Fifty years ago -- in 1964 -- this setup at Shea Stadium was one of the many ingenious ways 22-year-old photographer Neil Leifer was taking award-winning shots for SI and Life magazines. What follows are 50 of the images he captured during that sports year -- including assignments at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and Cassius Clay-Sonny Liston in Miami.
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Leifer wields a camera with a 4,000 mm lens from the bleachers during a game at White Sox Park in Chicago.
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A panoramic portrait of Baltimore Orioles general manager Lee MacPhail (center), manager Hank Bauer (42), the Orioles coaching staff and players during spring training. The team would finish third in the American League that year.
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Johnny Unitas, Carl Eller
Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas faces pressure from Carl Eller of the Minnesota Vikings. Unitas would lead Baltimore to the 1964 NFL Championship, where it would fall to the Cleveland Browns.
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Cassius Clay celebrates his stunning victory over Sonny Liston in one of the most anticipated fights in boxing history. The bout became a star-making moment for Clay, who would change his name to Muhammad Ali in the months that followed.
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Green Bay Packers Paul Hornung, Bart Starr and head coach Vince Lombardi look on from the sidelines in a game against the Baltimore Colts. The Packers finished second in the NFL's Western Conference.
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Texas coach Darrell Royal with his team at the 1964 Cotton Bowl. The undefeated Longhorns would move to 10-0 with a win over Navy in the first of two career meetings between the schools.
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Texas quarterback Duke Carlisle throws under pressure from Navy defenders during the 1964 Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The Longhorns defeated the Midshipmen 28-6.
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American sprinter Bob Hayes ties the world record in the 100-meter dash with a 10.06 clocking in the final at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.
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A closeup of Bob Hayes after his gold medal-winning performance. He would go on to star in the NFL and is the only person to win a Super Bowl ring and an Olympic gold medal.
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Billy Mills (722) bides his time in the 10,000 meters at the Tokyo Olympics. An unheralded member of the 1964 U.S. team, he's the first and only American to win Olympic gold in the event. He followed Jim Thorpe as the second Native American to earn a gold medal.
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Michigan's Cazzie Russell (33) buries the game-winning shot against Princeton at Madison Square Garden. The Wolverines would win the Big Ten before falling to Duke in a Final Four semifinal that season.
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John Wooden and team
UCLA coach John Wooden poses with Bruins (from left) Kenny Washington, Fred Goss, Mike Lynn, Vaughn Hoffman and Edgar Lacey. UCLA won its first national championship in 1964, completing a 30-0 season with a 93-83 victory over Duke in the final.
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Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns leaves the field after a game with the New York Giants at Yankee Stadium. Brown would run for 1,446 yards that season and lead Cleveland to a championship.
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Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas studies his playbook.
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New York Giants quarterback Y.A. Tittle (14) between plays against the Cleveland Browns. The 1964 season would be the last of his Hall of Fame career.
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Jim Welch, Ted Davis
Baltimore Colts Jim Welch (right) and Ted Davis casually browse through <italics>Playboy</italics> before practice at Memorial Stadium.
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Brooks Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles creeps toward the batter's box against the New York Yankees. Robinson took home MVP honors that season.
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Willie Mays of the San Francisco Giants shouts from the dugout during a game against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium. At age 33, Mays led the National League in home runs with 47.
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Milwaukee Braves outfielder Hank Aaron sits in the dugout before a road game with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Aaron hit .328 with 24 homers and 95 RBI in the 1964 season.
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Hank Aaron at bat against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
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Northern Dancer, Willie Shoemaker
All-time great jockey Willie Shoemaker with Northern Dancer at the 1964 Florida Derby.
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Northern Dancer, Bill Hartack
Jockey Bill Hartack in action aboard Northern Dancer (2) in the Kentucky Derby. The Canadian horse beat Hill Rise by a neck.
