What a year in sports! Surprise winners such as the Chicago Cubs and USA Ryder Cup team, and sad farewells to greats of the past and present such as Muhammad Ali, Jose Fernandez, Gordie Howe and Arnold Palmer. Here’s our top-10 and the names of those who left us.
NATIONAL TOP TEN:
- Chicago Cubs shock the baseball world by winning their first World Series title since 1908 – defeating the Cleveland Indians in a seven game Fall Classic.
- Sports world mourns loss of iconic stars Muhammad Ali, Gordie Howe and Arnold Palmer.
- Simone Biles, Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps gain fame and gold at the Summer Olympic Games in Rio. Ryan Lochte and three other USA male swimmers are charged with filing false police reports following a drinking binge.
- Cleveland Cavaliers win first-ever NBA Title and the city’s first major sports championship since 1964.
- Denver Broncos defeat the Carolina Panthers 24-10 in Super Bowl 50 as Peyton Manning wins his career finale as Broncos quarterback.
- USA men’s golf wins its first Ryder Cup in eight years by defeating their European rivals at the National Golf Club in Minnesota.
- Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup for first time in seven seasons, defeating the San Jose Sharks, 4 games to 2.
- Villanova men win what was called the best NCAA title game, downing 1-seed North Carolina 77-74 on Kris Jenkins’ three-pointer at the buzzer.
- Alabama and Coach Nick Saban win another National College Football Championship (4th in 7 seasons) defeating Clemson 45-40 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ. Later in 2016, the same two teams win their New Year’s Eve national semifinal games over Ohio State and Washington.
- Nyquist is forced out of horse racing’s Triple Crown due to an injury – missing the Belmont Stakes after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
HONORABLE MENTION: Jimmy Johnson ties Richard Petty with his record 7th NASCAR Cup Series championship; Roger Penske celebrates his 50th year in competitive racing with an IndyCar season series win for driver Simon Pagenaud – Penske’s 14th such title and second in three years (Will Power won in 2014); American Serena Williams wins Wimbledon (her 22nd Grand Slam win) and German Angelique Kerber captures the Australian and U.S. Open singles titles. Hometown favorite Andy Murray of Great Britain takes the Wimbledon men’s singles crown while Novak Djokovik garners Australian and French singles.
DEATHS: Tony Adamowicz, Muhammad Ali, Johnny Bach, Andy Bathgate, Ralph Branca, John Brophy, Dennis Byrd, Paul Carey, Gail Cogdill, Bud Collins, Chapecoense soccer team, Bryan Clauson, Dawn Coe-Jones, Bill Dineen, Bill Dooley, LaVell Edwards, Eddie Einhorn, Chico Fernandez, Jose Fernandez, Bill Gadsby, Joe Garagiola, Harry Gilmer, Dan Grable, Dennis Green, Barney Hall, Jim Ray Hart, Winston Hill, Gordie Howe, Monte Irvin, Mark Johnson, Tom Lysiak, Rick MacLeish, Ted Marchibroda, Ron Mason, Dick McAuliffe, Joe McKnight, Monte Nitzkowski, Arnold Palmer, Milt Pappas, Tony Phillips, Aaron Pryor, Spec Richardson, Jack Riley, Buddy Ryan, Mike Sadler, Craig Sagar, Rashaan Salaam, John Saunders, Jim Simpson, Kimbo Slice, Will Smith, Ed Snider, Bill Stanfill, Pat Summitt, Nate Thurmond, Pearl Washington, Ron Wicks and John Young.