Looking back: this week in sports history February 18 – 24

February 18, 1978: You’ve all head of the Iron Man Triathlon, right? Just your casual 2.4-mile swim, then a 112-mile bike ride and just for fun, finish it off with a marathon, 26.22-mile run. On February 18, 1978, Hawaii hosted the first Iron Man competition. Per the Triathlon website, it all started with an argument between Naval Officer John Collins and some of his fellow athletes about which athletes are fittest, bikers, runners or swimmers. Fifteen competitors took part in the first Iron Man, then called the “Hawaiian Iron Man Triathlon.”
February 19, 1984: What a great day February 19, 1984 turned out to be for Phil Mahre. The American skier won the gold medal at the Sarajevo Winter Olympics for the men’s slalom. But his happiness doesn’t end with gold. Mahre’s twin brother, Steve, won the silver medal in the same competition. The cherry on top: his wife gave birth to their first child on that same day.

February 20, 1963: On February 20, 1963, the Say Hey Kid, Willie Mays became the highest-paid athlete in the history of the National League. Mays signed a contract with San Francisco that was worth a then-record $105,000. There were several $100,000 players before Mays, including Stan Musial who made $100,000 in 1963, his last season in St. Louis.
February 21, 1993: Two and a half decades ago, Ukrainian pole vaulter Sergei Bubka – who spent many years representing the USSR before the fall of the Soviet Union – set a new indoor pole vaulting record a 6.15 meters (or 20’ 2 inches) on February 21, 1993.  His record stood until February 15, 2014, when French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie cleared 6.16 meters (20’ 2.5 inches).
February 22, 1893: The first-ever Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama was played on February 22, 1893. Though back then it wasn’t called the “Iron Bowl,” the term for their yearly meeting did not become popular until the 1960’s. Alabama leads the all-time series with 45 wins. Auburn has 36 wins and the two teams tied once.
February 22, 1980: On this day hockey was more than a game, it was everything. On February 22, 1980, Team USA, comprised of  college players, faced the USSR in a medal round game at the Olympics in Lake Placid, NY. The Soviets had destroyed their opponents until that point in the Games, outscoring them 51-11. Midway through the third period, tied at 3, Mike Eruzione fired what’s now known as “the shot heard round the world,” giving the US the lead with just 10 minutes to play. The Americans went on to win the “Miracle on Ice,” sending them to the gold medal game (and prompting the 2004 movie).

February 23, 1985: Hall of Fame goaltender and four-time Cup Winner Patrick Roy made his  NHL debut on February 23, 1985. The longtime Canadien spent 11 seasons playing in Montreal before being traded to Colorado where he played for the remainder of his career.
February 24, 1980: Two days after they beat the might Soviet hockey team, the USA Olympic hockey team went on to play Finland in the gold medal game. Their heroics weren’t over just yet. Team USA had to come from behind, scoring three goals in the third period to beat Finland 4-2 and win the gold medal, their first gold in hockey in 20 years and only their second ever.
February 24, 1982: Wayne Gretzky was a record-setting machine. On February 24, 1982, Gretzky entered the game against the Buffalo Sabres with 76 goals, having already equaled the single-season record set 11 years earlier by Phil Esposito. It took The Great One more than 53 minutes to find the back of the net, finally firing past Don Edwards with 13:24 left in the period, scoring goal number 77 of the season and setting a new record. After that goal he added two more, no. 78 and no. 79. He scored 92 goals that season.

Notable birthdays

February 19, 1959 NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was born in Jamestown, NY
February 19, 1962 Czech tennis star Hana Mandlikova was born in Prague, Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia)
February 20, 1963 Former NBA star and current Inside the NBA analyst Charles Barkley, was born in Leeds, AL
February 20, 1977 retired basketball player Stephon Marbury was born in New York City, NY
February 22, 1934 MLB manager Sparky Anderson, born George Lee Anderson was born in Bridgewater, SD
February 22, 1950 NBA legend Dr. J, Julius Erving was born in East Meadow, NY

February 22, 1965 Former NHL center Pat LaFontaine was born in St. Louis, MO
February 22, 1986 New Orleans Pelicans point guard Rajon Rondo was born in Louisville, KY
February 24, 1874 The Flying Dutchman, MLB shortstop Honus Wagner, was born in PA
February 24, 1977 Boxing great Floyd Mayweather was born in Grand Rapids, MI

We bid farewell to…

February 21, 1974 Legendary Canadian hockey player Tim Horton was killed in a car crash, he was 44 years old

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