What does it take for an athlete to become untamed and pull off some of the most incredible plays, victories and triumphs that are forever celebrated in sports history? It takes a lot of things – talent, guts, desire, ambition, recklessness, timing, the moment, etc. – and while some of those things can be learned and developed over time, some of them are just created within us naturally. Here, we celebrate 10 of our favorite untamed moments in sports history, but there are so many others that should be remembered as well.
Share your favorite moments below and then set out to find the untamed victory you were born for.
Pete Rose’s Headfirst Slide
The 1970 Major League Baseball All-Star Game will always be remembered for Pete Rose’s headfirst slide at home plate into Ray Fosse that scored the game-winning run and gave the National League a 5-4 victory over the AL. In the four decades since, the play has been talked about endlessly, with a legend being created around it that has been both celebrated and disputed. But to this day, Rose maintained that it was all about playing the game with a hard-nosed style, despite the fact that this untamed moment changed Fosse’s career forever.
It’s one of the most controversial and scrutinized plays in NCAA football history, but it’s still simply dubbed, “The Play,” because there’s possibly no crazier play that has ever occurred. Down by one, the Cal Bears needed a miracle return on Stanford’s kickoff to upset the Cardinal, and that’s exactly what seemingly happened, as a series of laterals helped guide Kevin Moen into the end zone after the game clock had expired, giving Cal the win. However, Moen and Co. had a little more to worry about than just Standford’s special teams, as the entire band hit the field to celebrate, despite the fact that the game wasn’t over.
Rodney McCray Becomes “Crash”
Rodney McCray only played 67 games in the majors during his professional baseball career, but he still has claim to one of the most legendary plays in the sport’s long history. On May 27, 1991, McCray earned the nickname “Crash” after he earned a late start in right field, and after Chip Hale hit a long drive to him, he ran right through the plywood wall at Civic Stadium in Portland. Amazingly, McCray was mostly fine, as he just suffered a cut on his forehead and some other minor injuries, but despite the fact that he didn’t make the catch, his play is still featured at the MLB Hall of Fame.
Kerri Strug’s Incredible Vault
Prior to the 1996 Summer Olympics, the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team had never won the overall gold, and despite a lead over the Russians heading into the final events, the Americans would need a hell of a performance on the vault from the injured Kerri Strug. What happened next was the stuff that Hollywood writes about the Olympics, as Strug nailed her routine, despite her injured ankle and the fact that she was merely a backup. In that moment, the backup became the star as the Americans won gold and the country worshiped her.
Peyton Manning’s Reminder to the NFL
When his career is over and he undoubtedly joins a network’s broadcast crew, Peyton Manning will probably be speaking from experience as the greatest QB of all-time. He reminded everyone that he’s the best in Week 1 of this NFL season in a bitter rematch against the team that ended his bid for a second Super Bowl ring in the divisional round of last year’s playoffs, the Baltimore Ravens. Manning tied the NFL record for most touchdowns in a single game with seven, as he trounced the defending Super Bowl champs, 49-27. Eagles QB Nick Foles would match the feat this season, but nobody’s going to be talking about Foles’s greatness decades from now.
Jared Zabransky’s Fiesta Bowl
The 2007 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl might be one of the greatest bowl games ever played that people don’t talk about enough. The game featured the Boise State Broncos leading the Oklahoma Sooners for most of the first and second halves, with Adrian Peterson and the Sooners scoring 25 unanswered points to take the lead late in the game, and Boise State’s QB Jared Zabransky using a pair of trick plays to not only tie the game and send it into overtime, but also win it with a 2-point conversion when most coaches would have kept the tie going.
Bobby Orr’s Overtime Winner
Glenn Hall earned the nickname “Mr. Goalie” because he was one of the hardest-working, most dependable goalies in the history of the NHL, but even he wasn’t good enough to stop the determination of the Boston Bruins in the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals. In overtime, with the Bruins and Blues tied at 3-3, Hall held off a barrage of shots from the Bruins, and it seemed like he was 10-times larger than he actually was with the way the puck bounced off of him. But then came the legendary Bobby Orr’s biggest shot of his life at that point, as he finally knocked the puck past Hall and completed the Bruins’ sweep of the Blues.
Tiger Woods at the 1997 Masters
People could endlessly debate the biggest, most dominant victory in all of sports history, and there would most certainly be someone carrying the flag for Tiger Woods’ win at the 1997 Masters Tournament. While Tiger has donned the green jacket four times, none will ever matter as much as that first one, as he bested the field by an incredible and absurd 12 strokes with an -18 under final score that will always be remembered as one of the most impressive and amazing individual major performances in PGA history.
Kirk Gibson’s Walk-Off Shot
It might have only been Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, but it will always feel like it was a Game 7. The Los Angeles Dodgers were down 4-3 to the Oakland Athletics in the bottom of the 9th inning, when manager Tommy Lasorda made the very peculiar decision of putting the injured Kirk Gibson in as a pinch-hitter. In fact, Gibson wasn’t only dealing with two bum knees, but he was also suffering from another illness. Dennis Eckersley, one of the greatest closers of all-time, decided to walk Mike Davis with two outs to face Dave Anderson, who was on deck, but once David reached first, Lasorda pulled the switcheroo at the plate, and the rest is fist-pumping history.
Kobe’s 81-Point Game
While NBA historians love to celebrate it as the greatest individual performance in league history, the problem with Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game is that there’s no real record of it. That’s not to say it didn’t happen, but it’s hard to truly celebrate it when there was very little media coverage at the time. That’s why Kobe Bryant’s 81-game was so much bigger in the modern NBA era, because we all watched with jaws dropped as it happened and the “Air Apparent” lit up the Toronto Raptors on January 22, 2006 like there was nobody else on the court.