A win at the Belmont Stakes would give Justify the Triple Crown and put him in rare company

Horse Racing


Justify will be chasing horse racing history Saturday.

If he can pull out a victory at the Belmont Stakes, the 3-year-old colt would become just the second horse since 1978 to capture the Triple Crown. American Pharoah is the most recent to accomplish the feat, snapping a 37-year drought in 2015 to become the first since Affirmed to win the Triple Crown.

Just how hard is it to win the final leg of the Triple Crown? There have been 141 Belmont Stakes run since the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont all existed. Only 35 horses have won the first two legs. And only 12 have won all three.

If Justify pulls it off, he’ll have accomplished the nearly impossible, which got us thinking … what other feats in sports are so rare and elusive?


Auto Racing

Winner of both the Daytona 500 and Indy 500

Only Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt can say they have won both the Daytona 500 and Indy 500. Andretti is the only racer to win the Daytona 500 (1967), Indianapolis 500 (1969) and a Formula 1 world title (1978). Foyt is the only driver to win the Indianapolis 500 (1961, 1964, 1967, 1977), Daytona 500 (1972), 24 Hours of Le Mans (1967) and the 24 Hours of Daytona (1983, 1985).


Baseball

Batting Triple Crown

The Triple Crown has been accomplished in Major League Baseball just 16 times, most recently by Miguel Cabrera in 2012. Cabrera led the league in batting average (.330), home runs (44) and runs batted in (139), becoming the first player since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to join the elusive club. Rogers Hornsby (1922, 1925) and Ted Williams (1942, 1947) are the only players to accomplish the feat twice.

Pitching Triple Crown

The pitching Triple Crown isn’t as rare as the batting version, but it’s still not a common achievement. Twenty-seven pitchers have led their respective league in wins, strikeouts and earned run average in a season, most recently Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw in 2011. That season was the first since 1924 to see Triple Crown winners in both leagues.

Immaculate inning

According to ESPN Stats & Information data, Max Scherzer on June 5 became just the fifth pitcher in MLB history to record multiple immaculate innings. In the top of the sixth against the Rays, Scherzer struck out the side in order on nine pitches. His previous immaculate inning came against the Phillies on May 14, 2017. By repeating the feat, Scherzer joins a select group that includes Baseball Hall of Famers Lefty Grove, Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson.

Hitting .400

Eight players have hit .400 or better for a season a total of 13 times since 1900, but none since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941. In total, 20 players have reached the .400 mark in MLB history, and five have done so more than once (for 28 .400 seasons total). Others have flirted with the number since Williams’ historic season, including Rod Carew, who finished at .388 in his MVP season of 1977, and George Brett, who was hitting over .400 on Sept. 19 but finished with a .390 average in 1980. The player with perhaps the best shot, Tony Gwynn, had his quest cut short by the players strike in 1994 and settled for a .394 season

Multiple major awards by rookies

Only Fred Lynn (1975) and Ichiro Suzuki (2001) have won both Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season. Fernando Valenzuela is the only player to have won Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young in the same season (1981).

Consecutive no-hitters

A record that seemingly will never be broken, Johnny Vander Meer threw no-hitters in consecutive starts in 1938. Nolan Ryan, who had seven career no-hitters (and took a no-hitter into the eighth inning 23 times) had his best chance to go match the feat on July 19, 1973. Coming off his second career no-hitter, a 17-strikeout masterpiece in Detroit four days earlier, Ryan made it through seven innings against the Orioles before giving up a hit in the eighth. In 1947, Cincinnati’s Ewell Blackwell threw 8 1/3 innings of no-hit ball in the start after a no-hitter, the closest anyone has come to matching Vander Meer.

Postseason perfect games

Of the 23 perfect games recorded in major league history, only Don Larsen’s in 1956 came in the postseason. The Yankees right-hander struck out seven and needed only 97 pitches to finish the game. His perfect game remained the only no-hitter of any type pitched in postseason play until the Phillies’ Roy Halladay threw a no-hitter against the Reds on October 6, 2010, in Game 1 of the NLDS.


NFL

2,000-yard rushing season

Only Eric Dickerson, Jamal Lewis, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis, Chris Johnson, O.J. Simpson and, most recently, Adrian Peterson, have rushed for more than 2,000 yards in a single season. Peterson ran for 2,097 yards in 2012. Dickerson holds the high-water mark, rushing for 2,105 yards in 1984, his second season in the league.


NBA

Average a triple-double for entire season

In 2017, Russell Westbrook averaged 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game to become the second player to average a triple-double for a season — and then he did it again the following season (25.4 PPG, 10.1 rebounds, 10.3 assists). It has only happened three times in NBA history. Oscar Robertson averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists per game in 1962.


College Football

Winning the Heisman Trophy twice

Ohio State’s Archie Griffin is the only man to have won the Heisman twice, going back-to-back in 1974 and 1975. There have been some somewhat close calls recently. Lamar Jackson gave it a run, winning the award in 2016 and finishing third in voting in 2017. Baker Mayfield won in 2017 after placing third in 2016. Tim Tebow took the award in 2012 and was third in 2013.

Defensive player to win Heisman

Since the award was created in 1935, only one player who played primarily on defense — cornerback Charles Woodson — has won the Heisman Trophy. Woodson also occasionally played wide receiver and returned punts for Michigan during his Heisman-winning campaign in 1997. Since Woodson’s win, three defensive players have finished among the top five vote-getters: Nebraska tackle Ndamukong Suh finished fourth in 2009, LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu was fifth in 2011 and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o was the runner-up in 2012.

Winning the Heisman and national championship

Only 17 Heisman Trophy winners have also won the national championship in the same season, with the most recent being Alabama’s Derrick Henry during the 2015 campaign.


Golf

Teenage winners on PGA Tour

Jordan Spieth‘s win at the 2013 John Deere Classic made him just the fourth golfer to win as a teenager on the PGA Tour and first since 1931. Only Harry Cooper (19 years, 4 days; 1923 Galveston Open), Ralph Guldahl (19 years, 8 months, 3 days; 1931 Santa Monica Open) and Johnny McDermott (19 years, 10 months, 14 days; 1911 U.S. Open) won at younger age.

Note: Tom Morris, Jr. won the 1868 The Open Championship at age 17 years, 5 months, 8 days. He repeated in 1869 (18, 4, 27) and 1870 (19, 4, 26.)

Men’s Grand Slam

Only Bobby Jones in 1930 has completed the single-season Grand Slam, winning the British Open, British Amateur, U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur. None have completed the modern era Grand Slam, with just five in the Masters era completing the career Grand Slam (Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Gene Sarazen). Woods accomplished the “Tiger Slam,” holding all four modern major championships simultaneously — the U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship in 2000 and the 2001 Masters — although not in the same calendar year.

PGA Tour winners 50 or older

Sam Snead (52; 1965 Greater Greensboro Open), Art Wall (51; 1975 Greater Milwaukee Open), Davis Love III (51; 2015 Wyndham Championship), Jim Barnes (51; 1937 Long Island Open), John Barnum (51; 1962 Cajun Classic), Fred Funk (50; 2007 Mayakoba Golf Classic) and Craig Stadler (50; 2003 B.C. Open) are the only players to have earned PGA Tour wins at age 50 or older.


Tennis

Singles Grand Slam in a single season

It has only been accomplished in men’s tennis three times (Don Budge, Rod Laver twice), and women’s tennis three times (Maureen Connolly, Margaret Court and most recently Steffi Graf in 1988).



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