If you're in the middle of a heated discussion about all things sports, you don't want to get singled out as the poseur: the guy or gal who looks like they're following the conversation until they have to speak up. There is no need to buy a sports almanac and give yourself a crash course in obscure stats.
As long as you have a small collection of interesting—or even insightful—sports facts, not only will you potentially be the unexpected sports trivia hero, but you'll be fully stocked with icebreakers.
Sure, there are going to be sports junkies who were probably born with an innate command of any sports-related nugget you share, but the odds are most of your friends and coworkers are on your level. Besides, what fun is it to be stuck in a conversation with someone who already knows everything (or thinks they do)?
Hopefully, this little collection facts serves you well—these are 25 random sports facts to impress your friends with.
In further proof that "they don't make them like they used to," Cleveland Indians pitcher Ray Caldwell recorded a complete game against the Philadelphia A's in 1919, after he was struck by lightning in the middle of the ninth inning.
Caldwell "shook it off" and got the final out for the win.
When the NHL started requiring players to wear headgear in the 1979-1980 season, the rule allowed anyone who started playing before then to continue using their skull as a helmet if they so desired.
When center Craig MacTavish retired from the St. Louis Blues in 1997, he had the distinction of being the last helmetless player to leave the game.
During the Olympic Qualifying match between Peru and rival Argentina in 1964, a controversial decision by game officials sent the crowd into a rage; throwing bottles and other debris onto the pitch.
When police fired tear gas into the stands, the fans panicked and tried to flee. However, the gates of Lima Football Stadium were locked, resulting in a deadly stampede that took the lives of 328 people.
Pro golfer Kevin Na broke a PGA record at the 2011 Valero Texas Open, but not the kind you regale your friends with ad nauseam.
Na set a new record for most strokes on a par-4 hole, when he shot at 16 on the ninth. The whole episode took an agonizing 20 minutes; a lifetime for a pro.
In a story that seems almost too perfect to be true, Southern Cal alumnus—and superfan—Giles Pellerin attended 797 consecutive Trojans football game.
From 1925-1998, he traveled all over the country to follow his beloved team—a streak that came to an end when he passed away at age 91 during the USC-UCLA game at the Rose Bowl.
The Inazawa Bowling Centre in Japan opened in 1972, and with 116 lanes, you probably won't have to wait to throw those gutterballs.
Irish radio and television broadcaster Sir Terry Wogan may have forged his career on the BBC, but in 1981 he wowed the golfing world by sinking a 200 ft putt at the Gleneagles golf course.
While not the longest verified putt in history, it is the longest televised putt.
Arizona Cardinals fans have watched some fairly putrid football on offense this season, but the 2012 Cardinals can't hold a candle to the offensive futility of the 1933 Cincinnati Reds.
An NFL franchise that survived for two years, the team fielded one of the worst offenses in pro football history—completing 25 passes all season without a single touchdown through the air.
Retired NBA star Shaquille O'Neal is a sure-fire Hall of Famer and brought an unprecedented skill-set and level of athleticism to the game as a "big man."
However, there is a good reason opposing teams deployed the Hack-a-Shaq defense against the man: He was not so good at the foul line. When Shaq retired in 2010, he missed a total of 5,317 free throws over his career.
The Coca Cola 600 has been around since 1960 and remains the longest NASCAR race on the tour.
Held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, the 600 mile race takes hours—with the 402 lap beast in 2011 holding the distinction of being the longest race in NASCAR history.
The Massillon Washington Tigers are one of those Midwestern, powerhouse high school football programs that live Friday Night Lights.
Located in the Ohio town of the same name, not only has Massillon been named the AP National Champion a record nine times, but it's where legendary Cincinnati Bengals coach Paul Brown got his start.
The University of Georgia's adorable, living mascot Uga has been around since 1956. Not the same dog obviously, but the original Uga's lineage has been a continuous presence on the football team's sideline.
There have been nine Ugas (I-IX), and from 1999-2008, Uga VI presided over one of the most successful runs in the team's history, including two SEC Championships.
