The Chicago Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup in 2010 broke a winless streak of 49 years, but it doesn't end there. Only a few years ago, the team was ranked by ESPN as the worst sports franchise with a notoriously bad owner in William "Dollar Bill" Wirtz. After his death in fall 2007, his son Rocky took over and improved the team exponentially over the next few years.
Marian Hossa finally got to lift the cup after being on the losing team in the previous two Stanley Cup finals.
23 year old Jonathan Toews finished off an amazing year, winning Best Forward and a gold medal with Team Canada in the Olympics followed the Con Smythe Trophy and Stanley Cup.
Some estimates put the number of people attending the victory parade at 2 million.
TV analyst and former Blackhawk player Jeremy Roenick broke down on the air after the game, saying "For the kid who was there in 1992 who was crying when I came off the ice in after we lost Game 4 at Chicago Stadium — you waited 18 years. I hope you have a big smile on your face. Congratulations."
And in 2013 after beating the Boston Bruins, they took out a full-page ad in the Boston Globe newspaper thanking the Bruins organization and the city of Boston for a great series and hospitality. Good sportsmanship is not dead at all.
During the 2008-09 season, the entire Chicago Blackhawks team skips out on a day of rest to be with their GM at his late father's wake. To top it off, they make a stop at a small town McDonalds. It almost went un-noticed until someone emailed a host of a NHL show on XM Radio, in which it finally got noticed and the story received the treatment it deserved.
In 1997, the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup, breaking a 42 year drought, sending the city into a frenzy of celebration. Six days later, defenceman Vladimir Konstantinov suffered permanent brain damage in a car accident. The team dedicated the next season to their teammate and won the Stanley Cup again. Tradition states that at the cup raising ceremony, the captain receives the cup, hoists it, and hands it to the team's most valuable player. Wings captain Steve Yzerman took the cup, raised it in the air and then gently placed it in Konstantinov's lap. Konstantinov had been brought onto the ice in his wheelchair to be with the team. The whole team gathered around and wheeled him around the ice in a victory lap holding the Stanley Cup.
On June 9th, 2001, Ray Bourque after 22 seasons of playing finally won the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche, on his last career NHL game ever. Stanley Cup tradition states that the captain will skate the cup around the rink first upon winning the cup. However, Avs captain Joe Sakic, knowing how long Bourque had waited for the cup, gave him the honor of skating around the rink first. To add on, teammate Patrick Roy (one of the best goalies of all time, 2nd in regular season wins) claimed, "A name was missing from that Cup, and today it is back to normal."
This story runs deeper than that, and is layered with both Heartwarming and Awesome: Bourque had spent over 20 years playing for the Boston Bruins, and is still considered an icon of that team. In 2000, after the Bruins were out of playoff contention, Bourque requested a trade to another team, feeling that he was approaching the end of his career, and wanted as good a shot at The Big One as possible. Rather than try to hold on to him tooth and nail, the Bruins' front office facilitated a trade to Colorado - not Bourque's first choice - feeling that they would give him the best shot possible; they felt he deserved it after two decades of loyalty. The rest is history, but it doesn't end there. Bourque was allowed to bring The Cup to Boston where a rally was held in celebration of the beloved player. Thousands of people attended; it didn't matter that he won with another team. They were just happy that he won.
In 2008, the Windsor Spitfires captain Mickey Renaud had died of a heart condition. So in the following hockey season, the team won the Memorial Cup for the first time. Not only did they win in the memory of Mickey Renaud and hung his jersey on their bench, the entire city banded together in supporting and cheering for their team for the whole season. The whole city was suffering from the economic recession and the city was completely transformed by the determination of the Spitfires.
Just reading this article about the Spitfires was heartwarming enough.
Not to mention, as soon as the Spitfires' plane touched down back to Windsor, they were greeted with tremendous roars and cheers of all their fans, wearing red, waving flags and screaming for their team.
Phil Esposito's speech on national television after Team Canada suffered a humilating against the Soviets in Game 4 of the Summit Series and was booed off the ice in their own home country and further crucified by the media.
"To the people across Canada, we tried, we gave it our best, and to the people that boo us, geez, I'm really, all of us guys are really disheartened ... Some of our guys are really, really down in the dumps, we know, we're trying like hell. I mean, we're doing the best we can, and they got a good team, and let's face facts. But it doesn't mean that we're not giving it our 150%, because we certainly are ... We did it because we love our country, and not for any other reason, no other reason. They can throw the money, uh, for the pension fund out the window. They can throw anything they want out the window. We came because we love Canada. And even though we play in the United States, and we earn money in the United States, Canada is still our home, and that's the only reason we come. And I don't think it's fair that we should be booed." And guess what? Canada won the Summit Series in the end.
New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard died during the off-season due to complications from painkillers. The next public appearance for the Ranger's organization was during the NHL Entry Draft. The team brought in his brother, a fellow hockey player, to make the selection in his memory to a standing ovation.
Mike Modano spent nearly his entire NHL Career playing for the Dallas Stars/Minnesota North Stars. In 2010, he returned to hockey after a planned retirement, and was picked up by the Detroit Red Wings. The last game of the 2011 regular season (neither the Stars nor the Red Wings made the playoffs) was at Dallas. The day before the game, (NOTE: This may or may not be true. I am repeating what I have heard) Mike was called into the Red Wings locker room, where he was presented a box. He must've thought it was a retirement present, and what a present it was. It was a Dallas Stars home jersey, with his number 9 on it. The Red Wings and the Stars had made an arrangement for Mike to play his last game in Dallas as a Star. Even better? Not only did the Stars fans give him a standing ovation, the Red Wings fans did too. The best part? The final of the game was 1-0 in overtime, with Modano scoring that goal. Something to add on to that. This was footage from his last game in 2010.
