17 Astonishing 1970s Sports Moments

There were so many great sports moments in the 1970s. Monday Night Football began airing in 1970, and millions have been glued to the TV on Monday nights ever since.

Major League Baseball’s American League began allowing the Designated Hitter (DH) in 1973, immediately adding excitement for fans and headaches for pitchers. (See the bottom of this post for the name of the very first DH in baseball history!).

The Olympics blossomed as TV coverage brought all sorts of unfamiliar sports into our living rooms.

It’s hard to narrow down the decade’s most exciting and memorable sports moments, but here are 17 of my favorite astonishing moments in sports in the 1970s.

1.

George Blanda, NFL Quarterback and Placekicker, named AP Athlete of the Year at age 43, 1970

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I greatly respect athletes who continue to perform at a high level past their prime years. While most pro football players retire in their 30s, George Blanda played NFL football until he was 48. He is still the oldest player in NFL history.

And how good was he in 1970? In a five-game span, he tossed five touchdown passes and kicked two last-second field goals to win the game at the age of 43! The Associated Press named him the AP Athlete of the Year, the first NFL player to earn the title.

2.

Mark Spitz becomes the First Olympian to Win Seven Gold Medals, 1972

Rarely has an athlete dominated a sport like Mark Spitz did for swimming in the 1972 Olympics. Not only did he win seven races, but he also set world records in every race he won!

The pressure was on as he faced his last race, the 100-meter freestyle, and he came through to beat the record, winning by half a stroke. And the swimmers weren’t even allowed to wear goggles then!

3.

The Miami Dolphins Finish the Season and Win the Super Bowl with a Perfect 17-0 Record, 1972

NFL teams play for months during the regular season, hoping to qualify for the Playoffs and then the Conference Championship to move on to the Super Bowl. Before 1972, no one even dreamed that a team could be undefeated when they make it to the Super Bowl.

So when the unstoppable Miami Dolphins were undefeated in the 1972 regular season, there was only one thing to do: win the big game! They won the Super Bowl for the 1972 season on January 15, 1973, and etched their names in sports history. 17-0!

4.

U.S. Men’s Olympic Basketball Team’s Controversial Loss, 1972

This one still hurts. The U.S. Men’s Olympic basketball team had won 7 straight gold medals and was favored to win their 8th in Munich in 1972. But they couldn’t quite pull away from the Soviet team in the final.

The U.S. was behind by 1 point with 7 seconds to play when Doug Collins stole a pass and was hammered to the ground as he drove to the basket. He sank his two free throws to put the U.S. ahead by 1 point.

The next 20 minutes were pure chaos as the Soviet team was given three chances to inbound the ball by the referees. Finally, they scored at the buzzer to win 51 to 50. So frustrating!

5.

Franco Harris’ Immaculate Reception, 1972

https://youtu.be/H1l5aTUK228

With the Steelers down 7-6 to the Raiders and only 22 seconds left to play in the 1972 AFC Divisional Playoff game, Franco Harris snagged a deflected pass that miraculously ricocheted off a Raider’s helmet just high enough off the ground to be legal.

Then, my favorite part, he ran for 35 yards breaking tackles and stiff-arming his way into the end zone like a man possessed. Heavenly!

6.

Atlanta Braves Have Three Players with 40 or More Home Runs, 1973

Braves players 1973

In 1973, almost a century after Major League Baseball was established, the Atlanta Braves were the first team to achieve the remarkable feat of having three players hit 40 or more home runs in a single season. Hank Aaron, Davey Johnson, and Darrell Evans made history by hitting 40, 43, and 41 home runs that year.

In fact, the Braves astounded the league by hitting 206 home runs, a staggering 45 more than the closest team total of 161 recorded by the Giants. They also dominated the league in Runs per Game, boasting an impressive average of 4.93.

As a passionate Braves supporter, I would have traded some of those home runs for some quality pitching!

7.

O.J. Simpson Breaks the 2,000 Rushing Yards Barrier, 1973

O.J. Simpson Breaks 2000 Rushing Yards
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A great NFL running back in 1973 would be expected to gain around 1,000 yards rushing per season, with only a select few reaching the elusive 1,200-yard mark.

But then, something incredible happened. In his third NFL season, O.J. Simpson started racking up massive yardage. By the season’s final game, he was just shy of reaching the coveted 2,000-yard milestone, needing a whopping 197 yards to get there.

O.J. covered a jaw-dropping 200 yards in the final game, ending the season with a staggering 2003 yards.

It was a historic moment, a true breakthrough in football. Simpson had shattered the mental barrier of what was possible, paving the way for other running backs to strive for that incredible mark.

