It’s often said that records are meant to be broken. It just so happens that some records take longer than others to break. We took a look at some of the longest-standing all-time marks in each of the four major pro sports leagues and picked out 25 we think are most overdue to be broken. Certainly there are others that have stood for longer, and it’s possible all of these will last for all eternity, but they’ve all been on the books for at least 40 years, and each one’s days could be numbered:
NBAE/Getty ImagesGarrett Ellwood
Most NBA overtime periods in a game: 6 (1951)
In November 1989, the Seattle SuperSonics and Milwaukee Bucks played a five overtime game, and the NBA has seen a four-overtime game as recently as this season, when the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks needed 20 extra minutes to settle the score. But while college basketball has seen a recent six-overtime game, the NBA hasn’t had one since 1951, when the Rochester Royals and Indianapolis Olympians played one that featured two completely scoreless overtime periods and still ended with a 75-73 final score.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsKirby Lee
Fewest NBA combined points in a game: 119 (1955)
In December 2000, Miami and Charlotte played one of the ugliest games in recent memory, a 65-56 Hornets win that would have you believe the teams forgot to play the second half. However, it’s not the lowest-scoring game in NBA history, as the Boston Celtics — a team that averaged 101.5 points per game — topped the Milwaukee Hawks 62-57 in a February 1955 game in Providence, R.I. As offenses become more potent, this record will get harder and harder to break ... but it’s not totally out of the question.
Most NBA free throws made in a season: 840 (1965-66)
In order to surpass Jerry West’s 1965-66 mark of 840 free throws in a season — one he set in 79 games — a player would have to average just over 10 made foul shots per game for the entirety of an 82-game season. Such a feat is not completely out of the question — Michael Jordan made 833 free throws in 1986-87, and as recently as this year, James Harden has averaged 9.2 made free throws per game. However, it’ll certainly require the perfect mix of favorable officiating and top-notch foul shooting to do it.
Most NBA turnovers in a game: 45 (1971)
The NBA has only tracked turnovers since the 1970-71 season, and the all-time record happened to be set that year, when the San Francisco Warriors turned the ball over 45 times in a 134-112 loss to the Boston Celtics. In the past 30 years, there has only been one 40-turnover game, and since the end of the 1998-99 lockout, the high water mark for turnovers is 32. So a special level of ineptitude would be required to break this record, but stranger things have certainly happened.
Most consecutive NBA wins: 33 (1971-72)
Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West led the L.A. Lakers to 33 consecutive wins between November 1971 and January 1972. It's a mark others have come close to in the recent era of super teams, with the Miami Heat winning 27 straight during the 2012-13 season and the Golden State Warriors rattling off 28 straight victories between the end of the 2014-15 season and the start of 2015-16. (Although the latter mark is not so cut-and-dry.) With that in mind, it seems possible that a team will surpass the 33-win mark eventually — and perhaps sooner than later.
Fewest NBA wins in a full season: 9 (1972-73)
The Charlotte Bobcats went 7-59 during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, and the Vancouver Grizzlies and L.A. Clippers won eight and nine games, respectively, during the 50-game 1998-99 campaign. But the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers still hold the record for a complete season, having gone 9-73 that year. The Sixers nearly matched their own futility mark with 10 wins in the 2015-16 season, but for now the 44-year-old record remains safe.
Highest NBA free throw percentage by a rookie: .902 (1973-74)
In a given season, the NBA generally has at least a handful of players who shoot 90 percent from the foul line, but it’s been more than 40 years since a rookie hit that mark with enough attempts to qualify for the free throw percentage leaderboard. The last player to do so was record-holder Ernie DiGregorio, who made 174 of 193 attempts for the 1973-74 Buffalo Braves. Two years ago, Devin Booker shot 84 percent from the charity stripe as a rookie, and the year before, Zach LaVine made 84.2 percent of his 177 attempts. A 90.2 percent rookie shooter, however, remains elusive.
Most NFL rushing touchdowns in a game: 6 (1929)
There’s no denying that the game of football has changed considerably since Ernie Nevers set the NFL’s all-time mark with six rushing touchdowns for the Chicago Cardinals in a 1929 win over the Chicago Bears. But enough modern-era players have come close to matching this record to make this one worth including. Most recently, Clinton Portis had five rushing scores for the Denver Broncos in a 2003 win over the Kansas City Chiefs — a mark also matched by James Stewart (1997), Cookie Gilchrist (1963) and Jim Brown (1959). So while a six- or seven-touchdown game by a running back is unlikely, it’s not impossible.
