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Byline: Kevin Modesti Staff Writer

When it comes to sports in the millennium, the 1900s haven't been the best century yet, they've been pretty much the only century yet. To risk stating the obvious, American sports as we know them today didn't exist 100 years ago.

How did we get from there to here? The answers begin on page 4.

The Daily News has devised a list of the 100 most impacting, significant, remarkable developments of the sports century.

Some of those developments were momentary happenings (such as the 1958 NFL championship game), some were the result of lengthy deliberation (like Title IX) and some took decades to unfold (improvements in medicine, nutrition and training) - but all had far-reaching implications.

In a few cases (Bob Beamon's long jump, for instance), the implication is simply the imprint on history of a standout performance.

Not included on our list are all of those dazzling developments that seemed significant at the time but were merely dramatic - for example, the 94 plays that sportswriters instantly labeled The Catch, The Drive or The Call.

To be sure, sports have been shaped not only by their players, coaches and commissioners but by changes in the nation and world around them. Advances in communications and transportation, the growth of leisure time and the forces of immigration and racial integration have all had an effect.

In no small part, sports have helped to change the nation in turn, as in the case of the development we've honored as No. 1.

No more hints. Enjoy the century one last time. If your favorite didn't make the list, we promise to do better next time.

--100. Birth of the Harlem Globetrotters (1927): Sports is entertainment, and it can fairly be said the Trotters have served up more of it to more people in more arenas (and cow pastures and empty swimming pools) than any other team.

-- 99. Return of the two-sport star: Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders and others offered some hope that the all-around athlete isn't dead (even if he seems to be injured a lot).

-- 98. LeMond's Tours: Almost every American learns to ride a bike, but none had learned as well as Greg LeMond, who became the nation's first Tour de France winner in 1986 and won again in 1989 and 1990. Having missed two years after being shot in a hunting accident, LeMond won in 1989 by making up 50 seconds on the final day in America's greatest moment in that universal sport.

-- 97. Olga Korbut (1972): The 4-foot-11 Belarussian finished seventh in the all-around gymnastics competition in Munich after qualifying for the Soviet team as an alternate. But after a tearful disaster on the uneven bars, she won gold for the balance beam and the floor exercise, a display of pluck that earned her a place in U.S. television viewers' hearts as the first of the obligatory Olympic gymnastics darlings.

-- 96. The designated hitter: With a bases-loaded walk by the New York Yankees' Ron Blomberg against the Boston Red Sox's Luis Tiant on opening day in 1973 at Fenway Park, the American League began its experiment with the DH, inspiring nearly every minor and amateur league to adopt the rule. Its merits are still being debated. Its effects on the hitter-pitcher battle are less debatable.

-- 95. ``White Shoes' '' dance: Before wide receiver Billy ``White Shoes'' Johnson of the Houston Oilers popularized the end-zone dance in the 1970s, the notion of flashy celebrations of an athletic job well done were considered bad form. In some corners, they still are. That hasn't stopped the various high-fivers, forearm-bashers, chest bumpers and sports-bra flashers from stretching their camera time.

-- 94. Dr. J's dunk: Professionals had been dunking for years before Julius Erving made it an art form. His performance in a halftime contest at the final ABA all-star game in 1976, beating David Thompson by stuffing the ball through the hoop after taking off from the foul line, marked the start of an era in which young individualists seemed to want to do little but showoff their fancy dunks.

-- 93. Wrestling's revival (1980s): If the ``legitimate'' sports seem more and more to be moving in the theatrical direction of pro wrestling, it seems clear they will never catch up. Wrestling grows nuttier by the cablecast, and more popular.

-- 92. ``Junk sports'': Where there's a fan or TV viewer with dollar, there's an inventive promoter trying to pry it away from him. Thus the attempts to establish arena football, indoor soccer, team tennis, roller hockey, beach volleyball and other weird offshoots of the traditional sports.

-- 91. ``X Games'': A generation after Evel Knievel made failure cool, daredevil athletes and action-hungry cable networks put their heads together and came up with a junk-sports Olympiad long on creative ways to dislocate your wrist.

-- 90. Rise of the Winter Games: Was it Peggy or Dorothy or Torvill and Dean or Tai and Randy or Tonya and Nancy....? Sometime in the past three decades, Olympic figure skating achieved popularity that seems to transcend sports or soap opera, whichever it more closely resembles.

-- 89. Ripken's streak: That Cal Ripken played 2,632 consecutive games proved more than any other feat that no record is unbreakable.

