Skip to main content
Original Issue

Against All Odds

The most amazing coincidences in sports

THE ASTROS and the White Sox have more in common than playing in this year's World Series. The greatest slugger in the history of each franchise--Jeff Bagwell (above, right) and Frank Thomas (above, left)--was born on May 27, 1968. What's more, with the next dinger from the Big Hurt each will have 449 career home runs. Eerie coincidence? Or really eerie coincidence? You make the call. And while you're at it, here are some others:

■ On Oct. 17, 1960, the city of Houston was awarded a major league baseball franchise: the Colt .45s. Forty-five years later to the day, the team--known since 1965 as the Astros--lost a thrilling NLCS game to the Cardinals by the score of 5-4 (or 4-5 from Houston's standpoint). That same night's lone NFL score was Rams 28, Colts ... 45.

■ In three seasons with the Montreal Juniors starting in 1977, Hall of Famer Denis Savard played on a line with Denis Cyr and Denis Tremblay, friends who shared not only a first name but also a birth date: Feb. 4, 1961. Les Trois Denises scored more than 400 goals for the Juniors.

■ From 1972, when Roger Staubach led the Cowboys to a win, through 1980, when Terry Bradshaw (left) led the Steelers past the Rams, every Super Bowl was won by a team whose starting quarterback wore number 12.

■ No one hails the Chief like the Redskins. From 1936 through 2000 the Skins predicted the outcome of all 17 presidential contests. When the team won its last home game before Election Day, the incumbent's party also won. When the Skins lost, so did the party in power. The streak was broken in '04, with George W. Bush's reelection following Washington's loss to the Packers.

■ Over the course of a month in 1965 Jack Nicklaus won the Masters, Willie Shoemaker rode the winner of the Kentucky Derby, the Celtics won the NBA title and the Canadiens lifted the Stanley Cup. Twenty-one years later, the 46-year-old Nicklaus's win at Augusta presaged a four-peat: the Shoe, the Celts and the Habs all won again in '86.

‚ñ† Czech Olympic legend Emil Zàtopek was born on Sept. 19, 1922, the same day as Dana Zàtopkovà. On July 24, 1952, Zàtopek won a gold medal in the 5,000 meters, and Dana, whom he married in 1948, did the same in the javelin. Emil had proposed to Dana by saying, "So we were both born on the same day. What if, by chance, we were also to get married on the same day?"