When the topic of the greatest single-game performance by an athlete is brought up, one man is always left off the list. On June 17, 1970 Pittsburgh Pirate Dock Ellis threw a no-hitter while high on LSD. If that isn’t the single greatest achievement in the history of professional sports then I don’t know what is. To give you an idea of what Ellis was going through here is an excerpt from an interview he gave regarding the game:
I chewed my gum until it turned to powder. I started having a crazy idea in the fourth inning that Richard Nixon was the home plate umpire, and once I thought I was pitching a baseball to Jimi Hendrix, who to me was holding a guitar and swinging it over the plate.
On June 4, 1974, in an effort to raise attendance levels, the Cleveland Indians held a 'Ten-Cent Beer Night' for their game against the Rangers. The idea was simple, charge a dime for a 12 fl. oz. cup of beer. The Indians ended up pulling in over 25,000 fans, twice as many fans as they expected. Hilarity ensued:
In the 2nd inning, a fat chick flashed the crowd from the on-deck circle and then tried to kiss the home-plate umpire.
In the 4th inning, a man streaked across the field and slid into second base.
In the 5th inning, a father and son jumped the outfield fence and mooned the Rangers’ outfielders.-In the 6th inning, fans began attempting to remove part of the outfield wall.
The climax came in the 9th inning when a fan ran on the field and stole an outfielder’s hat. In the ensuing chase the fielder tripped and fell. At this point Rangers’ manager Billy Martin felt it was time to take the matter into his own hands and rushed the field with his team armed with bats. Martin quickly realized his team was outnumbered on the field by about ten-to-one. The Indians joined in as both teams literally fought their way to freedom a-la Walking Dead style.
Here’s the kicker: They held the same promotion less than a month later. Fucking morons. No wonder LeBron left.
One Night in Durham
Six years later, despite the fact they were exonerated, the first thoughts that come to mind for average Americans when they hear ‘Duke lacrosse’ are strippers and rape. As someone that was in middle of their high school lacrosse season when this all went down, I remember being fascinated by the entire ordeal. These kids were crucified before they could even get their side of the story out there. I’m sure an actual account of what went on that night and the media circus that followed it would be eye opening. I’d love to hear from all the parties involved, including Crystal Magnum and Mike Nifong (bet you can’t guess which one is the stripper and which one is the former DA).
On February 6, 1958, British European Airways Flight 609 crashed attempting to take off from Munich-Riem Airport. The plane contained the Manchester United soccer team, known as the Busby Babes. Eight players died either instantly or in the hospital shortly thereafter. Two would never play again due to the severity of their injuries. This wasn’t just any team. United was incredible. They were in the running to become the third team in history to win three consecutive EPL titles and hadn’t lost a match in 11 games. Oh and they just happened to be one of the most popular soccer teams in the world too. Imagine if a plane carrying the Yankees, Lakers and Packers crashed and you get the idea.
Just about everyone has heard of Pat Tillman. NFL player turns down million-dollar contract to serve in military after 9/11 and is killed while serving overseas by friendly fire. What most people don’t know is that Tillman absolutely hated the attention his decision was getting, going as far as refusing his family members to grant interviews. The former Arizona Cardinal safety was a complicated man who enjoyed talking about philosophy and religion and had conflicting thoughts on the war. Add in the fact that the military attempted to cover up the circumstances surrounding his death and this would be a perfect doc.
On December 9, 2001 George O’Leary was hired as Notre Dame’s football coach. By December 13 the Irish were searching for his replacement. O’Leary had lied about several things on his resume, including a Master’s degree from NYU. What started out as one small lie to a sports information director, ended up costing him his career. It’s amazing how one tiny fib can snowball so quickly. It’ll make you think twice about bumping your GPA up a couple tenths of a point on your resume.
On the field, the 2000 Washington Huskies were one of the best football teams in the country going 11-1 en route to a Pac-10 Championship and a win in the Rose Bowl. Off the field, several players were involved in serious legal issues during the middle of the season. As documented in Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry’s book “Scoreboard, Baby,” what’s most fascinating is how the city of Seattle seemed to give the team free reign to do whatever they wanted as long as they kept winning. After sentencing a player to 30 days in jail a judge stated, “to be served after football season.”
For four consecutive seasons the Buffalo Bills made it to the Super Bowl only to lose every single time. Despite being the second smallest city to have an NFL team, Buffalo is passionate about their football team (CIRCLE THE WAGONS!). Bills fan’s have stood by their team through it all. If you’ve ever met anyone from western New York they talk about Jim Kelly like he’s a golden god. How the entire city did no succumb to anarchy after their third straight Super Bowl loss is beyond me.
The Night the NBA Lost Control
About eight months ago, Jonathan Abrams of Grantland did an oral history on the Pistons-Pacers-Fans fight known as the ‘Malice in the Palace’. I remember my friend telling me on AIM (that’s a throwback) that I had to turn on ESPN right away to see what was happening. I just stood in front of my TV with my jaw open watching the debauchery take place. The above image will forever be seared into my memory until the day I die.
Breaking Josh Hamilton
Has anyone had as many ups and downs as Josh Hamilton? After being selected as the number 1 draft pick in 1999, Hamilton had a few strong seasons in the minor leagues before becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol. By 2004 Hamilton was out of baseball as he tried to get his life together. It wasn’t until 2007 that he would return to make his major league debut. Three years later he was named AL MVP. The following year a fan died after falling while attempting to catch a foul ball thrown to him by Hamilton. The dude cannot catch a break. Hamilton has still had slip ups with his addiction, but I think that makes us appreciate him more as a real person.