15 Individual Sports Records No One Wants

Laura Depta@lauradeptaFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2015

15 Individual Sports Records No One Wants

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    Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

    DeAndre Jordan tied Wilt Chamberlain's record for most missed free throws in a single game with 22. That is not a record anyone wants to tie, or to have, for that matter.

    There are a lot of these undesirable individual records in sports—namely, no one wants to be the worst in any statistical category or turn in a historically ghastly performance.  

    The following are 15 of the worst things an athlete can "lead" the category in. Keep in mind the difference of eras, particularly in baseball. Gloves were smaller in the 19th century, but still, no one wants to lead MLB history in errors.

    Perhaps worse than even statistical failures are poor performances related to conduct. Is there any record worse than the longest suspension in sports history? Let's find out.

Most Missed Field Goals

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Kobe Bryant, though one of the all-time NBA greats, has also missed more shots than anyone in the game's history. 

    It doesn't seem like anyone would want this record, but then again, Bryant (being Bryant) legitimately doesn't seem to care about holding it. After all, you do have to take a lot of shots to miss a lot of shots.  

    When he broke the record in November of 2014, Bryant said, "Well, I'm a shooting guard that's played 19 years," per Baxter Holmes of ESPN. He is third on the all-time list for attempts, with 25,391. At least he hasn't gone 0-17 in one game (cough, Tim Hardaway).

    Holmes also pointed out another stat players probably shouldn't be proud of: most games with 20 or more misses in a career. The leader there is Wilt Chamberlain with 117 such games, followed by Elgin Baylor with 94 and Allen Iverson with 45.  

Most Strikeouts

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    Tony Tomsic/Getty Images

    Career: Reggie Jackson, 2,597

    Single-season: Mark Reynolds, 223 in 2009

    For MLB batters, there's nothing good about a strikeout. However, it's something that might be forgiven depending on what else the batter is doing. For instance, many of the game's great home run hitters struck out quite a bit.

    Jackson is MLB's all-time leader for strikeouts (despite coming in just 31st on the all-time list for at-bats), but Jim Thome, Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez are also in the top five. 

    The National League's newly minted Rookie of the Year, Chicago Cubs phenom Kris Bryant, already got himself into the eight-spot with 199 Ks in 151 games. Not ideal. 

Worst Plus-Minus

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    The plus-minus stat in hockey aims to provide a picture of a player's influence on the game. Per NHL.com, "A player is awarded a 'plus' each time he is on the ice when his club scores an even-strength or shorthanded goal. He receives a 'minus' if he is on the ice for an even-strength or shorthanded goal scored by the opposing club."

    Bill Mikkelson, a defenseman who played four seasons in the 1970s, holds the single-season record for the worst plus-minus figure in NHL history. According to Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated, Mikkelson posted a -82 in 59 games during the 1975-75 season.

    While this is surely a record no one would want to break, Mikkelson's daughter, Meaghan, did have this to say to Farber: "When kids teased me about my dad's plus-minus record, I'd ask, 'And how many games did your father play in the NHL?'" Right on, Meaghan. 

Worst First-Serve Percentage

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    NATACHA PISARENKO/Associated Press

    First-serve percentage is a tennis statistic referencing the number of playable first serves. Certainly, every player has strengths and weaknesses, but to be the worst at anything over the course of a career is not desirable. 

    The ATP World Tour reports first-serve percentages each season and also keeps a career list that "began in 1991 and relates to singles main draw matches from ATP World Tour tournaments, Grand Slams, and the Olympics (from 2008 on)."

    For the men, (the WTA keeps separate stats) the lowest career percentage is 57, a number over a dozen players set. Spaniard Alex Corretja's 57 percent came across the most career matches, however (698). Surprisingly, Scottish sensation Andy Murray comes in just above that mark at 58 percent in 688 matches.

Longest Hitless Streak

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Slumps happen in baseball, but the longest slump ever?

    It took over 100 years for someone to break Bill Bergen's record for the longest hitless streak by a position player in baseball history.

    Bergen, then a catcher for the Brooklyn Superbas, posted a 45-at-bat streak in 1909, according to SABR member Joe Dittmar. In 2011, Milwaukee Brewers infielder Craig Counsell (now the team manager) tied that mark with 45 hitless at-bats of his own.

    Hitless streaks are more understandable with pitchers, but it's still not something any ballplayer wants to be associated with. In 2015, Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester set the record for most hitless at-bats to start a career with 66.  

Most Interceptions

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    MORRY GASH/Associated Press

    Career: Brett Favre, 336 

    Single-season: George Blanda, 42 in 1962

    Single-game: Jim Hardy, eight in 1950 

    No one wants to have the most interceptions of all time. Still, for a quarterback to tally the most career interceptions, that would probably mean he had to throw a lot of passes. 

    Favre does hold the record for most interceptions thrown in NFL history. However, take that with a grain of salt because he also started a record 298 games and attempted a record 10,169 passes

    Hardy's record-setting game, on the other hand, was probably more of a fluke than anything else. Hardy played from 1946-1952, starting just 21 games total. One day in 1950, he had the misfortune of throwing eight interceptions in one game against the Philadelphia Eagles.   

Most Fumbles

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    ANN HEISENFELT/Associated Press

    Career: Brett Favre, 166 

    Single-season: Kerry Collins and Daunte Culpepper, 23 in 2001 and 2002. 

