Every athlete wishes that they could forever be immortalized by obtaining a record that stands the test of time. However, for most of them eternal glory is rarely achieved. It's only every so often that a player comes along and truly dominates their sport, like Babe Ruth, Wayne Gretzky, and Michael Jordan (or that guy named "Wilt"). Hell, if you ask a random person on the street a trivia question about baseball, hockey, or basketball records, chances are that they'd probably guess those three or four players, respectively. And to make matters worse -- when specifically talking about Wayne Gretzky OR Wilt Chamberlain -- they'd actually be right 60 or 70 times! It's no surprise that those aforementioned players hold some very important records, but we're going to willfully ignore each and every one of them.
That's right, this list doesn't care about the players that you would typically expect to see listed next to an incredible sports achievement. That's boring. We're going to really sink our teeth into the record books and dig up some of the names that the common fan would never guess actually hold fairly important records in the world of sports.
No Favres, Bradys, or Mannings… No Ruths, Gretzkys, or Jordans. Those are the rules. This isn't to say that the players on this list aren't deserving of their achievements (some are in their sport's Hall of Fame), we're just trying to feature some players that you probably wouldn't think would hold the records that they hold. So, without further ado, here's our breakdown of those unsung sports heroes!
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14 Johnny Vander Meer
Back to back no-hitters in 1938
The sport of baseball has evolved quite a bit in the 100 plus years it has been around, so this record is one that is probably safe from ever being duplicated. Johnny Vander Meer had a fairly lackluster overall career, but what he was able to accomplish in June of 1938 is truly remarkable: he's the only pitcher to ever throw back to back no-hitters. While it's true that pitching has seen a recent resurgence after the steroid era, it's still highly improbable that a pitcher will ever throw consecutive no-hitters in this or any future generation of Major League Baseball.
13 John Isner/Nicolas Mahut
Longest Tennis Match Ever
This record naturally had to be split between two players, but it's an important record nonetheless. John Isner and Nicolas Mahut combined to shatter several records during their match at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships, including the record for longest match in tennis history. Over the course of three competition days, Isner was able to outlast Mahut 70-68 in the fifth set after a total of 11 hours and 5 minutes of staggering tennis. They each served over 100 aces and they even broke the limits of the scoreboard when they were tied at 47 games each. Just the last set alone would have broken the previous world record for longest match.
12 Rob Bironas
Most points in an NFL game without scoring a touchdown (26, NFL record eight field goals and two extra points)
Rob Bironas was a successful kicker for a long time with the Tennessee Titans and in 2007 he almost won a game by himself. He made an impressive eight field goals and converted two extra points, totalling 26 points altogether. This is an NFL record for points scored by an individual without scoring a touchdown, and in the process Bironas was solely responsible for 45 points out of the 81 that the Titans scored in October of that year. This record is strange because it takes a combination of a good enough offense to get near the red zone but not necessarily score a lot of touchdowns, resulting in more potential field goal chances.
11 Walter Johnson
110 MLB shutouts
Now here's a record that'll never be broken and by someone that most current baseball fans are probably not aware of. Walter Johnson was one of the most dominant pitchers of the dead ball era for 21 seasons between 1907 and 1927, and in that span he was able to compile a complete game shutout record of 110 games. Relief pitching clearly wasn't utilized nearly as much as it is in today's baseball, so complete games were a little easier to come by in those days. Nevertheless, Walter Johnson's record is probably safe forever with just how different the game is currently played.
10 Hugh Duffy
Single season batting average record of .440 in 1894
When I think of who would probably be at the top of the list of highest batting average in a baseball season, I think of legends like Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, or maybe even Babe Ruth. But not even Ruth could ever accomplish the feat of hitting .400 and Ted Williams only managed to do it once when he hit .406, although he is the most recent person to do it -- albeit 75 years ago. Nope, Hugh Duffy hit a whopping .440 back in 1894 when the sport resembled something a little closer to slow pitch softball, so batting averages tended to look a little inflated.
9 Byron Nelson
Two records in golf: consecutive wins (11) and 18/35 tour victories in 1945
I haven't followed golf as much as I have followed other sports, but I'm familiar with names like Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, and who could forget Lee Trevino and his famous golfing game featured in The Simpsons. Okay, joking aside, Byron Nelson managed to do what none of those other [real] golfers could by making history in 1945 when he dominated the tour for the entire year. In that year alone, Nelson amassed 18 of the tour's 35 possible tournament victories, 11 of them consecutively. Many claim that the field was thinned because of WWII that year, but we're not discounting what is clearly a ridiculous achievement.
