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Rare, Classic, and Vintage Photos of Famous Athletes

Rare, Classic, and Vintage Photos of Famous Athletes

Culture

vintage photos

Sports creates some great memories and some even more amazing pictures. Vintage sports images are snapshots of history that took place on an athletic field rather than a battlefield. They are often watched on a television instead of read about in a textbook. And sports are often a great unifier of people and cultures — a way to level the playing field and put everything else aside. Here are 50 vintage sports photos that capture some of the greatest moments in sports history.

Willie Mays’ Catch

Simply referred to as “The Catch,” Willie Mays’ over-the-shoulder basket catch is arguably the most famous catch in baseball history. During Game 1 of the 1954 World Series between the New York Giants and Cleveland Indians, Mays robbed Vic Wertz of a sure extra-base hit in the eighth inning that kept the score knotted at 2-2. The Giants would go on to win the game in extra innings and the series in four games.

vintage photos

si.com

Pete Rose’s Dive

Known as “Charlie Hustle” for his intense style of play, Cincinnati Reds all-time great Pete Rose popularized the head-first slide in baseball and was generally known to play with reckless abandon on the field, crashing into players and walls on a regular basis. A three-time champion and 17-time All-Star, Rose is one of the most controversial figures in baseball history thanks to his involvement with betting on baseball. He’s also the most recent player-manager in the Majors.

vintage photos

army.mil

Terry Bradshaw Flexing

A man on a mission, Terry Bradshaw prepares for Super Bowl XIII. In the game, Bradshaw would pass for four touchdowns and one interception en route to a nail-biting 35-31 finish. Bradshaw retired a four-time Super Bowl champion

bleacherreport.com

Bobby Orr Flying

No. 4, Bobby Orr. One of the most classic images in NHL history belongs to the Boston Bruins and their Hall of Fame defenseman. In overtime of Game 4 of the 1970 NHL Stanley Cup Finals, the Bruins were on the verge of clinching their first Cup since 1941, and Orr delivered. Almost instantly after burying the game-winning goal, Orr was unintentionally tripped by a defenseman, sending him flying through the air.

vintage photos

wbur.org

Vince Lombardi Rides Off into Victory

Vince Lombardi helped give Green Bay the nickname “Titletown,” due to five NFL Championships in the 1960s, including the first two Super Bowls, as head coach of the Packers. His victory celebration? Being carried off the field by his players. After the Packers dismantled the Raiders in Super Bowl II, Lombardi would take his final ride atop the shoulders of his Packers players, a fitting way to close out a legendary career in Green Bay.

vintage photos

si.com

Bill Russell Blocks

One of the greatest defensive players of all time, Bill Russell revolutionized how basketball was played from a defensive standpoint. Russell, an 11-time champion and five-time MVP, was keen on blocking shots and snagging rebounds. Over his career, he amassed 21,620 rebounds, second in NBA history. But what’s more impressive is how Russell blocked his shots. He used finesse, rather than force, to alter and block shots. Instead of swatting the ball into the stands, a crowd-pleasing display, Russell intentionally blocked or altered shots just enough so he or his teammates could corral the loose ball.

vintage photos

nba.com

Super Bowl I

The first Super Bowl in NFL history was a match between the NFL’s Green Bay Packers and the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. The Pack won the highly-anticipated game 35-10, thanks to their strong offensive play and stout defense. Running back Jim Taylor, pictured above, had 56 yards on the ground and one score.

vintage photos

money.cnn.com

At Arizona State University, Phil Mickelson was America’s premier amateur golfer, winning three individual NCAA champions. Here, a young Phil and dapper Dr. J share a moment at a banquet.

bleacherreport.com

Larry and Magic

Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were legendary rivals on the court and great friends off it. They played for two of the NBA’s biggest rivals, the Celtics and Lakers, and squared off in the NBA Finals thee times, with the Lakers winning twice. But it was the 1979 NCAA Championship game where the rivalry truly began, with Magic’s Michigan State Spartans defeating Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores 75-64.

vintage photos

si.com

“Havlicek Stole the Ball!”

