"I need a breather," said Illinois junior halfback Harold (Red) Grange to his quarterback, just 12 minutes into the game with Michigan. With those words, Grange showed for the only time all afternoon that he was human. Little wonder that No. 77 was short of breath—he had already scored four touchdowns: on a weaving, 95-yard return of the opening kick-off; on a 67-yard run from scrimmage down the right sideline; on a 56-yard punt return that left Wolverines all over the field; and on a comparatively mundane 45-yard run. It was at this game that sportswriter Grantland Rice dubbed the young phenom the Galloping-Ghost, and football found its first superstar.
"I need a breather." Such are the moments we treasure in sports. We can store them on a shelf, shake them up like those little souvenir snow globes, and gleefully watch them happen all over again. Arrayed below are 25 of those snowballs. Some of them you have shaken and seen before, some you may not even know about. They are not the 25 greatest achievements in sports, nor are they the 25 most important moments, though some would certainly fall into those categories. They are, simply put, our 25 Classic Moments. Enough said. The moments are at hand.
OCT. 18, 1924
EVERYBODY SAW THE GHOST
It wasn't as if Illinois' Red Grange had taken Michigan by surprise. Days before this battle of the unbeatens, Wolverine athletic director Fielding Yost had warned, "Mr. Grange will be a carefully watched young man anytime be takes the ball." He was also watched by 67,000 Illini fans—in Champaign to christen brand-new Memorial Stadium—and the cream of the nation's sporting press. "The man Red Grange is three or lour men and a horse rolled into one," wrote Damon Runyon. "He is Jack Dempsey, Babe Ruth, Al Jolson, Paavo Nurmi and Man O' War." The Fighting Illini won 39-14, and Grange finished the afternoon with five touchdowns, 402 yards on the ground and six completed passes—including one for a touchdown. Ob, yes, he also held for the kicker.
SEPT. 22, 1927
Jack Dempsey was the fun-loving ex-champion. The new champ, Gene Tunney, read Of Human Bondage while he trained. Asked for a prediction on their rematch, Tunney said, "My first defense of the title finds me quite confident that I will be victorious." Dempsey told reporters, "I'll knock that big bookworm out inside of eight rounds."
A crowd of 104,943 people filled Chicago's Soldier Field. Tunney controlled the bout until the seventh round, when a Dempsey left hook suddenly sent him to the canvas. Thus began what forever would be known as the Long Count. Instead of going to a neutral corner, Dempsey went to his own. Referee Dave Barry chased him to the right corner, taking as many as seven seconds before he began the count. Tunney rose at nine; he lasted the round, regained command and won a 10th-round unanimous decision. Despite the ensuing controversy, Dempsey never held a grudge. "Gene has often told me he could [have gotten up]," Dempsey wrote, "and I have no reason not to believe him."
OCT. 1, 1932
JUST CALL IT PREMONITION
Chicago's Wrigley Field was howling when Babe Ruth stepped in the plate for the New York Yankees in the first inning Of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series. Ruth grinned, yelled something that was no doubt arrogant and (jointed to rightfield. Then he hit a three-run homer into the rightfield bleachers.
That, however, was not the Called Shot that became legend. In the fourth, the Cubs tied the score after Ruth missed a shoestring catch, much to the fans' delight; when he came to bat in the fifth, a lemon rolled past his feet. He would later say, "I never had so much fun in my life." With a 2-2 count, Ruth and Cub pitcher Charlie Root started jawing, and that was when the Babe made his gesture. Some people say he (jointed to centerfield, some say he met eh waved Ins arm. But clearly he indicated to Root and the Cubs that he was going to hit another home run.
He did—a blast deep into the centerfield bleachers. As Ruth circled the bases, he said to himself, "You lucky bum. You lucky, lucky bum." From a box seat near home plate, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, then a candidate for President, threw his head back and laughed.