-- 88. Jacques Plante's masquerade (1959): The great Montreal Canadiens goalie first donned a protective mask in competition - making it acceptable for scarfaced netminders all over the NHL - in an early season game against the New York Rangers. Plante had been bloodied by an Andy Bathgate backhander, and the Canadiens didn't have a backup that night. He'd wanted a mask for years but club management cited tradition and said no.

-- 87. George Mikan: The star of pro basketball's pre-shot-clock era, the first great Lakers center inspired a pivotal rule change - widening the foul lane from 6 feet to 12 to keep a dominant big man from camping under the basket.

-- 86. Wilt Chamberlain: Some players, like some events, are significant all by themselves, as icons of their sports and times. Ruth. Grange. Gretzky. Ali. Chamberlain.

-- 85. Retro stadiums (1990s): A peculiar trend was the construction of ballparks at the end of the century (notably Baltimore's Oriole Park at Camden Yards) that looked like ballparks at the beginning of the century. Since such tastes go in cycles, how long before we grow nostalgic for symmetry and faded artificial turf, and somebody builds a replica of the Astrodome?

-- 84. Second-generation stars: From Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. to Kobe Bryant and J.T. Snow, it seems as if more and more top athletes are sons of top athletes. Of course, none of the above is the first or greatest son-of - 1935 Triple Crown winner Omaha was the son of 1930 Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox.

-- 83. Jack beating Arnold (1962): It took an 18-hole playoff for the 22- year-old Nicklaus to knock off Palmer in the U.S. Open at Oakmont. Their rivalry would stretch through the 1960s until Nicklaus was recognized as the best golfer of all time and Palmer merely the most beloved.

-- 82. Parimutuel betting: The arrival, in the century's first decade, of the French-invented system of wagering ``among ourselves'' saved American horse racing (not to mention greyhound racing and jai-alai) from the corrosive influence of bookmakers.

-- 81. Off-track betting: Back in 1973, people who really didn't attend Secretariat's Belmont claimed they were there. If it happened today, people would claim they were in the OTB, cashing the superfecta on the ninth at Calder. The expansion of off-track and simulcast wagering opportunities has drawn fans away from the rail and robbed the sport of much of its poetry.

-- 80. Bite of the Century (1997): That was the headline in many papers after Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield's ear during a title fight. The incident summed up boxing in the 1990s, when the sport of Don King and 46-year-old heavyweight champion George Foreman became a joke wrapped in a rip-off inside a scandal.

-- 79. Decline of the simplest games: Look at an L.A. sports page from the 1950s. Boxing, horse racing and track and field were all over page 1. Maybe it's mismanagement and scandal that have caused these most elemental sports to slip in popularity. Or maybe it's evolution.

-- 78. The BCS (1998): In a further break from the traditional college football postseason schedule, the sport reshaped the Bowl Coalition and the subsequent Bowl Alliance by introducing a complicated ranking system under the banner Bowl Championship Series. The BCS' formula was the object of ridicule but seen as a step (we've heard this before) toward national playoffs.

-- 77. Jim Thorpe: The early leader for the title of Athlete of the Century, the American Indian star was a football All-American in 1911 and 1912 and won the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Olympics. When it was revealed he had played professional baseball before all that, he was stripped of his Olympic medals, which were returned to his family after his death, following decades of debate on the meaning of amateurism.

-- 76. Pros in the Olympics: Now, of course, there would be no Thorpe controversy. The crumbling of the amateurism requirement - winked-at though it might have been anyway in many cases - has been gradual. The dam-burst came in 1992 at Barcelona when NBA players were allowed to represent their countries in the basketball competition.

-- 75. Formation of Little League (1939): It has taught generations of boys (and girls, since 1974) the fundamentals of baseball and sportsmanship. Now, if it can do the same for their parents....

-- 74. Lowering the mound (1968): Baseball doesn't change its rules too often. If it did, it would be football or basketball. But it had to give in after a pitching-dominated 1968 season that featured Bob Gibson's 1.12 ERA, Don Drysdale's 58 2/3 consecutive shutout innings, Carl Yastrzemski's league-high .301 average, a 1-0 All-Star Game and Denny McLain's 30 wins.

-- 73. The shot clock: The NBA's adoption of the 24-second limit in 1954, to prevent stalling, was a rule change as effective as it was dramatic.

-- 72. The Fosbury Flop (1968): The United States' Dick Fosbury literally turned high-jumping upside down as he won the Olympic gold medal in Mexico City.