The Johnny Most call on the play may be more famous than the footage or picture itself. “Havlicek stole the ball! It’s all over!” It was Game 7 of the 1965 Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics clung to a one-point lead over the 76ers with just seconds left in the game. Philadelphia, inbounding the ball, was in prime position to upset the defending champs. They just needed to inbound and score. However, John Havlicek had other plans and stole the inbound pass. Time would expire and the Celtics would advance to the NBA Finals, where they’d win their seventh straight championship.

vintage photos

si.com

Bill Mazeroski’s Walk-Off

The only World Series Game 7 walk-off home run in MLB history belongs to Bill Mazeroski of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Against the heavily favored New York Yankees in 1960, the Pirates managed to take the series to seven games. In Game 7, the bats came alive and the score was tied at 9-9 going into the bottom of the ninth. Enter Mazeroski, the Pirates’ second baseman known best for his glove. But on the second pitch of the at-bat, Mazeroski drove the pitch deep to left and high over the outfield wall, ending the game and series with one swing. This series also marked the only time in MLB history that the World Series MVP was awarded to a player on the losing team.

vintage photos

catholiclane.com

Prime Time Deion Sanders was a winner on multiple levels. The football field, baseball diamond, and fashion game were no match for the future Super Bowl champion and Pro Football Hall of Famer. Considered one of the greatest dual-sport athletes, Sanders played in both the MLB and NFL for multiple teams.

bleacherreport.com

Hank Aaron is Crowned King

To baseball purists, Hank Aaron will always be the home run king. On April 8th, 1974, in the bottom of the fourth inning in front of a sellout crowd, Aaron launched a ball over the left-center wall for No 715, passing Babe Ruth for the record. Pandemonium. Back in the day, when security was much more lax, fans could easily get on the field, and as Aaron rounded the basis, two eager fans enthusiastically greeted the new home run king. When Aaron finally reached home, a celebration worthy of a king took place, pausing the game as Aaron addressed his monumental feat.

vintage photos

cnn.com

Wayne Gretzky Hoists the Cup

The Great One. Wayne Gretzky is, without question, the greatest hockey player of all time. A four-time Stanley Cup Winner, Gretzky started off his career by joining a team that would become one of the greatest dynasties in NHL history. In his first nine seasons in the league, Gretzky would win four Cups. However, following his final Cup victory in 1988, Gretzky would never again hoist the greatest prize in hockey. He’d spend the next 11 years trying to get back to the pinnacle, falling short each year.

vintage photos

bsndenver.com

Shaquille O’Neal and Monica Seles

A powerful dynamic duo, Shaquille O’Neal and tennis star Monica Seles share a moment at a press conference in New York. Seles, a tennis star who was an international sensation and the victim of a brutal on-court stabbing attack, agreed to be the first female investor in a multi-million dollar sports restaurant located in Times Square. Other investors include Joe Montana, Wayne Gretzky, and Shaq.

Shaq retired a four-time NBA champion and Seles finished her career with nine Grand Slam singles titles, eight of them coming when she was a teenager.

si.com

Jim Brown

Tackling Jim Brown was no easy task, and the photo above, where two Giants attempt to tackle the future Hall of Famer, further bolsters this statement. A nine-time Pro Bowler and three-time league MVP, Brown is widely considered the greatest Cleveland Browns player of all time, if not the best running back in NFL history. To be fair, that franchise has a less-than-impressive history after its sterling entry in to the league in the 1950s and is more known for its losing ways than winning. Besides being a standout football player, Brown was an All-American lacrosse player, standout guard on the basketball team, and member of the track and field team at Syracuse University.

vintage photos

espn.com

Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain holds the NBA record for most rebounds in a career at 23,924, and is the only player to score 100 points in a game, although footage of this monumental performance doesn’t exist. Despite holding numerous records and being one of the more formidable players of his generation, Wilt only won two NBA championships and was often criticized by his contemporaries for being too soft, too focused on stardom and not enough on winning.

