A young country enters the new century brimming with dreams and a growing world presence. The ultimate man of action, Teddy Roosevelt, rules from the White House decades after transforming himself with relentless exercise. Outsize athletic feats -- and outsize personalities (Ty Cobb, John McGraw) -- begin to earn the attention of a busily growing nation.

New York Giants pitcher Christy Mathewson wins 236 games in the decade.

Michigan beats Stanford in the first Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 1902, to finish the season 11-0.

Cy Young pitches 44 consecutive scoreless innings in 1904. He retired seven years later with 511 wins.

The Detroit Tigers' Ty Cobb wins every American League batting title but one from 1907 to 1919.

Jack Johnson becomes the first black heavyweight champion of the gloved era on Dec. 26, 1908.


A decade of convulsions. Europe, with its plotting anarchists and massing armies, tears itself apart not long after the murder of a minor archduke. Theodore Dreiser publishes "The Titan" two years after the Titanic vanished and the United States -- spared much of the mutilation of World War I -- emerges as a first-rate power. Boston Red Sox pitcher Babe Ruth agrees to play every day. Jack Dempsey wins the heavyweight title less than a week before the Armistice.

Jim Thorpe, a college football star, wins the pentathlon and decathlon in the 1912 Olympics. King Gustav V of Sweden dubs him "the greatest athlete in the world." Thorpe also played baseball in the major leagues from 1913 to 1919.

Francis Ouimet, an American caddie, wins golf's U.S. Open in 1913.

Eight Chicago White Sox players are banned from baseball for throwing the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.

Thoroughbred Man o' War wins 20 of 21 races in 1919 and 1920.


Sports enters the marrow of the nation. Athletes such as running back Red Grange and boxer Gene Tunney become newsreel stars. Babe Ruth's home run totals and waistline grow larger as the years pass, as does the stock market fortune of former Harvard baseball player Joseph P. Kennedy. Ernest Hemingway spars with gloved poets between visits to Gertrude Stein, who suggests he visit Spain to see the bullfighting.

Babe Ruth joins the New York Yankees for the 1920 season and hits 54 homers. He tops that with 60 in 1927. During the decade, Ruth transcends sport and becomes part of the American identity.

The NHL's Original Six -- Chicago, Detroit, Montreal, Toronto, Boston and the New York Rangers -- establish a new era in North American hockey.

Knute Rockne leads his Notre Dame football team to a 105-12-5 record from 1918 until his death in a plane crash in 1931.

U.S. tennis player Bill Tilden wins seven U.S. Opens, including six in a row from 1920 to 1925.

Walter Johnson, one of baseball's most feared pitchers, leads the Washington Senators to victory in the 1924 World Series, winning Game 7.

Illinois football star Red Grange raises the profile of the professional game by signing with the Chicago Bears for the unheard-of sum of $100,000 in 1925.


Stock portfolios and aspirations plummet in the Great Depression, but the games go on. Max Schmeling knocks out, and two years later is knocked out by, Joe Louis. Ex-San Francisco Seal Joe DiMaggio leads the New York Yankees to the World Series title as a rookie in 1936, the year of the Nazi-run Berlin Olympics. The Games would not be held again for 12 years.

Bobby Jones wins golf's grand slam in 1930 and immediately retires.

New York Giants left-hander Carl Hubbell strikes out five consecutive future Hall of Famers in the 1934 All-Star Game.

American Jesse Owens wins gold medals in the 100, 200, 4x100 and broad jump in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

U.S. fighter Joe Louis holds the world heavyweight title from June 22, 1937 to March 1, 1949, successfully defending it 25 times.

The Boston Redskins move to Washington in 1937 in February, the band is founded in August, and Sammy Baugh leads the team to the NFL championship over the Chicago Bears in December.

Babe Didrikson (later Didrikson Zaharias) wins three medals in track and field in the 1932 Olympics. She excelled in baseball, basketball, bowling and tennis and was the first true star in women's pro golf, winning 31 LPGA titles and 10 majors.

Lou Gehrig, weakened by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, takes himself out of the New York Yankees lineup on May 2, 1939, after playing in 2,130 straight games.


A war that seemed to last an eternity guts professional sports. The transcendent efforts of DiMaggio and Ted Williams in the summer of 1941 give way to the chaos of Pearl Harbor. The Japanese taunt American soldiers by insulting Babe Ruth during fighting on South Pacific islands. Army's Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis run to back-to-back Heisman trophies in 1945 and '46.

A former Brooklyn College lineman, Irwin Shaw, publishes the best-selling war novel "The Young Lions" in 1948.

