Top Ten Sports Stories Of 2001

by Darrell K. Carter
Wow! The first year of the new [true] millennium was thrilling to area sports fans. Baltimore should be renamed the city of champions. The Ravens won the Super Bowl. Hasim Rahman became Baltimore's first heavyweight boxing champion. The University of Maryland delivered the hat trick in men's basketball and football, while the women's lacrosse team went undefeated. Oh, did I mention Cal Ripken, Jr. retired. Also, we witnessed the inaugural of the Baltimore Marathon. Do you think life could get any better for area sports fans?

Here are my 'Top Ten' area sports stories for 2001:

10 – Amateur Baseball Draft:
South of Baltimore exists a quiet baseball mecca that produced two of the top five picks in the annual Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft. Mount St. Joseph of Severna Park is proud of alumni 3rd baseman Mark Teixeira and right-handed pitcher Gavin Floyd. Teixeira is a 21-year-old switch hitter who was selected with the fifth overall pick by the Texas Rangers. He played college ball at Georgia Tech, where he hit 31 homeruns and 145 RBI's in his first two seasons. Mark was named ‘National Player of the Year’ in 2000 and ‘Player of the Year’ by Baseball America. Gavin Floyd was drafted with the fourth overall pick by the Philadelphia Phillies –– out of high school at the ripe age of 18.

The skinny on Floyd is that he has a major league arm with a fastball that runs down and in, has movement on all pitches, and he uses both sides of the plate. The 6-5, 210-pound Floyd has great size and arm strength and averages 91-94 mph on the radar gun.

9 – Women's Professional Football:
Women’s football, you may ask? Yes, Baltimore has entered into the world of women’s professional football. The inaugural season of the Baltimore Burn was not so memorable. Finishing the season without a win (0-8) was disheartening to the ladies. Before season end, the roster shrunk from 45 to 27. The season operates from April to June and all home games are played at the Community College of Baltimore County at Dundalk. Contact the Burn if you are interested in a tryout.

8 – Pop Warner Super Bowl Football:
Baltimore’s other champions in football. Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, hosted the Pop Warner Super Bowl. There were four divisions, Junior Peewee, Peewee, Junior Midget, and Midget. Baltimore teams won in the Junior Midget (10-12-year-olds) and Midget (11-14-year-olds) divisions. In the national junior midget division ll title, Baltimore’s Lakeland Vikings defeated Dale City (Virginia) Cowboys, 18-12. Quarterback Gilbert Bates threw three touchdown passes. The final touchdown pass was in overtime, a 23-yard pass to Turner Morris.

In the midget division, the Northwood Rams from Baltimore captured the Midget Super Bowl title. The undefeated Rams (14-0) defeated the Everett Eagles from Everett, Massachusetts by the score of 26-0. The score was 0-0 until the 3rd quarter, when Quinton Garrus bullied his way through the Eagles line into the end zone for the first score of the day. The Rams kicked a two-point conversion, leading 8-0 with 5:43 left in the 3rd quarter. Game day was a long day for Everett, as the Rams slammed the Eagles' door shut and continued to score 18 unanswered points.

7 – Baltimore Marathon:
The first annual Baltimore Marathon was a success, as 6,000 participants tackled the 26-mile course through the streets of Baltimore. Kenya took the top three positions in the men's category. Luke Cherono of Kenya, a 24-year-old, won the top prize of $3000, with a time of 2:19:46. Kenyan Sammy Kosgei finished second with a time of 2:22:11, and Kenyan Simon Cherokong finished with a time of 2:22:53. Chris Chattin of Columbia, Maryland finished fifth with a time of 2:29:15, and Baltimorean Joseph Smith placed eighth with a time of 2:36:44.

Elvira Kolpakova, a 29-year-old from Russia, won the women's category with a time of 2:52:08. She placed 33rd overall. 25-year-old Melissa Ritten of Baltimore placed second (40th overall) with a time of 2:54:45.

Paul Barents (57) won the Wheelchair competition with a time of 2:04. Barents' time was the best of the day for all competitors.

6 – Maryland Women’s Lacrosse:
The University of Maryland women's lacrosse team won the National Collegiate Athletic Association championship in grand fashion. Terps women concluded their undefeated season (23-0) by winning their seventh consecutive NCAA Lacrosse Championship, maintained a winning streak at 43. Allison Comito scored in double overtime to give Maryland a 14-13 championship win over Georgetown. Georgetown scored 11 consecutive goals to tie the game at 12 to force the first overtime.