vintage photos

slamonline.com

John Carlos and Tommie Smith

John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists for equality during the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. The buildup to the 1968 games was full of tension regarding social injustices taking place across the world. Questions swirled surrounding apartheid South Africa’s participation in the games, Mexico’s handling of the games, the Vietnam War, and racial inequality in America. To raise more awareness, American sprinters Carlos and Smith (bronze and gold respectively) made a statement on the medal podium by raising black-gloved fists in the air and taking off their shoes to raise awareness for poverty and injustice in America.

vintage photos

huffingtonpost.com

Ali Knockout

Muhammad Ali versus Sonny Liston was the super-fight no one was able to see. Held in Lewiston, Me., due to security concerns, this 1965 super-fight took place in a high school gymnasium that only filled up half of its capacity on fight night — a record low crowd for a title fight. After a tense, politically charged buildup, the fight questionably ended in the first round. Ali caught Liston with a quick, nearly invisible hook that sent the former champion tumbling to the canvas. The photo of Ali celebrating above his downed opponent has become one of the most famous in boxing.

vintage photos

time.com

Tiger Woods and Greg Norman

Before Tiger Woods was the greatest golfer of the 2000’s, he was a kid at Stanford University. Pictured here are Woods and Greg Norman at the 1995 Masters. As a 19-year-old freshman at Stanford, this would be Woods’ first major championship. Tiger placed 41st in the tournament and was the only amatuer to make the cut. Norman finished tied for third place.

Two years later, Woods would win his first Masters, becoming the youngest — and first person of color — to win the tournament.

cbssports.com

Joe DiMaggio’s 56-Game Hit Streak

One of the streaks in sports that doesn’t seem like it’ll ever be broken is Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak in 1941. The nine-time World Series champion’s crowning achievement isn’t the nine championships or the three MVP awards. It’s his seemingly unbreakable hitting streak. The next longest hitting streak in the modern era was Pete Rose’s during the 1978 season where he hit safely in 44 straight games — an impressive feat that falls considerably short of DiMaggio’s.

vintage photos

newsday.com

Tony Esposito

During the Cold War, sports was one of the great equalizers used to determine which philosophy — Eastern or Western — was better, more advanced, more dominant. Pictured here is Canadian goalie Tony Esposito during the intense eight-game hockey series in 1972 that pitted the Soviet Union against Canada. At the time, the USSR dominated international hockey because NHL players were barred from playing, putting Canada at a severe disadvantage. Dubbed the Summit Series, each team fielded their best roster regardless of professional status. Team Canada, led by Hall of Fame goalie (and older brother of Phil Esposito) Tony Esposito, won four games and tied one, while the Soviets won three games.

vintage photos

nhl.com

Babe Ruth

Widely regarded as one baseball’s greatest hitters, Babe Ruth ushered in the live-ball era of baseball with tremendous power and exciting home runs. He was an integral part of baseball’s growth and was a unique player that was both a successful pitcher and feared hitter. Following his trade from Boston to New York (known as the catalyst for the “Curse of the Bambino”), Boston suffered an 86-year long World Series championship drought while New York dominated baseball decade after decade. Ruth was one of the original members of the Baseball Hall of Fame and retired with 714 home runs.

vintage photos

nj.com

Ted Williams

The face of the Boston Red Sox, Ted Williams did it all for Boston except win a World Series. Williams, a fighter pilot during World War II and the Korean War, is considered the greatest overall hitter in baseball’s long history. He’s the last player to hit above .400 in a season and was as decorated on the field as he was a pilot. An American hero, Williams hit over 500 home runs, has the highest on base percentage of all-time, and flew 39 combat missions in Korea. Following the Korean War, Williams seamlessly transitioned back to baseball as if he never left.