8.

Secretariat Wins Belmont by 33 Lengths, 1973

It was 1973, and I was glued to the television screen with my family, watching the final Triple Crown horse racing event, the prestigious Belmont.

The air was thick with excitement as we held our breath, hoping to witness the first Triple Crown winner in 30 years. The grand champion Secretariat had already won the first two events, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. The stage was set for history to be made.

And then, it happened. Secretariat took to the track like a true conqueror, his muscles rippling with power as he charged forward. With each stride, he left the competition in the dust, winning by an astonishing 33 lengths.

But that wasn’t all. Secretariat broke records that day, crossing the finish line in a jaw-dropping time of 2:24. No horse had ever come close to that feat. Everyone erupted in cheers and applause as they witnessed history in the making.

It was a historic display of raw power and sheer majesty, and for those of us lucky enough to witness it live, it was a moment we would never forget.

9.

Hank Aaron breaks Babe Ruth’s home run record, 1974

Let me tell you about my hero, the one and only Hank Aaron, and the best moment in sports history. Watching Hank play was like witnessing a masterclass in focus and dedication. He was a true inspiration, always striving to be the best version of himself on and off the field.

Some might think that breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record was the pinnacle of Hank’s career, but that wasn’t his main focus. He was more concerned with consistently performing and helping his team win. And let me tell you, he was an absolute beast in 1973, smashing 40 homers and almost matching Ruth’s record.

But on that fateful day, April 8, 1974, Hank truly cemented his legacy as a baseball legend. The world held its breath as he stepped up to the plate, the tension in the air palpable. And with one swift swing, he shattered Ruth’s record and claimed his rightful place as the new king of baseball.

From that day on, Hank Aaron would forever be known as “King Henry,” “The Hammer,” and “Number 44.” His legacy would live on as an inspiration to generations of baseball players and fans alike. And for me, that moment will always be the greatest in sports history.

10.

Carlton Fisk’s Home Run in World Series Game Six, 1975

It’s the 1975 World Series, and two powerhouse teams are battling it out for the ultimate prize. On one side, the mighty Cincinnati Reds; on the other, the scrappy Boston Red Sox. The Reds are up three games to two, and Boston knows they need to pull out all the stops if they want a chance to take the series.

The tension is high as the game goes into the 12th inning, with both teams fighting tooth and nail for every inch of ground. And then, like a bolt of lightning, it happens. Boston’s Carlton Fisk steps up to the plate and smacks a long fly ball down the left field line. The crowd holds its breath as the ball soars through the air, and Fisk starts frantically waving his arms, willing the ball to be fair.

The ball connects with the foul pole over the Green Monster fence, sending shockwaves through the stadium. Boston erupts in cheers as Fisk rounds the bases, knowing they’re alive for one more game.

It was a moment of pure magic, a true underdog story that would go down in baseball history. The 1975 World Series delivered one of the greatest moments in sports, and it was all thanks to the grit and determination of the Boston Red Sox.

11.

Franz Klammer’s Gold-Medal Downhill Run at Innsbruck, 1976

All eyes were on Franz Klammer during the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. The Austrian skier was racing in his home country, with thousands of his countrymen cheering him on to victory. But with a gold medal on the line, the pressure was immense.

As Klammer set off down the treacherous course, his skis slicing through the snow at lightning speeds, it was impossible not to feel the tension in the air. Every twist and turn brought gasps from the crowd as Klammer navigated the course with incredible skill and precision.

But it wasn’t just his technical ability that made Klammer’s run legendary. It was the sheer determination and grit that he brought to the race. Despite the danger and the pressure, he refused to back down, pushing himself to the absolute limit in pursuit of victory.

As Klammer crossed the finish line, his face a mask of triumph and exhaustion, the crowd erupted in cheers. He had done it – won the gold medal on his home turf, cementing his place as one of the greatest downhill skiers ever.

Decades have passed since that historic race, but Klammer’s run remains a shining example of what it means to push yourself to the limit in pursuit of a dream.

12.

Nadia Comaneci Scores First Perfect Time in Olympic Gymnastics, 1976

If you were watching the Gymnastic events during the 1976 Olympics, you saw history in the making as Nadia Comaneci, stunned the crowd and the judges by delivering a flawless performance on the uneven bars, earning a perfect 10.00 score for the first time in Olympic history.

Even more astonishingly, Nadia went on to achieve seven more perfect scores during the Olympics. This feat was so exceptional that the digital scoreboards of the time couldn’t even display a perfect 10. Instead, her scores were shown as 1.00, showing how groundbreaking her performances were.

13.

