These are the kind of stories that you have to love even if you hate sports. After all, these fans, after paying good money to watch the sporting event, couldn't just sit down and enjoy the athletic showcase they came to see. They had to make it all about them. And thanks to their jackassery, not only did hilarity ensue, but the course of sports history was changed forever.
#5. Duke University's Speedo Guy Provides the Ultimate Free-Throw Distraction
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It's an unwritten rule in basketball: If you go to the foul line, expect to see hundreds of fans standing and waving shit in front of you. They're also likely to scream anything from vague insults to vicious racial epithets, simply to annoy you enough that you miss your shots. It's all kind of pointless, of course -- basketball players have been dealing with that silly bullshit since middle school. The players just tune it out, and fans convince themselves that their signs and chants behind the backboard are actually doing something to affect the game.
But in 2003, one heroic fan at Duke University had a plan. He knew that in fact one man truly can make all the difference. Provided that one man is virtually nude at the time.
See, this game was against the University of North Carolina. These teams have been slugging it out as far back as 1961, and it's considered by many to be the greatest rivalry in sports. One fan knew he had to pull out all the stops, and by stops we mean his balls:
Patrick King, a student at Duke, did what every opponent in history has failed to do: He convinced the rabid crowd to sit down. Why? Because if hundreds of kids were all on their feet and acting like utter loons, the free-throw shooter wouldn't have been able to see this:
"You see, guys? That is teamwork."
This is what North Carolina's Jackie Manuel saw when he went to the free throw line in the middle of yet another nail-biter between these historic rivals. King stripped off his coat, rose above the now-seated students, and began to dance in a tiny, distracting Speedo. Every stereotypical stripper gyration that King could think of, he performed. Hip-thrusting, leg-pumping, and the occasional booty shot all combined to throw Manuel completely off his guard.
"Be glad I don't give you both barrels."
Manuel took the first shot.
Manuel tried to gather himself, to shrug off the power of King's mystifying man meat, and prepared his second shot. That's when the dancing got wilder and thrustier, until even the Duke faithful were overcome with lust.
"We're going to need the rulebook for this one. And a new ink pen."
Manuel took the second shot and ... well, we'll just let him tell it:
"I just saw this guy in a Speedo, y'know, no shirt, just dancing around. It was kinda hard to focus on my free throws, seeing a guy in a Speedo moving around. I was like, OK, gather myself, y'know, refocus. He jumped up again and started doing another dance and y'know, inside I was laughing, but, y'know, trying to stay focused. It kinda threw me off and I ended up missing my second free throw."
Patrick King, aka Speedo Man, caused two missed free throws ... and his team ended up winning that crucial rivalry game by three freaking points. And thus King became more famous for his grape-hugging undies than anything else he will ever accomplish in the future.
#4. The New York Yankees Win a Pivotal Playoff Game, Thanks to a 12-Year-Old Boy
If you get tickets to a baseball game, the advantage to sitting in the outfield is the one-in-a-thousand chance you might catch a very valuable souvenir: a home run ball. So for a young Yankees fan attending a game in the major league playoffs, the absolute best-case scenario would have to be catching a ball hit by one of his heroes (like, say, all-star Derek Jeter). In fact, that would probably be the highlight of his life, as no young Yankees fan has ever grown up to be a good person.
But 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier managed to top that. From the stands, he didn't just catch the home run, but actually caused it, and helped send the Yankees to the fucking World Series in the process.
It was Game 1 of the 1996 American League Championship Series between the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles. It was the eighth inning, with the Yankees trailing 4-3 and running out of chances.
Yankees superstar Derek Jeter smacked one into the outfield, but it wasn't long enough to be a home run -- it was just short. But in baseball, that's all that matters -- being just short of a home run means a routine out. And sure enough, Oriole outfielder Tony Tarasco was there, ready to catch the ball and drive another nail into the Yankees' coffin.
But just as Tarasco stretched up, a young hand reached down from the stands and snatched at the ball, deflecting it out of play.
Via Mark Lennihan/Associated Press
He then went to the hospital and beat up several cancer patients while giggling.
If you're wondering how it's legal for fans to just reach into the field of play and participate in a major league baseball game, the answer is, it's not. At all. Normally the umpire just calls interference and the runner is declared out (which would have made young Jeffrey Maier an instant villain, since fans could have argued that if he hadn't interfered, then maybe the outfielder would have dropped the ball on his own). But this time, the umpire declared it a home run. This tied the game and completely knocked the wind out of the Orioles' sails.
"Sir, I strongly disagree with your assessment of this particular play and would appreciate your reconsideration."
The Yankees would go on to win the ALCS (and later the World Series), while Maier would get his 15 minutes of fame. He appeared on talk shows, was publicly declared a thief by the governor of Maryland, and offered no apologies for his actions, saying that any 12-year-old Yankees fan would have done the same thing.
"Angel in the Outfield Tells Sports to Go Fuck Itself."
Meanwhile, the guy who actually caught the ball (remember, Maier just deflected it) was nowhere to be found. No accolades, no talk shows, no free tickets to Game 2 (complete with limousine ride), no nothing. That's what he gets for not being a 12-year-old boy.
#3. The 1908 Olympic Marathon Was Decided by Everybody but the Runners
The early days of the modern Olympics certainly reflected the times: Gymnasts competed in slacks held up with belts, women athletes wore full-length dresses complete with gigantic feathery hats, and fans thought nothing of handing glasses of alcohol to athletes in the middle of competition (apparently).
They kind of needed it to soothe the fear that those hats induced.
In the 1908 London games, the men's marathon came down to two runners: South African Charles Hefferon, and Italian Dorando Pietri. The latter was well behind Hefferon with just over two miles to go, and the race was all but in the bag.
Then a fan offered Hefferon a drink, which he readily accepted. This wasn't just a paper cup of water or whatever they had in 1908 instead of Gatorade. No, this was a glass of fine champagne, because this was 1908 and people back then had class. Hell, we think champagne is what they used for Gatorade back then -- there are stories of people who managed to win after consuming a bit of wine or brandy during a race.
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"Looks like you're fine, but just don't run over 10 miles per hour."
Unfortunately for Hefferon, there is a reason modern science does not recommend slowly getting hammered while in the middle of a demanding act of rigorous physical activity -- after another mile of running, Hefferon developed severe cramps. This slowed him down significantly, and ultimately cost him the race.
This would seem to mean that the gold medal was in the bag for the second place Pietri, who was probably smirking at how the man in front of him clearly couldn't hold his liquor. He sped up to take the lead. This, unfortunately, is possibly the worst long-distance running strategy imaginable. Worse, it seems, than drinking fucking alcohol. Because, while Hefferon simply developed cramps and slowed down, Pietri quickly gave in to exhaustion and began stumbling and bumbling around like he was the drunk.
After Pietri collapsed, bystanders proceeded to escort him across the finish line. Sadly, that turned out to be illegal, and Pietri was disqualified. Thank God, because cutting his medal up so all 15 of his helpers could be recognized would have been a ripe pain in the ass.
Not even Voldemort's soul could handle that kind of dilution.
The actual winner, by the way, neither drank nor required assistance, and thus nobody remembers him. Pietri, the guy who lost, was later awarded a special Silver Cup by the queen of England and had a reverent tribute song written about him by a young Irving Berlin. Man, losing is awesome!