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Significant Events
Sandy Koufax Retires
Sanford “Sandy” Koufax was a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1955 until 1966. Koufax was exceptionally talented, but his career was cut short by Traumatic Arthritis in his left arm, his pitching arm. Koufax was diagnosed in 1964, and continued to play despite the extreme pain, but announced his retirement after the 1966 World Series. Koufax won the Triple Crown for Pitching (achieved by leading in wins, strikeouts, and earned run average) that same year, despite his condition.

Sandy Koufax was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972, becoming the youngest player to ever earn the honor at the age of 36.

Frank Robinson wins Triple Crown.
Frank Robinson has had an illustrious career in major league baseball serving as both a player and manager. In 1966 Robinson played for the Baltimore Orioles and won the Triple Crown in Batting (batting average, home runs, and runs batted in) within his first year on the team, with such achievements as being the only player to hit a home run out of Baltimore Stadium, 540 feet.

Frank Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.

The First Game on Astro-Turf is Played
“Chem Grass” was invented in 1964 as an artificial alternative to grass. It was patented in 1965 but didn’t see a major use until April 8th, 1966 when it was used in the Houston Astrodome. It would be later rebranded as “Astro-Turf” after the Houston stadium.
The AFL and NFL Announce Plans to Merge
During the 1960’s there were two football leagues in the United States, the National Football League which formed first, and the American Football League which formed after the NFL refused to expand.

At the time the NFL was comprised of the Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Redskins, Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Colts, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, and the Minnesota Vikings. The AFL was comprised of the Buffalo Bills, Boston Patriots, New York Jets, Houston Oilers, Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, and the Denver Broncos.

The competition between these leagues drove up the draft prices for their players. The two leagues started to feel the pressure and in 1966 the AFL and NFL announced plans to merge in 1970. The AFL would be absorbed into the NFL, and a common draft would be implemented. Furthermore, a championship game was born: the Super Bowl.

Michigan State and Notre Dame Square Off in front of the Largest Televised Audience for a Regularly Scheduled Game
A come back streak starting in 1964 earned Notre Dame a great deal of attention and enthusiasm, captiavting the attention of the largest televised audience in their match against Michigan State in 1966, the second to last in the season. A strong defense had denied most of Notre Dame’s competition any progress, but that audience was in for a disappointment as the match ended with a 10-10 tie.
Steve Spurrier Wins the Heismann Trophy
Steve Spurrier became the quarterback of the Florida Gators in 1964 and maintained that position until 1966. The Gators performed exceptionally well under Spurrier’s leadership, who was characterized by his dramatic strategies and plays. Spurrier’s career with the Gators culminated in winning the Heisman Trophy for outstanding performance in college football in 1966.

Spurrier was entered into the College Football Hall of Game in 1986.

Bill Russell Becomes the First African American to Coach a Major League Game
William Felton Russell’s exceptional skill in Basketball allowed him to lead the University of San Francisco to victory in the 1955 and 1956 NCAA World Championships. This accomplishment earned him both a role as Captain of the U.S. Basketball team in the 1956 Olympics (he would lead his team to earn the gold medal) and a draft pick for the NBA’s Boston Celtics where he would prove himself to be a valuable asset to the team.

In 1966 the coach of the Boston Celtics, Red Auerbach, retired. Russell was not Auerbach’s first choice as a replacement, in fact, Russell wasn’t his idea at all. Auerbach’s third choice for his successor turned down the opportunity as he did not think he could coach Russell, but suggested Russell himself as the ideal candidate. Auerbach agreed, and asked Russell, who accepted the role, becoming the first African American to coach a major league game.

Bill Russell was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975, the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2007, and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Bill Russell was named the “Greatest Player in the History of the NBA” by the Professional Basketball Writers Association in 1980.

Jack Nicklaus Becomes the First Golfer to Win 2 Masters in Succession.
During the 1960’s the world of professional golf was dominated by a duel between two exceptionally talented players: Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. The two would become the first golfers to earn over $100,000 in a single year (1964) and victory in the Masters would go to either of them throughout most of the decade. Nicklaus managed to edge out Palmer in both 1965 and 1966, becoming the first golfer to ever win two Masters Tournaments back to back.
Robert Hull Becomes the First NHL Athlete to Score Over 50 Goals in a Single Season
Robert “Bobby” Hull joined the Chicago Black Hawks in 1957 at the age of 18 and proved himself to be a star player, contributing to their Stanley Cup victory in 1961. Hull scored 54 goals during the 1966 season, beating the former record by 4 goals.
The NHL Expands into 12 Teams
In 1966 the NHL consisted of six teams that had been instated in the league since it’s inception, known as the Original Six. These teams included The Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, and the New York Rangers. The NHL had resisted expansion since the 40’s mainly to avoid competition emboldening their players to negotiate for higher paying contracts, however, by 1963 all of their television contracts had expired and the NHL would receive no more unless they expanded, forcing their hand. In 1966 the NHL accepted the Los Angeles Kings, California Seals, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota North Stars, and the Philadelphia Flyers.
Track and Field
Jim Ryun Sets Records for the Mile and Half Mile at Age 19
Jim Ryun is designated by as the greatest high school athlete of all time, breaking records in Track and Field within his sophomore year. In 1966, at age 19, Ryun set world records for both the mile and half mile, earning several accolades including Sport’s Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year award, ABC’s Wide World of Sports’ Athlete of the Year award, and the James E. Sullivan award.

View the List
AFL Championship
Kansas City Chiefs 31 Buffalo Bills 7
NFL Championship
Green Bay Packers 34 Dallas Cowboys 27
NCAA Championship
Texas Western College 72 University of Kentucky 65
NBA Finals
Boston Celtics 4 Los Angeles Lakers 3
Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Game 4 Game 5 Game 6 Game 7
Celtics 129 129 120 122 117 115 95
Lakers 133 109 106 117 121 123 93
Masters Tournament
Jack Nicklaus -2 Tommy Jacobs E Gay Brewer +6
Men’s U.S. Open
Billy Casper -1 Arnold Palmer +3
Women’s U.S. Open
Sandra Spuzich +9 Carol Mann +10 Mickey Wright +11
World Series
Baltimore Orioles 4 Los Angeles Dodgers 0
Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Game 4
Orioles 5 6 1 1
Dodgers 2 0 0 0
NASCAR Championship
David Pearson
Daytona 500
Richard Petty
World 600
Marvin Panch
Indianapolis 500
Graham Hill
Kentucky Derby
Kauai King
Preakness Stakes
Kauai King
Belmont Stakes
NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament
Michigan State 6 Clarkson 1
Stanley Cup Finals
Montreal Canadiens 4 Detroit Red Wings 2
Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Game 4 Game 5 Game 6
Canadiens 2 2 4 2 5 3
Red Wings 3 5 2 1 1 2
Heavy Weight World Boxing Champion
Muhammad Ali