The 50 Most Unbreakable Records in American Sports
David Seelig/Getty Images
The saying goes something like, "Records Are Meant to Be Broken."
I don't think that's the case. At one point in time, it seemed possible and likely that all records would be broken. Yet, as each respective sport has adapted and the competition has become more fierce, it has created an amount of parity that has somewhat leveled the playing field. We are now at the point where some records stand out as virtually "unbreakable."
The task of figuring out which records were deserving was nearly impossible. You'd be surprised at how many impressive and seemingly unbreakable records there actually are. Once I was able to narrow it down to the top 50, it was even harder to rank them.
How do you evaluate a record that is 50-plus odd years old compared to a record from within the last 20 years? It was a daunting task, as I felt like I was taking credit away from one record by placing it below another.
When ranking these, I tried to take into account when each record occurred to account for changes in the game that could affect the ability for some records to be broken. In some cases I removed them from the list entirely, and in others I had to give credit to their amazing feats.
Eventually, I realized it's not necessarily the order that matters. More importantly, its about giving credit where credit is due. All of these records are great, and they are all likely to last until long past our lifetimes.
Here are the 50 Greatest and Most Unbreakable Records in All of Sports.
No. 50: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Nets 38,387 Career Points
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
One of the NBA's all-time greats, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar lasted 20 seasons in the league. He played his first six seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks before spending the next 14 with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Karl Malone got to within 1,500 points of Abdul-Jabbar's record before retiring, and Michael Jordan retired trailing his record by over 6,000 points.
I almost didn't include this record because Kobe Bryant has a chance to make a run at it, but I don't think his body will last long enough to reach it. Kobe would reach the milestone if he played 82 games in each of the next six seasons, while averaging over 21 points per game.
Possible? Yes. Likely? I don't think so.
No. 49: Miami Dolphins Go 17-0 and Win Super Bowl
This was another tough one. I almost gave the nod to the New England Patriots for winning 18 straight games, but the Miami Dolphins came through when it counted and beat the Washington Redskins in the Super Bowl.
The greatest part about it is that star quarterback Bob Griese went down in Week 5 that season, but led by Hall of Fame coach Don Shula, the Dolphins were able to regroup under backup QB Earl Morrall to accomplish the feat.
The remaining 1972 Dolphins players still get together every year to celebrate after the last NFL team loses. Aside from the Patriot scare, no team has really come close. Chances are, no one ever will again.
No. 48: Just Fontaine Scores 13 Goals During 1958 World Cup
Aside from playing soccer as a youngster like most kids, I don't follow it or know much about it. But it was obvious when I saw this record that it deserved mentioning.
Just Fontaine, playing for France in the 1958 World Cup, netted 13 goals in one tournament. For comparison purposes, note that Ronaldo has scored 15 World Cup goals. However, it took him three tournaments to do so.
Fontaine also became only the second player ever to score a goal in every match during a World Cup. Impressive, indeed.
No. 47: Tom Brady Throws 50 Touchdown Passes During 2007 Season
After the New England Patriots loaded up their receiving corps with the likes of Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth prior to the 2007 season, Tom Brady responded with what some people call the best season ever by a quarterback.
His feat would rank higher on this list, but considering Peyton Manning had just broken Dan Marino's record shortly before Brady outdid him, I figure this spot is high enough.
Even in a pass-happy NFL, seasons like Manning and Brady had those years are few and far between. I wouldn't hold my breath expecting to see this record get broken any time in the near future.
No. 46: Dave "Tiger" Williams Spends 4,421 Minutes in Penalty Box
How can you not love a sport where fighting isn't only condoned, but it's actually part of a team's strategy?
Dave "Tiger" Williams perfected that art while accumulating 3,966 penalty minutes from 1974-88, averaging over four penalty minutes per game throughout his career. If you include the playoffs, that total jumps to 4,421 minutes. That is the equivalent of spending over three days sitting in the penalty box.
Even though he was best known for being an "enforcer," Tiger managed to score 241 goals along with 272 assists in 962 career games.
No. 45: John Stockton's 15,806 Career Assists
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
John Stockton was one of the most fascinating players to ever play in the NBA, and his assists record seems a little bit safer than Abdul-Jabbar's career points record.