8 Antonio Cromartie
Longest missed field goal returned for a touchdown (109 yards)
The longest touchdown in NFL history -- if I had to guess -- would probably be a kick return or an interception returned (for some reason) from the very back of the endzone for over 100 yards. Antonio Cromartie, defensive cornerback and kick returner, fits this criteria perfectly but the record he holds has nothing to do with the aforementioned scenarios. Instead, Cromartie returned a missed field goal 109.999999* yards (*- obviously our "eye test" unofficial figure, but he was leaning so much over the back of the endzone that I don't think it's possible to return it any farther). Devin Hester would have been my guess for who would have held the record, but Cromartie is certainly just as deserving.
7 Darryl Sittler
10 point game in 1976 (6 goals 4 assists)
Did you know that the list of NHL records that say "Wayne Gretzky" next to them can stretch all the way from here to the moon and back again? While that is 100% [un]true and should [never] be taken as fact, there IS a record out there that he doesn't possess, and that would be Darryl Sittler's amazing 10 point game in 1976. This record is so good that no one else in the history of hockey even has a nine point game. It's not very often that a player records a double hat trick and adds four assists just for good measure, and I was genuinely surprised that Gretzky never made it to double digits in a single game before (he does have two eight point games though).
6 Jose Calderon
Highest free throw percentage in a season (98.05%)
Free throws are an important part of the game and missing them can often mean the difference between a win or a loss. There have been several prolific free throw shooters with single-season percentages well in the high 80s and low to mid 90s like Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, and more recently Steph Curry, but at the very top of the list you'll see the name Jose Calderon and his 98.05 free throw percentage looking down at the rest of the field. Sure, he only attempted a meagre 154 free throws which pales in comparison to Wilt Chamberlain's 1,363 attempts in 1962, but Calderon only missed three of them all year long, putting him in very rarefied air.
5 Scott Skiles
Most assists in a game (30)
Even Scott Skiles knows that he was as unlikely as the next person to secure this NBA record of 30 assists in a single game for the Orlando Magic. Without a doubt I was thinking that this record belonged to John Stockton, because he recorded 23 or more assists in a game 10 times in his career. In Skiles' words, he said that it took a "perfect storm" type of scenario with how fast and loose their opponent (the 1990 Denver Nuggets) played basketball, and also the fact that he had never even recorded 20 assists in a game before he hit the magical 30 mark. The Magic ended up winning the game 155-116 and Skiles' 30 assist game has lasted the test of time for over 25 years.
4 Sid Luckman
13.9% touchdown ratio (28 touchdowns in 202 passes in 1943)
This sounds absolutely crazy for today's era of professional football, but Sid Luckman's stat line in 1943 was pretty unbelievable. In just 10 games played that year, he was able to only attempt 202 passes. but connected for an astounding 28 touchdowns, which breaks down to a touchdown 13.9% of all the times he threw the ball. Some quarterbacks today have no problem attempting 202 passes in four or five games, but to throw 28 touchdowns in that span is absolutely ridiculous. Sid Luckman is a legend, but his name isn't as well known as some of the more prolific quarterbacks of all time.
3 Ben Scrivens
59 save regular season shutout
Ben Scrivens was never going to take over the full time job from Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles, but he was a rather solid backup. He was traded to Edmonton in early 2014 and immediately made an impression with his new team two weeks later by setting an NHL regulation record for saves in a shutout with 59. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that that's almost a shot on goal every minute, which says more about how much the Oilers were pinned in on defense throughout the entire game than anything else.
2 Ernie Nevers
40 points by himself in a game
Wait, how can a player score 40 points in a game by himself, you ask? Well, like some other records featured on this list, the sport was definitely played in a much different era back when Ernie Nevers scored six touchdowns for 36 points, oh, and he also kicked four of his own extra points to push the Chicago Cardinals past the Chicago Bears 40-0 in 1929. That's right, he scored every single point in the game by himself, which is probably another record that will never come close to being broken anytime soon (realistically it would take a running back or wide receiver to record seven touchdowns in one game, also known as fantasy football GOLD). Fun fact: Nevers might also be the only NFL player to also surrender two home runs to Babe Ruth in a single game the year he famously hit 60 in 1927.
1 Brian Boucher
Shutout streak of 332 minutes and 1 second
Goaltending started to become so efficient in the '90s and 2000s that they had to implement more rule changes to increase overall scoring during the lockout of 2004. Netminders like Dominik Hasek, Patrick Roy, Eddie Belfour, and Martin Brodeur all shined in their respective creases, but many people wouldn't guess that Brian Boucher holds one of the best NHL modern day goaltending records that will most likely never be threatened. Boucher maintained a scoreless streak of 332 minutes and 1 second, which, if you do the math, is equivalent to five and a half straight games without giving up a goal. It's considered a modern day record because two records prior to 1929 were actually longer, but back then the NHL had rules that crippled offense and heavily favored defense, which were ultimately altered in 1943 to more closely resemble the sport that we see today.
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