December Classic Moments

Each day, ESPN will highlight one or more "Classic Moments," the biggest sports news event of the day in the 20th century. Check back as each new day's highlights are posted on this page.

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Other months:

December 1
College Football:
With the Commander-in-Chief in attendance, two Army juniors sack Navy. Mr. Inside (Doc Blanchard) and Mr. Outside (Glenn Davis) score all five Cadet touchdowns in a 32-13 rout at Municipal Stadium in Philadelphia.

Along with President Harry Truman in the crowd of 100,000-plus are such decorated war heroes as Generals George Marshall, Omar Bradley and James Doolittle as well as Admirals Chester Nimitz and Bull Halsey. In the first half, President Truman sits on the Army side and watches Blanchard score the game's first two touchdowns - on runs of one and 17 yards - and Davis speed 48 yards for a third score as Army takes a 20-0 lead in the first quarter.

The President switches to Navy's side in the second half, but it doesn't help the 27-point underdogs. On the opening possession of the third quarter, Blanchard intercepts a pass and returns it 46 yards for a touchdown to boost Army's lead to 26-7. Davis scores the Cadets' final TD on a 28-yard run in the fourth quarter.

The game is a historical one from a television perspective: NBC, with only minor mishaps, shows the game to two of its distant stations - WNBT in New York and WRGB in Schenectady - as well to WPTZ in Philadelphia. This is the first time an event in one city is televised any greater distance than, say, between New York and Newark, N.J.

December 2
College Football:
For the only time in the 20th century, the same player wins a second Heisman Trophy. Ohio State senior running back Archie Griffin collects the award for the second consecutive season after running for more than 100 yards in 10 of 11 games.

During the past 41 years five juniors had won the Heisman - Doc Blanchard, Doak Walker, Vic Janowicz, Roger Staubach and Griffin - but only Griffin repeats. "I heard about the Heisman jinx all year," he says. "I worked harder than ever to make sure the jinx didn't happen again."

The 184-pound Griffin is the first major college player to run for 5,000 yards, gaining 5,177, including a record 31 consecutive 100-yard games. He rushes for 1,357 yards this season - down from last year's 1,620 - but it's still good enough for him to compile more Heisman votes than the second and third-place finishers, Cal's Chuck Muncie and USC's Ricky Bell, combined.
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December 3
College Basketball:
Wilt Chamberlain's varsity debut is a smashing success as he scores a Kansas record 52 points. The Stilt notches the Jayhawks' first 11 points in an 87-69 victory over Northwestern.

Chamberlain lives up to his rave notices by connecting on 20-of-29 field-goal attempts, many of them dunks. The sophomore center scores 25 points in the first half and 27 in the second. He also sets another school record by grabbing 31 rebounds before being removed with 31 seconds left to a standing ovation from the 12,000 fans in Allen Field House in Lawrence, Kan.

1966: Exactly 10 years to the day later, another 7-footer makes a loud noise in his varsity debut. Lew Alcindor (who will later change his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) scores a UCLA record 56 points as the Bruins beat USC, 105-90, in Pauley Pavilion.

After connecting on 23-of-32 from the field and 10-of-14 from the foul line, the sophomore center downplays his performance. "My shooting was only adequate," he says. "I could have done better. And my defense was poor, too. I need to work on it."

Maybe Alcindor doesn't please himself, but his coach is impressed. "He was just awesome on offense," says John Wooden.
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December 4
College Football:
After leading the nation in total offense, Dick Kazmaier, Princeton's brilliant tailback in the single wing, is the last Ivy Leaguer to win the Heisman Trophy. The 21-year-old, 171-pound senior is a runaway winner at the ballot box, getting more votes than the next six players in the voting combined.

Kazmaier accounted for 1,827 total yards - 861 on the ground and 966 in the air - as he led Princeton to its second consecutive unbeaten season and Ivy League championship.

The trainer at Princeton will not allow any athlete to wear Kazmaier's No. 42 until Bill Bradley plays basketball at the university in the '60s.

College Football:
Exactly five years to the day after Kazmaier's triumph, another Golden Boy wins the Heisman. Notre Dame quarterback Paul Hornung becomes the only player from a losing team (2-8) to ever win the trophy.

Hornung edges out Tennessee's Johnny Majors and Oklahoma's Tommy McDonald. Syracuse's Jim Brown finishes fifth.

Hornung was second in the nation on offense, while leading the Irish in rushing, passing, scoring, kickoff returns, punt returns, punting, playing time and passes broken up. In the 22-year history of the award, he is the third Notre Dame quarterback (Angelo Bertelli and Johnny Lujack are the others) and the fifth Irish player (Leon Hart and Johnny Lattner) to win it.

College Football:
As a freshman, Herschel Walker finished third in the Heisman voting (behind George Rogers and Hugh Green). As a sophomore, the muscular running back came in second (behind Marcus Allen). Today, the arithmetical progression continues, and the Georgia junior wins the award, beating out Stanford quarterback John Elway and SMU running back Eric Dickerson.

With his 1,752 yards rushing, the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder was the nation's second leading runner (behind Oklahoma State's Earnest Anderson). After gaining only 20 yards on 11 carries in the opener when he played with a cast on his fractured right thumb, Walker ran for at least 124 yards in each of his 10 other games.