To match Stockton's career assist mark, you would have to play 82 games per season for 20 years while averaging over 9.5 assists per game. That is ridiculous.
Jason Kidd is within 4,500 assists of the record, but he has a year or maybe two years left in him, tops. Steve Nash is the only other player within striking distance at just over 6,500 away. It's a safe bet that neither will even come close to Stockton's mark.
No. 44: Martin Brodeur's 625 Wins, 116 Shutouts and Counting...
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Martin Brodeur owns pretty much every meaningful record for goaltenders in NHL history. He single-handedly redefined what it meant to be a goalie.
The wins record, in which he passed Patrick Roy's previous record of 551 wins in 2009, is impressive considering that most goalies in the league today only play in about 70 of their team's games. The fact that he has continued to play at a high level in his mid- to late-30's shows that this record isn't just due to longevity.
Even more impressive is how he passed Hall of Fame goalie Terry Sawchuk's record of 103 shutouts. With all the rules changes the NHL has implemented in an attempt to increase scoring (for fan interest?), it is amazing to see Brodeur continue to lock opponents down at the level and rate that he still does.
No. 43: Barry Bonds Intentionally Walked 688 Times
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
This record is absurd. Obviously, it came with being the most feared hitter during the steroid era of baseball.
Of these 688 career intentional walks, 120 of them came in one season. In second place on the all-time list is Hank Aaron, who had a mere 293 IBB in his career. Vlad Guerrero currently sits at fourth all-time with 247 IBB, and Albert Pujols sits at sixth all-time with 236 IBB.
More from Barry Lamar later....
No. 42: Rocky Marciano Goes 49-0 and Retires as Champ
"In the ring, I never really knew fear."
I would rate Rocky Marciano as the greatest boxer of all time, just ahead of Joe Louis and even further ahead of Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali.
At 49-0 in his career, which dated from 1947-55, Marciano is the only heavyweight champion to retire undefeated. Of those 49 victories, 43 of them came by knockout. Larry Holmes came close to tying Marciano's record in 1985, but at 48-0 Holmes lost consecutive bouts to Michael Spinks.
No 41: Ichiro Suzuki Whacks 262 Hits in 2004
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
"The greatest moment of my baseball career."
Good things happen when you have a leadoff hitter who is halfway to first base by the time the ball leaves the bat. But seriously, what Ichiro can do is nothing short of amazing.
In 2004, Ichiro broke George Sisler's 84-year-old record of 257 hits in a single-season by amassing 262 of his own. During a 56-game stretch that season, Ichiro batted over .450.
The least amount of hits Ichiro has accumulated during an MLB season is 206, and he has 200-plus hits in all 10 of his seasons in the league.
No. 40: Richard Petty Wins 27 Races During 1967 NASCAR Season
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
I have never once watched NASCAR on television, nor have I ever been to a race. But I don't have to be a fan to respect the incredible feat(s) that Richard Petty accomplished throughout his storied career.
Considered to be one of the greatest NASCAR drivers of all time, Petty won 27 races during the 1967 season alone. The feat included 10-straight victories at one point that season.
In his career, he won a record 200 races and placed in the top 10 more than 700 times in 1,185 starts.
No. 39: Glen Hall Plays 502 Consecutive Games
Glen Hall's record of 502 consecutive games started isn't just for net-minders, it's for all players in the history of the NHL. Even more impressive is that fact that when he accomplished his feat, goalies didn't even wear masks!
Hall, who acquired the nickname "Mr. Goalie," is credited with implementing the butterfly style of goaltending.
According to former teammates and people who knew him, Hall used to throw up before each game and then drink a glass of orange juice. I guess he holds that record as well.
No. 38: Tris Speaker's 792 Career Doubles
You might wonder why I would include such a record on this list, but I think there is a lot more effort and strategy that goes into hitting a double than there is in hitting a home run.
Tris Speaker perfected the double. Whether he hit a line drive to the gap or stretched a single into a two-bagger, he was mighty good at getting to second base.
"Charlie Hustle" himself, Pete Rose, retired with the second most career doubles at 746. Yet, Rose had 700 more hits than Speaker overall, which shows Speaker was a doubles machine.
