At the time, he was ranked 174th in the world. He got into the tournament through a wild card spot. Mary Carillo, recalling Jimmy Connors’ improbable run said, “ Jimmy made all of us watching him part of his act. He had the uncanny ability to make you feel as though you could, merely as a spectator, conspire with him to win the match he was playing. … The only thing that ever stopped Jimmy from winning, from wanting to win, was the earth spinning around the sun .”
It was the kind of run that articles would be written about 20 years later.
Kirk Gibson led the LA Dodgers to an improbable World Series in 1988. In the League Championship in Game 4, the Dodgers won off his solo home run in the top of the 12th. In Game 5, he hit a two-out three-run homer cementing the Dodgers 7-4 win. Later in the series, with one knee already seriously injured, Kirk slid into second, over compensating for his injured knee, and destroys his other leg in the process. There are serious doubts as to whether he will be able to play any of the World Series, no matter how deep the series goes.
He had two bad knees. He could barely walk, and Tommy Lasorda sends him to the plate to pinch hit. Ninth inning, two out, two men on, down by two. It is painful watching him walk to the plate. The call from Vin Scully sums it up beautifully, “And look who’s coming up. A ll year long, they looked to him to light the fire, and, all year long, he answered the demands until he was unable to start tonight with two bad legs. … With two outs, you talk about a roll of the dice, this is it.” Then, minutes later, “ High fly ball into right field. She is … gone. In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened. “
It was the kind of hit that would inspire generations of baseball fans.
Jimmy Connors, Kirk Gibson, Michael Jordan, Bart Starr, Mohammed Ali. These players are royalty in their sports. They inspired us to root for them – even when we didn’t want to. Pat McEnroe, who lost to Jimmy Connors during his 1991 US Open run, when asked about the fans cheering so openly for Connors said, “ If I were in the stands, I probably would have been cheering for him, too. ” We just want them to succeed. They defined the history of their sports.
Disc golf has royalty and his name is Ken Climo. Ken Climo was the undisputed best disc golfer in the world, winning the World Championship an unimaginable nine years in a row from 1990-1998. He followed that up by winning the USDGC five times in eight years (1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2007) and the World Championship three more times (2000, 2002, 2006). He has since moved on to compete in the Masters division and has three more World Championship titles in that division. His is the name spectators want to see. Ken is disc golf royalty.
I, Steve Dodge, was born in April of 1968. Ken Climo was born in March of 1968. He has got a month on me. We are both 47 and we both love disc golf. I know that at this point in my playing career, when I play several days in a row, my body begins to break down and the drives lose some of that pop. It is just natural. I love Mary Carillo’s quote saying that the only thing that stopped Jimmy Connors from competing to win was the earth going around the sun. Time catches up with all of us. We get that.
Does Ken Climo, our disc golf royalty, still have what it takes to compete with the young guns on the tour? Could he go toe to toe with McBeth in the final round of the Vibram Open? Imagine the intensity of those rounds. Imagine the spectacle as he sinks his first 40 footer, the crowds erupt, and Terry Miller says, “Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you. Ken Climo came to play. Game on.”
Kenny thrilled us with his 12th Pro Open World Championship in 2006, an amazing 16 years after his first. While that 12th World title may not be as sport defining as Gibson’s home run or as time defying as Connors’ US Open, it was one for the ages. Going into the semi-finals, he was down four to Nate Doss, the youngster that held the current world title. After the semis, he was four strokes ahead of Doss. In the semis, Ken shot a 1064 rated round, not only catching Nate, but besting him by eight strokes. In the finals, as usual, he closed it out and gave us a story well worth repeating.
Ken Climo, at 48 this month, is still a 1020+ rated golfer. Imagine if he did it again. To McBeth.
Jimmy and Kirk would smile knowingly.