The 4 Most Memorable Stand-In Performances in Sports
In an ideal situation, most professional sports teams have a deep enough bench to cover when a player gets injured or is otherwise unable to play. Backup quarterbacks, point guards, pitchers–you name it, teams have it. But occasionally a team simply runs out of players who are normally able to fill in for a position, leading to sometimes great and sometimes terrible results. Here are the most memorable stand-in performances by players who had no business being out there in the first place.
Dallas Cowboy Safety Jeff Heath Fills in at Kicker
October 22, 2017
The most notable example in recent history came just this last Sunday during the Dallas Cowboys’ drubbing of the San Francisco 49ers. Early in the game, Dan Bailey (who happens to be the most accurate kicker in NFL history, so no pressure) left the game with a groin injury. The team turned to Jeff Heath, a starting safety, to start booting the ol’ pigskin since he had some experience doing so in college. At first, they were timid about using him–going for two in a situation where it normally would make little sense to do so–but after Heath got a chance to practice with special teams during halftime, they decided to give him a whirl. He performed admirably, with one doink off of the upright going in and a second missing. He made another late in the game, not that it mattered in the 40-10 blowout, and Heath goes down as having made the longest kick by a non-kicker since 1979.
Point Guard Magic Johnson Fills in at Center
1980 NBA Finals
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was one of the greatest players to ever take the court, so when the center got injured in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals, Los Angeles Lakers brass and fans were understandably nervous. Luckily, they had another of the greatest players of all time on their roster as well. The only problem is that he was a point guard. Luckily, Earvin Johnson truly earned his nickname of Magic, dropping 42 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, absolutely dominating the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers weren’t the only ones taken by surprise–the Lakers didn’t even bother to bring their champagne with them to the city of brotherly love since they were so sure they were going to lose. We’re sure they were OK with being proven wrong in this case.
Outfielder John Mabry Gets An Era of 135.00
October 5, 2011
No, we didn’t misplace a decimal point in the subhead, that was the actual result. Okay, so the sample size is a little small for Florida Marlins position player John Mabry, who was called in late in the game with the team down 15-3 to the Atlanta Braves in the eighth inning. Mabry didn’t help matters much, though, giving up a single immediately before walking two players. He did manage to get one out, but only after giving up five earned runs on three hits and three walks. Needless to say, he was quickly pulled and the team would go on to lose the game 20-3. But hey, Mabry was only responsible for, like, a quarter of those, so go easy on the guy.
Youth Hockey Coach Eric Semborski Gets the Call
December 3, 2016
Eric Semborski was just an average dude who had played hockey while in college at Temple. So when he got a call from the Chicago Blackhawks that they needed an emergency backup goalie, he was taken aback–especially since he lived in Bloomsburg, PA. In fact, it was initially a Philadelphia Flyer who informed him that their upcoming opponent was in need after starter Corey Crawford was going in for an emergency appendectomy. While Crawford didn’t get to take the ice outside of practice, he did get to practice with the team and got a free trip to Chicago out of the deal. On the other hand, he didn’t get paid either, which is why they wanted him: they didn’t have cap space to bring in a pro. Still, he had a blast and his temporary teammates only tried to extort $200 from him for the holiday party.