Baseball: 110 career shutouts. To save their arms and make them more efficient for their turn in the rotation, pitchers very rarely pitch a whole nine innings each time out. In the first new decades of baseball, it was commonplace, which means pitchers had a chance to go a whole game denying the opposing team any runs at all. Walter Johnson, who played from 1907 to 1927 recorded 110 career shutouts. The current player with the most shutouts is Tim Hudson…with 13.
Baseball: 2,632 consecutive games played. Teams like to occasionally rest a player, particularly after competing their hardest at the highest level of the game can result in injuries. That means Cal Ripken’s streak of 2,632 straight games—which topped the 60-year-old record of 2,130 set by Lou Gehrig—is safe.
Hockey: 215 points in a season. There’s a reason they call Wayne Gretzky the great one. For example, he scored 215 points in the 1985-86 season. He raised the game, and made everybody play better, particularly defense. Players rarely even top out at 100 these days. Gretzky hit 200 four times.
Olympics: 28 lifetime medals. Some records are unbreakable because of a once-in-a-lifetime athlete. Michael Phelps just might be that athlete. He’s such a good swimmer than he’s won more Olympic medals that anybody—28. Second place: gymnast Larisa Latyhnina, with a mere 18.
Baseball: 73 home runs in a season. Pitching has gotten so efficient in recent years that it’d be hard for a slugger to hit more than Barry Bonds’ 73 home runs in a single season—especially considering Bonds was under the influence of now-banned performance enhancing drugs when he did it back in 2001.
Basketball: 11 NBA championships. The rise of collective bargaining and free agency means athletes now rarely spend their whole career with just one team. In the 1950s and ’60s, long-term contracts kept players tied to their team. Of course, there were also only 10 teams in the NBA in 1957, when Russell won the first of 11 titles with the Boston Celtics. Russell alone has more championships than all but nine current NBA teams.
Baseball: 1.12 ERA. Bob Gibson was so good that it led to a fundamental change in the game that made it harder for pitchers. 1968 was nicknamed “the year of the pitcher,” because in the AL, Denny McClain of the Detroit Tigers went 31-6, and in the NL, Bob Gibson of the Cardinals threw 13 shutouts, pitched every inning of all 34 games he started, and amassed an astounding 1.12 earned run average. After that season, MLB passed the “Gibson rule,” which lowered the pitcher’s mound by five inches and shrinking the strike zone to give batters a better chance.
Basketball: Most career assists. The way NBA basketball is played seems to fundamentally change every decade or so. For example, the ’80s were all about slam dunks; today the biggest stars in the league can hit seemingly impossible three-pointers. It’s also become more of a man-on-man game than it was in the ‘80s and ‘90s, meaning less chances for assists. John Stockton’s record of 15,806 career assists is safe for now. The active player with the most assists is Chris Paul, who’s been playing for 12 years and has racked up 8,251, a little over half of what Stockton’s got.
Baseball: 511 career wins. Cy Young was such a dominant pitcher in the late 1800s and early 1900s that the award for year’s best pitchers is called the Cy Young Award. The dude won 511 games—nobody has won more than 300 in decades. That’s because when Young pitched, pitchers pitched every other game or so, as opposed to today’s five-man rotation. Pitchers today have less chance to ever amass 511 starts, let alone wins.
NASCAR: 27 races won in a year. In 1967, NASACR was still developing and didn’t have the sophisticated and high level of driving talent it does today. Even the best and most dominant drivers today have a hard time getting 10 wins in a season.
Basketball: 100 points scored by one player in one game. There are two major reasons why Wilt Chamberlain’s record of 100 points in a single game will probably never be topped. For one, it was a fluke. His Warriors were playing against a terrible, injury-depleted Knicks team, and once he got going, other players from both teams made sure it happened. No. 2: There are more teams and league parity with multiple superstars now. Entire teams sometimes don’t score 100 points a game anymore.
Baseball: Most home runs by a pitcher in the American League. Ferrell was a decent pitcher for the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox, but he was a pretty great hitter…for a pitcher. He hit an American League record 37 homers. Hall of Famer Bob Lemon of the Cleveland Indians was a great pitcher, and he also holds the AL record for most career home runs, with 37. This record will stand unless there’s a massive rule change in baseball. Pitchers haven’t batted in the American League since 1973, when the league introduced the “designated hitter.”
Mixed martial arts: Fastest knockout. It would just be physically impossible for somebody to vanquish their opponent faster than Ryohei Masuda did at a bout in July 2008. He knocked out Takahiro Kuroishi in a mere two seconds.
Baseball: Most consecutive no-hitters. Throwing a no-no is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement for most any pitcher. There are only about 30 who have done it twice. The odds of throwing two, let alone two in a row are astronomical, to the point where it probably can’t and won’t happen again. In June 1938, Jonny Vander Meer through two no-hitters in back-to-back starts.
Olympics: China’s number of medals in table tennis. Table tennis is an extremely popular sport in China, so much so that the country has more than dominated the event in the Olympics. Since the sport became part of the Summer games in 1988, China has taken home a total of 53 medals. South Korea is in second place with 18.
Cycling: 7 straight Tour de France wins. As it turns out, it was impossible to do this at all. Lance Armstrong won the most bike race in the world every year from 1999 to 2005, but those wins were later negated when it was discovered that used banned performance-enhancing drugs.