The Top 25 Sports Records That Will Never Be Broken

Matthew CohenContributor IIIApril 22, 2012

The Top 25 Sports Records That Will Never Be Broken

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    They say records are meant to be broken. Not all of them. Some records will stand the test of time, immortalizing the players, coaches and teams that accomplished the achievements. 

    In compiling this list, I tried to encompass as many sports as I could, rather than just stick to the big four. You will see some NASCAR, horse racing, and cycling records in the pages ahead.

    Keep in mind that this list is my opinion. It is not fact, although many of these records you will find on many "unbreakable sports records" lists. 

    The following 25 records are not ranked in any particular order. They are the 25 most unbreakable records in sports. If one of them does ever actually get broken, I will be the first one to eat crow. But I like my chances.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Losing Streak

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    Woof. That is all there is to say about the 1976-1977 expansion seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Quarterbacked by current South Carolina Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier, the Bucs lost an NFL-record 26 games in a row. They won the final two games in their second season, and all of Tampa Bay rejoiced.

    The 2008-09 Detroit Lions tried to make a run at the record but came up short (to the relief of the entire city), 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.  

    Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as your feebleness lands you on the list of unbreakable sports records. Never again will this mark be approached.

Walter Johnson Throws 110 Career Shutouts

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    What Cy Young and Walter Johnson did on the mound cannot be discredited, despite pitching in a different era.

    Johnson was truly a power pitcher, fanning more than 3,500 batters during his 21-year career with the Washington Senators, and throwing an unfathomable 110 shutouts.

    The righty was the lone member of the 3,000-strikeout club for over 50 years until Bob Gibson joined the club in 1974. Johnson led the league in strikeouts a Major League-record 12 times.

    Pitchers Roger Clemens (46 shutouts), Randy Johnson (37) and Greg Maddux (35) are the only recent pitchers in the all-time top 100 career shutout list. 

    Johnson is also second on the all-time win list, with 417 behind Young. His 110 shutouts is truly an unbreakable record. 

Lance Armstrong Wins Seven Consecutive Tour De France Races

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    It is hard to find a more inspirational figure in sports over the last 20 years than Lance Armstrong.

    The cyclist won a record seven straight (1999-2005) Tour De France races after having survived testicular cancer.

    While four other cyclists have won the Tour De France five times, nobody will ever win the race seven years in a row. Questions about doping aside, Armstrong is the greatest cyclist of all time.

CY Young's 511 Wins

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    511 wins. Let that sink in. During his 22-year career, Cy Young won 511 games. The next closest pitcher is Walter Johnson, who is 94 games behind Young's mark.

    Credit Young's record to the fact that he played in a different era. Debuting in 1890 for the Cleveland Spiders, Young retired in 1911 for the Boston Rustlers.

    Pitchers back then did not pitch every five days like they do in the modern era. They pitched with much more frequency and less rest in between starts. In fact, Young threw over 350 innings 11 times during his career. He also started more than 40 games 11 times.  

    Young's record will never be approached. In fact, Johnson, who is second with 417 career wins, will never be threatened for silver.

    Young, whose name now bears the award given annually to the top pitcher in the National League and the American League, will stand the test of time, as will his record.

Secretariat's 31-Length Victory in the 1973 Belmont Stakes

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    "Big Red" entered the starting gate at Belmont Park on June 9, 1973 with four other horses lined up next to him. They were not all together at the finish.

    Secretariat blew by rival Sham, as well as Twice A Prince, My Gallant and Private Smiles en route to the largest margin of victory in the history of the Belmont States, 31 lengths. The win gave Secretariat the Triple Crown, becoming the ninth horse in history to accomplish the feat.

    Secretariat went off as the 1-10 favorite, so the win was expected. Still, 31 lengths? The margin of victory broke Triple Crown winner Count Fleet's 1943 mark of 25 lengths.

    Secretariat also broke another record in the process, that of the fastest mile and a half on dirt in history with a time of 2:24. The record still stands. 

    Secretariat's record margin of victory in the Belmont Stakes has never been approached, nor will it ever. Big Red remains one of the greatest racehorses of all time.

