The 20 Luckiest Shots in Sports History

Eric NewmanCorrespondent IIIFebruary 1, 2012

The 20 Luckiest Shots in Sports History

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    Babe Ruth calling his home run, well, that was skill.

    Jordan sinking a last-minute buzzer shot, that was skill too.

    Messi beating every Getafe player on the field then firing in a goal—skill.

    Federer making a between-the-legs shot—pure skill.

    Skill is probably the largest factor for success in competitive sports. 

    But a certain lady is another factor. No, she's not a WAG, though she's at every game. 

    Her name is Lady Luck.

    The shots thrown, hit or received on this list all come from talented athletes. But few will doubt that in these particular instances, it was that muse of sports, that imp of odds, that temptress of fate who gets the credit.

    Click on to see Lady Luck's greatest manipulations in sports.

Honorable Mention: Maradona's Hand of God Goal

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    The Who, When and Where of it: Diego Maradona—Argentina vs. England—World Cup Quarter Finals—Mexico City—June 1986

    What Happened: Maradona scored... with his hand.

    This shot is lucky for a different reason: The refs didn't see the illegal move.

    WTF Rating: 6.0

Honorable Mention: Luke Drops Two in the Thermal Exhaust Port Shaft

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    The Who, When and Where of it: Luke Skywalker in a Rebel Alliance X-wing fighter—Death Star equatorial trench—a galaxy far, far away, a long time ago

    What Happened: Luke, without the benefit of his targeting computer, lobbed two torpedoes into the exhaust port, thus ending the Death Star.

    WTF Rating: 5.7

    See the lucky shot at video time code reading 3:32

20. Miguel Ángel Jiménez Is Stonewalled

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    The Who, When and Where of it: Miguel Ángel Jiménez—British Open—Old Course, St Andrews, the dreaded "Road Hole" (the 17th)—July 2010

    What Happened: According to journalist Jay Busbee, Jiménez "was in the midst of an over-par meltdown" and decided "to take drastic action."

    Unable to get his club between ball and wall...

    Jiménez prayed to Isaac Newton and smacked the ball...


    The ball, finding the wall hard and not at all absorbent, bounced off and...

    ...came down on the green.

    WTF Rating: 6.7

19. Shea Weber's Bounce Goal

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    The Who, When and Where of it: Shea Weber—Predators vs. Red Wings—Nashville, TN—Dec. 15, 2011

    What Happened: In basketball and soccer, bouncing is an integral part of the game. 

    It plays a smaller, but important role in baseball, and football too. 

    But hockey? Not what we consider a bouncing sport.

    Yet Shea's wrist shot results in an errant bounce followed by... the puck careening into the net.

    WTF Rating: 6.8

18. Yao Scores Without Shooting

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    The Who, When and Where of it: Yao Ming—Rockets vs. Nets—Houston, Texas, Feb. 17, 2009

    What Happened: Luis Scola passes to Yao. 

    Yao tries to grab the pass, but it tips off his fingers and... into the net.

    WTF Rating: 7.1

17. Electrician Nails Half Court Shot for 50 Large

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    The Who, When and Where of it: Transportation electrician and basketball fan Craig Calloway—Thunders vs. Lakers game, Staples Center, Los Angeles—April 2010.

    What Happened: In a promotion sponsored by the Mirage Hotel, a basket made from half-court would win Calloway $235,000.

    He cashed in.

    WTF Rating: 7.2

16. Tim Howard Clears Ball... for a Goal

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    The Who, When and Where of it: American goalkeeper Tim Howard—Everton vs. Bolton—January 2012

    What Happened: Howard cleared the ball.

    It bounced... right over opposing goalkeeper's head and... into the net.

    WTF Rating: 7.5

15. Ben Wallace's Bounce

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    The Who, When and Where of it: Ben Wallace—Pistons vs. Bulls—Chicago, March 2007

    What Happened: Wallace had the ball.

    He crossed the free throw line... and fired a shot with 3 seconds on the clock.

    The ball was overthrown.

    It hit the top of the backboard and... bounced straight up.

    As the buzzer sounded, the ball came sailing down through the hoop.

    WTF Rating: 7.7

14. Franco Harris' Immaculate Reception

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    The Who, When and Where of it: Franco Harris—Steelers vs. Raiders—AFC Divisional Playoff Game—Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA—December 1972

    What Happened: Steelers were down by one point. 

    Just 22 seconds left in the game.

    Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw fires a pass intended for running back John Fuqua. 

    A Raiders safety and Fuqua collide, sending the ball shooting out.

    Steelers rookie running back Franco Harris scooped up the ball before it hit the ground and... ran it in for a controversial touchdown.

    And a win for the Steelers.

    WTF Rating: 7.7

13. Hockey Fan from the Far Blue Line

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    The Who, When and Where of it: Hockey fan Brenda Hewlett—Akwesasne Warriors vs. Thousand Islands Privateers FHL game—Massena, New York—December 2011

    What Happened: A local Ford Dealership offered five contestants a chance to win a brand new 2011 F-150.

    How? Just hit a puck and have it slide into a tiny slot 114 feet away.

    Fifty-nine-year-old, 5'3" Brenda Hewlett—who had never held a hockey stick in her life—did just that.

    WTF Rating: 7.9

12. Adam Czerkas' Deflection Goal

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    The Who, When and Where of it: Adam Czerkas—Odra Wodzislaw Slaski vs. Wisla Plock—Poland

    What Happened: A Wisla Plock defender aborted Czerkas' drive towards the net.

