Nostalgic moments in sports, six decades' worth, have recently become available on home videos. Those legendary names of sport -- Babe Ruth, Jesse Owens, Johnny Weismuller, Bill Tilden, Bobby Jones and Eddie Arcaro, to name a few -- are on a release by V.I.E.W. Video called "The Sports Colossus." It highlights the heroes of the '20s, '30s and '40s.
CBS/Fox Video has completed a three-volume set entitled "The Best of ABC's Wide World of Sports." The cassettes are divided into three decades, the '60s, '70s and '80s. These are a lot more current and in color, but they are limited to excerpts from the sports anthology that has won an unprecedented 21 Emmys.
"The Sports Colossus" (109 mins., $19.95, 1-800/843-9843) brackets that golden era when so many untouchable records toppled and so many impossible feats were accomplished. There are many, many clips offering a fond look back at a great era of athletics, but these glimpses of sports heroes are all too brief.
Most of the black-and-white footage comes from the Grantland Rice Library and newsreels of the day, and the script is dripping with the purple prose of those years, delivered by narrator Bob Mathias, two-time Olympic decathlon champion and former U.S. Congressman.
The best and only extended story line comes near the end of the video showcasing Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias. An hour of tape wouldn't cover all her accomplishments, but in a few minutes it becomes quite clear that she was sport's most versatile athlete. She excelled in 20 sports and once won a national track championship all by herself with five firsts. She set a world record the very first time she heaved a javelin.
She was an All-America in basketball, pitched baseball (including a major league exhibition game against the Athletics), swam and dove with the world's best, and could pass a tight spiral 40-to-50 yards accurately, having played six-man tackle football with the boys in Texas. After winning several U.S. and British golf titles, she added one more National Open crown after treatment for cancer and a colostomy.
The "Wide World" videos ($19.98, 1-800-622-TAPE) pack a lot more drama. ABC offers excellent camera work, as usual, and packages these events and heroes into classic vignettes adorned with narration by the many-splendored skills of Jim McKay.
Some of the highlights:
1960s (60 mins.): Cassius Clay's defeat of the once-invincible Sonny Liston; Arnold Palmer's record-breaking British Open victory; Mickey Mantle's 500th home run; Willie Mays' record-setting 512th homer; a special tribute to Green Bay Packers' coach Vince Lombardi; Peggy Flemming's figure skating debut at age 15; highlights of UCLA freshman basketball whiz Lew Alcindor, and Bobby Kennedy's ascent of a mountain named for his slain brother.
1970s (78 mins.): Slovenian Vinko Bogataj's famous "Agony of Defeat" ski jump spill; emergence of Dorothy Hamill as figure skating's new queen; Nadia Comaneci's perfect 10, international gymnastic's first; Evel Knievel's attempt to jump a motorcycle over Snake River Canyon; highlights from a super decade of horse racing featuring three Triple Crown winners; Muhammad Ali's battles in and out of the boxing ring; the Harlem Globetrotters; Pele's farewell to soccer in the United States, and glimpses of stars such as Richard Petty, Olga Korbut, Lee Trevino, Steve Cauthen, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Vasily Alekseev.
1980s (60 mins.): Lots of great boxing featuring Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler and a young Mike Tyson; gymnast Mary Lou Retton; figure skaters Scott Hamilton and Brian Boitano; track and field highlights including Florence Griffith Joyner and Carl Lewis; cycling with Greg LeMond; the diving of Greg Louganis, and the downhill skiing of Franz Klammer and Peter Mueller.
That leaves just the '50s. For now, it appears that decade will be left for the music buffs who collect those records of the golden oldies.