Legends of Sports: The Things They Did That Can't Be True. Can They?

Gregory SharpeCorrespondent IJuly 31, 2008

Every now and then someone tells me one of those stories about an athlete that I cannot believe the first go round. It's usually a tale involving some kind of remarkable feat which sounds too far fetched and way too difficult to achieve, even for the worlds best athletes. 

The men whose stories I will reveal to you today, have set standards that define their legacies. The bar has been raised to a point that not even the best athletes could match. There are accomplishments that only these men could achieve.



At the age of 17, the great Pele, established himself as the definition of Brazilian football, as he scored a hat trick in his first World Cup Tournament. During a time when the game was much more physical and bookings were much less frequent, its said that Pele put the ball in the net 1280 times in 1363 career fixtures with international and club teams. That's nearly a goal per game! 

Pele won a total of 32 titles during his career. Perhaps his most amazing feat was bringing soccer to a new level in America in the 70's while playing for the Cosmos.


Satchel Paige

Negro League pitcher Satchel Paige is best known for his long career and high salary.  While Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams were overseas fighting with the armed forces, Satchel was the highest paid athlete in America. 

However, Satchel is a legend for intentionally walking loaded bases in the 1942 Negro World Series to face the most feared slugger of his time, Josh Gibson. 

Paige went on to strike Gibson out in 3 pitches. Gonads, my friends, gonads!

And rumor has it, Page won 104 out of 105 games in 1934.

Josh Gibson

Now Josh Gibson's story will make Paige's tale even more unbelievable. 

Josh Gibson was known at the time as "The Black Babe," because of his home run power.  Sadahara Oh from Japan is known as the all-time baseball home-run leader with over 800. Behind him there's Barry Bonds, Hank Aarons, Babe Ruth, and the list goes on.

There are no precise numbers, but Gibson was said to have hit 962 homers in his career, with 84 in 1936! 

The first thing fans usually say to discredit Gibson's accomplishments is, "He was playing in the Negro League."  However, Paige played in both the Negro League and the majors.

During his MLB career, Paige had an era of 3.29. That's not bad even by today's standards.


Deion "Prime-Time" Sanders

I think we all know how great of an athlete Deion was. He played pro baseball and football, excelling at both. In college he was also a track and field star, while being named an All-American three times in football. 

But the Deion story most fans forget, that I love the most involves his 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine. 

Legend has it, in 1989, Prime Time walked on to the field with nothing but a pair of gym shorts, flip-flops, a t-shirt and a gold chain. Sanders proceeded to slip off his sandals and run a 4.12 40 yard dash - barefoot! 

Enough said!

There are many more sports legends that have redefined expectations.

Earl "The Goat" Manigault, a 6-foot-2 guard from Harlem, is known to have done 36 consecutive reverse dunks to win a $60 bet. He also set the record in New York City for most points scored by a junior high student with 57.

Manigault's other accolades involve a double dunk, where he'd finish one dunk, grab the ball after it goes through the net while still in the air, only to slam it one more time before landing. His acrobatics were on display for money once again, when he leapt to the top of a backboard to snatch $20 someone had stuck to a piece of bibble gum.

There's also Zlatan Ibrahimovic, dribbling a piece of chewwed bubble gum with his boot and then kicking it back into his mouth, as evidenced in this clip from YouTube.

Jesse Owens defeating a thoroughbred horse in a race is another incredible feat most fans can't believe.

These are the stories that turn athletes into legends. While most athlete have admirable careers, followed by a job as a studio analyst, eventually they fade to obscurity until fans mourn their deaths.

But these men are legends. And a legend lives forever through the passing on of tales like these. 

Please feel free to post any stories, we as fans, may have never heard.


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