Widely hyped coming in, Spitz, 22, proved to be utterly unstoppable at the Summer Games in Munich -- winning all of his events in world-record times while becoming the first athlete in any sport to collect seven gold medals at a single Olympics.
2 of 17Walter Iooss Jr./SI
Hank Aaron passes Babe Ruth
A Fulton County Stadium record 53,775 fans, including his mother and father, saw Hammerin' Henry shatter baseball's career home run record during the Braves' home opener.
3 of 17AP
Disco Demolition Night
Records were broken in dramatic fashion during this promotional night-gone-catastrophically awry. Fans who brought disco albums to Chicago's Comiskey Park were admitted for 98 cents, the records to be blown up by a local DJ between games of a doubleheader between the White Sox and Tigers. A crowd of 50,000 showed up, with 10,000 more clamoring to get in. The records began to fly from the stands late in the first game, and by the time the demolition took place, a riot was in progress with fans storming the field as announcer Harry Caray pleaded for peace. By the time police cleared the stadium, the field was littered with broken records and burned grass, and the White Sox were forced to forfeit the second game.
4 of 17Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar passes Wilt Chamberlain
Lakers coach Pat Riley wanted to sit his legendary center so he could break Wilt Chamberlain's NBA's career scoring mark (31,419) in Los Angeles, but Abdul-Jabbar insisted on playing against the Utah Jazz in Las Vegas.
5 of 17AP
Pete Rose passes Ty Cobb
Cincinnati's beloved Charlie Hustle lashed a first-inning single to left field off Padres hurler Eric Show, breaking Ty Cobb's career mark of 4,191 hits. The resulting ovation lasted seven minutes and left the usually combative Rose in tears.
6 of 17AP
Wayne Gretzky passes Gordie Howe
It was fitting that the Great One became the NHL's all-time scoring champ in Edmonton, where he began his legendary career.
7 of 17Dave Walberg/SI
Martina Navratilova passed Helen Wills Moody
After falling in the previous two Wimbledon singles finals to Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova finally broke her tie with Helen Wills Moody and became the first player to win nine singles titles at England's venerable tournament. The victory upped Navratilova's Wimbledon singles record to a ridiculous 99-9.
8 of 17Mike Powell/SI
Mike Powell passes Bob Beamon
Bob Beamon's world record long jump of 29-2.50 at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City is still remembered for Beamon's utter astonishment at setting such a miraculous mark. It stood for 23 years until Powell topped it at the 1991 World Outdoor Championships in Tokyo.
9 of 17John Iacono/SI
Cal Ripken, Jr passes Lou Gehrig
Orioles Park was a festival scene with fireworks, balloons, streamers, flashbulbs, bunting, and President Clinton and Vice President Gore on hand as Baltimore's iron man shortstop surpassed a mark no one thought could be broken: Lou Gehrig's 2,130 consecutive games played.
10 of 17John Iacono/SI
Tiger tames The Masters
Almost 50 years to the day after Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball's color barrier, the 21-year-old Woods electrified Augusta National by firing an 18-under-par 70-66-65-69-270: the lowest score in the hallowed tournament's history.
11 of 17V.J. Lovero/SI
Mark McGwire passes Roger Maris
The pursuit of the single-season home run mark of 61 held the nation in thrall all summer as Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa went at it tater for tater.
12 of 17Al Tielemans/SI
Emmitt Smith passes Walter Payton
With a two-game road trip looming, the Cowboys' running back found himself in the fourth quarter against Seattle, 13 yards shy of the NFL career rushing mark (16,726) set by his friend, the late Walter Payton. A sellout crowd, including 30 members of Smith's family and Payton's mother and brother, looked on at Texas Stadium as Smith took a handoff three yards from the Dallas 27-yard line. On the next play, he bolted through holes opened by Jeremy McKinnery and Flozell Adams, stumbled, kept his balance and churned for an 11-yard gain and the new record.
13 of 17John Biever/SI
Peyton Manning passes Dan Marino
A raucous crowd in Indianapolis saw the Colts' QB break one of the NFL's greatest marks: the single-season record of 48 touchdown passes set in 1984 by his boyhood idol, Dan Marino.
14 of 17Bob Martin/SI
Usain Bolt runs 100m dash in 9.69sec
In 2008 Bolt became the first man to set records in the 100m, 200m, and 4 x 100m dash in the same Olympics. At the 2009 World Championships he lowered his 100m and 200m records to 9.58s and 19.19s (respectively).
15 of 17Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
Michael Phelps wins 8 gold medals in Beijing
Phelps surpassed fellow American swimming legend Mark Spitz. He set four individual world records and was a part of three world record relay teams in route to winning eight total gold medals.
16 of 17AP
Ichiro Suzuki passes George Sisler
It was just a grounder up the middle that otherwise would have been a meaningless single. Ichiro's 258th hit of the season broke George Sisler's record which had stood since 1920. The MLB's first Japanese position player finished 2004 with 262 hits.
17 of 17Wolfgang Kumm/EPA
Patrick Makau runs marathon in 2:03:38
It's still the fastest marathon on earth. The last four marathon world records have been set at the Berlin Marathon. Makau, a Kenyan, broke Ethiopian legend Haile Gebrselassie's 2008 record by 21 seconds.
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