One-hit wonders in sports

February 18, 2011 | Ryan Chell

This afternoon on…well…”The Afternoon Drive”, Rex Snider and I went over a list of our Top 5 “One-Hit Wonders” in sports. I had a list of ten…and actually more…to throw in there and I figured I might as well share it with you all.

I had a tough time putting them in order, so by all means this is no where close to any particular order. I tried my best but I figured if they’re a one-hit wonder, who cares where they’re ranked? Aren’t they all incredibly lucky?

1. Joe Namath, quarterback, New York Jets

Joe Namath

Broadway Joe. A guy we love to hate here in Baltimore. Why? Because of that lucky Super Bowl III victory, and his guarantee about it. He was the first quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in the then modern era in 1967, and just because of one guarantee over the Colts in Super Bowl III , he became the first ever media-loved quarterback and rides his way into the Hall of Fame.

But he Why is this guy in Canton? He owns a career 65.5 career passer rating, and he only threw 173 TDs to 220 INTs. After Super Bowl III, he spent nine more years in the league but only won 35 games. He took the Jets to one more repeat playoff appearance in 1969-and lost it.

Rex Snider put the 1968 New York Jets on the team on his list because as a team, the Jets only made the playoffs 6 times between 1969-1997-the year Bill Parcells took over at the helm-and began putting the pieces together.

2. 1969 New York Mets

In the movie, “Oh, God” starring George Burns and John Denver, Burns-playing the role of God, said that the last miracle he ever performed was the 1969 New York Mets.

And it continued the trend of the Baltimore losing to New York for another season.

The Mets-in only their eighth season in the league-finished with their first winning season and ultimately defeated the Orioles in five games, winning 4-1.

In fact, the biggest part of that team, Tom Seaver (25-7, 2.21 ERA, 208 K), only got there because the Mets had been that bad for that long.

That ’69 Orioles team was considered by many to be one of the best teams in baseball history, but the Mets completed the upset.

After that season though, the Mets necessarily didn’t return to the mediocrity they experienced before 1969, but they lost in 1973 in the World Series to the Oakland Athletics 4-3( on top of that they only finished 82-79 that season).

It would then take another 13 years for former Oriole Davey Johnson then brought the Miracle Mets back to the Promised Land in 1986, and the on the verge of being eliminated, something happened that gave them another World Series…

Bill Buckner

3. Buster Douglas

Buster Douglas

Buster Douglas went up against the then-undefeated Mike Tyson on February 11th, 1990 in Tokyo, Japan as the two fought for the outright Heavyweight Boxing Title of the World. Everyone expected Tyson-then at the time 37-0 with 33 knockouts-to wipe the floor with Douglas (29-4-1, 19 KO)-so much so that only one Vegas casino took odds for the fight.

And they had Douglas winning at 35-to-1 odds.

The match was designed to be a preliminary bout for Tyson before then facing off against fellow undefeated contender Evander Holyfield, who was in attendance for Tyson-Douglas to fight.

Douglas-who in the weeks leading up to the fight had lost his mother and sickness around his family, but that did not deter him in the fight. In fact, it probably motivated him. He came out aggressive in the match, and for the first time in his career, pushed Tyson to the ropes. Tyson’s own team didn’t even see it coming, as they didn’t bring along necessarily equipment to tend Tyson’s wounds between matches.

Tyson fought back and actually made Douglas hit the floor in the eighth round-ultimately reaching a count of nine before getting back up-and over the next two rounds, Douglas continued to beat down on a battered Tyson.

In the tenth round, in a famous scene, Douglas hit Tyson and sent him to the floor for the first time in Tyson’s boxing career. Tyson fumbled for his mouthpiece, and put it in with part of it hanging out of his mouth. He was in no condition to continue, and Buster Douglas was named heavyweight champion of the world.

He held the title for eight months before Holyfield finished him off in three rounds. Douglas retired after the fight.

4. David Tyree

David Tyree was sixth-round draft choice by the New York Giants in the 2003 NFL Draft out of Syracuse.

He did make the Pro Bowl in 2005 as a special teams player, but up until the 2007 season his career numbers were a whopping 54 catches, for 650 yards and 4 TDs.

