of the final.

Then Norman Mager comes off the bench and sparks a 9-1 CCNY rally, cutting Bradley's lead to 30-27 at the half. The rejuvenated Beavers go on to claim the title with a 69-61 victory before a capacity crowd of 18,000 at Madison Square Garden.

Nat Holman's club wins despite shooting only 29-of-76 (38.2 percent) from the field and 11-of-28 (39.3 percent) from the foul line. Irwin Dambrot leads the Beavers with 23 points and Ed Warner, the tournament's outstanding player, scores 19.

Ten days later, the two teams will meet again at the Garden -- this time for the NCAA title. CCNY wins again, 71-68, with five players scoring in double figures. The Beavers are the only team to sweep the NIT and NCAA in the same season.

It's the Montreal Canadiens' 50th -- and final -- game of the season and their star right wing, Maurice Richard, needs a goal to become the first NHL player to score 50 goals in a season.

There's less than three minutes left in the game in Boston and "The Rocket" still is stuck on 49. But with 2:15 remaining, the fiery Richard takes a pass from Elmer Lach and scores to achieve the milestone.

Richard's goal ties the game 2-2 and Montreal goes on to win 4-2, with Richard setting up the winning goal by Toe Blake 57 seconds after his score.

It will be 36 seasons until another NHL player (Mike Bossy) will score 50 goals in the season's first 50 games.
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March 19
College basketball
Texas Western becomes the first NCAA champion to start five African-Americans, upsetting No.-1 ranked Kentucky's all-white team of Adolph Rupp in the final in College Park, Md.

Texas Western coach Don Haskins makes one change in his starting lineup: He uses three guards against the small but speedy Wildcats. Bobby Joe Hill, Texas Western's 5-foot-10 bolt of lightning in the backcourt, sets the tone early in the 72-65 victory when he twice steals the ball from Kentucky players and scores layups.

The Miners take the lead midway in the first half and never relinquish it, though Kentucky gets within a point early in the second half. Texas Western, which was ranked No. 3 going into the tournament, finishes with a 28-1 record.

Hill leads all scorers with 20 points, while 6-foot-7, 240-pound center Dave ("Big Daddy") Lattin gets 16 points and grabs nine rebounds and guard Orsten ("Little O") Artis has 15 points and eight rebounds. Kentucky's Pat Riley and Lou Dampier each score 19, though Riley shoots 8-of-22 from the field.

"I'm just a young punk," Haskins says. "It was a thrill playing against Mr. Rupp, let alone beating him."

For playing nobody but blacks in beating an all-white team, Haskins reportedly will receive 40,000 pieces of hate mail and a dozen death threats.

Pro basketball
Michael Jordan had informed the NBA of his return with a brief fax. "I'm back," the statement said.

It's the comeback story of the nineties. Indiana Pacers coach Larry Brown says, "The Beatles and Elvis are back."

Not exactly, but close. After taking off 21 months to play minor-league baseball and golf, Jordan is back at guard for the Chicago Bulls. His Airness doesn't walk on water in his return. He shoots only 7-of-28 from the field and scores 19 points in 43 grueling minutes in the Bulls' 103-96 overtime loss to the Pacers in Indianapolis.

"As you can see, my shot is a little off," says Jordan, who wears No. 45 instead of No. 23, which is hanging from the rafters at Chicago Stadium. The No. 45 is his baseball and junior high school number.

After the game, Jordan blasts some of the young players in the NBA for their arrogant and crude behavior.

Leading the Toronto Maple Leafs 1-0 after the first period, the Buffalo Sabres bust out for nine goals in the second period. Center Gil Perreault leads the onslaught with a hat trick as the Sabres set an NHL record for most goals in a period. Toronto netminder Michel Larocque, who had recently been obtained from Montreal, yields all nine goals.

The Leafs score three goals in the period as the teams set a record of 12 goals in one period.

The Sabres score four more goals in the third period and skate to a 14-4 rout in Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo. Andre Savard gets the final goal to complete his hat trick and finishes the game with six points. "A great, beautiful night," Savard says.
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March 20
Several ring deaths in the past year, including Jimmy Doyle's at the hands of welterweight champ Sugar Ray Robinson, lead to the National Boxing Association adopting a 21-point safety program designed for the protection of all fighters under its jurisdiction.

Among the new rules are more thorough physical examinations, a minimum of six weeks elapsed before a knocked-out boxer can fight again, a mandatory eight-count after knockdowns and the use of eight-ounce gloves.

In a move that would remove consistent losers and washed-up fighters from the sport, the committee decided that in case of repeated knockdowns and beatings, the boxer would be forced to retire.

