On This Day

Events in Sport in 1961

  • Jan 1 Briggs Stadium, home of baseball's Detroit Tigers is officially renamed Tigers Stadium
  • Jan 1 1st AFL Championship, Jeppesen Stadium, Houston; Houston Oilers beat Los Angeles Chargers, 24-16; QB George Blanda 3 TD passes, 3 conversions and a field goal
  • Jan 2 47th Rose Bowl: #6 Washington beats #1 Minnesota, 17-7
  • Jan 2 27th Sugar Bowl: #2 Mississippi beats Rice, 14-6
  • Jan 2 27th Orange Bowl: #5 Missouri beats #4 Navy, 21-14
  • Jan 7 1st NFL Playoff Bowl (runner-up bowl)-Detroit beats Cleveland 17-16
  • Jan 14 Chicago Bear Willard Dewveall becomes 1st NFLer to join AFL

NFL Pro Bowl

Jan 15 11th NFL Pro Bowl, LA Memorial Coliseum: Western Conference beats Eastern Conference, 35-31; MVPs: Johnny Unitas, Baltimore Colts, QB; Sam Huff, NY Giants, LB

NBA All-Star Game

Jan 17 11th NBA All-Star Game, Onondaga County Coliseum, Syracuse, NY: West beats East, 153-131; MVP: Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati Royals, PG; at 22, youngest player to receive All-Star MVP honours, 23 points & 14 assists

Sports History

Jan 25 Toronto left wing Frank Mahovlich scores twice, giving him 39 for the season, and making him highest single season goal scorer in Maple Leafs' history, as Toronto beats Montreal Canadiens, 5-3

  • Jan 27 Australian Championships Women's Tennis: Margaret Court retains title; repeat of previous year's final beating Jan Lehane O'Neill 6-1, 6-4

Australian Men's Tennis Open

Jan 27 Australian Championships Men's Tennis: Roy Emerson beats fellow Australian Rod Laver 1-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 for his first Grand Slam title

  • Jan 31 West Indian cricket batsman Rohan Kanhai scores back-to-back centuries in the drawn 4th Test against Australia in Adelaide; follows 1st innings 117 with 115 in 2nd knock
  • Feb 1 Australian cricket tail-enders Ken Mackay (62no) and Lindsay Kline (15no) hang on for 100 minutes to earn a famous draw on the final day vs West Indies in 4th Test in Adelaide
  • Feb 10 AFL's LA Chargers move to San Diego

Sports History

Feb 12 Boston Celtic Bill Russell grabs 40 rebounds to beat Philadelphia Warriors, 136-125

  • Feb 12 Pakistani cricketer Mushtaq Mohammad scores his 1st test cricket century for Pakistan at 17 years of age
  • Feb 15 Australia beat West Indies 2-1 in one of best Test Cricket series ever
  • Feb 18 Henk van der Grift becomes world champion skater
  • Feb 19 Henk van der Grift (Neth) becomes world champ all-round skater
  • Feb 25 Niagara ends St Bonaventura's 99-game home basketball win streak
  • Feb 26 3rd Daytona 500: Marvin Panch wins in a 1960 Pontiac owned by Smokey Yunick when race leader Fireball Roberts' car suffered a blown engine with 13 laps remaining
  • Mar 4 8th ACC Men's Basketball Tournament: Wake Forest beats Duke, 96-81

Sports History

Mar 9 Philadelphia Warriors center Wilt Chamberlain scores 67 points in 135-126 win over NY Knicks at Philadelphia Civic Center

  • Mar 11 Then NHL record 40 penalties, Black Hawks & Maple Leafs (20 each)

Boxing Title Fight

Mar 13 Floyd Patterson KOs Ingemar Johansson in 6 for heavyweight boxing title

  • Mar 14 Former New York Yankees general manager George Weiss becomes first President of New York Mets after MLB expansion franchise formed
  • Mar 21 Art Modell purchases Cleveland Browns for then record sum ($3,925,000)
  • Mar 24 NY Senate approves $55M for a baseball stadium at Flushing Meadows