At the ceremony in New York, Walker is touched by the segments on the late Ernie Davis and when John Cappelletti donated his trophy to his younger brother, Joey, who was dying of leukemia. "I hope I can walk with people like them," Walker says about the former Heisman winners.

Though Walker says he will play his senior year at Georgia, he will change his mind and sign with the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League.

Consistency has been the hallmark of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: He's scored in double digits in 787 consecutive regular-season games over 10 years - until tonight.

The Los Angeles Lakers' center, the NBA's all-time leading scorer, is held to seven points by his former team, the Milwaukee Bucks, in an 85-83 Laker loss in Milwaukee.

Abdul-Jabbar shoots 3-of-10 from the field.

His double-digit record will last for a decade, until it's broken by - who else? - Michael Jordan.
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December 5
It appears that journeyman Jersey Joe Walcott has scored a stunning upset over heavyweight champ Joe Louis. The 10-1 underdog knocks Louis down in the first round, and again in the fourth.

While Walcott backpedals for a good part of the fight - he practically refrains from fighting the last two rounds, thinking he has the bout already won - he still controls the action. He causes the Brown Bomber's nose to bleed and makes his left eye a crevice in a blue-edged lump. After the 15th round, Louis attempts to exit the ring, thinking he has lost. The sellout crowd of 18,194 in Madison Square Garden believes the same.

But then the announcement is made that Louis has retained his title in a split decision. The champ is booed. Both fighters are surprised by the verdict.

"Joe knew I won," Walcott says. "He said, 'I'm sorry.' "

When told what Walcott says, Louis replies, "I'm sorry it was such a bad fight. History generally repeats. I do better in my second fight."

Louis does. Six months later, he will knock out Walcott in the 11th round.

Minnesota kicker Fred Cox ties the NFL record by scoring in his 110th consecutive game and also extends his league mark by booting a field goal in his 31st straight contest.

Cox's kicks make the difference as the Vikings defeat the Chicago Bears, 16-13, in Bloomington, Minn., to win their third consecutive NFC Central title. Despite gusting winds of 25 miles per hour, nine-degree temperature and a wind-chill factor of minus 33 degrees, Cox kicks field goals of 21 and 23 yards in the first half and a 10-yarder in the fourth quarter.

Cox pays a price for his performance. On the kickoff after his first field goal, he is the recipient of a vicious blindside forearm from the Bears' George Seals and plays the rest of the game with a puffy lip and swollen nose.
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December 6
College Football:
In a battle of Southwest Conference unbeatens, top-ranked Texas rallies from 14 points down to defeat No. 2 Arkansas, 15-14, before a sellout crowd of 44,000 that includes President Richard Nixon.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Texas quarterback James Street is unable to find an open receiver and takes off on an electrifying 42-yard touchdown run. Then the gutty senior scores on the two-point conversion.

Late in the fourth quarter, on fourth-and-three on its own 43-yard line, Texas coach Darrell Royal eschews the punt and gambles. Street fakes a handoff and finds the avenue to success in a long pass to Randy Peschel. It's complete for a 44-yard gain to the Arkansas 13.

"Every now and then you have just have to suck it up and pick a number," says the usually conservative Royal. "You don't use logic and reason; you just play a hunch."

Two plays later, Jim Bertelsen scores on a two-yard run with 3:58 left and Happy Feller kicks the extra point that makes just about everybody in Texas a happy fella.

After the Longhorns' 19th consecutive victory, President Nixon presents Texas with a championship plaque, much to the distress of Penn State, which also is unbeaten.

"The Galloping Ghost" comes to New York, and a crowd estimated at 70,000 comes to see him. Red Grange's presence at the Polo Grounds helps save the financially troubled Giants franchise.

Signed by the Chicago Bears two weeks earlier, the three-time Illinois All-American also profits from the huge crowd, with The New York Times reporting that the running back receives $30,000 for the game.

Grange scores a touchdown on a 35-yard interception return in the Bears' 19-7 victory. Offensively, he runs for 53 yards on 11 carries, catches a 23-yard pass and completes two-of-three passes for 32 yards.

To take advantage of Grange turning pro, the Bears have concocted a hybrid schedule - part regular season, part exhibitions - in which they play 19 games in 67 days. The first segment of the frantic tour has them playing 10 games in 18 days in the East and Midwest. After a two-week break the Bears will play nine games in the South and on the West Coast.

Grange will play in 17 games and earn an estimated $100,000.
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December 7
After the rubber match, it's the fans and media who are crying "No Mas." In a boring 12-rounder in which Roberto Duran shows little inclination to fight, Sugar Ray Leonard dances and jabs his way to a unanimous decision in retaining his WBC super middleweight title in Las Vegas.

At 38, Duran appears to have neither heart nor "hands of stone." He connects on only 14 percent of his punches, just 84 of 588. Only one does any damage, a right that cuts Leonard's left eye in the 11th round. Meanwhile, Leonard connects on 227-of-438 (52 percent), though most of them are jabs that hurt Duran's pride more than his face.

The big difference between this fight and Leonard-Duran II nine years ago is that Duran stays for the finish this time. About the only person who doesn't think Leonard is an easy winner is Duran, who throws more excuses than punches and claims he has been robbed.