Pro basketball
In his second season with Milwaukee, Lew Alcindor wins the first of his record six MVP awards. The Bucks, who were 27-55 before drafting Alcindor, improved to 56-26 last season and a league-best 66-16 this year with the 7-foot-2 center.

Playing in all 82 games, Alcindor wins the first of back-to-back scoring titles with his 31.7 average. He is second in the NBA in field-goal percentage at .577 and fourth in rebounding with 16 per game.

The Bucks will go 12-2 in the playoffs, sweeping the Baltimore Bullets in the Finals to win the NBA championship. Alcindor, who will change his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the fall, will be named the Finals MVP.

March 21
College basketball
1964: The dynasty begins. Unbeaten UCLA, which has no starter taller than 6-foot-5, harasses Duke into committing 24 turnovers in the NCAA final. The Bruins score 16 consecutive points late in the first half to take a 43-30 lead on the way to a stunningly easy 98-83 victory before 10,864 fans in Kansas City.

Sharp-shooting guard Gail Goodrich leads the offense with a game-high 27 points and Ken Washington comes off the bench to score 26 and grab a game-high 12 rebounds. Their fast-break attack and pressing defense is led by guard Walt Hazzard, who is voted the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.

At 30-0, UCLA is only the third team to go through a season undefeated and win the national title. (San Francisco in 1956 and North Carolina in 1957 were the first two.) This is the first of 10 titles in 12 seasons for coach John Wooden's Bruins.

March 22
College basketball
1969: The Lew Alcindor era ends with UCLA climbing one more Mount-ain. With Alcindor scoring 37 points and grabbing 20 rebounds, the Bruins beat Rick Mount's Purdue team, 92-72, in the NCAA final in Louisville.

It is the third consecutive championship for the Bruins, who are the first team to win five NCAA titles. Alcindor is named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player for the third straight year, the only player to ever earn that achievement.

In Alcindor's three seasons, UCLA goes 88-2 -- 30-0 in his sophomore season and 29-1 in each of his last two years. While the 7-foot-2 center is performing so adroitly in the final, his father plays the trombone in the UCLA band.

Auto racing
1974: Peter Revson, the nephew of the founder of Revlon cosmetics, dies at age 35 when his car crashes at 160 mph and bursts into flames during a practice run in Johannesburg for the South Africa Grand Prix.

Witnesses say a faulty steering mechanism appears to be the reason for the crash. Revson is the ninth top driver to be killed since 1970.

Revson was a dashing bachelor who often was linked romantically with beautiful women. His most recent steady girlfriend was Marjorie Wallace, the first American to be crowned Miss World. Despite his jet-set, playboy image, Revson took auto-racing seriously.

"It was the most important thing in his life," said George Follmer, a fellow driver and Revson's closest friend on the racing circuit. "I know he didn't crash because he made a mistake. He just didn't make mistakes."
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March 23
College basketball
1957: In the NCAA finals, unbeaten North Carolina starts the game by having 5-foot-10 Tommy Kearns jump center against Kansas' 7-1 Goliath, Wilt Chamberlain. The sophomore center has an easier time with the tap than he does against the Tar Heels' collapsing defense, with 6-9 Joe Quigg playing in front of him and other defenders leaving their zone to surround him.

The strategy works, as Chamberlain is limited to 13 shots (making six) in the three-overtime game in Kansas City. Though he scores a game-high 23 points, his teammates, as Chamberlain says, "couldn't put a pea in the ocean."

Second-ranked Kansas leads 46-43 with 1:45 left in the second half when N.C.'s leading scorer Len Rosenbluth (20 points) fouls out. But the Tar Heels score three points to force an overtime. In the first extra period, each team only scores two points, with Chamberlain's basket tying the game. The second overtime is scoreless.

With six seconds left in the third overtime and N.C. down by a point, Quigg is on the foul line. Quigg nervously makes the two free throws and after he knocks away a pass intended for Chamberlain, the Tar Heels have a 54-53 victory, capping their 32-0 season.

1994: Wayne Gretzky, who already has broken Gordie Howe's record for most points in NHL history, snaps another one of his boyhood idol's vaunted marks before a crowd at the L.A. Forum that includes recent Oscar winner Tom Hanks. Against the Vancouver Canucks on the power play, Gretzky tips a pass into the net for his 802nd goal, putting him one up on Howe as the NHL's all-time leading goal scorer.

Gretzky scores his 802 goals in 1,117 games, while it took Howe 1,767 games to notch his 801. Gretzky has had 183 multi-goal games, 179 power-play goals and 72 short-handed goals.

At a center-ice ceremony honoring the Los Angeles Kings center, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman gives Gretzky a book with a score sheet of every game in which he scored a goal.