Tony TomsicGetty Images
Highest NFL punting average in a season: 51.40 yards (1940)
As punters get stronger and continue to adjust techniques, it seems likely that someone, someday will break Sammy Baugh’s 1940 record of 51.4 yards per punt for a season (he kicked 35 for 1,799 yards). But thus far, no one has gotten closer than former Oakland Raiders punter Shane Lechler, who punted 96 times for 4,909 yards in 2009, good for 51.14 yards per attempt.
Most fumble recoveries returned for touchdowns in an NFL game: 2 (1948)
It’s not especially uncommon for defenders to log a pair of fumble recovery touchdowns in a season; Jason Taylor is the all-time leader with six fumble recovery touchdowns in his career. But in all of NFL history, Fred “Dippy” Evans of the 1948 Chicago Bears is the only player to return two fumbles for touchdowns in a game, taking fumbles to paydirt from 10 and 16 yards, respectively, in the first quarter of a 48-13 win over the Washington Redskins at Wrigley Field.
Getty ImagesMarc Serota
Most NFL passes intercepted in a game: 8 (1950)
One might expect that a quarterback would get the hook before he could throw eight interceptions in a game, but that particular lowlight has been seen only once, by Jim Hardy of the Chicago Cardinals, in a 45-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1950. Only five players have thrown seven picks in a game since, including Ken Stabler (1977), Steve DeBerg (1986) and Ty Detmer (2001).
Getty ImagesRobert Riger
Most NFL passing yards in a game: 554 (1951)
Arguably the most surprising record on this list, set more than 65 years ago when Norm Van Brocklin threw for 554 yards and five touchdowns in an L.A. Rams win over the New York Yanks. There have been 19 other 500-yard passing performances since— and Warren Moon and Matt Schaub have come the closest to topping 554, each throwing for 527 yards in 1990 and 2012, respectively. But for now, Van Brocklin remains the standard bearer.
Most interceptions in an NFL season: 14 (1952)
Typically when a defensive back has established himself as a premier defender, he doesn’t see many passes thrown his way. But in 1952, rookie DB Dick “Night Train” Lane of the L.A. Rams picked off 14 passes — a record that still stands to this day. In 1980, Lester Hayes came the closest to Lane with 13 interceptions for the Oakland Raiders. But since 1981, no one has logged more than 10 picks in a season — Antonio Cromartie the most recent to accomplish the feat in 2007.
Most receiving yards by a rookie: 1,473 (1960)
Anquan Boldin (1,377 yards), Randy Moss (1,313) and Odell Beckham (1,305) have come close over the past two decades, but to date, no rookie has been able to match the receiving output of Bill Groman, who had 72 catches for 1,473 yards for the AFL’s Houston Oilers in 1960. One could argue that Moss — who had rookie record 17 touchdown catches to Roman’s 12 — had the better overall season, especially considering the era. But the record is the record.
Geoff BurkeGeoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Most NHL goals by a team in a game: 16 (1920)
On paper, it sounds absurd to think that a team could score 16 or more goals in a modern game, like the Montreal Canadiens did in a March 1920 win over Quebec. But teams have come closer than you’d think: In 1981, the Minnesota North Stars dropped 15 on the Winnipeg Jets, and in 1993 the Calgary Flames lit the lamp 13 times in a win over the San Jose Sharks. Such results aren’t typical, of course, but these kinds of abnormalities happen. What's to say it can't happen again?
Focus on Sport/Getty ImagesFocus On Sport
Most consecutive NHL games with a goal: 16 (1921-22)
A record you’d perhaps expect to have seen broken by one of the all-time greats, Punch Broadbent’s streak of 16 consecutive games with a goal has stood for nearly 100 years. In the modern era we’ve seen a 13-goal streak by Charlie Simmer (1979-80), and there have also been 12-game streaks from Dave Lumley (1981-82) and Mario Lemieux (1992-93). But another run of 16 games or longer has yet to play out.