-- 71. ``Ball Four'' (1970): Pitcher Jim Bouton's kiss-and-tell diary piqued the public's and press' fascination with the real lives of professional athletes. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn labeled the book ``detrimental to baseball.''

-- 70. SI: Sports Illustrated hit the newsstands for the first time in 1954, a literate weekly much different from today's sales vehicle. The magazine lost $26 million before reporting its first profit in 1964.

-- 69. Howard Cosell: The imitable Howard, who made Monday Night Football must-see TV, deserves an entry all to himself for what he did for sportscasters and for sports media critics. He'd have said so, for certain.

-- 68. TV's jockocracy: In other words, Cosell changed sports broadcasting but not enough. What Cosell warned against has come to pass, every retiring athlete of minimal note being instantly fitted for a professional broadcaster's costume.

-- 67. Roone Arledge: As the innovative president of ABC Sports from 1968 to 1975, he revolutionized the technique and substance of sports television.

-- 66. Instant replay: Introduced by ABC-TV in its 1961 college football coverage, it has been repeated by every networkin every sport in every possible fashion (slow-motion, Super Slo-Mo, reverse-angle, with Telestrator...). And repeated. And repeated.

-- 65. TV sports' debut (1939): For the record, the first of the major American sports to get live coverage was baseball, which debuted on New York City station W2XBC with an Aug. 26 game between the Cincinnati Reds and Brooklyn Dodgers. Red Barber did the play-by-play. Date of first Budweiser ad is unknown.

-- 64. Carlton Fisk's home run (1975): The Boston Red Sox catcher's 12th-inning drive off Fenway Park's left-field foul pole, and the body English that seemed to keep the ball fair, to end game 6 of a World Series the Cincinnati Reds went on to win, was the first great baseball moment to be enhanced by television.

-- 63. The first NIKEs: University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight put up $500 each to begin a sportswear empire using running-shoe soles molded in Bowerman's wife's waffle iron. Bowerman died a multimillionaire last week at 88.

-- 62. The Harris County Domed Stadium: Otherwise known as the Astrodome, it opened in 1965, introducing the concepts of climate-control, noisy scoreboard entertainment and (later) artificial turf to baseball and football.

-- 61. The Seles stabbing (1993): One crazed fan, one vulnerable player. How is it that this never happened before?

-- 60. Magic Johnson's retirement (1991): Sexually promiscuous pro athlete has the AIDS virus. How is it that THIS! NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE?

-- 59. Gertrude Ederle's swim (1926): In the most celebrated athletic achievement by a woman to that date, the 19-year-old New Yorker swam the English Channel in 14 hours, 31 minutes - breaking the record for women or men.

-- 58. Women's World Cup (1999): The United States women's soccer team was expected to win, and did. What it couldn't have been expected to do was to embody the joy of competition while burdened with responsibility for the very future of the sport, but it did.

-- 57. Billie Jean King: The first woman athlete to earn $100,000 in a year, the dominant tennis player of the women's-lib era was a leader in the fight (on-going) for equal prize money. King's 1973 ``Battle of the Sexes'' victory over Bobby Riggs had more to do with the popularity of tennis at the time than gender politics.

-- 56. Wayne Gretzky's trade to the Kings (1988): L.A.'s team had lived on the fringe for two decades - not only the fringe of the hockey continent, but the fringe of the city's sports consciousness. Suddenly, with the sport's greatest player a King, the Forum was the place to be for hockey. The NHL's expansion to Anaheim, San Jose and Phoenix was a direct result.

-- 55. Red Grange joining the Bears (1925): Merely by signing a contract, the University of Illinois' Galloping Ghost gave pro football legitimacy it hadn't yet enjoyed. By leading the Chicago Bears on a lucrative barnstorming tour, he put the NFL on the big-city map.

-- 54. Paul Brown's innovations: The most influential football coach of the postwar era is credited with giving the sport sophisticated playbooks and intelligence tests to determine which players were capable of reading them.

-- 53. Upstart leagues: Competition from the American Football League and the American Basketball Association in the 1960s forced the staid NFL and NBA to jazz up their games and to expand.

-- 52. Olympic boycotts (1980, 1984): Politics win the silver medal, sports win the bronze. There is no gold in years like those.

-- 51. World Series cancellation (1994): It demonstrated Major League Baseball's weakness (ever-shaky player-owner relations) and its strength (the inherent appeal of the game, which kept fans coming back).

