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Rick Zamperin: What sports statistic blows your mind?

Edmonton Oilers' Wayne Gretzky winds up for a shot during the first round of playoff action against the Vancouver Canucks on April 12, 1986 in Vancouver.
Edmonton Oilers' Wayne Gretzky winds up for a shot during the first round of playoff action against the Vancouver Canucks on April 12, 1986 in Vancouver. The Canadian Press/Chuck Stoody

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grip pretty much every aspect of our lives, I think this is the perfect time for a little distraction.

As a news anchor that brings you the latest coronavirus-related stories every day, nothing does the trick of taking my mind off COVID-19 like watching sports.

The trouble is, the sports world — and just about everything else — is on pause in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

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We sports fanatics are doing our darnedest to soak up any little bit of sports information, from QB Tom Brady officially signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard needing Tommy John surgery, but those stories are few and far between given the current situation that we find ourselves in.

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So, allow me to distract you with this question: What sports stat are you most amazed by?

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The overwhelming majority of sports fans, I think, love statistics and records, and I’m sure that you’re thinking about a stat that always blows your mind when you hear it.

I certainly have a few.

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There is a lot of talk about whether or not Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals will break Wayne Gretzky’s record of 894 career goals. It would be amazing to see Ovie get to 895, but another Gretzky record that continues to amaze me is his 1,963 career assists.

Even if The Great One never scored a goal during his 20-year NHL career, he would still have the most points in league history. That’s insane.

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How about New York Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak in 1941?

Joltin’ Joe hit safely in every game from May 15 to July 17 that year and batted .408 during that stretch. The closest anyone has ever gotten since was Pete Rose in 1978 when he hit safety in 44 consecutive games, tying Willie Keeler’s mark in 1896 with the Baltimore Orioles.

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Get a load of this one. Wilt Chamberlain holds the NBA record with 118 50-point games, way ahead of the next closest player, Michael Jordan’s 31. But the most incredible part of this stat is that Wilt the Stilt recorded 45 50-point games in 1961-62 with Philadelphia, meaning that he had more 50-point games in one season than anyone else had in their entire career.

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From the little known fact department, did you know that longtime Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald has more tackles (37) than dropped passes (29) in his career? Mind blown.

There are a million more of these, from Cleveland Indians infielder Joe Sewell’s lowest strikeout rate record (1 for every 62.5 at-bats) in Major League Baseball to Tiger Woods never missing a cut in 142 consecutive PGA tournaments from 1998 to 2005 — the list is endless.

If I managed to distract you for at least a couple of minutes with these dazzling sports stats and records, then I’ll consider my mission accomplished.

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