The look and appearance of our favorite teams evolve over the years, and it’s fun to go back in time and see just how the world of sports has changed. From retro uniforms to legendary plays, take a look at some of the most iconic images of athleticism throughout the year.
Blinded By The Sight Of The Astros
For those of you who remember the ’70s, you remember the vibrant colors that were ubiquitous in every facet of life. The in-your-face clothes and cars and other things could not be avoided. Remember Dance Fever? Remember the all-important disco ball and lights and of course, the music of the time?
The world of sports was no different, as the inaugural Houston Astros baseball uniforms were a dazzling array of orange, yellow, and gold. A touch of a blue star balanced out the wild colors. It might seem funny now that a baseball team wore a rainbow out on the baseball field, but those were the “good times!” Do you hear that Chic guitar riff playing in your head?
Mamie’s Bouffant Belles Running Track
Honey anyone? I’m just kidding around with you all. This photo is definitely reflective of the times. Of course, this photo was taken in the ’60s. The ’60s was another fun time, but also a very turbulent time as well. It was a time of change and social justice. With all of the issues that were around during that time, it was still a fun and beautiful time, especially as a young adult.
This is the UT women’s track team, also known as the “Flamin’ Mamie’s Bouffant Belles.” This was a girl’s track team and the picture was taken in 1964. I swear, every time I see a beehive hairdo, Martha Reeve’s and the Vandella’s Dancing in the Streets starts playing in my head, every time.
Hair, Hair, Hair, with Oscar Gamble
Now there is one thing to actually go back into the past and see all of the culture and experience the music and movies and such, and then there is another thing to actually live in those times.
Hair was a really big thing back then, and it is now, but maybe more so back then. The country has seen the change in the African-American community from the afro to the jheri curl (don’t you laugh!), and then the high top fade came along in the late ’80s. Many have had all of these hairstyles, and understand the luscious fro that Oscar Gamble is sporting because the hair was definitely the crown of the head.
A Little Encouragement from a Pro
Rivalries bring out the best and the worst of people. Facing an opponent can go in one of two ways: an opponent will either have respect for you or all bets are off. This occurs in sports like football and boxing among many other athletic endeavors. For those of you who have been in competition, especially in a contact sport, you know exactly what this is about.
The same applies to the game of golf as well. This photo is from December 1966 and it features Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. These guys were rivals for a very longtime, but out of their rivalry, a friendship developed.
What Is “Clyde” Doing Riding a Train?
Money, women, and cars are the favorite pastimes of many athletes who rake in a ton of money, and not in any particular order. These guys are pro ball players and they love to show the fruits of their labor. Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a prime example of a guy who loves to display his cash for all of the world to see.
Walt “Clyde” Frazier was known for his extravagance and gaudiness during his heyday and might have been one of the first sports stars to start this trend. Here is Clyde riding on a train in his expensive thread in April 1974. Why would he ride a train when he has plenty of dough? He explained to the Associated Press: “Walt Frazier, of the New York Knicks, owns a $20,000 Rolls-Royce but still takes the subway to work in New York,” noting that while he “thrives on heavy traffic on a basketball floor, [he] can’t abide it on the New York streets.”
Andre Agassi: A Man of the Times
Hey is that the late George Michael on the tennis court? No, but Andre Agassi sort of resembles George Michael as the style and trend of the late ’80s took effect in the sports world as it always does. Everything seems to interconnect when it comes to fashion and society, and Andre Agassi and his mullet were no exception to the rule.
Working up a sweat and being an athlete does not mean that a person has to look gritty and grungy when it comes to performing in front of thousands of people. This photo was taken on August 27, 1988, while Agassi was eighteen years old.
Johnny Unitas Meets Herman Monster
In the ’80s it was the synthesizer that was a common instrument in music. In the ’70s it was the Moog Synthesizer. In the ’60s can you guess what it was? I hear it now, the organ. If you happened to catch The Munsters you will know exactly what I am referring to as the organ was very common in those days.
Johnny Unitas is having a little fun with Herman Munster on January 5, 1965. This was somewhat reflective of the times when sports stars and television stars were the craze and this image just happened to capture these moments. Remember “The Animal’s Don’t Bring Me Down“ anyone?