-- 50. Al Campanis (1987): Old-worldly but hardly a virulent bigot, the Dodgers vice president bumbled into a villain's role when, in a ``Nightline'' interview on the impact of Jackie Robinson, he suggested blacks lack ``the necessities'' for management positions. Embarrassed baseball officials vowed to integrate the game's front offices. The decade since has only demonstrated how slow progress can be.

-- 49. Expansion: Of course, expansion, a necessary response to the forces of supply and demand, has taken its toll on the quality of the competition. But the fans of Denver would rather have bad pitching than no baseball at all.

-- 48. NASCAR's rise: Stock-car racing, once the domain of moonshiners and small-towners, zoomed past the politically split Indy-car circuits to claim widespread appeal in the 1980s and 1990s. When you see Bobby Labonte caps next to Steelers jackets in the stores, you know the sporting landscape is changing.

-- 47. The hardship draft (1971): A lawsuit by Spencer Haywood forced the NBA, for the first time, to admit players before their college classes had graduated, providing they proved financial necessity. By 1976, that ``hardship'' requirement had been eliminated, and college underclassmen were declaring their draft eligibility at will, to the detriment of college sports and the debatable benefit of pro sports.

-- 46. Len Bias (1987): The Boston Celtics draft choice's death after a cocaine binge focused attention on sports' drug problem. This is one area of concern in which sports do seem to have made progress.

-- 45. The Black Sox (1919): The revelation that Chicago White Sox players took $100,000 from gamblers to throw the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds could have destroyed baseball. Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, the sport's first commissioner, banned eight White Sox and is credited with restoring public confidence in the game. The ban of Pete Rose 70 years later for betting on his team's games reaffirmed the belief that unchecked gambling poses a particular threat to sports' integrity.

-- 44. The convenience of air travel: The Lakers' eight-day, Denver- Washington-Detroit-New York-Miami trip in March doesn't sound like much fun even in this era - but imagine making it by train.

-- 43. Tennis' open era (1968-): A few years after the admission of professionals to major international events like Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, tennis moved beyond the country clubs and became a winner with the masses. If you're old enough, you knew somebody who swung a Wilson T-2000 two-handed because that's what Jimmy Connors did.

-- 42. 1994 World Cup: The United States' surprisingly strong showing - on and off the pitch in the nation's first shot at hosting soccer's big event - created new optimism among the sport's promoters and led to the creation of the latest U.S. pro league.

-- 41. 12 strokes (1997): The 12-stroke Masters victory by Tiger Woods was simply the greatest major-tournament performance of the century by a golfer of any race or races.

-- 40. 31 lengths: Shattering the 1 1/2-mile record, winning by an unheard-of 31 lengths, Secretariat set himself up as a racing icon for generations to come and reestablished the Triple Crown as an attainable standard for thoroughbred brilliance.

-- 39. 751.251 mph (1997): British Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green became the first to break the sound barrier on land when he drove a rocket-powered car an average of 763.035 mph in two 1-mile passes in the Nevada desert.

-- 38. Beamon's leap (1968): It doesn't matter that his record has since been broken. Long-jumping 29 feet, 2 1/2 inches at the Mexico City Olympics - an incredible 21 inches beyond the previous mark - the United States' Bob Beamon turned in the greatest one-shot athletic performance of the century.

-- 37. 4 minutes (1954): Englishman Roger Bannister's mile run in Oxford is remembered as the greatest 3 minutes 59.4 seconds in track and field history.

-- 36. 29,002 feet (1953): Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay stood on top of the world after scaling Mount Everest. Before them, 16 climbers had died trying.

-- 35. 56 games in a row (1941): Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak was the feat that launched a thousand coffee makers.

-- 34. The Miracle on Ice: The U.S. Olympic ice-hockey team's upset of the Soviet Union - and its subsequent gold-medal victory over Finland - was the feel-good story of the American sports century. Do you believe it's the standard by which all future U.S. victories will be judged? Yes!

-- 33. Jesse Owens' four gold medals: The African-American track-and- field star's performance at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin is remembered for refuting Adolf Hitler's belief in an Aryan master race. Though, to put the achievement in perspective, it must be noted that Hitler was undeterred.

-- 32. Jack Johnson's title (1908): Even before beating Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia, to become the first black world heavyweight champion, the Texas-born Johnson was America's first famous black athlete. His reign inspired the first search for a ``great white hope'' by the prejudiced public of the day.

