Having a broad knowledge of sports trivia—and trivia in general—is endlessly useful in life. It can make you popular at game nights, help settle debates among friends and routinely provide you the smug satisfaction that comes along with telling someone, "I told you so."
All of these are excellent reasons to always be increasing your knowledge and retention of various bits of trivia. In addition to making you a more well-rounded human being, trivia is good because you just never know when it will come in handy. But don't worry—it always does.
So don't think of this as just another slideshow. Consider it a precious opportunity to expand your mind and grow as a person. Of course, if you prefer, just go ahead and think of it as another slideshow. It's completely up to you.
Now let's do this.
Q: In 1990 two major league greats made baseball history by becoming the first father-son duo to hit back-to-back homers in an MLB game.
You best be able to name that father-son duo!
A: Duh. Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr.
Q: Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was recently named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year. It was the first time he took the honor.
The winner of the award in 2000 was the first athlete to win it for a second time. Name that athlete...if you can...
A: Tiger Woods, who was first named the Sportsman of the Year in 1996.
Q: In 1920, the University of Texas football players had their mascot at the annual sports banquet under less than ideal circumstances. What were those circumstances?
A: Poor Bevo was, in a sense, the guest of honor. He had been fattened up, slaughtered and served as the main course at the banquet. Kinda horrifying, right?
Well, apparently the university was short on cash and shouldering the cost of tending to Bevo wasn't a top priority. Since he was not tame enough to roam wild, they ate him.
Q: Everyone knows that Hall of Fame great Michael Jordan played his college ball at North Carolina, but playing for the Tar Heels wasn't his first choice. In fact, he actually rooted for NC State while growing up.
Who did His Airness originally want to play for? (Hint: It was—and still is—clear across the country.)
A: MJ's first choice was UCLA. Too bad the Bruins never recruited him.
Just to be clear, I meant it was too bad for the Bruins. Jordan did just fine without them.
Q: In May 2001 a member of the Cubs was intentionally walked a record five times by the Reds in an effort to break the record shared by Rogers Maris and Garry Templeton.
Name. That. Cub!
A: Hall of Fame Cubs great Andre Dawson.
Q: Back in the day, ESPN college football analyst Lee Corso actually played college football. In the mid-50s he attended Florida State and roomed with another notable 'Noles player who would go on to be a ridiculously famous actor.
Name that roomy!
A: Corso roomed with super stud Mr. Burton Leon Reynolds Jr., also known to you laypeople as Burt Reynolds.
Q: Presidential ceremonial pitches have been a tradition in MLB since opening day of the 1910 season. Who was the first president to throw out a ceremonial first pitch?
A: William Howard Taft.
Bonus Fact: Since 1910 every president except Jimmy Carter has thrown at least one ceremonial first pitch—even Richard Nixon!
Q: There’s only one athlete to hit an MLB home run and score an NFL touchdown in the same week. He’s the same athlete who is the only person ever to play in both the World Series and the Super Bowl.
A: Deion Sanders. Although he played in the World Series, he never won one. Sanders did, however, win two Super Bowl championships.
Q: Though Wimbledon is a pretty big deal today, the very first tournament was scheduled in 1877 as a fundraiser for England’s preferred sport of the day. Name that sport!
A: Back then it was croquet all day across the pond. Crazy weird, huh?
Wimbledon was created to raise money for a pony-drawn roller for the croquet lawns.
Q: Which retired ballplayer was nicknamed "The Iron Bird?"
A: Cal Ripken Jr., the Orioles great, was also called "The Iron Man," because it would've taken a cataclysmic event to keep him off the field.
Q: Florida State's Jameis Winston became the youngest player to win the Heisman in December 2013. The oldest winner also happened to play for Florida State too. Who is he and how old was he when he won?
A: Former 'Noles quarterback Chris Weinke, who was 28 years old when he won the Heisman in 2000.
Q: Which boxer was a 42-to-1 underdog when he kayoed Mike Tyson?
A: Buster Douglas. The underdog of underdogs stunned Mike Tyson in February 1990.
