Which year was the best ever for Ohio teams?


It’s looking like another glass half full, glass half empty sports year in Ohio.

On the half full side of the equation, Ohio State looks like it could compete for the college football national championship again.

And, even though the Cleveland Indians might not be playing with quite the same spark as last year when they got all the way to Game Seven of the World Series before losing to the Cubs, they have a solid chance of going deep into the postseason again this fall.

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ loss to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals did not cause great despair among Ohio fans. But then Kyrie Irving revealed that he no longer cares to carry the heavy burden of playing on one of the two best basketball teams in the world alongside the best player in the world.

On the less full side, the Reds can hit but they have about 1.5 healthy major league caliber starting pitchers.

The Bengals? It looks like another trip to mediocrity on the banks of the Ohio River. And Browns fans would regard mediocrity as an upgrade.

As with most cases of wishing for better days, this leads to the question of just when were the good old days.

This question intrigued me and I am a habitual list maker. So here is my list of some of the best sports years ever in Ohio:

1. 1962.

Ohio was the king of college basketball in 1962.

For the second year in a row, Ohio State and Cincinnati played for the NCAA men’s basketball championship. And for the second year in a row, UC surprised many people by knocking off OSU, led by Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek.

Dayton also won the NIT in 1962 when winning the NIT still meant something. The Reds won 98 games and narrowly missed going to back-to-back World Series.

And a 22-year-old Jack Nicklaus won his first professional golf tournament and his first major tournament when he beat Arnold Palmer in an 18-hole playoff to win the U.S. Open at Oakmont.

2. 2016.

If nothing else but the Cleveland Cavaliers winning the first championship by a Cleveland team in 52 years had happened, 2016 would still be one of the greatest sports years in Ohio history.

The excitement was multiplied when the Cavaliers did it in dramatic fashion when they came back from being down 3-1 in the best of seven series.

The Indians nearly made it two championships in the same year for Cleveland when they took the Cubs to the limit in a seven-game World Series.

Ohio State reached the College Football Playoff again and the Columbus Blue Jackets began their record-setting 2016-17 season in 2016.

3. 1954.

The Cleveland Indians won 111 games and seemed unbeatable until the New York Giants beat them four times in a row in the World Series.

Ohio State went 10-0, won the Rose Bowl and won the Associated Press national championship.

And in another very significant date in Ohio State football history, Archie Griffin was born on Aug. 21, 1954.

4. 1976.

It was a rare year when the major sports teams in Ohio all were successful, sometimes spectacularly successful.

The Reds won a second consecutive World Series, won more than 100 games for the second season in a row and Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan won his second consecutive MVP trophy.

The Bengals were 10-4, the Browns finished 9-5 and the Indians were 81-78. Ohio State was 9-2-1, though being shut out by Michigan detracted a little from its season.

5. 1961.

The Reds got to their first World Series since 1940 with a team no one had predicted to be anything more than a middle of the pack team in the National League race.

Ohio State went 8-0-1 but saw its hopes of winning an undisputed national championship crushed when something called the Faculty Council at Ohio State voted not to send the football team to the Rose Bowl because it thought football was being emphasized too much at OSU.

Buckeyes running back Bob Ferguson was runner-up in the Heisman Trophy voting. Ohio State and Cincinnati played in the NCAA men’s basketball national championship game in the first of their back-to-back match-ups.

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http://www.galioninquirer.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/38/2017/08/web1_Naveau-2.jpg

Ohio State #16 J.T. Barrett heads up field as Michigan #35 Joe Bolden also on the play Michigan #5 Jabrill Peppers is up ended at Michigan Stadium on the campus of University of Michigan November 28,2015
http://www.galioninquirer.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/38/2017/08/web1_11.29.15.barrett.jpgOhio State #16 J.T. Barrett heads up field as Michigan #35 Joe Bolden also on the play Michigan #5 Jabrill Peppers is up ended at Michigan Stadium on the campus of University of Michigan November 28,2015

By Jim Naveau

jnaveau@limanews.com

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.