-- 31. Louis-Schmeling II (1938): Thirty years after Johnson's victory, Joe Louis wasn't a black champion, he was an American champion, and his revenge victory over German Max Schmeling in Yankee Stadium as World War II rumbled in the distance was an enormous morale boost.

-- 30. The Intercalated Games: After the failures of the Summer Games of 1900 (Paris) and 1904 (St. Louis), the Olympic movement was in trouble. The success of the Intercalated (Interim) Games of 1906 (Athens) steadied the ship even though the International Olympic Committee considers them unofficial.

-- 29. Rise and fall of the Soviet athletic machine (1940s to 1980s): Every hero needs a villian, and for United States Olympic athletes, the cheatin' communists played that role until their very way of life expired. Say what you will about the virtue of keeping politics out of sports, the Olympics haven't been quite the same thrill since then.

-- 28. Internationalization of American rosters: The twists of international politics that have allowed baseball, basketball, hockey and football teams to raid Latin America, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe - even the old Soviet countries - and virtually every other corner of the map are responsible for the greatest upsurge in talent since Jackie Robinson.

-- 27. Munich (1972): Arab terrorists murdered 11 Israeli athletes and coaches, forcing the Olympic Games to be suspended for the first time. As for the pretense that sports are immune to the untidiness of the world beyond the white lines - to paraphrase Jim McKay, it was all gone.

-- 26. The L.A. Olympics (1984): The Games had become a political and economic hot potato. It was a sure money-loser, an invitation to terrorism and traffic gridlock. Then Los Angeles showed the world how it's done.

-- 25. Jets 16, Colts 7 (1969): Joe Namath guaranteed the win. The win guaranteed the AFL-NFL merger by proving the junior league competitive.

-- 24. Wooden's hiring: John Wooden replaced Wilbur Johns as UCLA's head basketball coach in 1948. The Bruins embarked on college sports' foremost dynasty by winning their first NCAA title in 1964 - an instant transformation, as Wooden-worshipers remember it.

-- 23. The Russell deal (1956): Red Auerbach traded Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan to St. Louis to bring Hawks draft choice Bill Russell to the Boston Celtics. Russell went on to lead pro basketball's greatest dynasty and become the first black coach in a major sport.

-- 22. Texas Western 72, Kentucky 65 (1966): All five Texas Western starters were black. The entire Kentucky roster was white. It was the starkest racial contrast in NCAA basketball championship game history. The victory by the school now known as UTEP over the top-ranked Wildcats is credited with further opening the door for black athletes in the south.

-- 21. Clay's championship (1964): Beating Sonny Liston, who failed to answer the seventh-round bell in Miami, Cassius Clay began his rise to dramatic-comedic-tragic icon, a rise that included two further turns as champion as Muhammad Ali, a ban for refusing military induction, the classic fights with Joe Frazier, and the victory over George Foreman in the ultimate triumph of guile over strength.

-- 20. Pete Rozelle's commissionership (1960-89): Chosen by league owners on the 23rd ballot, the young Rams GM would lead the NFL through the decades in which pro football grew to America's most popular sport and the Super Bowl became a national quasi-holiday.

-- 19. Computers: Once, strategy was something you drew on a chalkboard and statistics were something sportswriters kept on a legal pad. Now, coaches and managers analyze performances and trends with the help of computer printouts that tell them everything but the future.

-- 18. Specialization: Also known as situational substitution. Once upon a time you were an athlete. Then you were a football player. Then you were a lineman. Then you were a defensive lineman. Then you were a defensive end in obvious passing situations. At this rate, as roles become more narrowly defined (designated hitter, set-up man, point guard), someday in the future, an entire career will last one play.

-- 17. Knute Rockne establishes the pass: Rockne's emphasis on the forward pass and other elements of finesse as a Notre Dame player and coach (1918-31) revolutionized football. And you thought he just gave a hell of a halftime speech.

-- 16. Safer racecars: From break-apart car bodies to transparent smoke, safety advances have kept pace with advances in going really fast.

-- 15. The Shot Heard 'Round the World (1951): Bobby Thomson's bottom-of-the-ninth-inning home run off Ralph Branca wins the pennant for the New York Giants and crystalizes the frustration of Brooklyn Dodgers fans. The radio call of Russ Hodges - ``The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!'' - was as memorable as the home run.

