Atlanta, while starving for a championship for an extended period of time before the 2020s broke the curse, has had a ton of great sports moments throughout the city’s history. It’s hard to narrow it down to just five great moments, but we’ve done our best to sum up the ones that made the entire city stand and cheer until their hands were sore. Here are our top five:
5. Primetime Shines
A lot of athletes end up playing multiple sports while they’re in high school or maybe even college, but it just doesn’t happen in the pros very often. Deion Sanders was a one-of-a-kind athlete who excelled in both baseball and football, and in 1992 he found himself on both the Atlanta Falcons as the team’s top cornerback and the Atlanta Braves as a part-time centerfielder for several seasons.
The man known as Primetime would split his duties between the Falcons and Braves, and in 1992, he became the only person to pull off the feat of playing an MLB game and an NFL game on the same day. Sanders suited up for the Falcons early in the day as the team played the Dolphins, and was able to make it to the National League Championship Series in time for the Braves. Though he didn’t see the field in the NLCS, what made it all the more impressive was that neither game was played in Atlanta.
4. Falcons Upset Vikings
Coming into the 1998 NFC Championship Game, all anybody could talk about was the top-seeded Minnesota Vikings. They had just capped off one of the greatest NFL regular seasons of all time with a historic offense and a 15-1 record. They were heavy favorites at home against the Falcons, but many people forget just how good Atlanta was that year.
The Falcons came in just one game behind Minnesota at 14-2 but were still 11-point underdogs. After three quarters, the Falcons trailed by three and were down by seven when Vikings kicker Gary Anderson missed for the only time in the 1998 season. The Falcons stormed back and won in overtime, stamping their ticket to the Super Bowl for the first time.
3. Braves Win 1995 World Series
The 2021 World Series was special for the Atlanta Braves, but it came as more of a surprise for a team that was ahead of schedule in a rebuild. The 1995 Braves, however, felt like the culmination of years of being oh-so-close and a massive sigh of relief. The Braves took on the Cleveland Indians, who were looking to break an extremely long World Series drought of their own, too.
The Braves took the first two games in Atlanta while Cleveland took two out of three at Jacobs Field. In game six, pitchers Tom Glavine and Jim Poole were in an absolute duel, and the game ended in a 1-0 win for the Braves for their first title in Atlanta. That one run came off the bat of David Justice, who bombed a solo shot in the sixth inning that would ultimately decide the Series.
2. The 1996 Olympics
Between 1905 and 1995, the only United States city to host the Summer Olympics was Los Angeles. That would change in 1996 when the city of Atlanta held the opening ceremonies to the Summer Games, and it ended up being one of the most-watched and successful Olympics in history. Atlanta was chosen to showcase a more modern version of the US south, while also serving as a great hub for travelers.
There were plenty of highlights for the 1996 Summer Olympics, as well. From Muhammad Ali holding the torch during the opening ceremonies to Michael Johnson and Kerri Strug becoming Olympic stars, the 1996 games had a lot to talk about.
1. The Home Run King
One of the most sacred records in all of sports is baseball’s career home run record. There were a lot of people who thought that Babe Ruth would never be topped when he hit home run number 714, but that would change when Hank Aaron started to get on that pace that would put him ahead.
On April 8, 1974, Hammerin’ Hank topped the ‘unbeatable’ record and rounded the bases in Atlanta in front of tens of thousands of screaming fans. Along the way, there’s a memorable shot of Aaron being greeted by two fans, which is something that seems unfathomable these days.