vintage photos

afootinthebox.com

Bob Feller High Kick

Bob Feller was an eight-time All-Star pitcher for the Cleveland Indians who helped the franchise win the World Series in 1948. He was also the first athlete to volunteer for military service during World War II, serving in the United States Navy. Besides being a national hero, Feller was a national attraction any time he stepped on the mound. Most famous for his exaggerated leg kick, Feller’s delivery was unique yet effective. He retired from baseball as one of the most celebrated pitchers and was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 1962.

vintage photos

cleveland.com

Magic Johnson and Elvira

When Magic Johnson graduated from Michigan State University, he was destined for stardom, and when the Los Angeles Lakers selected him first overall in the 1979 NBA Draft, all the stars began to shine a bit brighter. At the 1988 MTV Video Music Awards, Johnson, a solidified superstar who embraced the Hollywood spotlight and embodied the showtime Lakers, was clowning around with Cassandra Peterson, better known as the comical horror character Elvira.

INXS took home the Video of the Year with “Need you Tonight/Mediate”. Oh how the times have changed.

bleacherreport.com

Roger Bannister Sub-Four Minute Mile

Breaking the four-minute mile was thought to be impossible, a task too great for humans. That is until Roger Bannister, a skinny kid from Harrow, England, eclipsed the mark in 1954. With an official time of 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds, Bannister instantly became one of the world’s most celebrated athletes and an English hero. Although the record would last only 46 days, his remarkable feat paved the way for future generations of runners. Following his running career, Bannister became a well-respected neurologist.

vintage photos

smithsonianmag.com

Michael Jordan and His Super Cars

Michael Jordan knew how to ball and intimidate his opponents before the game even started. He also knew how to appreciate the finer things in life. An avid cigar smoker and sports car collector, Jordan was known to arrive to the arena in some of the flashiest cars on the market including Ferraris and Aston Martins. He did this partly because he liked the super cars, and partly to let everyone know he was in the building — to assert his dominance before he even stepped on the court.

He was even so passionate about sleek sports cars that he had one of his signature Jordan shoes — the Air Jordan XIVs — designed after a Ferrari F335.

And with a net worth of $1.7 billion, Jordan doesn’t have to lose any sleep pondering the price tag on these super cars.

yahoo.com

Jesse Owens 1936

Although the Olympics are supposed to be an apolitical spectacle, a strict demonstration of sport, they hardly ever are. And in 1936, the Berlin Olympics were supposed to be Adolph Hitler’s way of  broadcasting to the world Germany’s supremacy. The podium was supposed to be full of blonde-hair, blue-eyed Germans. But American sprinter Jesse Owens had other plans. Owens, an African-American, won four gold medals during the games while setting multiple world records. More importantly, he stood up to Hitler in a hostile environment and crushed the dictator’s belief in Aryan superiority.

vintage photos

rarehistoricalphotos.com

Red Auerbach 1963 ECF champs

Victory cigars are an essential part of a proper athletic achievement celebration. Michael Jordan can be seen chomping away at a cigar following each of his six titles. Same with Kobe and many other athletes who like to inhale the smoke of victory. But this trend wasn’t always in style. It was legendary Celtics coach Red Auerbach who popularized the victory cigar during his run as head coach. And with nine championships in a 10-season span between 1957-66, the image of Auerbach with a cigar was omnipresent.

vintage photos

boston.com

Super Bowl IV

The final Super Bowl that pitted the AFL vs. the NFL was held on January 11, 1970, between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Minnesota Vikings. Although many people believed the NFL to be the far-superior league, the Chiefs of the AFL dominated the game from the outset. The muddy game, held in New Orleans’ Tulane Stadium (since demolished), saw kicker Jan Stenerud (above, No. 3 ) hit three field goals and converted on two extra points. Stenerud would be elected into the Hall of Fame in 1991.

vintage photos

nfl.com

First World Series

The first World Series in modern history took place in 1903. In an exhausting nine-game series, the Boston Americans defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates five games to three. Pictured here are fans storming Boston’s Huntington Avenue Grounds (presumably) following Boston’s victory in the series.