-- 14. Magic and Bird going pro: The NBA already was on the way back up in 1979 after a decade of growing pains, violence, drug scandals and midnight TV coverage. But the rise was hastened when the Lakers drafted Magic Johnson, using a pick acquired from the Utah Jazz in a trade, and the Boston Celtics signed Larry Bird, who had returned to Indiana State after they had drafted him the year before. Their rivalry - and the revived Lakers-Celtics rivalry - helped to make the league what it is today (or what it was a couple of years ago, anyway).

-- 13. Michael Jordan going airborne: We say Bird and Magic helped to make the NBA what it is (or was). It's Jordan who took the ball and ran with it, carrying the league to unimagined heights, a fitting role for the greatest finisher in basketball history. Jordan's Chicago Bulls won six championships in the 1990s. Once again, amid attempts at ``parity,'' a league's popularity peaked at a time when a dynasty gave everybody a standard of excellence and a seasonal storyline.

-- 12. Maris' 61st* (1961): By taking advantage of an extended major- league schedule, Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's single-season home-runs record and set off a debate on the hazards of measuring greatness with numbers.

-- 11. McGwire-Sosa (1998): The last great drama of the sports century, which ended with Mark McGwire hitting a record 70 home runs and Sammy Sosa 66, reminded us how awesome Babe Ruth was in an era when homers were less common. McGwire would have had to hit 150 to match Ruth's impact.

-- 10. Colts 23, Giants 17, OT (1958): Carroll Rosenbloom's Baltimore Colts won the NFL's first overtime game and the championship when Alan Ameche tumbled 1 yard for a touchdown 8:15 into the sudden-death period. The entire league celebrated when it saw how the nationally televised display by Johnny Unitas, Raymond Berry and Lenny Moore raised excitement about pro football.

-- 9. Aaron's 715th: By perservering through racist threats, Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's career home-runs record and struck a mighty blow for black America.

-- 8. The point spread: The idea - whatever its shady origin - of forcing favorite-players to ``give'' points to underdog bettors made sports betting into a billion-dollar industry. NFL officials publicly deplore gambling, and secretly love it, if they know their audience.

-- 7. Title IX (1972): The federal mandate for gender equity in education leads to the rapid expansion of athletic programs for women, to the more-than-occasional frustration of male athletes whose programs were cut back.

-- 6. Curt Flood's freedom fight (1970): Flood lost his lawsuit challenging as ``slavery'' the baseball rule binding a player to one team until traded or released. He lost his first appeal and an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. He sacrificed his career by refusing to report to the Philadelphia Phillies after a trade from the St. Louis Cardinals. But he won the war as the issues he raised prompted baseball to negotiate with the players' union for major sports' first free-agency system.

-- 5. The Dodgers' move out of New York (1958): The loser - Brooklyn. The winner - everywhere else. We can live with that tradeoff. Before the Dodgers came to Los Angeles, major-league baseball consisted of 16 teams, all in the eastern and central timezones. The big leagues have doubled in size since then. Before the Dodgers came to Los Angeles, major-league sports here meant the Rams, the racetracks and boxing ring. In the next 10 years we'd add the Lakers, Angels, Kings and the ABA's Stars, and built the Forum and Anaheim Stadium.

-- 4. The growing role of science: Improved nutrition, conditioning, surgical procedures and competition equipment are helping the human animal achieve its athletic potential. A scary thought for time-travel believers: Babe Ruth puts down the booze and picks up the creatine.

-- 3. Birth of ESPN (1979): The marriage of sports and television might have been old news by then. But the arrival of ESPN and its cable cousins made sports and television one complete happy family. Television dictates tip-off times and rule changes. In return players and leagues get rich on zillion-dollar network contracts. If you puzzle over athletes earning 100 times what the previous generation did, consider that today's ballplayer entertains millions of viewers, whereas his predecessor entertained 12,000.

-- 2. Babe Ruth's move to New York (1919): The impact on the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox was enormous. The impact on sports was bigger: A celebrity-driven sports culture was born. Red Sox World Series titles before owner Harry Frazee sold Ruth for $425,000 in cash and loans: six. Since: zero. Yankees World Series titles before the trade: zero. Since: 25. In the big city, Ruth became a celebrity of, well, Ruthian proportions.

-- 1. Jackie Robinson's impact (1947): The first black major-leaguer of the century helped to make baseball a truly national pastime, became a symbol of the civil rights movement and embodied the biblical admonition to turn the other cheek. Robinson was MVP of the National League, 1949, and MVP of American sports, 1900-99.


24 photos

Photo: (1 -- 9 -- page 1) Various sports (no caption)

(10 -- 24) Athletes of the Century















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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 31, 1999

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