Ivan Rodriguez is the active doubles leader with 566, and the recently retired Manny Ramirez was close behind with 547.
No. 37: Tiger Woods Wins 1997 Masters by 12 Strokes
Tiger Woods burst onto the scene in 1997 by winning the Masters by a record 12 strokes. It was the beginning of an era in golf that saw Tiger rip through his competition with ease while becoming the world's most famous athlete.
The Masters has been around since 1934, and before Tiger won by 12 strokes in 1997, the previous record was held by Jack Nicklaus who won by nine strokes in 1965.
I would have said that the only man who could break Tiger's record would be Tiger himself, but that doesn't appear to be a possibility at the moment. I suppose there is still plenty of time for him to get his career back on track.
Let's hope he does, because golf isn't the same without Tiger at the top of his game.
No. 36: Pele Ends Career with Record 1,281 Goals
Every kid who played soccer growing up referred to themselves as Pele. He was simply the best, no questions about it. The sport will never have a more iconic player than they had with the Brazilian superstar.
Pele notched a record 760 official goals and 1,281 goals overall. Reuters dubbed him "Athlete of the Century" in 1999, and it would be hard to argue that claim based on his accomplishments and what he did for the game.
No. 35: Cy Young Pitches 749 Complete Games, Earns 511 Career Wins
These are some of those records that are impossible to compare to today's pitchers, but they are still amazing feats and Cy Young deserves recognition. There is a reason why the Cy Young Award is presented to the best pitcher in each league at the end of every season.
Young's wins record sits 94 ahead of the next man on the list, Walter Johnson with 417 career wins. Modern-day stars Greg Maddox and Roger Clemens rank eighth and ninth all-time, respectively, with 355 and 354 career wins.
The record 749 complete games bests Pud Galvin's 646, which ranks second all-time. No modern-day stars have even begun to approach the all-time list, as Roy Halladay is the current active leader in complete games with 58.
To put this record into perspective, one needs to realize that in 1904 about 87.6 percent of games ended with the starting pitcher finishing the game. As of 2004, that number had dropped to 3.1 percent.
No. 34: Ron Hunt Gets Hit by Pitches 50 Times in 1 Season
"Some people give their bodies to science, I give mine to baseball."
How true that was. Ron Hunt's 50 HBP in 1971 left to shame the previous post-1900 record of 31 HBP in a season held by Steve Evans. Since that point, umps take notice when players "intentionally" get hit.
There is always a precedent.
Hunt claims to have never intentionally been hit, but rather he would lean into a pitch and just happen to get hit.
The modern-day record for career HBP is held by former Astros second-basemen Craig Biggio, who took one for the team 285 times throughout his career.
No. 33: Byron Nelson Wins 11 Consecutive PGA Tour Events
These days, it's almost impossible to win 11 events in an entire season, let alone 11 consecutive events. But that's just what Byron Nelson did back in 1945, a season that he won 18 total tournaments.
In all, Nelson had 52 PGA Tour wins, including five major victories. This was all before he retired from golf to be a rancher at the ripe old age of 34.
He was also the first golfer to have a PGA tournament named in his honor, when in 1974 they created the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
No. 32: Wilt Chamberlain Drops 100 Points in 1 Game, Grabs 55 Boards in Another
Wilt Chamberlain did pretty much everything throughout his career, although it could be argued that many rule changes in the NBA prevent players from achieving the same kind of success in today's game.
Some people rank the 100-point game as one of the greatest records of all time, but I think the fact that he reached triple-digits inflates the actual value of the record. Don't get me wrong, it's a great record, as is the 55 rebounds in one game record.
Kobe Bryant put up 81 points a couple years ago, and I could see a young guy like Kevin Durant making a run at it at some point as well. The key is being a player who can take control of the game as well as being able to get to the line.
Maybe Blake Griffin could make a run at the rebounding record? The guy is a freak.
No. 31: Michael Jordan Scores 10 or More Points in 866 Consecutive Games
Michael Jordan is the greatest player in NBA history, hands down. You'd be surprised at how many "simple" records he does not have. There was no way I could leave him off this list, so I found one that was as relevant as the other records and just as unbreakable.