Bob Gibson Pitches to a 1.12 ERA in 1968

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     It is hard to fathom just how dominant Bob Gibson was in 1968 if you were not alive at the time.

    1968 became known as "The Year of the Pitcher," and Gibson was the best of the best. His earned run average was 1.12, a live-ball era record.

    Gibson threw 13 shutouts that season, and pitched 47 consecutive scoreless innings. Opposing batters had a batting average of .184 against Gibson that season.

    During the postseason, Gibson recorded 17 strikeouts against the Detroit Tigers during Game 1 of the 1968 World Series, another record that still stands today.

    Gibson's season was so good, that Major League Baseball decided to lower the pitcher's mound by five inches the following season, as well as altering the strike zone.

    Gibson remains one of the greatest pitchers of all time. A nine-time All-Star selection, he accumulated 3,117 strikeouts during his career, won two Cy Young Awards, was named the National League's Most Valuable Player in 1968 and won two World Series.

    He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981, his first year of eligibility.

Richard Petty's 200 NASCAR Wins

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    "The King." The title is well deserved for Richard Petty, who is without question the greatest NASCAR driver of all time. Petty won 200 races in the modern and pre-modern eras of NASCAR. 

    Petty also had 712 top ten finishes during a career that spanned over three decades. The NASCAR Hall of Famer won the season championship seven times. Dale Earnhardt is the only other driver to accomplish this feat. 

    Petty's best season came in 1967, when he won an astounding 27 races, and at one point got the checkered flag in 10 straight races. 

    So why is Petty's 200 career wins an unbreakable record? Answer: the next closest driver is David Pearson at 105. The third closest is Jeff Gordon at 85 (and counting).

    All hail The King. 

Joe DiMaggio's 56-Game Hit Streak

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    The Yankee Clipper. In 1941, Joe DiMaggio recorded a hit in 56 consecutive games. "Joltin Joe's" record has only been seriously threatened a handful of times in the 71 years since. 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.

    DiMaggio is one of the greatest baseball players of all time. He may not be the greatest ever (although some might say differently), but his record just might be.  

John Stockton's 15,806 Career Assists

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    Legendary Utah Jazz point guard John Stockton makes this list, thanks to his 15,806 career assists (10.5 assists per game). The product of Gonzaga University ran the pick and roll as well as any point guard in history (thanks to a little help from Karl Malone).

    The 10-time NBA All-Star led the league in assists an astounding nine times from 1987-1996.

    The next closest players to Stockton are Jason Kidd and Steve Nash, and both are still more than 4,000 assists away. Neither has many years left in their careers.

    Stockton goes down as one of the greatest point guards of all time, and his record will never be broken.

Cal Ripken Jr.'s Consecutive Games Streak

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    You do not get the nickname "The Iron Man" for nothing. From May 30, 1982 until Sept. 19, 1998, Cal Ripken Jr. never missed a game. His streak of 2,362 consecutive games played is the most in major league baseball history.

    Ripken passed New York Yankees great Lou Gehrig of 2,130 in 1995, and then just kept going. 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.

    The Iron Man indeed.

Byron Nelson's Single-Season PGA Tour Wins

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    In 1945, Byron Nelson won 18 of 35 PGA tour events, including one stretch where he won 11 straight. Both records are still yet to be broken, and they never will. 

    Some discredit the record, as in 1945 the tour was weakened somewhat because of World War II. However, Sam Snead and Ben Hogan were still on tour, and to win more than half of the events you participate in is still an incredible accomplishment. 

    Here is what legendary golfer Arnold Palmer had to say about Nelson, often considered the father of the modern golf swing:

    "I don't think that anyone will ever exceed the things that Byron did by winning 11 tournaments in a row in one year."

    Tiger Woods had this to say, "What Byron accomplished, that goes down as one of the great years in the history of our sport."

Barry Bonds Single-Season Home Run Record

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    Like it or not, Barry Bonds is recognized as the all-time home run champion. Bonds has 762 career home runs, which is seven past Hank Aaron, whom he passed back in 2007.

    Bonds' 762 mark could eventually be broken. Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols come to mind as potential candidates. What will never be broken though, is Bonds' mark of 73 in a single season. Bonds accomplished the tremendous feat back in 2001, breaking Mark McGwire's previous mark of 70.

