This day in sports: Summer Olympics in Moscow open without USA

An image of Olympics mascot Misha in Lenin Stadium at the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow.
The 1980 Olympic Games were boycotted by the U.S. and other countries. The Games are also the first to be held in a Communist country.
(AFP / Getty Images)

The Summer Olympics open in Moscow on this date in 1980 in Lenin Stadium nearly seven months after Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan, triggering a boycott by the United States that was joined by at least 35 other countries.

It is the first Olympics the U.S. has missed since the festival was revived by French idealist Baron Pierre de Coubertin at Athens, Greece, in 1896. The Games are also the first to be held in a communist country.

Among the other boycotting nations are West Germany, Japan, Canada, Kenya and Norway.

“These Olympics are pretty dull without the Yanks around,” said Australian swimmer Mark Kerry. “There were always packs of them, laughing, kidding and hamming it up. I think all of us miss them.”

Times columnist Jim Murray added, “There’s an emotional moment when one’s own country marches in, but when it doesn’t, it’s pretty hard to get choked up over a bunch of field hockey players named ‘Singh’ or the Bulgarian wrestling team.”


A look at what happened in sports history July 12, including Mary Decker breaking the American record in the women’s 1,500 meters in 1980.

Other memorable games and outstanding sports performances on this date:

1909 — Shortstop Neal Ball of the Cleveland Naps (later known as the Indians) executes the first unassisted triple play in modern big league history in the second inning against the Boston Red Sox at League Park in Cleveland. Ball grabs a line drive off the bat of Amby McConnell, steps on second to force Heinie Wagner and then tags Jack Stahl for the third out. The play happens so quickly that the other Nap players did not know the inning was over.

1933 — Catcher Rick Ferrell of the Boston Red Sox hits a home run off his brother, Wes Ferrell, who pitches for the Cleveland Indians. Wes Ferrell also hits a home run, in the third inning off Hank Johnson, marking the only time the two brothers both hit one over the wall in the same game.

1987 — Nick Faldo makes 18 straight pars that are good enough to win the first of his three British Open championships as he beats Paul Azinger by one shot at Muirfield Golf Links in Gullane, Scotland. Azinger, who has a three-shot lead with nine holes to play, makes four bogeys on the back nine, including two on the final two holes. His 25-foot putt for par on No. 18 to tie Faldo stops two feet short of the hole.

1990 — Pete Rose, baseball’s all-time hits leader, is sentenced to five months in prison and fined $50,000 for cheating on his taxes. Rose fails to report more than $354,000 in income from baseball memorabilia sales, autograph appearances and gambling. He also is ordered to spend three months in a halfway house after the term ends and perform 1,000 hours of community service.

1997 — Daniel Komen of Kenya shatters the eight-minute barrier for the two-mile run when he sets a world record of 7:58.61 at a meet in Hechtel, Belgium. Kormen’s performance is the equivalent of running two sub-four minute miles. Led by a fast pace from several Kenyan runners, his first mile is timed at 3:59.2, and the second in 3:59.4. Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia had set the world record of 8:01.08 on May 31 and Komen betters it by 2.47 seconds.

2008 — In the WNBA’s first outdoor game, the Indiana Fever overcomes the summer heat and humidity to beat the New York Liberty 71-55 in Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Tennis Center, home of the U.S. Open. Indiana’s Tamika Catchings scores 15 points on a basketball floor laid on top of the tennis court.

Here’s a look at some of the greatest moments in sports history to have occurred on July 7, including Steve Scott lowering his U.S. mile record in 1982.

2009 — On the course where he beat Jack Nicklaus 32 years earlier in the most memorable of his five British Open victories, Tom Watson squanders a chance to become golf’s oldest major champion when the 59-year-old three-putts the 72nd hole on the Ailsa Course at Turnberry, Scotland. Watson goes on to lose a four-hole playoff by six strokes to fellow American Stewart Cink. Both Watson and Sink shot a score of two-under par 278 in regulation.

2009 — Hershel McGriff, 81, becomes the oldest driver to take part in a national NASCAR series race when he finishes 13th in a field of 26 in a Camping World West Series event at Portland International Raceway. McGriff, driving a Chevrolet sponsored by Park Corporation and owned by his son, Hershel McGriff Jr., completes the 66-lap race to earn $1,850.

2014 — In the first WNBA All-Star game to extend into overtime, rookie Shoni Schimmel of the Atlanta Dream scores 29 points to help the East beat the West 125-124 at US Airways Center in Phoenix. Catchings, playing for Atlanta, makes a layup with 6.9 seconds to go to give the East the lead and then knocks the ball away from the West’s Skylar Diggins on the defensive end to seal the victory.

Sources: The Times, Associated Press