vintage photos

wikipedia.org

First NBA Finals

The first NBA Finals took place in 1947 between the Chicago Stags and the Philadelphia Warriors. At that time, the predecessor to the NBA, the Basketball Association of America (BAA), was the sport’s premier governing body. A few seasons later, the BAA and the National Basketball League (NBL) merged together to form the NBA as we now know it. However, the NBA considers all BAA records and stats to be their own, thus the 1947 Finals are considered the first NBA Finals in history. Philadelphia won the series 4-1.

vintage photos

nba.com

First Stanley Cup Finals

In 1926, the World Hockey League folded and the league was purchased by the National Hockey League, who immediately became the sole league in charge of Lord Stanley’s Cup. Thus, the 1927 Stanley Cup Finals was the first in NHL history exclusively featuring two NHL teams. The Ottawa Senators squared off against the Boston Bruins (pictured above), winning the series 2-0. To date, it’s their most recent Stanley Cup victory.

vintage photos

stanleycupofchowder.com

Ali’s First Fight

Before Muhammad Ali converted to Islam, he was Cassius Clay, the quick witted and even quicker striking legend from Louisville, Kentucky. After a promising amateur career, Ali took on Tunney Hunsaker, a West Virginia policeman, in his first professional fight. In front of a sold out home crowd at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ali won in a unanimous decision. The two opponents would later become good friends.

vintage photos

ftw.usatoday.com

Ali Wins Gold

The 1960 Summer Olympics took place in Rome and featured a young Cassius Clay, who would later become Muhammad Ali in 1964. At the Olympics, Ali represented the country he would later take to court to fight his drafting into the Vietnam War. In the Olympic tournament, Ali went 4-0 and won the Light Heavyweight division by beating a Polish boxer in the finals. It would be Ali’s only Olympic games as an athlete. His political battles behind him, Ali it the torch at the Atlanta Summer Games in 1996.

vintage photos

keywordsuggest.org

Kentucky vs. Baylor 1948

The University of Kentucky has one of the most storied basketball programs in America. Their head coach, Adolph Rupp, was one of the most successful coaches of all time and built the Wildcats into the powerhouse that they are today. Their winning ways began in 1948 when the program won their first NCAA title. Adolph Rupp’s Wildcats defeated the Baylor Bears 58-42. They’d win four titles in a five-year span.

vintage photos

bigbluehistory.net

UCLA’s First Perfect Season

Head Coach John Wooden had a knack for winning. He won a record 10 NCAA Championships and led four teams to perfect seasons. The first undefeated season was in 1964 and was capped off by a 15-point victory against Duke University. It would be Wooden’s first of many championships and was UCLA’s first basketball title.

vintage photos

thegruelingtruth.net

Texas Western’s National Championship

The University of Texas El Paso doesn’t have the most storied athletic department in history, but they do have one of the most monumental victories in the NCAA Tournament. In 1966, UTEP, then known as Texas Western, defeated Kentucky 72-65 to claim the university’s first title. The importance of the victory wasn’t the final score, however. Their victory marked the first time in history that a team started five African-American players in a title game. Kentucky, conversely, had no black players on their team.

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tshaonline.org

Staubach’s Heisman

The second (and last) Heisman winner in the U.S. Naval Academy’s history belonged to All-American quarterback Roger Staubach. One of the greatest athletes to emerge from the Naval Academy, Staubach won the 1963 Heisman Trophy Award and was a highly coveted NFL prospect. Before starring for the Cowboys, Staubach served in the U.S. Navy and was deployed to Vietnam. In the NFL, Roger led the Cowboys to two Super Bowl victories (in four appearances) and racked up numerous personal accolades throughout his 11-year career.

vintage photos

nydailynews.com

O.J. Simpson USC

Before the juice was on the loose in his White Ford Bronco, he was breaking free of tackles and scoring with ease. Considered one of the most prolific players in USC’s illustrious history, Simpson finished his career a National Champion, two-time All-American, and Heisman winner. In the 1969 NFL Draft, Simpson was taken first overall by the Buffalo Bills. He’d finish his NFL career a 5-time Pro Bowler and won, among other awards, an MVP.

