June 11-15, 1938
Johnny Vander Meer
Two months into his first full season in the majors, 23-year-old Johnny Vander Meer no-hit the Boston Bees. In his next start, against the Dodgers, in the first night game at Ebbetts Field, he threw another no-no. Vander Meer would be a three-time strikeout champion with an unspectacular record (119-121), but if you're looking for a record that never will be broken, consider this: His back-to-back no-hitters have never been equaled.
March 2, 1962
Wilt had already broken Elgin Baylor's record of 71 points in a game twice that season, but on this night, playing against two overmatched Knicks centers, he was ruthless. Twenty-three points in the first quarter, 41 by the half, 69 going into the fourth quarter. He was even brilliant from the free throw line, hitting 28 of 32. A Dipper Dunk with 48 seconds left got Wilt to 100. Trivia answer: Al Attles was second high on the Warriors that night with 17 points.
Tom Seaver and Sandy Koufax? No, their combined victories total is 35 short. How about Bob Feller and Juan Marichal? Close, but still two wins away. How 'bout Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz? That does it. The core of the best staff of the past quarter century has 565 career wins, a mere 54 more than Young, who won at least 25 games in 12 of his 22 seasons. For a man who lost a record 316 games, Cy Young wasn't a bad pitcher.
September 2, 1977-June 4, 1987
Edwin Moses started his 107-race winning streak in the 400-meter hurdles a year after he won the gold medal in that event at the 1976 Olympics. All he had to do each race was clear 10 three-foot-high barriers while running nearly as fast as a sprinter—for nine years, nine months and nine days. Most athletes' careers don't last that long.
March 8-August 4, 1945
No one has ever played perfect golf, but Byron Nelson came closest with his II straight PGA Tour victories. No one has ever scored so low for so long—Nelson's stroke average was 67.86 during the Streak—which he attributed to three things: better chipping, the elimination of careless shots and the desire to win enough to buy his own ranch. Lord Byron got the ranch, lost the hunger and retired the next year at age 34.
Wayne Gretzky ended his career with 2,857 points, 54% more than the second-best scorer in NHL history, Gordie Howe. His statistical dominance of the NHL is as reassuring as it is staggering because so much of his genius was ethereal: his vision, his timing, his singular sense of the game. The 2,857 matters because, at last, it captures the Great One in black and white.
June 9, 1973
From the days of Sysonby in the century's first decade through the 16-race winning streak of Cigar in its last, nothing stands out like Secretariat's win in the Belmont Stakes. When he hit the wire a record 31 lengths in front, an astonishing message was on the teletimer: 2:24 flat, shattering the old mark by almost three seconds. As a measure of speed, strength and endurance, it was the performance of the century—by a horse for the ages.
July 10, 1924
Paavo Nurmi put the Finn in finish at the Paris Olympics, winning the 1,500 meters and the 5,000 within a span of 70 minutes. With 500 meters to go in the 5,000, Nurmi sneaked a peek at the stopwatch he always carried to check his progress, then flung it into the grass and picked up the pace to set his second Olympic record that day.
August 28-September 4, 1972
Some countries have not won as many Olympic gold medals in their history as Spitz won in Munich. He won the 100 and 200 free-styles and the 100 and 200 butterfly and was on three winning U.S. relay teams. Who needs to walk on water when you can fly?
October 18, 1968
The scoreboard flashed the message that he had long-jumped 8.90 meters on his first attempt in the Olympic finals in Mexico City, but Bob Beamon had never gone metric, so he asked U.S. teammate Ralph Boston how far that was. Boston replied, "Bob, you jumped 29 feet!" (It was 29'2½" to be exact.) When Beamon realized that he'd broken the world record by an astounding 21¾", he fell to the ground, overcome by tears and nausea, in what was later called "a cataplectic seizure" (also known as jumping for joy).