Bird Gets a Hug from Fredbird
Here is yet another one of those photos from the past that shows the humorous side of sports. First, we had NFL legend Johnny Unitas and Herman Munster. And now we have the Cards or the St. Louis Cardinal’s mascot known as “Fredbird” and Boston Celtic’s legend Larry Bird.
The whole purpose of the mascot seems to be to provide a little relief from the action that goes on during these sporting events. This photo was taken on June 2, 1979, when Larry Bird was just starting his career. He was invited to throw the first pitch of that game.
Larry Bird and the Eastman Award
Larry Bird seems very proud in this picture to have been an Indiana State All-American basketball player. He knew that his future was set by achieving various titles and awards. He probably did not know that he would become a super legend and perhaps he would have a friendly rivalry with another basketball great known as Magic Johnson.
Larry Bird is standing with the Eastman Award which is presented by the National Association of Basketball Coaches for distinguishing the player of the year in college basketball. This image is from March 20, 1979. Bird looks like he is displaying a science project and his science was the game of basketball.
The Super Bowl Like You’ve Never Seen It
We think of athletes as being committed to high standards and moral character. Tons of kids aspire to be athletes and many kids look up to these athletes as their role models. Most benefits and charities are attended by athletes to raise money and rally behind a good cause.
However, there is the other side of being an athlete which includes some not-so-savory behavior. Take a look at this image; you can see Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson having a smoke and enjoying what looks like a bottle of Fresca near his side. This picture was taken at halftime during the first Super Bowl.
Clyde the Fashion Statement
The ’70s seemed to be the bridge between modeling and sports. This bridge is very common today, and it is somewhat different from about 40 years ago. Let’s just say that today’s photos of sports stars are a little bit on the steamy side compared to the ones from the past.
This picture of Clyde Frazier is an example of an athlete doing a pose in an expensive fur coat. It is very stylish as he is posing after a Celtics game at Madison Square Garden, aka The Garden. Joe Namath was a football star who was known for taking stylish photos and dressing chic as well.
Roberto Clemente Ties the Knot
Roberto Clemente was a superstar in the world of baseball. He was one of the legends of the Pittsburgh Pirates. You can see somewhat of a shift between the sports stars of the past and the ones that came after him. This is Clemente and his new bride at the time named Vera Cristina Zabala on November 16, 1964.
This is the type of photo that breaks the belief that sports stars are like rock stars. They travel from place to place and they get all sorts of rock star like treatment. This photo is the opposite and is definitely a sign of the times.
Do You Remember Those Short Shorts of the ’70s?
A shift in fashion has always gone on well throughout the ages. These changes go along with the morals and beliefs of a society as well. In the ’20s through perhaps the ’60s there was the whole conservative dress mindset that was prevalent in America back then and guys and gals could not wear certain types of clothing.
The hippie movement more than likely brought about a change in how people dressed. Fast forward to the ’70s when people, like this couple who are perhaps about to play badminton, are wearing the short running shorts of the time period. Society seemed to be accepting of these shorts, and I surely remember these types of shorts. This was the trend in some sports also.
Tennis in the 1950s
This photo seems to capture the essence of the fifties. As mentioned earlier, society dictated the type of dress that occurred in all aspects of life. Tennis was no different. As a matter of fact, in the ’20s and ’30s, the dresses were even longer than the ones these ladies are wearing. Imagine trying to hit a tennis ball in a long dress today?!
The conservative dress is far gone now and we have such stars as Anna Kournikova and Serena Williams who came along much later and defined the look of how women dress in tennis today. Imagine the tennis players of today in a photo like this.
The Redskins Like You Have Never Seen Them Before
This is one of the old Washington Redskins uniforms. The burgundy and gold colors remain intact, but the helmet logo was slightly different. Some football teams still use a letter for their helmet logos such as the Green Bay Packers and the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Somewhere along the line, the logo changed to the controversial Native American head image which is currently on the helmets today.
There was even a change to the controversial logo at one time, making it into an arrow with a feather on it. Many feel that the Redskins should go back to the R logo on the helmet to diffuse the current logo controversy.
