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7 Weird Sports Facts You Definitely Haven’t Heard Before

Meet the guy who scored for both teams, a kicker who won an unexpected award, and much more.

Weird and unusual sports facts and the stories behind them, including Lee Todd's red card and much more

Sports offer up plenty of classic moments. You’ve likely got a favorite memory, whether it was hitting a game-winning home run in Little League or seeing an NBA star dazzle on the court.

All that on-field/court/ice action builds up the lore of sports. At Joker Mag, we’re all about sharing underdog stories and things you may not have known.

Let’s jump into it. Here are seven of our favorite weird and unusual sports facts.

1.) MLB player Harry Chiti was the first player traded for himself

Trades happen in baseball all the time. We often know everyone involved, though some trades include the classic “player to be named later.” There are usually stipulations around that player; a team couldn’t just hire a random guy off the street and then toss him into the trade.

On April 25, 1962, the New York Mets were on the hunt for a backup catcher. They had their eye on Harry Chiti and made a trade with the Cleveland Indians to bring Chiti to the Big Apple. 

Chiti, who was 29 years old at the time of the trade, was a better defensive catcher than he was a hitter. He posted .195/.233/.220 BA/OBP/SLG splits over 15 games and 43 plate appearances, with nary a home run or RBI in sight.

Less than two months later, on June 15, Chiti was sent back to the Indians as the player to be named later. Yet the catcher never played another MLB game, spending two more seasons in Triple-A before retiring in 1964.

Chiti is the first player to be traded for himself, but not the last! Three other guys — Dickie Noles, Brad Gulden, and John McDonald — have also pulled off the rare feat.

RELATED: How Mike Piazza Went From 62nd-Round Pick to the Best Hitting Catcher Ever

2.) A kicker won the NFL MVP in 1982

The NFL’s Most Valuable Player award is dominated by quarterbacks. A few running backs have received the honor — most recently Adrian Peterson in 2012 — but you’d have to go all the way back to 1986 to find an MVP (Lawrence Taylor) who wasn’t a quarterback or running back.

Jump back a few more years and you’ll find the only time a kicker was named MVP. The 1982 NFL season was shortened by a player’s strike. Teams only played nine regular-season games and the league hosted a 16-team playoff.

The then-Washington Redskins had the best record in the NFC at 8-1, and their kicker, Mark Moseley, was a big reason why. Moseley converted on 20 of his 21 field goal attempts (though, bizarrely, he missed three of 19 extra points) and scored 76 points for the team.

That performance was good enough to win the Associated Press Most Valuable Player award. Moseley’s strong play wavered in the playoffs; he missed four kicks through the team’s first two games. Yet he redeemed himself in the Super Bowl, knocking in a pair of field goals and nailing all three of his extra-point attempts. The following season, Moseley led the NFL in scoring with 161 points.

It’s the only time a pure special teams player has won the MVP award. Though perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. Moseley played quarterback up until his senior year of college.

3.) The original Stanley Cup was only about 7.5 inches tall

You may be aware that the Stanley Cup features the names of each player from every champion and is a beautiful vessel for cereal, but did you know it used to be much shorter?

In its early days, the Stanley Cup — which was actually a bowl — stood a modest 7.28 inches tall and 11.42 inches in diameter. Today, it’s about five times the height (35.25 inches) and a whopping 34.5 pounds in weight.

Luckily, the adrenaline of winning a championship is usually high enough to make hoisting it over your head a breeze — with the occasional exception.

RELATED: Breaking Down the Shortest NHL Players of All-Time

4.) Eric Money is the only NBA player to officially score for both teams in a game

Most NBA players don’t spend their entire careers with one team. Trades and free agency are a part of the sport. Typically, though, those trades don’t happen mid-game (Harrison Barnes being a recent exception).

Eric Money has an even more bizarre claim to fame: He’s the only player to officially score for both teams in the same game.

On November 8th, 1978, the Philadelphia Sixers and New Jersey Nets played an early-season matchup that featured a lot of whistles. The Nets had a player (Bernard King) and coach (Kevin Loughery) receive three technical fouls apiece.

The game ended with a 137-133 Sixers victory in double overtime. But the Nets weren’t satisfied and protested to the league that the game should be replayed. The league reviewed what happened and agreed — the two teams would resume play with 5:50 left in the third quarter.

Thanks to the league’s schedule, the teams couldn’t play again until March 23rd, 1979. By then, the Nets traded Eric Money and Al Skinner to the Sixers for Harvey Catchings, Ralph Simpson, and cash. The league opted to let all the players suit up for their new teams during the makeup game, as well as the regularly scheduled game that would be played right after.

Money, Catchings, and Simpson all played for their new teams, while Skinner sat on the bench during both contests. Money, who scored 37 points in the original matchup, finished with 23 in the makeup game. He notched four points with the Sixers — the only time a player has scored for both teams in the same game.

The Nets lost that makeup game AND the following game of the doubleheader. They just couldn’t catch a break! 

RELATED: The Biggest NBA Comebacks Ever: Finals, 4th Quarter & More

5.) Golf balls used to be made from feathers and leather

Few sounds are as pleasing to the ears as a perfectly hit golf ball. The smack of club meeting ball can ring across the entire course, letting everyone know you just nailed that shot.

However, that sound used to be a lot different. From about the mid-1500s to the mid-1800s, golfers used “featheries,” or balls stuffed with feathers. These were the first balls built specifically for golf. Each one was handmade; makers boiled goose feathers for several hours to soften them, then packed them into a ball made from three pieces of wet leather, which was sewn shut. The feathers dried and expanded, and as the leather casing dried, it hardened — ideal for hitting across a fairway.

The featheries eventually fell out of favor because they were pricey ($10 to $20 per ball) and weren’t consistently round. In 1848, gutta-percha balls, or gutties, used the rubber-esque sap from gutta-percha balls and could be manufactured faster and cheaper than featheries.

Curious to see a feathery ball for yourself? This company is bringing back the old days.

6.) The fastest soccer red card happened two seconds into the match

Have you ever been in a sports league that penalizes you for cursing? Then you’ll feel the pain of Lee Todd during an October 2000 match.

The Cross Farm Park Celtic striker was standing in front of the referee, ready to get things going against the Taunton East Reach Wanderers. But the official blew his whistle with such vigor that it caught Todd off guard.

“F*** me, that was loud,” Todd said. He claimed after the game that he wasn’t swearing at the ref or an opponent, but it was too late. The referee pulled out the red card, and Todd headed to the sidelines, a spectator for an hour and a half.

Luckily, it didn’t impact his club — Cross Farm won in an 11-2 landslide. And it’s still the only time Todd has ever been sent off from a match. 

7.) The colors of the Olympic rings represent every competing nation

The Olympic rings were created in 1913 by France’s Baron de Coubertin. The five rings represent the inhabited continents of the world: Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas.

It would be easy to say each color corresponds to a continent, but that’s not quite right. Instead, the five rings — blue, yellow, black, green, and red — on a white background represent the flag colors of every country in the world.

Here’s a bonus fun fact: The ancient Olympic Games first took place in 776 BC. A chef named Koroibos won a 600-foot race. No word on what his diet consisted of, but it certainly helped his speed.

Joey Held is a writer and podcaster based in Austin, TX. He’s got more facts to share with you — sign up for his free weekly newsletter at Fun Fact Friyay.

Written By

Author and founder of Crisp Bounce Pass, a newsletter exploring the lighter side of basketball.



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