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Famous trips

By TOM JONES
Published May 4, 2007


Devil Rays runner Ben Zobrist was rounding third Wednesday night with the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning when his legs suddenly forgot how to work. Zobrist bumbled, stumbled and nearly did a face-plant into the ground before crawling back to third. Fortunately, for him and the Rays, he scored on a grounder one batter later. "It's embarrassing, but I have to laugh about it, " Zobrist said. "Jonny Gomes said, 'Congratulations, you're going to be on the highlights of people tripping for 100 years to come.' " That's true. So welcome, Ben, to the list of our most memorable sports trips.

Mary Decker

Decker is one the greatest runners in history and the holder of seven American records, yet she is known for one thing: falling in the biggest race of her life.

At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Decker was the favorite to win the 3, 000 meters and was looking strong well into the race. That's when South African barefoot runner Zola Budd passed Decker in a crowd of runners and then cut in front of her. Decker changed her stride to avoid Budd, but the two runners tangled legs and Decker went crashing to the ground and injured her hip. Instead of winning the race, Decker was left in tears while being carried off the track by her future husband.

Dan Jansen

The most heartbreaking trip - actually trips (plural) - in sports history.

Going into the 1988 Calgary Olympics, Dan Jansen was considered the best speed skater in the world and the heavy favorite to win two gold medals. But on the day he was to race in his best event, the 500 meters, Jansen's sister died after a long battle with leukemia. Less than 10 seconds into the race, Jansen wiped out going around a turn and was eliminated as a nation gasped. Just three days later, Jansen incredibly fell again in the 1, 000 meters.

Four years later at the 1992 Games in Albertville, Jansen was again the clear favorite in the 500 meters, but another stumble kept him from winning a medal. Then two years after that - at the 1994 Games in Norway - Jansen again had a slight stumble in the 500 and finished eighth.

The story did have a happy ending. Even though the 1, 000 meters was not considered his best event, Jansen summoned the best race of his life, not only winning the 1, 000-meter gold at the Norway Games but setting the world record.

Hank Gowdy

Gowdy was a catcher for the Giants in the 1924 World Series against the Senators. With the score tied in the 12th inning of Game 7, Washington's Muddy Ruel lifted a pop foul and Gowdy, instead of throwing the mask behind him, threw the mask directly into his own path. Not only did he step on the mask once, he stepped on it twice. His spikes got caught up in the wire of his mask and Gowdy plunged to the ground as the ball landed foul. Given another chance to hit, Ruel doubled and eventually scored the winning run.

Dock Ellis

The greatest trip in sports history. The Pirates pitcher was in the midst of an LSD trip when he threw a no-hitter against the Padres in 1970. Despite being incredibly wild (he walked eight batters), Ellis claims the drug was telling him where to throw the ball. On some pitches, Ellis later claimed he couldn't even see the catcher.

Nancy Kerrigan

Don't give us a hard time on this one. She tripped. True, she had help when Tonya Harding's hitman, a mental midget named Shawn Eckhardt, whacked her on the shin right before the 1994 Olympics. Even as she was crying, "Why? Whyyyyy?" we were thinking, "she tripped!"

Apolo Anton Ohno

One of the greatest short track speed skaters ever, Ohno is responsible for one of the most famous chain-reaction trips in sports history. Leading the 1000-meter race at the 2002 Salt Lake Games, Ohno wiped out in the final corner and, like a bowling ball knocking down pins, took out two other racers. That left Australia's Steven Bradbury, the only racer left on his feet, to move from last to gold medal, making Bradbury the first person from the southern hemisphere to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics.

Luis Aparicio

Another victim in the Curse of the Bambino. With three days left in the strike-shortened 1972 baseball season, the Red Sox were down by a run in the third with runners of first and third. Aparicio was the runner on first when Carl Yastrzemski hit a triple to deep center. But Aparico tripped twice at third base and while attempting to run back to third was passed by Yastrzemski. The Red Sox lost the game and ended up finishing a half-game behind division winning Detroit.

Vinko Bogataj

Don't know him? Oh yes you do.

Here's a hint:

Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport. The thrill of victory. And the agony of defeat. (Click to see video .)

Bogataj is the Agony of Defeat Guy - the ski jumper who was seen falling wildly off the side of a mountain every Saturday at the beginning of ABC's Wide World of Sports. Bogataj was actually one of the better ski jumpers of his era. But during the 1970 World Ski Flying Championships, the Slovene ski jumper knew he was going too fast and tried to slow down. The next thing he knew he was tripping into a legend. Fortunately, his spectacular crash resulted only in a concussion. And oddly, he never knew he was a legend. Living behind the Iron Curtain, Bogataj never knew how famous he had become until he was invited to Wide World of Sports 30th anniversary special in 1991.