MJ played in 1,109 games for the Chicago Bulls. He scored double-digits points in every single game except for one game where he scored only eight points way back in 1986. Jordan also retired as the career leader in average points per game, dropping an average of 31 points per game on his opponents.
Had he not retired a few times throughout his career, he would have easily surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most points in a career.
No. 30: Ty Cobb's .367 Career Batting Average
Ty Cobb outdid them all. His .367 career batting average stands .008 above Roger Hornsby, which is quite a large gap over the course of an entire career. Cobb also holds the record for most batting titles with 11.
Only twice since 1990 has a player hit higher than .367 for a season, when Nomar Garciaparra (2000) and Ichiro (2004) each hit .372. This record is safe, forever.
Tony Gwynn is the only modern-day player in the top 20 all-time in average, as he is tied for 14th while hitting .338 over his career. Ichiro currently sits at 22nd all-time with a .331 career average, while Albert Pujols sits at 25th with a career average of .330.
No. 29: Night Train Lane Intercepts 14 Passes During 1952 Season
During his rookie season in 1952, Night Train Lane intercepted 14 passes to break the previous NFL record of 13 in a season. It would be hard to imagine this record being approached today, even in a pass-happy league. Coaches are smart enough not to throw in a player's direction if he is picking off passes left and right.
Lester Hayes fell one interception shy of tying Lane's record in 1980, but other than that no one has threatened his record. Active players Antonio Cromartie (2007), Asante Samuel (2006), Champ Bailey (2006) and Ronde Barber (2001) have each picked off 10 passes in a season.
No. 28: Ted Williams Has a Career OBP of .482, Batting Average of .406 in 1941
Everyone knows that Ted Williams could rake with a bat, but what we mostly hear about him is that he was the last player to hit over .400 in a season. I'm pretty sure I hear about it at least 10-15 times each baseball season as Ichiro or Joe Mauer get off to fast starts.
What I didn't know was that Ted Williams had the highest on-base percentage in the history of MLB. Better than Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Barry Bonds.
That is impressive, and considering the games best slugger in Albert Pujols currently has an OBP of .424, it's safe to say no one will ever come close to the record.
No. 27: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Lose 26 Consecutive Games in 1976-77
Who knew that current South Carolina Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier was the quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during their expansion season? Yep, that's him in the picture.
The expansion Bucs lost an NFL record 26 games in a row in 1976-77, which happened to be their first 26 games as a franchise. They won the final two games in their second season, and both of the opposing coaches ended up getting fired immediately after losing to the Bucs.
The 2008-09 Detroit Lions tried to make a run at the record but fell a bit short, losing 19 in a row. The 2001 Carolina Panthers lost 15 games in a row to round out the three longest losing streaks in NFL history.
No. 26: Walter Johnson Throws 110 Career Shutouts
Johnson was known as the only true power-pitcher of his era, proven with his 3,500 strikeouts to go along with those 110 shutouts. He was the lone member of the 3,000 strikeout club for over 50 years until Bob Gibson joined the club in 1974.
This record seemed more valid than both of Cy Young's, because with all of Young's wins and complete games he only managed 76 shutouts, which is fourth all-time.
Pitchers Roger Clemens (46 shutouts), Randy Johnson (37) and Greg Maddux (35) are the only recent pitchers in the all-time top 100.
No. 25: Lance Armstrong Wins 7 Consecutive Tour De France Races
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Lance Armstrong made cycling cool. After surviving testicular cancer, which led to him having tumors removed from his brain and lungs, Armstrong gave hope to the world by winning seven Tour de France races in a row.
I don't even need to say anything else about this record, it is simply amazing in itself.
On another note, I did love his bit in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.
No. 24: Jerry Rice Scores 207 Touchdowns, Has 1,549 Career Receptions
Jerry Rice has every major receiving record in NFL history, and I would bet anything and everything that none of them will ever be broken.
If I had to choose one of his records that would be most likely to be broken, it would have to be the 207 touchdowns (even though I don't think it's possible to beat). Emmitt Smith is second with 175 touchdowns. LaDainian Tomlinson currently sits at third with 159 scores.
There is a good chance LT will pass Smith before he retires, but I don't think he will be around long enough to reach Rice's record.