The 1991 NHL All-Star Game at the old Chicago Stadium. A few years prior, Hawks fans had developed a tradition of cheering during the National Anthem when during the playoffs, they were so riled up that no one could even hear when they announced the singing and ended up cheering right through itnote a byproduct of the stadium's unique acoustic qualities, which they went out their way to replicate when they build the United Center. The tradition was codified at the ASG which was held just days after the start of the Persian Gulf War. The outburst of American patriotism was like nothing that had ever been heard and was made even more pointed by the performance of vocalist Wayne Messmer who maintained his ablity to sing almost flawlessly without even the slightest flinch from the noise.
In a mix between this and a Crowning Moment of Awesome, in 2001, then Montreal Canadiens captain Saku Koivu was diagnosed with cancer. Expected to miss the whole season, he came back for the last few games of the season. Montreal fans gave him an eight minute standing ovation. He then helped the team get into a playoff spot and eventually defeat the top seeded Boston Bruins, whom with they have arguably the biggest rivalry in hockey.
March 2nd, 1993. Mario Lemieux makes his return to the ice for the Pittsburgh Penguins after having to take time off to be treated for Hodgkins Lymphoma. It's a game vs. the Philadelphia Flyers in Philadelphia, and the Flyers and Penguins have a fierce rivalry. You also know the whole deal with how rough Philadelphia fans are. Pre-game warm-ups begin, and when Lemieux comes out on the ice, the Philadelphia crowd gives him a standing ovation and welcomes him back. Then the game starts and Lemieux scores a goal. Flyers fans respond with ANOTHER standing ovation.
Ray Bourque is known as one of the best NHL defencemen historically, but had never won a Stanley Cup in his first 21 seasons. In what he decided beforehand was his last NHL season, he won with the Colorado Avalanche. The captain of the team, Joe Sakic, was handed the cup first (as is tradition), but instead of hoisting the cup himself, he first hands it to the man who has waited 22 years
On November 3, 2009, Shabtai von Kalmanovic, then - owner of the Women's Basketball club Spartak Moscow Region Vidjnoe was murdered. For a while, it was unclear how the team would carry on. Kalmanovic's wife took over ownership of the ball club. Not only did Spartak survive, but the team was nigh invincible during the 2009 - 2010 Euroleague season. Spartak fought through - and won - a challenging Euroleague championship match, their fourth in a row. Cue the entire team donning "This is 4 Shabs" T - Shirts.
March 31st, 2013. Duke vs. Louisville. This basketball match-up was set to be a spectacle, with Duke having stolen a victory from Louisville in 1992. Then, during the first half, Louisville guard Kevin Ware jumped to block a three-point shot from Duke player Tyler Thornton and landed wrong, breaking both bones in his shin instantly upon landing which sent his fractured tibia through his skin. This happened right next to the Louisville bench, sending horrified players scrambling to keep from seeing the gruesome sight, some getting physically ill and many others crying. Even Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski took a moment with Louisville coach Rick Pitino out of concern and sympathy. Yet even as he slowly realized what had happened to him, all Ware could tell his team over and over again was, "I'm fine.Go win the game." They proceeded to not only win against Duke, but go all the way to victory in the NCAA Championship. Ware was present to cut down the net afterward.
At a 2003 NBA game between the Portland Trailblazers (home team) and the Dallas Mavericks, 13-year-old Natalie Gilbert was singing the national anthem when she suddenly stopped, having forgotten the words. Trailblazers head coach Maurice "Mo" Cheeks then rushed to the young girl's aid and they finished singing the anthem together (with the crowd helping out as well).
The 2012-2013 Oklahoma City Thunder were regarded as one of the best teams in the sport. They finished top of the Western Conference, and many already considered them to be a shoo-in for the Western Conference spot in the Finals. The first series was up against the Houston Rockets, who lost the seventh-place spot to the Los Angeles Lakers, who made the playoffs on the very last day. In Game 2, Patrick Beverly dove at the basketball as Russell Westbrook was calling time out and collided with his knee. Westbrook was incensed and went on to embarrass Beverly on the court in retribution, but after the game it was announced that he had torn his meniscus and would require season-ending surgery. The Thunder won the series in six games, struggling heavily in the latter half, and found themselves up against the Memphis Grizzlies. They took Game 1, but lost the next four, including the last game at home. Now, when a team is as good as the Thunder, you can expect to see more than a few bandwagon fans on board. In Oklahoma City? Not so. After the game was lost, the Oklahoma City fan gave the team a standing ovation, and as they marched to the locker rooms, sent them off with as loud a chorus of "OKC! OKC!" as has been heard all season.
The city of Memphis supporting the Memphis Grizzlies, a team that was supposed to be swept by the Spurs in the first round, and swept by the Thunder in the second round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. After a triple overtime loss to the Thunder at home, instead of leaving, the crowd gave them a standing ovation. Before that, during a game against the Spurs, Memphis was down by double digits at home. What did the fans do? They stood, one by one, and raised their "We Believe" towels in the air. Memphis won the game. And after their loss to the Thunder in Game 7? The fans still supported them. All the while, the city of Memphis was facing their worst flood since the 1930s. Oh, and they also sold out almost every playoff game.
The HBO documentary Magic and Bird: A Courtship of Rivals, which recounts the legendary NBA rivalry between the Boston Celtic's Larry Bird and the Los Angeles Lakers' Earvin Magic Johnson has a particularly heartwarming moment. Before he announced to the world he was infected with HIV, Magic had his agent inform Bird of his condition. Bird, not wanting to believe it, called up Magic to offer support. Magic, as he recounts in the docu with tears in his eyes, was very touched by this gesture, as he felt many of his so called friends had abandoned him when he was diagnosed. The fact that his rival, a man he'd professed to not liking personally early on in his career (though they did become friends later on), had bothered to check on him was a great comfort.
On Monday Night Football, after the death of his father, Packers QB Brett Favre went and played one of the best games of his career against the Oakland Raiders. No, that wasn't the heartwarming part. The Raider Nation, known for their booing of the other team, gave the opposing quarterback a standing ovation.
