For an introduction to this list, click here.
15. The single-season wins record by a pitcher (Old Hoss Radbourne with 59 wins in 1884 ; Jack Chesbro’s modern record of 41 wins in 1904)
Pitchers are used in a completely different way in today’s game, even when compared to early teams from the modern era, which began in 1900. This transition of purpose ensures mathematically that the record will never be approached.
When Chesbro set the modern record, he started 51 games and appeared in 55. He recorded 48 complete games. Can you imagine modern-day pitchers tossing seven complete games in a loss?
The most recent pitcher to start over 41 games was knuckleballer Phil Niekro, who started 44 games 32 years ago in 1979. Even then, he would have needed to win 93% of those starts to equal 41. Starting pitchers today simply do not start enough games to make the record possible.
14. Cal Ripken’s “Iron Man” streak
Lou Gehrig played in 2130 straight games, in part to have a record that Babe Ruth could not equal. His record was thought to be untouchable, but when Cal Ripken, Jr., began to come closer and closer to Gehrig’s mark, the wonder of reaching this magical number began to captivate the country.
The truly amazing part about this record is not that Ripken just broke it; it’s that he smashed it, pushing the number out to 2632 straight games, and number that is nearly incomprehensible. He played in every game (for one team) fro May 30, 1982 until September 19, 1998. Along the way, he became an icon of sports fans, just for showing up to work every day.
With players regularly taking days off, and injuries being part of the game, this is a number that will stand. As of this writing Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp has the longest streak, which just crossed 360 straight games. He is still over 14 entire seasons away from the record!
Little Known: One reason Gehrig’s record was considered untouchable was how far ahead of 2nd place he was. Steve Garvey played in 1207 straight games…good enough now for 3rd place all-time, and less than half-way to Ripken’s mark.
13. Jerry Rice has 22,895 career receiving yards
This is a number that no receiver will (1) play long enough, (2) at a high enough level, and (3) with enough consistency to break. A few wide receivers will have 1000 yards receiving in a single season. A very small number might cross 1500 yards in a season. So, when you consider that 2nd place on the all-time list is some 6961 yards behind Jerry Rice, it shows how dominant he was, and for how many years.
Only 34 players in NFL history have crossed the 10,000 yard mark, and only 3 (Rice, Terrell Owens, and Isaac Bruce) have ever crossed 15,000. Owens and Bruce both have less than 16,000 yards, meaning they are over 6000 yards shy of Rice’s record.
Among current players, Andre Johnson looks like the best bet to reach the upper echelon of the all-time receiving list, but he still sits 13,000 yards shy of Rice’s record. Rice, who used 14 seasons of 1000 or more yards to build up this record to unthinkable heights, is safe.
12. Joe Dimaggio hits safely in 56 consecutive games
It’s one number every baseball fan knows. 56 straight games.
As with so many of these records, it’s the distance to 2nd place that makes it even more astounding. The old record was just 44 games, which was tied by Pete Rose later; meaning that they were still about two weeks worth of games shy of Dimaggio’s amazing streak.
Every time a player gets to about 20 straight games with a hit, the questions begin to be raised, “Can he break the record?” Then the realization hits: he’s not even half-way to Dimaggio’s mark! With intense media pressure anyway, and added pressure when someone even gets a glimpse of a record, there is no way “56″ ever goes down.
11. Ty Cobb’s .367 career batting average
What makes this record so impossible to break is that a player has to maintain an extremely high batting average even late into his career. It is also worth noting how baseball has changed. Most players with high career batting averages played in “yester-year,” when power hitting was not a big part of the game. Today, it’s perfectly fine for a player to strike out multiple times, so long as he hits for power.
Cobb’s .367 lifetime average is 8 points higher than Rogers Hornsby, but it is the difference with modern players that shows how this record will never fall. Of the top 50 batting averages of all time, only four are from active players: Albert Pujols, Ichiro Suzuki, Joe Mauer, and Todd Helton. Even more amazing, the highest (Pujols) is some 38 percentage points lower than Cobb’s record (Pujols, currently, is 33rd all time).
Only 10 more to go…what are your thoughts?