Johnny and Bob: The Friendly Rivalry
Do you remember the Wacky Races by Hanna Barbara? It was a cartoon that featured a variety of eccentric racers. You probably heard of Penelope Pittstop or Dick Dastardly and Muttley. “Drat, drat, and double drat” was a running gag in the cartoon that was used by Dick Dastardly.
Here is a picture of Johnny Boyd, the guy sitting in the car, and Bob Sweikert. They were friends but also competitors as they have raced against each other many times. This photo was taken around June 1956 and it seems like Sweikert is mentoring Boyd. Boyd looks like Peter Perfect from the Wacky Racers.
Down Goes Gooden, Down Goes Gooden!
Dwight Gooden forgot to dodge the right jab of the future undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson during that time. This is another iconic photo which was taken on September 10, 1986, at Shea Stadium. Luckily this was not a real punch or it would have been lights out for Gooden.
Mike Tyson is displayed here with Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry during what seems like happier times for Tyson. This photo was around the time when Gooden and Strawberry were big time names in baseball and Tyson was just around the corner from taking Trevor Berbick’s world heavyweight title the very next month.
Richard Petty Defines the NASCAR Look
There is an eccentric side to entertainers in all fields of art and sports. With John Lennon, it was his glasses. With Don King, it was his trademark hair style. With Michael Jackson, it was the glitter glove. It is very ubiquitous and in NASCAR there is no difference. Yep, even in the racing world, there is this air of eccentricity.
No one perhaps defines the eccentricity of NASCAR more than former NASCAR driver Richard Petty. This photo of him was taken on March 13, 1981. He is donning his famous cowboy hat with the plume of rooster feathers. He also has his trademark sunglasses on and a cigar. With this type of eccentricity comes notoriety.
John McEnroe Headband and All
A lot of inspiration comes from the past. Many of the arts today were inspired by some trend of the past. If you thought this was Will Ferrell, aka Jackie Moon from Semi –Pro, then think again. This is not Ferrell, but tennis legend John McEnroe who was 18 years old at the time when this photo was taken circa January 1978.
You could probably see where Ferrell got the inspiration for the Semi-Pro movie. The big hair thing was in back in the late ’70s and so was the sweatband. The sweatband even carried over into the ’80s and temporarily returned in the earlier part of the 2000s.
T and T: Tyson and Trump
The business relationship between Donald Trump and Mike Tyson goes back to the ’80s. Tyson had some of his famous fights at the Trump Plaza, including the fight that he had with Michael Spinks back in 1988 in which both men came into the fight as undefeated and Tyson came out the winner.
We have Mike Tyson and Donald Trump in this photo along with Robin Givens and her mother. This was before the big divorce between Tyson and Givens and this photo is was dated July 22, 1988.
Kobe Making You Laugh?
This is as rare as they come. In 1998, Kobe Bryant was taking a picture with Kel Mitchell and Kenan Thompson in the make-up room prior to shooting for All That. Why is this so rare? Because Afro-Kobe was a workhorse who only cared about basketball. Leading up to his eventual retirement, the public never got to see Bryant in a happy or care-free mood. He was focused on basketball and that’s it. To see him smiling with some funny guys like this only happened once every blue moon. Now, you might find photos of Bryant like this with more ease.
An Unlikely Trio
This picture was posted on Reddit with a backstory to it. User qw1k1lv3r wrote: “André the Giant was known to pay for his meal, regardless of whether he was the host or the guest. As Arnold Schwarzenegger was about to pay for the meal “[he] found himself being physically lifted, carried back to his table and deposited in his seat by Andre, who stated emphatically, ‘I pay’.”
Later, Schwarzenegger would confirm this story. He went and said: “I can confirm this story is basically true. It is missing Wilt Chamberlain’s involvement, which was never paying and then acting like he had planned to pay this time, and helping Andre carry me all the way outside to drop me on a car.”
Wilt Almost Boxed Ali
Sticking with Wilt Chamberlain, when he was on the Lakers, he had the chance to box against the greatest. Chamberlain would have earned more money from that one fight than he did during his career playing basketball. The financial gain was too much to turn away from.
