Sports are often seen as rough and “overly manly” things. The players are big, strong and have to be tough and competitive in the moment. However, there are those few times when the competition and the battle of attrition take a back seat to an iconic, important and extremely heartwarming moment. Here are five of those moments that go beyond the sporting event they occurred at.
1. Hank Aaron Breaking the All Time HR Record
This was not only an iconic scene in sports, it is an iconic scene in American history and the race relations in the country. On April 8th 1974, Hank Aaron smashed his 715th home run, thus passing the record held for years by Babe Ruth. The moment was huge for baseball and for the country as an African American man was receiving a standing ovation and cheers in the deep south of Atlanta Georgia, something that would have happened a few decades prior.
2. Neil Diamond Sings After the Bostom Bombings
One of the most difficult times this country has gone through over the last decade was without a doubt the horrific Boston Bombings in mid-April 2013. Well, less than a week after the events, Neil Diamond made a surprise appearance and led the whole stadium through the song “Sweet Caroline” which has been a staple at Fenway Park. This brought some much needed positivity to a city that was brought to its knees by and awful event. Numerous other stadiums played this song in the coming days as well to show their support for Boston.
3. First Major Sporting Event in NY After 9/11
September 21st 2001 was a night to remember at Shea Stadium. The game between the Mets and the Atlanta Braves was the first major sporting event in New York following the tragic 9/11 attacks. The night was full of heartwarming moments and tributes and none was bigger than when Mike Piazza hit the game winning home run in the 8th inning which gave all the fans in attendance a temporary reprieve from the awful realities of the time. This was truly a moment where the support for NY and the victims was bigger than the game itself.
4. Jackie Robinson Breaking the Color Barrier
This was without a doubt one of the biggest moments in baseball history and truly changed the lives of people forever. For a long time, African Americans weren’t allowed in the league and Robinson was the first to break the barrier back in 1947. This was a huge and uplifting triumph for equal rights and was a heartwarming moment that changed the sport. His contribution to the game’s history is so big that there is a Jackie Robinson Day every season where every player in the majors dons a nameless number 42 jersey.
5. Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” Speech
This is perhaps the most heartwarming and most sad moment in baseball history all wrapped into one. On July 4th 1939, Lou Gehrig made his final public appearance of his life when he addressed the crowd at Yankee Stadium after being diagnosed with ALS (which is now known by some as Lou Gehrig’s disease). This moment and speech is without a doubt the most memorable moment of his storied career and one of the most memorable moments in sports period.