2015's Most Memorable Moments in Sports, On and Off the Field

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Tom Brady leaves the federal court building in New York on August 31. RICHARD DREW/AP IMAGES

The year 2015 saw as much sports action within arenas and stadiums as it did outside of them. This article, along with others dedicated to the unforgetable moments of the year, is included in Newsweek's Special Edition, The Year in Review.

Err Ball: Tom Brady and the Patriots beat the Colts and the Seahawks to become Super Bowl champions, then won another important victory in court before the 2015 season began. On the morning of September 3, federal Judge Richard Berman ruled in favor of the Patriots quarterback and the NFL Players Association, in effect vacating the four-game suspension NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell laid on the four-time Super Bowl champion earlier this summer in the league's case against Brady, which came to be known as "Deflategate."

Related: Goodell Sacked Again! Deflategate Yet Another Win for Tom Brady

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A-Rod Passes Willie Mays:On May 7, Alex Rodriguez silenced many critics with one pristine swing of the bat. In the third inning against the Orioles, the Yankee DH blasted a homer to center field, his career's 661st, passing Willie Mays on the all-time list.

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Victor Espinoza crosses the finish line with American Pharoah and wins the 147th Belmont Stakes horse race on June 6, 2015. IVAN SEKRETAREV/AP IMAGES

Triple Crowned: Before American Pharoah galloped into the spotlight, the last winner of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing was Affirmed in 1978. The years since saw many would-be usurpers, but none quite mastered the trio of challenges presented by the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. The grueling 12-furlong race at Belmont has been the undoing of every horse attempting the hat trick, but American Pharoah proved it was still possible. Owned and bred by Ahmed Zayat, the owner and CEO of Zayat Stables LLC, American Pharoah started his racing campaign with wins at the Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Derby before affirming his potential at the Kentucky Derby, where he bested a remarkably deep field of 18 horses. Before the 2015 season began, Zayat sold stud rights to American Pharoah, who was retired after the season at Ashford Stud in Kentucky.

Related: Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah Honored With Corn Maze in Kentucky

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Mayweather vs. Pacquiao: After 12 rounds and 45 minutes in the boxing ring, Floyd Mayweather beat Manny Pacquiao in a much-anticipated fight on May 2. Billed as the "Fight of the Century," the matchup was a long time coming; when Mayweather came out of retirement in 2009, he called out Pacquiao to come out of his own hiatus to face off. But when Pacquiao's promoter Bob Arum—who also used to represent Mayweather before a rocky split in 2007—got involved, insults and crude insinuations were exchanged, and a rivalry was born between two fighters who had never been together in the ring. For the next six years, fights were scheduled and subsequently canceled, adding to the anticipation of an eventual meeting. When they finally came to blows, Mayweather dominated each round in a battle that failed to live up to the hype, but still grossed $600 million.

Related: Mayweather vs. Pacquiao: Why Is Big Fight Boxing Back?

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Converse Updates the Chuck Taylor Sneaker: Air cushioning, Velcro, the Reebok Pump: A lot has changed in sneaker culture since Chuck Taylor's eponymous shoe hit the market in 1917. But the All Star has remained the same for nearly a century. That's part of their charm, but even diehard fans of the shoes readily admit they lack good arch support. The Chuck Taylor All Star II, released in July, received upgraded Lunarlon cushioning while maintaining their iconic exterior.

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Matt Stonie Upsets Joey Chestnut at Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest:The biggest upset of the year happened not on a court, diamond or field, but instead took place outside a restaurant. Eight-time Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest champion Joey Chestnut, 31, set a record in 2013 by eating 69 franks but was finally defeated on the Fourth of July. His opponent, 23-year-old Matt Stonie, downed 62 hot dogs in 10 minutes, while Chestnut ate 60.

Related: High Steaks: The World of Female Competitive Eaters

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Yogi Berra poses in a photo at spring training in 1961. When Berra retired in 1965, he had 15 All-Star games under his belt, 10 World-Series titles and three American League MVP awards. AP Images

A Legacy Is Over: Renowned baseball figure Yogi Berra, 90, passed away on September 22 in his New Jersey home 69 years after making his MLB debut. Catcher for the Yankees and later the team's manager, Berra helped lead the Bronx Bombers to 10 World Series titles. In his later years, Berra was not only revered for his skills but also for his personality and wit. Arguably bigger than the sport itself, he will live on as one of the guys who make it great.

Related: Yogi Berra's Most Memorable Sayings

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Short Serve: Serena Williams delivers a counter swing to her opponent, Roberta Vinci, during the semi-final match at the U.S. Open on September 11, 2015. Williams had been 26-0 leading up to the match, but Vinci ended the streak with a final drop shot, sending her to the finals round.

Related: Veni, Vidi, Vinci. Unseeded Italian Ousts Serena

This article is excerpted from Newsweek's Special Edition, The Year in Review—The Unforgettable Moments That Shaped Our World, by Issue Editor Holland Baker.

Newsweek Year in Review
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