Muhammad Ali’s trainer wasn’t really for this fight because Chamberlain had a superior reach and he was way taller. It wouldn’t have been a fair fight. One of Chamberlain’s biggest dream was to fight for the heavyweight title but this never came to fruition.
Everyone Looks Up To Shaq
Arnold Schwarzenegger makes another cameo on the list but this time with Shaquille O’Neal. We know Schwarzenegger is and was a pretty big person. Standing next to a regular person and he makes that regular person look like a stick figure. But on this day, he would be the one to look like a regular person. Not so much a stick figure, but not far from it. You never see these two together so when they were spotted together it was natural that they pose for a photo. And how fitting for Schwarzenegger to be looking up for the photo.
For New York Giant fans, you may be familiar with this man. This is Y.A. Tittle. He played for seventeen seasons and led the team to three consecutive Eastern Division titles in 1961-63. This image is of him during his last game as a professional player. They lost 52-20 and they had only won two games that season.
You can feel the anguish in him as he looks down at the floor. No championships under his belt just a lousy last game. At least he’ll always have his memories of the battles and fans cheering “YAT”.
Rare Leaping Namath
The Super Bowl champion Broadway Joe Namath was a huge sports icon. He was known for a lot of things such as famously calling a victory in Super Bowl III, TV actor, sports broadcaster and being injured frequently at towards the end of his career. And one thing he had was a cannon for an arm.
People kind of glossed over the fact that he had weak knees. He shined so brightly in everything else that he did his weaknesses were never a topic of the conversation. This photograph showcases him leaping in the air to complete a pass against the Houston Oilers, something he rarely ever did.
Say hello to Bobby Orr. This photo is from 1970 and it is illustrating what it looks like to hit a game winner in game four of the Stanely Cup Finals. You never see hockey players in the air completely horizontal like this, even if they did just win a championship. This is a rare sight indeed because it mixes pure joy with uncalculated risk. Orr ended up winning the MVP honors and it was the Boston Bruin’s first cup in 29 years. Maybe that explains his intense happiness that’s here on display.
Star Amongst Fans
It’s not very often you see the biggest stars of a sport out in public. You won’t just catch Steph Curry in the streets openly with the public. The same goes for Tom Brady, it’s just rare to see something like that. Babe Ruth was a rare talent so maybe he did things differently.
Here Ruth is standing with what looks like hundreds of fans blatantly out in the open. This was in 1926, the year he ended up having his best season yet. Perhaps sharing his energy with all of his fans like this translated into a great season.
Glory Time For Carl
What you see here is not only a world record-setting anchor leg time but a world record for the 4×100 relay. Carl Lewis wasn’t just fast, he defined fast. In this specific race, he ran his anchor leg in an outstanding time of 8.85 seconds. That was a record that stood until 2007. This image not only captures the world record the team broke but it also sees a man who just ran the fastest anchor in history. The other two celebrating were just happy to be receiving a medal at the Olympics. They didn’t stand a chance.
Clear The Basket!
There has only been one time when a human has cleared another human in a game for a dunk in basketball and that Vince Carter leaping straight over Shawn Bradley in the Olympics. The only other time was this moment when LeBron James cleared former Bulls guard, John Lucas for a ferocious slam at the rim.
If you know sports then you know Carter and James have some serious leaping abilities but Carter might go down as one of the greatest dunkers of all-time. It’s a bit more surprising to see James pull a move like this even though if you were watching the game live, it looked like a complete accident.
Pulling Ahead Like A Champ
In the Olympic finals for the 100m dash, no one man is supposed to be able to pull away from the competition so easily. Before Usain Bolt made doing that his thing in not just regular races but in the Olympics as well, there was no one out there gaining space on other sprinters.
Ben Johnson did it back in 1988 at the Olympics as he sprinted off for a gold medal in South Korea. He also set a new record while doing so. But come to find out, he was using performance-enhancing drugs. He was stripped of his record and the gold medal.
Peppers Getting It Done
There aren’t many dual sports athletes anymore that could get the job done at a high level in both of the sports. Bo Jackson was really the purest athlete ever capable of doing this. But many seem to forget that the great defensive player that is Julius Peppers used to play basketball in college as well.
