The 50 Most Embarrassing Records in Sports
Records were made to be broken. Though, behind the drapery of statistical greatness that every athlete hopes to one day tear through is a mediocrity-stained window.
Behind Nolan Ryan's strikeout record, Wilt the Stilt's century mark and Joe DiMaggio's hit streak is a collection of dubious distinctions that have diminished the accomplishments of many legends and propelled lesser-known benchwarmers into all-time discussions (albeit notoriously).
As Wayne Gretzky once said, "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take." Here are the most legendary misses in sports; totals you're sure to scoff at.
50. Most Fumbles in a Single Season
Fumble-itis is rarely forgiven. For quarterbacks, however, it can be a career-defining trait that tarnishes a team's focus. Guitar-plucking Kerry Collins and Daunte Culpepper achieved the impossible in 2001 and 2002, respectively, fumbling 23 teams a piece.
As a result, Collins' defending NFC Champ Giants would finish 7-9, while Culpepper's talented Minnesota crew would secure a disappointing 6-10 record.
49. Most Penalty Minutes by a Goalie
As a rookie in 1986-87, feisty Ron Hextall won the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goalie and led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals, where he would secure the Conn Smythe Trophy despite a losing effort.
A fierce start was complemented by his ruthless style of play. Mobile, aggressive and fearless, Hextall would routinely leave his net and engage in warfare. He was naturally popular with the Philly fanatics. Hextall just couldn't keep his hands to himself, as his total of 584 penalty minutes remains a goaltender record.
48. Most Home Runs Allowed in a Career
As the oldest player ever to essentially accomplish anything on a major league mound, 49-year-old Jamie Moyer is revered for his ability to stay awake past 6 p.m. and strike out opposing sluggers with heat that barely scrapes 79 mph. His vintage stirrups are a nice touch as well.
Underneath the aging glamour, however, is a statistic that Moyer would rather not embrace, but one that couldn't be avoided with 87 years in the Majors (more like 25 seasons). With 522 home runs allowed (and counting), Moyer is carved in the record books for more than just his otherworldly ability to adapt.
47. Worst Quarterback Passer Rating of All Time
Frank Tripucka, who allowed his No. 18 Broncos jersey to be unretired for Peyton Manning, threw the first touchdown pass in the history of the AFL and was the first professional signal caller to surpass 3,000 yards. But for quarterbacks with at least 1,500 attempts, Tripucka's 52.2 rating remains the worst in history.
Far worse than Mike Phipps, Rick Mirer and Tim Couch.
46. Most Penalties in a Race
Easily surpassing the previous record of 14 penalties at Kansas City in 2006, drivers at Pocono Raceway were struck with 22 penalties for exceeding the 55-mph pit-area speed limit in June of this year.
A need-for-speed-driven business was simply taking the good with the bad at the Pocono 400.
45. Most Consecutive Losses
Nearly doubling Columbia's 44 straight losses between 1983 and 1988, Prairie View A&M did what many believed was impossible. After losing in 1989, the Panthers didn't win again until 1998, securing 80 consecutive losses—the longest losing streak in Division I college football history.
In November of 2007, the Panthers finally clinched their first winning season since 1976, seesawing their way back to the promised land.
44. Most Times Hit by a Pitch
A scrappy, hard-nosed leader during his prosperous tenure with the Orioles, infielder and future manager Hughie Jennings did whatever he could to get on base. He was hit a record 287 times (51 in 1896) to prove it—Craig Biggio would close the gap to two.
When he wasn't getting smashed like banana plantains, the colorful Jennings was screaming “Ee-Yah” from the pine. His fans would often follow suit.
43. Most Red Cards in the Football League
On the pitch, former Leicester City footballer Steve Walsh was a reckless bruiser who was revered by loyal Englishmen and scrutinized by pundits. But the fierce bulldog only knew one way to play, and his 13 red cards—the most in the football league—pay homage to that style.
Only maned forward Roy McDonough, who holds the same amount of penalties, can relate.
42. Most Wild Pitches
Ironically dubbed "Count" during his successful 13-year career with seven different major league teams, ambidextrous pitcher Tony Mullane is remembered most for his career-record 343 wild pitches.