At one point, I thought there was a chance Marvin Harrison could get within range of Rice's 1,549 receptions, but Harrison left the game too soon and ended his career second all-time with 1,102. If any player has a chance to make a run at the record, it would have to be Larry Fitzgerald.
At 27 years old, Fitzgerald is sitting at 613 receptions with a good eight to 10 years left in him, barring injury. Only time will tell.
No. 23: Johnny Vander Meer Throws Back-to-Back No-Hitters
Although the 2010 MLB season may have led people to believe that no-hitters are common occurrences, I'd venture to guess that we will never see a pitcher throw two in a row like Johnny Vander Meer did with the Cincinnati Reds back in 1938.
After shutting down the Boston Braves on June 11th of that season, he came back four days later and did the same thing to the Brooklyn Dodgers in the first ever night game at historic Ebbets Field.
Vander Meer only lasted 13 seasons in the league and compiled a 119-121 record, but the consecutive no-no's cemented his place in the history books.
No. 22: Wayne Gretzky Scores 92 Goals in 1982, Has 215 Points in 1986
Wayne Gretzky is another one of those athletes that everyone has heard of, regardless of if they are hockey fans. He is the "Michael Jordan" of hockey, except Gretzky owns pretty much every record known to man.
He owns four spots in the top 10 of single-season goals, including the top two totals, topping out at 92 goals during the 1981-82 season while playing for the Edmonton Oilers. Hall of Famer Brett Hull reached 86 goals during the 1990-91 season, but that is as close as anyone has ever gotten.
With the increased skill level of goaltenders in today's NHL, along with the increased amount of padding they are allowed to use compared to the '80s and '90s, it's impossible to think anyone could reach Gretzky's mark. Alex Ovechkin scored 65 goals during the 2007-08 season, which was the highest total in 12 years.
As far as the single-season points record goes, well, Gretzky owns eight spots in the top 10, notching 200-plus points four times and capping out at 215 points during the 1985-86 season. Mario Lemieux owns the other two spots in the top 10 but never reached the 200-point plateau.
The best two players in the NHL today, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, have topped out at 120 points and 112 points, respectively. "The Great One" doesn't need to worry about his record ever being toppled.
No. 21: Bill Russell Wins 11 NBA Championships with the Boston Celtics
Aside from those dreadful "shorts" they had to wear, everything was groovy for Bill Russell and the Celtics from the late '50s through the '60s. Russell only played in the NBA for 13 seasons, but he managed to deliver championships to Boston in 11 of those seasons.
During that period, Russell won five MVP awards and was selected to the All-Star team 12 times. He and Wilt Chamberlain are the only two players in NBA history to grab 50-plus rebounds in a game, but that wasn't the only part of Russell's game. He could pass, he could score and he could block shots like no other.
No. 20: Montreal Canadiens Win 5 Straight Stanley Cups
A member of the "Original Six," the Montreal Canadiens have won 24 Stanley Cups since their inception, 22 of which have come since the Stanley Cup became solely for competition within the NHL in 1927. That is an amazing feat within itself, but it doesn't compare to the Habs winning five straight Cups from 1955-56 to 1959-60.
Led by Hall of Famers Maurice "Rocket" Richard, Jean Beliveau and Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrian (pictured above), the Canadiens built a dynasty that led them to six Stanley Cup championships from 1952-60 and 10 more from 1965-79.
Since the New York Islanders won four straight Cups in the early '80s (apparently they used to be good?), no team has ever won more than two in a row. With the expansion of the league and increased levels of competition, no one will ever be able to put together five straight championships again.
No. 19: Wilt Chamberlain Averages 50.4 Points Per Game During 1961-62 Season
During the 1961-62 season, Wilt Chamberlain was literally unstoppable. In 80 games, Wilt scored 4,029 points to average 50.4 points per game for the entire season.
Chamberlain owns the top three spots for single-season scoring, with Elgin Baylor coming in at fourth highest while averaging 38.3 points per game during the 1961-62 season as well. Michael Jordan ranks sixth on the list after putting up 37.1 points per game during the 1986-87 season.
