Every year in sports, new champions are crowned and new records are set. The setting of a representative records, such as most victories that generates much fan interest. But some records are so good that fans look back at them with excitement. Either the record passes into endurance, or its long-awaited outperforming generates inspiration.
Unbreakable Records in Sports
With this in mind I’ve collected records in each major North American sport that are either off-limits or currently are only being dreamt of being broken. I’ve generated a mix of some obvious ones, and also some trivia that’s just for fun. I’ll start off with one that should be familiar to all sports fans:
NFL: Best Record
1972 Dolphins: 17-0
The Dolphins aren’t the only undefeated team in NFL history. Several teams in the ’20s went undefeated with a tie, including the 1929 Packers. Their only blemish was a scoreless draw against the Frankford Yellow Jackets. Ah yes, that always tough road trip to Frankford. But the Dolphins remain the only team to go undefeated and untied. They are also the only undefeated team to come after the ground-breaking AFL-NFL merger. The Dolphins record isn’t unbeatable, but it certainly seems resilient. In recent years the Packers, Patriots, and Panthers went undefeated for a time only to be tripped up by a lesser foe. A 19-0 team may come around some day, but for now it’s hard to make a case for another team as greatest of all time.
Best Start as head coach: Fielding Yost, 55-0-1
Much has been made about the great starts Nick Saban and Urban Meyer got off to at their new schools, but they can’t measure up to a long-forgotten coach from Michigan. Hired in 1901, Yost’s Wolverines lost just once in his first five years and won four national championships in that span. The 1901 team was especially remarkable, outscoring opponents 555-0 and beating Stanford so soundly in the Rose Bowl that the game was discontinued for 14 years. With the college game so hyper-competitive now, it’s hard to imagine a new coach playing through one season without a loss, let alone five.
Major League Baseball
Single Season Complete Games: Will White, Cincinnati, 1879, with 75
This one’s just for fun. Back when winning the league just earned a team a pennant, White managed to win 43 while pitching 680 innings. To put this into perspective, nobody’s pitched half that many innings since 1980. Of course the next year White fell on hard times and managed to lose 42 games. Since no training staff would dream of giving a starter even 40 starts these days, let alone having the guy complete them all, this is one of those records that just seems absurd now.
National Basketball Association
Most consecutive titles: Boston Celtics, 1959-1966, with eight
These days winning three titles is a row is an extremely prestigious feat. As we saw with the Dubs, even winning just two in a row can feel like a grind with a team having to slog through two months of playoffs. But oftentimes when a sport is young, one team manages to have a monopoly on power. It’s happened with the Yankees, Lombardi-era Packers and most notably the Celtics. With Red Auerbach at the helm smoking victory cigars and Bill Russell leading the team on the court, the Celtics bludgeoned the league with numbing regularity. It’s good for the playing field to eventually be levelled, but having a dynasty in a sport’s early days can help raise the bar and set a new standard. With how quickly teams copycat new styles and the advent of free agency, winning even four in a row is highly unlikely now. Eight in a row is surely unthinkable.
NCAA College Basketball
Most Consecutive Tournament wins: UCLA, 1967-1974, with 30
This record is similar to the Celtics’ in that one team won over and over again. In this case, however, I wanted to put a different emphasis on the Bruins. The hallmark of the modern NCAA tournament is wild upsets and unpredictability. With many key players leaving after just one year, the top teams often have to completely rebuild after a strong run. Even mighty Kentucky recently had a year where they missed the tournament entirely. Just winning four in a row today gets a team a banner and an eternal warm remembrance, especially for a small school. UCLA took all the drama out of an event that is now most famous precisely because of that drama. 30 consecutive Big Dance wins is a feat difficult enough to do in the ’70s, and certainly isn’t possible now.
National Hockey League
Most Fighting: Flyers-Senators, March 5th, 2004
Nothing makes a good hockey game better than a big fight. But in one wild melee in the third period between Philadelphia and Ottawa, things got completely out of hand. The impetus was. just like in baseball, a quest for revenge for something that happened a week earlier. In this case, the Flyers wanted revenge for a high stick. Of course as I’ve written before I think all this talk about “payback” is rather counterproductive. Unfortunately these tough hockey thugs thought otherwise, and the result was 419 penalty minutes and an astonishing 16 ejections. While I understand some roughhousing makes for a fun game, a wild brawl that lasts the entire period may not be the most honourable way to set a record.