100 Random Sports Facts You Never Knew

Zack Pumerantz@z_pumerantzAnalyst IIINovember 22, 2011

100 Random Sports Facts You Never Knew

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    While many sports fans religiously study box scores, wake up to radio hosts yakking about their teams' recent performances and cling to their couches for all the games, they are still deprived of certain random facts that continue to shadow the playing field.

    From ironic and coincidental occurrences to inspirational and jaw-dropping truths, these facts have helped shape the world of sports.

    Here are 100 random sports facts that you have yet to discover.


100. The Kid Has an Allergy

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    Despite being allergic to chocolate, Junior had a bar named after him.

    He may have hit 630 home runs and displayed breathtaking athleticism during his illustrious career, but Ken Griffey Jr. did have one weakness.

99. Umpires Can't Be Humiliated Anymore

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    Major League Baseball umpires are required to wear black underwear while on the job in case they split their pants.

    While protection is obviously an issue, social suicide is top priority.

98. Greatness Could Feed the World

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    Michael Jordan makes more money from Nike annually than all of the Nike factory workers in Malaysia combined.

    This may be disturbing, but not very surprising.

97. The Key Ingredient

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    At one point in August 1971, the Pittsburgh Pirates became the first professional team to field nine players who were either black or Latino. Coincidentally, this was the same year they won the World Series.

    Equality brings success.

96. Steve Young's Lineage

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    Steve Young is a great-great-great-grandson of Brigham Young of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for whom Brigham Young University is named.

    Having been heavily recruited by North Carolina before deciding to attend BYU, the Hall of Famer could've been a true rebel.

95. Jerry West's Legacy

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    The silhouette on the NBA logo is Hall of Fame Laker Jerry West.

    Mr. Clutch is literally cemented in professional basketball lore.

94. Changing the NBA

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    The referee tossed a jump ball after every basket in basketball until 1937.

    And you thought today's games were tedious...

93. A Fan Favorite

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    In July of 1934, Babe Ruth paid a fan $20 for the return of the baseball he hit for his 700th career home run.

    Always a pleasure with the fans.

92. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Is a Legend

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    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA's all-time leading scorer (38,387 points), collects rugs.

    His feet need something soft after a dominant career on the hardwood.

91. A Champion Is Within

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    After his jerseys were stolen from the visitors locker room when the team was on the road against the Orlando Magic, Jordan had to wear a No. 12 jersey.

    Clearly nothing could stop him.

90. Moneyball

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    The average life span of an MLB baseball is five to seven pitches.

    It seems we have finally discovered the secret to the beleaguered economy.

89. Diego Maradona Switches Things Up

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    He took a drug test with a fake plastic piece of manhood filled with clean urine.

    After testing positive for cocaine in Italy in 1991 and failing another test during the 1994 World Cup, soccer great Diego Maradona decided to work on hiding the evidence.

88. Afternoon Delight

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    Track athletes are surprisingly most likely to break records late in the day, with body temperatures at their highest.

    This leaves the opportunity for dinner and a show.

87. Black and Yellow

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    Pittsburgh is the only American city with three sports teams that wear the same colors.

    So this is what Wiz Khalifa was rapping about.

86. Leathering the Storm

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    It takes 3,000 cows to supply the NFL with enough leather for a year’s supply of footballs.

    Let the cows play.

85. Golf Is a Contact Sport

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    Golf balls can reach speeds of 170 miles an hour.

    So can Tiger Woods' heart rate when he sees a female in red.

84. Slowing Things Down

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    The actual playing time in an MLB game is nine minutes and 55 seconds, despite routinely finishing at around three hours.

    Less finger licking, spitting, grabbing and arguing could improve this.

83. Babe Ruth's Secret

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    Babe Ruth wore a cabbage leaf under his cap to keep him cool and changed it every two innings.

    The key to greatness.

82. Golf's Beauty Marks

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    There are more than 350 dimples on a golf ball.

    Finally we can stop counting.

81. Football Looks Back

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    In 1910, an incomplete forward pass earned teams a 15-yard penalty.

    If that were true today, Aaron Rodgers (league-leading 72.9 completion percentage) might be the only one with a job.

80. The Galveston Genius

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    The household wrench was invented by boxing heavyweight champion Jack Johnson in 1922.

    As if a 73-13-10 record wasn't enough.

79. An Epic Pastime

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    Tug of war was an Olympic event between 1900 and 1920.