The Chicago Bears beat the Washington Redskins, 73-0, for the 1940 NFL title.

Ted Williams is the last batter to average over .400, hitting .406 for the Boston Red Sox in 1941.

Joe DiMaggio hits in 56 consecutive games during the summer of 1941, and that fall his Yankees win their fifth World Series in six seasons.

On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson takes the field for Branch Rickey's Brooklyn Dodgers, enduring abuse from racist spectators, team owners and fellow players but successfully integrating the game.


The calm after the storm. President Truman, an energetic swimmer during his vacations in Key West, Fla., is succeeded by Dwight Eisenhower, who installs a putting green at the White House. DiMaggio hits .263 in his final season in 1951, the same year the Yankees win the World Series with the help of rookie Mickey Mantle. James Dean flares across the screen in "Rebel Without a Cause," leaving a deep impression on moviegoer Robert Zimmerman, who later reinvents himself as Bob Dylan. A new, lawless music is personified by Elvis Presley. Pele, 18, leads Brazil to the World Cup title in 1958.

Ben Hogan wins six major golf championships from 1950 to 1953.

Briton Roger Bannister becomes the first man to run a four-minute mile, May 6, 1954.

Don Larsen of the New York Yankees pitches a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series.

American Althea Gibson becomes the first black Wimbledon singles champ on July 6, 1957.

Johnny Unitas leads the Baltimore Colts to victory over the New York Giants, 23-17, on Dec. 28, 1958, in the only NFL championship to go into overtime. The game captivated a national television audience and ushered in modern-day football.

The Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants move to California in 1958, embittering many New York fans but expanding baseball into a truly national pastime.


Money counts. Joe Kennedy spends $12 million on his son's presidential campaign. The AFL's New York Jets spend more than $400,000 to sign Alabama's Joe Namath, who makes good on his boast that he will win Super Bowl III. The Montreal Canadiens, Boston Celtics and New York Yankees keep stringing together championship seasons. Olympic light heavyweight gold medalist Cassius Clay moves up a weight level and grows in stature by dissecting heavyweight titlist Sonny Liston. Clay becomes Muhammad Ali and refuses to serve in Vietnam.

Roger Maris breaks Babe Ruth's season record of 60 home runs in 1961. Rather than celebrating his feat, many fans considered Maris an interloper in the Babe's territory.

Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors scores 100 points in a pro basketball game on March 2, 1962.

Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown retires at his prime in 1965 after nine NFL seasons.

In 1966, Texas Western, which became Texas-El Paso, with an all-black starting five, defeats the all-white Kentucky basketball team for the national championship at Cole Field House.

Boston's Carl Yastrzemski wins the Triple Crown in 1967; no one has done so since.

Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers win the first two Super Bowls, defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in 1967 and the Oakland Raiders in 1968.

In the 1968 Olympics, Bob Beamon sets a long jump record of 29 feet 2A inches that would last for 23 years. U.S. 200-meter medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos raise gloved fists in a "black power" salute during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner," displaying U.S. social unrest in an international forum.

Brazilian soccer phenomenon Pele scores his 1,000th goal on Nov. 19, 1969.


Football goes prime time on Monday nights. Ohio State's Archie Griffin wins consecutive Heisman trophies. Title IX lets girls play, and two decades later fans of both genders fill arenas and stadiums to watch women's sports. Reggie Jackson and the Oakland Athletics win three straight World Series. Guitarists Duane Allman and Dickey Betts elevate rock music with the complex interchanges of "The Allman Brothers at Fillmore East." President Carter is a fan of the band. "Taxi Driver" galvanizes New York, as does Jackson, the biggest of the early free agents who lifts the Yankees in the World Series. Palmer Park's Sugar Ray Leonard boxes to a gold medal in Montreal, then says he will retire. Skylab and the U.S. economy undergo steep descents, as do the WFL, ABA and WHA.

John Wooden's UCLA men's basketball teams win 10 NCAA titles in 12 years starting in 1964.

After losing his boxing license for refusing induction into the Army, Muhammad Ali wins the heavyweight title two more times and becomes one of the most recognizable men in the world.

Don Shula's Miami Dolphins of 1972 complete the NFL's only perfect season.

In the 1972 Munich Olympics, U.S. swimmer Mark Spitz wins seven gold medals. Frank Shorter wins the men's marathon, igniting a running boom that gets millions of Americans off their couches. Terrorism overwhelms the Games when Palestinian gunmen take Israeli athletes hostage in the Olympic Village. Eleven athletes, five Palestinians and a German policemen are killed in a failed rescue attempt.

