Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Real Iron Men of Sports (ETS Daily Exclusive)

The term "Iron Man" gets thrown around a lot these days. Sure, you have Cal Ripken and Lou Gehrig, who played in a combined 4763 consecutive games. But was Cal really the # 1 Iron Man to ever play sports? ETS Daily considers...

10. Lou Gehirg

His record of 2,131 consecutive games played lasted for 56 years, and it's a shame he died so young, because the number could have been a lot higher. But "what-ifs" don't quite cut it on ETS Daily.

9. Cal Ripken

Yes, playing in 2,632 consecutive games is very impressive. No, that record will never be broken, but Cal's career was not quite as long as some other members of this list. Plus, baseball is a non contact sport. For the record, Pete Rose holds the mark most for most baseball games ever played, with 3,562.

8. Ted "Double-Duty" Radcliff

Radcliff, who played his entire career in the Negro Leagues, became the oldest person ever to pitch in a professional baseball game, when at age 96, he threw exactly 1 pitch for the Schamburg Flyers of the Northern League. As was a tradition, once he passed his 100th birthday, each year he threw out the first pitch at U.S. Cellular Field for the Chicago White Sox.

7. Morten Anderson

Vikings Fans may remember him for other, more dubious reasons, but we here at ETS Daily like to think of Morten as a true Iron Man. Anderson was an NFL kicker between 1982 and 2007, kicking his last field goal at age 47. Truly, he is one of Denmark's proudest sons.

6. Julio Franco

Franco played from 1982 to 2007, and when he played his last game he was 49 years old. Known for lying about his age over the course of his career, which means he couyld have been even older. Met fans will always remember Franco as a lousy, unreliable pinch hitter, but he accumulated a fine career, and naturally did better once he was traded to Atlanta.

5. Kareem-Abdul-Jabbar

Played 20 seasons in the NBA, all for the Milwaukee Bucks and the LA Lakers. He holds the record for most minutes played, with 57,446, and is second in games played at 1560. Only Robert Parish, long time Boston Celtic, has played more games (1611), but only played 45,704 minutes, keeping him off this list.

4. Chris Chelios

Famous American born defensemen who played in the NHL from 1983 to 2009. Played for the Canadiens, Blackhawks, and Red Wings, and is 10th on the all-time leader boards for scoring defensemen. Chelios, who played his last NHL game to date at age 48, is still playing minor league hockey for the Chicago Wolves of the AHL, a farm system team for the Atlanta Thrashers, who say that if someone on their roster gets injured, Chris could very well be called to play once again. His 1644 games played is the most for any American born hockey player.

3. Jesse Orosco

Played his first major league game in 1979, played his last in 2003 at age 46. One of a select handful of players to play in 4 decades. This life-long relief pitcher is best remembered for striking out Marty Barrett for the final out of the 1986 world series, the last championship for the Mets to date. His record of 1252 games played for a pitcher remains the record to this very day.

2. Gordie Howe

Played for the Red Wings from 1946 to 1971. Finished his career for the Hartford Whalers in 1980. His record of 1767 NHL games played (not counting WHA, another legit professionally league he played for from 1971 to 1978) will probably never be touched. He played his final NHL game at age 52.

1. George Blanda

NFL QB and placekicker from 1949 to 1976 en route to a hall of fame career. Played for the Bears, Colts, Oilers, and Raiders. His record of 340 NFL games played was only beaten by Morten Anderson. Blanda gets the nod as our # 1, in the ultimate contact sport.

Feel free to add your own choices to this list, or add any disagreements to the list. As always, articles on ETS Daily are open for comment, and we'd love for your input


Tatum "Left Eye" Fisher said...

This article is one big slap to the rugged face of Brett Favre. I know a lot of people aren't too fond of the Jeans-pusher, but his consecutive starts streak (active, by the way) is just unheard of. For him to hold the non-kicker record not only by such a huge margin but also at the vulnerable position of QB makes his feat remarkable. Combine that with the fact that he just came off one of the best seasons of his career (and his inevitable return in August) and I would have a hard time looking him in the eye and telling him he doesn't crack the top ten.

"Pistol" Clyde Stockton said...

That's a fair point, but he isn't nearly as old as some of the other people on this list. I think he compared well with Ripken, and Ripken is only # 9 in my book when compared with the greats like Jesse Orosco and Ted Radcliff. If Brett throws a pass at age 96 in a professional game Ill consider adding him to the list. If he plays another 5 years, he will also be added to this list.

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