At first it was tough to put this record ahead of Chamberlain's 100-point-game record, but in the end I figured it's a lot easier to get hot for one game and put up 100 points than it is to average over 50 points per game throughout an entire season.
No. 18: Pete Rose Retires with 4,256 Career Hits
Pete Rose may be banished from baseball, but his career hits record will more than likely live on forever. One of only two players in the history of baseball to collect more than 4,000 hits (the other being Ty Cobb), "Charlie Hustle" sits almost 1,000 hits ahead of most modern-day players who have reached the 3,000-hit plateau.
Sure, Derek Jeter will join the 3,000-hit club this season, and A-Rod will in the coming years as well. Neither of them will be around long enough to get to the 4,000-hit mark, though. Ichiro Suzuki is the only player who would have stood a chance, but he spent his early years in Japan.
We have seen in the last few years that players in their mid-30s aren't getting contracts like they used to. Teams are going to the younger and cheaper alternatives, so many players today won't be having the 20-plus year careers that players have enjoyed in the past.
No. 17: Barry Bonds Hits 73 Home Runs (Or Roger Maris Hits 61 Home Runs)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
This record all depends on how you look at it. By now, we all know Bonds was juicing, but he still hit the home runs. If we backtrack to before Bonds hit 73, before Mark McGwire hit 70 and before Sammy Sosa hit 66, 64 and 63, then Roger Maris holds the single-season record at 61.
Regardless, this is one of sports' greatest records, and it deserved mentioning on this list. Now that we are in the post-steroid era of baseball, it's a foregone conclusion that no one will ever beat Bonds' 73 home runs in a season. I don't even think anyone will be able to pass the 61 that Maris hit back in 1961.
Either way, there is a good chance this record will still be debated 100 years from now, because both records will stand for a long, long time, if not forever.
No. 16: Emmitt Smith Ends Career with NFL Record 18,355 Rushing Yards
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Yes, Barry Sanders could very well have this record had he not abruptly retired in an attempt to get out of his contract with the Detroit Lions. His loss is Emmitt Smith's gain.
Smith broke Walter Payton's previous record of 16,726 rushing yards by rushing for over 18,000 yards in his career. Sanders retired with 15,269 career rushing yards, and he definitely had a few more good years left in him.
This record will never be broken due to the shelf life of running backs in today's NFL. It appeared LaDainian Tomlinson would make a run at it, but now he's part of a two-back system so there is no way he will garner the 5,000 more yards he needs to surpass Smith as the all-time rushing leader.
Well done, Emmitt, well done.
No. 15: Brett Favre Throws 336 Career Interceptions (and Counting???)
Jim Prisching/Getty Images
Oh, how often we saw this look over Brett Favre's long career. This is the only record Favre has that Peyton Manning isn't almost certain to break. It's not all bad, because for every terrible interception he threw, he made two highlight reel plays to offset it. Yet it seemed that the interceptions, at least later in his career, came at the most crucial times of the game.
No one will ever have the opportunity to break this record, because no coach will give their quarterback the opportunity if he's throwing picks at a high enough rate to even approach this record.
When Favre's career began, the NFL wasn't the pass-happy league it is today. Sure, Dan Marino and Joe Montana threw a bunch of TD passes, but the league changed in the late '90s and early '00s, at which point teams are now built around a franchise quarterback. That does not include a QB who is going to throw 336 interceptions.
George Blanda is second all-time in interceptions thrown with 277.
No. 14: Rickey "The Man of Steal" Henderson Swipes a Record 1,406 Bases
"Lou Brock was the symbol of great base stealing. But today, I'm the greatest of all time."
Rickey Henderson passed Lou Brock to break the record in 1991 with his 939th stolen bag.
To go along with his 1,406 steals, Rickey Henderson also owns the post-1900 era record with 130 stolen bags in one season. Somehow, Henderson ended up playing for 13 different teams throughout his career, but acquired most of the steals playing for the Oakland Athletics.
Juan Pierre is the current active leader with 531 stolen bases, while Carl Crawford is second among active players with 411.
No. 13: Nolan Ryan Reaches 5,714 Strikeouts
Sure, longevity helped Nolan Ryan "pad" his record a bit, but there is no denying that Ryan was a strikeout machine. His 5,714 total strikeouts sit almost 900 ahead of Randy Johnson, who is second on the all-time list, and over 1,000 ahead of Roger Clemens, who is third.