"You've always been the Great One," Bettman says, "but tonight you've become the greatest."

March 24
College basketball
1962: In the second consecutive all-Ohio NCAA final, Cincinnati again upsets top-ranked Ohio State. The Bearcats keep their crown with a 71-59 victory in Louisville as center Paul Hogue outplays Jerry Lucas, the Buckeyes' three-time All-American, who is hobbled by a knee injury suffered in last night's semifinal.

The 6-foot-8, 240-pound Hogue, the only senior on Cincinnati's starting five, is the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player. He scores 22 points and grabs 19 rebounds in the final, compared to Lucas' 11 points (5-of-17 from the field) and 16 rebounds. Lucas' teammate, second-team All-American John Havlicek, also scores 11.

Cincinnati's disciplined starting five of Hogue, clever guards Tom Thacker (21 points) and Tony Yates, and sophomore forwards Ron Bonham and George Wilson give an iron-man performance, with no subs playing until less than two minutes remain in the game. In winning their 18th consecutive game, coach Ed Jucker's team finishes 29-2. Ohio State is 29-2, and 78-6 in the Lucas era.

Pro Basketball
1962: Bill Russell easily beats archrival Wilt Chamberlain at the ballot box again despite Wilt averaging 50.4 points. The Boston Celtics' 6-foot-9½ center wins his second consecutive MVP. It is his third MVP; he will finish with five.

In voting by the 27-man committee representing the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, Russell receives 19 first-place votes and a total of 283 points. Chamberlain draws five first-place votes and 174 points. Cincinnati guard Oscar Robertson, who averaged a triple double for the season, finishes third with three first-place votes and 160 points.

In leading the Celtics to a league-best record of 60-20, Russell finishes second in the NBA in rebounding with his 23.6 average and averages 18.9 points.

1936: Game 1 of the semifinal Stanley Cup series between the Red Wings and Montreal Maroons becomes a hockey marathon, going six overtimes. Detroit goalie Norman Smith, whom Montreal considered a weak link, is sensational, making 92 saves and earning a spot in "The Guinness Book of World Records."

Then it's a case of Mud splattering Montreal. It's almost 2:30 the next morning when rookie Mud Bruneteau scores in the sixth overtime to give Detroit a 1-0 victory. Bruneteau, who had been recalled a few weeks ago to play part-time on the third line, takes a pass from Hector Kilrea and beats Montreal goalie Lorne Chabot, who had 66 saves. The longest game in NHL history -- 176 minutes and 30 seconds -- is finally over in Montreal.

The Red Wings will win the best-of-five series 3-0 and go on to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 in the Stanley Cup final.

March 25
1958: Six months after losing the middleweight title to Carmen Basilio, Sugar Ray Robinson regains the crown in Chicago. In their bloody rematch, Robinson, a 2-1 underdog, takes a split decision, though most observers don't believe the fight is that close.

By the sixth round, Basilio's left eye is swollen, and by the seventh, it's almost completely shut. When the fight's over, Basilio's eye is grotesque looking, swollen to the size of a discolored billiard ball. Basilio says he had trouble seeing out of it from the fourth round. "I couldn't get my distance right," he says.

Besides both judges voting for Robinson, 30 of 32 ringside reporters also see the fight that way. At 36, Sugar Ray wins the middleweight title for an unprecedented fifth time.

1982: Wayne Gretzky, 21 and in his third NHL season, becomes the first player to crack the 200-point barrier. Two assists put him over 200 and then the Great One scores two short-handed goals 27 seconds apart in Edmonton's 7-2 victory over Calgary. The four points boost Gretzky's total to 203.

"He never thinks about scoring; he's playing for the team and not himself," Oilers coach Glen Sather says. "That's what makes him the player he is. He doesn't want to lose in anything."

Gretzky will tack on two more goals and nine assists before the season ends to finish with a record 92 goals and 212 points. Gretzky will score more than 200 points in three other seasons, with a high of 215 in 1985-86. No other player will ever reach 200.

1970: Five days ago, Bob Lanier, a 6-foot-11 All-American center for St. Bonaventure, was the first player picked in the NBA draft, two spots ahead of Pistol Pete Maravich and three in front of Dave Cowens. Today he signs with the Detroit Pistons for the largest contract ever for a pro athlete -- reportedly $1.5 million for five years.

Lanier had spurned a reported $2-million-plus offer from the rival New York Nets in the ABA.

"It's great to be in the NBA," Lanier says at his press conference in Buffalo. "I've had a lot of guidance from Willis Reed and I feel there's more prestige and competition in the NBA."