Actually, the only people who appear to have been robbed are the fans who paid to watch the lackluster fight.

In his 30th season, 49-year-old Gordie Howe becomes the first to score 1,000 goals, including regular season and playoffs in both the National Hockey League and World Hockey Association. In his first year with the New England Whalers of the WHA, Howe is standing to the left of the net during a power play when he pounces on a bouncing puck off a rebound and drills it past Birmingham Bulls goaltender John Garrett at 1:36 of the first period. It's his first goal in 11 games.

"Thank God it's over," says Howe after the Whalers' 6-3 victory in Birmingham. "I'm a lucky boy. All my dreams have been answered."

Howe scored 786 regular-season and 68 playoff goals in 25 years with the Detroit Red Wings before notching 121 regular-season and 19 playoff goals with the Houston Aeros of the WHA. Tonight's goal is his sixth with the Whalers.

Five seasons ago the NBA started selecting all-defensive teams. Known more for his sharpshooting, Jerry West also was a terror defensively. After being named to the second team in the first season (1968-69), the Los Angeles Lakers 6-foot-3 guard was voted to the first team the last four years.

This is the first season the league officially keeps track of steals, and the 35-year-old West becomes the first player to record 10 thefts in a game. Though the Lakers lose, 115-111, to the Seattle SuperSonics in the Forum, West is all over the court. Besides his steals, the 14-year veteran, playing his final season, contributes 27 points, five assists and five rebounds.

For the rest of the century, only one NBA player will ever make more steals in a game - Larry Kenon of San Antonio will get 11 on Dec. 26, 1976.
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December 8
Winners on the field, the Philadelphia Athletics have been losers off it. Despite winning four American League pennants in the past five years, they have had difficulty drawing fans. Needing money, owner-manager Connie Mack is letting his high-priced stars jump ship or he's selling them in a fire sale. Already, standout pitchers Eddie Plank and Chief Bender have left the Athletics and signed with the Federal League.

Today, for the unheard price of $50,000, Mack sells his star second baseman, Eddie Collins, to the Chicago White Sox. Collins is in his prime at 27 and has batted above .340 five of the past six years. Fearing he might jump to the Federal League, the White Sox ink him to a huge contract - a $75,000, five-year contract that includes a $15,000 signing bonus.

"I am pleased to say I am making more money than I ever thought I would be able to earn in my life," Collins says.

While the future Hall of Famer will help the White Sox win the 1917 World Series and the American League pennant in 1919, Mack's Athletics will finish last the next seven seasons.
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December 9
College Football:
In the wake of a college football season in which 18 players died because of injury, President Teddy Roosevelt has sought to clean up the game. Meeting tonight in Philadelphia, the football rules committee heeds the President's request and vows to make the game safer.

The committee makes proposals "in favor of action leading to the opening of the game, lessening of the brutality and unnecessary roughness, the rendering of foul play unprofitable, and the placing of the officials under the control of a central governing body who should supervise their work."

If a player commits an act of brutality, which includes "slugging" and "kneeing," the delegates want to eject him for the rest of the half with no substitute allowed.

Seeking to open up the game, the committee recommends allowing forward passes from behind the line of scrimmage and that for a team to keep possession of the ball, it must gain 10 yards (instead of five) on three downs.
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December 10
In last year's NFL championship game, the Green Bay Packers lost to the New York Giants, 23-17. In today's title game, the Packers gain revenge. Dominating both lines, they overwhelm the Giants, 27-0, before a record crowd of 32,279 at State Fair Park in Milwaukee.

Despite winds gusting up to 35 miles per hour, the Packers complete 7-of-10 passes for 99 yards. Meanwhile, the defense intercepts six passes and holds the Giants to just 154 total yards and only seven first downs.

The Packers lead 7-0 at halftime when Arnie Herber fakes a throw to Don Hutson and hits Milt Gantenbein with a seven-yard touchdown pass. Then the Pack pours it on in the second half with two more touchdowns and two field goals.

"We were better today than we ever have been," says coach Curly Lambeau after Green Bay wins its fifth title in 11 seasons.

"Everything worked to perfection. Our boys were out to avenge that beating of last year. They had keyed themselves as few teams I have ever seen were keyed. There wasn't a club in the world that could beat our club today."
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December 11
For four years, starting late in his rookie season, Johnny Unitas threw a touchdown pass in every NFL regular-season game he played. The streak is at 47 games when his Baltimore Colts play in the Los Angeles Coliseum.

The ferocious charge put on by the Rams' Lou Michaels, Lamar Lundy and Les Richter has Unitas spending much of the afternoon looking at the L.A. sky. Also starring for the Rams is Ollie Matson, shifted to the defensive backfield after losing his starting fullback job.

The result is that Unitas' remarkable streak ends on the same field where it began on Dec. 9, 1956. "Records are made to be broken," Unitas says after the Colts' 10-3 loss.

Johnny U. does receive a consolation prize. By passing for 182 yards (on 17 completions in 38 attempts), he increases his season total to an NFL record 2,939, one more yard than Washington's Sammy Baugh passed for in 1947.
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December 12
With Red Grange sidelined with an arm injury, the fans in Detroit are offered refunds for the Panthers' game against Grange's Chicago Bears. More than two-thirds of the approximately 15,000 fans who bought tickets take advantage of the offer. While people like football, they like Grange better.