But his touchdown-and maybe the greatest catch in the history of the Super Bowl-maybe even the NFL as a whole…made Tyree a legend.

David Tyree

His catch on a 3rd-and-5 on the Giants 44-yard line, with New York needing a first-down to extend the drive, was caught on his helmet with headhunter Rodney Harrison in tow.

His play kept the drive alive for the Giants, as Eli Manning eventually found Plaxico Burress for the winning touchdown, as New York upset the previously undefeated Patriots, 17-14.

Minus the fact that the Giants kept him around the following year just to repay him for his play in Super Bowl 42,  they immediately let him go after one season and that was it for Tyree.

He was with the Ravens during the 2009 season, appearing in 10 games for Baltimore but starting none.

And to think…if Mike Carey had blown the play dead, Tyree wouldn’t have made this list…and history…

5. 1980 United States hockey team

Do you believe in miracles?

Do you believe in miracles?

When most people remember this game between the Soviet Union and United States hockey teams, they think that this was the championship game. But it wasn’t. The eventual winner would be playing Finland for the gold medal in the 1980 Winter Olympics.

The US squad consisted of mostly collegiate and amateur hockey players, but coach Herb Brooks and his squad fought through a match that almost didn’t happen due to the international Cold War happening between the two nations.

The Russians at the time were considered to be the best hockey team in the world.

Even the New York Times wrote:

“Unless the ice melts, or unless the United States team or another team performs a miracle, as did the American squad in 1960, the Russians are expected to easily win the Olympic gold medal for the sixth time in the last seven tournaments.”

But the United States did win. And then they beat Finland for the gold.

It made a career out of Al Michaels that’s for sure.

But they’re a one-hit wonder because the team didn’t even medal again in the Olympics until 2002.

Other considerations:

  • Brady Anderson (50 HRs in 1996 after never having more than 21 in a season, never had more than 24 after that season)
  • Brady Anderson

  • 1998 Atlanta Falcons (14-2 under Dan Reeves reaching Super Bowl XXXIII, losing to the Denver Broncos-team had only two seasons previous since 1996 with 10+ wins, never reached Super Bowl since)
  • Dirty Bird

  • 2000 Baltimore Ravens (Sorry Baltimore-had to put this one on there. Is this what the Ravens are on track for? I think the team will win another Super Bowl, but is it going to take a decade-plus in between them?)
  • Trent Dilfer

  • 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning (Won the Stanley Cup that year-a hockey team in sunny Florida? Haven’t won a playoff series since)
  • Tampa Bay Lightning

  • Don Larsen (pitched the only perfect game to occur in the World Series in Game 5 in 1956. Was the only such one in the playoffs until Roy Halladay’s no-hitter this past season versus Cincinnati. Why is that a one-hit wonder? Larsen’s career mark was 81-91 with a 3.78 ERA.
  • Don Larsen

  • Scott Mitchell (Had 32 TDs and 4,338 and a 92.3 passer rating for the Detroit Lions in 1995.  Never could repeat that success, including in Baltimore in 1999.
  • Scott Mitchell

  • Akili Smith (32 TDs, 11 INTs in only one season at Oregon, earning him the #3 pick in the draft by the Bengals. The rest is draft bust history.
    Akili Smith

  • John Paciorek (A ballplayer for the Houston Colt .45s in 1963-a late call up, he appeared in one game for Houston. On September 29th, 1963, Pacirorek went 3-for-3 at the plate hitting three singles, walking twice, and driving in three runs. He scored four times as well in the game. He never played again due to a back injury. Of the 20 major league baseball hitters with a 1.000 career batting average, he is the only one to have more than three at-bats.
  • John Paciorek

  • 1983 N.C. State basketball team (Not a bad team defeating both North Carolina-led by Michael Jordan and Ralph Sampson’s Virginia squad. But to then beat Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler’s Houston squad to win the National Championship-and on a last second broke play? And despite some success later on for the program under Jim Valvano and Herb Sendek, the Wolfpack have never been back on the national stage like they were in the late 70′s, early 80′s. Sidney Lowe-who now coaches the Wolfpack-was on this team and he could be fighting for his job down in Raleigh.

Got some more that I missed? Let I or Rex know below or on “The Afternoon Drive! 2-6PM, 410-481-1570!

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