Top 10 Sports Moments of the Year
1. McGwire Blasts 62nd Homer
It was the crowning moment of the sports year. When Mark McGwire knocked his 62nd homer of the season, poking the ball just over the left field fence and all the way to Cooperstown, America stood up and took notice. All eyes were on the smiling Cardinal slugger, and the gracious Maris family who accepted the demotion of their dad's record with class. The great home run chase of '98 between McGwire and affable Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa was without a doubt the sports story of the year.
2. Denver Wins Super Bowl
The Broncos' win in Super Bowl XXXII was special in many ways. Most notably it was the fruition of future Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway's long, outstanding, but until then incomplete career. Elway, part of the famous quarterback influx of 1983, had lost three previous Super Bowls, and many thought he had run out of chances. Ironically, Elway would become the first member of that quarterback class to win a Lombardi Trophy. Many thought he would retire following the big win, but Elway decided to give it another go. In 1999, he and his powerhouse Broncos look to add to the stories in Elway's storied career — and perhaps give it a truly happy ending.
3. Vladimir Konstantinov
When the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 1997, their celebration was tragically cut short when a limousine carrying defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov and team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov crashed into a tree, putting not just Konstantinov's career but also his life in jeopardy. The Wings dedicated the 1998 season to their fallen comrades, so after they polished off the Washington Capitals in four games in the Stanley Cup Finals, there wasn't a dry eye in the arena when the Wings surrounded Konstantinov and pushed his wheelchair along the ice with the Stanley Cup in his lap. There were close to 20,000 fans on their feet, cheering and crying at the same time. Now consider that the game was in Washington, D.C., not Detroit. Some things just transcend sports.
4. World Cup '98
It wasn't supposed to happen this way, but it sure makes a great story. Playing on their home turf, France cruised through Group C with three consecutive wins, one of only two teams (the other was Argentina) to escape the first round unbeaten and untied. And after a "golden goal" against Paraguay, a thrilling shootout over the Italians, and a nail-biter over Croatia, France found itself in the finals against defending champion Brazil. Though Ronaldo was supposed to carry the Brazilians to their fifth Cup, it was French star Zinedine Zidane who stole the show, converting on two headers and making France the first host country to win the Cup since Argentina in 1978.
5. Dale Gets His Prize
After 70 NASCAR wins, seven Winston Cup titles, and over $28 million in career earnings, Dale Earnhardt can rest easy, because he won his Super Bowl. In his twentieth attempt, Earnhardt, "the Intimidator" finally took the checkered flag at the Daytona 500. It would be his only win of the year, but it didn't matter. Earnhardt thanked the crowd of over 150,000 with a couple of post race donuts, and was then given an unexpected gift himself: each and every driver's pit crew lined up to congratulate him and thank him for his years of service.