The NFL game attracts just 4,111 and management refunds approximately $18,000.

With his left arm in a sling, Grange, a three-time All-American with Illinois who signed with the Bears last month, leaves the sideline and walks out on the field at halftime of Detroit's 21-0 victory. When he is introduced to the crowd, some fans storm the field and he has to avoid many of his hero worshippers, who seem intent on yanking his good arm out of its socket.

Grange was first injured against St. Louis 10 days ago and then he reinjured his arm in games in Washington and Boston. The injury was diagnosed as a badly bruised arm muscle and ruptured blood vessel. The doctor ordered Grange to sit out a couple of games so as not to aggravate the injury.

1937: It's a triumph of Baugh over brawn, a victory for a red-hot quarterback on an ice-cold field. Ignoring the 15 degree temperature at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Washington rookie Slingin' Sammy Baugh completes 18-of-33 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns as the Redskins melt down the Bears, 28-21, for the NFL championship before 15,878 freezing fans.

Trailing the Bronko Nagurski-led Bears 14-7 at halftime, Baugh has probably the greatest quarter of his life. His seven completions in nine passes account for an incredible 220 yards. Three of his throws result in touchdowns.

The first is a 55-yarder to Wayne Millner to tie the game at 14-14. Then on the first play from scrimmage after the Bears regain the lead, he connects with Millner again, this time on a 77-yard bomb. Finally, on Washington's next possession, he caps his performance with a 35-yard strike to Ed Justice for the winning score.

Washington, which had waited 24 years for its first baseball championship, wins the NFL title in its maiden year in the league (the Redskins had moved from Boston after last season).

1982: The Miami Dolphins believe they are robbed in the snowplow game by a 24-year-old man who is serving a 15-year sentence for robbing a house and is now on a work release program from the prison.

Late in the fourth quarter, the New England Patriots are preparing to break a scoreless tie with a field goal when coach Ron Meyer waves Mark Henderson onto the field at Foxboro Stadium. Henderson fires up his yellow John Deere (Model 314) and heads for the Miami 23-yard line. Despite screams of protest from the Dolphins, Henderson runs a terrific sweep with his tractor-driven snowplow and clears the area for kicker John Smith.

Smith kicks a 33-yard field goal with 4:40 left. After the Patriots' 3-0 victory, livid Dolphins coach Don Shula says, "The officials shouldn't have let it happen."

Henderson says, "I figured, 'What's the most they could do? Put me in jail?' "
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December 13
College Football:
In the most touching scene in Heisman history, Penn State running back John Cappelletti dedicates the award to his 11-year-old brother.

"The youngest member of my family, Joseph, is very ill," Cappelletti says. "He has leukemia. If I can dedicate this trophy to him tonight and give him a couple of days happiness, this is worth everything.

"A lot of people think that I go through a lot during the week and on Saturdays . . . Only for me it is on Saturdays and it's only in the fall. For Joseph, it's all year round and it is a battle that is unending with him and he puts up with much more than I'll ever put up with."

Cappelletti breaks down and cries, and the audience weeps with him as he tries to give something to Joey. "I think that this trophy is more his than mine because he has been a great inspiration to me," he says.

In the audience, Joey Cappelletti smiles to let his brother know he understands.

Because sparse crowds attended the Boston Redskins' home games, the NFL plays its title game on a neutral field for the first time. While the contest at the Polo Grounds in New York draws 29,545 fans, it doesn't help the Redskins on the field.

They can't contain Green Bay's Arnold Herber, who throws two touchdown passes to lead the Packers to a 21-6 victory. Herber's first scoring strike - good for 48 yards - is to his favorite target, Don Hutson, in the first quarter.

After Boston closes to within 7-6 in the second period, Herber hits Johnny Blood with a 52-yard bomb on the opening drive of the second half. This sets up an eight-yard touchdown pass to Milt Gantenbein, making it 14-6. The Packers register their last touchdown early in the fourth quarter when Bob Monnett scores on a short run after a blocked punt gives the Pack possession on the Redskins' three-yard line.

The victory is worth about $250 to each Packer, while each Redskin receives about $180. The championship is Green Bay's fourth in eight seasons.
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December 14
Roger Maris, a two-time American League MVP who broke Babe Ruth's cherished home-run record, dies in Houston after a two-year battle with lymphatic cancer. Maris was 51.

"All baseball is saddened by the loss of one of its true heroes," says Commissioner Pete Ueberroth.

"The greatest single feat I ever saw was Roger hitting 61 home runs to break Ruth's record," Mickey Mantle wrote in his autobiography, 'The Mick.' "I was with him practically every step of the way, and I know the dues he paid to get there."

One of those dues was that his hair began falling out as the pressure intensified late in that 1961 season. Often surly, Maris was not the favorite of the fans or the media, who wanted Mantle - and not Maris - to break Babe's mark of 60 homers. When Maris broke the mark in the Yankees' final game, commissioner Ford Frick put the accomplishment in the record book with an asterisk because Maris did it in a 162-game season, and not in a 154-game season, as the Babe had.