A pitcher would have to strike out 285+ hitters each season for 20 years to surpass Ryan's mark. Seeing as that will never happen, this record is as safe as any.
Ryan was a great pitcher in many aspects, and he has many records to prove it. However, I'd be lying if I said I'd take him over Johnson or Clemens. Although, Clemens only tossed a broken bat at Mike Piazza while an aged Ryan laid a beat-down on Robin Ventura. Pretty sure that was the coolest thing I ever saw as a kid.
Javier Vazquez is currently the active leader in strikeouts with 2,379.
No. 12: Johnny Unitas Throws a Touchdown Pass in 47 Consecutive Games
Johnny Unitas, one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, accomplished this feat from 1956-60 in the midst of "The Greatest Game Ever Played." That refers to the game Unitas and the Colts beat the New York Giants in the 1958 NFL Championship.
It was the first overtime game in NFL history, and is credited with dramatically increasing the popularity of the league at that time.
To break the record, a player today would have to throw a touchdown pass in every game for three straight seasons. It probably sounds a lot easier than it actually is, considering Brett Favre owns the second-longest streak with 36 consecutive games, still well short of the 47 games that Unitas did it.
No. 11: Hack Wilson's 191 RBI During 1930 Season
There were three things Hack Wilson was known for: drinking, fighting and driving in runs. His RBI record is still intact 80 years down the road, and with the steroid era in the rear-view mirror, it will stay intact long into the future.
Up until the late 1930s, it was fairly common to see players driving in 170-plus RBI in a single season, but no one has reached that point since 1938, when Jimmie Foxx drove in 175 runs.
Juan Gonzalez was on a torrid pace heading into the All-Star break in 1998, but ended the season with only 157 RBI. Sammy Sosa had 160 RBI in 2001, and Manny Ramirez topped the list in the steroid era by knocking in 165 runs during the 1999 season, which is tied for 13th all-time.
No. 10: Boston Celtics Win 8 Straight NBA Championships
From 1959-66, the Boston Celtics simply could not lose. No matter when the era, eight straight championships is no small feat, and it will never get close to being matched again.
Led by Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, K.C. Jones and Hall of Fame coach Red Auerbach, the Celtics began the most feared dynasty in the history of professional sports. Of the eight consecutive championships, five times they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals. Their rivalry continues to this day.
Since the Celtics magical run, there have been three three-peats: twice with the Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in the '90s and once with the Lakers from 2000-02. With a win this year, it would give Kobe another three-peat.
No. 9: Brett Favre Starts 297 Consecutive Games at QB (321 Including Playoffs)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Yea, Peyton Manning may have a chance to break it, but it wouldn't be the same. I don't think I've ever seen Peyton Manning on his back, courtesy of one of the league's best offensive lines throughout his career.
Whether he was throwing up on the field, had broken ribs, fingers or even a broken ankle, Favre kept playing. You may not respect him for his off-the-field issues of late or his back-and-forth retirement(s), but you have to respect what he did week in and week out for more than 18 years. The man was sacked 525 times in his career, but he always got back up.
Barring an injury or retirement, Manning would break the record midway through the season six years from now. He would be in his 40s, and who knows if he will stay around that long anyway. Eli Manning has the second-longest current streak among active quarterbacks at 103 games.
No. 8: Wayne Gretzky Notches 2,857 Career Points
"The Great One" makes the list twice because this record is so far beyond reach that it would take almost two careers to match his total.
Gretzky's old teammate, Mark Messier, is second on the list with 1,756 points. Gretzky alone had 1,963 assists, which equals more total points than any other player has accumulated in the history of the game.
He averaged 1.92 points per game throughout his career while winning nine league MVP awards. Mario Lemieux is the only player who was in the same class as Gretzky, averaging 1.88 points per game, but his career was cut short by injuries.
No. 7: Nolan Ryan Tosses 7 No-Hitters
Nolan Ryan also earned another spot on this list because this feat deserves recognition of its own. There have been 269 total no-hitters thrown in MLB since 1876, which is about two per season in the entire league.