Still, the talented Irishman was able to rack up 284 wins and a career ERA of 3.05. He remains one of the winningest hurlers not in the Hall of Fame.
41. Lowest Batting Average in Cricket
Becoming captain of England at the age of 25 and appearing in a record 54 Test matches left English cricketer Mike Atherton with quite the prestigious resume. Yet when he retired, Atherton's 37.69 average was the lowest batting average of any player to have scored 6,000 or more runs in Test cricket.
An increasing back disorder didn't help much.
40. Most Career Walks
324 victories. 5,714 strikeouts. Seven no-hitters. Nolan Ryan's baseball resume remains one of the most dominant—and misleading.
A rifle-armed ace, Ryan retired with a paltry .526 winning percentage and the most walks by a pitcher in history with 2,795. With accuracy, he would have been perfect.
39. Longest Tenure in the Bottom Division
Since being formed in 1907, Rochdale A.F.C. has achieved just two promotions and endured three heartbreaking relegations, the latter often keeping this Greater Manchester-based club dwelling in their league's basement.
Rochdale's 36 consecutive seasons in the Football League's (featuring teams from England and Wales) bottom division from 1974 to 2010 remains the longest time any team has been in the bottom division.
38. Most Teams Played for
Youthful 38-year-old hurler Octavio Dotel knows all about change, just look at his resume. The baseball traveler secured a record 13 teams in 13 years, a distinction one can almost respect from a journeyman perspective.
Pinch-hitting aficionado Matt Stairs also traveled to 13 cities, but he still sits in second because the Expos and Nationals are technically one franchise. Dotel remains the leading nomad.
37. Longest NFL Coaching Suspension
We could highlight Sal Alosi's tripping ways with the Jets or Gregg Williams' bounty scandal with the Saints, but we'd rather detail the latter's alleged partner in crime, Saints coach Sean Payton.
With the longest coaching suspension in NFL history, and essentially the only significant one, Payton now has to watch from the sideline as the Brees-led Saints scratch and claw for rare wins. New Orleans seemingly pays the price for the league's attempt to keep everyone in line.
36. Longest Suspension NHL History
Captain of the Montreal Canadiens in 1925, ruthless defenseman Billy Coutu remains carved in the record books for being the only player to ever be suspended for life—due to his attack on a referee in 1927. And this is in a sport where fighting is accepted.
The suspension was lifted two seasons later, but a then minors-bound Coutu would never play in the NHL again.
35. Worst Record to Qualify for the NBA Playoffs
Today, a record of 16-54 would have fans poking holes in brown paper bags before stuffing their heads in them and coaches rigorously planning for the new crop of college phenoms, also known as the lottery.
But in the 10-team league of the early '50s, the 16-54 Bullets, stuck in the weak East, somehow found themselves qualifying for the postseason (the 27-win Hawks of the West didn't even make it). They would lose in the first round to the Knicks in two games.
34. Lowest Completion Percentage
A pioneer at the quarterback position, Arnie Herber joined an already potent Packers squad in 1930 and led them to four titles, helping them reel off three in a row (only matched by the Packers of the '60s).
But underneath his efficiently run offense featuring the great John "Blood" McNally, Herber owned the worst completion percentage of all time (min. 1,000 attempts). 40.9 percent of the time, Herber failed every time.
33. Most Consecutive NBA Losses
With 15 straight losses to open the 1972 season, the eventual "Nine and 73ers" were only getting started. After a record 20 straight defeats during the season, the then 4-58 Sixers could barely remember racking up the most wins in a season six years earlier.
This horrendous crop was led by Fred "Mad Dog" Carter, who didn't know what to make of being named team MVP. "I wasn't sure whether it was for me leading us to nine wins or 73 losses," he said.
32. Most Double Plays in a Season
It took Jim Rice 15 years, and his last year of eligibility, to get voted into the Hall of Fame. With 382 dingers and a .298 batting average, many wondered why it took so long.
Some believe Rice's rally-killing was a major factor. During 1984, a year when he slugged 28 long ones and 122 RBI, the powerful Rice grounded into a record 36 double plays. In the end, Rice totaled 315 GIDP in 16 seasons.
