Sports » Sports Feature

FROM MY SEAT: Numbers That Count



With all the recent chatter over one of the most hallowed numbers in sports -- Babe Ruth's 714 home runs -- I found myself considering a few Memphis numbers that should be engraved on the proverbial Wall of Statistical Excellence. Consider the following figures worth memorizing for your next discussion with that know-it-all at the corner of the bar.

59 -- With the first sub-60 round in PGA history at the 1977 Danny Thomas Memphis Classic, Al Geiberger became, once and forever, "Mr. 59." Geiberger finished his second round 13 under par, on what at the time was the PGA Tour's longest course. As a measure of how astonishing the score was, consider that Geiberger won the tournament without breaking 70 in his other three rounds. In the 29 years since Geiberger's feat, it's only been matched twice (by Chip Beck in 1991 and David Duval in 1999).

44 -- It's not exactly Wilt's 100, or even Kobe's 81. But Pau Gasol went where no Grizzly had gone before when he scored 44 points against Seattle last March 28th (ironically, a Memphis home loss). Basketball fans should have committed to memory the top-scoring game in their team's history. So borrow this figure (for now) from Hank Aaron, and don't lose it.

101 -- Playing from 1930 to 1935 with the Chicks, Joe Hutcheson hit more home runs than any other player in Memphis professional baseball history. Hutcheson led the Southern Association in batting in 1930 with a .380 average, as the Chicks won their last league title until 1952. Hutcheson never hit more than 20 homers in a single season, and only six in the major leagues (during a 55-game stint with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1933). Should be a long time before another Memphis minor-leaguer cracks 100 (the Redbirds' career record is 56 by Scott Seabol). As for the single-season mark, Mike Fuentes hit 37 dingers for the 1982 Chicks.

4 -- There was a time when The Racquet Club of Memphis was an annual destination for the very biggest names in tennis. And the names didn't get any bigger than that of Jimmy Connors. The excitable lefty won the championship in Memphis four times (1978, '79, '83, and '84) and lost in the finals twice. No other player has even won three Memphis titles.

22.3 -- Three players in Memphis Tiger basketball history have scored more points than Larry Finch (Keith Lee's 2,408 being the standard) and a total of 41 players have scored 1,000 points at the U of M. But no one -- not Penny, not Keith, not Elliot or Lorenzen -- averaged as much as the 22.3 points Finch did over his three-year career (Finch wasn't eligible to play as a freshman). He put up 18.4 as a sophomore, 23.9 as a junior, then 24.0 in leading the Tigers to the 1973 Final Four as a senior. If ever a statue is erected in the FedExForum plaza, this will be the guy.

6,026 -- This may be a tough figure to engrave in your memory for two reasons. First, most sacred sports numbers stop at three digits. (Quick, what's Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's career NBA points record?) Secondly, just which DeAngelo Williams record at the University of Memphis do you choose? He gained an NCAA-record 7,573 all-purpose yards, ran for 100 yards in a game an NCAA-record 34 times, and scored 60 touchdowns (that's an average of 15 a season, folks), a mark no Tiger will match in your grandchildren's lifetime. But I like 6,026, Williams' career rushing total. Only three other players in NCAA Division I history -- Heisman winners Ron Dayne, Ricky Williams, and Tony Dorsett -- topped 6,000 yards on the ground. Keep an eye out for a few Carolina Panthers jerseys around Memphis this fall. We won't be seeing another DeAngelo Williams -- or another 6,026 rushing yards -- anytime soon.

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