The year that was 1985 sports didn’t necessarily lend itself to a neat and clean answer to the question of which sports market had the best year. You could make an argument for the city of Los Angeles—the Lakers won the 1985 NBA title and the Dodgers reached the National League Championship Series. But with a little creativity, you can find a market that double-dipped and claimed a pair of championships.
If you go into the northeastern part of Oklahoma, the area covering Tulsa to the Missouri border you don’t find a lot in terms of sports—or anything else for that matter. Indeed, not since S.E. Hinton’s masterful book The Outsiders (published in 1965 and made into an equally masterful movie in 1983) was set in Tulsa, had this region gotten this much attention—and in this case it could be positive attention.
The sports fan in Tulsa has a natural allegiance in college to either Oklahoma University or Oklahoma State, and I think we can safely assume that it’s OU which draws overwhelming support. But where to go for pro sports? The nearest major city would be Kansas City, a 270-mile drive from Tulsa.
And in 1985 that would have been all you needed as a sports fan to watch a national football champion and a World Series winner. The last part of ’85 in particular was a fine one for people in this neck of the woods. The Royals came down the stretch and won their division coming from behind, and then went 6-0 in elimination games in the postseason. The Sooner Schooner had a fantastic defense and not only overcame an injury at quarterback, they turned it into an ending that worked out well for all concerned. Those that live in the Tulsa area of northeast Oklahoma can legitimately claim both the Royals and Sooners as their own.
Read more about the 1985 Kansas City Royals
Read more about the 1985 Oklahoma Sooners
TheSportsNotebook.com’s mission is to preserve the history of the modern age of American sports through a series of articles and e-books that capture the important moments starting in the mid-to-late 1970s and continuing up to the present.
Each sport covered—major league baseball, college football, the NFL, college basketball, the NBA and NHL, have different reasons for the mid-to-late 1970s marking a key demarcation point in their history. All of the following took place between the years of 1976-79…
*Baseball saw the advent of free agency and a new fluidity introduced that we now take for granted.
*College football had the combination of all its major bowl games being played on New Year’s Day and both major polls waiting to after the bowl games to vote for the national champion. Thus, college football had a true showcase day that would eventually evolve into today’s playoff.
*The NFL made three key changes—they added a fifth team per conference to the playoffs, thus creating a four-round bracket. They went to a 16-game schedule. And most important, they tightened up on what defenses were allowed to do. The more open offenses, 16-game schedule and four rounds of playoffs are staples of the league we understand today.
*College basketball saw the retirement of UCLA’s John Wooden and the end of his dynasty, ushering in a new age of parity. Along with this, the NCAA Tournament was gradually expanded and also seeded for bracket balance for the first time.
*The NBA merged with the ABA and added a three-point shot.
*The NHL began the last installment of the Montreal Canadiens dynasty, who won four straight Stanley Cups beginning in 1976.
From this vantage point, TheSportsNotebook builds toward the present day. We dig into past seasons, past teams, past playoff series, games and tournaments to not only remember the big moments but the season-defining ones that took place prior to that. We focus not just on the championship teams but those that challenged and have their own stories worth telling.
We also haven’t lost sight of the games that are unfolding before us and our home page blog contains regular commentary.
There is no greater cultural treasure in America than its great modern stage and TheSportsNotebook is the place where it is preserved and celebrated. Please take a look around, dive in and enjoy.