Incredibly True Sports Facts You Won't Believe

Sean Evans@@seanseaevansContributor IIINovember 20, 2013

Incredibly True Sports Facts You Won't Believe

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Fans have brains that are full of statistics, stories and other bits of information that are mostly useless unless it's pub trivia night.

    Yet despite our endless thirst for sports knowledge, there are a few worthwhile anecdotes that seem to fall through the cracks.

    To ensure that your ironclad grasp of athletic-based oddities remains strong, I've mined Google like a Gold Rush-era prospector to uncover 20 incredibly true sports facts you won't believe.

    Let the party begin.

Rickey Henderson's Million Dollar Wall Art

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Rickey Henderson didn't cash his first million-dollar check from the Oakland A's. He framed it instead. 

    Ultimately, the Oakland A's recommended that Henderson cash his signing bonus and frame a photocopy of the check. Sound advice if ever it existed.

The Largest Shoes in NBA History

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    Robert Lewis/Getty Images

    Bob Lanier wore size 22 shoes, the largest in NBA history.

    At nearly 16 inches long, Hall of Fame center Bob Lanier vaunts the NBA's largest feet ever.

    The claim is tested by Shaquille O'Neal, who reportedly wears a size 22 shoe as well.

Kobe Bryant's Senior Prom Date

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Kobe Bryant took pop superstar Brandy Norwood to his senior prom. 

    During his senior year at Lower Merion High School, Kobe Bryant inked a shoe deal with Adidas and presumably slow danced to Bush's "Glycerine" with the star of Moesha

    How was your life going at 18 years old?

The NHL's Missing Teeth

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    According to a Detroit Free Press poll, 68 percent of professional hockey players have lost at least one tooth in a game.

    In the NHL, a piece of vulcanized rubber flies around the rink at 90 miles per hour and goons police the game by socking one another in the face.

    Quite frankly, I'm surprised this number isn't approaching 100 percent.


Adidas Misses the Train on No. 23

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    Before his deal with Nike, Michael Jordan preferred Adidas.

    To think, Adidas could have secured the most powerful icon in sneaker history by matching Nike's purported five-year, $500,000 offer

The Growth of the Boston Marathon

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    Darren McCollester/Getty Images

    Held in 1897, the first Boston Marathon had a mere 15 competitors. The event now attracts more than 20,000 runners annually. 

    A New Yorker named John J. McDermott won the inaugural race with a time of 2 hours, 55 minutes and 10 seconds.

    The standing record is 2:03:02, which was accomplished by Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai in 2011.

Joe DiMaggio's Home Run-to-Strikeout Ratio

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Through the first 12 years of his career, Joe DiMaggio had more home runs (349) than strikeouts (333).

    To put DiMaggio's aversion to striking out into perspective, Adam Dunn has more whiffs in the last two seasons (411) than The Yankee Clipper had in his entire career (369). 

That Time Fans Got to Choose the Lineup

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    On Aug. 24, 1951, St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck allowed fans to manage a game against the Philadelphia Athletics.

    As part of a stunt by team owner Bill Veeck, fans were allowed to pick the St. Louis Browns starting lineup by voting for players.

    But the grandstand's supervisory input wasn't just limited to choosing a cleanup hitter. 

    Armed with cards that said "yes" on one side and "no" on the other, more than 1,000 "managers" weighed in on everything from bunting situations to pitching changes.

Fred Lorz Takes a Shortcut

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    Image via

    During the 1904 Olympics, distance runner Fred Lorz cheated his way to a marathon victory by riding in a car for 11 miles. 

    Lorz reportedly ran the first nine miles of the race before jumping in a car with his manager for the next 11. 

    The car broke down near Mile 20, so Lorz ran the final stretch of the race and finished, rather predictably, in first place.

    The marathoner received a gold medal, but his glory was short-lived. Eyewitnesses reported the tire-aided victory to race officials, and Lorz was disqualified.  

