We all love a Cinderella story. And in sports, watching a team come out of nowhere and achieve the seemingly impossible is not only a vastly memorable moment, but inspiring to all of us. Not all of these surprise teams went on to acclaim the highest trophy, or walk out of the stadium with a championship title; they simply preserved against odds, proved critics wrong, and achieved everlasting greatness. Here’s a few of our favorite Cinderella stories that shocked the nation.
In 1969, an 8-year old team stunned the baseball world, and earned themselves not one, but two nicknames with their surprise championship. The Miracle Mets (or the Amazin’ Mets) hadn’t yet accomplished much since the birth of its franchise, and went into the ‘69 season with extremely low expectations. But the Amazin’s went on to win over 100 games, and eventually took the Series.
1999 St. Louis Rams
Having only won a total of 9 games in the past two seasons combined, the Rams weren’t high on anyone’s radar going into the ‘99 season. Then in preseason, quarterback Trent Green was injured, and an unknown took his place. A man by the name of Kurt Warner. And after the first couple of games, it became obvious this was a team to watch. Fueled by an explosive offense, Kurt and gang went on to claim the Lombardi Trophy and shocked the NFL.
2006 George Mason Patriots
The Patriots’ Cinderella run in ‘06 is considered one of the greatest underdog stories in NCAA history, if not the greatest. It’s the ultimate little engine that could. The team that knocked out Number 1 seed UConn in a come-from-behind, overtime win, catapulting them into the Final Four. Wait, who? No one could believe it. George Mason ended up losing to soon-to-be champs Florida, but their tale of heart and passion will go down in history as one of the best.
The 2006 New Orleans Saints
This team didn’t achieve football’s highest honor in ‘06, but if you ask their fans, you’ll hear the contrary. It’s a truly heartwarming story: it had been two years since New Orleans was struck by the devastating tragedy of Katrina, and they were finally returning to the Superdome. But after a 3-13 season the previous year, the Saints weren’t expected to achieve much. They did just the opposite. Rallying behind their passionate fans, the Saints stunned the football world and clawed their way to the NFC Championship. This incredible turnaround is one of the best uplighting success stories in NFL history.
1980 USA Hockey Team
The team that inspired the movie Miracle on Ice, the USA Hockey Team will forever remain one of the greatest triumph stories of all time. The Soviet Union had been a powerhouse for the past four Olympics, and were on track to take home their fifth gold medal. In a series full of twists and turns, the USA pulled off the upset and took out a much more experienced Russian team in spectacular fashion, and went on to beat Finland for the gold. Amazing.