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By Robin Milbrand

Records are made to be broken.

In most cases.

But there are some sports records that, unless the very fundamentals of the sports in which the records stand change dramatically, will never be broken.

In no particular order here, are my picks for the 20 greatest sports records of modern times.

1. Cy Young's 511 career pitching wins. This record, in my opinion, is of all records, the most unattainable. Imagine a modern pitcher averaging 25 wins a year for 21 seasons, when no pitcher in the last 75 years can make that claim for 3 seasons in a row!

2. Technically, Wilt Chamberlain in the 1961-1962 season claims not one, but six records that will never be broken. Actually that balloons the list to 25. They are:

3. Connie Mack managing the Philadelphia A's a whopping 56 years from 1894 to 1950. Has anyone else ever managed 35?

4. Ernie Never's NFL Record of scoring 40 points in a game in 1929 (six TDs and four extra points). In 2010, no one scored as much as 25 points in a single game.

5. Joe Di Maggio's 56-game hitting streak in 1941. It's been over 30 years since Pete Rose's 44-game streak. What makes it more amazing is that he's a right-handed hitter. (Left-handed hitters have a natural advantage because they are closer to first base in the batter's box.)

6. Johnny Vandermeer's back-to-back no hitters in 1940 pitching for the 1940 Cincinnati Reds

7. The Boston Celtics mind-boggling stretch in the Bill Russell/Red Auerbach years of eight Consecutive NBA Championships. Second place is Michael Jordan's streak of three years (done twice).

8. Lew Alcindor's (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) amateur basketball record of four years of high school (Power Memorial) and college (UCLA), with a total of only one loss (the famous Astrodome game against Elvin Hayes). We can forgive him for the loss, because he played the game with flu!

9. Nolan Ryan's amazing seven no-hit games pitching for the Angels and Astros. Sandy Koufax is in the second place with four. Nolan's last one he pitched at the age of 44!

10. George Blanda's MVP season in the 1970 NFL season at the age of 43 years old. No other player (non-kicker only) even played at all at that age.

11. John Wooden's incredible 10 NCAA Tournament Championships in the 1960s and 1970s with the UCLA Bruins (including seven in a row from 1967-1973). Can you remember anybody else even back to back?

12. The New York Yankees stretch between 1927-1962 of 19 World Series Championships in 35 years in baseball. World Series games have been played for more than 100 years, and no other team has as many as nine in their whole history besides the Bronx Bombers.

13. Rogers Hornsby's five-year stretch between 1921-1925, where he averaged .403 in batting average, 32 home runs, and 135 runs batted in, with the current all-time single season record of .424.

14. The Montreal Canadiens' stretch of 15 Stanley Cup Championships in 25 years between 1956 and 1980. In more than 100 years of Stanley Cups, no other team has that many in their entire history.

15. Ty Cobb's career batting average of .367 and 12 batting titles over 24 seasons between 1905 and 1928. Nobody since 1930 has as many as eight or a career batting average over .340.

16. The span of 20 years between heavyweight boxing championships of George Foreman. He lost the title to Mohammed Ali in Zaire in 1974, and won the title back by knocking out Michael Moorer in 1994 at the tender age of 45 years old.

17. Al Oerter's four consecutive Olympic gold medals in the discus throw (1956, 1960, 1964, and 1968). In the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, he won amazingly with torn cartilage in his ribs. At the age of 43 years old for a TV segment, he threw the discus 245 feet. If that throw were official, it would, in 2011, be the current world record.

18. Secretariat's eye-popping Belmont, cementing the Triple Crown. He won the race by a whopping 31 lengths (did the other horses fall down?). The time of two minutes and 25 seconds for 1.5 miles still stands, as does his Kentucky Derby record of two minutes and 24 seconds. As a 3-year-old, he ran an amazing one minute 45 second time for 1 1/8 miles. Is it surprising that he is the only non-human on ESPN's top 50 greatest all-time athletes list?

19. Wayne Gretzky's six-year stretch between 1981 and 1987 where he compiled 437 goals, 782 assists, 1,229 points and a total plus-minus of +456 in only 473 games! In that stretch, he set single season records of 92 goals, 163 assists, 215 points and a season high plus-minus of +98.

Averaged over six years, it comes out to 73 goals, 130 assists, 205 points, plus-minus +75 per season. In those six years, he had 49 game-winning goals in 473 games, over 10 percent!

20. Michael Phelps 2010 Beijing Summer Olympics netted him a record eight gold medals (he only entered eight events) and seven world records. Perhaps even more amazing is that two of the world records were swum in the same hour of competition. In his career to date, at the age of 25, he has 14 gold medals in two Olympics, and he's not done yet.

In conclusion, I respectfully challenge any reasonable sports fan to proffer any valid or convincing argument that any of these records will be broken in the next 50 years. Having said that, if you know a record that deserves to be on this list, e-mail me at snakebite13@sysr.com and I will gladly respond to you.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com March 15, 2011