    Getting rid of that was a mistake.

78. Michael Jordan Embraces the Mound

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    Michael Jordan was once one of the best high school pitchers in North Carolina.

    Swinging the bat wasn't quite as easy for the high-flying legend.

77. Improving the Sport

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    At 120 miles per hour, a Formula One car generates so much downforce that it can drive upside down on the roof of a tunnel.

    But can they walk the walk?

76. Lunch and Dinner

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    A microwaved baseball will fly farther than a frozen baseball.

    Just like Mama used to reheat on high.

75. Baseball-Nomics

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    When pitched, the average MLB baseball rotates 15 times before being hit.

    And it humiliates the pitcher 30 times before reaching the stands.

74. The World Makes Sense

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    The state sport of Maryland is jousting.

    This had to be a common curiosity.

73. When in Rome

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    Three consecutive strikes in bowling is called a turkey.

    To make the sport just a bit more odd.

72. The New Fad

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    Table tennis balls can travel off the paddle at 105.6 miles per hour.

    With the NBA lockout in full effect, it seems like the perfect time to embrace this intense sport.

71. A Glamorous Cup

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    The original Stanley Cup was only seven-and-a-half inches high.

    It's now propped on the top of the new 35-inch Cup, looking down on all.

70. Vintage Fashion

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    The first baseball caps were made of straw.

    True innovators.

69. The Pigs Are Safe

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    In the NFL, the home team must provide 36 footballs for outdoor games and 24 for indoor games.

    No wonder the league switched from inflated pig bladder to rubber and plastic.

68. A Man's Sport

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    Prior to 1900, prize fights lasted up to 100 rounds.

    It's completely safe—they go numb after 20.

67. Quick Display of Dominance

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    In 1935 Jesse Owens broke four world records in 45 minutes.

    Tracy McGrady tried to eclipse that feat.

66. Big Shoes to Fill

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    Manute Bol's grandfather had 40 wives.

    While former center Manute Bol (R.I.P.) was known for his 7'7" stature, he should be remembered for his family's ability to marry.

65. Common Knowledge

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    People in nudist colonies play volleyball more than any other sport.

    Somehow that makes sense.

64. Caught in the Wake

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    No high jumper has ever been able to stay off the ground for more than one second.

    The Miami Dolphins' secret weapon is battling the odds.

63. No Air

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    Most NASCAR teams use nitrogen in their tires instead of air.

    Nitrogen certainly works for scooters as well.

62. Fishing Through the Past

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    Hall of Fame pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter garnered his nickname after Oakland Athletics owner Charles Finley made up a story that Hunter had caught a large catfish as a boy.

    Strikes a small resemblance.

61. A Shocking Reality

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    Each year, 30,000 people are seriously injured by exercise equipment.

    Shoulder pads, helmets, sweat bands and gloves are essential.

60. Lakers Pride

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    The Los Angeles Lakers are popular in the Bahamas.

    Somewhat ironic that Laker Airways resides in the Bahamas as well.

59. Mega-Team

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    Because they both lost so many players to WWII military service, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles combined to become the Steagles during the 1943 season.

    That wouldn't be a friendly animal.

58. Not the Favorite

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    At horse race tracks, the favorite wins about 30 (or less) percent of the time.

    Clearly the horses start soaking in their own reverence.

57. NHL Origins

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    A faceoff in hockey was originally called a puck-off or a face of the puck.

    This is essentially the same thing.

56. The Old-Timers

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    The Kentucky Derby is the oldest continually held sports event in the United States (1875), with the second being the Westminster Kennel Club Dog show (1876).

    If they want large fanbases like other sports, both need to adopt exorbitant salaries, unnecessarily large stadiums and controversial athletes.

55. Baseball Is Odd

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    A forfeited game in baseball is recorded as 9-0.

    Nine innings makes this a bit more clear.

54. Still Legends

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    The practice of identifying baseball players by number (corresponding to a player's position in the batting order) was started by the Yankees in 1929.

    The rest of the league can thank them for something.

53. It's No Competition

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    Left-handed people are better at sports that require good spatial judgment and fast reaction, compared to right-handed individuals.

    So you're saying there's a chance.

52. A Heep of Faith

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    In 1986 Danny Heep became the first player in a World Series to be a designated hitter (DH) with the initials "D.H."

    He's perhaps still remembered more for becoming Nolan Ryan's 4,000th strikeout.

51. Popular with Everyone

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    Fishing is the biggest participant sport in the world.