vintage photos

blacksportsonline.com

Bear Bryant

Known for his houndstooth hat and jacket, Alabama’s Bear Bryant guided his teams to six national championships and fully solidified ‘Bama as one of the premier programs in college football. He’s also one of the few coaches to have coached at a stadium named after himself. When he retired in 1982, Bryant held the record for most national championships by a coach, something Nick Saban would tie many years later while coaching at Alabama.

vintage photos

al.com

Namath’s Super Bowl

“Broadway” Joe Namath is known for his epic drunken public display of affection on an ESPN NFL telecast and for his famous guarantee before Super Bowl III. Namath, the star quarterback for the Jets, declared to the media, “We’re going to win the game. I guarantee it.” In one of the biggest Super Bowl upsets, Namath and the underdog Jets offense picked apart the vaunted Colts defense on their way to a 16-7 victory. It proved to be the Jets only Super Bowl victory. Namath was named MVP of the game.

vintage photos

americanfootball.wikia.com

Ice Bowl

The 1967 NFL Championship game saw the brightest stars freeze before the masses. Two future Hall of Fame coaches in Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry. Two of America’s most popular teams. And one frozen stadium. With temperatures approaching -13 degrees Fahrenheit (-48 with wind chill), Lambeau Field was, quite literally, frozen. Dubbed the Ice Bowl, this grueling contest for the championship was eventually won by the Packers by a score of 21-17. Fans froze, players turned to ice, and whistles were rendered useless.

vintage photos

profootballhof.com

1919 Black Sox

The biggest scandal to rock Major League Baseball happened in 1919 when the Chicago White Sox intentionally threw the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. The White Sox were one of baseball’s best clubs. They were also one of the unhappiest. Despite being a formidable team, players griped at how little they were compensated, and when a local mobster proposed the White Sox fix the World Series for some extra cash, some players were all-in. In total, eight players were found guilty of throwing the series and were banned from baseball for life and were prohibited from being elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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chicagotribune.com

Jackie Robinson

The man that would break baseball’s color barrier needed to be amazing on the field. He had to prove to potential suitors that he was capable of playing in an all-white league, with all eyes on him. That he, despite racism, taunting, and threats of violence, could perform at a high level and not fight back. When Jackie Robinson broke through to the Majors in 1947, he proved that he — and blacks across America — belonged. Robinson finished his monumental career a six-time All-Star, World Series champion, and National League MVP.

vintage photos

grantland.com

Fisk’s Wave

The Red Sox would not win the 1975 World Series. They would lose in heartbreaking fashion in Game 7. But to get to Game 7, Boston would be on the right side of one of baseball’s most clutch home runs. In the bottom of the 12th inning of Game 6, Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk hit a walk-off, Game 7-forcing home run that clanked off the left-field foul pole. The iconic image of Fisk jumping in the air, desperately trying to wave the ball fair, is burned in the minds of baseball fans everywhere.

vintage photos

youtube.com

1980 Olympics

Russian-Polish relations during the Cold War were lukewarm at best, and leaned towards the side of very tense more often than not. So when the 1980 Summer Olympics took place in the Soviet Union, there were bound to a number of tense interactions. The games were a way to showcase Communism vs Xapitalism. And when Polish pole vaulter Wladyslaw Kozakiewicz set the world record in pole vaulting en route to a gold medal, his landing was more than emphatic. Pictured above is Kozakiewicz giving what’s known as the Italian Salute to the raucous Soviet crowd.

vintage photos

rarehistoricalphotos.com

Abebe 1960 Olympics

Ethiopian marathon runner Abebe Bikila became the first Olympian to successfully defend his marathon title. Abebe’s first gold medal performance came during the 1960 Rome Summer Olympics where he, pictured above, ran the course barefoot. Four years later, Abebe went on to win gold in the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics, this time with shoes.

