A decade from now, when a Sportsman of the '70s can be selected, Bobby Orr may or may not have earned a place with the men shown here, personalities who reigned as dominant figures in their times. As of today, he is merely off to a sterling start, an innovative and skillful young man who typifies much that happened in 1970. It was a year in which youth was insistent and often exceptional; vitality abounded, conformity was out. Age was served, Brooks Robinson and George Blanda were peerless as old pros. An era passed; was it not just Vince Lombardi but what he stood for, too, that died so unexpectedly? And self-proclaimed individualism ruled; clipping was a penalty that few crew-cut coaches dared impose. Still, in the long view, this decade probably began no more eventfully than the others of this century. Teddy Roosevelt confronted the conservation battle, Joe Louis knew a reeling economy, Joe DiMaggio a war. But somehow, the years with zeroes at the end, 1900-1930-1940 and the lot, seem especially worth remembering. On the following pages are the sporting highlights of the latest one—down to the last laugh.
Shots That Were Stunners
One was made by Jerry West (44) from 63 feet out to tie the New York Knicks at the last second of an NBA playoff game. The other came when Vice President Agnew lashed a wood shot off the head of his partner, Doug Sanders, in the Bob Hope Classic. Neither saved the day. The Lakers lost in overtime and Agnew left Sanders far from par.
A Series Where No Man Was Safe
At least no Cincinnati Red. In the stirring scene below, the catcher missed the tag, the runner missed the plate and the umpire missed it all. His call of "out" may have cost the Reds a game, but it hardly mattered because Brooks Robinson (right) never missed anything.
Losers Weepers at the Arc
Nijinsky was a wonder horse until France's Arc de Triomphe, where he lost by a head and Owner Charles Engelhard shed a tear for immortality missed.
December 21, 1970
The Ladies Were Off and Running
Displaying in their fashion that it was no year to be glib about lib, three women athletes turned in commanding performances. Diane Crump was engaging as the first filly in the Kentucky Derby since Silver Spoon in 1959, and Margaret Court was superb winning the Grand Slam. But none could surpass the grace and glory of Chi Cheng, who broke three world records and tied two.
One That Will Rank with the Classics
The setting, St. Andrews, was worthy of the action as Jack Nicklaus beat Sanders in a frenzied British Open playoff, threw his putter and almost crowned—again!—poor Doug (below). Uncrowned, too, was Tony Jacklin, who shot a wondrous 29, only to lose everything in a storm and the gorse (right).
From Sea to Shining Sea
America the beautiful looked in a mirror and for the first time saw the burden that had been placed upon the land. The people-nature conflict was now plain—as plain as on this New York beach.
Many's the Slip 'tween the...
The staid old competition for the America's Cup turned into a circus, complete with aerial act and a guaranteed crisis a day. In the very first race the Aussies tangled 'Gretel's' spinnaker into an hourglass nightmare and then broke a 100-year record by losing a man overboard. The next time out the U.S., not to be outbumbled, had to have a crewman airlifted to a hospital after he was stung by a bee. Then came a crash, cries of foul, charges of home-ocean refereeing and even the threat of a floating mine. But though the cup swayed, it stayed, thanks to bold, bald Bill Ficker and the beauty at right—'Intrepid.'
Survivor in Year of Flames
In one of the fiery moments of a crash-marred season, Jacky Ickx scrambled to safety from his flaming Ferrari in the Spanish Grand Prix. By fall he was racing's leading driver, for accidents had claimed highly ranked Bruce McLaren as well as the world driving champion, Jochen Rindt.
Richie Allen, ever a slugger, on artificial playing surfaces:
"If a horse can't eat it, I don't want to play on it."
Marty Liquori to Kip Keino as the Kenyan stopped during their confrontation:
"Don't quit, dammit!"
Baron Marcel Bich after getting lost in fog and beaten by Australia's 'Gretel II':
"Je suis dƒìshonorƒì."
Words to Live by
Dave Hill on the U.S. Open course at Hazeltine:
"All it needs is 80 acres of corn and some cows."
Bridgeport Jet Linebacker Wally Florence after crashing into Patricia Palinkas:
"I tried to break her neck."
Two Who Were in Motion with Emotion
The most controversial figures in sport, Joe Namath and Muhammad Ali, continued to act out their very special roles. Playing or play-boying, on the field or in the flicks, in a helmet or a cast, Namath was the idol of his fans. And so it was, too, with Ali, no matter if he fought or not, was jailed or not, regained his heavyweight title or not, he ruled.
Expression in Days of Dissent
The era's passion for self-assertion did not spare sport. Sometimes the feelings were principled, as when the umps had a ball of a strike and the Princeton P stood for peace. And sometimes irate; a benched New York fight referee had to be towed from ringside. But also there was the lamentable: Gary Player, his life threatened, needed armed guards, and Cleveland Catcher Ray Fosse was injured by a cherry bomb.
And Days of Giggles