Lanier will have a distinguished 14-year career with the Pistons (9-plus seasons) and Bucks, averaging 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds on his way to the Hall of Fame.
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March 26
College Basketball
1979: In the first meeting of two legends, Magic Johnson wins both the battle and the war against Larry Bird. Magic scores a game-high 24 points as Michigan State cages Bird and his Indiana State teammates, 75-64, in the NCAA final.

Magic also grabs seven rebounds and has five assists as he controls the game from the beginning.

The loss is the first for Indiana State after 33 victories, and the point total is a season low. With Michigan State (26-6) using a 2-3 matchup zone defense, Bird is held to 19 points, shooting just 7-for-21 from the field, and has six turnovers and only two assists. When the game's over, Bird cries, a towel pressed to his face.

Magic, a sophomore, wins the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player award, while Bird, a senior, was the College Player of the Year. This will be the last college game for both players, who will continue their rivalry in the NBA.

Pro Basketball
1972: Earlier in the season, the Los Angeles Lakers set a pro sports record with 33 consecutive victories. Tonight, the Lakers close out the season with a record-setting 69th victory, routing the Seattle SuperSonics, 124-98, in the Forum.

The Lakers (69-13), with Chamberlain at center, replace another Wilt team in the record book. Chamberlain's Philadelphia 1966-67 team went 68-13. In 81 of their 82 games, coach Bill Sharman's Lakers score at least 100 points, another NBA record. Also, their road winning percentage of .816 (31-7) is the NBA's best ever.

Despite gaining the NBA Finals seven times in the past 10 years, the Lakers haven't won the championship since moving from Minneapolis in 1960. It will change this year, as the Lakers of Jerry West, Gail Goodrich and Chamberlain will beat the Knicks in five games.

The Lakers' record of 69 victories will last until 1995-96, when the Chicago Bulls will go 72-10.
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March 27
College Basketball
1978: Kentucky senior Jack Givens, who grew up 10 minutes from campus, averaged 17 points going into the NCAA final. Tonight, the 6-foot-4 forward busts out in a big way.

The sweet shooting Givens, nicknamed Goose because he resembles former Globetrotters star Goose Tatum, bedevils Duke's zone defense. He scores 41 points, third highest in an NCAA final, as the Wildcats win 94-88 for their first NCAA championship in 20 years. Hitting mostly on short jump shots and assorted moves by the basket, the left-handed shooter connects on 18-for-27 field-goal attempts.

"Duke was attacking our guards and left a big gap inside, so we got the ball to who was hot, and that was Givens," says coach Joe B. Hall after winning his first title.

Givens scores 23 points in the first half, including Kentucky's final 16 when it goes from a one-point lead to a 45-38 halftime advantage against the young Blue Devils in St. Louis. Givens continues his hot shooting in the second half and wins the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player award.

Pro Baseball
1902: Chicago's National League team has a problem: Its nickname. In its first 26 years in the league, the team has been referred to as the White Stockings, Colts, Orphans or -- worst of all -- the Remnants, a moniker that almost begs you to finish last. None of the nicknames have captured the public's imagination or flattered the team.

In today's "Chicago Daily News," a reporter calls the team Cubs, the first use of the nickname. It will take several years before Cubs becomes commonly used.

March 28
College basketball
1992: Duke's Christian Laettner shows he's not perfect when, with eight minutes left in the second half of the East Regional final, he stomps on the chest of a fallen Kentucky player, drawing a technical. But when it comes to shooting in the game, Laettner is perfect.

The shot that will be remembered as long as the game is replayed is Laettner's last one, the one that just beats the overtime buzzer in Philadelphia. Kentucky had just taken a one-point lead on Sean Woods' bank shot with two seconds left.

After a timeout, Duke's Grant Hill is left unguarded (Kentucky coach Rick Pitino's decision) and he flings the inbounds pass some 80 feet to a leaping Laettner, who's near the foul line with his back to the basket. The 6-foot-11 senior takes one dribble, fakes right, turns to his left and hits a 17-foot jumper to give Duke a 104-103 victory and its fifth consecutive trip to the Final Four.

Laettner, who makes two field goals and four foul shots in the final two minutes, finishes with 31 points on 10-for-10 shooting from both the field (including one 3-pointer) and the foul line.

March 29
College basketball
1982: The legend begins. In the NCAA final, before 61,612 fans in the Superdome, freshman Michael Jordan hits the first of many money shots. With his tongue hanging out and his legs going straight up, Jordan's jump shot with 15 seconds left gives North Carolina a 63-62 lead over Georgetown for the national championship.