5 – Maryland Men in the Final Four:
Maryland reached the ‘Final Four’ for the first time in school history, only to give away a game which they led by 22 points in the first half. By half time, the Duke Blue Devils chipped away and reduced the deficit to 11. Duke staged a ‘Final Four’ comeback record when they became the only team in NCAA history to erase an 11-point or more deficit at the half and win. This was the fourth meeting of the year between the two teams. All four games were tight, but Duke won three of four, including the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. In the 2nd half, Juan Dixon only scored 3 of his team's leading 19-points.

4 – Maryland Football In the Orange Bowl:
Maryland won its first Atlantic Coast Conference championship since 1985. This, coupled with a 10-1 won/lost record, positioned the Terrapins to be ranked in the top ten ‘Bowl Championship Series.’ The Orange Bowl invitation will payout $12.5 million to the Maryland Terrapins, but they must share the purse with the other eight ACC teams. In other football news, coach Ralph Friedgen was named "National Coach of the Year."

3 – Cal Ripken, Jr. Retires:
THE END HAS COME! Cal Ripken, Jr. halts his historic career after 21 Hall of Fame years as a member of the Baltimore Orioles. Ripken became only the seventh player in Major League Baseball history to hit 400 homeruns and have 3000 hits. In 1990, he enjoyed 95 consecutive games without an error. He set a fielding record for a shortstop, with three errors and the highest fielding percentage (.996). Ripken played in 19 consecutive All-Star games. In 2001, he became the first American League player in All-Star history to be named Most Valuable Player (MVP) twice.

THE STREAK: It all started on May 30, 1982, when former Orioles manager Earl Weaver inserted rookie Cal Ripken at third base. Weaver’s decision to start Ripken began the most famous streak in the world of professional sports. The 2,632 consecutive game streak lasted until September 20, 1998. Ripken played most of his career as short, and he won the gold glove twice. In 1997, Ripken moved back to third amid criticism that he was too slow to play short. Ripken also surpassed the world streak record (2,216 games) for consecutive games played, held by Japanese baseball star Sachio Kinugasa.

2 – Heavyweight Championship Comes to Baltimore:
Baltimorean Hasim Rahman stunned the boxing world when he knocked out Lennox Lewis and captured the heavyweight WBC and IBF titles. Rahman’s straight right hand to Lewis’ jaw had the crowd in Johannesburg, South Africa on their feet in disbelief. The 28-year-old Rahman had compiled a 35-2 win/loss record prior to his rematch with Lewis, in which Rahman was knocked out in the forth round in his first title defense.

1 – Ravens Win The Super Bowl:
BALTIMORE RAVENS BEAT NEW YORK GIANTS 34-7 in SUPER BOWL XXXV. The last Baltimore visit to the bowl game was Super Bowl V. On January 17, 1971, the old Baltimore Colts defeated the Dallas Cowboys 16-3. The Ravens were 8-8 the previous season. Pundits predicted the Ravens would be lucky to repeat the previous season win total. In fact, the 12-4 regular season record was only good enough to win a wildcard berth. The journey to the Super Bowl paired Baltimore in the wild card game against Denver’s explosive offense, final score 21-3 Baltimore. Next, the divisional playoffs took Baltimore to Tennessee. The Tennessee Titans had won the division, and statistically had the best defense in the league. The Ravens, however, set a 16-game National Football League record, allowing only 165 points. Final score: Baltimore 24, Titans 10.

The much-heralded black hole in Oakland had local reporters fearing bodily harm if they revealed that they were from Baltimore. The only pain delivered was Baltimore whipping the Raiders 16-3 in the conference championship. The victory road continued in Tampa. Quarterback Trent Dilfer's 38-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley in the first quarter gave the Ravens a 7-0 lead over New York. Matt Stover kicked a 3-point field goal, expanding the lead to 10-0. Cornerback Duane Starks intercepted a Kerry Collins pass and ran it back 49 yards for the touchdown. The Ravens won, 17-0. Giants Ron Dixon scored New York’s only points with a 97-yard kickoff return, only to be upstaged on the following play by Jermaine Lewis' 84-yard kickoff return. Baltimore now had a commanding lead of 24-7. Jamal Lewis capped the day off by scoring the Ravens' final touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. Final score: Baltimore 34, New York 7.

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This story was published on January 2, 2002.