Sports History

Mar 25 23rd NCAA Men's Basketball Championship: Cincinnati beats Ohio State, 70-65 (OT); Buckeyes' future Hall of Fame forward Jerry Lucas is MOP for 2nd straight year

  • Mar 25 3rd place game is one of the wildest contests in NCAA Tournament history as St Joseph's defeats Utah, 127-120 in quadruple overtime
  • Mar 25 115th Grand National: Bobby Beasley wins aboard Nicolaus Silver, 5 lengths ahead of defending champion Merryman II; first grey winner for 90 years

US Masters Golf

Apr 10 25th US Masters Tournament, Augusta National GC: South African Gary Player beats defending champion Arnold Palmer and amateur Charles Coe by 1 stroke to become first international champion; Monday finish because of rain

Sports History

Apr 10 Washington Senators play first game in franchise history with President John F. Kennedy in attendance; lose a 4-3 decision to the Chicago White Sox

  • Apr 11 15th NBA Championship: Bos Celtics beat St Louis Hawks, 4 games to 1

Sports History

Apr 12 Douglas MacArthur declines offer to become baseball commissioner

  • Apr 15 France wins it’s 2nd outright Five Nations Rugby Championship with an 15-3 victory over Ireland at Lansdowne Road, Dublin
  • Apr 16 Stanley Cup Final, Olympia Stadium, Detroit, MI: Chicago Blackhawks beat Detroit Red Wings, 4-1 for a 4-2 series victory
  • Apr 17 65th Boston Marathon won by Eino Oksanen of Finland in 2:23:39; his 2nd event title

Baseball Record

Apr 26 Roger Maris hits 1st of 61 homers in 1961

  • Apr 27 NFL officially recognizes Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio

Sports History

Apr 28 Milwaukee Braves' future HOF pitcher Warren Spahn throws his second career no hitter at 41; beats SF Giants, 1-0 at County Stadium

  • Apr 29 ABC's "Wide World of Sports" debuts

Golf Tournament

Apr 30 LPGA Titleholders Championship Women's Golf, Augusta CC: Mickey Wright wins her 5th major title by 1 stroke from Patty Berg & Louise Suggs

Baseball Record

Apr 30 SF outfielder Willie Mays becomes just the 9th player in MLB history to hit 4 homers in one game in the Giants 14-4 win against the Braves in Milwaukee

  • May 6 87th Kentucky Derby: John Sellers aboard Carry Back wins in 2:04
  • May 9 Baltimore Oriole Jim Gentile hits 2 grand slams (9 RBIs) vs Minnesota Twins
  • May 12 Russian Mikhail Botvinnik wins world chess championship for 3rd time

Sports History

May 14 Stirling Moss wins the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix

  • May 20 86th Preakness: Johnny Sellers aboard Carry Back wins in 1:57.6
  • May 27 Fiorentina of Italy win 1st European Cup Winner's Cup against Glasgow Rangers 4-2 in Florence (2nd leg)
  • May 27 Ralph Boston of US, sets then long jump record at 27' ½"
  • May 27 French Championships Men's Tennis : Manuel Santana beats Nicola Pietrangeli (4-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-0, 6-2)
  • May 27 60th Women's French Championships: Ann Haydon beats Yola Ramirez (6-2, 6-1)

Sports History

May 30 50th Indianapolis 500: A. J. Foyt takes lead with 3 laps to go to win his first of 4 Indy 500 victories by a margin of 8.28 seconds from Eddie Sachs

  • May 31 European Cup Final, Wankdorf Stadium, Bern: Benfica beats Barcelona 3-2; first Portuguese team to reach final and win the tournament
  • Jun 3 93rd Belmont: Braulio Baeza aboard Sherluck wins in 2:29.2