31. Most Single-Game Points Allowed
March 2, 1962 is a day that will live in infamy for Knicks fans. It was a day flooded with inefficient defense and legendary greatness. The day Wilt "The Stilt" Chamberlain scored a record 100 points for the Philadelphia Warriors, a feat that has since only been threatened by Kobe Bryant's 81 points in 2006.
It was a showing of pure dominance.
30. Most Baby Mamas
There's Calvin Murphy, the shortest NBA player—at 5'9"—ever inducted into the Hall of Fame, and his 14 children by nine mothers. There's even the more notorious Antonio Cromartie, the blabbermouth cornerback for the Jets, and his 12 children by nine mothers.
Former Pro Bowl tailback Travis Henry, however, earns Father of the Century for breeding 11 children with 10 mothers, nearly making the same mistake on ten separate occasions. The Tennessee product sure could run the rock, but child support payments seemed to get the best of him.
29. Most Defeats in a Winless Season
During their 2007-08 season, the NJIT Highlanders eclipsed the unthinkable, racking up zero wins en route to a 0-29 season. It was the most defeats in a winless season and the most consecutive defeats in NCAA Division I men's basketball history.
Learning was certainly a process for the Highlanders, who moved up from Division II in 2006.
28. Most Consecutive Defeats in International Play
Already holding the largest defeat in an international match (31–0 loss to Australia), American Samoa endured 30 consecutive defeats over 17 years before finally achieving international victory.
When they beat Tonga 2-1 in a pre-qualifying game for the 2014 World Cup, the world breathed a sigh of relief.
27. Worst Total in Kicking History
In 1972, unknown kicker Boris Shlapak made history when he missed eight kicks...in eight chances, the worst total in history for kickers with no makes.
As if this knowledge really relieves the pain from this inglorious record, it should be known that all of his chances were beyond 40 yards. And, naturally, Shlapak hit all four of his extra points. The Baltimore Colts must've been proud, as they never gave him another professional chance.
26. Most Career Losses
Like the future Ironman, Brett Favre, Cy Young's longevity bred brilliance and compiled failure. When he retired after 22 years in the majors, Young owned the records for most career innings pitched (7,355), most career games started (815) and most complete games (749).
Yet while he was a dominant winner, Young also found himself with a record 316 losses—and baseball's most prestigious pitching award permanently named after him.
25. Most Points Allowed in NFL History
When the Giants gave up 72 points to the rival Redskins in November of '66, it was a game that featured 16 touchdowns and a controversially unnecessary end-of-game field goal.
Unfortunately for New York, the highest scoring game in NFL history saw the G-Men only score 41 points en route to a horrendous loss, adding a new chapter to this NFC East rivalry.
24. Largest Ice Hockey Defeat
The greatest margin of defeat in NHL history belongs to the New York Rangers, who lost 15-0 to the prestigious Detroit Red Wings in January of 1944. However, this bloated score was light years behind South Korea's defeat of Thailand in the 1998 IIHF Asian Oceanic Junior U18 Championships.
You may want to sit down for this...92-0.
23. Most Times Caught Stealing
"The Man of Steal" picked up a record 1,406 thefts during his career, including the single-season mark of 130 in 1982. But with over a thousand attempts, Rickey Henderson was naturally going to fail from time to time.
While his 1,406 steals remain the all-time record, so do the 335 times he was caught. He had to be fair, right?
22. Most Red Cards in the World
Some have noted 16, others 19, in totaling Tomas Repka's red card world record. Either way, the scrappy defender was a noted rabble-rouser during his curious career.
And earning at least one red card with four different club teams, the Czech national team and the U-21 Czech national team made Repka an immortal agitator. Well done, sir.
21. Most Consecutive Losing Decisions
Despite finishing his career with a 3.89 ERA, former Mets righty Anthony Young remains best remembered for losing a record 27 consecutive decisions.
Interestingly, it was during this unfortunate streak that Young saved 12 straight opportunities and threw just over 23 consecutive scoreless innings while replacing John Franco as closer. Although, he also went 0-14 as a starter and 0-13 as a reliever during the same period.
20. Worst Shooting Night in NBA History
An ankle-breaking threat nicknamed the "UTEP Two-Step," Tim Hardaway was a fast and fierce talent at the point guard position during the '90s.
And during his early years with the Golden State Warriors, Hardaway secured the worst shooting performance in history. December of 1991 was the time, 0-17 the production. Most would've stopped giving him the rock after 16 straight misses.