Trailing by a point and working against Georgetown's zone defense, anchored by center Patrick Ewing, the Tar Heels' first two options are to get the ball inside to either James Worthy or Sam Perkins. But with the two big men blanketed, point guard Jimmy Black spots Jordan free on the left side, about 16 feet from the basket.

"I wasn't nervous," the freshman says. "All I wanted to do was follow through right."

The victory is clinched when Georgetown guard Freddie Brown inexplicably passes directly to Worthy with seven seconds left. The win gives coach Dean Smith his first NCAA championship in seven Final Four appearances.

Worthy, not Jordan, is named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player after scoring a game-high 28 points (13-of-17 from the field) in the final. Jordan, who scores 16 and grabs a team-high nine rebounds, will win a few other awards in the future.

1954: Sometimes, honesty is not the best policy if you want to keep your job, especially if you're the manager of the inept Chicago Cubs.

In his 21st season with the organization, manager Phil Cavaretta says the Cubs, who finished seventh last season, have no chance this year. The honest assessment of the team so angers owner Phil Wrigley that he fires Cavaretta today for his defeatist attitude.

"When he picked everyone but us to finish in the first division he was licked before he started," Wrigley says. "He said he did not have the kind of players he wanted. He had sort of given up on the boys, feeling that they weren't pennant material."

Cavaretta says, "I thought it my duty to give Mr. Wrigley frank views on the club's ability. I told him that our catching staff was shaky. I reminded him that only a couple of our young players looked like prospects and that some of our regulars were getting along in baseball age. If that's a defeatist attitude, then I'm guilty."

With Stan Hack replacing Cavaretta, the Cubs with fulfill their former manager's prophecy and finish seventh again.

March 30
College basketball
1987: One is a former employee at McDonald's, cooking hamburgers after he graduated from high school. The other is a former McDonald's high school All-American. Want to guess who's the hero and who's the goat in the NCAA final?

Indiana guard Keith Smart, the former Big Mac maker, cooks Syracuse's goose with a 15-foot jump shot from the left baseline with five seconds left to give the Hoosiers a 74-73 victory. Smart, after scoring just four points in the first half, pours in 17 in the second half, including a basket that pulls Indiana to 73-72 with 30 seconds left.

Then he intentionally fouls the McDonald's All American, freshman forward Derrick Coleman, with 28 seconds remaining. While Coleman has performed yeoman work on the boards, pulling down a game-high 19 rebounds, he puts up a brick from the foul line, giving Indiana the chance to win.

The NCAA title is the third for Indiana coach Bob Knight. Only UCLA's John Wooden (10) and Kentucky's Adolph Rupp (four) have won more.

1966: Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, who led the Los Angeles Dodgers to the world championship last season, have defied baseball by bargaining collectively. The two pitchers sought three-year contracts worth $500,000 each. Today, they end their 32-day holdout.

Koufax, who was 26-8 and struck out a record 382 batters last season, signs for $125,000, a raise of $40,000. Drysdale, who was 23-12, receives $110,000, a raise of $30,000. They are baseball's two highest paid pitchers and trail only Willie Mays in salary.

New York columnist Red Smith will write: "Koufax and Drysdale defied the name of the game by trying to bargain collectively and by bringing in a lawyer to talk for them. Under the law, coal miners may bargain collectively, but not ballplayers. Under the law, a rape-murderer must have legal counsel, but not a ballplayer."

1969: On the eve of his 41st birthday, Gordie Howe reaches 100 points for the only time in his 26-year National Hockey League career when he scores four points in the Detroit Red Wings' season finale, a 9-5 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Playing in all 76 games, the durable right wing finishes with 103 points on 44 goals and 59 assists. This is the first season any NHL player gets 100 points, and Howe finishes third in the scoring race behind Boston Bruins center Phil Esposito (126 points) and Chicago left wing Bobby Hull (107 points).

March 31
College football
1931: Knute Rockne, a brilliant innovator as the Notre Dame football coach, was scheduled to fly to Los Angeles, where he was to appear in a football movie. But Rockne never makes it.

His 10-passenger Trans-Continental & Western Airways plane takes off from Kansas City, leaving 45 minutes late after waiting for mail connections. Before it reaches Wichita, a wing rips loose from the plane, which crashes into a pasture near Bazaar, Kansas. Rockne and the seven others on board are killed.

Rockne had been a star end for Notre Dame, one of the first outstanding receivers in the country. After graduating in 1914, he became an assistant coach for the Irish, and in 1918 he became the head coach. He had five undefeated seasons, including his last two, and won three consensus national titles in 13 seasons. His winning percentage of .881 (105-12-5) remains the best ever in college football. Knute Rockne was 43.
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