Top 5 Sporting Events in Memorial Day History

Categories: Sports

Ernie Banks's immortal words used to mean something each Memorial Day.
A month from now (hell, even a second after it concludes), nobody is going to remember and/or care about the Houston Astros' Memorial Day clash with the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field.

Overall, it's a pretty lame sports day today -- the Stanley Cup Finals start on Wednesday and the NBA Finals on Thursday -- so it's probably best to ditch the TV and instead marinate on some of the top Memorial Day sporting events that have occurred over the years.

5. Chicago Blackhawks vs. Philadelphia Flyers, Stanley Cup Finals, 2010
Game 2 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals wasn't the best game ever, but the event did draw a 4.1-percent overnight rating, which individually outmatched the weekend's Coca-Cola 600 and the Indianapolis 500. For those who tuned in, viewers saw a close, defensive-minded game won by Chicago, 2-1. The Blackhawks went on to take home their first title since 1961.

4. Cleveland Indians vs. Tampa Bay Rays, 2009
This ho-hum American League match-up turned out to be bananas after the Indians plated seven runs in the ninth to stun Tampa Bay 11-10. (The Rays had led 10-0 at one point.) Depending on your allegiance, this game is known as the "Memorial Day Miracle" or the "Memorial Day Massacre."

Ray Harroun in his circa 1911 pimpmobile.
3. Indianapolis 500, 1911
The first Indy 500, which took place 100 years ago at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was wrought with controversy. Ray Harroun, the first race-car driver to use this newfangled technology called a rearview mirror, bested 39 other competitors. However, Ralph Mulford, who finished in second place, would unsuccessfully protest that he had lapped Harroun when Harroun's Marmon-Nordyke "Wasp" had to pit on account of a torn tire. Today's Indy 500s typically take place the day before Memorial Day.

2. Memorial Day Doubleheaders, various
When teams started using Mondays as travel days, the old tradition of Memorial Day doubleheaders (as well as Independence and Labor Day twin bills) went kaput. The "let's play two!" ritual was most stable between 1938 and 1956, when the Dodgers called Brooklyn home and the Giants swung for the fences at Manhattan's Polo Grounds.

1. San Antonio Spurs vs. Portland Trial Blazers, Western Conference Finals, 1999
The O.G. of Memorial Day miracles took place during Game 2 of the 1999 Western Conference Finals. With his Spurs trailing the Blazers by two, Sean Elliott would, after tip-toeing the sideline, drill a circus three-pointer over Rasheed Wallace with nine seconds to go. The 86-85 lead held up, and the Spurs would hoist their first NBA championship trophy after sweeping Portland and besting the New York Knicks in five. (Yeah, we boasted a Spurs' moment as number one, but, hey, watch the highlight and try to tell us that watching crybaby Wallace getting schooled isn't pretty awesome.)

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Spurs and Blazers are in the same conference.  This was the Western Conference finals.  The Knicks and Spurs ended up going at it in the finals in 1999.

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