19. Most Career Strikeouts
Dubbed "Mr. October" to honor his clutch nature, Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson slugged 563 homers, hovered around .262 and even stole 228 bases as a hefty right fielder.
Featured within his diverse skill set was an astounding ability to swing and miss. With his clear-the-ballpark approach, Jackson compiled a record 2,597 strikeouts in 2,820 games. You only hoped he didn't make contact.
18. Lowest Career +/- Rating
The 13th pick of the Bruins in the 1970 draft, Bob Stewart would eventually become a sturdy NHL defenseman. But during his nine years, Stewart spent some time with basement-dwelling teams such as the Golden Seals and the Barons, and his stats naturally took a hit.
His career-low rating of minus-260 essentially means he was on the ice for 260 more goals against than goals scored. Teamwork makes the dream not work in this case.
17. Most Consecutive Losses in the Super Bowl
It's hard to imagine a team ever making a championship four years in a row, though perhaps not as astonishing as that same team losing every single time.
The Bills touched the pinnacle of tainted success when they reached the big game four straight years between 1990-93 and then lost in heartbreaking fashion each time, ironically to everyone in the NFC East aside from the Eagles (twice to the Cowboys).
16. Most Interceptions in a Single Season
Forget 18-game schedule talk, George Blanda tossed his single-season record 42 interceptions back in the 14-game schedule of 1962.
But the high-flying Oilers, inspired by Blanda's not-so-bland style of play, were clearly willing to endure the more-than-occasional pick. Maybe because he was their kicker as well.
15. Shortest Premier League Career
Some might expect Senegalese footballer and attempted con artist Ali Dia to own the shortest career, considering he played 53 minutes against Leeds in 1996 before Southampton manager Graeme Souness realized his new signing was a fraud. But in reality, the shortest Premier league career goes a man by the name of Joe Sheerin, who enjoyed a 60-second cup of coffee with Chelsea back in 1997.
As a last-minute substitute for Gianfranco Zola in Chelsea's 1–0 win over Wimbledon, Sheerin barely had time to high five his new teammates before the whistle blew. He would never appear in another game with Chelsea.
14. Most Career Errors
Despite committing 1,070 errors during his 15-year MLB career that peaked during the late 1890s, Herman Long was acknowledged as a stout glove at shortstop with an ability to swing the stick and rob a base on command.
Yet his average of just over 70 errors per season doesn't inspire us as much as it makes us question his focus. With 11,436 chances, Long still succeeded nine times out of 10.
13. Worst Record in NBA History
In only their eighth season, the inexperienced Bobcats were already making history. Just not the kind they had hoped.
Unspectacularly led by Gerald Henderson's 15.1 points per game and Michael Jordan's inability to judge talent, Charlotte achieved a 7-59 record (.106 winning percentage). This new benchmark for failure just edged the 9-73 Sixers from the 1972-73 season.
12. Longest Championship Drought
Without a World Series victory since 1908, deprived Cubs fans have little choice but to highlight the foul-ball inadequacies of Steve Bartman and the continuously missing "can't-miss" prospects that come through the Chi-town minor leagues year after year.
In due time, Chicago, in due time.
11. Most Manager Ejections
Fourth on the all-time managerial wins list with 2,504, former Braves skipper Bobby Cox is remembered most for his ability to get the most out of his players. Having led his Atlanta squad to a division title every season from 1991 to 2005 (excluding the strike-shortened 1994 season), Cox knew what it took to inspire.
With a career record of 158 ejections, Cox continuously made Lou Piniella look like Gandhi. Yet with his rear on the bench, Cox appeared as cool, calm and collected as they come.
10. Most Technical Fouls in a Season
A prolific scorer with an even more unstoppable mouth, Rasheed Wallace was a force to be reckoned with during his 15 years in the paint. Controversial and reckless, the talented big man was succinctly seen slamming basketballs into hoops and racking up technical fouls. A total of 313 to be precise, including an unprecedented 41 during the 2000-01 Trail Blazers season.
And now Wallace seems ready to add to his collection, ending his retirement to join the '90s-looking Knicks. The Camby-Kidd-Wallace trio should bring some old-school toughness to a fragile squad.
