You’d think that setting a seemingly unbreakable record would guarantee your name winds up alongside the likes of Wilt Chamberlain and Wayne Gretzky, but sadly that isn’t always the case. There are plenty of famous athletes like Joe DiMaggio and Pete Maravich who will forever be remembered for their remarkable records, but there are plenty of less famous athletes with equally impressive accomplishments, too. Here is a celebration of those later athletes, the competitors who have achieved greatness if not necessarily immortal fame.
Do you have another unappreciated yet unbeatable record in mind? Bring it up in the comments below!
Ed Marinaro: 174.6 rushing yards per game (FBS)
I’m not sure what y’all accomplished during your undergrad years at an Ivy League institution, but Cornell’s Ed Marinaro set a yards-per-game rushing record that has stood since Nixon was in office. Think of all the phenomenal running backs that have played college football since the early 1970′s: not a single one has touched Marinaro’s record. Not bad, huh? He was also an inductee into Cornell’s Sphinx Head Society, which, upon looking it up, is a lot less Illuminati-like than I had originally hoped. But whatever, it’s still an impressive accomplishment. Not content with simply holding a lofty sports record, Marinaro went on to star in the hit TV show Hill Street Blues. Feel like an underachiever yet?
Ed Reulbach: Back-to-back shutouts in a doubleheader
Doubleheaders are rare enough nowadays, which makes Ed Reulbach’s day in 1908 against the Brooklyn Dodgers all the more spectacular. Thanks to things like “innings limits” and “advances in medical science” and “people being wusses,” there is no conceivable way a pitcher would be allowed to throw for 18 consecutive innings in the MLB of today. Considering no pitcher has had two complete-game victories on the same day since 1926, I’d say this record is pretty safe.
Sammy Baugh: 4 TDs and 4 INTs (made) in one game
Sammy Baugh set thirteen NFL records during his years with the Washington Redskins, but almost all of them have been broken since he retired in 1952. His game against the Detroit Lions on Nov. 14, 1943, however, will never be matched. Not only did Baugh throw four touchdown passes, a number rare for the run-heavy era, but he also set the single-game record for interceptions made (the mark of four has been tied by eighteen players, most recently DeAngelo Hall in 2010). Oh, he also kicked an 81-yard punt in the game because, you know, he was on his way to leading the league with 50 puntsand a 45.9-yard average–no big deal. The dearth of two-way players in today’s NFL guarantees Slingin’ Sammy’s day won’t be topped soon, unless the Jets have been doing some crazy offseason work with Mark Sanchez.
Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn: 60 wins in 1884
I guarantee you more people would watch baseball games if players still had nicknames like “Old Hoss.” To be fair, there is some dispute over whether the official count is 59 wins or 60 wins, but it’s probably a moot point since the closest anyone has come in semi-recent history is Denny McLain (not the guy who wrote “American Pie“) with 31 wins in 1968. Only four pitchers managed to even play in eighty games during the 2012 MLB season, so there’s no way Radbourn’s mark will be topped until Bud Selig just says screw it and allows PED use to be legal and rampant.
Grete Waitz: Nine New York City Marathon wins
Only other one woman has ever won more than two New York City Marathons (Paula Radcliffe, one of the most dominant runners of this past decade, has three wins). Only one man has won more than three (Bill Rodgers has four, all won in the late 1960′s). That said, Grete Waitz’s record is untouchable. Winning a single marathon is a phenomenal, rare, and laudatory accomplishment; to win nine is unfathomable. Waitz, who was also a schoolteacher and a philanthropist, passed away in 2011 after a long battle with cancer, but her record will live on forever.