So … 1,500 on consecutive mornings, and you’re starting to feel pretty good about yourself as you pass 23 percent and the quarter-million mark comes into view. And suddenly, a guy like Ted St. Martin enters the picture.
When folks talk about “unbreakable sports” records, they’re likely to bring up Joe Dimaggio’s 56-game hit streak, or Johnny Unitas’s 47 straight games with at least one touchdown pass, or Lance Armstrong’s seven straight Tour de France titles, or Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 points in an NBA game. Until recently, I’d always been partial to Cy Young’s 511 career pitching wins. I mean, come on … 20-plus wins a year for 25 years? Clearly the most unbreakable.
Then I heard about Ted St. Martin.
Mr. St. Martin, now in his mid-70s, was a 35-year-old dairy farmer in the early 1970s when he nailed a basket to the side of the barn and started doing his best to perfect the 15-foot, undefended, straightaway set shot we know as the free throw. A year or so later, he entered the Guinness Book by officially knocking down 200 foul shots in a row.
And I think … OK, I’ve made 128 in a row, so chances are that on a particularly accurate day between now and 1 million, I’ll probably get to 200, too … right? Maybe? I guess that makes me a pretty big deal, doesn’t it?
Except that since then, Mr. St. Martin has broken his own record, um, 15 times. Care to know what the benchmark is now? Step aside, Dimaggio 56, Unitas 47, Armstrong 7, Chamberlain 100, and yes, even you, Young 511.
In April of 1996, Ted St. Martin stood at a foul line for 7 hours and 20 minutes and made — get this — 5,221 consecutive foul shots.
That’s five thousand, two hundred twenty-one.
Wondering what else? He has made 84 shots from 30 feet in eight minutes, and 258 from 15 feet in 10 minutes. In one 24-hour period, he drilled 14,466 free throws, shooting at a 90 percent clip for the day. His best hourly rate — 850 per — was set in 1974 at a sporting goods exhibition in Chicago, where he made 95 percent of his shots for eight straight hours.
Yeah, well … I’ve got a wicked awesome mountain bike.
So today, we bow before the greatness of Ted St. Martin, the foul shooting king. I’ll keep my eye on that 14,466 in a day, and maybe we’ll take aim at that sometime, but the number that I am completely convinced will forever stand is 5,221.
It hurts to even look at it.
That’s 231,407 down, 768,593 to go to 1 million made foul shots.