Heartwarming Moment on Monday Night Football, to Brett Favre, to the crowd, hell, everyone in the stadium! On the October 5th, 2009 game, for the first time playing in a purple and gold Vikings jersey, Favre faces off against his old team, the Green Bay Packers inside of the Minnesota Metrodome. Despite his warm greeting during the last home game, the crowd finally let Favre know over the course of the game just how much they accepted him now that he was playing like this against the Packers, bringing a huge smile to the man's face. Even after the MN defense smashed the GB offensive line and quarterback, at the end of the game, pretty much the entire Green Bay team went over to greet, compliment his playing and wish Favre luck with his new team, bringing tears to his eyes. The sight of all of this brought me to my own tears at just how loved this man is in the world of football, no matter what side he is on. The 30-23 win brought the Vikings to 4-0 for the season at that point, doubling all the events in the game as a Crowning Momentof Awesome.
Raider Nation: When longtime Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown scored his one hundredth career touchdown—as a member of the hated Tampa Bay Buccaneers—the entire stadium stood and applauded his achievement. My favorite memory of the broadcast was the camera cutting to a man and his son holding a sign that said "We Miss You Timmy." Mr. Brown had been completely excommunicated by the Raider organization, but the fans still knew and loved him. There were tears in his eyes as he jogged back to his sideline.
When Colt McCoy was injured by a late hit from Texas A&M's Kellen Heard and managed to get his hand up for a Hook 'Em as he was being stretchered out of the stadium. It is one of only two times when this longtime Aggie willingly joined in with said hand sign.
January 2007: The Boise State Broncos had just capped one of the greatest games and biggest upsets in college football history, taking down Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, 43-42 in overtime. Fullback Ian Johnson, who had scored the winning two-point conversion, put a bow on the night by proposing, on national TV, to his cheerleader girlfriend. They were married that June. Of course, because Humans Are Bastards, they had to have police guards at the wedding, due to the dismaying amounts of threats the couple received objecting to their marriage. (She's white, he's black). It's still a happy ending as both families issued statements that ignorant bigots were NOT going to ruin this moment. They were supported by the school and people across the nation.
Donovan McNabb, former quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, recently traded to the Washington Redskins, always had something of a love-hate relationship with fans. When coming back to the Eagles stadium, analysts debated for weeks how McNabb would be received by the tough Philadelphia crowd... most assumed either a mixed reaction or a loud chorus of boos. What did McNabb receive... a standing ovation. And was promptly booed once the game started.
Normally you hear about sports pros donating money on the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars and visiting the troops, people in hospitals, etc. Charles Woodson, a cornerback for the Green Bay Packers did the second by visiting kids in the hospital. Along with him he brought along a 2 million dollar check to donate to the University of Michigan for pediatric research.
In 1975, the Pittsburgh Steelers won their first world championship at Super Bowl IX. This turned heartwarming when after having never won a championship since founding the team in 1933, and having had far more losses than wins up to that point, the Lombardi trophy and game ball were presented to 74 year old owner, Art Rooney, who was universally popular in the NFL. It was quite a sight to see the cigar chomping, grandfatherly looking man have tears well up in his eyes as he was handed his first championship trophy.
No doubt about that. Especially after all that Drew Brees has done to help New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina. Even more heartwarming, in this picture, is how Mr. and Mrs. Brees put earphones on their son to protect him from the loud noise after the Superbowl. Even as a Green Bay Packer fan, this troper was very happy to see such good people in their moment of glory.
In 2013, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh congratulating his little brother Jim Harbaugh on leading the San Francisco 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII. "Congratulations, Jim. You did it! I love you!"
This definitely doubles as a . John Cappelletti was a runningback on the Penn State Nittany Lions football team, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1973. When he accepted the award, he tearfully dedicated it to his 11-year-old brother Joey, who was battling childhood leukemia, which he would later succumb to. If that's not Heartwarming, then I don't know what is.
The University of Nebraska - Lincoln wrapped up their 2013 spring practice on April 6 with the traditional Red-White game — half the players in red jerseys, half in white, playing each other before 60,000 fans. But during the fourth quarter, a timeout was called and a player substitution made. Seven year old Jack Hoffman, who has been battling brain cancer for two years, came out onto the field in a kid-sized Husker uniform. The ball was snapped, the quarterback handed off to Jack, and he ran 69 yardsfor a touchdown.
When he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011, Shannon Sharpe had this to say about his big brother, Sterling, whose career was shortened by injury:
The entire Red Sox team forming a gigantic Group Hug after finally winning the World Series after all those years. The first person many of the players called following the final game was former Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner, who had long been the subject of ridicule for having made the fielding error which cost the Red Sox their last shot at the World Series in 1986. All those accounts of fans across New England leaving 2004 World Series memorabilia at the graves of loved ones who never got to see their beloved Red Sox win a championship. Plus Red Sox outfielder Trot Nixon saying that he would have given up Boston's dramatic Game 7 ALCS victory over the Yankees to prevent the death of Victoria Snelgrove, the college student who was killed during the post-game riots. Beautifully, wordlessly summed up in this Nike commercial which aired immediately following the final game.
The immortal words of Joe Buck will always bring a tear to longtime Red Sox fans' eyes. "Back to Foulke! Red Sox fans have longed to hear it! The Boston Red Sox are world champions!"
Even closer to home was WEEI's Joe Castiglione: "Swing and a ground ball, stabbed by Foulke, he has it, he underhands to first... AND THE BOSTON RED SOX ARE THE WORLD CHAMPIONS! FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 86 YEARS, THE RED SOX HAVE WON BASEBALL'S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!"
For balance, we need a New York Yankees example: the 2010 home opener at Yankees Stadium, in which the team was presented with their 27th World Series rings. World Series hero and MVP Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui had been traded to the LA Angels, and this marked his first return to New York. That the Angels were selected as the opponent just so Matsui could get his ring with his old teammates in New York would be heartwarming enough, but the applause from the fans was deafening, and the entire Yankees squad ran out to hug him. Every time Matsui came up to bat in the series, the fans went crazy for him. There was so much love that when he scored a home run in the third game of the series, giving the Angels a 1-0 lead in the 2nd inning...the New York fans still cheered for him. Loudly. Even the most avowed Yankee hater's heart was warmed. It helped that Matsui had given New York fans a great moment himself. In the midst of so many half-hearted and phony public apologies that amount to "I'm sorry I got caught," Matsui publicly apologized to the fans. . . for breaking his wrist trying to make a catch.