Sports History

Jun 4 LPGA Western Open Women's Golf, Belle Meade CC: Mary Lena Faulk wins by 6 strokes ahead of runner-up Betsy Rawls

  • Jun 8 Test cricket debut of future Australian captain Bill Lawry, 1st Test v England in Birmingham

Baseball Record

Jun 8 Milwaukee sets record of 4 consecutive HRs (Eddie Mathews, Hank Aaron, Joe Adcock & Frank Thomas)

  • Jun 9 Ryne Duren sets AL record with 7 straight strikeouts against Red Sox
  • Jun 11 Roger Maris hits 19th & 20th of 61 HRs
  • Jun 17 US Open Men's Golf, Oakland Hills CC: Gene Littler wins his sole major title, 1 stroke ahead of runners-up Bob Goalby and Doug Sanders
  • Jun 19 NY Yankee Roger Maris hits his 25th of 61 HRs

Baseball Record

Jun 22 MLB Chicago Cubs' Ernie Banks ends 717 consecutive games played streak

  • Jun 23 Cubs Ernie Banks ends his 717 consecutive-games-played streak
  • Jun 23 Philadelphia Phillies overcome 9 run deficit; trailing 11-2 after 7 innings, score 4 in 8th and 6 in 9th to beat Pirates, 12-11 at Forbes Field, Pittsburgh
  • Jun 25 Baltimore and California use a record 16 pitchers in a game (8 each) in 14 inns
  • Jun 29 SF outfielder Willie Mays becomes the 4th player in MLB history with 3 or more home runs twice in one season with a 10th inning blast in Giants 8-7 win over the Phillies in Philadelphia
  • Jul 1 US Open Women's Golf, Baltusrol GC: Mickey Wright wins her 3rd Open by 6 strokes, despite a 2nd round 8-over par 80
  • Jul 2 Amidst 5 NY Yankee homers v Washington, Roger Maris hits 29th and 30th en route to 61 for the season
  • Jul 5 St Louis Cardinals first baseman Bill White smashes 3 HRs & a double in 9-1 rout of LA Dodgers

Wimbledon Men's Tennis

Jul 7 75th Wimbledon Men's Tennis: Rod Laver of Australia beats American Chuck McKinley 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 for his 1st of 4 Wimbledon singles titles

  • Jul 8 Wimbledon Women's Tennis: In an all-British final Angela Mortimer wins her 3rd Grand Slam singles title; beats Christine Truman 4–6, 6–4, 7–5
  • Jul 11 30th All Star Baseball Game: NL wins 5-4 in 10 at Candlestick Park, San Francisco

British Golf Open

Jul 15 British Open Men's Golf, Royal Birkdale GC: Arnold Palmer wins the first of 2 consecutive Open Championships, a stroke ahead of Welshman Dai Rees

Sports History

Jul 16 48th Tour de France: Jacques Anquetil of France scores his second Tour general classification category title

  • Jul 24 Roger Maris hits 4 home runs, in a doubleheader
  • Jul 25 Roger Maris hits home runs 37, 38, 39 & 40 in a doubleheader
  • Jul 29 Philadelphia Phillies lose, 4-3 to SF Giants at Connie Mack Stadium; 1st of MLB record 23 straight defeats
  • Jul 31 PGA Championship Men's Golf, Olympia Fields CC: Jerry Barber wins his only major title in a Monday 18-hole playoff with Don January (67-68)
  • Jul 31 31st MLB All Star Game (2nd), Fenway Park, Boston: First tie in history; called due to rain after 9 innings with the score, 1–1

Sports History

Aug 1 Australian cricket captain Richie Benaud takes 6 for 70 in England's 2nd innings for a 54 run 4th Test win at Old Trafford

