1968: Highlights from a tumultuous year in sports

Dick McAuliffe, from left, Jim Northrup and Mickey Stanley with the championship trophy after the Detroit Tigers defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1 in Game 7 of the World Series on Oct. 10, 1968, at St. Louis' Busch Stadium.
Dick McAuliffe, from left, Jim Northrup and Mickey Stanley with the championship trophy after the Detroit Tigers defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1 in Game 7 of the World Series on Oct. 10, 1968, at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium.
( Associated Press)

Jan. 1 — USC defeats Indiana 14-3 in the Rose Bowl game, capping a season in which the Trojans were awarded the national championship by all major polls.

USC's O.J. Simpson (32) dives over the goal line for the Trojans' first score against Indiana in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Jan. 1, 1968.
(Associated Press)

Jan. 14 — Green Bay defeats Oakland, 33-14, in Super Bowl II, Vince Lombardi’s final game as Packers’ coach.

Jan. 15 — Minnesota North Stars center Bill Masterton dies as a result of head injuries suffered during a game two days earlier. He is the only player to die as a direct result of injuries suffered during an NHL game.


Jan. 20 — Led by Elvin Hayes, Houston snaps UCLA’s 47-game college basketball winning streak in an event dubbed “The Game of the Century.” Played at Houston’s cavernous Astrodome, it marked the first nationwide broadcast of a regular-season college basketball game in prime time.

Feb. 10 — Peggy Fleming wins Olympic gold in figure skating in Grenoble, France, capping a season in which she won a fifth consecutive U.S. championship and third straight world championship.

Feb. 21 — Major League Baseball announces the season’s minimum salary: $10,000.

University of Houston basketball coach Guy V. Lewis wears a garland of flowers after the Cougars upset the UCLA Bruins in the Houston Astrodome on Jan. 20, 1968.
(Associated Press)

March 23 — UCLA wins college basketball’s national championship, routing Houston, 101-69, in a semifinal at the L.A. Sports Arena and defeating North Carolina, 78-55, as Lew Alcindor scores 34 points on 15-of-21 shooting.

April 8 — Opening day of the Major League Baseball season is postponed two days because of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral.

April 14 — Bob Goalby wins the Masters by one shot when Roberto DiVicenzo signs an incorrect scorecard; playing partner Tommy Aaron had erroneously marked DiVicenzo’s score on the 17th hole as a par four instead of a birdie three.

April 17 — The Athletics, playing their first home game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum after moving from Kansas City, lose to the Baltimore Orioles 4-1.


April 18 — The Kings conclude their first season in Los Angeles by losing Game 7 of a playoff series against the Minnesota North Stars 9-4.

Boxer Jimmy Ellis in Miami Beach, Fla., on April 10, 1968, while training for his upcoming WBA championship title bout with Jerry Quarry.
(J.A. Bourdier / Associated Press)

April 27 — Jimmy Ellis defeats Jerry Quarry for WBA world heavyweight title, which had been vacated when Muhammad Ali was stripped of his crown for refusing to be drafted into military service.

May 2 — The Boston Celtics defeat the Lakers in the NBA Finals, despite Jerry West’s averaging 31.3 points and 5.7 assists per game.


May 4 — Forward Pass is declared winner of the Kentucky Derby after Dancer’s Image is disqualified when traces of a banned substance are discovered in his system. Forward Pass also won the Preakness but lost out on a Triple Crown when Stage Door Johnny won the Belmont.

May 8 — Catfish Hunter throws perfect game — and also has three hits and three runs batted in — for the Oakland A’s against the Minnesota Twins.

May 14 — Dodgers right-hander Don Drysdale pitches a complete-game shutout against the Chicago Cubs, starting a string of 58 2/3 scoreless innings, a record that stood for 20 years before being surpassed by Orel Hershiser.

May 21 — George Halas retires from coaching with 318 regular-season NFL victories and six league titles.


June 16 — Lee Trevino, at Oak Hill Country Club in New York, becomes the first player to shoot in the 60s in every round of a U.S. Open.

Arthur Ashe, 25, defeated former USC tennis star Bob Lutz on Aug. 25, 1968, to become the first African American to win the men's singles title at the U.S. Amateur Championships in Brookline, Mass. Two weeks later, Ashe duplicated the feat at the U.S. Open.
(Associated Press)

July 9 — Wilt Chamberlain becomes the first reigning NBA MVP to be traded when the Lakers acquire him from the Philadelphia 76ers for Darrall Imhoff, Jerry Chambers and Archie Clark.

Sept. 8 — Arthur Ashe becomes the first, and so far only, African American man to win the U.S. Open singles title.


Sept. 14 — Detroit Tigers right-hander Denny McLain becomes the first pitcher to win 30 games in a season since Dizzy Dean in 1934.

Sept. 17 — Gaylord Perry of the San Francisco Giants pitches a no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Sept. 18 — Ray Washburn of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches a no-hitter against the San Francisco Giants.

Sept. 19 — McLain defeats the New York Yankees for record-setting win No. 31.


Oct. 2 — National League MVP Bob Gibson strikes out a World Series-record 17 as St. Louis wins Game 1, 4-0, over Detroit.

Oct. 10 — The Tigers win the World Series, overcoming a 3-games-to-1 deficit.

Oct. 16 — Tommie Smith and John Carlos each raise a gloved fist — what they later called a “human rights salute” — during the medals ceremony for the Olympic 200 meters at Mexico City.

Oct. 18 — Bob Beamon sets an Olympic record in the long jump, 29 feet 2 ½ inches, that stood until Mike Powell leaped 29-4 ¼ in 1991.


USC's O.J. Simpson (32) runs the ball against Cal on Nov. 9, 1968, at L.A. Coliseum. Simpson was awarded the Heisman Trophy later that month.
(Associated Press)

Nov. 17 — NBC cuts away from an NFL game between the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders to show the movie “Heidi,” missing two Raiders’ touchdowns in the final minute for a 43-32 comeback victory. The famous “Heidi Game” in 1999 was voted the most memorable NFL regular-season game in history.

Nov. 26 — USC running back O.J. Simpson wins the Heisman Trophy by a record margin.

Dec. 3 — Baseball announces it will drop the pitching mound from 15 inches to 10 and shrink the strike zone from the armpits to the top of the knees after a season in which there were 339 shutouts.


Dec. 8 — The Los Angeles Rams are eliminated from playoff contention with a 17-16 loss to the Chicago Bears, when an officiating error causes the Rams to lose a down on a holding call late in the game.