This was the only time in his 12-year career that Maris hit more than 40 homers. After helping the Cardinals win back-to-back pennants in 1967 and 1968, he retired with 275 homers and a lifetime batting average of .260.
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December 15
Professional Hockey:
Sports promoter Tex Rickard officially opens the first Madison Square Garden with a hockey game. Before an enthusiastic and capacity crowd of 17,000, which includes many society matrons of New York and Canada, the New York Americans drop a 3-1 decision to the Montreal Canadiens.

Before the game, the spacious lobby looks like the foyer at the opera as fashionably gowned women are there in furs and jewels. However, there is none of the reserve and aloofness usually associated with the typical society gathering. Society catches the spirit of the hockey fans, and the crowd enjoys Canada's national game.
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December 16
For the first time in 30 years, and for only the third time in the 53 seasons of the NFL, a team finishes the regular season with a perfect record. The Dolphins achieve the feat with a 16-0 victory over the Baltimore Colts in Miami.

The Dolphins' No-Name Defense forces six turnovers (three interceptions and three recovered fumbles) in posting its third shutout of the season. The offense runs for 170 yards to set an NFL season rushing record with 2,951 yards. Earl Morrall throws a 14-yard touchdown pass to Paul Warfield and Garo Yepremian kicks three field goals.

Miami is the first team to go 14-0; the Chicago Bears went 11-0 in 1942 and 13-0 in 1934.

"We're delighted to have accomplished what no other NFL team has done," says Miami coach Don Shula. "But now we've got to make it 17-0 for it to mean something."

The Dolphins do complete that task, unlike the 1934 and 1942 Chicago squads, which lost the two championship games. No other team will go unbeaten and untied in the 20th century.

Two days after Wilt Chamberlain has his consecutive streak of scoring at least 50 points stopped at five - he's "held" to 43 points by the Syracuse Nationals - the Philadelphia Warrior center begins a new streak. Against the Chicago Packers he scores 50 to start an NBA record seven-game scoring tear of at least 50 points.

If not for that "off" night against Syracuse, Chamberlain would have scored at least 50 points in 13 consecutive games.

Chamberlain will score at least 50 points 45 times this season and average 50.4 points a game, both NBA records. He will score at least 50 points in his career 118 times; Michael Jordan is second with 30.
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December 17
In only his second season in the NFL, Dan Marino completes in spectacular style the most remarkable year a quarterback has ever had. He throws four touchdown passes, including two bombs to Mark Clayton in the final 2½ minutes, to lift the Dolphins to a 28-21 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Miami.

Marino, 23, extends his touchdown-pass record to 48, obliterating the previous mark of 36 set by Y.A. Tittle. Torching the Cowboys for 340 yards (on 23 completions in 40 attempts), Marino is the only quarterback to pass for more than 5,000 yards in a season. He finishes with 5,084, breaking Dan Fouts' record of 4,802, in leading the Dolphins to an AFC-best record of 14-2.

With three touchdown catches, Clayton sets an NFL record of 18 for the season.

Marino, the sixth quarterback selected in the 1983 draft, will be voted the NFL's MVP and take the Dolphins to the Super Bowl, where they will lose to the San Francisco 49ers, 38-16.
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December 18
A year after winning the NFL championship game in a blinding snowstorm, the Philadelphia Eagles repeat in a driving rain.

Steve Van Buren shows he's one mean mudder. The 205-pound Philadelphia running back sloshes through the mud and rain at the Los Angeles Coliseum for a championship-game record 196 yards on 31 carries to lead the Eagles to a 14-0 victory over the Rams before 22,245 rain-soaked fans.

"There are times when a coach's best friend is his mudder, meaning Van Buren," says Eagles coach Greasy Neale.

The Eagles' first touchdown comes on a 31-yard pass from Timmy Thompson to Pete Pihos in the second quarter. They double their lead when Leo Skladany blocks Bob Waterfield's punt in the third period and returns it two yards for a score.

"We never would be able to beat the Eagles under today's conditions," says Rams coach Clark Shaughnessy. "Make no mistake, they're a truly great team. Maybe we couldn't beat them on a dry field, either, but our chances went down the drain when it began to rain."
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December 19
Though he doesn't know it at the time, this is Jim Brown's last regular-season game in the NFL. And what happens? He gets ejected for fighting.

Late in the second period of the Cleveland Browns' 27-24 victory over the Cardinals in St. Louis, Brown is pass blocking on defensive end Joe Robb when the two get into an altercation. "He took a swing at me," says the Browns fullback. "I couldn't swing (pointing to his sore arm), so I kicked him. It was just a quick flare-up. Then we shook hands right away. That's why I was surprised when we were put out so fast."

Before Brown left, he had run for 74 yards and had his career-high 21st touchdown of the season. The 29-year-old Brown finishes with 1,544 yards on the ground, good enough for him to win his eighth rushing title in his nine-year career.

The next summer, while he is acting in the movie "The Dirty Dozen" in London, he will stun the sports world by announcing his retirement.

1948: Because a driving snowstorm makes it difficult to remove the tarpaulin over the field at Shibe Park in Philadelphia the players must help the grounds crew. The game starts a half-hour late. Chains can't be used for measurements and the sidelines are marked by ropes tied to stakes.

The crowd of 28,864 watches the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Cardinals slip, slither and skid over the snow-covered field. The two teams combine for a total of 47 yards passing, with the Eagles completing only 2-of-12 attempts for 12 yards.

