The year 1964, filled with exhilarating highlights and unthinkable lowlights, was one of the more remarkable on record on our sports scene. A look back at what stands out most:
• Cubs second baseman Ken Hubbs, one of the more promising young players in the game, died at 22 in a plane crash in February. Hubbs had broken out in 1962, winning the National League Rookie of the Year and becoming the first rookie recipient of the Gold Glove.
• Tom O’Hara of Chicago ran wild in February and March. A St. Ignatius alum who ran collegiately at Loyola, O’Hara — already the first Illinoisan to break the 4-minute barrier in the mile — twice set world records in the indoor mile. His second time of 3:56.4 stood for 14 years. O’Hara went on to compete at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
• With 39 goals and 50 assists in 70 games, young Blackhawks center Stan Mikita won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer. Mikita also won the Ross in three of the next four seasons, and he went back-to-back as the NHL’s most valuable player in 1967 and 1968. But it was the 1963-64 campaign when Mikita first announced himself as the best center of the decade.
• Tragedy struck Chicago sports again in July, when Bears running back Willie Galimore, 29, and wide receiver Bo Farrington, 28, were killed in a one-car accident during training camp outside Rensselaer, Ind. Both had spent their entire careers with the Bears and been key contributors to the 1963 NFL championship team.
• The White Sox ended one of their best seasons in near-spectacular fashion, winning their final nine games to finish 98-64. Alas, the dreaded Yankees, having been buoyed by an 11-0 streak that climaxed the last week of September, finished 99-63 to clinch the American League pennant.
• Notre Dame quarterback John Huarte won the Heisman Trophy, but an even bigger local story was the emergence of Illinois two-way ruffian Dick Butkus. After finishing sixth in the Heisman voting in 1963, the center/linebacker from Vocational smashed and mauled his way into the top three in ’64 as the Illini capped an excellent season with shutout victories against Wisconsin and Michigan State.