    The defender tried to clear the ball.

    Instead, it slammed into the side of Czerka's leg... lofted up, and... arced down into the net for a picture-perfect goal.

    WTF Rating: 8.0

11. Wild Head Shot... from the Ground

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    The Who, When and Where of it: Luka Modrić - Tottenham vs. Wigan - FA Cup 3rd Round - White Hart Lane, Tottenham, London - January, 2009 

    What Happened: An unlucky shot on goal hit the post... and bounced back into... the head of Modrić, who had slipped and was sprawled out on the ground. Modrić gave the ball "a nod" and sent it shooting... past the goalkeeper and into the net.

    WTF Rating: 8.2

10. Hockey Fan from the Far Red Line

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    The Who, When and Where of it: Hockey fan Richard Marsh—Indiana Ice game—Indianapolis, Indiana—February 2011

    What Happened: Seventy-three-year-old Marsh had to make his shot from the far blue line—175 feet away. 

    He had promised to give the whole $50,000, if he won it, to the St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana.

    Defying logic, he made the shot.

    The insurance company that put up the prize money reneged, saying Marsh had stepped across the blue line. 

    WTF Rating: 8.3

9. Hardy Sauter's Full-Rink Goal

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    The Who, When and Where of it: Hardy Sauter—Oklahoma City Blazers vs. Memphis River Kings

    What Happened: Sauter, a defenseman for the Blazers, was behind his own goal. He shot the puck to clear it.

    Near the center line a Memphis defender got a piece of stick on the puck, changing its trajectory.

    The puck bounced... twice.

    And rocketed into the net.

    WTF Rating: 8.4

8. Chris Couch's Rocky Road

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    The Who, When and Where of it: Chris Couch, Arnold Palmer Invitational—Third Round—18th Hole—Orlando Florida—March 2010

    What Happened: Couch shot from the fairway with an 8 iron.

    Not quite enough power on the shot. It dropped down onto the rocks bordering the water hazard and...

    bounced... hit more rock and bounced... into more rock and bounced...


    WTF Rating: 8.5

7. Mattias Oversjo Spin-Around Score

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    The Who, When and Where of it: Mattias Oversjo  vs. Jörgen Persson—table tennis tournament—Sweden—April 2011.

    What Happened: Mattias spun around in a wild attempt to have the rubber surface of his paddle make contact—any at all—with the celluloid orb whizzing past him.

    Contact was made. 

    Point was scored.

    By the way, Mattias was ranked a mere 421st in the world at the time of the shot.

    WTF Rating: 8.7

6. MMA Twin Punches

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    The Who, When and Where of it:  Tyler Bryan and Shaun Parker—Legends of Fighting Championship—Indianapolis, Indiana—May 16, 2008

    What Happened: It's a rare thing when a professional fighter can get a good, clean, unprotected shot at his opponent just eight seconds into a match.

    The stars have to be aligned.

    Planets too.

    Solar flare activity has to be high.

    Lady luck has to be sitting front and center.

    Yet it happened at this fight twice...


    WTF Rating: 8.8

5. Glover Quin Bats Hail Mary into Mike Thomas' Arms

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    The Who, When and Where of it:  Mike Thomas—Jaguars vs. Texans—Jacksonville FL—Nov. 14, 2010

    What Happened: Score was 24 all. Three seconds left in the game.

    Jaguar QB David Garrad launched the ball 50 yards into the Texans end zone.

    Houston quarterback Glover Quin made a safe defensive play and whacked the ball to the ground.

    Only it didn't hit the ground.

    It hit Jaguar Mike Thomas's arms.

    Thomas then felt it wise to hang on to the gift.

    He carried it a step forward for six points and a win.

    WTF Rating: 8.9

4. Insanely Epic Buzzer Shot

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    The Who, When and Where of it: David Girmscheid—Pewaukee 7th & 8th grade Longhorns versus Pewaukee 7th & 8th grade Wildcats—Richard Opie Elementary Basketball Tournament at Pewaukee High School—April 2009

    What Happened: Girmscheid lobbed the ball across the court at the buzzer. 

    Ball slammed into backboard... ricocheted up into ceiling ducts... rolled down some kind of support rope, and... in for 3.

    WTF Rating: 9.2

3. Isaiah Rider's Play of the Decade

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    The Who, When and Where of it: Isaiah Rider—Sacramento Kings vs. Minnesota Timberwolves—Dec. 22, 1994.

    What Happened: Rider made a desperate attempt to prevent a turnover.

    He scooped his arm under the ball... leapt up... and flung it over his shoulder...


    Known as "The NBA play of the decade."

    WTF Rating: 9.4

2. Kim Clijsters' French Open Miracle

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    The Who, When and Where of it: 2011 French Open—Kim Clijsters' vs. Arantxa Rus

    What Happened: Rus served.

    Clijster's returned.

    The noncommittal ball hit the net... bounced to the post... made a U-turn... and landed in bounds for a point.

    WTF Rating: 9.5 

1. Darren Clarke's Rock-N-Roll-onto-the-Green Shot

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    The Who, When and Where of it: Darren Clarke—Smurfit European Open—Straffan, Kildare, Ireland, June-July, 2005.

    What Happened: On the 18th hole (par 5), Clarke took his second shot with a 4 iron.

    The  ball crossed the green... rolled down onto the rocky ledge bordering the water hazard.

    Violently hydrophobic, the ball hopped along the near-vertical rocky ledge... then jumped back up to the edge of the green.

    WTF Rating: 9.7


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