Being a part of any sport is inherently a thrilling experience. It is not even necessary to participate in the games. Just watching the athletes is enough to experience the sensational feeling. There have been instances amidst the sporting events so dramatic that they need exclusive historical recognition. These are remarkably rare episodes that won’t be easily repeating themselves. With that being said, presented below are 10 rare sports stories that sound crazy.
1. David Ayres, a 42-year-old Zamboni driver, kidney transplant recipient, and practice hockey goalie led the Carolina Hurricanes to a 6-3 win after their two pro goalies were injured. He was cheered by the opposing team’s fan and became the oldest player ever to make his pro debut in a major sport.
Ayres didn’t expect any chance of an opportunity to play in the game, and so he was chilling by himself in the bowels of Scotiabank Arena. Suddenly then, he received an urgent call to come over when James Reimer, the Hurricane’s starting goalie, got injured.
Half-dressed into his gear, Ayres found his cell phone blowing up midway to the match venue. It was because the second option, Petr Mrazek, got hurt in a heavy collision with an opposite team forward.
Ayres reached just in time, conceded the first two goals in the beginning after which he heroically saved the next eight shots. He led his team to victory in that 2019-20 NHL season game against the Canadian Maple Leafs.
Ayres had been a practice goalie for the Maple Leafs and other Toronto teams for the previous eight years. He had nearly lost any hope of continuing hockey when received a kidney transplant 15 years before his debut match.
Ayres became the oldest goalie to win his regular-season debut in the NHL and the first player to make his debut in any four major North American pro sports leagues at the age of 42 or older after Satchel Paige did that in 1942. (1, 2)
2. During the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics the defending champions, the British hockey team withdrew from the games because they were afraid of the embarrassment of losing to one of the colonies, the debutant Indian team. Moreover, the British team didn’t enter the games until Indian Independence, and when they did in the 1948 London Olympics, they lost 4-0 to India at home.
Before 1928, the British were the defending Olympic champions and had secured Gold in 1908 and 1920.
However, the Indian hockey team grabbed the Gold at the Amsterdam Olympics in 1928 with ease and consistently maintained its dominance for the next two decades.
Before the event in Amsterdam, the Indian hockey team had already beaten the Britons 4-0 at the Folkstone Easter Festival. That loss prompted the British team to withdraw from the Amsterdam Olympics since they were sure they wouldn’t be able to handle the embarrassment after losing again from a colony.
Indian got its independence from the British in 1947, and the very next year, London hosted the Olympics. This time too, India won against the British at the present-day Wembley Stadium.
3. Australian rower Bobby Pearce stopped in the middle of a rowing race in the 1928 Olympics to let a family of ducks pass. His opponent, Sauurin. took advantage when Pierce slowed down but Pearce still emerged victorious out of eight competitors in that round.
It was a quarter-final race when Pearce performed the much appreciable act of compassion that left an everlasting memory in people’s hearts.
He heard cries from the bank and turned around only to be confronted face to face by a duck followed by a line of little ducklings crossing the Stoten Canal.
He slowed down like a gentleman and let the creatures pass before he resumed rowing. Meanwhile, his opponent and also a powerful rover, Saurin, took advantage of the situation which gave him a five-length lead.
Pearce still didn’t give up and performed exceptionally well in the last 1,000 meters of the race. He was 30 seconds ahead of Saurin the moment he crossed the finish line.
Pearce won the duck-interrupted quarter-finals, the finals, and also didn’t lose his position of world professional champion for 12 years starting from 1933. (Source)
4. Pele, the legendary soccer player’s last game in 1977 was an exhibition match between two of his former clubs, namely, New York Cosmos and Santos. He was privileged to play the first half of the match for Cosmos and the second half for Santos.
The friendly match on 1 October 1977 between the American and the Brazilian clubs was not just a friendly match but is remembered as a significant event in soccer’s history.
Pele originally belonged to Brazil but was convinced by the then US Secretary of Foreign Affairs to come to the US and change the sporting landscape of the country. He joined the Cosmos in 1975.
By the time of his retirement, Pele was looked upon almost as a religious figure. Even Muhammad Ali, another star athlete, flew in to watch Pele’s final game.
He scored a goal for Santos in the first half of the game, then switched jerseys and played the final half of the game for Cosmos.
Pele’s farewell match was a really sad scene. The fellow players and fans all sobbed that day. During the second half of the game, it poured down rain, so a newspaper humorously printed the headline the next morning “Even the sky was crying.” The phrase exactly describes how hard it was for everybody to say goodbye to the legend. (Source)
5. Shuhei Nishida and Sueo Oe, the two Japanese pole vaulters tied for second place in the 1938 Berlin Olympics, refused to participate in the tie-breaker. The medals needed to be distributed nonetheless, so Nishida got the silver and Oe the bronze. However, after returning to Japan, the two friends cut their medals in half and fused them so that each of the athletes ended up with a half-silver, half-bronze medal known as “The Medals of Friendship.”
The gold was already secured by the American athlete Earle Meadows with a 4.35-meter-high vault. The contest was still up for the silver and the bronze medal among another American athlete, Bill Sefton, and the two Japanese. Sefton couldn’t clear the bar and so he was the first to be eliminated.
Each of the two Japanese competitors was now sure to have a medal but the question was, who will get which?
Nishida and Oe were friends, and to everyone’s surprise, they refused to compete further. They wished to share the honor, but the request was rejected.
The responsibility of assigning the silver and bronze was given to the Japanese team. It took them a long discussion after which everyone agreed to give the silver to Nishida who vaulted 4.25 meters in his very first attempt and bronze to Oe who took two attempts to reach the same height.
The decision remained dissatisfactory to the two athletes until they made their discretion and created the hybrid medals after returning to Japan. (Source)