    Clearly anyone will try it.

50. Boxing Moves Up

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    Boxing became a legal sport in 1901.

    But it didn't get any safer.

49. The Masses

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    More than 100 million people hold hunting licenses.

    That's a comfortable thought.

48. A Pioneer

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    Jeanne-Genevieve Garnerin was the first female parachutist, jumping from a hot air balloon in 1799.

    The sport is still working on building a fanbase.

47. An Eye for Talent

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    It's been said that players with brown eyes are better hitters than those with blue eyes.

    Those with darker eyes can spot the white ball easier.

46. The Forgotten Champ

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    The record for the most Olympic medals ever won is held by Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina. Competing in three Olympics, between 1956 and 1964, she won 18 medals.

    Beat that, Michael Phelps.

45. The Other Ironman

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    The record for the most career innings in Major League Baseball is held by Cy Young with 7,356.

    Always a necessary piece of knowledge for those with Jeopardy! aspirations.

44. Culture Shock

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    Kite flying is a professional sport in Thailand.

    Just brilliant.

43. Racing Against Time

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    In 1898, one of the first programs to be broadcast on radio was a yacht race that took place in British waters.

    The start of obsessive sports media.

42. In Popular Culture

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    Sports command the biggest television audiences, led by the summer Olympics, World Cup football and Formula One racing.

    Just in case that wasn't obvious already.

41. An Old Tradition

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    The very first Olympic race, held in 776 BC, was won by Corubus, a chef.

    He undoubtedly hired a cook and an agent moments after receiving his first paycheck.

40. An Unfortunate Past

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    The first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens, Greece in 1896. There were 311 male but no female competitors.

    Times, they are a-changing.

39. Financial Crisis

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    Major League Baseball teams use about 850,000 balls per season.

    That's completely reasonable.

38. Kevin Nash Reminisces

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    Wrestler Kevin Nash was once the second most recruited player out of Michigan, behind none other than Magic Johnson.

    Perhaps the 6'10" mammoth chose the wrong profession.

37. A Ruthless Game

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    Basketball and rugby balls are made from synthetic material. Earlier, pigs’ bladders were used as rugby balls.

    Seems to fit the intensity of rugby perfectly.

36. Hopefully the First of Many

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    Golf is the only sport played on the moon. On February 6th, 1971, Alan Shepard hit a golf ball.

    The importance of sports.

35. A Quick Breather

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    The only two days of the year on which there are no professional sports games (MLB, NBA, NHL or NFL) are the day before and the day after the MLB All-Star Game.

    Things always do seem calm around that time.

34. Calling It How He Sees It

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    Former umpire Bill Klem has the record for most games served with 5,368.

    And you thought Julio Franco's 23-year career was strenuous.

33. A Dark Time

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    About 42,000 tennis balls are used in the plus-minus 650 matches in the Wimbledon championship.

    They're clearly embracing the Go Green initiative.

32. A Daunting Task

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    The longest tennis match took place at Wimbledon 2010 when John Isner of the United States beat Nicolas Mahut of France 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68 in a match that lasted 11 hours and five minutes, played over three days, June 22, 23 and 24.

    They must've easily engulfed the 42,000-ball limit for the Wimbledon Championship.

31. An Olympic Secret

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    The 1912 Olympics was the last time that gold medals were solid gold.

    Since then, they've been silver with gold plating.

30. Dominant off the Mound

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    Former pitcher Turk Wendell used to brush his teeth and chew licorice between every inning.

    A fresh start every time.

29. A Legend's Discipline

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    Basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain never fouled out of a game.

    He was great in every facet of the game.

28. Gone with the Time

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    If all the Super Bowl's commercials and pregame shows were strung together, their running time would be equivalent to the length of Gone with the Wind (238 minutes).

    Perhaps they should add the latter to the menu.

27. Loyal to His Superstitions

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    Wade Boggs ate only chicken the day of a game and drew a "Chai" (Hebrew symbol for life) in the dirt before every at-bat.

    It clearly worked.

26. The Ultimate Race

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    In 1937, cheetahs were raced at Romford Greyhound Stadium in an effort to increase attendance (by owner Arthur Leggett).

    Sounds quite exciting in retrospect.

25. A Just Comparison

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    A baseball has exactly 108 stitches; a cricket ball has between 65 and 70 stitches.

    Stitches must bring fans.