    Turnovers are the worst—no one wants to be remembered for that. Unfortunately for Favre, he is not only the all-time career leader in interceptions thrown, but he also tops the list for fumbles (including both lost and recovered). Again, the guy did play in a lot of games, but it's got to be rough to lead both of those categories. 

    While some might assume this is a category dominated by running backs, quarterbacks actually lead the way in fumbles. Collins and Culpepper each coughed up 23 balls in a season in the early 2000s. In fact, the first non-QB on the career fumbles list is retired running back Tony Dorsett, who comes in at No. 25 with 90 career fumbles.

Missed Free Throws

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    Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

    There's a reason free throws are called "free." It has historically been tougher for big guys to make these shots with as much regularity as guards, but "worst free-throw shooter" is still not a label anyone wants.

    In February, the Wall Street Journal called Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan "The Worst Free-Throw Shooter of All Time." With a .422 percentage at that time, Jordan's mark was the lowest in history of any player through his age-26 season, per Basketball Reference and via the WSJ. At .576, legendary center Wilt Chamberlain was seventh on that list.

    To add insult to injury, Jordan tied Chamberlain's record for missed free throws in a single game in November. He missed 22 times.

Most Wild Pitches

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    PHIL LONG/Associated Press

    Career: Tony Mullane, 343

    Single-season: Mark Baldwin, 83 in 1889

    Sometimes pitchers lose control temporarily, but to lead the major leagues in wild pitches? That's not a title anyone wants.  

    Mullane pitched for 13 seasons in the late 1800s, making his 343 wild pitches a little tougher to put into context. Second on the career list, however, is Nolan Ryan, with 277 wild pitches over his 27-year Hall of Fame career.

    The single-season leader, Baldwin, also played in the 19th century. The first contemporary name on that list is Juan Guzman, a right-hander who threw 26 wild pitches in the 1993 season.

Worst Hole in PGA History

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    ADAM BUTLER/Associated Press

    Taking 19 shots to sink a par-four hole in professional golf would be a little like an NBA player missing 22 free throws in one game.

    According to Doug Williams of ESPN.com, golfer Ray Ainsley took 19 shots to sink a par-four at the 1938 U.S. Open. Hans Merrell shot a 19 on a par-three at the 1959 Bing Crosby Pro-Am, and John Daly shot an 18 on a par-five at the 1998 Bay Hill Invitational.

Fastest Knockout in Boxing History

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    Speedy knockouts are great for the enforcers—not so much for the ones on the floor.

    Former UFC champion Ronda Rousey gained fame for her quick dismissal of opponents, but who has been knocked out the fastest?

    In boxing, the dishonor goes to one Brandon Burke. In 2007, cruiserweight Phil "The Drill" Williams knocked him out in just 1.5 seconds (later amended to 10 seconds), according to the Ron Kantowski of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Most Errors

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    Associated Press

    Career: Herman Long, 1,096 

    Single-season: Herman Long and Billy Shindle, 122 in 1889 and 1890

    Poor Herman Long. Strikeouts are sometimes forgivable in baseball, but errors? Those are harder to live down.

    Unfortunately for the old-time shortstop, Long tops the list for errors committed in a single season and over a career. Dating all the way back to the 19th century, Long committed 122 errors in 1889 (as did Billy Shindle in 1890).

    According to Baseball Reference, Long also tallied 1,096 errors in 1,795 games in the field over his 16-year baseball career.

    It's worth noting Long played a tough defensive position during a time when the gloves were smaller, but still. Baseball's all-time error king is not a desired title.

Most Own Goals

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    Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

    Scoring an own goal in soccer is perhaps one of the most devastating things that can happen to an athlete. That said, surely no one would want to be remembered for doing the deed more than once.

    Stats on this are a little murky, but John Ashdown and Harry Leech of the Guardian wrote about the topic in 2008. According to the writers, Belgian footballer Stan van den Buys famously scored three own goals in one match in 1995.

    That paled in comparison, however, to Billy Balmer of Everton. According to Ashdown and Leech, Everton statistician Gavin Buckland wrote, "At the turn of the 20th century he netted eight goals during open play; all, unfortunately, at the wrong end of the pitch. In more than 300 appearances for the Toffees his only goal at the right end was a single penalty in 1899."


Most Technical Fouls

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    Henny Ray Abrams/Associated Press

    Career: Rasheed Wallace, 317

    Single-seasonRasheed Wallace, 41 in 2000-01 

    Personal fouls in basketball are one thing—not exactly praise-worthy, but part of the game nonetheless.

    Technical fouls, on the other hand, are not something anyone should be proud of. Many violations might constitute a T, but according to the NBA, the foul is, generally speaking, "the penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct or violations by team members on the floor or seated on the bench."

    Retired NBA forward/center Rasheed Wallace racked up a whole lot of technicals in his 16-year career, enough to make him the single-season and career leader.

    Sheed was called for 41 technical fouls during the 2000-01 season and 317 in his career

Longest Suspension

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Along with technical fouls, here is one record athletes definitely shouldn't be proud of. Lifetime bans aside, Todd Lindeman of the Washington Post reported a few of the longest suspensions in professional sports in January 2014.

    With MLB's stricter penalties for drug use, it's no surprise the longest suspension occurred there—New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez with 162 games. In July 2015, New York Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia also received a 162-game ban for PEDs.

    Other notables are Metta World Peace (then Ron Artest), who received 86 games for the Malice at the Palace and Alex Karras, a defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions in the 1960s who was suspended 14 games for gambling.


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