Some background is needed for this one; the 2011 season for the Boston Red Sox saw the team unceremoniously fall out of contention for the playoffs, and to make a long story short, the owners declined to renew manager Terry Francona's contract. Francona himself admitted that maybe he was no longer the man for the job; this was after the infamous "fried chicked and beer in the clubhouse" reports began to surface. Despite the spin for the benefit of the news media, there were - and still are - those who still see it as Francona being fired, and blamed for some of the team's failings that maybe he shouldn't be blamed for. Flash forward to 2012; Fenway Park celebrates its 100th anniversary. Francona, who of course is the one who managed the team to the World Series championship twice in four years after AN 86 YEAR DROUGHT, comes out to a thunderous ovation.
Opening Day is a big deal in major league baseball, but the 2008 Red Sox opening at Fenway Park combines a Crowning Momentof Awesome with the Crowning Momentof Heartwarming. Walking out of the Green Monster and across left field to the mound to throw out the ceremonial first pitch was Bill Buckner - long vilified by both the media and fans alike (but especially the media) for his error in the 1986 World Series. His emotional reaction to what happened next clearly says he wasn't expecting to be welcomed by the crowd, because Fenway gave him a long, thunderous standing ovation.
In a combo of Moment of Awesome and Heartwarming Moment was Jon Lester's no-hitter. This would be just another no hitter in a lot of cases, however, Lester was less than a year removed from beating non-Hodgkins lymphoma! What makes it go into Crowning Moment of Heartwarming land was the parade of hugs that Lester had with his teammates, coaches, and other personnel. This Troper, in particular, completely lost her composure when she saw manager Terry Francona (who never went a day without talking to Lester during his treatments) hugging him and hearing him tell Lester in a choked up and muffled voice how proud of him he was.
A Phillies fan, Steve Monforto, brought his little three year old girl, Emily, to a baseball game and at that game he caught his very first foul ball. He gave it to Emily and the little girl just tossed it into the field. The audience gasped. In a moment of heartwarming, Steve just hugged his daughter to let her know that everything is okay.
Oakland, California, May 9, 2010. Athletics pitcher Dallas Braden pitched the nineteenth perfect game in Major League history, a Crowning Moment of Awesome for anyone, but the fact that he did it on Mother's Day with his grandmother in the stands (his mother died when he was 18) qualifies it for this page.
On June 2, 2010, Armando Galarraga pitched an incredible game for the Detroit Tigers that would have been not only the 21st perfect game in major league history, but the first one in Tigers history, the third one that month, and the second one that week - accomplishments that had never before been made in baseball history. On the 27th out, Jason Donald of the Cleveland Indians grounded between first and second base. Miguel Cabrera fielded, Galarraga ran to the bag, and caught the ball and beat Donald by a full foot for the final out...except the first-base umpire, Jim Joyce, blew it, and called Donald safe. The entire stadium erupted into boos and jeers and Joyce's Wikipedia page was vandalized within seconds. What's so heartwarming about this? Several things:
First: Mere seconds after making what should have been the final out, after having history and an incredible perfect game stolen away from him...Galarraga smiled and walked back to the mound. Any other player, indeed, the entire rest of the Tigers would gladly have gotten up in Joyce's face and shouted expletives and threats, and did so after Galarraga recorded the final out. Galarraga smiled. He had history stolen away from him and he took it with possibly the most grace and class any athlete had ever shown in sports.
Second: after the game, Joyce watched the replay and realized the magnitude of his blown call and how badly he had screwed it up. He asked to see Galarraga and apologized to his face for costing him the perfect game. Galarraga accepted the apology and a hug. "Nobody's perfect," he said.
Third: The next day, the next time the Tigers and Joyce took the field, Galarraga handed the lineup card to Joyce, who shook his hand and patted him on the shoulder. If these three examples are not some of the greatest examples of sportsmanship and grace in the history of the sport, nothing is. Armando Galarraga missed one part of history, but he and Jim Joyce certainly ended up making it in some fashion. Plus, the Tigers surprised Galarraga with a Corvette out on the field.
Joyce was openly crying at the plate when Galarraga handed him the lineup card. Even though I hated him about 16 hours previous, I couldn't help but feel bad for him when I saw this on TV today. He handled his job with an amazing amount of dignity and was not afraid to admit that he was wrong, a bit of a plague in baseball umpiring this season. Restores some of the faith I've lost in many sports for being too proud and acting like sportsmanship is a relic of the past.
"Dallas Braden’s perfect game was thrilling. Roy Halladay’s perfect game was art. But Armando’s Galarraga’s perfect game was a lesson in grace."
Also, Galarraga finished his game off by retiring the first batter after the blown call. You guessed it, people are congratulating him on pitching a 28-out perfect game.
And as a Crowning Moment of Funny, on August 20, 2010, Galarraga faced the Indians for the first time since the near-perfect game and tossed 4 2/3 innings of perfect baseball before giving up a hit (finished with a seven-inning shutout). A reporter asked Galarraga how many Indians he retired in row, and Gallaraga smiled and said, "Forty-two," while pointing at a plaque in his locker commemorating the 28-out game.
The Minnesota Twins saluting Bobby Cox, in his last season as Manager of former world-series rivals the Atlanta Braves at Target Field on June 11, 2010.
