1985 The Year In Sports
The changing kaleidiscope of sports constantly brings new faces into the spotlight, and 1985 was no exception. Twenty-one-year-old Bret Saberhagen enthralled a nationwide TV audience as he pitched Kansas City to a World Series triumph, won MVP honors, and attended the birth of his first child -- all in the same week. West Germany's Boris Becker, only 17, became the youngest male ever to win at Wimbledon. First-year basketball pros Michael Jordan and Akeem Olajuwon made their marks in a big way. A nd a huge rookie named William (the Refrigerator) Perry emerged as a national folk hero while helping to turn the Chicago Bears into a major pro football force for the first time in decades. But even with these and all the other young athletes who burst upon the scene or developed into stars during the past 12 months, 1985 was actually a year in which the biggest headlines of all belonged to the ``old guard.'' In the spring it was 38-year-old Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, playing in his 17th National Basketball Association season, leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a historic victory over the Boston Celtics. In the fall it was Chicago's great running back Walter Payton, now in the 11th year of an ill ustrious National Football League career, who powered the Bears to a near-perfect 15-1 season. And in between those feats, for virtually the entire summer, it was 44-year-old Pete Rose who created the top story of all by breaking Ty Cobb's cherished record of 4,191 hits in a career.
Of course, there were off-the-field problems, as there are every year. Baseball endured its second midseason strike, but unlike the protracted walkout that disrupted the 1981 season, this one lasted only two days. More serious was the game's continued struggle with the drug-abuse issue, particularly when several players testified in a Pittsburgh trial about cocaine use, leading new commissioner Peter Ueberroth to seek ways of combating the problem. Big-time college sports also came under increasing clou ds, with scandals on a number of campuses involving allegations of drug use, gambling, payments to players, and academic abuses. In the final analysis, though, the memorable moments of any sports year are the ones that take place on the field. And there were plenty of those, as the following capsule summary demonstrates. Baseball
Rose was the big story all season as he relentlessly pursued and finally broke Cobb's longstanding record, getting the historic hit on Sept. 11 when he lined a single to center off San Diego's Eric Show. Several other veteran stars also passed career milestones, including pitchers Tom Seaver and Phil Niekro, who each reached the 300-victory plateau, and Rod Carew, who got his 3,000th hit. Batting champion Willie McGee and RBI king Don Mattingly were the National and American League MVPs respectively, st rikeout artist Dwight Gooden won the NL Cy Young Award, and Saberhagen took AL honors in this department in addition to his World Series heroics. Kansas City, Toronto, St. Louis, and Los Angeles won the four division races, with the Royals and Cardinals both staging big comebacks in the playoffs to win their respective pennants, and the Royals then pulling off one more come-from-behind feat to win the Series in seven games. Pro football
Ingenious Coach Bill Walsh and clutch quarterback Joe Montana began 1985 by leading San Francisco to its second Super Bowl triumph in four years. The 49ers, who had gone 15-1 in the regular season, swept through the playoffs, then crushed Miami 38-16 in the big one as Montana passed for 331 yards and three touchdowns to earn his second Super Bowl MVP award. This year, however, it was the Bears who dominated the regular campaign with a solid offense, a tough defense, and their 308-pound ``Refrigerator,' ' whose occasional transformations from defensive lineman to running back captured the public fancy as nothing else did all season. College football
Penn State (11-0) wound up as the only unbeaten major team and No. 1 in the polls, with Miami, Oklahoma, and Iowa (all 10-1) still harboring national championship hopes pending the outcomes of the New Year's Day bowl games. The balloting for the Heisman Trophy signifying the nation's outstanding player was the closest in the 51-year history of the award, with Auburn running back Bo Jackson beating out Iowa quarterback Chuck Long by 45 points. Pro basketball
Boston's Larry Bird won his second straight MVP award, but Kareem and Los Angeles prevailed in the playoffs. It was the Lakers' ninth NBA title overall, but the first time they had ever beaten the Celtics when these two teams met in the finals. Jordan was voted Rookie of the Year, but it is Olajuwon, a 7-footer from Nigeria, who has emerged as a dominating force in his second season. Meanwhile another 7-footer, Patrick Ewing, was drafted No. 1 by the New York Knicks, signed to a 10-year, $31 million con tract, and appears well on his way to this season's rookie honors. College basketball
Ewing and his defending national champion Georgetown team dominated most of the season, but in the NCAA tournament it was lightly regarded Villanova that fought its way into a championship game showdown with the Hoyas, then defeated them 64-62 in one of the sport's all-time upsets. Hockey
Edmonton won its second Stanley Cup in a row, defeating Philadelphia four games to one in the finals. Wayne Gretzky of the Oilers captured his sixth straight MVP award and fifth scoring title. Tennis
Martina Navratilova dominated the women's game as usual, winning Wimbledon and the US and Australian opens, with Chris Evert Lloyd taking the French Open. Europeans captured all four big men's titles -- Becker at Wimbledon, Czechosolvakian Ivan Lendl in the US Open, Sweden's Mats Wilander in the French, and his countryman Stefan Edberg in the Australian. Golf
Andy North won the US Open, Hubert Green the PGA Championship, West Germany's Bernard Langer the Masters, and Scotland's Sandy Lyle the British Open, while Curtis Strange won three tour events and earned a single-season record $542,320 in prize money. Nancy Lopez won five times and also set a money record of $416,473 on the women's tour. Track and field
Mary Decker Slaney pulled herself back from her fall in the '84 Olympics and won all 14 outdoor races she ran, from 800 meters to 5,000 meters, including a dramatic conquest of Zola Budd and Olympic 3,000-meter champion Maricica Puica in a women's world record 4:16.71 mile. Triple jumper Willie Banks, who considered retiring after finishing sixth as the favorite in Los Angeles, changed his mind and wound up taking 21 firsts in 25 meets on five continents, including the World Cup in Canberra, Australia. He also became the first American in 74 years to break the world record in his event with a leap of 58 ft., 111/2 in. at the US championships. Auto racing
Danny Sullivan won the Indianapolis 500, while Alain Prost of France captured the Formula One world championship.