I have been fortunate to attend many great and famous sporting events over the years. I decided to make a list, just in case I forget, in my later years. I wish my Dad was still alive so we could go together. Here they are, in no particular order. I did complete for my personal sports-fecta a few years ago. It consisted of Wimbledon (All England Lawn Tennis Championship), the Indianapolis 500 Auto Race, and the Kentucky Derby, often billed as the most exciting two minutes in sports.
1984 Summer Olympics, Los Angeles
I saw the tennis and boxing, where Evander Holyfield was disqualified. My friend Brad and I polished off several Heinekens and Carlsbergs on this hot summer day. The UCLA Tennis Center was the site of the tennis matches. We saw the boxing at the old LA Sports Arena, along with some famous people, like Kirk Douglas.
1990, 1998, 2000, 2010 and 2012 U.S. Open Golf Championships
Olympic Club in 1998 when Lee Janzen won, and 2000 at Pebble Beach when Tiger won by 15 strokes! Who won in 2010 at Pebble? I think it was Graeme McDowell. And I have played both courses. Oly Club has the most unique burger, in that it fits into a hot dog bun for ease of eating while playing golf. So, I also went up to Olympic for the 2012 Open championship.
1972 NCAA Final Four Basketball Championship Game
At the old Los Angeles Sports Arena, won by, none other than the late, great Johnny Wooden and the great UCLA Bruins. It was not the circus that it is now. But I would not mind going again, if my Cal Bears should admit some hoodlums into school and let them play for a year like the ACC and SEC schools. I attended the 2014 Final Four in Dallas. won by UCONN, along with the free Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert at Reunion Park.
1984 Super Bowl in Palo Alto; 2012 Super Bowl 47 in New Orleans
Won by our San Francisco 49ers over Miami. The two Miami quarterbacks (Marino and Strock) ate in my friend’s sushi restaurant in Los Altos earlier that day. Maybe they got some bad fish? I took the Sunset Limited (Amtrak) from Los Angeles to Nawlins to see my Niners just come up short at the Superdome against the Baltimore Ravens.
2008 Kentucky Derby
Won by Big Brown, a great horse and we held a winning ticket. We loved the champagne, Mint Juleps, and big hats. And the Maker’s Mark bourbon and lobster rolls. They call it the most exciting two minutes in sports. Now, the tradition has been transformed into an annual hat contest and party here at home, with mint juleps and champagne.
1982 U. S. Open Tennis Championship
Held in Flushing Meadow, NY, next to the Old Shea Stadium and La Guardia Airport. Too bad it is held in NY, or I would go again. I sat in a box seat, courtesy of the Northern California Tennis Association, near Dan Rather, Walter the Cronk, and Althea Gibson. Again, another event that has grown larger upon large.
2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 Indianapolis 500
Won by Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, and Helio Castroneves. I under estimated how much I would enjoy this. But my favorite driver is Danica. The 2011 race was the 100th Anniversary of this great American race. My Dad went a couple times when he was alive. These trips were for him!
Davis Cup Tennis
The Finals in 1979 were held in San Francisco at the old Civic Auditorium. The U.S. was led by John McEnroe and Vitas Gerulaitis vs Italy. The doubles team was Stan Smith and Bob Lutz, and we beat the Italian Davis Cup team 5-0.
The Big Game
Always near the top of my list since I matriculated to Cal twice. (People on tv misuse the word, matriculate). But we usually ended up on the short end, since Stanford can let anyone enroll. I must have seen about ten of these in person, some horizontally, I might add. My favorite players were Craig Morton, Stan Dzura, Chuck Muncie, Aaron Rodgers, and DeSean Jackson. Maybe I will go to a few more if we have a decent team again.
The Warriors won in 1975 with a rag-tag team coached by Al Attles. Former Cal star, Charlie Johnson, was a guard on the team. We had to watch one of the games at the old Cow Palace since the Oakland Coliseum had the circus or some other event. And I was given the tickets, since few games sold out back then.
I went several times, back in 1972, 1973, and 1974 when the Oakland Athletics won three in a row. I also went when the A’s won the Bay Bridge earthquake interrupted series in 1989 (and in 1990 when they lost to the Reds). The best was the 2010 Fall classic with the San Francisco Giants. I went to Game 2 in SF and sat only 3 rows from third base!
Major League Baseball All Star Game
My son and I went to the All Star game and Disneyland back in 1989. Bo Jackson was the big star of the game and chosen MVP. My son got to meet all the Oakland A’s players the next day at the airport, including Reggie.
Masters Golf 2004
My only trip to Augusta Georgia occurred when Phil Mickelson won the green jacket. Fun, but in the middle of an old, white ghetto. I would give almost anything to play this course and Cypress Point on the Monterey Peninsula. They are probably the two most exclusive golf clubs in the world!!!
Wimbledon Tennis: The All England Tennis Championships 2009
I went on five different days. I got to see all the greats: Federer, Del Potro, Roddick, the Williams Sisters, and the Bryan Brothers. Wimbledon has a great tradition, and the few days hanging out in London were tolerable. I even took the chunnel to Paris to visit the Louvre one last time!
On the horizon: Cal in the Rose Bowl (someday, I hope, in my lifetime)
Under strong consideration: World Frisbee Championships, Female Nude Mud Wrestling, Boston Marathon, Tour de Steroid (NOT!!!!), Winter Olympics, and Brazilian teenie bikini finals. Watching the Amgen Tour of California sort of whet my appetite for cycling.
Maybe: Calgary Stampede, the Winter Olympics, and British Open (golf). Skip America’s Cup, it is too elitist a sport for most of us to understand! I also like some of the “events” that TV personality, Art Mann attends.
Never: UFW/MMA, World Series of Poker, and the Stanley Cup Finals. Each of these remind me of watching paint dry slowly on a cold day. I may revisit my stance on the World Cup after the exciting matches involving the U.S. team this past year in Rio.
Possible: Visit all the baseball parks west of the Mississippi River. So far, I have been to ATT (home of the Giants), Oakland Coliseum, LA’s Dodger Stadium, Angels Stadium in Anaheim, Coors Field in Denver, Chase Field in Phoenix, Petco Park in San Diego, old Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Seattle’s Safeco Field). I think that leaves only something in Texas (Arlington and Houston), and poor old Kansas City, which do not even count on my map.
I also think the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton is worthy of a visit. So is the Baseball HOF in Cooperstown. But more than these, I want to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
But I am really not running out of places to visit. I could visit all of the Canadian provinces, or all of the countries in South America that do not rhyme with “why”. Or as my good friend, fellow golfer and erstwhile travel buddy, Mike says, let’s just go where we want to go! I agree.