[Moderated by Matt Jones]
It’s been a banner week for sports revelations, from the expected, Lance Armstrong, to the completely off the wall insane, Manti Te’o. Seriously, so much went down this week that it is feared that Oprah’s couch will collapse
when she sits down under the additional load. But Lance Armstrong and Manti Te’o are not the first, and will not be the last hoaxers, below is a sampling of a few of the most famous hoaxes and hoaxers in the history of sports.
Rosie Ruiz was Manti Te’o before Manti Te’o. Her story was captivating, an unknown female runner miraculously emerges, stumbling towards and then collapsing after the finish line to win the 1980 Boston Marathon and set the marathon record for fastest time by a female. Unfortunately for Ruiz, the fib quickly unraveled after she could not answer basic questions about the marathon, the route, or running in general. Furthermore, spotters, spectators, reporters, and other competitors could not recall ever seeing her until she approached the finish line. Ruiz was eventually disqualified when two spectators reported seeing her sprint out of the crowd a half mile from the finish line. Interestingly enough, she got away with doing same thing at the New York Marathon the previous fall by taking the subway to the finish line and subsequently crossing.
Once again, another “too good to be true” story. In 2001 resilient group of intercity kids from the Bronx, nicknamed “The Baby Bombers” as their home field was next to Yankee Stadium, advanced to the semi-finals of the Little League World Series, largely in part to a Cy Young like pitcher with a 75 mph fastball who threw the first perfect game in the LLWS since 1957. Almonte was so dominant that out of the 72 batters that he faced in Williamsport, he struck out all but ten and allowed just three hits. Little League officials soon discovered that his father, a team coach, falsified his birth certificate and that Almonte was actually 14, two years over the age limit. Little League retroactively stripped the team of all of LLWS wins. Almonte never made it past the independent leagues in professional baseball.
This story in the “A for effort” category. Kevin Hart, an offensive lineman from Nevada, called a press conference at his high school to announce whether he was going to accept a football scholarship offer from Oregon or his eventual choice, Cal. Shortly thereafter both Cal and Oregon denied having any contact with him, let alone offering him a scholarship. Hart then claimed that he had been “duped” before admitting that he made the whole thing up because he wanted to play Division-I football. Hart played junior college and Division-II football. Ironically he turned down a scholarship offer from Appalachian State after JUCO.
Sports Illustrated started the Manti Te’o fiasco so they may was well finish my post. On April 1st, 1985, SI published a cover article claiming that the New York Mets had discovered an eccentric but reclusive pitching prodigy that could throw an fastball accurately at over 150 mph. The article claimed that Sidd (short for Siddhartha) was an orphan in England before being adopted by an Archaeologist who died in a plane crash in Nepal and that he had attended Harvard for a short period of time before leaving to learn yoga in Tibet where he mastered his amazing pitching ability. The article sent the New York media into a frenzy with some claiming that they had actually seen Finch pitch. A week later Sports Illustrated published a story stating that Finch had decided to play the French Horn instead of baseball before finally revealing that the article was a prank on April 15th.
Honorable Mention: Ivan Renko
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