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Arnie's Aces, Red's Big Day, the Orneriest Fish and Other True Tales of the Improbable

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On Sept. 2 and 3, Arnold Palmer hit successive holes in one on the 187-yard third hole at the Tournament Players Club in Avenel, Md. “Aw, my goodness,” Arnie said the second time. “Aw, my goodness.” A week later Eric Davis of the Cincinnati Reds hit three homers in one game, one short of the all-time record shared by 11 men. Such outbursts of improbability can’t be accounted for. They happen according to some supra-athletic force that works on unknown rules all its own. Here are 15 other sports records achieved as the result of what we hereby name Wolgast’s Law: “There is almost no sporting achievement, no matter how unlikely, that somebody hasn’t accomplished through skill, luck and, most of all, serendipity.”

Now Remember to Stay Out of the Corner, Ralph. Ralph?

The Wolgast Law is named for lightweight champ Ad Wolgast, who on July 4, 1912 knocked out Joe Rivers with a right in the 13th round—at the same moment Rivers knocked him out with a right. The ref declared Wolgast the winner because he “fell last.” The fastest recorded KO, in September 1946, came when welter weight Al Couture knocked out Ralph Walton in 10½ seconds—including the 10-second count. Caught him in his corner fiddling with his mouthpiece.

Dee-fense, Dee-fense!

In surely the most dazzling performance in football history, Red Grange scored 24 points in the first 12 minutes of the Illinois-Michigan game on Oct. 18, 1924. He ran the opening kickoff back 95 yards, then made touchdown runs of 67, 56 and 45 yards, and a 12-minute gain of 303 yards.

And in the 46th Minute He Rested

In the Big Ten championships in Ann Arbor, Mich. on May 25, 1935, a year before his four Olympic Gold Medals, Jesse Owens of Ohio State tied or set six world records in 45 minutes. First he tied the 100-yard-dash record of 9.4 seconds; 10 minutes later he broke the long-jump record; 20 minutes later he broke the 220-yard-dash record; 15 minutes later he set a record for the 220-yard hurdles, and the last two events were also entered as new 200-meter marks. A few days earlier, he’d had a sore back.

Wake Me When It’s Over

On March 4, 1976, in Toledo, Ohio, John Pezzin bowled the most consecutive strikes: 33. Spare us.

Let’s Try Taking Out the Goalie

The fastest three goals in pro hockey were scored by Chicago Black Hawk Bill Mosienko against the N.Y. Rangers on March 23, 1952 in 21 seconds.

Mal der Meer

On June 11, 1938 Johnny Vander Meer of the Cincinnati Reds pitched a no-hitter against the Boston Bees—and his very next time out, on June 15, he pitched another no-hitter against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Now for the real news. On May 2, 1917 Fred Toney of the Reds and James (Hippo) Vaughn of the Chicago Cubs both pitched nine no-hit innings—against each other. The Reds finally won on two hits in the 10th.

And Some Ben-Gay for My Friend

The career record for most batters hit by a pitcher goes to Walter (the Big Train) Johnson, who smacked 206 batsmen while with Washington from 1907 to 1927. The record for getting hit belongs to Ron Hunt. Playing for various teams from 1963 to 1974, he was hit 243 times. Talk about sore losers.

Hey, Can I Play?

On Nov. 19, 1932, in a football game against Cedarville in Wheeling, W.Va., Joe Kershalla of West Liberty State scored 71 points all by himself: 11 TDs and five extra points. West Liberty won 127-0 but some folks still grumble that Joe was a ringer. West Liberty has no record of him as a student.

But Whoever Heard of Mancil’s Army?

Palmer’s a piker compared to some. The pro who has shot the most holes in one is Mancil Davis of Austin, Texas. He’s made 47. And the record for most holes in one in a single day goes to the late Dr. Joseph Boydstone, who hit three, on the third, fourth and ninth holes of the Bakersfield (Calif.) Country Club on Oct. 10, 1962. Then, for balance, there is A.J. Lewis of Sussex, England. In 1890 he took 156 putts on one green and never holed out.

Why I Hate Fishing

The longest recorded fight between a fisherman and his quarry lasted 32 hours and five minutes. Donal Heatley of New Zealand hooked a 20′ marlin weighing about 1,500 lbs. off Mayor Island on Jan. 21, 1968. It towed his 12-ton launch 50 miles. Then it got away.