How many times have we heard, over the years, the word “unassailable” in terms of sports records?
It has gotten difficult, however, to hold off on adding the qualifier “seemingly unassailable” to all but the most otherworldly records.
Still there are marks surely able to survive the test of time.
(Well, seemingly able to survive).
Add to that list the three-day, record-setting tennis match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon, the longest by far in the sport’s history, both in terms of time (11 hours 5 minutes) and games (183). That’s more than 4 1/2 hours longer and 71 games longer than the previous marks.
In Los Angeles, the unassailable-record discussion starts and ends with the late John Wooden and UCLA.
Wooden’s basketball teams won seven consecutive NCAA championships from 1966 through 1973. No other school has won more than two in a row. The Bruins also won 88 games in a row, breaking the 60 won by the University of San Francisco.
Others famous marks fit the unassailable category for differing reasons:
In baseball, there are Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak and Cy Young’s record of 511 career wins. Young’s record will never be matched because the game has changed and starting pitchers no longer routinely finish games.
In pro basketball, there was Wilt Chamberlain’s magical 100-point game on March 2, 1962. And Chamberlain’s 50.2-point scoring average for that season. The second-best scoring performance? Kobe Bryant’s 81 points against the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center on Jan. 22, 2006.
In hockey, there is the eye-popping ironman record produced by goaltender Glenn Hall. Hall played 502 consecutive games in goal, a streak of seven years spanning two organizations, Detroit and Chicago.
It started with the 1955 season and the 502 figure doesn’t include 49 more playoff games.
Hall was modest in an interview with Sports Illustrated, saying: “With teams carrying two goalies now. I’d have to say it will never be broken.”
Because the latest discussion of sports records was started by an 11-hour match, let’s finish with one other tennis record.
Preteens Cari Hagey and Collette Kavanaugh combined to play the longest tennis point, one lasting 51 minutes, at a junior event in Anaheim in 1977. Hagey lost the point but won the three-set match.
That match lasted only 3 1/2 hours, a mere sprint compared to the Isner-Mahut marathon.