Iron man (sports streak)
An Iron man is an athlete of unusual physical endurance. This durability is generally measured by an athlete's ability to play without missing a game and/or start for an extended period of time, sometimes, even for an entire career. Some of the more notable athletes with significant streaks in sports history includes baseball's Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripken Jr., American football's Brett Favre and Joe Thomas, basketball's A. C. Green, ice hockey's Doug Jarvis, and stock car racing's Jeff Gordon.
The term "iron man" as it pertains to sports longevity has origins from major league baseball pitcher Joe McGinnity, who was known for pitching in back to back doubleheaders and leading his league in innings pitched four times in five seasons from 1900 to 1904. He also played professionally until age 54. His nickname was "Iron Man" although he said the name came from his off season work for his family's foundry business.
In 1941, endurance by an athlete was recognized as an "iron man" by the press when Lou Gehrig had a streak of 2,130 consecutive games end when he had asked the manager to take him out of the line up due to his fading abilities. Gehrig had been a consistent performer on the field having attained a batting average of at least .300 throughout his career until the previous season when he had fallen to .295. A common characteristic of an iron man is the ability to play through injury. Gehrig displayed this trait in 1934 when his streak was in jeopardy of being snapped at 1,427 games. He had been injured during a game and was pulled from the lineup. The next day, after receiving heat treatments and massages for a stiff back, he was able to get a hit before leaving the contest. Gehrig's record stood for 56 years until surpassed by Cal Ripken Jr. in 1995. After Ripken's record-breaking streak garnered attention from the media, the NBA's A.C. Green received attention for his own streak of consecutive games played in 1997 as he was approaching Randy Smith's record. Then in 1999, Brett Favre set the record for consecutive starts by a quarterback when he started his 117th consecutive game surpassing the mark established by Ron Jaworski. In 2009, Favre would surpass Jim Marshall's starts streak at any position with his 271st consecutive start.
An iron man streak can also be ended due to disciplinary reasons. In 2015, Matt Kenseth was suspended after he caused a crash that ended Joey Logano's race. NASCAR issued a two-race suspension, effectively ending his streak at 571, leaving him ineligible for pursuing Jeff Gordon's 797-race streak.
In international cricket, players can be taken out of the squad due to injuries, discipline, poor form, or illegal bowling action or unfavourable conditions for certain bowlers, or simply as a healthy break when they are rested during long tours or in a calendar year with hectic schedules. In 2016, Brendon McCullum would finish his international career, having started in 101 consecutive tests from debut, which is remarkable not only because he has never been dropped due to poor form or poor health (though he has given up wicketkeeping due to back and knee issues), but because New Zealand has a far leaner schedule compared to Australia and England; even though he is nowhere near Allan Border's actual record of 153, they were not from debut. Also, since Test and limited-overs cricket would also feature different players, the consecutive starts streak would be counted separately. Brendon McCullum also started 122 consecutive One-Day Internationals from 2004-2010, the same as Mahela Jayawardene of Sri Lanka with 122 each, but the record is held by Sachin Tendulkar, when his streak was snapped due to injury.
In 2017, Eli Manning was benched in favor of Geno Smith after the Giants, snapping his active starts streak at 210, which was the longest streak amongst active players. Philip Rivers of the Indianapolis Colts now has the longest active streak.
Iron man leaderboard
|League||Type||Player||Streak||Yrs Eq||Held since||Surpassed||Streak||Active pursuant(s)||Streak||References|
|ICC TC||Matches started||Alastair Cook||154||12.26||2018||Allan Border||153||Nathan Lyon||56|||
|ICC TC||Matches started from debut||Brendan McCullum||101||11.75||2015||AB de Villiers||98||unknown||??|
|ICC ODI||Matches started||Sachin Tendulkar||185||7.99||1998||Andy Flower||172||Mohammad Nabi||80|||
|ICC T20I||Matches started||Mohammad Shahzad||58||7.10||2017||Angelo Mathews||55||Asghar Stanikzai||38|||
|ICC TC/ODI/T20I||Matches started||Sachin Tendulkar||239||7.99||1998||Andy Flower||224||Several players||<80|||
|ITF||Grand slams played||Feliciano Lopez||72||18||2018||Roger Federer||65||Fernando Verdasco||61|||
|MLB||Games played||Cal Ripken Jr.||2,632||16.25||1995||Lou Gehrig||2,130||Whit Merrifield||247|
|MLB||Innings played||Cal Ripken Jr.||8,264||5.67||1985||George Pinkney||5,152||Several players||<1,450|||
|NASCAR||Races started||Jeff Gordon||797||23.04||2015||Ricky Rudd||788||Kevin Harvick||656|||
|NBA||Games played||A. C. Green||1,192||14.54||1997||Randy Smith||906||Joe Ingles||368|||
|NFL||Starts at the quarterback position||Brett Favre||297||18.56||1999||Ron Jaworski||116||Philip Rivers||224|||
|NFL||Starts at any position||Brett Favre||297||18.56||2009||Jim Marshall||270||Philip Rivers||224|||
|NFL||Games played||Jeff Feagles||352||22.00||2005||Jim Marshall||282||L. P. Ladouceur||237|||
|NHL||Games played||Doug Jarvis||964||11.76||1986||Garry Unger||914||Keith Yandle||797|||
|NHL||Starts at the goaltender position||Glenn Hall||502||7.09||1959||Tiny Thompson||306||N/A[a]||–|||
- Major League Baseball consecutive games played streaks
- List of most consecutive starts and games played by National Football League players
- List of NHL players with 500 consecutive games played
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