  • Aug 2 St Louis Cardinals (NFL) beat Toronto Argonauts (CFL) 36-7 in an exhibition game in Toronto, Canada
  • Aug 3 Pittsburgh Pirates rout the St. Louis Cardinals, 19-0, the largest lopsided shutout in NL history
  • Aug 4 28th NFL Chicago College All-Star Game: Philadelphia 28, All-Stars 14, 66,000 at Soldier Field
  • Aug 5 Chicago Bears (NFL) beat Montreal Alouettes (CFL), 34-16 in a pre-season exhibition at Molson Stadium in Montreal
  • Aug 6 British auto racer Sterling Moss scores his 16th and final Formula 1 victory in the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring
  • Aug 8 Ham Tigercats (CFL) beat Buff Bills (NFL) 38-21 in Hamilton, Ontario
  • Aug 11 Milwaukee Braves future Baseball HOF pitcher Warren Spahn records career victory #300; beats Cubs, 2-1 at County Stadium, Milwaukee
  • Aug 14 Philadelphia Phillies crash, 9-2 to Chicago Cubs for 17th straight defeat; 11th straight time opposing pitcher throws complete game against Phillies
  • Aug 20 Philadelphia Phillies beat Milwaukee Braves, 7-4 at County Stadium; end losing streak with dubious MLB record of 23 straight loses
  • Aug 22 New York Yankee Roger Maris hits his 50th of 61 homers

Baseball Record

Aug 30 Oriole Jack Fisher walks 12 LA Angels in a 9 inning game

Sports History

Sep 10 Mickey Mantle becomes 7th to hit HR # 400

  • Sep 10 Italian Grand Prix, a crash causes the death of German driver Wolfgang von Trips and 13 spectators hit by his Ferrari
  • Sep 10 US National Championship Men's Tennis, Forest Hills, NY: In an all-Australian final Roy Emerson beats Rod Laver 7-5, 6-3, 6-2; Emerson's second Grand Slam title

US Open Women's Tennis

Sep 10 75th US National Championship Women's Tennis, Forest Hills, NY: Defending champion Darlene Hard beats England's Ann Jones 6-3, 6-4

  • Sep 10 American Ferrari driver Phil Hill wins Italian Grand Prix at Monza to clinch F1 World Drivers Championship; first American F1 world champion

Golf Tournament

Sep 15 61st US Golf Amateur Championship won by Jack Nicklaus aged 21

  • Sep 17 Minnesota Vikings' 1st NFL game (beat Chicago Bears 37-13)

Sports History

Sep 17 Fran Tarkenton plays his first NFL Game against the Chicago Bears, coming off the bench to lead the Vikings to a 37-13 victory, also becoming the only QB to throw four touchdown passes in his first career game

  • Sep 20 Roger Maris hits home run # 59 & barely misses # 60 in game 154 of the season. Yanks clinch pennant #26
  • Sep 26 Roger Maris hits HR #60 off Jack Fisher, tying Babe Ruth's record

Baseball Record

Sep 27 Sandy Koufax sets NL strikeout season record at 269

  • Oct 1 NY Yankees right-fielder Roger Maris becomes MLB’s all-time home run leader when he passes Babe Ruth's mark with No. 61 off Boston rookie Tracy Stallard in 1-0 win at Yankee Stadium

Sports History

Oct 4 NY Yankees pitcher Whitey Ford records 3rd straight Baseball World Series shutout in Yankees 2-0 win v Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 at Yankee Stadium; NY wins series, 4-1

