This one came in while I was still in Minneapolis right after the Eagles became WORLD CHAMPIONS!
Question: Tom Mitchell asked: “Father, now that you were there as a fan for this historic title, where does it rank among your greatest sports experiences?”
Father Kevin: “Wow, Tom, a great question, and thank you for your kind words in addition to your question as a visitor from another parish who loves St. Genevieve. I gave it some good thought, and my top experiences are tilted toward my love of golf, baseball and college basketball over the NFL. But it was the greatest football game I’ve seen, topping the Jan.1,1981 Eagles victory over the Dallas Cowboys at Veterans Stadium that sent the Eagles to their first Super Bowl. I stood in a tunnel the entire game in bitter cold.
Here are my 10 greatest sports experiences (I assume, Tom, you mean events I’ve attended, not watched on TV).
- My first time at The Masters at Augusta National, 1990. Nick Faldo over Ray Floyd in a playoff. I dream of one day going again.
- The Phillies 1980 World Championship clincher: Tug McGraw striking out Willie Wilson to clinch it! A city erupts in joy and tears.
- Sunday in Minneapolis at US Bank Stadium. Eagles 41, Patriots 33. And I didn’t think the Eagles could stay with New England if a high scoring game unfolded. Wrong again. Indescribable.
- The Eagles over Dallas at the Vet, New Year’s Day, 1981. Wilbert Montgomery ran right at us on his game-changing 42-yard TD run. I think I’m still hoarse. The Eagles were headed to the Super Bowl in New Orleans!
- The Spectrum, May 1983: “Beat LA, Beat LA, Beat LA” shook South Philly as Moses Malone, Dr. J, Mo Cheeks and the Sixers headed West to wrap up a four-game-sweep of the Lakers to win the NBA title.
- No. 1 St. Joe’s losing at the buzzer to Oklahoma State in the East Regional Final, 2004 at the Meadowlands, ending a magical season led by the best backcourt in America that year in Jameer Nelson and Delonte West. (I wasn’t at Villanova’s 1985 title win).
- The 1976 boys Catholic League basketball championship: Bishop Kenrick, my alma mater, stunned West Catholic and Michael Brooks (coached by eventual auxiliary bishop of Phila., Fr. Joe McFadden) at the Palestra.
- Seeing Wilt Chamberlain’s 76ers vs. Bill Russell’s Boston Celtics at Convention Hall, 1967: Thanks Dad. I’ll never forget it. Also, will never forget the thick fog of cigarette smoke layered above us from all the smokers. We’ve come a long way.
- My only British Open, Royal Birkdale, Southport, England, 1991: I almost got run over in the stampede up 18 ahead of champion Ian Baker Finch.
- The Final Game at Veterans Stadium, Sept 28, 2003. Memories galore, happy and sad. But I was glad to see it go.
Runners-up: 1. Too many great Big 5 basketball games and classic upsets to choose one or two. 2. Every West Philly vs. Overbook basketball game I saw. Everyone a classic. 3. The 1981 US Open at Merion won by David Graham.
Thank you for allowing me to relive the memories, Tom!”