    Bonds is also the all-time career leader in both walks (2,558) and intentional walks (688). While many will put an asterisk next to Bonds' name, the fact remains that he is still the record holder.

    With the steroid-era now over (you would think). no player will ever hit 73 home runs again in a season. It would be hard to fathom too many players ever hitting 60 again either. The seven-time Most Valuable Player seems to have the record in the bag.

Wayne Gretzky's Single-Season Points Record

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    Already on this list is "The King" and "The Iron Man." Now we have, "The Great One," as in Wayne Gretzky, arguably the greatest player ever to lace up a set of skates and step foot onto a hockey rink.

    Gretzky averaged 1.92 points per game throughout his career while winning nine league MVP awards. In the 1985-86 season, Gretzky scored an unfathomable 215 points.

    Gretzky had 1,963 career assists, which equals more total points than any other player has accumulated in the history of the game. That is just assists. 

    Gretzky's record for points in a career (2,857) and single-season points record will never be approached.

Oscar Robertson's 1961-1962 Triple-Double Season

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    Younger fans today forget how great Oscar Robertson truly was when he stepped on the basketball court. "The Big O" remains one of the top five players ever to lace up a pair of sneakers.

    In 1961-62, Robertson averaged 30.8 points per game, 11.4 assists per game and 12.5 rebounds per game, becoming the only player to this day in NBA history to average a triple-double over the course of an entire season. 

    Robertson nearly averaged a triple-double for his career. His career marks when he retired in 1974 were 25.7 points per game, 9.5 assists per game and 7.5 rebounds per game. 

    The nine-time All-NBA first team selection was selected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980. For his career, Robertson recorded 181 triple-doubles, another NBA record. Both records will never be broken.

Wilt Chamberlain's 100-Point Game

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    It just will not ever happen again. On March 2, 1962, Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in the Philadelphia Warriors' 169-147 win over the New York Knicks. Chamberlain that season averaged 50.4 points per game, another record that will stand the test of time.

    Chamberlain is the most dominating player ever to play in the NBA, and no player will ever score 100 points in a game again. The next closest effort was Kobe Bryant, who scored 81 back in 2006.

    The next closest? Chamberlain, who scored 78 points during a game in the 1961-62 season. The next closest after that? Yup. Chamberlain again, at 73.  

    The record is yours, Wilt.

Nolan Ryan's Career Strikeout Record

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    During a major-league record 27-year baseball career, Nolan Ryan built quite a Hall of Fame career. 

    Ryan racked up 5,714 strikeouts for his career. It helps when you can throw the ball over 100 mph. He also has seven career no-hitters (Ryan never threw a perfect game), another major league record that is unlikely to be broken. 

    The reason Ryan's record will never be broken is that nobody is even close. Randy Johnson is second on the list with 4, 875, and he is retired. The highest active player is Javier Vasquez with just over 2,500, and he will not come anywhere close.

    Ryan's strikeout mark will stand the test of time.

John Wooden's NCAA Championships

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    The "Wizard of Westwood" owes much of his success to the players he had at UCLA: Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton just to name two. Still, John Wooden left his mark on college basketball as one of the greatest coaches of all time.

    Wooden won an astounding 10 NCAA national championships during a 12-year period, and at one point won seven in a row. Within this period, he also won a record 88 games in a row, and was named coach of the year six times.

    Only two other coaches in NCAA men's history have won four (Adolph Rupp and Mike Krzyzewski). A dominant team like UCLA could not exist in today's game.

    No coach will ever approach the legendary number of championships that Wooden won. His legacy is cemented for all time.


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    Before Messi and Ronaldo, there was Pele. The Brazilian superstar is one of the greatest players ever to play the game.

    Pele notched a record 760 official goals and 1,281 goals overall. Reuters dubbed him "Athlete of the Century" in 1999.

    While younger fans may certainly relate to Messi, Ronaldo and Beckham, there is no question that Pele helped pave the way.

Michael Phelps' 14 Gold Medals...and Counting

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    Michael Phelps makes this list because he was won 14 Gold Medals at the Olympic Games. Four Olympians have won gold nine times, while six Olympians have won seven.