vintage photos

onlineethiopia.net

Jim Brown’s Lacrosse Career

He may be the greatest all-around athlete in American sports. We mentioned him before while he was playing for the Browns, but Jim Brown was also an All-American lacrosse player at Syracuse University. Had lacrosse been as profitable and popular as football, Brown easily could have had a career scoring goals instead of touchdowns. Brown himself loved the sport more than football and believed he was more talented at it.

vintage photos

nhregister.com

1966 World Cup

For a country that loves soccer as much as England does, for a country that boasts it has the best soccer league in the world, for a country that puts so much pride into the sport of soccer, it’s relatively amazing that they only have one World Cup victory to show for it. In 1966, England, in front of its home crowd, won its first and only World Cup by defeating West Germany 4-2.

1960 U.S. Hockey

When the U.S. defeated the Soviet Union in men’s hockey at the 1980 Winter Olympics, it was a monumental upset that led to the U.S. winning gold. But it wasn’t the first time that the U.S. beat their bitter nemesis on the ice. During the 1960 Olympic hockey tournament, held in Squaw Valley, Calif., the United States were heavy underdogs. Somehow, the United States managed to go undefeated leading up to their semifinal matchup against the Soviet Union. Facing the far-superior USSR, the Americans pulled off the tournament’s greatest upset, winning the game 3-2, and marking the first time the U.S. beat the Soviets in Olympic competition. The following day, the U.S. defeated Czechoslovakia 9-4 to win their first Olympic gold.

vintage photos

nbcnews.com

Johnny Unitas

Three-time NFL Champion and winning quarterback of “The Greatest Game Ever Played” — the 1958 title game and first sudden-death game in NFL history — Johnny Unitas truly popularized the quarterback position. Drafted out of Louisville in 1955, Unitas had a prolific career primarily throwing for the Baltimore Colts. His long-standing record of consecutive games with a passing touchdown stood for 52 years before Drew Brees finally broke it in 2012.

vintage photos

stampedeblue.com

Alan Page

Defensive players just don’t win the NFL MVP Award. Unless you’re Alan Page, Hall of Fame defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings. Page, a nine-time Pro Bowler and nine-time All-Pro, was the league’s first defensive player to win the prestigious MVP Award. He won it in 1971, two years removed from his first and only NFL championship before the merger with the AFL.  Following his football career, in which Page’s Vikings would appear in three more Super Bowls, Page became an Associate Justice with the Minnesota Supreme Court.

vintage photos

dailynorseman.com

Lew Alcindor At UCLA

Before Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was Kareem, he was Lew Alcindor of the UCLA Bruins, converting to Islam and changing his name before his senior season. In his three years starring on the varsity squad for UCLA, Alcindor won three National Championships, was a three-time All-American, and was named the NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player three times. In three years, Alcindor and the dominant Bruins lost a total of two games, bringing their record over that time period to 88-2.

vintage photos

wbur.org

The Dream Team

Larry Legend is one of the greatest NBA players and Celtics of all time. With three championships and 3 MVP awards to complement his 12 All-Star appearances, Bird was pure dominance. On the international stage, the sharp shooter shined as well.

Here, Bird relaxes on the court during the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. As a member of the greatest basketball team ever assembled, the Dream Team, Bird would easily win the gold medal.

Next to him is Charles Barkley. A great player himself, Barkley won two Olympic gold medals (1992, 1996) but never reached the pinnacle of NBA success- winning the Finals.

boston.com

Cy Young

The man behind the best pitching award in baseball is, in fact, Cy Young. Young played for 22 seasons in the Majors and won a record 511 games and one World Series. One year following his death, baseball introduced the Cy Young Award, given annually to the best pitcher in baseball (one pitcher is awarded from both the American and National League).

vintage photos

1960sbaseball.com

Bob Cousy

Bob Cousy was one of the original pure point guards in the NBA, leading the league in assists eight straight seasons. He won six championships as part of the Celtics dynasty and was named to 13 All-Star games. Before his time in the pros, Cousy was leading his college, Holy Cross, to the NCAA Tournament.

vintage photos

celticslife.com

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