What’s the Greatest Individual Sports Record of All-Time?
For a single-season or game/event (not career), there are numerous individual (not team) feats that could be a legitimate response to this question. Aside from the next Usain Bolt record-breaking sprint, what would YOU say is the greatest individual record? There are some worthy candidates noted below. In my mind however, there is clearly only ONE answer. See if you agree.
- How about Bob Gibson’s 1.12 ERA in 1968 for the St. Louis Cardinals? Gibby had 28 complete games that year, and won the NL CY Young and MVP awards. He also lost the deciding 7th game in the World Series to the Tigers that same year too.
- Johnny Vander Meer threw back-to-back no-hitters (just 4 days apart) for the Reds in 1938….his first full season in the majors! Especially odd for a guy with only a 119-120 lifetime record.
- Way back in 1904, Jack Chesbro won an amazing 41 games for the New York Highlanders. In 454-2/3 innings that year, he started 51 games and completed 48 of them. He was 41-12, with a 1.82 ERA. I think his arm must have fallen off after that year!
- What about Bob Beamon’s 29’-2.5” long jump in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics? He was the first to break the 28-foot and 29-foot barriers with that single jump, and broke the existing world record at that time by an incredible 21-3/4 inches. (Beamon’s world record has since been broken…… in 1991, by Mike Powell with a jump of 29’-4.8” at the World Championships in Tokyo).
- Remember the 1973 Belmont where Secretariet won by the largest margin in history (31 lengths)? That day this wonder horse set a new track record (2:24 for 1.5 miles) by more than two seconds, and completed the Triple Crown. The fastest ½, ¾, 1, 1.25, and 1.5-mile times in Belmont history were also set by Secretariet in this race….and they still stand!
- No one will ever duplicate what Oscar Robertson did in the 1962-62 season. He averaged a triple-double! 30.8 points per game, 12.5 rebounds per game, and 11.4 assists per game. He actually recorded 41 triple-doubles in all that year. Interestingly, he came very close to the same feat in four other seasons.
- What about “The Great One”…….Wayne Gretzky during his years with the Edmonton Oilers? Among many of his all-time records, he still holds two NHL single-season marks……92 goals in 1981-82, and 215 points in 1985-86.
- Bobby Jones won golf’s original Grand Slam in 1930 (US and British Opens, and US and British Amateurs). In 1953, Ben Hogan won the Masters, US Open, and British Open…but did not play in the PGA Championship. Tiger Woods did hold all four championship trophies at one time, but not in the same year (the US Open, British Open, and PGA Championship to round out 2000 and the Masters in April of 2001). Only four professional golfers have shot the lowest competitive round ever…… a 59 (Al Geiberger, Chip Beck, David Duval, and Annika Sorenstam).
- Rod Laver won the Grand Slam of Tennis in 1962 and 1969. No one else has even won it once.
- In the NFL, Adrian Peterson had 296 rushing yards one game in 2007 and Norm Van Brocklin threw for 554 yards during a 1951 game. Do you think these records can ever be broken?
- There have only been 15 MLB Triple Crown winners in history. Rogers Hornsby (1922, 1925) and Ted Williams (1942, 1947) have been the only players to win it twice. Carl Yastremski (1967) was the last player to win it. Frank Robinson won the Triple Crown in 1996, and was also the only player in MLB history to win the MVP in BOTH leagues…..Reds (1961) and Orioles (1966),so Robbie flat out owned the American League in 1966!
- Single-season MLB marks have been established by Barry Bonds with 73 homers in 2001, Ichiro Suzuki with 262 hits in 2004, and Hack Wilson with 191 RBIs in 1930. Bond’s record was certainly tainted, Suzuki’s beat George Sisler’s record that stood for 84 years, but Wilson’s record has lasted for over 80 years and……..only Gehrig (184) and Greenberg (183) have come close. Manny Ramirez knocked in 165 during the 1999 season. Can’t imagine Hack’s record ever being broken….what a name too!
- Many would unquestionably say that Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak in 1941 was the greatest individual sports record of all-time. Next closest to the Yankee Clipper has been 44 straight games. What most forget is after DiMaggio’s streak was broken, he went on the very next day to hit in another 17 straight games. He also had a 61-game hitting streak during 1933 in the Pacific Coast League. DiMaggio went on to win the AL MVP in 1941, the same year Ted Williams hit .406 (the last time anyone has ever batted .400). It’s still debated as to who deserved the ’41 AL MVP.
Despite all of these legendary achievements by some of sports’ greatest athletes (and I’m sure you have more to add), there is only ONE individual season or game record that can be called “The Greatest of All-Time”……….Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game!!
On March 2, 1962, the Philadelphia Warriors (not known as the 76ers until the 1964-65 season) beat the New York Knicks 169-147 at the Hershey (PA) Sports Arena. It was customary during the early years of the NBA’s existence for teams to play several games near their hometown to attract new fans to the game, and this was the third time during this season the Warriors were playing in Hershey……..about 85 miles northwest of Philly. This relatively meaningless game was not televised, there were only 4,124 spectators in attendance, and no press from New York even covered the game because they were all down in St. Petersburg, FL reporting on the very first spring training camp of the New York Mets. But what a game they missed! (By the way, no one in NBA history has ever come any closer than Kobe Bryant’s 81 in 2006).
In only his third season in the NBA, on a cold rainy night when he was still suffering from a massive hangover and lack of sleep, the 25-year old “Big Dipper” had 100 points, 25 rebounds, and even 2 assists in the greatest individual game in history. He was 36 for 63 from the field, and an amazing 28 for 32 from the free throw line……don’t forget, he was a 51% career free throw shooter. (Oscar Robertson has often said that Wilt single-handedly saved the fledgling League back then with this feat). After the game, the exhausted Chamberlain, who lived in Harlem, slept in the back seat of a car as he hitched a ride back with three Knick players. Can you imagine that happening in today’s NBA?? Two nights later, in Madison Square Garden, Wilt poured in 58 points against the Knicks. For the 1961-62 season, Wilt averaged 50.4 PPG, 25.7 RPG, and 48.5 MPG (greater than 48 min. because of 10 overtime games). He shockingly passed away in 1999 at the age of 63. Wilton Norman Chamberlain achieved many records, on and off the court, but this one was the greatest of all-time!
What do you think is the greatest individual sports record of all-time???????