    The 26-year old has won 16 Olympic medals overall. Phelps has been named World Swimmer of the Year six times.

    This is an unbreakable record for two reasons. The first, is that the Olympics are only once every four years. For an athlete to approach Phelps' mark, he or she has to compete in most likely at least three Olympic Games.

    The second reason is that Phelps is not done. The swimmer plans to compete in the 2012 London Olympic Games. Meaning 14 may not be the record for much longer. Which also means, that this unbreakable record will be a lot harder to reach.

Jerry Rice's Career Receiving Yards

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    Jerry Rice is without question the greatest wide receiver ever to play in the NFL, and one of the top players, period.

    Rice's numbers speak for themselves. Rice is the all-time NFL leader with 208 touchdowns. He was selected to the Pro Bowl 13 times and named All-Pro 12 times in his 20 NFL seasons.

    He won three Super Bowl rings playing for the San Francisco 49ers. His 1,549 career receptions are well ahead of Tony Gonzalez.

    The record though that will never be broken is Rice's 22,895 career receiving yards. The mark is almost 7,000 yards ahead of his former 49ers teammate Terrell Owens (who is now playing in the IFL for the Allen Wranglers).

    Rice's legacy speaks for itself. Most of his records will never be broken.

Johnny Vander Meer Throws Back-to-Back No-Hitters

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    You were there in 1938, weren't you? If you were not alive, you missed Johnny Vander Meer do something quite special with the Cincinnati Reds. Vander Meer threw back-to-back no-hitters.

    After shutting down the Boston Braves on June 11 of that season, the southpaw 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 gives him a record that will never be broken. Vander Meer is not a Hall of Famer, but he will be in baseball's history books forever.

Rickey Henderson's Stolen-Base Record

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    Nobody said it like Ricky. "Lou Brock was the symbol of great base stealing. But today, I'm the greatest of all time."

    Henderson, whose career spanned four decades, passed Lou Brock to break the stolen-base 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. Henderson also has the record for most career runs scored, at 2,295.

    Juan Pierre is the current active leader with 554 stolen bases, while Carl Crawford is second among active players with 427. Safe to say Ricky has a while before he needs to start sweating this one out.

Martin Brodeur's Win Total...and Counting

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    Martin Brodeur is the gold standard when it comes to goaltending. Brodeur has spent his entire 19-year career with the New Jersey Devils, and owns pretty much every important NHL goaltending record.

    Brodeur is the only goalie in NHL history with eight 40-win seasons. His win total currently sits at 656, and his shutout total is at 119.

    The wins record, in which he passed Patrick Roy's previous record of 551 wins in 2009, is impressive when you consider how long Brodeur has played and been able to stay consistent with getting hurt.

    Most goalies today only play in about 70 of their team's games. Brodeur continues to play at a high level, even at the age of 41.

    Brodeur's mark will never be broken again because who knows when Marty will even call it a career?

Montreal Canadiens Win Five Straight Stanley Cups

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    One word can describe the Montreal Canadiens in the late 1950s: dominant. 

    A member of the "Original Six," the Montreal Canadiens have won 24 Stanley Cups, by far more than any other NHL organization. That is a jaw-dropping accomplishment by itself, but not to be outdone is this: the Habs winning five straight Cups from 1955-56 to 1959-60.

    The New York Islanders came close. They won four straight Cups in the early '80s. Since then, no team has ever won more than two in a row. Today, there are too many teams to be able to string together five straight cups like the Habs did. Quite the accomplishment, fellas.

Boston Celtics Win Eight Straight NBA Championships

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    Today, two or three championships in a row is called a dynasty. Not for the Boston Celtics.

    From 1959-66, the Boston Celtics simply dominated the NBA. It helps when you have the talent that those teams had.

    Led by Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, K.C. Jones and Hall of Fame coach Red Auerbach, the Celtics began the greatest dynasty in the history of professional sports. Of those eight consecutive championships, five came against the Los Angeles Lakers, still one of their fiercest rivals today. 

    This record will never be broken. Since the Celtics' run of eight in a row, there have been three three-peats. The Chicago Bulls did it twice in the 90's and the Lakers did it once from 2000-02. It is a record that will never be approached in any sport.


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