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"Unbreakable" Sports Records

290849024_6ca7212b31_m.jpgHere's a provocative page straight from the 2007 World Almanac and Book of Facts: our "Editor's Picks" of sports records least likely to be broken, in football, baseball, basketball, and a grab-bag of miscellaneous sports.

The idea for this came to us late in the process of working on the new edition, but it's turned out to be one of the most talked-about features in our interviews about The World Almanac 2007. It's not just the fact that every sports fan wants to weigh in about records that should be on the list, or records that they think may actually be broken—it's also that this list raises some interesting questions about how professional sports of all kinds have changed over the years.

In some cases, the overall level of skill and competition in a given sport has increased so dramatically, it's nearly impossible for individual players of the present to surpass these exceptional accomplishments. Other records are likely to stand simply because the playing seasons in some sports—and the careers of most athletes—are significantly shorter than they were decades ago.

So let's open this one up for discussion. Which of your favorite record-holders did we omit? Which active athletes are most likely to set "unbreakable" records of their own? And what are the odds of a future U.S. President breaking into this list? Get the complete list—and find out which former President made the cut—after the jump.


National Football League Records

Longest streak of throwing at least 1 touchdown pass per game: Johnny Unitas, 47 games (12/9/56-12/4/60)
Most career receiving yards: Jerry Rice, 22,895 (1985-2004)
Most seasons leading the NFL in rushing yards: Jim Brown, 8 (1957-61, 1963-65)
Most career rushing yards: Emmitt Smith, 18,355 (1990-2004)
Most consecutive games played by a non-kicker: Jim Marshall, 282 (1960-79)
Perfect season and post season: Miami Dolphins, 17-0 (1972)
Most consecutive games won: New England Patriots, 18 (2003-04)
Most interceptions in a season: Dick “Night Train” Lane, 14 (1952)
Most sacks in a single game: Derrick Thomas, 7.0 (Nov. 11, 1990)
Most touchdown passes thrown in a season: Peyton Manning, 49 (2004)

National Basketball Association Records

Best regular-season team winning percentage: Chicago Bulls, 72-10, .878 (1995-96)
Most regular season games played, career: Robert Parish, 1,611 (1976-97)
Most NBA championships, player: Bill Russell, 11 (1957, 1959-66, 1968-69)
Most career assists: John Stockton, 15,806 (1984-2003)
Most career 3-point field goals: Reggie Miller, 2,560 (1987-2005)
Most seasons leading the league in scoring: Michael Jordan, 10 (1987-93, 1996-98)
Highest scoring average, single season: Wilt Chamberlain, 50.4 (1961-62)
Most points, single game: Wilt Chamberlain, 100 (March 2, 1962)
Most rebounds single game: Wilt Chamberlain, 55 (Nov. 24, 1960)
Most career points scored: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 38,387 (1969-89)

Major League Baseball Records

Most career wins: Cy Young, 511 (1890-1911)
Most career strikeouts: Nolan Ryan, 5,714 (1966, 1968-93)
Most career stolen bases: Rickey Henderson, 1,406 (1979-2003)
Most runs batted in (season): Lewis Robert “Hack” Wilson, 191 (1930)
Most career shutouts: Walter Johnson, 110 (1907-27)
Longest hitting streak: Joe DiMaggio, 56 games (May 15-July 16, 1941)
Highest season batting average (after modern era began, 1901): Nap Lajoie, .426 (1901)
Most career hits: Pete Rose, 4,256 (1963-86)
Back-to-back no hitters: Johnny Vander Meer (June 11 & June 15, 1938)
Most consecutive games played: Cal Ripken, 2,632 (May 30, 1982-Sept. 19, 1998)

Miscellaneous Sports Record Holders

UCLA Bruins: 7 consecutive NCAA basketball titles (1967-73)
Wayne Gretzky: 2,857 NHL career points (1979-99)
Martina Navratilova: 167 career tennis singles titles (1974-94)
Lance Armstrong: 7 consecutive Tour de France titles (1999-2005)
Oklahoma Sooners: 47 consecutive NCAA Division 1-A football victories (Oct. 10, 1953–Nov. 9, 1957)
Byron Nelson: 11 consecutive PGA tour victories (1945)
Sadaharu Oh: 868 career home runs in Japanese Pro Baseball (1959-80)
Just Fontaine: 13 goals for France in one FIFA World Cup finals tournament (June 8-28, 1958)
Oscar Swahn: Oldest person to win an Olympic Medal (72), (Sweden) taking silver in the running deer double-shot team event at the 1920 Antwerp Games
Montreal Canadiens: 10 straight Stanley Cup Finals (1951-60, w/ 5 straight wins 1956-60)
Richard Petty: Winning 27 NASCAR races in one season (1967)
Rocky Marciano: Undefeated streak, retiring as heavyweight champ, 49-0 (Mar. 17, 1947-Sept. 21, 1955)
Margaret Smith Court: 62 Grand Slam wins in tennis (singles, doubles, mixed double) (1960-75)
UNC Women’s Soccer: 103 consecutive games without a loss (Sept. 30, 1986-Sept. 17, 1990)
Gerald Ford: Most NFL contracts declined by a future President: 2 (Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers)


Know a sports fan who'd love this list, plus thousands of other facts and statistics in sports, history, politics, science, and practically any other topic you can think of? Grab a copy of the 2007 World Almanac wherever books are sold—or take advantage of the links below to e-mail a copy of the list or add it to your favorite social-bookmarking service.

Previously: The World At A Glance: Number Ones

Image from Stephanie Asher's Flickr stream (CC)

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 5, 2007 3:00 PM.

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