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Silverman: Think U.S. Presidents And Major Sporting Events Don’t Mix? Think Again

Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama (file/credit: Ethan Miller/Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama (file/credit: Ethan Miller/Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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By Steve Silverman
» More Columns

When you are a sports fan, you think of all the circumstances of the biggest events and you can remember them well.

Election Day is not usually about sports, but it’s time to credit our past presidents for the biggest sports events that occurred during their times in office.

You may be a Republican, but it’s hard to stay angry at Bill Clinton when he was in the White House when the Rangers won their 1994 Stanley Cup.

You may be a Democrat, but you can’t look back at Ronald Reagan without feeling some kind of warmth and remembering that he was in office when the Mets had their miracle in the sixth game of the World Series against the Red Sox in 1986.

Here are some of the most important sports events that occurred during the presidencies of our last 10 presidents.

John F. Kennedy, 35th President (1961-63) – Kennedy was president during the National League expansion of 1962. That means he was in office when the New York Metropolitans and the Houston Colt .45s were born.

Shortly before JFK’s assassination, Sandy Koufax struck out 15 New York Yankees for the Los Angeles Dodgers in their 1963 sweep of the Bronx Bombers.

Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President (1964-69) – Johnson was president during football’s dramatic rise in popularity. Michigan State hosted Notre Dame in 1966, and that game between college football’s two titans ended in an infamous 10-10 tie.

The Super Bowl began during Johnson’s time in office. The Jets’ 16-7 upset of the Colts in Super Bowl III came during Johnson’s final days in office.

Richard M. Nixon, 37th President (1969-74) – The New York Mets completed their miracle season of 1969 during Nixon’s first year in office. The Mets defeated the heavily-favored Baltimore Orioles in five games in the World Series.

The Knicks won their first NBA championship by defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games in 1970, as injured center Willis Reed hit two jumpers at the start of the final game to inspire his teammates to the memorable win.

Joe Frazier defeated Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight championship of the world on March 8, 1971 in possibly the most hyped fight of all-time.

Gerald R. Ford, 38th President (1974-77) – Ford became president after Nixon resigned, and the former Michigan football All-American was in office during the Cincinnati Reds’ epic 1975 World Series win over the Boston Red Sox. This is often seen as the greatest World Series of all-time.

Jimmy Carter, 39th President (1977-81) – The Yankees won the 1977 World Series in six games over the Dodgers in Carter’s first year in office, as Reggie Jackson blasted three home runs in the final game to highlight the Bombers’ first World Series win since they beat the San Francisco Giants in seven games in 1962. The Yankees defended their title against the Dodgers the following year.

The U.S. Olympic hockey team won the gold medal at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics with a shocking win over the Soviet hockey team in the semifinals and a win over Finland in the finals. The win over the Soviets is often considered the greatest upset in sports history.

Ronald Reagan, 40th President (1981-1989) – In addition to the Mets’ memorable win over the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series, the Giants won their first Super Bowl in 1987 when they defeated the Denver Broncos, 39-20, in Super Bowl XXI.

George H.W. Bush, 41st President (1989-93) – The Giants defeated the Buffalo Bills, 20-19, in Super Bowl XXV as Buffalo placekicker Scott Norwood’s 47-yard, game-winning field-goal attempt in the final seconds sailed wide right.

Bill Clinton, 42nd President (1993-2001) – The Rangers won their first Stanley Cup since 1940 when they defeated the Vancouver Canucks in seven games in 1994.

The Yankees started their dynastic World Series run in 1996 when they defeated the Atlanta Braves in six games. The Yankees would also win the World Series in 1998, 1999 and 2000 during Clinton’s presidency. The 2000 World Series was a six-game triumph over the Mets.

George W. Bush, 43rd President (2001-2009) – Politics and sports had a meaningful mix in 2001 when the Yankees and Diamondbacks met in a most memorable World Series following the 9/11 attacks. President Bush threw out the opening pitch of the third game of that World Series by throwing a strike from the Yankee Stadium mound. The Diamondbacks edged the Yankees in seven games.

The Giants beat the previously undefeated Patriots, 17-14, in Super Bowl XLII in 2008. Eli Manning’s pass to David Tyree late in the fourth quarter highlighted the game-winning drive that culminated with Plaxico Burress’ game-winning catch in the end zone.

Barack Obama, 44th President (2009-present) – The Yankees were victorious in the 2009 World Series, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies in six games.

The Giants repeated their triumph over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, this time by a 21-17 margin. Ahmad Bradshaw scored the game-winning touchdown for the Giants and the defense prevented New England quarterback Tom Brady from completing a game-winning rally.

Obama, a basketball junkie, saw Kentucky defeat Kansas and win the 2012 NCAA men’s college basketball championship.

Which sporting event(s) do you most correlate with former U.S. presidents? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…