Late in the third quarter Eagles defensive lineman Frank "Bucko" Kilroy recovers a fumble at the Cardinals' 17-yard line. On the third play of the fourth quarter, Steve Van Buren crashes outside right tackle and plunges through the snow into the end zone. The touchdown gives the Eagles a 7-0 victory and avenges their defeat to the Cardinals in last year's championship game.

The game will be known as the "Blizzard Bowl."

Scotty Bowman takes sole possession of the No. 1 spot in regular-season coaching victories with No. 691, one more than Dick Irvin. The Buffalo Sabres' 6-3 win over the Black Hawks in Chicago is Bowman's 1,178th game; Irvin needed 1,437 to establish his record.

In his 17th season, Bowman won 110 games with the St. Louis Blues (1967-71), 419 with the Montreal Canadiens (1971-79) and 162 with the Sabres (1979-80, 1981-84). Most impressive is that not only does Bowman have the most victories, he also has the top winning percentage at .672.

While Bowman downplays his feat and his ability, others don't. In his book "The Game," former Montreal goalie Ken Dryden wrote, "He is complex, confusing, misunderstood, unclear in every way but one. He is a brilliant coach, the best of his time."

Says former Bruins coach Don Cherry: "The Canadiens didn't like him, but in June, when they got their Stanley Cup checks, they seemed to like him. Scotty rules with an iron hand. That's his style, but who can knock it with the record he's got."
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December 20
Baseball opens its door to a man the owners will later want to shove back outside. A day after a Chicago judge approves Charlie Finley's bid for controlling interest of the Kansas City Athletics, American League owners vote unanimously to let the successful insurance man from Gary, Ind., onto their turf.

Finley pays $1,975,000 for 52 percent of the Athletics' stock. Besides being the principal owner, he will be the team's chairman of the board.

"It is my fullest intention that the team will stay in Kansas City," says Finley, who will come to be regarded as a maverick owner.

After seven seasons, Finley will move the franchise to Oakland.

The AFL semifinal playoff game between the Eastern Division champion Jets and the Chiefs, runners-up in the West, is played in frigid conditions at Shea Stadium. The game is decided when the Jets can't score a touchdown after getting a first down at the Kansas City one-yard line in the fourth quarter and the Chiefs need only two plays to go 80 yards for the winning score.

Throwing into the swirling winds, Jets quarterback Joe Namath, the star of last season's Super Bowl, completes only 14-of-40 passes for 164 yards with three interceptions. With the ball on the Chiefs one after a pass interference penalty, two runs are stopped and a Namath incompletion forces the Jets to settle for a seven-yard field goal from Jim Turner that ties the game 6-6. On the first play after the kickoff, Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson completes a 61-yard pass to Otis Taylor. On the next play, he throws a 19-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Gloucester Richardson to give the Chiefs a 13-6 victory en route to a Super Bowl title.

After the game, New York Mayor John Lindsay tells Namath, "Don't be dejected. I know what it is to lose."
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December 21
Chicago Bears halfback Ray McLean is the last player to score on a drop kick in the NFL. The Bears are leading the New York Giants, 30-9, in the fourth quarter of the NFL championship game when Ken Kavanaugh returns a fumble 42 yards for a touchdown. As the last touch of humiliation, McLean boots the extra point on a drop kick, which has been out of vogue for a while.

McLean's kick provides the last point in the Bears' retaining the title with a 37-9 victory before only 13,341 fans in Chicago.
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December 22
Coach Bill Walsh knows how fortunate the 49ers are to have a versatile and talented fullback lining up in the backfield behind Joe Montana. "Roger Craig is a great player," Walsh says. "He's been the key to our success this year."

Craig becomes the first player in NFL history to exceed 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in a season. In San Francisco's 31-16 victory over Dallas at home, Craig breaks the 1,000-yard rushing mark on a 13-yard gain in the first quarter and goes past 1,000 yards receiving when he catches a 15-yard swing pass from Montana in the third quarter.

"When you get that close to a record, people begin to worry about when you are going to break it," Craig says. "I was conscious of the record in the game, but I was concentrating more on the things it would take to win."

Like carrying two Cowboys into the end zone on a four-yard run in the third quarter, the touchdown giving the 49ers a 17-16 lead. In the victory which enables San Francisco to gain the playoffs as a wild card at 10-6, Craig rushes 13 times for 72 yards, boosting his season total to 1,050, and catches five passes for 50 yards, giving him 1,016 receiving.
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December 23
Montreal center Howie Morenz, known in his youth for his blazing speed and rink-long dashes, sets the NHL's record for most goals when he scores his 247th. With 30 seconds left in the Canadiens' 3-0 victory over the Detroit Red Wings in Montreal, the 31-year-old son of a railroad man leaves Cy Denneny, with whom he was tied, in his tracks.

On Jan. 28, 1937, Morenz will be checked feet-first into the boards and rushed to the hospital with a badly broken leg. Instead of recuperating, Morenz will suffer a nervous breakdown and then develop heart trouble. On March 8, he will die at the age of 36.

He will score 270 goals in 550 games in his 14-year career.
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December 24
Pro Football:
He will become known for guaranteeing a Super Bowl victory next season, but this year Joe Namath becomes the first player to pass for more than 4,000 yards.