Peppers attended North Carolina where he would play as a walk-on and even put up impressive numbers in the NCAA tournament against Penn State scoring 21 and grabbing 10 rebounds but they would end up losing that game. Here, he is soon putting up a difficult shot attempt against the rival school, Duke.
Barefoot To The Finish
A race that is truly an acquired taste is the marathon. Not many are built to take the battle of a multi-hour race. It isn’t easy to train for as well but the satisfaction you get once you finish the race is one of the most amazing feelings. It’s even better when you do it on a world stage for a gold medal in the Olympics.
Ethiopian runner Abebe Bikila is who you see above back in 1960. The Olympics were in Rome that year and the marathon had to be held at night due to all the heat. Bikila ran the race with no footwear and won it in 2:15:16.2.
Weightlifting is one of those sports you don’t really hear too much about. Probably because we hear about regular weight lifting from our fir friends 24/7. That’s neither here nor there, have you ever tried lifting over 432 pounds? Who you see above is Matthias Steiner, an Olympic weightlifter.
At the 2012 games in London, Steiner headed into the competition as the defending Olympic champion but he lost his balance lifting over 432 pounds as the weight proceeded to land on his neck. He got up to show he was okay but would pull out of competition afterward.
Just Call It Magic
It is rare you see a picture of a perfect aerial no-look pass and no whats going on. There is one thing here that allows you to know exactly what’s going on. That thing is the passer is Magic Johnson. Johnson was the perfect maestro and he did it with zest.
This was during a preseason game two weeks before Johnson would announce his diagnosis and retirement from the NBA. We might never get another magician like this again in the NBA so this flashy pass might have been the last one fans get to enjoy fully.
Pay Attention To The Teacher
It should be common knowledge for any aspiring athlete to pay close attention whenever a professional is giving out tips and tricks. They say you’re not listening when you’re talking so for those fans who were surrounding Ted Williams this day in 1956 at training camp, you can bet they were silent.
Williams would go on to hit a major-league best .479 on-base percentage and hit .345. It’s like he was giving out free power. One of those fans probably had a great season too following that impromptu teaching lesson. Imagine if all athletes gave out advice often.
You Had To See It To Believe It
The 1960 World Series pitted the Yankees against the Pirates. This image is a beauty because it shows how dedicated fans can be. Even hundreds of feet in the air and away from the stadium, University of Pittsburgh students were cheering on their team.
They were perched on the top of their campus’s Cathedral of Learning when they were witnessing the Pirates first World Series in over 30 years. That surely must have been an unbelievable feeling for those college kids to witness. And the way they saw it is something they can tell their grandkids.
Outside of Bolt’s last 100m race in the world championships in 2017, you would have to search high and low to find a time when Usain Bolt lost a race on the world stage. The man won three straight Olympic titles for crying out loud. That is the biggest stage for a sprinter. However, during the 2004 Olympics, Bolt’s first appearance a the Olympic level, he would fall.
Bolt’s favorite race is the 200 so you wouldn’t have thought that he would lose. He was eliminated in the heats after running a time of 21.05 (something college athletes do with ease). Four years later he breaks the world-record running a 19.30.
Be Safe Where You’re Going!
This almost looks like something out of an apocalyptic movie. Three skiers ride off into the fog at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Anna Holmlund of Sweden, Katrin Ofner of Austria and Stephanie Joffroy showed no fear as they were competing to advance to the next round. Assuming their vision was blurred or not at it’s best, this is a pretty gnarly situation to be in. It would be like skateboarding on a ramp in a well-lit room then all of sudden the lights go dim and you can’t see as clearly.
The Hardest Dunk
Dunking is already difficult as it is. So when the NBA has dunk contests that showcase the best of the best dunkers, it always ends up as the main event. In those dunk contests, players jump over cars, put the ball behind their back or even jump over five people!
Never has ever been a person to complete a 720 dunk. Yes, two spins in the air then throw it down. One man was able to complete it and his name is “Air Up There”. He was an And 1 player but before him, no one was able to complete it and even current NBA players like Andrew Wiggins tried but failed.