Let’s delve deep into the top ten most impressive individual accomplishments one person can have in professional sports.
By: Jonathan Goad
There’s no “I” in “team.” However, some of the things that “I” can achieve are pretty darn impressive. The ultimate goal for anyone in sports or competition should be a championship; whether collectively or individually.
Sometimes an individual feat is just as amazing.
It could be argued that some of these events are team based. However, the individual is usually the one who receives most of the credit.
10. Scoring 70 points in a single game (NBA)
Scoring 70 points in a single game is a tremendous achievement. However, it’s been done eleven times.
Wilt Chamberlain is responsible for six of those 11, and naturally, the most significant scoring effort came from Wilt when he put up 100. Devin Booker had the most recent 70-point game when he did it back in 2017.
56 years ago today, Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a single game!
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) March 2, 2018
9. 300 receiving yards in a single game (NFL)
Member Julio jones having 300 yards in a single game? Yea sit down son pic.twitter.com/5JlhbtoQaL
— nick hendricks (@ordinaryguy1234) August 6, 2017
Racking up yards is an excellent stat as well. Nothing is quite as impressive as a wide receiver totaling over 300 yards through the air in a single game. Six players have reached this milestone.
Julio Jones did it most recently with exactly 300 receiving yards in 2016. Flipper Anderson (1989) totaled 336 yards. Calvin Johnson (2013) is next with 329 yards, Stephone Paige (1985) had 309, Jim Benton (1945) racked up 303 yards, and Cloyce Box (1950) had 302 yards.
What impresses me the most is the older guys to hit the three-century mark. The NFL wasn’t as much of a passing league like it is now. So for guys to do it back in the 40’s and 50’s is quite the accomplishment.
8. TDs in a single game – 7 passing TDs, five rushing TDs, or 5 receiving TDs (NFL)
Touchdowns have a significant impact on games. Sometimes, players score them in bunches and provide some of the most notable fantasy football weeks in history.
The most touchdowns a quarterback has thrown in a single game is seven. That has only happened eight times in NFL history. Most recently, Drew Brees did it back in 2015.
Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles has also accomplished this feat. He did it back in 2013 in his first stint with the Philadelphia Eagles.
— Brian Goodell (@restorationtour) July 22, 2018
QBs aren’t the only ones who score touchdowns, though. Running backs and receivers score their fair share too. For these players, scoring five TDs in one game is just incredible.
Only five players in NFL history have rushed for five scores, Clinton Portis (most recent, 2003), Cookie Gilchrist (1963), James Stewart (1997), Ricky Watters (1994), and the great Jim Brown (1959).
Catching five touchdowns is just as rare. This feat has only happened three times. Jerry Rice did it in 1990. Bob Shaw did it in 1950, and Kellen Winslow accomplished it in 1981.
7. Hitting for the natural cycle or unnatural cycle (MLB)
Hitting for the period is extremely impressive, but hitting the natural or unnatural cycle is some kind of crazy.
The natural cycle is hitting a single, double, triple, and home run in that order. Hitting for the period has happened just over 300 times.
The natural cycle has been accomplished 14 times in MLB history, and the unnatural cycle (HR, triple, double, single) has only happened ten times.
6. Winning the Triple Crown (MLB or Horse Racing)
Winning the Triple Crown in either sport is impressive. To achieve this, a player must lead the league in batting average, home runs, and RBIs. This is no easy task but shows how consistent some players are.
American Pharoah is a horse who won the Triple Crown of horse racing, which consists of winning the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes. Only 13 horses have won this title. It’s a fantastic accomplishment for these stallions.
5. Winning the Grand Slam (Golf or Tennis)
Grand Slams aren’t only a thing in baseball — sharing the “love” with tennis and golf. Currently, the Grand Slam in golf is when one player wins the four majors, the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open, and the PGA Championship in a calendar year.
However, Bobby Jones won what was considered the single-season grand slam in 1930. Jones won the U.S. and British Opens, and the U.S. and British amateur championships — pretty darn impressive if you ask me.
There is also the Career Grand Slam. This is when a single player wins the four majors listed above in their career. Only five players have done that. That lists includes Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods.
Several players are close to accomplishing the Career Grand Slam but aren’t there yet. Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, and Jordan Spieth are only one championship away.
The grand slam of tennis is very similar to that of golf.
It also has a Career Grand Slam, which eight men have won, and ten women have won. Only two men have completed the Grand Slam in a calendar year. Those men are Don Budge, who did it in 1938, and Rod Laver, who completed it in 1962 and 1969.
Three women have completed the Grand Slam in a calendar year, Maureen Connolly in 1953, Margaret Court in 1970, and Steffi Graf in 1988. It’s worth mentioning that Graf completed the Golden Slam in 1988 when she also won the Olympic Gold medal.
Winning all four tournaments in a career is an accomplishment, but winning all four in a calendar year is unreal
4. Averaging a triple-double for a single season (NBA)
One of the most impressive single-season accomplishments is averaging a triple-double. This has only occurred three times in NBA history.
Oscar Robertson did it during the 1961-62 season. “The Big O” averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists per game. Russell Westbrook did it in back-to-back seasons in 2016-17 and 2017-18.
His first time was his most impressive when he averaged 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists per game.
3. The unassisted triple play (MLB)
There have only been 15 unassisted triple plays in MLB history! The last time it happened was August 23, 2009, when Eric Bruntlett ended the game with one for the first time.
Everything has to work out perfect for this to happen. It’s a combination of being in the right place at the right time and just dumb luck.
2. Recording a quadruple-double in a single game (NBA)
In the NBA, only a few individual feats stand out. While messing around and getting a triple-double is impressive, the elusive quadruple-double is almost unheard of.
According to Basketball-Reference, only four have happened. Those who lit up the stat sheet are Nate Thurmond, Alvin Robertson, Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon, and “The Admiral” David Robinson.
However, there are conflicting reports.
And the number one most impressive individual feat in sports. Drum roll, please…
1. Throwing a perfect game (MLB)
No-hitters are nice, but a perfect game is unbelievable. A perfect game is when an opposing batter does not get on base.
No hits, no walks, no errors. All 27 hitters get retired in order. Some may argue that this is a team effort, and it kind of is. The defense behind a pitcher has to be flawless. But the pitcher has to just as good and probably better.
There’s nothing like watching a pitcher carve up batters for nine innings. King Felix Hernandez achieved the last perfect game on August 15, 2012.
How can this not be number one? It has “perfect” in the name.
Honorable mention: 5,000 passing yards in a single season (NFL), 2,000 rushing yards in a single season (NFL), scoring a hat trick (NHL or soccer).
All of these accomplishments are just as impressive as the next. We are fortunate to be able to watch the best athletes on Earth do some incredible stuff.
These achievements may be reached more often in the next few decades, but that doesn’t take anything away from these all-time greats.
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