The Very Shortest in the History of Sports

August 24, 2016

Let the winning streaks and championships and longest time without a championship get the headlines. Here are some of the briefest things in pro sports history.

Team with the shortest time in the NFL

Based in a suburb of Buffalo, New York, the Tonawanda Lumbermen (also known as the Kardex and Lumberjacks) played in the early days of pro football. The team did so well in the 1920 season against teams in the American Professional Football Association—7 wins, 1 loss—that they were asked to join the league in 1921. In the team’s first league game against the Rochester Jeffersons, they were blown out, 45 to 0. And then the team folded—after that one game.

Shortest career in NFL history

In November 1998, the Carolina Panthers were without a safety to start a game. They activated practice squad member Ryan Sutter and he started the game. He was on the field during opening kickoff, ran down the field and tried to tackle the kick returner, and severely injured his shoulder. Sutter was removed from the game, placed on the injured list, and never made it back to an NFL game. Total length of NFL career: five seconds. (Sutter went on to become the man chosen by Trista Rehn on the first season of The Bachelorette in 2003. They’re still married.)

Shortest career in baseball history

More than 900 players have been called up to the minors, played in one game, and then never again at that level. Jimmy Boyle is one of those guys, but he played in only a single inning of a single game. And half of an inning at that. In the ninth inning of a 1926 game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he played catcher for the New York Giants. When it was the Giants’ turn at bat, three batters were retired and the game ended, so Boyle never even came to the plate.

Shortest game in baseball history

Officials can call a game “complete” after five innings if necessary, usually on account of weather. There are lots of super-short games in this regard, but the shortest full-nine inning game went down on Sept. 28, 1919, between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Giants. The Giants won the game 6 to 1, and their pitcher Jesse Barnes threw all nine innings. The Phillies’ Lee Meadows also threw the whole game, and very efficiently. Due to the lack of pitching changes, very few walks, and not many hits and runs, the game was over and done with in just 51 minutes.

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