Rod Serling, where are you now?
By Mike Tupa
Monday June 26, 2006
E-E Sports Editor
Sports has its own Twilight Zone of bizarre ironies, happenings and moments.
Even the great, creative genius of Rod Serling would have had a hard time unraveling and creating some of the oddities in athletic competition.
Following are just a few that come to mind:
In 1969, Minnesota Viking quarterback Joe Kapp passed for seven touchdowns in a game against the Baltimore Colts, tying a NFL record.
That, in itself, was an amazing accomplishment.
In his other 12 regular season appearances that year, Kapp threw only 12 touchdowns.
Kapp's passing style was more familiar to duck hunters than to NFL receivers.
Preachers in the stands were tempted to read last rites on some of his aerial attempts.
Even more incredible than that was the fact Joe Kapp was benched twice during that game.
He told me in an interview in 1992 head coach Bud Grant pulled him after he had thrown four or five touchdowns. The second-string quarterback, however, was soon hurt and came out.
The same fate befell the third-stringer, forcing Kapp's return to action and setting up his salvo into the record books.
Only four other men have ever thrown seven touchdowns in a regular season NFL or AFL game - Sid Luckman (Chicago Bears, 1943), Adrian Burk (Philadelphia Eagles, 1954), George Blanda (Houston Oilers, 1961), and Y.A. Tittle (New York Giants, 1962).
On the day Kapp matched that accomplishment, one of the game officials for that contest was more than a little interested.
That official was none other than Adrian Burk, one of the four men who had done it himself.
Every baseball fan worth his (or her) salt knows about the World Series walk-off homers of Bill Mazroski (1960, Pittsburgh Pirates) and Joe Carter (1993, Toronto Blue Jays).
It's unusual Babe Ruth, still regarded by many as the greatest long-ball swatter of them all, never finished a World Series with a walk-off circuit clout.
After all, he appeared in the Fall Classic 10 different years.
But, the Ruth had another kind of walk-off distinction which he would have loved to forget.
It was the seventh game of the 1926 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees.
Earlier in the game, the Yankees had squandered a big opportunity when 39-year-old Cardinals' hurler Grover Cleveland Alexander struck out Yankee slugger Tony Lazzeri with the bases loaded in the seventh inning.
The Cardinals led, 3-2, when the Yankees came to bat for the last time.
Ruth was at first base, representing the tying run, with two outs.
Then, for some reason no one's ever quite figured out, Ruth decided to try to steal second base.
He was thrown out by the catcher, thus bringing an anti-climatic end to an otherwise exciting series.
Ruth then had to endure the title as the only man to lose the World Series on a walk-off steal.
There's plenty of other whacky sports stories yet to be told on another day.