MOMENTS TO LAST A LIFETIME Ahhhh . . . Christmas draws near. A time for joy, a time for cheer . . . and a time for lists. I’ve already passed along my wishes to Santa (gotta have that KISS symphony DVD!). The time seems right for a good old sports list, one you can debate over the egg nog, maybe even under the mistletoe. Herewith, Part One of the Ten Greatest Sports Moments in Memphis history: 10) November 18, 1938 -- You remember this one, don’t you? A defensive clash on the gridiron between Mid-South rivals Memphis State College and Delta State, a game the Tigers won, 8-0, to finish the only undefeated, untied season in school history. Those Tigers under coach Allyn McKeen beat all 10 of their opponents, compiling four shutouts and giving up a total of 41 points all season. While whipping the likes of Cumberland College and Troy State doesn’t exactly qualify as waking up the echoes, the singular achievement of winning every game (particularly for a football program with the struggles of this one) makes this date -- and this team -- worthy of acclaim.
The time seems right for a good old sports list, one you can debate over the egg nog, maybe even under the mistletoe.
9) December 29, 1982 -- Legends, they say, never die. In the case of Paul (Bear) Bryant, they grow with every autumn. The Bear didn’t make his name by taking his Alabama Crimson Tide to the Liberty Bowl; he was more accustomed to playing on New Year’s Day. But for his 29th and final bowl game, Bryant commanded a sideline in Memphis, houndstooth on head, aura everywhere. When the Tide beat Illinois, 21-15, Bryant marched into retirement with a Division I-A record 323 wins. Exactly 28 days later, the Bear was dead. After all, there was no more football left to coach. 8) June 30, 1986 -- A one-man circus by the name of Bo Jackson came to town for an early-summer treat at Tim McCarver Stadium. Despite having been the top selection in the NFL draft (by Tampa Bay), the reigning Heisman Trophy winner from Auburn shocked the football establishment by choosing a career in baseball, one that would begin with our Double-A Chicks. With more than 150 members of the press in attendance -- Jackson made the cover of Sports Illustrated the following week -- the star ripped an RBI single to begin a career that would turn “Bo Knows” into a national mantra. Jackson went on to hit .277 with seven homers in 53 games for Memphis. 7) March 6, 1977 -- Professional tennis made a pair of Memphis appearances before the U.S. National Indoor moved to The Racquet Club in 1977, but it was this event that spawned a relationship between a private club, the world’s greatest tennis players, and a legion of local fans that has continued to gain momentum for more than a quarter century. Sweden’s Bjorn Borg was carving his legend upon his Memphis debut, having won the first of five consecutive Wimbledon titles in 1976. Remembered for his stoic demeanor, Borg was anything but during his run to the Memphis championship. Over the course of the week-long event, Borg’s griping led to the removal of a pair of linesmen, an announcer, and his own fiancee. He dispatched Brian Gottfried in a four-set final and was never seen in Memphis again. 6) May 23, 1965 -- Reigning Masters champion Jack Nicklaus began the fourth round of the Memphis Invitational Open in 10th place, five strokes behind leader Julius Boros. The 25-year-old Golden Bear (Cub?) marched the Colonial Country Club course on his way to a five-under-par 65, forcing a playoff with Johnny Pott, a regular in Memphis since the pros first teed up here in 1958. When Pott bogied the first playoff hole, Nicklaus earned his first and only Memphis championship. He played Memphis four more times over the course of his briliant career, with top-10 finishes in 1966 and 1975. When Tiger Woods wins 10 more majors, we’ll have a conversation about the greatest golfer of all time. Log on next week for the Top Five.

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