10 Worst Mistakes in Sports History
If they could do it over again, they’d probably think twice.
1919: Red Sox Sell Homer Hero
Harry Frazee, then-owner of the Boston Red Sox, sold the sport’s biggest star, Babe Ruth, to the rival New York Yankees for $100,000. Over the next 15 seasons, Ruth—affectionately nicknamed “The Bambino”—hit 659 homers and led the Yanks to four World Series. The cursed Sox waited 86 years to win their next series.
1968: Girl Hijacks Game
On November 17, 1968, a regular season game between the Oakland Raiders and the visiting New York Jets ran unusually long. With one minute to go and the Jets leading 32-29, the game’s network, NBC, decided to cut the broadcast short and switch to the television movie Heidi, the story of a Swiss orphan girl. Oakland scored twice in the last minute to win 43–32—needless to say, many viewers missed the Raiders’ once-in-a-lifetime comeback.
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1982: Breaking Up the Band
The Stanford Cardinals football team took a one-point lead in a rivalry game with the University of California’s Golden Bears, only four seconds remaining on the clock. After a squib kick from Stanford, the Golden Bears were able to connect an improbable five lateral passes to bring it back for a touchdown—juking defenders and tuba players alike as Standford’s marching band had wandered on the field, thinking the game as good as over.
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1984: Orange Bowl Blunder
The undefeated Nebraska Cornhuskers were down by one point after scoring a touchdown against the Miami Hurricanes in the fourth quarter of the 1984 Orange Bowl. Instead of kicking the extra point and tying things up, the Cornhuskers tried for a two-point conversion—and failed. The decision lost the Cornhuskers their national championship, along with their perfect season.
1993: Ill-Timed Time Out
University of Michigan basketball star Chris Webber called a time-out with 11 seconds left as his Wolverines trail North Carolina 73–71 in the national championship game. Only problem: Michigan had no time-outs left! He’s called for a technical foul, and Michigan loses, 77–71.
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1993: Questionable Career Change
At the height of his career, and after winning three consecutive NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan announced that he had lost his desire for basketball and was retiring to pursue a career in baseball. He went on to bat .202 for the AA Birmingham Barons. (Jordan returned to the Bulls in 1995 and won an additional three consecutive titles.)
2000: Passing on the Quarterback
Tom Brady was passed on by every team in the NFL multiple times in the 2000 NFL Draft, finally going to the New England Patriots in the sixth round at #199. Everyone who had a hand in selecting draft picks that year has got to be kicking themselves now, as Brady has gone on appear in nine Super Bowls, winning six, and was voted to six Pro Bowls.
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2003: Fan Interference
The Chicago Cubs were leading the Florida Marlins in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series‘ eighth inning when Marlins batter Luis Castillo stepped up to the plate, smacking the ball high and foul. Cubs left fielder Moisés Alou went up for the catch, but so did an overeager Cubs fan, reaching over the wall and onto the field, knocking it away from Alou in the process. The home team was prevented from getting the out, then giving up eight runs in the inning. The Cubs went on to lose the game and the series, extending their then 95-year championship drought.
2006: Snowboarder Shreds Shot at Gold
U.S. snowboarding darling Lindsey Jacobellis was heavily favoured going into 2006 Winter Olympics Snowboard Cross final in Turin, and rightfully so with none of her fellow racers in sight as she bore closer on the finish line. Celebrating her lead, Jacobellis wiped out on the second to last jump, and Switzerland’s Tanja Frieden zipped by to take the gold.
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2010: LeBron Broadcast
On July 8, 2010, LeBron James announced his decision to join the Miami Heat in a one-hour prime-time TV special after playing seven seasons with his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. The result? His public-view “Q-score” took a beating as fans considered him a turncoat. The basketball superstar’s Cleveland story has a happy ending, however: James returned to the Cavaliers in 2014 and led them to a long-awaited championship in 2016.
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