Like spooky pumpkins placed on front porches, Halloween is ripe for haunting encounters and tragic events. But while frightful moments can be delightful Halloween fun, in the world of sports, frightful moments can have serious consequences.
Take what happened to MLB pitcher Alex Cobb. On June 17, 2013, Cobb was taken off the field on a stretcher after he was struck on the right side of his head by a stinging line drive from the Kansas City Royal’s Eric Hosmer.
The crowd at Tropicana Field gasped. Players on both teams had hands on their heads as stunned silence filled the stadium.
Trainers from both teams immediately ran onto the field and Cobb could be seen kicking his legs while being examined on the mound.
Cobb was taken to hospital by two of the trainers and made a full recovery.
Speaking of scary, do you remember when tennis pro Monica Seles was stabbed–during a match?
On April 30, 1993, then-World No. 1 Seles was playing Magdalena Maleeva in the Citizen Cup. Seles appeared to be within minutes of taking the match when she was stabbed in the back with a 9-inch blade by a deranged fan.
Her blood-curdling scream echoed throughout the stadium.
The attacker, a 38-year-old man, later admitted he was obsessed with Steffi Graf, Seles’ main rival, and sought to end the rivalry by taking out Seles.
Security and spectators restrained the man before he could stab her again. Seles was fortunate; the incision was only about an inch and a half deep, just missing her spinal cord and other organs. Seles eventually recovered from the attack and went on to resume her career.
In 1989, Buffalo Sabres’ goalie Clint Malarchuk was defending the net when a freak collision drove a skate blade into his jugular, severing his carotid artery. It was as scary a sight as one can imagine. He lost massive amounts of blood—gushing out all over the ice around him.
Some fans in the stands became ill at the sight of the spilled blood. Luckily, Malarchuk survived, going on to play a few more seasons as well as coach in the National Hockey League.
Dale Earnhardt Sr. was one of the most celebrated drivers in racing history, dominating the sport for almost three decades. He was so prolific, fans called him “The Intimidator” or “The Man in Black.”
At the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18, 2001, Earnhardt made what seemed like light contact with a rival driver. His car spun out of control, smashing into another car before slamming into the wall at 160 MPH.
Tens of thousands of fans at the track waited nervously for news of his status. They were told that Earnhardt had died on impact.
The only positive outcome was that the governing body made the sport safer for future drivers.
The so-called “Most shocking moment in NFL history” ended the career of quarterback Joe Theismann on Nov. 18, 1985, during a game between the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants.
It was dubbed “The hit that no one who saw it can ever forget” by the Washington Post.
The score was 7-7 in the second quarter when Theismann’s Redskins attempted to run a “flea-flicker” play. Theismann handed off to fullback John Riggins, who lateralled the ball back to him.
The Giants’ defense was not fooled and tried to blitz Theismann. As linebacker Lawrence Taylor pulled Theismann down, his knee drove straight into Theismann’s right leg, fracturing the tibia and the fibula.
“The pain was unbelievable, it snapped like a breadstick. It sounded like two muzzled gunshots off my left shoulder. Pow, pow!” Theismann said during a 2005 interview.
Theismann’s injury was highlighted in the film The Blind Side.
Perhaps the scariest moment in sports history was the Munich Massacre, the terrorist attack on the Israeli Olympic team in 1972. Palestinian terrorist group Black September took 11 of the Israeli athletes hostage and killed them.
The Olympics were suspended that year for the first time ever, and a memorial service attended by 80,000 spectators and 3,000 athletes was held at the Olympic Stadium.