Q: Which famously rotund athlete once scarfed down a dozen hot dogs and shotgunned eight bottles of soda in between games of a double header?
A: George Herman Ruth, Jr.
You may know him better as Babe Ruth.
Q: In 1950 India qualified for the World Cup in Brazil, but ultimately was forced to withdraw for two reasons.
The first was financial. What was the second?
A: The second reason was FIFA’s requirement that players wear shoes during the matches. At the time, Indian footballers were accustomed to playing barefoot.
Q: What Lakers coach trademarked the term "three-peat," but didn't see any profits until the Bulls made the term popular?
A: Pat Riley! He may not have seen any profits early on, but he's sure swimming in them today.
Q: Former NBA star Grant Hill has some serious connections within the Democratic Party. On the night he was drafted, Hill received a congratulatory call from then-President Bill Clinton. But why…and how?
A: Hill’s mother was actually the college roommate of Hillary Rodham Clinton, so the families had maintained a friendship that dated back decades.
Q: The NCAA tournament was a very…streamlined…affair when it began in 1939. Selection Sunday was certainly less time consuming because only this many teams made the tournament?
A: Eight—meaning that March was decidedly less mad.
Bonus Fact: As recently as 1970, the NCAA tournament actually played second fiddle to the NIT, which predates the former by a year. Today the NIT is considered a “consolation tournament.”
Q: The first athlete to fail an Olympic drug test was Swedish pentathlete Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall in 1968. What “drug” did he test positive for?
A: Beer. The poor man tested positive for beer! Liljenwall admitted to drinking two brews to “calm his nerves” prior to the pistol shoot. He was disqualified and his team forced to return their bronze medals.
Q: There are a number of "human" mascots in college sports—WVU has a mountaineer, Florida State has Osceola and Renegade, and USC has that dude dressed up like a Trojan warrior.
There's only one "human" mascot in all four major North American sports. Name that mascot!
A: Ragnar, the mascot of the Minnesota Vikings.
Q: When NBA legend Michael Jordan embarked on an ill-fated baseball career, he would spend so much time at batting practice that his hands would literally bleed. His career batting average is .202, so it didn't do him much good.
Despite a lack of success in MLB, it took a much bigger force to finally push His Airness back to the basketball court. What was the driving force?
A: According to Jordan's former manager Terry Francona, the main reason MJ finally decided to return to the Bulls was because of the 1994 MLB strike.
Well, if there's anything that Jordan's ownership tenure with the Bobcats has taught us, it's that this dude can handle failure as well as just about anyone.
Q: Two Winter Olympic competitions actually debuted as part of the Summer Olympics, prior to the advent of the winter games in 1924. Name those sports!
A: Figure skating and hockey.
Men’s, women’s and pairs figure skating competitions were held at the 1908 and 1920 Summer Olympics. Ice hockey also debuted in 1920.
Q: What golfer led the PGA Tour in driving distance for eight years during the '90s?
A: You would not know it by looking at him now, but it's John Daly!
Bonus Fact: Daly kept that svelte shape of his back in the day with a steady diet of biscuits and gravy.
Q: Today World Series winners receive championship rings, as is customary in most American sports, but that wasn’t always the case. What did players receive instead of rings prior to 1926?
A: Pocket watches or medallions.
Bonus Fact: The Yankees became the first team to present rings to players after their championship in 1922, four years before it was adopted as a league-wide practice.
Q: Who caught Brett Favre’s first regular season pass completion when he was playing for the Falcons in 1991?
A: Believe it or not, it was Brett Favre. Favre’s first attempt was deflected by a defender and Favre caught it for a seven-yard loss.
Q: There is one mascot in professional sports that is universally known as the "most-sued mascot." Given that deranged stare of his and big honking nose, that's no surprise.
Name that mascot!
A: The Phillie Phanatic! As of June 2012, the PP was in court facing a lawsuit for at least the fourth time.
And that's just what we know about. Frightening to think what kind of skeletons are in the Phanatic's closet.