The Year of the Steagles

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    During the 1943 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles lost so many players to service in WWII that the teams combined to form the “Steagles.” 

    Despite playing with men who, for the most part, were unable to serve in the military, the "Steagles" recorded a winning record of 5-4-1 and defeated the defending champion Washington Redskins 27-14 in Week 9.

The Harlem Globetrotters Aren't Actually from Harlem

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    Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

    The Harlem Globetrotters, originally known as the Savoy Big Five, are actually a Chicago-born institution

    In fact, the Harlem Globetrotters didn't play a game in their borough namesake until 1968, more than 40 years after the team was founded.

Super Bowl Sunday's Gluttonous Relationship with Protein

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    Bill Wippert/Getty Images

    An estimated 1.25 billion chicken wings are consumed on Super Bowl Sunday according to the National Chicken Council (via Wall Street Journal).

    Or, if you prefer a more relatable illustration, approximately four wings are consumed for every person living in the United States. 

Shaquille O'Neal's Early Growth Spirt

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    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Shaquille O’Neal was 6'8" at 14 years old.

    In the mid-'80s, former LSU coach Dale Brown spotted O'Neal at an army base in West Germany and mistakenly assumed the mammoth teenager to be an enlisted man. 

The Cost of an NFL Team Name

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    Brian Kersey/Getty Images

    The Green Bay Packers team name comes from the Indian Packing Company, an organization that contributed $500 for the team’s jerseys and equipment. 

    Curly Lambeau was a shipping clerk who made $250 a month when he decided to start a football team in 1919.

    Desperate for cash, he hit up his employer, the Indian Packing Company, which put up the cost of a PS4 and ended up becoming the team's namesake.

You Can't Outdrive Mike Austin

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    During the 1974 U.S. National Seniors Open Championship, 64-year-old Mike Austin hit a 515-yard tee shot, the longest golf drive ever recorded in competition

    Austin's drive was reportedly aided by a 27 mile-per-hour wind, but—weather conditions be darned—drilling a golf ball the length of five football fields is mightily impressive. 

A One-Man Marketing Campaign

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Joe Theismann changed the pronunciation of his last name so that it would rhyme with "Heisman."

    While he originally balked at Notre Dame sports information director Roger Valdiserri's idea, Theismann (originally pronounced Thees-man) eventually agreed to alter the elocution of his last name.

    As brilliantly ridiculous as his marketing strategy was, Theismann ultimately finished second in the Heisman voting to Stanford's Jim Plunkett.

The Rise of the Perfect Game

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    MLB has seen six perfect games since 2009, which equals the number of perfect games thrown between 1904 and 1965.

    There have been 21 perfect games recorded in baseball's modern era, and nearly one-third of them occurred during a four-season stretch between 2009 and 2012.

How Much Is 30 Seconds During the Super Bowl Worth?

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    CBS reportedly charged between $3.8 million and $4 million for a 30-second spot during Super Bowl XLVII according to Gina Hall of

    The URL business must be booming for Go Daddy.

Two Yankees Have a Real-Life Wife Swap

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    Getty Images/Getty Images

    New York Yankees pitchers Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich swapped lives in 1973, which meant trading wives, cars and even children. 

    The deal worked out pretty well for Peterson, who has remained married to Kekich's ex more than 40 years after the swap. 

    Kekich, on the other hand, split with Peterson's former squeeze shortly after the two switched lives.

Andre Agassi's Entrepreneurial Youth

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    At nine years old, Andre Agassi beat Jim Brown in a game of tennis for $500. 

    Originally, Agassi's father offered Jim Brown $10,000 stakes for a tennis match against his adolescent son. 

    To his credit, Brown declined to put that kind of pressure on a nine-year-old kid and countered with a $500 game.

    Needless to say, Agassi ended up with a lot of dough to spend on LEGOs and Garbage Pail Kids trading cards.