Ali’s 15th round against Ken Norton, 1976

Muhammed Ali and Ken Norton had already faced off twice before, with one win apiece. But the tiebreaker match would truly go down in the annals of the boxing legend.

The fight was grueling, with Ali and Norton going toe-to-toe for 14 rounds, trading blow after blow in a battle that will be remembered for years to come. The true drama unfolded in the final round as both fighters summoned every last bit of energy for one last push to secure victory.

And that’s exactly what Ali did. He unleashed a flurry of punches that left Norton reeling and refused to let up until the final bell rang. It was a show of pure grit and determination, proving the difference in his victory.

From that moment on, Muhammed Ali would forever be known as “The Greatest,” a title he more than earned with his legendary performances in the ring. And for those of us lucky enough to witness that tiebreaker match, it was a moment we’ll never forget.

14.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 17 Straight Losses, 1976

Memorable 70s Sports Moments Tampa Bay Buccaneers Lose 17 Straight

Here’s a sports moment that’s so bad, it’s almost good. We’re talking about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the NFL team that set an all-time record for losing 17 straight games from 1976 to 1977.

You might be thinking, “Wow, that’s really terrible.” But hear me out. If you’re going to lose, you might as well do it in style, right? And boy, did the Buccaneers do it in style.

Back then, they didn’t have Tom Brady to lead the charge. But even if they did, it’s hard to imagine he could have saved this team. In fact, many have said that this Buccaneers squad was the worst in NFL history.

However, there’s something charming about a team that’s so bad they become legendary. The Buccaneers kept going even through loss after loss and their fans loved them for it.

15.

Reggie Jackson Becomes Mr. October as the First player to Hit Five Home Runs in a World Series, 1977

Are you ready for a showdown of epic proportions? It’s the 1977 World Series, pitting the West Coast’s L.A. Dodgers against the East Coast’s N.Y. Yankees.

Enter Reggie Jackson. The man had confidence and was about to show the world why.

With his bat at the ready, Reggie hit five home runs throughout the series, including an incredible three in game 6. And get this – each of those three homers came on consecutive first pitches, against different pitchers, and all to different parts of the park.

It was a performance that would forever cement Reggie’s place in baseball history. They started calling him “Mr. October” for a good reason. When the pressure was on, when the stakes were high, Reggie was the man you wanted at the plate.

Moments like these remind us why we love baseball: the drama, the tension, and the sheer thrill of watching a superstar rise to the occasion and become a hero before our eyes.

16.

Magic vs. Bird in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Title Games, 1979

This sports moment took us a few years to fully appreciate. We’re talking about the 1979 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final, featuring a showdown between two of the game’s all-time greats: Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

While basketball fans recognized the magnitude of the matchup at the time, the greater sports world didn’t realize just how historic this game was until later. Both Magic and Bird would become two of the top players in NBA history, forever changing the face of the game.

Magic’s Michigan State team emerged victorious in this game, but the battle was far from over. Bird’s Celtics would seek revenge in the coming years, setting the stage for one of the greatest rivalries in sports history.

Looking back, it’s amazing to think how this one game profoundly impacted the world of basketball. The game highlighted the incredible talent of these two players and the drama of the game.

17.

Philadelphia Flyers Undefeated Streak of 35 Games, 1979

The 1979 Philadelphia Flyers were absolute monsters on the ice, racking up an incredible 48-12-20 record during the regular season with only 12 losses in 80 games.

But that’s not even the most impressive part. From October 14, 1979, to January 6, 1980, they went an incredible 35 games without a single loss. That’s over three months of unbeatable hockey, folks.

Even in the playoffs, the Flyers were unstoppable. They won every single one of their games, steamrolling over their opponents and making it all the way to the Stanley Cup. There, they faced off against the NY Islanders, and while they came up short in a 4-2 series, their legacy was already secured.

To this day, no team has managed to match the Flyers’ incredible 35-game streak. This team’s amazing skill, strong determination, and big heart show how exciting and unpredictable hockey can be.

So, that’s my list of the 17 most incredible sports moments of the 70s. Did I leave off your favorite moment? Let me know in the comments!

Who Was the First Designated Hitter in Major League Baseball History?

And now, you’ve been dying to know the answer to that trivia question: who was the first designated hitter in Major League Baseball history? Drumroll, please… it was none other than Ron Blomberg of the Yankees. On April 6, 1973, Blomberg stepped up to the plate in the top of the first inning with two outs and the bases loaded. He drew a walk, making history as the first DH in baseball.

As Blomberg said, “I may have made it into the Hall of Fame through the back door, but I’m still there.” We couldn’t agree more. Here’s to you, Ron, forever a legend in the history of America’s favorite pastime.

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