There’s no doubting I’m a failure by society’s standards. I hold a college degree yet have no job. I have no girlfriend or wife. My bank account is subsidized by family. And every time I play Guitar Hero on hard, it tells me I suck.
But some of sports’ greatest athletes failed, failed and failed again. So I’m in good company.
Let’s take a look at what I mean:
- Pete Rose holds the record for most career hits with 4,256. However, he also owns the record for most times getting out (10,328).
- Former Home Run King Hank Aaron might rank second in home runs (755) and third in hits (3,771), but Hammerin’ Hank got out 9,136 times (second all-time) and grounded into 328 double plays (also second all-time).
- Cal Ripken, MLB’s Iron Man, might have set a record with 2,632 consecutive games played, but the Orioles infielder also owns the record for most double plays grounded into with 350.
- Reggie Jackson hit 563 home runs in his career and is in the Hall of Fame. I’m doubting his plaque reads, “Most Strikeouts In League History,” as it should. Mr. October struck out 2,597 times in his career.
- Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock are rightfully considered the two best base stealers of all-time. Henderson’s 1,406 stolen bases top the MLB record books and Brock’s 938 are good enough for second. But Henderson was also thrown out 335 times (most in league history), and Brock was caught stealing 307 times, second most in history.
- Baseball’s all-time winningest pitcher Cy Young (511 wins) also holds the record for most career losses (316), earned runs (2,147) and hits allowed (7,092). Granted Young faced 4,824 more batters than anyone in league history, but still.
- Nolan Ryan owns the record for most career strikeouts with 5,714. But The Ryan Express also owns the mark for most wild pitches (277) and walks (2,795; 952 more than second place Steve Carlton).
- Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks holds the record for most games played without playing in the postseason. Banks played 2,528 games over 19 seasons, all with Chicago, and never reached the playoffs. Mr. Cub is the quintessential lovable loser. MLB’s current big loser is San Francisco’s Randy Winn, who has played 1,507 games with a postseason appearance.
- Minnesota Vikings cocktease Brett Favre holds the league’s record for touchdowns (464) and passing yards (65,127). But the former Packer also holds the mark for most interceptions (310) and second in fumbles (157). So that’s 464 touchdowns and 467 turnovers. Hmm. Vikings fans, still want him?
- The top 19 fumblers in league history are quarterbacks. But the top three non-QB fumblers are pretty recognizable names. The NFL’s No. 2 all-time leading rusher Walter Payton fumbled 86 times. Franco Harris (12th on the rushing yardage list) and Tony Dorsett (seventh in yards) both fumbled 90 times each, most among non-quarterbacks.
- The sport’s greatest, Michael Jordan, once said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed.”
- Karl Malone ranked second in NBA history with 36,928 points and seventh in rebounds with 14,968. However, The Mailman ranks first in turnovers (4,524) and second in fouls committed (4,578).
- Malone’s Jazz teammate John Stockton is lauded, and rightfully so, for being the league’s top assist man (15,806). But Stockton also ranks third in career turnovers with 4,244.
- The league’s all-time leader in points, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, also is tops in fouls committed (4,657).
Undoubtedly, there are many more examples of wildly successful failures. I, myself, am just the latter – a failure.