Then there's the story of the "Memorial Day Miracle", well known in the city of San Antonio as being the turnaround moment for the San Antonio Spurs organization. It was the second game in the Western Conference Finals and the Spurs were down 18 points late in the third quarter. The Spurs rallied to catch up to the Portland Trail Blazers but were still were down one point until Sean Elliott scored a 2-pointer in the final seconds of the game, thus allowing the Spurs to win 86-85. The Spurs eventually swept the Trail Blazers and were able to get to the NBA Finals where they would win their first NBA Championship in franchise history. What was especially awesome about this was that Sean Elliott was secretly battling a serious kidney condition that would eventually require him to get a kidney transplant from his brother. And in spite of the deep passion San Antonians feel for the Spurs, the championship celebrations were surprisingly peaceful, with only a handful of arrests for public drunkenness happening that night. That's right, an entire city celebrated a national championship of some import without rioting, looting, causing any fires, damaging any cars, roughing anybody up, or anything other than clogging up the downtown streets, honking their car horns and cheering as loudly as possible.
When the Texas Rangers went through their amazing postseason run in 2010, they celebrated as most teams would celebrate - with champagne. But they knew that star player Josh Hamilton had previous alcohol issues, so when he was with them, they celebrated with ginger ale instead. It brings a tear to the eye to see teammates thinking about each other so much.
In June 2010, Toronto Blue Jays utility infielder and defensive specialist John McDonald had left the team to be with his father Jack, who would eventually lose his battle with liver cancer. Jack's last request of his son: "Hit a home run for me." With just 13 home runs in his entire 12 year career to that date, it seemed like it would be a long time coming. On June 21, shortly after returning to the team, McDonald was brought in as a defensive replacement for second baseman Aaron Hill, and would get a chance to hit in the bottom of the ninth. In his first at-bat back, John McDonald would hit that home run for Jack. On Father's Day.
The Boston Red Sox won the 2004 World Series after not winning one for 86 years and did it again in 2007. There were news articles and even shirts that said AGAIN. The same goes for the Chicago White Sox, who won the World Series the year after the Red Sox won their first, after an 88-year drought.
When Chicago Cubs player and broadcaster Ron Santo's number 10 was retired at Wrigley Field on September 28, 2003. The man had won five Gold Gloves, was named to the All-Star Team nine times, and is generally considered one of the best 3rd basemen ever, but he hadn't yet been inducted into the Hall of Fame. (Did I mention he has Juvenile Diabetes and was given seven years to live when diagnosed?) During the ceremony, with "Ron Santo: A Perfect 10" flashing on the scoreboard behind him, surrounded by some 40,000 cheering fans, he shouted "This is my Hall of Fame!" This troper was at that game, and Manly Tears were very nearly shed.
His funeral is also considered CMOH and CMOA, as well as Tear Jerker. Carried into Holy Name Cathedral by his former teammates, casket covered by his #10 flag, he was eulogized by longtime broadcast partner Pat Hughes, and by the Cubs owner and the Commissioner of Baseball. Afterwards, the hearse was driven north around Wrigley Field (starting at 3rd base, of course), and his ashes were later scattered on the playing field there.
On the evening of May 1, 2011, during a baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets, news stations began reporting that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. Many people around the stadium learned about this on the Internet through their cell phones. The reactions of the fans of both teams, considered one of the biggest rivalries in baseball, can be seen here. As one YouTube commentator put it, "At that moment, there weren't Mets fans, and there weren't Phillies fans. There were Americans."
After the bombings at the 2013 Boston Marathon, the Yankees honored the people of Boston by holding a special moment of silence before their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks the next day, displaying "United We Stand" with the Yankee's and Red Sox logos on the display boards outside Yankee Stadium, and playing popular Red Sox song "Sweet Caroline" at the end of the 3rd inning. In response to this, the Red Sox thanked them on their official Twitter account. That's right everyone, the Red Sox thanked the Yankees.
For context, "Sweet Caroline" has been played during every Red Sox home game for over a decade.
And it wasn't just the Yankees (though they were the ones who started it), almost every team that had a home series within that week played "Sweet Caroline" in tribute.
Also, after the Red Sox won their first post-bombing game (they were in Cleveland for a 3-game series), the Indians played Boston's victory song "Dirty Water."
The Red Sox's first home game after the bombings definitely counts, and crosses with Crowning Moment of Awesome. Aside from David Ortiz's Badass Boast, at the traditional point when "Sweet Caroline" would play, the fans were in for a surprise when Neil Diamond himself came out onto the field to lead them into it. And of course, the cherry on top was that they won the game.
This could be seen as the Yankees returning the favor: Boston's first game after the September 11 attacks ended with Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York", which has been used as the Yankees' exit music for decades.
At the start of the 2011 Baseball season, the San Francisco Giants were awarded with World Series Rings for their victory in the previous year. While the players were given their rings amidst ceremony and fanfare, Kruk and Kuip were unexpectedly presented with their own rings in-between innings during the second home game of the season. The representatives from the Tiffany & Co jewelery company personally went to the announcement booth and praised Kruk and Kuip's awesome work, leaving them utterly stunned at their new rings.
Kruk: ...Well, I think that was the best between-inning ever.
Motor Car Racing
After the death of legend Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500, NASCAR was in mourning. But 4 wins in the 2001 season helped get NASCAR back on its feet:
The Dura Lube 400 the next week at Rockingham, was won by Steve Park, Earnhardt's first driver. Afterwards, he did a backwards victory lap (or a Polish victory lap as it is called) while holding aloft a #3 cap.
The Cracker Barrel 400 in Atlanta, the fourth race of the season. Kevin Harvick, Earnhardt's replacement (with a new number, #29 instead of #3) held off a hard-charging Jeff Gordon to win by 0.006 seconds, one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history. After the race, Harvick performed a burnout in tribute to Earnhardt and did a Polish victory lap holding three fingers in honor of Earnhardt.
After winning the NAPA Auto Parts 500 in California, Rusty Wallace, one of Earnhardt's big competitors, did a Polish victory lap while holding an Earnhardt flag out his car window.
But the best one was when Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won the Pepsi 400 in July, the very track Dale died at. It was almost as if Jr. had exorcised the demons of his father's death.
It should be noted that the reverse victory lap in the above examples was made popular by Alan Kulwicki. Why is this important? Because Rusty Wallace's reverse victory lap for Earnhardt in 2001 harkens back to the last race of the 1993 season. Alan Kulwicki and Davey Allison had been killed in separate air crashes earlier in the year. Dale Earnhardt and Wallace were 1st and 2nd in the championship standings going into the last race, during the height of an intense rivarly between the two. Wallace won the race, but Earnhardt won the championship. Both drivers drove a reverse victory lap, side-by-side, one carrying a #7 flag for Kulwicki, and the other carrying a #28 flag for Allison.