Charles LeClaireCharles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Most shots by a team in an NHL game: 83 (1941)
You wouldn’t have wanted to be Chicago Blackhawks goalie Sam LoPresti on Mar. 4, 1941, when he got peppered with 83 shots from the Boston Bruins — and made 80 saves! — in a 3-2 Blackhawks loss. The modern record for shots in a game is 73, also set by the Bruins in a 1991 overtime tie with the Quebec Nordiques and goalie Ron Tugnutt. Since the turn of the century, however, there have only been four 60-shot games, the most recent coming in December, when Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Mike Smith made 58 saves on 60 shots in a 3-2 shootout win over the Arizona Coyotes.
Most points by an NHL team in a season: 132 (1976-77)
During the 1976-77 season, the Montreal Canadiens went 60-8-12 and finished 20 points ahead of their nearest competitor with 132 points on the year — a mark that’s still the best in league history. In 1995-96 the Detroit Red Wings gave Montreal a run for its money and finished the year with an NHL-record 62 wins. But even with the benefit of two extra games, the Wings couldn’t top the Habs’ point total. They came up just short with 131.
Most MLB stolen bases by one player in a game: 7 (1894)
You have to go way back — more than a century — to find a player who stole seven bases in a game. Billy Hamilton (no, not that one) was the most recent to do it, for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1894. Though we have seen a six-steal game as recently as 2009 — from Carl Crawford, then of the Tampa Bay Rays. So it’s not out of the question to think a seven-steal outing could eventually happen again.
Most triples in an MLB season: 36 (1912)
In 1912, Chief Wilson hit 36 triples for the Pittsburgh Pirates. And while players have no doubt gotten faster and more athletic in the 105 years since, the only player to come within spitting distance of that record in recent memory is Curtis Granderson, who hit 23 triples for the Tigers in 2007. Similarly, the mark for triples in a game (4) was set by Bill Joyce in 1897. Only Yasiel Puig (three triples and a double in a July 2014 game) has come close in the past 25 years.
Most MLB doubles in a season: 67 (1931)
Former Red Sox outfielder Earl Webb set a major league record with 67 doubles during the 1931 season. And while others from that time frame came close to topping it, the most significant threat in the modern era came from Todd Helton — No. 17 in your scorebook and No. 19 on the career doubles list — who hit 59 doubles during the 2000 season with the Colorado Rockies.
Getty ImagesDoug Pensinger
Most consecutive MLB wins by a team: 21 (1935)
The 2002 Oakland Athletics did more than inspire the book “Moneyball” — they nearly broke a decades-long record for most consecutive wins in the process. Those A’s won 20 straight games between Aug. 13 and Sept. 4 — one short of the record set by the Chicago Cubs, who won 21 consecutive games between Sept. 4 and Sept. 27, 1935. Thanks to their streak, the Cubs won the NL pennant and played in the 1935 World Series against the Tigers. But we all know how that went.
Getty ImagesGetty Images
Most walks by one MLB player in a game: 6 (1938)
Five-walk games aren’t especially uncommon. We saw one from Matt Holliday earlier this season. Six walks in a game, however, is almost unheard of: The most recent time a player walked six times came in 1938, when Jimmie Foxx went 0-for-0 with six free passes and two runs for the Red Sox in a win over the St. Louis Browns.
Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved.AP
Most consecutive MLB games with a hit: 56 (1941)
We know: Joe DiMaggio’s legendary 56-game hit streak is viewed by some as an unbreakable baseball record. But Major League Baseball has seen 55 hit streaks of 30 or more games over its history, so it stands to reason that anyone who can log a hit in 30 straight games can do so in 26 more. The closest calls since DiMaggio’s run have come from Pete Rose (44 games in 1978), Paul Molitor (39 in 1987) and Jimmy Rollins (38 in 2005 and 2006). And while it won’t be easy for someone to surpass DiMaggio’s mark, that challenge is why records are records.
Sporting News via Getty ImagesSporting News Archive
Most MLB runners left on base by a team in a 9-inning game: 20 (1956)
The New York Yankees couldn’t buy a timely hit against the Boston Red Sox on Sept. 21, 1956, collectively stranding 20 runners in a 13-7 loss — the most ever in a nine-inning game. Obviously, it would be difficult to strand more than 20 runners in nine innings — the most a team could leave on base is 27, if they left the bases loaded every single time. But in recent years, we’ve seen as many as 18 runners left on base in a regulation contest, by the Detroit Tigers in a 2010 win over the Cleveland Indians. So 20 is certainly within reach.