Fans gasp when sports personalities are injured, especially when the injury is televised and then re-broadcast on the Internet in venues such as YouTube. Sports managers might take the blow of a sports injury even more personally in a high-stress job that requires healthy athletes. This list of the top 20 most bizarre sports injuries ever chronicles some of the strangest accidents in the sports world since 1862.
Fortunately, most accidents — even the most severe — can be overcome with modern medicine and surgical procedures. In other cases, a loss of career or even a loss of life is possible. Some injuries, as you may learn, have resulted in safer sports.
- 1862: Jim Creighton was a pitcher in baseball’s earliest era. The generally accepted explanation, which has existed from the time of his death, is that he fatally injured himself while playing baseball. Swinging a heavy bat in a home run hit caused an internal injury, and Creighton died at afew days later.
- 1920: Ray “Chappie” Chapman, shortstop for the Cleveland Indians baseball team, was killed when a submarine ball thrown by Carl Mays hit him in the temple. He took two steps after being given a walk, collapsed, and died the next day. Not long after Chapman died, a bronze plaque was designed in his honor.
- 1927: John Godfrey Parry-Thomas was a Welsh race car driver who held the Land Speed Record at the time of his death. He was decapitated by his car’s drive chain which, under stress, snapped and whipped into the cockpit. He succeeded in setting a new record of 171 mph at Pendine Sands.
- 1980: In a game against the Islanders, Mark Howe, a Whalers’ defenseman, lost his balance and slid into the Hartford net feet-first. The force tipped goalposts and the sharp, pointed metal centerpiece used to hold the goal frame together impaled his right buttock, grazing the rectum and just missing his spine. Howe returned to the ice six weeks later.
- 1981: Steve Yeager played 14 of his 15 seasons with the Dodgers, winning a World Series in 1981, as well as being named the series MVP before he was hit in the throat with a shattered bat, which pierced his esophagus. Nine inched of wood lodged in Yeager’s throat. Yeager is credited for inventing the catcher’s throat protector now worn at all levels of baseball.
- 1985: During week 11 of the 1985 season, Joe Theismann’s career ended in one single moment with a compound fracture of his leg. The Redskins’ player was at the bottom of a sacked pile when Giants’ linebacker, Gary Reasons, jumped on the pile and created the weight that pushed Theismann’s leg beyond the limit.
- 1989: In a game against the St. Louis Blues, Clint Malrchuk‘s carotid artery, one of the largest blood vessels in the human body, was slashed by Blues player Steve Tuttle’s skate. Blood began pooling on the ice quickly, and the scene was so disturbing that nine fans fainted and two others had heart attacks.
- 1994: In the first game of the 1994 season, L.A. Raiders’ Napolean McCallum was tackled by 49ers’ Ken Norton. McCallum’s cleat stuck in the ground, making it impossible for his leg to move as his body was twisted like a pretzel. He suffered a complete hyperextension to his left knee, tore three ligaments, tore the calf and hamstring from the bone and ruptured an artery. He now plays golf in Vegas.
- 1997: Motocross champion and stunt performer Travis Pastrana was 14 when he attempted a jump of 120 feet on his motorbike and came up short. The accident separated his spine from his pelvis, and he spent two weeks in a coma and three weeks in a wheelchair. Pastrana, according to doctors, is only one of three people to have survived this type of injury.
- 1998: Hermann Maier earned the nickname, “The Herminator,” when he suffered a tragic fall in a downhill race during the Nagano Olympic games…and it was featured on all major television stations worldwide. According to this story, he stated, “If I survive this, I’ll be immortal.” He’s remains living.
- 1999: Owen Hart, a Canadian-born professional wrestler for WWF, died during a pay-per-view event. Owen planned to come down from the rafters of the Kemper Arena on a safety harness tied to a rope to make his ring entrance. The safety latch released and dropped Owen dropped 78 feet, bouncing chest-first off the top rope resulting in a severed aorta.
- 2000: Bryce Bettancourt Florie is remembered for suffering a facial injury that occurred on 8 September 2000 in Feway Park. Yankees’ Ryan Thompson hit a line drive off Florie’s face, causing multiple broken bones and eye damage. Florie made a comeback, pitching in seven games in 2001, but was released by the Red Sox in mid-season.
- 2001: Sidney Raymond Eudya (aka Sid Vicious) suffered a horrific broken leg, snapping both the tibia and fibula, in 2001 vs. Scott Steiner in the last-ever WCW pay event. He had to have a steel rod inserted in the leg; but he’s back to wrestling, and he replaced Scott hall at Friday’s Forgotten Championship Wrestling event this past August.
- 2002: Kansas City Royals’ catcher, Brent Mayne, missed a month of the 2002 season when he wrenched his back as he turned his head to check for traffic while crossing a street. Brent spent four weeks on the disabled list with back spasms. He retired in 2004, and now teaches catching and helps people enjoy the game of baseball.
- 2003: During the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, Miami running back Willis McGahee sliced down the right side and an Ohio State defender crashed into his left knee, folding it backward and ripping tendons from the bone. He’s now a running back for the Ravens.
- 2005: It’s been five years since Alabama WR Tyrone Prothro suffered a broken left leg, preventing him from holding onto his third touchdown catch against fifth-ranked Florida. Prothro now works at Regions Bank on Paul Bryant Drive in Tuscaloosa, in the shadow of Alabama’s practice facility and an easy walk from the stadium where he played his last game five years ago.
- 2006: Pittsburgh’s Carl Krauser seemingly poked Allan Ray‘s eye out of its socket during a 2006 Big East Tournament. In reality, the eye never came loose from the socket — his eyelid just went behind his eye. He returned to the court less than a week later to play in the NCAA tournament, and led his team in scoring in his first game back.
- 2007: While some people think that Clippers’ Shaun Livingston‘s blown knee looked like E.T., Livingston wasn’t laughing. He dislocated his left kneecap after landing awkwardly following a missed layup in a game against the Charlotte Bobcats in 2007. Ironically, on July 20,2010, Livingston signed a two-year contract worth $7 million with the Charlotte Bobcats.
- 2008: Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik narrowly avoided a fatal injury when his neck was sliced by the skate of teammate Olli Jokinen. Though his carotid artery was severed and he lost five pints of blood on ice, he was released from the hospital after less than a week.
- 2009: Olympic speedskating fans gasped when J.R. Celski crashed as he led the 500-meter spring on the final day of the Olympic shrot-track trials. The impact drove the tip of his razor-sharp right skate blade into his left thigh, missing his femoral artery by an inch. He still has hopes to compete in the next Winter Olympics.
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