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A closeup of Bill Hartack, the jockey for Northern Dancer, before the Belmont Stakes. Northern Dancer, winner of 1964's Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, would fail to capture the Triple Crown, finishing third.
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Princeton's Bill Bradley during an SI cover shoot. The Tigers fought their way to a Final Four berth and finished third on the strength of Bradley's effort in a tournament in which he was named most outstanding player.
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Steve Stonebreaker (31) and Fred Miller (76) of the Baltimore Colts tackle Jim Taylor of the Green Bay Packers at City Stadium in Green Bay.
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Jim Kanicki (69) of the Cleveland Browns wraps up Joe Childress of the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis.
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Johnny Unitas, Don Shula
A portrait of Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas and head coach Don Shula at Memorial Stadium. Unitas won the second of his three MVP awards that year.
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Jim Brown takes off against the Philadelphia Eagles. He won the seventh of his eight rushing titles in 1964.
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A closeup of Jim Brown during a game versus the Green Bay Packers in Milwaukee.
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Washington Redskins punter Pat Richter boots one against the Colts at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. He had the most punts in the league in '64 with 91 and the most yards, too, 3,749.
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NFL Championship Game
A view of Cleveland Municipal Stadium as the Baltimore Colts take on the Cleveland Browns for the NFL Championship Game. The Browns won 27-0.
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Buffalo Bills quarterback and future Congressman Jack Kemp (15) falls in for an insurance touchdown during a 20-7 win in the AFL Championship Game against the San Diego Chargers at War Memorial Stadium.
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New York Mets manager Casey Stengel poses in a bed of flowers before the first regular season game at Shea Stadium.
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Baltimore Orioles manager Hank Bauer argues with the home plate umpire during a game against the Kansas City Athletics.
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Bill Mazeroski of the Pittsburgh Pirates turns two, avoiding a sliding George Altman of the New York Mets.
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Jackie Brandt, Joe Horlen
Jackie Brandt of the Baltimore Orioles grounds out against Chicago White Sox pitcher Joe Horlen at White Sox Park. Horlen led the majors in WHIP (.935) that year and posted career bests with a 1.88 ERA and 138 strikeouts. He also led the majors by allowing only 6.07 hits per nine innings.
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New York Yankees outfielder Mickey Mantle steps to the plate against the Kansas City Athletics at Yankee Stadium. He finished second to Brooks Robinson in the AL MVP voting in 1964.
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Donn Clendenon of the Pittsburgh Pirates breaks for second base against the New York Mets at Forbes Field.
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New York Mets third baseman Charley Smith covers the bag at Forbes Field as a Pittsburgh Pirates baserunner is obscured in dust.
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Boston Celtics forward Tommy Heinsohn poses at Faneuil Hall Marketplace. The Celtics won their seventh NBA championship in 1964, and their eighth the following year.
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Torchbearer Yoshinori Sakai of Japan lights the flame at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. He was born in Hiroshima on the day an atomic bomb was dropped on that city.
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New Zealand's Peter Snell (466) leads the pack at the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics. Snell would take home gold in both the 800M and 1500M events.
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Bob Schul of the U.S. celebrates his win in the 5,000 meters at the Tokyo Olympics. To this day, he's the only American to win Olympic gold at that distance.
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American swimmer Don Schollander (Lane 4) wins a preliminary race at the Tokyo Olympics. Schollander took home gold in the 400-meter freestyle and three other events, making him the most decorated Olympian at the 1964 Games.
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A portrait of legendary bowler Dick Weber during a photo shoot.
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Cassius Clay sounds off during weigh-ins prior to his bout with Sonny Liston.
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Cassius Clay, Sonny Liston
Cassius Clay throws a right against heavily favored champ Sonny Liston.
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Cassius Clay, Sonny Liston
Clay dodges a left from Liston.
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A battered Sonny Liston sits on his stool, unable to begin the seventh round and conceding his heavyweight belt to Cassius Clay.
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