Hank Aaron hits his 715th home run on April 8, 1974.

Billie Jean King beats Bobby Riggs in a made-for-TV battle of the sexes on Sept. 20, 1973, that -- despite the cheesy staging -- raised the profile and financial rewards of women's sports.

Secretariat runs the fastest-ever Kentucky Derby in 1973 on his way to winning the Triple Crown.

Arthur Ashe becomes the first black man to win Wimbledon, in 1975.

Gymnast Nadia Comaneci of Romania scores the first perfect 10 in the 1976 Olympics.

The 1979 NCAA basketball championship game was between Michigan State and Indiana State, but it is remembered as Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird. (Johnson and the Spartans won, 75-64.)

The Washington Bullets, led by Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes, defeat the Seattle SuperSonics to win the franchise's only NBA title in 1978.

Two rivalries revolutionize tennis: Martina Navratilova vs. Chris Evert and Bjorn Borg vs. John McEnroe.


Jack Nicholson, who shot to prominence wearing a football helmet while riding a chopper in "Easy Rider," becomes a high-profile fan of Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers. ESPN, struggling for viewers, airs early morning business reports. Michael Jordan leaves North Carolina a year early, with a full head of hair. Joan Benoit becomes the most famous Bowdoin graduate since Nathaniel Hawthorne by winning gold in the first women's Olympic marathon. The Chicago Bears make a music video and win the 1986 Super Bowl.

The U.S. Olympic men's hockey team defeats the Soviet Union in the "Miracle on Ice" at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Canadian Wayne Gretzky leads the Edmonton Oilers to the 1984 Stanley Cup, his first of four with the team. Gretzky's scoring prowess, telegenic looks and amiable personality already had drawn millions of mainstream sports fans to pro hockey.

The Washington Redskins are one of the decade's dominant NFL teams, winning Super Bowls in 1983, over the Miami Dolphins, and in 1988, over the Denver Broncos.

Richard Petty wins his 200th race, the Firecracker 400 at Daytona in 1984. His victories includes seven Daytona 500s.

Georgetown wins the 1984 NCAA men's basketball championship over Houston.

American track is showcased at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, highlighted with victories by Carl Lewis and Evelyn Ashford in the 100 meters.

Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds gets his 4,192nd hit on Sept. 11, 1985, breaking Ty Cobb's record. He later would be banned for life from the sport for gambling on baseball.

Jack Nicklaus wins his sixth Masters in 1986.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee sets a heptathlon record in the 1988 Seoul Olympics on her way to becoming the most dominant American woman ever in track and field.

U.S. hurdler Edwin Moses wins 107 consecutive finals, from Sept. 2, 1977 to June 4, 1987.


Magic Johnson stuns the world by announcing he is HIV positive. NBA guard Mookie Blaylock requests that a rising band not use his name. They settle on the name Pearl Jam. Off the court, Michael Jordan pairs up with Bugs Bunny in a movie and becomes a 6-foot-6 slap hitter in baseball's minor leagues. Ex-USFL star Steve Young replaces Joe Montana and leads the San Francisco 49ers to their fifth Super Bowl victory in franchise history.

1990 U.S. cyclist Greg LeMond wins his third Tour de France -- his second in a row. In 1986, he became the first American to win the sport's most prestigious event. In 1999, Lance Armstrong becomes the second.

Texas Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan, age 43, throws his sixth and seventh no-hitters in 1990 and 1991. He retires in 1993 with 5,714 strikeouts.

Morgan Wootten of DeMatha ends the 1998 season the winningest high school basketball coach in the country with 1,157 victories.

Cal Ripken of the Baltimore Orioles breaks Lou Gehrig's record on Sept. 6, 1995, playing in his 2,131st consecutive game.

Michael Johnson wins the 1996 Olympic 200 and 400 meters, setting a world record of 19.32 seconds in the 200.

U.S. golfer Tiger Woods wins the 1997 Masters. He wins eight tournaments in 1999, including the PGA Championship.

Michael Jordan leads the Chicago Bulls to a sixth NBA championship in 1998, hitting a 20-foot shot with 5.2 seconds remaining to beat the Utah Jazz in Game 6. He then announces his retirement from basketball.

Mark McGwire finishes the 1998 season with 70 home runs as he and Sammy Sosa (66 homers) break Roger Maris's record of 61.

Soccer grabs headlines in 1999. The U.S. team wins the Women's World Cup at home, and D.C. United wins its third Major League Soccer title.

Jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. wins his 8,334th race on Dec. 10, 1999, dethroning Willie Shoemaker as horse racing's most-crowned rider.