Here are several events that have been documented. Statistics would tell us that each one was highly improbable. Yet if people keep playing sports games and keep buying lottery tickets (to use two examples), then sooner or later, there will be some unusual alignments and patterns that occur, however unlikely. Which of these events do you think is the most unlikely? Have you heard about (or experienced) other events that were similarly improbable? Feel free to share others in the comment section below.
Richard Petty Winning 10 Consecutive NASCAR Races
Sports fans will give you all kinds of records. The undefeated football season. Pele’s three World Cups. Cal Ripken’s consecutive games record. Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point scoring night. And there are others. Perhaps these are improbable and some records will never be broken, but most are the product of amazing athletic performances that overcame the odds that they would not have occurred. I’ve included very few sports events on this list because I think it’s almost always possible that someone better could come along (though the games have changed so much that something like Cy Young’s wins record in baseball can never be touched). People said Jack Nicklaus’ golf majors record would never be equaled and yet Tiger Woods almost did it; that’s proof that if someone does it, another person as good may come along some day in the future.
Richard Petty. Source: Creative Commons via Flickr.com by Ted Van Pelt.
That said, think about everything that goes into a NASCAR race: the cars, the drivers, the courses in different locations and with different conditions, the mechanics, the preparation, the other drivers, and even the good luck. I think Richard Petty’s 10 consecutive NASCAR victories in 1967 may well be the most amazing sports record in history. It’s not only the product of an individual achievement at one time and place (such as Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point scoring performance), but that repeat performance spread out over a period of months. Statistically, the odds must be stacked so heavily against someone winning a single auto race that I cannot even imagine what they would be for winning 10 such races in a row.
The Laura Buxton Balloon
The Snopes site (link below) tried to debunk this and couldn’t. It really happened and has been documented. There are a number of stories about twins separated at birth who ended up leading frighteningly similar lives, but this story did not involve twins. These were two strangers who were not related.
A 10-year old girl in the United Kingdom named Laura Buxton was hoping to meet a new pen pal when she flew a balloon into the sky that had her name and address attached to it. The balloon came down 140 miles away and was given to a local girl there named Laura Buxton, who was about the same age (some accounts say her family actually lived at the house where the balloon landed). She contacted the first Laura Buxton and they found out that they were in the same year at school, were both only children (no siblings), had similar hair color and height, and had the same pets. Each had a 3-year old female black Labrador retriever and a grey rabbit. In addition, both had purchased a guinea pig which was the same color and had the same orange markings on its hindquarters. Apparently, the two Laura Buxtons have remained good friends.
Here is a short video about the Laura Buxton story:
Winning the Lottery Twice in One Day
The first time this happened, someone said the odds were trillions to one. But then it happened again. And again. In late 2017, it happened several times in different parts of the United States. Apparently, lightning does strike twice (hmmm…I saw a Steemit post about that once also; there was a guy who was struck seven times in his life).
Winning the lottery multiple times, more than once from the same ticket seller, or twice in one day…all of these have happened. As long as people are buying lottery tickets, then as impossible as they seem, these highly improbable events will continue to occur. They would only be impossible if no one bought tickets.
Fernando Tatis Hit Two Grand Slams in the Same Inning
One inning of baseball is over after three outs. There are nine hitters in a team’s lineup, who must all hit in order. For the same player to come up to hit twice in the same inning, his team must not have made three outs yet, but instead most of the other hitters must have reached base on a hit, walk, or error. One of the rarest plays in baseball is the grand slam, which is where the bases are loaded (full with three runners) when the batter hits a home run, thus scoring four runs with just one hit.
Tatis baseball card. Look out for his son, who also is projected as a baseball star in the near future.
Several years ago, baseball writer Tim Kurkjian determined that someone hits a grand slam about once in every 14 games. Up until 1999, in the nearly one century of baseball records in the United States, only ONCE had a single player ever hit two grand slams in the same game. But on April 23, 1999, Fernando Tatis hit two slams not just in the same game, but in the same inning. Pretty amazing.
The City of Fort Worth, Texas Demolished the Wrong Buildings, Two Days in a Row
Incompetence, squared. The city of Fort Worth, Texas had hired a contractor to demolish some old buildings. It knocked down one that it shouldn’t have. And then it did the same thing again. Of course, this was the same contractor, same crew, and same code enforcement officer. So, it may have been the same mistake that was repeated the next day.
Ft. Worth Stockyards. Blame it on the longhorns. Source: Montanasports.com.
Man’s Lost Daughter was Behind Him in His Selfie
A man had not seen one of his daughters in 10 years, so he went to the town where he thought she lived. Unable to find her, he took a picture of himself (and two other daughters) to put in the local newspaper, hoping to find his daughter’s whereabouts. When his daughter saw the picture, she realized she was in it (in the background, walking behind him), even though she no longer lived in this town and just happened to have been visiting that day by chance.
Divine intervention or amazing coincidence?
Though they were usually on time, fifteen members of the church choir in Beatrice, Nebraska were all late for choir practice on March 1, 1950 (for ten separate reasons). They usually began practicing promptly at 7:20 pm, but not that evening. At 7:25 pm, the church exploded from a natural gas leak. Since everyone was late, no one was there. And thankfully, no one was hurt or killed when the building blew up. (Accounts of the actual starting & explosion times vary slightly with different reports, but there is no doubt that the explosion was within five minutes of the intended starting time.)
When Viewed From Earth, the Sun and Moon Appear to be the Same Size
The sun’s diameter is about 400 times larger than that of the moon. The sun is about 400 times further from earth than the moon. As a result, the two appear to be about the same size when viewed from earth. This makes it possible for us to witness a total eclipse of the sun. Since their relative positions move slowly over time, we can consider this an ‘event’: a unique time in history (though a long one) when the two appear to be the same size. Given all of the celestial bodies in the universe, and the fact that we have just one moon and one sun, what are the chances of them appearing the same size from earth? You don’t want to know.
Solar eclipse. Creative Commons via Wikipedia.com by Kuebi.
Two Different “Dennis the Menace” Comic Strips Were Published on the Same Day
You may have seen Dennis the Menace, a long running comic strip (that was one of them). Two separate comics with the same name were created by different artists (who had never heard of each other) and published by newspapers in different countries (one in Britain and another in the United States). Both were published for the first time on the same day: March 12, 1951.
Dennis the Menace comic strip by Hank Ketchum from DailyINK.
Which of the above events was the most improbable?
It’s a rhetorical question, but I’m interested to know what you think. Have you heard of other unlikely events like these? Have you experienced anything similar yourself? Many of us have "small world" stories. If so, feel free to share in the comment sections below. Statistics would tell us that all of these occurrences are unlikely and yet, in our amazing world, they happen.
Top image: Host Rod Serling from the "Twilight Zone" TV show (CBS).