With so many teams and moments to choose from across the United States of America, selecting the best and worst sports moments for New York City feels like a fool’s errand. Today, we are your trusty fools, having rounded up a highly abridged list of the highest and lowest points in New York’s sports history.
For the purposes of this post, we’re going to focus on professional teams in metropolitan area New York, so move along Buffalo fans. On your way out, take a spin through our Buffalo gear (I'm looking at you Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres fans).
New York sports teams tend to win in spectacular style, and these five moments prove that. Buckle up New York islanders and fans of the Big Apple.
The 1969 Mets were not favored to win the World Series. The Orioles were considered the far superior team, and the Mets were still new, competing in only their eighth season as a franchise. By Game 5, the Orioles were up 3-0 and looking to bounce back from a surprising 3-1 game deficit. A few hits later, the historic “shoe polish” incident, and a homer from Donn Clendenon, the Mets completed a massive upset, cementing their World Series title.
It had been 54 years since the New York Rangers held the National Hockey League Stanley Cup title, and by 1994, the team was desperate for redemption. The final match of the series against the Vancouver Canucks would decide who would get the glory. A tense Game 7 filled with jittery hockey led to Mark Messier’s history-making goal in the second period. “Mr. June” brought home the cup for the Rangers and ended their 5-decade-long drought.
The rivalry between Boston and New York sports is legendary, and no sport defines it better than baseball. If you’re a Boston fan, the Curse of the Bambino represents a painful part of the Sox’s history. If you’re a Yankees fan, it’s a glorious part of the lore.
In 1920, after six years of MLB play for the Sox, Babe Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees. After that, it was hard to imagine the Bambino in anything other than pinstripes. One of the heaviest hitters of all time, Babe Ruth’s career with the Yankees marks 15 years of highs for the franchise and, of course, set off an 85-year championship drought for one of the most embattled major league baseball teams, the Red Sox.
Because everyone looks better in Pinstripes, check out our New York pinstripes tee.
It may be surprising if you’re a New York Jets fan born in the 21st century, but long ago, the Jets used to win games. Perhaps no win came sweeter than Super Bowl III in 1969. Underdogs pitted against the Baltimore Colts, Jets quarterback, and legend Joe Namath fearlessly guaranteed a victory on Super Bowl Sunday. What might have been misplaced confidence ended up being a fulfilled prophecy, with the Jets securing their first (and last) Super Bowl win, 16-7.
The 2008 Super Bowl was one of those, ‘do you remember where you were when’ football moments. The Patriots were coming off a winning season, going undefeated in their 16 games leading up to the championship. Tom Brady rolled through every team that season and was ready to roll through the Cinderella Giants.
No such luck. With a few surprise plays and scrappy football from Eli Manning, the Giants put an end to the Patriots’ perfect season and brought home the W for the G-Men.
Sure, New York knows the sweet, sweet taste of victory but every NY franchise also knows the sour taste of defeat. Especially if their name rhymes with “lets.”
Perhaps the worst part of this 2012 play from Hell was that the Jets did it with everyone watching. It was Thanksgiving night, and quarterback Mark Sanchez gave the team another badge of pitiful honor in the second quarter.
With the Jets trailing 14-0, Sanchez called the play, forgot it, and scrambled to run the ball, only to run straight into the rear end of guard Brandon Moore. Then came the fumble and yet another touchdown for New England. Sigh.
You know what every New York fan needs after a team loss? Some comfort food. We think our authentic New York bagel t-shirt might help ease the pain.
If we called the start of the Curse of the Bambino a great moment for New York, then we have to call its end one of the worst. All droughts come to a finish eventually. For the Boston Red Sox, that finish would come in 2004. In Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS series, the Yankees were up three games to two.
Enter Curt Schilling and his bloody sock. Fresh off an ankle procedure, the pitcher gave a standout performance over seven innings, allowing the Red Sox to even the series and then win it all. It was a painful night for Yankees fans because it marked the first cracks in the Curse of the Bambino that would eventually be destroyed at the World Series later that year.
This one is technically a great moment for the New York Yankees, but in this case, we’re going to focus on the New York Mets. In 2000 the two teams met for their first-ever championship match-up. The Yankees were up three games to one in Game 5 but hope still lingered for the Mets as Mike Piazza stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Fans across the country still remember the sound of the bat hitting the ball. Everyone swore it was going out. In the end, it came a few feet short of a home run. The Yankees won, and the Mets had to leave Shea Stadium with their heads in their hands.
In 2004, the Rangers were facing bad press and bad standings. Missing the playoffs seven years in a row will do that to a franchise. In a bold and controversial move, Rangers manager Glen Sather decided to purge nine of its players, including stand-out Brian Leetch. Had any of the trades worked out, Rangers fans may have considered this a stroke of brilliance, but it absolutely pillaged the bench, forcing the team to start from scratch.
Spike Lee is a mainstay at Madison Square Garden, and Knicks nation loves him for it. In this 1995 basketball match-up against the Pacers, Knicks fans probably would have preferred if he stayed home. The Knicks were up 70-58, and Lee was feeling a little cocky, taunting Reggie Miller. Miller responded in kind, dropping 25 points in the fourth quarter and bringing back the win for Indiana.
The NBA comeback inspired his now legendary "choke pose" and brought shame upon New York Knicks fans for years to come.
Rarely perfect but always fun to watch, New York teams are at the center of the nation’s attention. Whether they’re taking home trophies or fumbling the bag in spectacular fashion, New York sports teams remind us why we love to watch, whether it's an MLS soccer team like the New York Red Bulls or the New York Cosmos or a longstanding NFL team. Some other teams we like to represent include the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Brooklyn Nets, and the New York Liberty.
Want to show off your love for New York teams? Or are you a fan of nearby New Jersey? From Long Island to Utica to Syracuse, we have what you want. Check out our East Coast collections.
Sources:New York Rangers: Five worst days in team history | FanSided