24. In Relaxing Fashion

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    Before 1859, umpires sat in a padded rocking chair behind the catcher.

    Those were the days.

23. Ultimate Steaming Championship

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    Ari Petrof is Sweden's National Sauna Champion. He stayed in a 212-degree Fahrenheit (100-degree Celsius) sauna for five hours and 10 minutes.

    Sounds like a great Friday night.

22. The Start of a Trend

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    The Dallas Cowboys hired the NFL's first professional cheerleading squad in 1972.

    They've had time to develop.

21. Earning His Dollars

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    Deion Sanders was the first athlete to rap at a Pro Bowl musical gala in 1995.

    As if we'd expect anything less from "Prime Time."

20. Too Coincidental

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    The first known combination of the words "super" and "bowl" dates to a third-century Chinese writer who was named Lom-Ba-Di.

    That sounds eerily familiar.

19. Remembering the Good Times

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    The first instance of global electronic communications took place in 1871 when news of the Derby winner was telegraphed from London to Calcutta in under five minutes.

    How times have changed.

18. Working the Pockets

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    Billiards great Henry Lewis once sank 46 balls in a row.

    We've all done that.

17. A Record-Setting Climb

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    Mark McGwire's record-setting 70 home runs in the 1998 season traveled a total of 29,598 feet, enough to fly over Mount Everest.

    Essentially the same feat, but without the treacherous weather.

16. A Surprising Effect

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    Australian rules football was originally designed to give cricketers something to play during the offseason.

    All great things happen by accident.

15. Golf Takes a Back Seat

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    Golf was banned in England in 1457 because it was considered a distraction from the serious pursuit of archery.

    They couldn't possibly let the development of archery be hindered.

14. Maturing with Age

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    The oldest continuous trophy in sports is the America’s Cup. It started in 1851 with Americans winning for 132 consecutive years until Australia took the Cup in 1983.

    And they still have yet to build a stadium.

13. Super Bowl Eats

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    The number of chickens used to meet the nationwide demand for hot wings during the game is roughly equivalent to the population of New York City.

    A healthy America.

12. A Dangerous Sport

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    Between two and three jockeys are killed each year. That's about how many baseball players have died in its entire professional history.

    Perhaps they should increase the 126-pound weight limit.

11. Namely Dominant

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    Bulgaria was the only soccer team in the 1994 World Cup in which all 11 players' last names ended with the letters "OV."

    A cohesive unit indeed.

10. Two of a Kind

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    Since 1896, the beginning of the modern Olympics, only Greece and Australia have participated in every Games.

    A round of applause, please...

9. An Expensive Habit

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    Racehorses have been known to wear out new shoes in one race.

    Kim Kardashian has taught the world well.

8. Insuring Tradition

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    Many Japanese golfers carry "hole-in-one" insurance because it is traditional in Japan to share one's good luck by sending gifts to all your friends when you get an "ace." The price for what the Japanese term an "albatross" can often reach $10,000.

    There's seemingly nothing that can't be insured.

7. Better with Age

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    At 101, Larry Lewis ran the 100-yard dash in 17.8 seconds, setting a new world record for runners 100 years old or older.

    Like a fine wine.

6. Honeyball

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    Honey is used as a center for golf balls.

    In case you're hungry during a strenuous 18-hole game.

5. A Fair Trade

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    Former MLB catcher Harry Chiti was the first player ever to be traded for himself.

    He was originally traded from the Cleveland Indians to the New York Mets for a "player to be named later" but became that player after 15 abysmal games with the Mets.

4. A Life-Changing Pregame

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    The NFL estimates that more than 100 children are conceived every year at tailgate parties in the Super Bowl parking lot.

    Things can get pretty rowdy.

3. Every Streak Must Come to an End

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    The University of Miami had a streak of 149 consecutive regular season weeks where a former Hurricane scored a touchdown in an NFL game...until last night.

    325-pound defensive tackle Vince Wilfork was the last hope during the Patriots' Monday night matchup against the Chiefs, but he couldn't come through.

2. A Dangerous Toy

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    The yo-yo started out as a weapon in the Philippines during the 16th century before being introduced to the United States as a toy in 1929. It weighed four pounds and had a 20-foot cord.

    Keeping America's youth safe.

1. A Shining Moment

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    In 1963, Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry remarked, "They'll put a man on the moon before I hit a home run." On July 20, 1969, a few hours after Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, Perry hit his first and only home run.

    He couldn't be stopped.


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