As Sam Sees It

Some people have called one or two of the ASU Sun Devils' dramatic victories in the college World Series "the best college baseball game ever played." There were, beyond doubt, several great games turned in by that fine team. There have been many other "great" games over the years.

One of the things that make sports such a popular part of our culture is that there seems room for a "great game" or two every season. That doesn't diminish games so designated in the past, nor does it keep us from hoping and expecting to see another great game in the near future.

Every sports fan probably has an unofficial list of his own "greatest games." Some will be celebrated events watched by thousands. Others may have been a contest between little known or celebrated high school or even Little League teams.

Some of my favorite sports memories involved local high school teams. The year was probably sometime in the 1970's and it isn't that important to get the dates right. The game was football and the competing teams were the Winslow Bulldogs and the Coconino Panthers.

Coconino featured a sensational quarterback named Ray Smith. He was a fine passer, but was even more dangerous when forced to run.

Winslow featured a fleet-footed running back named Siegfried Ezell. Both teams and their stars lived up to their billings and the game came down to the final minute. Smith scored several breakaway touchdowns and Winslow answered.

It was a long zig zag touchdown run by Ezell that decided the contest by less than a touchdown. That is the best high school football game I remember seeing.

My favorite professional game memory has to be the final game of the 2001 World Series in which the Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the New York Yankees 3-2 on a Luis Gonzalez single. That entire series will likely remain one of my favorite sports memories.

Also high on the list are several basketball games involving my brother's Shadow Mountain Matador team.

The first was a last second victory over Corona del Sol in the semi-finals of the 1995 5A State Tournament. The stars were Mike Bibby for Shadow Mountain and Lamont Long for Corona del Sol. Both lived up to their advance notices although the Matador defense did make Long work for every point.

The decisive shot was a three point basket by Shadow Mountain's Jason Curran on a pass from Bibby at the final buzzer.

The other was Shadow's blow out win over Gilbert Highlands in the finals of the 2000 5A Championship Tournament. The Matadors played nearly perfect basketball. The real story, though, was the games they had won to get there which included victories over Corona del Sol at Tempe and Salpointe at Tucson.

The absolute best performance I ever saw in an important high school basketball game was the one turned in by the Winslow Lady Bulldogs this past season in their trouncing of a good Seton Catholic team.

It is hard to believe a team could play any better than those girls did or that a coach could devise a better game plan than the one Coach Don Petranovich used on the Lady Sentinels.

It has been my good fortune to see a no hitter and a triple play in a major league baseball game. Those are not events you are likely to forget.

The best game ever for many, though, may have been the triple overtime game between the Phoenix Suns and the Boston Celtics in the finals of the NBA Championship Series in 1976.

Both the action and the strategy were classic. That one was watched with a large group of people during that year's state teachers' convention. It was almost as exciting as being there.

The best game ever played? It may be played next week, or next year or maybe even tomorrow. Don't worry about missing it, though. There will be another one.

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