Wearing a protective mask, Namath completes 18-of-26 passes for 343 yards in the New York Jets' 42-31 victory over the Chargers in the AFL game in San Diego, boosting his season total to 4,007 yards. This exceeds the 3,747 put up by the Washington Redskins' Sonny Jurgensen in the NFL this year.

Namath throws four touchdowns - 13, 36 and 37 yards to Don Maynard and 36 yards to George Sauer - as the Jets finish with their first winning season (8-5-1) in their eight-year existence.
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December 25
It's not a merry Christmas for Yankee fans when Billy Martin, the boozing, brawling five-time manager of the Yankees, dies in a one-vehicle drunken-driving accident. Martin is a passenger in his pickup truck when the vehicle skids off an icy road, continues 300 feet down an embankment and stops at the foot of Martin's driveway in Fenton, N.Y.

William Reedy, Martin's longtime friend, survives the accident, but is charged with driving while intoxicated. Neither Martin nor Reedy is wearing a seat belt.

Martin's last managerial tour with the Yankees ended on June 23, 1988, but he was working with the team as a special consultant to owner George Steinbrenner. Besides managing the Yankees, he also piloted the Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics. He won the World Series with the Yankees in 1977, the American League pennant with them in 1976 and took division titles with Minnesota in 1969, Detroit in 1972 and Oakland in 1981.

He played 11 seasons in the majors, compiling a .257 lifetime batting average. A fiery second baseman for the Yankees from 1950 until he was traded in 1957, he played in five World Series, with the Yankees winning four.

Martin was 61.

Late on Christmas night, Emmitt Smith finally gets the present he wants. With 5:49 remaining in the last game of the NFL's regular season, the Dallas Cowboys running back scores his 25th touchdown (all rushing) to snap his tie with John Riggins (1983) for most TDs in a season.

"When we got down to the 20, Troy (Aikman) said we should make a rushing touchdown," Smith says after the Cowboys' 37-13 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football. "The coaches said we should make a rushing touchdown. And the receivers said we should make a rushing touchdown. In my mind, I definitely thought we needed a rushing touchdown."

Smith, the NFL's leading rusher with 1,773 yards, gets it with a determined three-yard burst over the left side as he runs over several Arizona defensive players. It's the 100th regular-season touchdown of his six-year career, making him the 10th player to reach that milestone. He ties Jim Brown for the fastest to reach 100 (both achieved the century mark in 93 games).

Smith will score two more touchdowns in Sun Devil Stadium this season when the Cowboys return to Tempe a month later and defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-17, in Super Bowl XXX.
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December 26
Little League:
Little League baseball is no longer just for boys. President Gerald Ford signs legislation that officially opens the Little League program to participation by girls.

The league's federal charter has been changed to refer to "young people" rather than boys, says Ron Nessen, the President's press secretary. The new law also deletes a reference to the promotion of "manhood" among Little Leaguers.

The league sought the changes after it was confronted with numerous lawsuits seeking to open the programs to girls.

With Johnny Unitas and Gary Cuozzo injured, running back Tom Matte has to quarterback the Baltimore Colts in a playoff game for the Western Conference title. In his debut as a starter last week, Matte helped the Colts beat the Los Angeles Rams, 20-17.

But Matte's second start is not so successful. Again, he has plays taped to his wrist, but for the most part they aren't working. He leads the offense to just three points. But in running for 57 yards on 17 carries and completing 5-of-12 passes for 40 yards without an interception, he keeps the Colts in the game.

Baltimore's defense scores on the game's first play from scrimmage, when linebacker Don Shinnick returns Bill Anderson's fumble for a touchdown. On the play, Green Bay quarterback Bart Starr is knocked out of the game (except for holding on kicks) when he suffers bruised ribs attempting to make the tackle.

The 7+-point underdog Colts extend their lead to 10-0 before sub quarterback Zeke Bratkowski rallies the Packers. Don Chandler kicks a 22-yard field goal with 1:58 left in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime and then he boots a 25-yarder at 13:39 of the extra session to give the Packers a 13-10 victory.

Chuck Bednarik, the last of the 60-minute men, secures the Philadelphia Eagles' last NFL championship this century. On the final play, Bednarik tackles Jim Taylor, Green Bay's punishing fullback, on the Eagles 9-yard line and doesn't get off him until the gun sounds.

Bednarik jumps up and down and wildly waves his right arm aloft to start a mild victory celebration. Meanwhile, Taylor remains sprawled on the ground, the heart-tugging symbol of Green Bay's shattered hopes.

Bednarik participates in every play from scrimmage - as a center on offense and linebacker on defense - in the Eagles' 17-13 victory before 67,325 fans at Franklin Field in Philadelphia. "Bednarik is 35, but he has never lost his enthusiasm for the game," says Eagles coach Buck Shaw.

After a 7-yard touchdown pass from Bart Starr to Max McGee puts the Packers in front, 13-10, early in the fourth quarter, Ted Dean returns the kickoff 58 yards. The Eagles drive 40 yards for the winning score, with Dean getting it on a 5-yard sweep.
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December 27
After a scoreless first half, the seven-point underdog Cleveland Browns shock the Baltimore Colts in the second half. With quarterback Frank Ryan throwing three touchdown passes to flanker Gary Collins, the Browns storm to a 27-0 victory before 79,544 fans on a windy, chilly afternoon in Cleveland's Municipal Stadium.

