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Top 10 Unbreakable Records: Part 1

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Some milestones will never be repeated, and some records will never be broken. Those who have played their sports the best will forever be remembered in the record books thanks to some of the most insane and memorable feats. For example, winning the most championships, pitching the most winning games, scoring the most goals or posting the most career touchdowns are all impressive achievements. In this video, continues our series of the Greatest Sports Records by counting down our picks for the top 10 unbreakable individual career records in professional North American team sports.

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Some milestones will never be repeated. Welcome to, and today we’ll be continuing our series of the Greatest Sports Records by counting down our picks for the top 10 unbreakable individual career records in professional North American team sports.

We’ve kept our list focused purely on player output and not ironman records, and have tried to represent each sport evenly.

#10 – Emmitt Smith [1990-2004]: NFL, Rushing Yards (18,355)

Kicking off our list is one of the great NFL running backs. Smith had talent and heart, plus he was part of a stacked, multi-threat Dallas Cowboys squad that kept defenses on their toes. Since the league now largely lacks such supporting casts, and is plagued by injury-shortened careers, it’s unlikely anyone will ever come close to Smith’s eighteen thousand three hundred fifty five all-time rushing yards, let alone break the record.

#9 – John Stockton [1984-2003]: NBA, Assists (15,806)

With Kobe Bryant inching closer to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's points record, we're left with Stockton. During his years with the Utah Jazz, he became one of history’s best point guards. Talented players like Jason Kidd may come near Stockton’s fifteen thousand eight hundred and six all-time assists, but Kidd would need to have a twenty year career to match it. In an era of individual play, Stockton’s record should be safe.

#8 – Rickey Henderson [1979-2003]: MLB, Stolen Bases (1,406)

This comment made many feel that “The Man of Steal” was a conceited jerk; however, his friend Lou Brock actually helped write this speech in honor of another of the “greatest,” Muhammad Ali. Either way, the fact remains: with fourteen hundred and six stolen bases, Rickey’s record is one of the MLB’s most unbreakable.

#7 – Jerry Rice [1985-2004]: NFL, Career Touchdowns (208)

If this were a list of the greatest NFLers in history, Rice would be at or near the top. Any one of this wide receiver’s career records is worth an entry on this list, be it the twenty two thousand eight hundred and ninety five yards receiving, one hundred and ninety seven receiving touchdowns or one thousand five hundred forty nine receptions. But we’re going with his two hundred and eight career touchdowns, ‘cause that’s just nuts.

#6 – Nolan Ryan [1966-1993]: MLB, No-Hitters (7)

If you came up to bat against “The Ryan Express,” there was a good chance you were striking out. What was most impressive about this pitcher, you ask? His 100+ mile-per-hour velocity? His five thousand seven hundred and fourteen strikeouts? No, we say it was his seven no-hitters. Due to the way pitchers are now protected, that milestone would be extremely hard to match today.

#5 – Bill Russell [1956-1969]: NBA; Henri Richard [1955-1975]: NHL, Championships (11)

Number five is a tie for the Most Championships ever won by a single sportsman in North America, and that honor is bestowed on the NBA’s Bill Russell and the NHL’s Henri Richard. Russell won his 11 championships as leader of a Boston Celtics dynasty, while The Pocket-Rocket took home his 11 Stanley Cups with a legendary Montreal Canadiens squad.

#4 – Walter Johnson [1907-1927]: MLB, Shutouts (110)

You may claim the game has changed since the early twentieth century, but even so Walter Johnson’s achievement is remarkable. “The Big Train” tossed 110 shutouts for the Washington Senators, and was a sportsman in every sense of the word. The next closest is twenty games behind, and the current active leader is not even in the same time zone. So, this record’s pretty solid.

#3 – Ty Cobb [1905-1928]: MLB, Batting Average (.367)

If we're looking at baseball stats: Pete Rose's hits record is reachable if Derek Jeter stays healthy, which is why he didn't make our list. But Ty Cobb should be 100% safe. “The Georgia Peach” banked a bunch of records during his 22 seasons. And by a bunch, we mean 90. But only some still stand today, one of which is his ridiculous .367 lifetime batting average.

#2 – Wayne Gretzky [1978-1999]: NHL, Points (2,857)

He’s “The Great One” for a reason. Gretzky retired with 61 records, but his career goals, assists and points are impossible to match: a player would have to average 140 points for 20 years to approach his stats. Marc Messier is closest, and is almost one thousand points back. Even more impressive: if you took away Gretzky’s goals from his total, he’d still be the all-time points leader.

#1 – Cy Young [1890-1911]: MLB, Wins (511)

Taking the top spot on our list is the namesake of Major League Baseball’s Best Pitcher award. During his illustrious career, Young completed a whopping 749 games, and won 511 of them. What’s even more extraordinary is that he also holds the record for most losses. To catch up to Young’s wins, a pitcher would have to win 20 games a year for 25 seasons – and even then he’d still trail.

Do you agree with our list? Which do you think is the most impressive individual career record in North American team sports? For more entertaining top 10s, be sure to subscribe to

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