Super Weird Sports Facts You Never Knew
Prepare to go on a journey that will take you from the pages of a comic book to the 1969 moon landing, a Japanese slaughterhouse and the middle of the Monongahela River.
Beware of the elite attack monkeys and the Tartan tetherball. Keep an eye out for hidden messages.
There. You've been warned.
Now click on to enter the Wide Weird World of Sports.
Something About Steve Young
San Francisco 49ers great Steve Young was slated to play the role of Mary's secret love in There's Something About Mary. However, Young declined the role.
As a Mormon (and the great-great-great grandson of Brigham Young), he reportedly found the nature of the movie objectionable.
The role went to Brett Far-vra instead.
From Whence Came the Volleyball
Just as Eve was born of a rib of Adam, the volleyball was born of the bladder of a basketball.
The Origins of Tetherball
While no one definitively knows the origins of the game, some historians guess that it derives from a ninth-century Tartar ritual. Here are the ritual steps:
1. Kill your enemy.
2. Lop the head off his corpse.
3. Fix his head to a rope, then the rope to a pole.
4. Pick up a stick.
5. Let the fun begin.
(A full-body smock is highly recommended.)
Just How Many NBA Players Go Broke
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The fact that some NBA stars go broke is hardly news. For instance, we've all heard about Scottie Pippen (pictured here) allegedly blowing through $120 million in career earnings.
But what is news is the astronomical percentage of players that go broke, as reported in a 2008 Toronto Star article.
Are you guessing in the 25 percent range? You'd be right if you tacked another 35 percent on top of that. It's reported that "60 percent of retired NBA players go broke five years after their NBA paycheques stop arriving."
When the First Intercollegiate Baseball Game Took Place
In 1859, Amherst played Williams in the first-ever intercollegiate baseball game. Amherst won. Oh, and how!
The score was 73-32.
What a Formula One Steering Wheel Looks Like
What Sport Sugar Ray Robinson's Son Played
Well, they say the apple never falls far from the tree. However, it seems this apple fell and rolled over to the avocado tree.
Sugar Ray Robinson's son Ronnie is a member of the Hall of Fame.
That's the Roller Derby Hall of Fame, in case you were wondering.
Hidden Message in Tiger Woods' Name
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Rearrange the letters in the name Eldrick "Tiger" Woods and they spell out:
Muhammad Ali Fought Superman (and Won)
In one of the weirder meldings of sports and popular culture, DC put out a "Superman vs. Muhammad Ali" comic book in 1978.
The plot deals with hostile aliens, but the real highlight is the butt-whuppin' Superman gets in a sparring match with the trash-talking Ali.
How High Ted Williams' Pop Fly Went
In 1941, Boston Red Sox player Ted Williams hammered a pop fly that rocketed more than 560 feet in the air. That's about 65 feet higher than Boston's famous Custom House Tower (pictured here).
New Yorkers not getting a visual? OK, then try this: That's closing in on twice the height of the Statue of Liberty (ground to tip of torch).
West Coasters: It's about 40 feet higher than the observation deck of the Seattle Space Needle.
Londoners feeling left out? Nearly twice the height of Big Ben.
Others, you are on your own.
What's on Your Mouthguard
Michael Dodge/Getty Images
Plaque, sure. But also... (do you really want to know?)
OK, then. Here's the buffet countdown:
5. Chewing tobacco.
1. Fecal matter.
A Cow's Odds of Making the Super Bowl
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
The odds that "a randomly chosen cow" will have its hide made into a football used in the Super Bowl?
About one in 17,420,000.
So there's that. Yeah. Moving on...
Sweating Cats and Dogs
Harry How/Getty Images
From Whence "Soccer" Came
USA TODAY Sports
The origin of the word "football" is clear to everyone: foot plus ball. But how did the term "soccer" come about?
Well, the sport was known as Association Football (distinguishing it from rugby football). British school kids commandeered part of the word "association" to form a pet name for the sport. Then the following evolution occurred:
AS-SOC-IATION -> "SOCCA" (1889) -> "SOCKER" (1891) -> "SOCCER" (1895).
The Pirates Stadium That Almost Was
No complaints about the current Pirates stadium, which is known to be one of the best in the MLB. But just think if the 1950s proposal had come to fruition.
The concept was a stadium that actually spanned the Monongahela River. Brilliant idea, seeing as it would involve no land acquisition.
The sports paradise was to feature:
- A 70,000 person capacity with the majority under cover;
- A six hundred-room hotel with gourmet restaurants;
- One hundred air-conditioned bowling alleys;
- The world's largest covered boat dock;
- Beautiful gardens overlooking the river.
Truly, one of the greatest stadiums never built.
Gaylord Perry Hits a Timely Homer
Jason Miller/Getty Images
Seven years after Giants manager Alvin Dark said, "There'll be a man on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run," Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.
Less than an hour later after the historic event, "Perry smacked his first major league homer, against the Dodgers at Candlestick" (via Elizabeth McGarr, Sports Illustrated).
The Fate of the 1986 Kentucky Derby Winner
If you win the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders' Cup Classic, then you deserve to live out your days in equine paradise, studding and munching on the highest-quality oats money can buy.
Sadly for Ferdinand, it didn't end that way.
Ferdinand was reportedly sent to a Japanese slaughterhouse and most likely wound up as pet food.
Who Guarded the Commonwealth Games
To protect venues from militants and wild animals during the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India, authorities deployed sniper units, soldiers to man surface-to-air missiles, soldiers to man anti-aircraft guns and...38 trained Langur monkeys.
Careful—these deadly simians can toss banana peels in your path and hurl their own excrement with stunning accuracy.