9. Most Times Sacked in a Single Season
The first pick of the '02 draft and the expansion Texans, Fresno State product David Carr was expected to breathe life into his freshly brewed Houston franchise. Behind a patchy offensive line, the rookie signal caller would endure a record 76 sacks (fumbling 21 times). A bruising first season would seemingly taint Carr as his on-field maturation never seemed to get under way.
The Texans gave up on their former franchise quarterback in 2006, with all eyes on Matt Schaub the following year. Carr eventually got an illustrious Super Bowl ring, backing up Eli Manning.
8. Most Boxing Defeats
On paper, American pugilist Reggie Strickland was far more than just another routine failure in the ring. A record 276 losses in 363 fights far surpasses Peter Buckley's 256 losses in 300 fights (the latter once losing 88 consecutive fights).
Some called Strickland the worst, others simply noted his inability to prepare (once fought 13 times in a month). In the end, his nose, cheeks and ego took quite the career-long bruising.
7. Most Missed Free Throws
He was most recently a Republican nominee for Governor of Oregon, but Yale product Chris Dudley was once a journeyman center with the league's quirkiest shot—before the emergence of Shawn Marion—and an inglorious role as a defensive substitute.
In one game during his rotational career—in April of 1990—the lifelong .458 free throw shooter fully dedicated himself to mediocrity, shooting 1-18 from the stripe, including a record 13 consecutive misses. His one air ball had perhaps the best chance.
6. The Only Winless 16-Game Season
A year flooded with futility in Detroit, 2008 saw the Lions finish the first 16-game winless season in NFL history, far eclipsing the 0-14 Bucs of 1976. People won't remember that the Lions almost won their final game, they'll only remember the notorious face behind the failure...Matt Millen.
It was a lasting testimony to the receiver-heavy Millen era, 2001-2008, when the Lions achieved only 31 victories. Four years later, the hungry Lions are once again relevant.
5. Largest NCAA Football Beatdown
During the most lopsided defeat in college football history, an inferior Cumberland program watched their Georgia Tech counterparts rack up 1,620 rushing yards on 40 attempts, not throwing the ball once. Cumberland, rushing 27 times for -96 yards, found itself down 126-0 at halftime before losing the game 222-0.
The Tennessee-based school had discontinued its program before the year but couldn't cancel its game against the Engineers. Word has it the Bulldogs began punting as soon as they received the Tech kickoff, realizing they'd lose fewer yards than if they'd attempted an offensive series. Urban myth perhaps.
4. Worst Career Free Throw Percentage
Applauded for his physicality, shot-blocking brilliance and groomed Afro, former center Ben Wallace was a rare breed of franchise cornerstones during his Pistons prime.
Weighing heavily on top of his glory, however, was the lowest free throw percentage in history (with a minimum of 1,000 attempts). At .414, Wallace was a lock to miss at least one of every two shots from the line. His awfulness made Shaq somehow comparable to Steve Nash from the stripe.
3. Consecutive Games Without a Win
Having won the WHA's last championship two years earlier, the Jets weren't expected to stain the NHL covers. But in 1980-81, the team temporarily mocked as Lose-ipeg in only its second NHL season set a modern professional sports record by completing 30 consecutive games without a win in November and December.
A Barry Melrose sighting makes this embarrassing revisit well worth our time.
2. Fastest Knockout of All Time
All it took was four seconds into their turn-of-the-century match for Russell Rees to drop Plymouth-born Des Sowden in what became the fastest knockout of all time.
The beaten English Light Middleweight compiled a record of 1-10, with a historically awful one-punch drop as laminate.
1. Most Career Interceptions
When this gunslinger's first pass was picked off for six heartbreaking points, it was a perfectly fitting start to Brett Favre's interception-heavy career.
No. 4 could chuck like few before him. Tight spirals and needle-threading rockets highlighted Favre's legendary NFL tenure under center, and he remains the only quarterback to throw for over 70,000 yards, over 500 touchdowns, over 300 interceptions, over 6,000 completions and over 10,000 pass attempts, and the only player to win MVP three consecutive times (1995–97).
Yet underneath it all sits 336 bold interceptions that almost tarnish his 508 scores. Favre believed he could make every throw, fit the pigskin in between every defender. And 336 times, he was wrong.
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