5 Lou Gehrig
Good luck finding a more heart wrenching speech than the one that Lou Gehrig gave as his farewell at Yankee Stadium. One of baseball’s all-time greats, Gehrig’s life was cut tragically short when he was diagnosed with ALS, forced into retirement and passed away just two years later. But on July 4, 1939, a day that was deemed “Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day,” the Iron Horse took to the microphone, said goodbye to his beloved team and fans, and was the very definition of courage in the face of adversity.
4 The Miracle on Ice
In the midst of the Cold War, at a time when tension between the US and Soviet Union was perhaps at an all-time high, an amateur hockey game brought our country together like no sporting event ever had before. The Soviets were a hockey powerhouse, having won nearly every World Championship and Olympic Gold medal for the last 30 years, but an upstart team from the US would shock the world when they knocked out the Soviets in the medal round of the 1980 Olympics, prompting what some consider a turn in the Cold War, and one of the most legendary call in sports history; “Do you believe in miracles?!”
3 Saints Return to New Orleans
After Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city of New Orleans, many thought the Saints might never play another game in the legendary Super Dome, or in New Orleans again. After the storm, the stadium had been turned into a makeshift home for people who had lost theirs, and the entire city had been devastated. But on a September night in 2006, when the Saints finally came home, all seemed right in the city of New Orleans. The Saints romped the Falcons 23-3, the crowd was deafening, and the city was on its way to recovery.
2 Jim Valvano at the ESPYS
Ten years after his NC State Wolfpack pulled off perhaps the most unlikely run to the championship in the history of college basketball, Jim Valvano was fighting for his life. Stricken by cancer, the once-exuberant and charismatic coach was a shell of his former self, but he had one last inspiring moment left in him. Called up to the podium by his friend and colleague, Dick Vitale, Valvano delivered a funny, heartfelt and moving speech that would bring the crowd to their feet and brought tears to the eyes of viewers everywhere.
1 Yankee Stadium Post-9/11
The Yankee game scheduled for September 10, 2001 was rained out, and by the time they returned to their Bronx home on September 25, the entire world had changed. Two weeks earlier, our country had endured arguably its greatest tragedy and the people of New York were searching for a sense of normalcy. What followed was a pregame ceremony that included the players lining the field with members of New York’s Fire and Police Departments, and a massive flag covering the outfield. The Yankees brought baseball back to New York, and the nation started to heal.
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