While Olympic events like Solo Synchronized Swimming are weird enough, nothing comes close to the Live Pigeon Shooting at the 1900 Summer Games in Paris. The event actually entailed hundreds of pigeons being released in front of the competitors, who sat back and slaughtered them.
While the mass murder of hundreds of birds would never fly today, for obvious reasons, this event was so ill-advised that this was the first and last time it ever was a part of the Olympics.
The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders may be a franchise in and of themselves, but any good fortune they may have bestowed on the team was lost in the mid-nineties.
The Bears, Browns, Giants, Lions, Packers and Steelers are the six NFL franchises without a cheerleading squad, and have won five of the last seven Super Bowls.
Former welterweight boxer Aurele "Al" Couture passed away in 2000, but his record of delivering the fastest knockout in pro boxing history is likely to remain.
In his bout against Ralph Walton in 1946, Couture knocked the fighter out in just 10.5 seconds (Walton had been distracted by his cornerman.) Under today's rules, Couture would have been made to return to his corner before the count began.
News 12 Long Island Sportscaster Bob Wolff began his 73 year career by covering the Washington Senators.
He has not only set a Guiness World Record for longevity in the field, but is in the National Sportscasters and Sportswriter Association's Hall of Fame, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the National Basketball Hall of Fame.
When Ivy League rivals Harvard and Yale squared off in their 1968 matchup, both football teams were undefeated—something that last happened in 1909.
Yale was looking to add to it's 16 game winning streak over the hated Crimson, but Harvard scored 16 points in the final 42 seconds to end it in a tie. However, the miraculous comeback was a good as a victory in the eyes of Harvard, who famously splashed the headline, "Harvard Beats Yale 29-29," the following morning.
Before beating Langston 14-6 in 1998, Prairie View A&M hadn't won a game in nearly a decade. The 80-game losing streak stands as the worst consecutive string of losses in sports history.
Ironically, the streak began in 1989 in a 19-18 loss to...Langston.
The Stanley Cup is one of the most revered and legendary championship trophies in sports. It symbolizes an intense competitive tradition and deference to the past.
A idiosyncratic element of the Cup's lore are the mistakes found in a few of the engravings—including the 1972 Boston Bruins being misspelled as "BQSTQN."
A study published in Psychological Science looked at nearly 60,000 MLB games played from 1952-2009 and found that temperature was the most effective indicator of whether a pitcher would retaliate if a teammate was beaned by the opposing pitcher.
Specifically, the chances of a pitcher purposefully retaliating against a batter went up five percent if the temperature was at least 90 degrees.
From 1900 until 1920, Tug of War was a sporting event at the Summer Olympic Games. Considered part of the "athletics program," Great Britain was awarded the most medals in the event with five, including two golds.
When the Oakland Raiders took Sebastian Janikowski 17th overall in the 2000 NFL Draft, the move was seen as another headscratcher from Al Davis. As confounding as it is to select a kicker in the first round—something that had only happened twice before—the Janikowski has looked at lot less nutty than the New Orleans Saints' pick of Russell Erxleben in 1979.
Wrigley Field is unique because it is a piece of baseball history that is still very much a contemporary part of the game. It is as much of the Chicago Cubs identity as the team itself.
The Cubs didn't play any night games at home prior to 1988, when lights were installed at the field.
North Dakota probably isn't the first place that comes to mind when you think golf, but it does have the most golf courses per capita of any state.
Of course, much of this has to do with the state's relatively small population, but with one course for every 5,468 people, its residents have plenty of fairway access during those precious months of mild weather.
With the prospect of the NHL salvaging a shortened season from the second work stoppage in a decade, it's easy to fall into a melancholy. Hockey fans know that the sport doesn't have the luxury of losing several billion dollars.
Hockey fans should take solace in events like the Michigan-Michigan State collegiate hockey rivalry, which draws crowds unheard of in the NHL. In 2011, the game at the Big House in Ann Arbor had an announced attendance of 113,411 (a new record for the sport).