Another auto racing moment: the first Indy Car race after Dan Wheldon's death was in his adopted hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida. Turn 10 of the circuit and the actual street following it was renamed in dedication to Wheldon and his race-winning pass in 2005. After Helio Castroneves won the 2012 race for the third time, he climbed the fence in front of the grandstands at Wheldon's turn, one he didn't climb in his first two victories. The true heartwarmer comes when he crossed the track to climb the other fence and pounded the street sign to honor his fallen friend.
Then in the 2012 Indianapolis 500, you have Bryan Herta (the man who gave Wheldon his winning ride in the 2011 500) do a ceremonial lap in Wheldon's car before the race began. When the race ended under caution after an accident on the last lap, winner Dario Franchitti and runner-ups Scott Dixon and Tony Kannan came to the finish line in a three-wide "W" formation. Franchitti's entire interview in Victory Lane was how he dedicated his win to "D-Dubs" and that, wherever he is, he's smiling because three of his closest friends were competing for the win to the end.
Ayrton Senna, legendary Formula One driver known for being highly competitive, focused and stuborn, had a few of these over his lifetime, including once chewing out another driver for pulling a stunt on the track that could have killed the driver behind him. After his fatal crash, he was found to have a furled Austrian flag in his cockpit. It seems that Senna had intended to dedicate his 42nd victory to the memory of Roland Ratzenberger - a driver who had been killed in qualifying for the race. 3 MILLION people turned out onto the streets in Brazil to be tribute, and it was later found he left millions of dollars to children's charities. Not bad from someone with a reputation for being arrogant and standoffish.
On a related note Max Mosley, the President of the FIA, was attacked for not attending Senna's funeral when almost the entire Formula One establishment turned out for it. It turned out that he had been at Ratzenberger's funeral instead, as he said: "Roland had been forgotten so I went to his funeral because everyone went to Senna's. I thought it was important that somebody went to his." Mosley is a controversial figure to say the least but this act of common decency gave me a huge amount of respect for the man.
On the day of Senna's fatal accident, the NASCAR Winston Cup Series was racing at Talladega. Race winner Dale Earnhardt made a small tribute after taking the checkered flag, and the ESPN broadcast made reference to Senna's death during a restart around mid-race.
After 11 previous tries ended in several near misses and crashes, Indy fan-favorite Tony Kanaan finally broke through to win the Indianapolis 500 in 2013. The cheers and tears from all involved afterward was a sight to behold.
Ditto the response from fans of Everton FC, Liverpool's bitter rivals. The sight of blue-and-white Everton scarves among the floral tributes laid down in memory of the dead is a bright moment during a dark time in British football history.
This Troper lives in Hillsborough, I often pass the memorial, and let me tell you one thing: there are always football scarves there, and not just Liverpool and Nottingham Forest scarves, scarves from teams all over the country, from Plymouth to Celtic.
In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, not only did wives of the Liverpool team help traumatized families, but Kenny Daglish made sure that at least one member of staff attended every furneral, with Dalglish himself attending several, including 4 in one day. Regardless of what you think of the man, that was noble.
The disaster also influenced the outcome of the league, since it caused Arsenal's match against Liverpool to be postponed until the end of the season, both teams were aiming for the title. When the match was finally played, the Arsenal players all walked out with bouquets of flowers; which they then handed to the crowd.
Spain winning the World Cup for the first time. The winning goal was scored by Andrés Iniesta, who immediately stripped off his jersey to show a message written on the shirt underneath: "Dani Jarque, always with us." Jarque had passed away the year before of a heartattack.
The conduct of Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas was extraordinary. Right after Spain won the game against Portugal, Casillas ran across the field to comfort his Portuguese counterpart, who was sobbing at the loss.
After winning the championship game, Casillas was so overcome with emotion that when his girlfriend, who is a well-known reporter, tried to interview him, he simply thanked his parents, his brother, his friends, and finally her-by kissing her on live television.
November the 29th, Spanish La Liga's most important match (FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid, AKA "El Clásico") was played. Usually, players come out to the field while the local team's anthem is played (and sung by the fans at the stadium). What happened is that the PA started playing the anthem too soon, the crowd started singing...and the anthem was quickly turned off. 90,000+ fans kept singing the whole anthema capella. (And then the players came out and the fans sung the whole anthem again.)
The story of the last days of Antonio Puerta, Sevilla FC's promising left fullback. It's a long set of examples.
First, he collapsed during a match - Ivica Dragutinovic's and Andres Palop's first reaction was to race the fuck out to check on him.
When he gets up, he collapses a second time, so he's rushed to a hospital. He got into a coma. Thousands of Sevilla fans gathered near the team's stadium to keep vigil. Then, they were joined by Sevilla's rivals, Betis - and the rivalry between both clubs is fucking bitter.
This troper saw a video of said vigil - at some point, people under the stadium started to sing Sevilla's anthem. It was initiated by a Betis supporter.
Unfortunately, Puerta died after a few days. One of the club's first decisions? His unborn son will be granted an honorary place in the team. And there's going to be an annual cup to commemorate him.
Then, they've tried to secure his number, 16, but the Spanish Football Federation couldn't allow it. So they gave it to David Prieto, one of Puerta's closest friends.
In the UEFA Supercup match against AC Milan, everyone wore a shirt with Puerta's surname on the back. Every goal was dedicated to his memory and when Milan's Clarence Seedorf was being substituted, he took off his shirt and ran through the field showing Puerta's surname on it to the crowd.
To this day, the crowd on Sevilla's home turf, Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan is at its absolute loudest at the 16th minute.
And last but not least, when Spain won the European Cup, Puerta's friend Sergio Ramos wore a shirt with his photo on it.