Ryan, who completes 11-of-18 passes for 206 yards, hits Collins, who has played in the shadow of star receiver Paul Warfield all season, for scores of 18, 42 and 51 yards. Lou Groza accounts for the Browns' other nine points on two field goals and three extra points.

Jim Brown provides Cleveland with a balanced offense, rushing for 114 yards on 27 carries as well as gaining 37 yards on three receptions. "It's the biggest thrill of my career," says the relaxed and smiling eight-year veteran about the victory. "I have had better days as an individual, but this is the most satisfying of all."

While the offense clicks in the second half, the defense - led by an unheralded line of ends Bill Glass and Paul Wiggin and tackles Dick Modzelewski and Jim Kanicki - contains Baltimore quarterback Johnny Unitas to just 95 yards passing (12-of-20) for the game.

This will be the Browns' last championship in the 20th century.
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December 28
With a half-minute left, the Cowboys are trailing the Vikings by four points with the ball at midfield in the NFC divisional playoff game in Bloomington, Minn. Figuring he needs a miracle, Roger Staubach lets go with a prayer of a pass.

The desperation heave is underthrown, which is fine with Drew Pearson. The wide receiver comes back and fights cornerback Nate Wright for the ball on the five-yard line. It slides down Pearson's hands and somehow lodges snugly between his right elbow and right hip. With Wright falling to the ground, Pearson waltzes into the end zone with 24 seconds left with the touchdown that gives the seven-point underdog Cowboys a 17-14 upset.

"It was a play you hit one in a 100 times if you're lucky," Staubach says. "I guess it's a Hail Mary. You throw it up and pray he catches it."

The Vikings protest ferociously that Pearson caught the ball after committing offensive pass interference, but to no avail. After Minnesota takes the kickoff, a fan in Metropolitan Stadium throws a whisky bottle at an official. It strikes Armen Terzian on the forehead, knocking him down for several minutes. While he is cut, no stitches are necessary.
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December 29
NFL: 1963: Y.A. Tittle feels the pain of playing the Monsters of the Midway. In the NFL championship game in Chicago, the New York Giants 37-year-old quarterback suffers a twisted left knee in the first quarter when he's hit by Bears linebacker Larry Morris while throwing a touchdown pass to Frank Gifford. He's helped to the sideline in the second period when he reinjures the knee.

After taking two shots at halftime to ease the pain, Tittle returns. But the Bears continue to torment him, intercepting four passes to bring their total for the game to five. Morris' theft in the first quarter and Ed O'Bradovich's interception in the third period set up two touchdowns by Billy Wade, both on quarterback sneaks.

With seconds left, Tittle, who threw for a record 36 touchdown passes in the 14-game regular season, heaves a desperation pass into the end zone that Rich Petitbon intercepts.

With the Giants 14-10 losers, Tittle is the epitome of dejection and despair. Jerking his helmet off his bald head, he flings it to the ground several times. Then he slumps off to the sideline with tears streaming down his face.

The Bears, meanwhile, have nothing but smiles. It is the franchise's eighth championship, the sixth with George Halas as coach.
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December 30
Hours before tonight's game in Edmonton, Wayne Gretzky, who has scored 45 goals in 38 games, cooks bacon and eggs for himself and roommate Kevin Lowe. "He really doesn't say much (about his goals)," Lowe says, "but when I talked to him he said there was no reason why he couldn't score five against the Flyers."

And then the modest 20-year-old Oilers center goes out and does it. He scores on (1) a five-footer from the edge of the crease; (2) a howitzer from 35 feet; (3) a breakaway 25-footer off Pete Peeters; (4) a 30-footer over Peeters' shoulder; and (5) an empty-net goal with three seconds left.

With his 50 goals in just 39 games, he demolishes the record of 50 in 50 games, set by Montreal's Maurice Richard (1944-45) and tied by the Islanders' Mike Bossy (1980-81).

"Things like this aren't supposed to happen," Oilers defenseman Paul Coffey says after the 7-5 victory. "He's had nine goals in two straight games (he had four against Los Angeles in his previous game). Yet, when he sets a goal for himself, he gets it. It's that simple. He wanted to do it before his 40th game. You could have bet a million dollars against him doing it, but I knew he would."
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December 31
Roberto Clemente, four-time National League batting champion with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the player with perhaps the strongest arm in the game, dies in the crash of a cargo plane carrying relief supplies to the victims of the earthquake in Managua.

The four-engine DC-7, which has five people on board, crashes in heavy seas a mile and a half from shore moments after takeoff from San Juan International Airport. Clemente was the leader of Puerto Rican efforts to aid the Nicaraguan victims and was aboard the plane because he suspected that relief supplies were falling into the hands of profiteers.

Three months earlier, Clemente became the 11th player to reach 3,000 hits. The double off the Mets' Jon Matlack was the final hit of his 18-year career. His .317 batting average was the highest of active players.

The Pirates right-fielder was named to the National League All-Star team 12 times and was the league's MVP in 1966. He led the Pirates to two World Series titles, in 1960 and 1971, winning the MVP of the Series the latter time.

Roberto Clemente was 38.
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