George Plimpton was an American journalist, writer, literary editor, actor and occasional amateur sportsman…..who is widely known for his sports writing….as he was famous for “participatory journalism” which included competing in professional sporting events….and then recording the experience from the point of view of an amateur….such as In 1958, prior to a post-season exhibition game at Yankee Stadium between teams managed by Willie Mays (National League) and Mickey Mantle (American League)….when Plimpton pitched against the National League. His experience was captured in the book Out of My League….an event in which he intended to face both line-ups….but tired badly and was relieved by Hall of Fame Yankee Manager Ralph Houk. Plimpton sparred for three rounds with boxing greats Archie Moore and Sugar Ray Robinson….then attended preseason training with the Detroit Lions of the National Football League as a backup quarterback…and even ran a few plays in an intrasquad scrimmage….as these events were recalled in his best-known book Paper Lion….which was later adapted into a feature film starring Alan Alda released in 1968. Plimpton revisited pro football in 1971 by this time joining the Baltimore Colts and seeing action in an exhibition game against his previous team, the Lions. These experiences served as the basis of another football book by the title of Mad Ducks and Bears….although much of the book dealt with the off-field escapades of football friends such as Alex Karras and Bobby Layne. Another sports book, Open Net, saw him train as an ice hockey goalie with the Boston Bruins…. while even playing part of a National Hockey League preseason game.Plimpton’s classic The Bogey Man chronicles his attempt to play professional golf on the PGA Tour during the Nicklaus and Palmer era of the 1960’s….then after being demolished at tennis by Pancho Gonzales….he wrote that he considered himself to be a fairly accomplished tennis player and that the drubbing by Gonzales was the most surprising of his ventures against the great athletes of his time….so, any way you cut the pie….George Plimpton was probably the most literary Sportsphile ever to grace the sports universe.
In this highlights review of 1982 in sports….Plimpton showcases such events as NHL’s Edmonton Oilers superstar Wayne Gretzky winning the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s top scorer….along with winning theHart Memorial Trophy for the NHL’s Most Valuable Player: Award….and the New York Islanders defeating the Vancouver Canucks 4 – 0 to win the Stanley Cup….and the world of professional tennis with Johan Kriek winning the Australian Open….Mats Wilander the French Open….and Jimmy Connors winning Wimbledon and the US Open…..while on the women’s side….Chris Evert won the Australian and US Opens….with Martina Navratilova winning the French Open and Wimbledon. In horseracing’s Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby was wib bt Gato Del Sol …with Aloma’s Ruler taking the Preakness Stakes….while the Belmont Stakes was won by Conquistador Cielo…..and in the world of figure skating in 1982, it was at the World Figure Skating Championships that USA’s Scott Hamilton and Elaine Zayak winning the men’s and women’s championship….while Sabine Baes & Tassilo Thierbach of Germany took the pair skating championship….and the legendary pair from Great Britian of Jane Torvil & Christopher Dean take the ice dancing competition.
Plimpton provides wonderful highlights of all the major sporting events including the four PGA major golf championships with Craig Stadler’s winat The Masters, Tom Watson’s wins at The US Open and The British Open….and Ray Floyd winning the PGA Championship in 1982….as Major League Baseball saw the St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Milwaukee Brewers in 7 games to claim their first World Championship since 1967….as Cards C Darrell Porter took home the Series MVP trophy.
1982 provided an incredible game in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship as the University of North Carolina defeated Georgetown University 63 – 62….as Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing play their last college games…and in the NBA Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers led by Magic Johnson & Kareem Abdule Jabbar defeat the Dr. J (Julius Erving) and Chocolate Thunder (Daryl Dawkins) led Philadelphia 76’ers in 4 games to 2.
Boxing in 1982 provided such outstanding fights as Heavyweight Champ Larry Holmes defeat of Gerry Cooney for the WBC Heavyweight title….as Gentleman Gerry entered the ring as “The White Hope” in what built up to be a very racially toned fight…..along with Aaron Pryor’s defeat of boxing legend Alexis Argüello in what would later be called the “fight of the decade”….as Pryor retained the WBA‘s world Jr. Welterweight title with a 14th round knockout….then on November 13, 1982, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini would defeat Duk Koo Kim by knockout in 14 rounds….in what would become a famous but tragic fight….when Kim would die just five days later….as this fight’s outcome would bring about many new resolutions to boxing.
In football in 1982, Super Bowl XVI was won by the San Francisco 49ers who defeated the Cincinnati Bengals by a score of 26-21….after an NFL season that went through the 1st players strike in NFL history…..while on the college scene that saw the NCAA National Championship being won by the Clemson Tigers after defeating the Nebraska Cornhuskers by a score of 22 – 15.
The soccer World Cup in Spain was won by Italy as they defeated Germany by a score of 3 – 1 to win their 3rd World Cup….in a year that NHL’s Wayne Gretzky would win the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year and ABC’s Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year….while track and field star Mary Decker would win the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year.
For any and all sports fans….and wanna be Sportsphile’s….this George Plimpton hosted review of sports in 1982 is well worth the watch….cuz it will bring back so many memories from days gone by.