8.28.2009

Five Great Moments I'll Never Forget: dbauhs

My list didn't turn out the way I'd expected. When I thought, "Most memorable Wisconsin sports moments," the first three that came to mind were Yount's 3,000th hit, the 94 Rose Bowl, and Super Bowl XXXI. What I hadn't considered was the difference between memory and folklore. I was young enough to be collecting the Brewer baseball cards the Madison Police handed out when Yount reached his milestone. I never saw it. And even though I watched as the Badgers beat UCLA in Pasadena, I was more interested in the nacho cheese dip on the snack table than I was the game. These two events are just such milestones in Wisconsin Sports history that its easy to remember the repeated clips and stories behind them rather than the moment.

So with those out of the way, there are also a handful of Packer games which I've attended, but as much fun as I had, the games themselves don't stick out as anything more than a game at Lambeau. And don't get me wrong--a trip to Lambeau is an amazing experience in and of itself. But not a moment of any of those trips lived up to the following five:

#5 Badger hoops taking the Big Ten outright in 2003

You can have sky diving. Give me an elated student section at center court any day.

I had season tickets in the student section for the 02-03 season and was in attendance for the last Big Ten game of the year. #14 ranked Illinois came to town ready to battle for the title. After 39 minutes and 59 seconds, it was a tie game at the Kohl Center and Devin Harris was at the line. He missed the first. He hit the second.

The final second passed harmlessly and the tie-dyed Grateful Red stormed the court. Senior Kirk Penney and the rest of the Badger basketball team were hoisted into the air as the Badgers celebrated their first outright conference title since 1947. After the game, Bill Self called the atmosphere as good as any he's been a part of. That goes likewise for me.

#4 Matt Schabert rains on OSU


To defeat the conference powerhouse is one thing. To have your backup QB deliver the knockout blow in front of a prime time national audience is something to cherish.

The Buckeyes were riding a 19 game winning streak as they rolled into Camp Randall with ESPN at their side. Against the backdrop of a late night downpour, the Badgers surprised the Buckeyes by being locked 10-10 well into the 4th quarter. I was in attendance, my white badger shirt soaked and stained red from the body paint splattering off the fan in front of me, and I'm sure I was freezing. I had to have been--it was 11pm on a rainy October night in Wisconsin. But I can't remember. All I recall is the excitement I felt as Matt Schabert tossed a perfect pass over the shoulder of Lee Evans for what turned out to be the game-winning TD, and jumping around despite the lack of House of Pain on the PA.

#3 Ryan Braun downs the Cubs in one swing

This will be the common denominator among any Wisconsin fan's top five for years to come.

Brewers-Cubs games always carry a certain level of intensity, but when CC Sabathia is pitching for the Crew, its the last game of the year and playoffs are on the line, well, things go up a tier. This was a huge game, and when you can't actually attend the huge game, you go for the next best thing: the bar. Normally nothing compares to being at the game, and even at such watering holes as Madisons Echo Tap, its hard to capture the feel of a crowd. But when I saw Braun's tie-breaking home run swing, stood up on the rungs of my bar stool and shouted the incoherence of a victorious moment with my fists raised, it didn't matter where I was. It doesn't even matter that it didn't end the game. That moment was the pinnacle of my excitement during the Brewers' Playoff run, and I'm perfectly happy to have seen it at The Echo.

#2 Reggie White at the Super Bowl.
Though I've always been a Wisconsin sports fan, my tenure as a Packer fanatic began before that of any other team. So the 1996 Super Bowl in New Orleans belongs high on this list. But I feel my favorite moment from this game sometimes gets overlooked, for whatever reason.
If you're going to see a highlight from Super Bowl XXXI, you'll most likely see Favre's audible TD pass to Andre Rison, Freeman's then record-long TD reception, or Desmond Howard's 99 yard kickoff return TD. Each of them is worthy, but to me the defining moment of that game belongs to the Minister of Defense. Reggie's 3 sacks clinched the game, and seeing him tear around the Superdome with his first and only Lombardi Trophy gripped in his giant mitt will forever be the foremost image in my mind. As a sidenote: can you imagine being a quarterback and seeing this man charge at you? I mean, consider he's happy in this photo.

#1 Casillas drives an axe into Goldie's heart

I've never seen such a 180 in a student section. A game which was all but decided ended perfectly for the Badger football team when Jonathan Casillas blocked and recovered a punt in the endzone with less than a minute to go in the game for the lead over host Minnesota.

It was an unlikely turn of events. The Badgers trailed by 10 a mere minute earlier when John Stocco drove the offense in for a touchdown to bring it within 3. The raucus Gopher fanbase was unsettled, but hardly quieted. They continued to talk until Casillas stormed around the corner, blocked the kick, and saved the ball from rolling out of bounds for an insufficient safety. The ref's arms shot in the air.

That was when the student section stopped. Deflated is probably a better word, as all life seemed to have drained from the section. There were no chants of "You still suck!", no exhibits of frustration. They just stood and stared as every red-clad Badger fan absorbed their lost energy and celebrated. It was glorious. My favorite sports moment of all time.


1 comment:

  1. Dude, I was at that game in Minneapolis. It was unreal. You are exactly right on the "tranfer of energy" when that kick was blocked. That hole of a stadium went from Golpher fans cocking off to a deafening roar of Badger fans. That is my favorite "I was at that game" moment in WI sports as well. I think you also have to give some consideration to the Final Four team. Although I wasn't at the game, anyone on State Street that night will never forget it.

    ReplyDelete