Andres Iniesta of Barcelona honoring the late Dani Jarque of Espanyol after his goal during the World Cup final against Holland. The two clubs absolutely hate each other. Supporters of both can be insufferable dicks to each other. And yet, the first thing Iniesta does after getting in that goal is taking his shirt off to show another one, dedicated to Jarque.
Real Madrid's board's immediate reaction to the Smolensk catastrophe was to speak with Polish goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek and arrange black armbands and a minute of silence during that day's Gran Derbi with Barcelona.
FC Barcelona's Eric Abidal was diagnosticated with liver tumor on March 15. It was a small one, but it could mean having to miss the remainder of the season. Players from other teams (even eternal rival Real Madrid) showed him support. Abidal was able to recover and slowly get back to playing. On May 28, Barcelona managed to win their 4th UEFA Champions League on New Wembley, with Abidal on the starting team. Carles Puyol (team captain) decided to let Abidal pick up the trophy. From operation to celebration in less than two months.
During the 1966 World Cup, the North Korean team was billeted in Middlesbrough, a somewhat rough working-class town in north-east England. The Korean War had ended relatively recently and there were fears that the Teessiders could get nasty towards the team because of it. Instead, partly because of their underdog status and partly because they played in red - the same colour as Middlesbrough FC, they more or less adopted them, with the Smoggies cheering for them at everyone of their games and even following them to Liverpool to see them play against Portugal. To this day there are North Koreans who think fondly of Middlesbrough.
Japan winning the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, just a few months after the massive tsunami/earthquake.
Compared to the above a relatively minor example but during an Everton FC match versus Bolton, Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard managed to, with wind assistance, score a goal from one goal to the other. While undeniably awesome, what made it heartwarming was that Howard knew how much that would be embarassing for his Bolton counterpart and refused to make a big deal out of it and was the only member of the Everton team not celebrating. You can't get much more sportsmanship than that.
The farewells of David Moyes and Sir Alex Ferguson. To clarify, these are two of the longest running managers in England (Ferguson is the longest, managing Manchester United for a staggering 26 years, while Moyes is the third longest with an impressive 11 years at Everton FC). Towards the end of the 2012/13 season it was announced that Ferguson was finally retiring and would be replaced by Moyes. The farewells of both managers are certainly happy Tear Jerkers, from Ferguson's passionate and from the heart speech to Moyes lap of appreciation around Goodison Park while being visibly stunned at the amount of love and adoration from the fans, capped by Ferguson leaving with yet another Premier League title and Moyes leaving Everton after they beat arch rivals Liverpool in the tables twice in a row, the first time this had happened in decades. What a way for both men to go.
US international and Leeds United player Robbie Rodgers had come out as gay and retired all at once in early February 2013, later admitting that he felt he had to retire because he never thought he would be able to put up with the abuse that would be hurled at him as an openly gay player. There was a huge outpouring of support immediately, so much so that a just few months after he decided to play again and was signed to the LA Galaxy. When he was subbed on in his first match back, making him the first openly gay male to play on a major US sports league, he was met with an ovation.
In the 2013 Confederations Cup, severe underdog Tahiti (they had only ONE professional player!) played against Nigeria, Spain and Uruguay. They scored all of one goal and lost all games 6-1, 10-0 and 8-0. They also became the darlings of all Brazilian fans, finished their last game holding a sign where it read "Thank you, Brazil" (to which the fans went wild) and - since they knew they'd likely lose - celebrated wildly when they scored that single goal. It turns out that, when you have nothing to lose, you have everything to gain.
Uhh, just the Brazillian fans? The whole world celebrated with them when they scored that goal!
Andy Murray winning Wimbledon in 2013, becoming the first home-grown, native-born British tennis player to win Wimbledon in 77 years.
Over three days, two people by the name of John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played Tennis at one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world, Wimbledon. This game didn't last three days due to bad weather. No, it lasted three days simply because that's how long they played for. After a score of 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-7, 68-70, the match was finally won by Isner, 11 hours of play after it started. The previous record for length was six hours, shattered by the length of the fifth set alone (which was eight hours itself). Both sides played with the utmost respect for the other. However, after it was all said and done, when both men headed for the traditional post game handshake, it never happened. Instead it was a post game hug, a fitting end to the longest match in the history of tennis.
Near the end of the second day, with both players already exhausted, Mahut lost his grip on his racket and fell to the ground in a desperate but spirited attempt to hit the ball. Everybody present - including his opponent - applauded the effort.
Even better, the two players met again in Wimbledon2011. Although that time the match went to Isner in straight sets (7-6 [7-4]; 6-2; 7-6 [8-6]), BBC news coverage showed that after the epic match of 2010, the two became close friends, and the court that they played on now has a plaque commemorating their historic match.
On the subject of Tennis, the 2009 Wimbledon final award ceremony certainly counts. Andy Roddick had a career record of 2-17 against, arguably, the best tennis player who's ever lived, Roger Federer, and got into the finals on a miracle. Needless to say, the match was expected to be an easy drubbing. However, Roddick played remarkable well, but still lost in an absolute heart-breaker, 7-5, 6-7, 6-7, 6-3, 14-16, and the win gave Roger Federer the all-time record of 15 grand slam wins. Roddick gracefully accepted the loss, but as he sat down and Federer received his applause, the crowd broke into a "Rodd-ick! Rodd-ick!" chant.
Another example involving Federer: at the 2009 Australian Open he was denied a record equalling 14th Grand Slam by close friend and rival Rafael Nadal in a hard fought five setter. He breaks down utterly and is barely able to finish his runner-up speech, which he uses to praise Nadal's performance. Nadal then pulls him into a hug and says "Remember, you're a great champion, you're one of the best in history. You're going to improve on the 14 of Sampras."
