When Rory McIlroy claimed the PGA Championship last weekend by eight strokes, the talk of breaking records popped up again. Instead of wondering if and when Tiger Woods would break Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major wins, McIlroy's dominating performance put his name out front for the possible honor.
He's young and his two major wins were no contest. His play reminds many of a young Tiger Woods, thus the suggestion that IF Nicklaus' record can be broken it might well be the Irishman that accomplishes the feat. Never mind the fact that he only needs 17 more victories to do it. Tiger needs just five, but his weekend play in this year's majors has been a little suspect.
All sports fans love records. We also like the idea that many of them can be broken and we want to be there when it happens ? well, at least parked in front of a television somewhere.
Besides golf, the sport of baseball has seen some remarkable feats this season. Six no hitters, including three perfect games, have been put in the books. Considering that only 23 perfect games have been pitched in the history of major league baseball, you would be correct in assuming that three in one year is indeed a record.
The record talk has made me think about some of the great all time achievements in golf as well as baseball. Let's take a look at some of those and my prognostication as to whether the marks will ever be bettered. We'll start with baseball.
Baseball has more well-known records than perhaps any sport. One of those would be the consecutive games played mark that belongs to Cal Ripken, Jr. Do you remember the night he passed Lou Gehrig's record and made the victory lap around the Orioles ballpark? It was memorable and there is a great chance we will never see Ripken's record broken.
A player would have to play all 162 games each season for 16 years. He still wouldn't have the new record, but he would be within hailing distance. Can the record be broken? Of course, but I wouldn't bet a lot of money on it.
Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak is another of baseball's revered records. One could possibly break this record, but it would have to include some Baltimore chops and a couple of duck snorts. Line drives often find fielder's gloves.
Maybe the most amazing part of DiMaggio's streak is what he did the day after the Cleveland Indians stopped it. He had a hit that day and put together another string of 17 games with at least one base knock!
My buddies and I have long opined that the one baseball record that will never be broken is the 511 career wins of Cy Young. Twenty-five wins for 20 consecutive seasons would still leave you short. Young set the mark in a different era. While he was known to pitch both ends of a doubleheader (I think I once set a record for most hot dogs consumed during a twinbill), today's hurlers rarely pitch a complete game. That brings me to another record that could be equally untouchable.
Walter (Big Train) Johnson holds the major league record for career shutouts at 110. To top that means a pitcher would have to pitch ALL nine innings, keep the opposing team OFF the scoreboard, and do so ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN times. Considering that a "quality" start for a pitcher these days is six innings pitched with three or fewer earned runs allowed, this record is also very safe!
Records in the game of golf are not etched in our consciousness as are the ones from our national pastime. Other than Jack's 18 major wins, you don't hear much about other great golf feats. One particular year does very much stand out however. The year was 1945.
The late Byron Nelson set a couple of marks that year that are not likely to ever be equaled. The PGA hosted 35 tournaments that season. Lord Byron captured the champions' trophy in 18 of them. Included in that incredible accomplishment was a remarkable streak of 11 consecutive wins.
Think about that for a minute. A total of eighteen wins in a season. Eleven consecutive victories! Nobody will touch those marks. Nobody!
Here are a couple of other notes concerning Byron Nelson. He finished second in seven tournaments that year. Though some would argue that the fields were watered down because of World War II, his two top rivals ? Sam Snead and Ben Hogan ? did play in several tournaments as both won more than once in 1945. Maybe more importantly, Byron Nelson is known more for being a gentleman than he is for any golf accomplishments. Now that's a record that we should all strive for.
There is no doubt that the date the most records were broken took place on July 12, 1979. It happened at Comiskey Park in Chicago. Raise your hand if you remember Disco Demolition Night. A promotion that turned out to be a really bad idea was to allow fans to attend the game for 98 cents if they brought a disco record to the park. You younger folks will have to ask your parents exactly what a record is ? maybe disco music can be explained as well.
The White Sox normally drew about 12,000 fans on Thursday evenings. Capacity for the stadium was around 52,000. The disco disc would not only get you into the park at a modest cost, but between games of the twi-night doubleheader a local DJ would gather the records and blow them up on the field. That's right ? blow them up!
Apparently a lot of people did not like disco music as some 90,000 "fans" showed up. As the explosion took place, the throng of people took to the field, literally destroying it. The White Sox had to forfeit the second game, but many believe that the death of disco music began that night.
The forfeit was the third of the decade, joining the infamous Ten Cent Beer Night in Cleveland in 1974 and the Washington Senators forfeit to the New York Yankees in 1971.
For your information Washington fans stormed the field with the Senators leading 7-5 and two outs in the top of the ninth. It would be the last home game for the Senators who were moving to Texas the following year. Hundreds of disgruntled fans poured onto the field seeking souvenirs and someone actually took off with first base. With only two bases left and even fewer security guards on the premises, the umpires forfeited the game.
Cleveland fans, in their 1974 game, seemingly fueled by the cheap booze, decided to take on Rangers outfielder Jeff Burroughs while he played right field. Order could not be restored and the Indians were forced to forfeit the game.
Outfielder Rusty Torres played for the Yankees in 1971, the Indians in 1974 and the White Sox in 1979. That's right, he was a participant in all three forfeited games.
Now there's a record that will never be broken!
Al Stephenson is the golf columnist for The Advertiser-Tribune.
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