Sometimes fans are blessed with unforgettable years when their city's teams are winning championships and its legendary stars are shining bright. In February, Ben Roethlisberger led Pittsburgh's Steelers to a dramatic 27-23 Super Bowl victory over the Arizona Cardinals, thanks to a spectacular end zone catch by Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds left. Four months later, Sidney Crosby and the Penguins captured the Stanley Cup by rallying from a three games to two deficit against the defending champion Detroit Red Wings. Alas, the Pirates achieved baseball infamy with their 17th straight losing season, but times were brighter in 1979, a year included in this gallery of 10 golden years, some of which do not fall within a strict 12 month calendar period.
2 of 10Richard Meek/SI
The `50s were a golden age for sports in New York, with the Yankees, Giants or Brooklyn Dodgers winning the World Series every year except 1957 (the Yankees lost) and `59. In 1956, Mickey Mantle won the Triple Crown and his Yankees took a seven-game series rematch over Jackie Robinson's Dodgers with Don Larsen throwing a perfect game in Game 5. On the gridiron, the football Giants of Frank Gifford and Sam Huff cap beat the Chicago Bears 47-7 for the NFL title.
3 of 10John W. McDonough, Al Tielemans(2), Robert Beck/SI
The Patriots began 2004 with QB Tom Brady earning MVP honors in their second Super Bowl victory since 2002: a 32-29 thriller against Carolina. In October, the Red Sox magically reversed their 86-year curse by becoming the first MLB team to come back from a three-games-to-none deficit and win a seven-game series, upending the hated Yankees in the ALCS as Curt Schilling produced his legendary "bloody sock" game. The Sox went on to sweep St. Louis in the World Series. The following February, the Patriots repeated as champs by beating the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl.
4 of 10Walter Iooss Jr.(2), James Drake, George Kalinsky/SI
In January, Jets quarterback Joe Namath guaranteed a stunning Super Bowl III upset over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts, and delivered. In October, the Miracle Mets of Tom Seaver completed their first winning season by upsetting the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series. The following May, injured captain Willis Reed of the Knicks limped onto the court at Madison Square before Game 7 of the NBA Finals, inspiring his team to a championship win over Wilt Chamberlain's Los Angeles Lakers.
5 of 10Al Tielemans, Michael O'Neill, Dave Sandford/SI; Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
David "Big Papi" Ortiz and the Red Sox won their second World Series in four years by sweeping Colorado. The Patriots, meanwhile, began a record 18-0 run that was ended by the New York Giants in a Super Bowl upset in February 2008. The sting was soothed somewhat the following June by Kevin Garnett and the Celtics winning the NBA Championship as franchise legends Bill Russell and John Havlicek looked on. And on the ice, the revived Bruins of Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas began a 2008-09 season that saw them compile the NHL's best record.
6 of 10Peter Read Miller, John W. McDonough, V.J. Lovero, John Iacono/SI(2)
San Francisco Bay Area
Joe Montana led the 49ers to their third Super Bowl win with a riveting 92-yard drive in the final minutes against Cincinnati. In October, the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's met in the Bay Bridge Series, swept by the A's and unfortunately interrupted by an earthquake. On a more positive note, it was the second of three consecutive World Series appearances for Oakland, a feat the franchise had previously produced in 1972-74 thanks to the Swingin' A's of Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers and Sal Bando. In January 1990, Montana shredded the Denver Broncos, 55-10, in Super Bowl XXIV.
7 of 10Bill Robbins, Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
Magic Johnson's Showtime Lakers won their third NBA since 1985 by beating Detroit in the finals. The following August, hockey's greatest player, Wayne Gretzky, was traded to the Kings. In October, Kirk Gibson's dramatic pinch-hit, walk-off home run off Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 sparked the Dodgers to a World Series win over the A's. "The impossible has happened!" was legendary broadcaster Vin Scully's call.
8 of 10Walter Iooss Jr./SI
Terry Bradshaw showed Hollywood Henderson just how smart he was by leading the Steelers to a 35-31 Super Bowl win over the Dallas Cowboys -- their third NFL title in five years. In October, Willie Stargell's "We Are Family" Pirates upended the Orioles in a seven-game World Series. The following January, Bradshaw and the Steelers repeated with a 31-19 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV.
9 of 10Herb Scharfman, Walter Iooss Jr./SI
In October 1970, the mighty Orioles of Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer and Boog Powell -- skippered by the volatile Earl Weaver -- redeemed their loss to the Mets in '69 by handily beating the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. The following January, the Colts edged the Cowboys in Super Bowl V, thanks to Jim O'Brien's game-winning field goal with five seconds left.
10 of 10John Iacono, Andy Hayt(3), Ronald C. Modra/SI; AP
The swaggering 1986 Mets of Lenny Dykstra and Darryl Strawberry won 108 games, beat the Houston Astros in an epic NLCS with the decisive Game 6 lasting 16 pulsating innings, and then went the distance with the Red Sox in a World Series made unforgettable by Bill Buckner's Game 6 gaffe. The city also thrilled to the New York Giants of Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor, who won the franchise's first NFL championship since 1956 by pounding John Elway and the Denver Broncos, 39-20, in the Super Bowl in January 1987.
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