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1981: Sports; social issues and crime; folkways; fashion; holidays.

A trend toward dullness that had prevailed in fashion gave way to a new freshness, characterized by a simple, sexy look. A touch of opulence also became stylish, perhaps inspired by the dress of Nancy Reagan, wife of the president. This year a maintenance worker won $5,000,000 in the New York State Lottery, the largest lottery payoff to date. State lotteries in the U.S. were estimated to take in $3,600,000,000 annually. Crime continued to be a concern. The Burns Detective Agency estimated that white collar crime in 1981 would amount to between $1,200,000,000 and $1,800,000,000 and that only 15% of such crimes would be detected. Divorces in the U.S. totaled a record 1,200,000 this year, the government reported. In sports, the National Football League set a new attendance record of 13,392,000, an average of about 60,000 fans present at a game. In boxing Larry Holmes successfully defended his World Boxing Association heavyweight title in a three-round bout (June 12) against Leon Spinks. In pro golf the top money winners were Tom Kite, $375,699, and Beth Daniel, $206,977. Notables who died included John Kieran, sportswriter who became a star of the radio show Information Please in the 1930s and 1940s, Dec. 10, at 89; and Joe Louis, the "Brown Bomber," who held the heavyweight boxing title from 1937 to 1949, the longest reign ever, Apr. 12, at 66.

Jan. 1

In college football bowl games, the results were Alabama 30, Baylor 2 in the Cotton Bowl; Oklahoma 18, Florida State 17 in the Orange Bowl; Michigan 23, Washington 6 in the Rose Bowl; and Georgia 17, Notre Dame 10 in the Sugar Bowl. This season the AP and UPI polls chose Georgia the national collegiate champions of 1980.

Jan. 25

Super Bowl XV was won by the Oakland Raiders (AFC), defeating the Philadelphia Eagles (NFC) 27-10. On Jan. 11 the Raiders had beaten the San Diego Chargers 34-27 for the AFC championship and the Eagles had defeated the Dallas Cowboys 20-7 for the NFC title.

Feb. 3-8

U.S. figure skating championships were won in San Diego, Calif., by Scott Hamilton, men's singles; Elaine Zayak, women's singles; Kitty and Peter Carruthers, pairs; Judy Blumberg and Michael Seibert, dance.

Mar. 5

At the world figure skating championships in Hartford, Conn., Scott Hamilton won the men's singles title.

Mar. 29

The AIAW basketball championship was won by Louisiana Tech, defeating Tennessee 79-59.

Mar. 30

The NCAA basketball championship was won by Indiana, which defeated North Carolina 63-50.

Apr. 12

The Masters golf tournament was won by Tom Watson, who beat Jack Nicklaus by two strokes to take his second Masters championship.

Apr. 20

The 85th Boston Marathon was won by Toshihiko Seko of Japan, with a time of 2 hrs., 9 min., 26 sec. The first woman to finish was Allison Roe of New Zealand, with a time of 2 hrs., 26 min., 45 sec., a new course record for women.

May 2

The 107th Kentucky Derby was won by Pleasant Colony, with a time of 2:02. The jockey was Jorge Velasquez.

May 5-14

The NBA basketball championship was won by the Boston Celtics, who defeated the Houston Rockets four games to two.

May 12-21

The NHL Stanley Cup was won by the New York Islanders, who defeated the Minnesota North Stars four games to one.

May 16

The 106th Preakness Stakes was won by Pleasant Colony, with a time of 1:54 3/5. The jockey was Jorge Velasquez.

May 24

The 65th Indianapolis 500 auto race ended in controversy. A day after the race, Mario Andretti, who had finished second, was named winner over Bobby Unser because Unser had broken a rule during a slowdown period near the end of the race. On Oct. 8 the U.S. Auto Club (USAC) reversed the decision and gave the victory to Unser, but fined him $40,000 for his infraction. Unser had completed the race in 3 hrs., 35 min., 41.78 sec., with an average speed of 139.085 mph.

June 6

The 113th Belmont Stakes was won by Summing, with a time of 2:29, to foil Pleasant Colony's chance at winning the Triple Crown. The jockey was George Martins.

June 12

A baseball strike, the first mid-season strike ever, began when players walked out in a controversy over compensation of free agents. An agreement was reached between the players' organization and the owners on July 31, but a third of the season had been lost.

June 14

The LPGA golf tournament was won by Donna Caponi.

June 21

The U.S. Open golf tournament was won by David Graham of Australia, the fifth foreign player to win this title.

July 3-4

At the Wimbledon tennis championships in England, John McEnroe won the men's singles title and Chris Evert Lloyd won the women's singles. McEnroe teamed with Peter Fleming to win the men's doubles, and Pam Shriver teamed with Martina Navratilova to win the women's doubles.

Aug. 2

The Baseball Hall of Fame inducted three new members: Andrew "Rube" Foster, a pitcher and a founder of the National Negro League; Robert M. "Bob" Gibson, who pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals (NL); and John R. "Johnny" Mize, first baseman and slugger.

Aug. 9

The baseball All-Star Game was won for the tenth consecutive time by the National League, defeating the American League 5-4.

Aug. 9

The PGA golf tournament was won by Larry Nelson, beating Fuzzy Zoeller by three strokes.

Sept. 9-13

The U.S. Open Tennis singles championships were won by John McEnroe in the men's division and Tracy Austin in the women's division.

Sept. 12

The Miss America title was won by Elizabeth Ward, 20, of Russellville, Ark., at the annual pageant in Atlantic City, N.J.

Sept. 26

The North American Soccer League championship was won by the Chicago Sting, who shut out the New York Cosmos 1-0.

Oct. 20

What came to be called the Brinks robbery, a bungled armored-car holdup in Nanuet, N.Y., ended with two policemen and one guard dead and two guards wounded. Four persons were arrested, including three members of the terrorist Weather Underground group.

Oct. 20-28

The World Series was won by the Los Angeles Dodgers (NL), defeating the New York Yankees (AL) four games to two. On Oct. 15 the Yankees had won the American League pennant over the Oakland Athletics in a three-game sweep. On Oct. 19 the Dodgers won the National League pennant, defeating the Montreal Expos three games to two.

Oct. 25

The 12th New York City Marathon was won by Alberto Salazar, a recent graduate of the University of Oregon, with a time of 2 hrs., 8 min., 13 sec. The first woman to finish was Allison Roe of New Zealand, with a time of 2 hrs., 25 min., 28 sec. Both times were new records for this event.

Dec. 11-13

The Davis Cup international tennis competition was won by the U.S., defeating Argentina three matches to one in Cincinnati, Ohio.
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Author:Carruth, Gorton
Publication:Encyclopedia of American Facts & Dates, 9th ed.
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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