Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Page 2 [Print without images]

Saturday, July 26, 2003
Updated: July 28, 12:14 PM ET
The List: Greatest individual streaks

By Jeff Merron
Page 2 staff

Lance Armstrong has won his fifth consecutive Tour de France to tie the record held by Spain's Miguel Indurain from 1991-'95. Like our top 10 individual streaks listed below, if Armstrong can win six in a row, it may never be beaten.

1. Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak
DiMaggio's streak was appreciated in its day, and it may be the most unbreakable record in baseball. In the 62 years since the Yankee Clipper set the mark, Pete Rose has come closest to equaling it -- and he was able to hit in "only" 44 straight, an NL record.

Joe DiMaggio
Win Share allows fans to compare players from different eras.

Joe D. was bummed that the Indians shut him down on July 17, 1941. "Did you know if I got a hit tonight I would have made $10,000?" he said. "The Heinz 57 people wanted to make some kind of deal." The next game DiMaggio started another streak, getting at least one hit in another 16 straight.

2. Edwin Moses' 107 straight hurdles finals wins
For nine years, nine months, and nine days, Edwin Moses proved, literally, unbeatable. The two-time Olympic champ won 107 straight finals in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles (also going 15-0 in qualifying races during that time), setting the world record of 47.02 seconds and gathering the 11 fastest times in the event.

On June 4, 1987, Moses, 31, finally lost, defeated by 21-year-old Danny Harris in an early-season contest.

"In 10 years, Moses faced hundreds of different competitors, but nobody beat him; some even quit the event out of frustration," wrote Juan Williams in the Washington Post. "Fashions changed, politics went conservative, the U.S. boycotted the Olympics in 1980 and participated in 1984. But none of it affected Edwin Moses, who just kept running away from the competition."

3. Orel Hershiser's 59 consecutive scoreless innings
On Aug. 30, 1988, the Dodgers faced the Expos at Stade Olympique. Orel Hershiser was on the mound. In the bottom of the fifth, with the Dodgers up 4-0, the Expos scored two runs. It was the last time a team would score on Hershiser that season. He blanked the Expos for the final four innings of that game, upping his record to 18-8 and lowering his ERA to 2.84.

Here's what the rest of his year looked like:

Sept. 5: At Atlanta, 9 IP, 0 runs, 4 hits
Sept. 10: In LA vs. the Reds, 9 IP, 0 runs, 7 hits
Sept. 14: In LA, vs. the Braves, 9 IP, 0 runs, 6 hits
Sept. 19: At Houston, 9 IP, 0 runs, 4 hits
Sept. 23: At San Francisco, 9 IP, 0 runs, 5 hits
Sept. 28: At San Diego, 10 IP, 0 runs, 4 hits

Hershiser had pitched 59 scoreless innings, breaking Don Drysdale's mark by 1/3 of an inning. At the end of the streak, his ERA was 2.26, more than half a run lower than it had been just a month earlier.

In the first game of the NLCS, Hershiser blanked the Mets for another 8 straight innings, finally surrendering a score in the ninth when Darryl Strawberry doubled home Gregg Jefferies.

On Opening Day, April 5, 1989, the Reds' Barry Larkin scored a run in the bottom of the first inning to end Hershiser's regular-season streak.

Cal Ripken
We all wanted to give Ripken a high-five when he broke Lou Gehrig's record.

4. Cal Ripken's 2,632 consecutive games streak
On Sept. 20, 1998, Cal Ripken did not play. His name had appeared in O's box scores 2,632 straight times until that date, breaking Lou Gehrig's previous record by 502 games.

5. Johnny Unitas's 47-game TD pass streak
It began in 1956, and ended in 1960. In a streak that spanned five seasons, Unitas threw a TD pass in every game -- 17 more games than the next-longest streak, 30, by Dan Marino. In the course of the streak, Unitas connected with Raymond Berry 38 times. He hit Lenny Moore in the end zone 27 times.

"While Unitas was putting up his amazing total of 47 in a row, there was little attention brought to what he was doing," wrote John Steadman in the Baltimore Sun. "The country has become aware of his rich natural ability, but there was only casual mention of how, game after game, he was firing touchdown passes."

Unitas paid the streak no mind. "Records don't mean a thing to me," he said after his 40th straight TD pass game, against Green Bay. "Nothing is as important as winning & I imagine if I was record-hungry, the thing wouldn't have been extended this far. It makes no difference to me when it stops."

6. Rocky Marciano's 49-bout winning streak
In the spring of 1947, Marciano, fighting under an assumed name so that he could remain an amateur, earned $35 by knocking out Lee Epperson. It was his first pro bout. In April 1956, nine years later, "The Brockton Blockbuster," 31, announced his retirement. The heavyweight champ since knocking out Jersey Joe Walcott in Philly on Sept. 23, 1952, Marciano's final, 49th straight win, had come over Archie Moore, a knockout in nine rounds.

He retired undefeated.

"Of all the heavyweight champions he came closer than any other to having lifted himself by his bootstraps," wrote New York Times columnist Arthur Daley the week after Marciano hung up his gloves. "Crude almost to the point of hopelessness, he slaved at his business with an intensity few men could match. And he won as much by the magnificence of a thoroughly disciplined body as he did by the thunder in his fists."

7. Bjorn Borg's five straight Wimbledon titles
Between 1976 and 1980, the long-haired, stoic Swede owned the grass courts at Wimbledon, winning 35 straight matches and five straight titles, with his fifth and last championship coming in an epic five-set match against John McEnroe.

Borg had won his first Wimbledon title over Ilie Nastase in 1976, then defeated Jimmy Connors in the 1977 and 1978 finals, and Roscoe Tanner in 1979.

Borg, 24, called his 1980 championship win over McEnroe "the best match I have ever played at Wimbledon." A year later, McEnroe finally ended Borg's Wimbledon streak, beating him in a four-set final.

8. Cael Sanderson's 159 straight college wrestling wins
Sanderson, an Iowa State wrestler, finished his college career with a 159-0 record, having won four straight national titles, his last one in the 197-pound class after three titles at 184 pounds. No other college wrestler has gone undefeated, not even the great Dan Gable, who won 100 straight in the late 1960s and 1970. SI named Sanderson's feat the second-most impressive in college sports history, behind only the day Jesse Owens set four world records.

9. Wayne Gretzky's 51-game scoring streak
The Great One tallied either a goal or an assist in each of the Edmonton Oilers' first 51 games in the 1983-1984 record, a point-scoring streak that still stands. During the streak, which ended on Jan. 28, 1984, Gretzky scored 61 goals and assisted on 92 others.

Gretzky had broken his own record, set in 1982-83, when he went 30 straight games with a goal or an assist.

10. Chick Hearn's 3,338 consecutive games broadcasting streak
The voice of the Lakers broadcast every Laker game between Nov. 21, 1965 and Dec. 16, 2001 -- 3,338 straight. Hearn's streak was broken when he had to undergo heart surgery. "It's very strange," said Stu Lantz, Hearn's broadcast partner every game for 15 years, before the missed game on Dec. 21. "It's strange and it hasn't even started yet. I can't envision it happening. The one constant with this franchise, in its existence in Los Angeles, has been Chick. Players come and go. Jerry, Elgin, Wilt, Kareem, Magic, now we've got Shaq, Kobe. They'll have to go at some point in time. But the one constant through all of that has been Chick."

Also receiving votes:

Ted Williams, 16 straight times reaching base, 1957
Calvin Murphy, 78 straight free throws made, 1980-81
Martina Navratilova, six consecutive Wimbledon titles, 1982-87
Sonja Henie, 10 straight women's world figure skating championships, 1927-36