  • Oct 7 15th NHL All-Star Game, Chicago Stadium, Chicago, IL: All-Stars beat Chicago Black Hawks, 3-1
  • Oct 8 NY Yankee pitcher Whitey Ford breaks Babe Ruth's record of 29-2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in the World Series; he goes on to extend the streak to 33-2/3, which stands until 2000
  • Oct 8 American Phil Hill's Ferrari team does not participate in season ending US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen having already clinched World Drivers Championship; English driver Innes Ireland wins Lotus' first ever Grand Prix
  • Oct 9 Baseball World Series: New York Yankees win 19th championship, 4-1; rout Cincinnati Reds, 13-5 at Crosley Field in Game 5; MVP: Yankees pitcher Whitey Ford
  • Oct 10 Expansion draft to stock Houston Astros & NY Mets
  • Oct 14 Ryder Cup Golf, Royal Lytham & St Annes: Jerry Barber captains US to 14½-9½ win
  • Oct 15 LPGA Championship Women's Golf, Stardust CC: Mickey Wright convincingly wins her 3rd LPGA title by 9 strokes from Louise Suggs
  • Oct 27 American Basketball League starts play
  • Oct 28 Ground broken for Municipal (Shea) Stadium for NY Mets
  • Oct 29 13th NASCAR Sprint Cup: Ned Jarrett wins
  • Nov 5 NFL St Louis Cardinals' Bill Stacy, returns 2 interceptions for TDs vs Dallas Cowboys
  • Nov 6 US government issues a stamp honoring 100th birthday of James Naismith (invented game of basketball - actually Canadian)
  • Nov 8 Whitey Ford is voted Cy Young Award winner over Warren Spahn
  • Nov 9 PGA eliminates caucasians only rule
  • Nov 15 Roger Maris is voted AL MVP
  • Nov 19 Houston Oilers quarterback George Blanda passes for 7 touchdowns in a 49-13 rout of NY Titans at Jeppesen Stadium, Houston

Sports History

Nov 22 Frank Robinson, Cincinnati Reds outfielder, selected as NL MVP

NBA Record

Nov 22 St. Louis Hawk Bob Pettit sets NBA record, hitting 19 of 19 free throws

Sports History

Nov 25 NBA's Bob Cousy becomes 2nd player to score 15,000 points

  • Nov 26 Pro Baseball Rules Committee votes 8-1 against legalizing the spitball

Sports History

Nov 27 Gordie Howe becomes 1st to play in 1,000 NHL games

  • Nov 30 Billy Williams of the Cubs is voted NL Rookie of Year
  • Dec 2 26th Iron Bowl: Alabama beats Auburn 34-0 in Birmingham
  • Dec 2 CFL Grey Cup, CNE Stadium, Toronto: A 6th title for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers; beat Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 21-14
  • Dec 3 Dutchman Anton Geesink becomes 1st non-Japanese judo world champion
  • Dec 3 George Blanda of Houston Oilers kicks 55-yard field goal
  • Dec 4 Floyd Patterson KOs Tom McNeeley in 4 for heavyweight boxing title
  • Dec 4 Smallest NY Knick, 49th St Madison Square Garden crowd-1,300 (snowstorm)
  • Dec 4 1962 NFL Draft: Ernie Davis from University of Syracuse first pick by Washington Redskins
  • Dec 6 27th Heisman Trophy Award: Ernie Davis, Syracuse (HB) (1st African American to win)
  • Dec 8 Larry Costello scores 32 consecutive pts without a miss (NBA rec)
  • Dec 8 Philadelphia Warriors center Wilt Chamberlain scores 78 points in 151-147 3OT defeat to LA Lakers at Philadelphia Civic Center; 2nd highest game total in the NBA history

Sports History

Dec 10 Houston Oilers utility back Billy Cannon gains AFL record 373 yards combined rushing/receiving in 48-21 win over NY Titans at the Polo Grounds, NYC

Football Awards

Dec 12 Ballon d'Or: Juventus' Argentine forward Omar Sívori wins award for best football player in Europe ahead of Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez and English forward Johnny Haynes

  • Dec 18 For 2nd consecutive year, AP names Wilma Rudolph female athlete of year
  • Dec 24 AFL Championship, Balboa Stadium, San Diego: Houston Oilers beat San Diego Chargers 10-3; Billy Cannon scores game's only TD
  • Dec 28 50th Davis Cup: Australia beats Italy in Melbourne (5-0)

NFL Championship

Dec 31 National Football League Championship, City Stadium, Green Bay: Green Bay Packers shutout NY Giants 37-0; first of 5 NFL titles won in 7-season span by Packers and head coach, Vince Lombardi