Only four other pitchers in history have pitched three or more no-hitters: Sandy Koufax threw four no-no's, while Cy Young, Bob Feller and Larry Corcoran each tossed three.
Another fun fact: Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek has caught the most no-hitters in MLB history with four. Those four pitchers were Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Hideo Nomo and Derek Lowe.
No. 6: Bob Gibson Pitches to a 1.12 ERA in 1968
It was difficult to decide which way to go with this record, because Dutch Leonard pitched to a 1.01 ERA in 1914. However, the record books list Gibson because Leonard's feat was before the live-ball era. Either way, both records are remarkable.
Gibson's season was historic for other reasons. He threw 13 shutouts that season and 28 complete games overall. At one point, he even threw 47 consecutive scoreless innings. "Gibby" also set a World Series record that season by striking out 17 batters in one game.
After the 1968 season, which has since been recognized as "The Year of the Pitcher," MLB lowered the pitcher's mound by five inches. Since then, Dwight Gooden pitched to a 1.53 ERA in 1985 and Greg Maddux finished the 1994 season with a 1.56 ERA.
No. 5: Babe Ruth Ends Career with .690 Slugging Percentage
This is why Babe Ruth is arguably the best player in MLB history. Even players in the steroid-era couldn't come close to matching Ruth.
His .690 career slugging percentage sits heftily above Ted Williams .634 career slugging percentage, which is second all-time. Even Barry Bonds, the single-season and career home run leader, only slugged .607. Albert Pujols is the active leader, slugging .622 to date.
Ruth's career .474 OBP and 2,214 RBIs are both second all-time, and his 714 home runs sit at third. He also went 94-46 as a pitcher with a 2.28 career ERA.
No. 4: Oscar Robertson Averages Triple-Double Through Entire Season
"He is so great he scares me," said Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach of Oscar Robertson.
If you live under a rock and don't know what a triple-double is, the most common way it is achieved is when a player has double-digit points, rebounds and assists in the same game. Oscar Robertson is the only player in NBA history to average double-digit points, rebounds and assists over the course of a whole season.
It was during the 1961-62 season, Robertson's second season in the league, that he achieved this monumental feat. The "Big O" averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists while writing his name in the record books.
Robertson ended his career with 181 triple-doubles, while only two other players have managed to reach 100 for their careers. Magic Johnson had 138 while Jason Kidd currently has 105 in his career. LeBron James sits at ninth all-time in triple-doubles with 29.
No. 3: Jerry Rice Has 22,895 Career Receiving Yards
Out of all the records Jerry Rice owns, this is the one that stands out among the rest. He has 7,000 more yards than Terrell Owens, who is second all-time in reception yardage, and over 8,000 more than Randy Moss, who is fifth.
As good as both Owens and Moss are, they will still come nowhere near Rice's record. It is untouchable.
No. 2: Joe DiMaggio's 56-Game Hit Streak
Joe Dimaggio's 56-game hit streak in 1941 is one of baseball's greatest records. I always enjoy hearing about it when a player today reaches 20 or 30 hits, only to fall well short of "Joltin' Joe's" unbreakable record.
Pete Rose came the closest, getting his streak to 44 games back in 1978. More recently, Jimmy Rollins was able to hit safely in 38 straight games in the 2005-06 seasons, while Chase Utley (2006) and Luis Castillo (2002) were both able to reach 35 games.
This is one of the last pure records that a true baseball legend holds. Hopefully, he always will.
No. 1: The "Iron Man" Cal Ripken, Jr. Plays in 2,632 Consecutive Games
I don't care if baseball isn't a contact sport, playing in 2,632 games in a row is the greatest record in all of sports. From May 30, 1982, to September 19, 1998, Cal Ripken, Jr. never missed a game.
Ripken passed Lou Gehrig's previous record of 2,130 consecutive games with ease, and then tacked on 500 more just for fun. Only six players other than Ripken in MLB history have played in more than 1,000 consecutive games.
Miguel Tejada had his streak of 1,152 snapped in 2007 when he broke his wrist, and no active player has more than 300 consecutive games played.
If someone started a streak today, they wouldn't break Ripken's record until the late 2020s.