During a softball game between Central Washington University and Western Oregon University, WOU senior Sara Tucholsky hit the only home run of her career. But after rounding first (and returning to retouch the bag), she tore the ACL in her right knee. The umpires stated that WOU could not assist Tucholsky in rounding the bases, so two Central players picked her up and carried her around the bases. By the time they reached home plate, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. That moment was named "Best Sports Moment Of The Year" at the 2008 ESPYs. Watch it here
John Landy. The second man in the world to run the four-minute mile and the runner-up in the "Race of the Century" in 1954 - but his heartwarming moment comes two years later. He was running in the 1956 Australian national championships, when ahead of him the pack clipped young runner Ron Clarke, who fell to the ground. Forced to attempt to jump over him, Landy didn't quite make it - he injured Clarke's arm with his running spikes. In the middle of the race, Landy then stopped and turned back - giving up the chance to reclaim his world record - picked up Clarke and helped him to his feet, apologising in the meantime for hitting his arm. There is a statue of Landy helping Clarke near Olympic Park in Melbourne; it is titled simply "Sportsmanship". What makes this a Crowning Moment of Awesome as well is that once Clarke was back on his feet, Landy then set off to chase down the pack, now 30 yards ahead of him... and won the race anyway.
Despite being occassionally referred to as "Human Cockfighting", MMA has had its fair share of heartwarming moments. Two that particularly stand out: vicious Croatian striker Mirko Cro Cop was essentially the best fighter in the world never to win it big. From failing efforts in wars with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Fedor Emelianenko to getting stunned and knocked out by wrestler Kevin Randleman, something had always stopped him. Then, in the 2006 PRIDE Open Weight Tournament, he finally pulled it off by taking out Wanderlei Silva and Josh Barnett in the same night. This man, always presented as a cold, emotionless wrecking machine, sat down in the ring and began crying as his team dogpiled onto him with huge grins on their faces.
Another involved indestructible Brazilian Minotauro Nogueira. While his win over Cro Cop (which involved the Croatian destroying him for eleven minutes before Nogueira submitted him), in which he fell onto his back and gave a giant scream of victory, certainly qualifies, his win over Tim Sylvia was spectacular. Nogueira, long known for being impossible to hurt, was being throttled by the giant Sylvia, unable to land a single meaningful blow or get him to the ground. In the third round, he managed to get top position with a sweep and, as Sylvia tried to roll out, caught him in a fight-ending guillotine choke. Swollen, bloody, but smiling the widest smile you can imagine, Big Nog got the UFC title after, throughout his life, getting hit by a truck as a child, powerbombed by 350 lb. Bob Sapp, head kicked by Cro Cop, and obliterated by Fedor twice. Truly touching.
The story of Gareth Thomas, a gay Welsh rugby player. He came out after agonizing about his homosexuality for most of his career and was immediately swamped with a massive wave of support.
On February 22 2011, an earthquake hit the New Zealand city Christchurch, absolutely wrecking the homes and lives of people there. Two months on, there's still a lot of work to be done - so much so that All Black captain Richie Mc Caw went knocking door to door to drop off food packages for the Salvation Army. When asked to comment, he simply replied that he was willing to do what he could to help and that he found it pretty cool to go put a smile on people's faces whilst giving them aid.
After a Georgian athlete died in a horrible accident during a training run, when Georgia marched into the 2010 Olympic stadium, they received a standing ovation from the rest of the world.
AND they threw in a Moment of Silence after the Olympic Flag was brought in. The Olympic Opening Ceremonies are choreographed and timed MONTHS in advance, yet they took the time, money (which they were spending enough of), and resources to add it in AT THE LAST SECOND. As much as the last half of the Ceremonies sucked (especially the flame...), that was truly great.
The oldest tournament in rugby (union) is the 6 Nations (formerly 5 Nations) tournament, that pits England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and Italy against each other every year. The team that wins it defeating all other sides is said to have won a Grand Slam, which of course is the highest possible award in the 6 Nations. Ireland won it in 1948, captained by Karl Mullen, and then not again until 2009. Only one month after the 2009 win, 82-year-old Karl Mullen peacefully passed away.
Collegiate Wrestling invokes images of stereotypical muscular athletes with nearly perfect bodies. Enter Anthony Robles a wrestler with only one leg. Barely recruited coming out of high school he joined the Arizona State wrestling team, a respected program but not known for producing national champions. Was only an All-American going into his senior year and the returning national champion was in his weight class. Robles went on to have a completely undefeated regular season and ended up facing the defending national champion in the finals at 125 pounds. Anthony Robles easily wins the match and hoping on his only leg stands with his hand raised to hear the biggest and most unanimous applause I have ever seen at the national tournament.
Pairs skater Elena Berezhnaya. Her first partner was Oleg Shliakov, who was physically and verbally abusive towards her. He would purposefully drop her from lifts, and his reputation was so bad they had a hard time finding a coach. One day, while they were practicing side-by-side spins, his skate blade hit Elena's head and sliced into her skull. She was partially paralyzed and had such severe brain damage, she temporarily lost the ability to speak. A fellow pairs skater, Anton Sikharulidze, visited her in the hospital and helped nurse her back to health. Elena said she was "skinny, shaved, half-alive, almost a skeleton, and Anton so tenderly cared about me. Perhaps it was his belief in me that helped me recover so quickly." She recovered to full strength and began skating with Anton instead of her previous partner. They clicked instantly, winning bronze at the European Championships less than a year after Elena's injury. In 2002, they won the gold medal at the Olympics.
Jack Nicklaus' concession to Tony Jacklin. After almost three days of blood feud between the British team and the American team, it was all square in the 18th hole in the last match of the tournament between Nicklaus and Jacklin. With the score tied at 15.5 to each side, Nicklaus made par on a 5 foot putt to clinch a half of the hole and the Ryder Cup. With Jacklin needing to make his par putt to clinch a 16-16 draw, Nicklaus conceded a 2 foot putt with the knowledge that the tournament would end tied. The two walked off the green with their arms around each other's shoulders.
During the men's marathon at the 2013 World Championships, the two Brazilian runners stuck together throughout the race and crossed the finish line together, hand in hand.
From the same World Championships, 200m British runner Adam Gemili (at only 19) coming first in his semi-final. Just see the adorkable look of shock on his face when he realizes that not only did he win, but won it in under 20 seconds.