Athletes Who Had the Most Memorable Final Seasons
15. Shoeless Joe Jackson
> League: MLB
> Position, team: Outfield, Chicago White Sox
> Final season: 1920, age 32
> Key stats and accomplishments: .382 batting average, 20 triples
Shoeless Joe Jackson’s .382 batting average is by far the highest of any player in their final season. Jackson, who was just 32, would likely have had many more productive seasons, but his involvement in the infamous World Series fixing “Black Sox Scandal” earned him a lifetime ban from baseball. Still, Jackson’s talent and skill were undeniable.
14. Wilt Chamberlain
> League: NBA, age
> Position, team: Center, Los Angeles Lakers
> Final season: 1972-1973, age 36
> Key stats and accomplishments: 13.2 points per game, 18.6 rebounds per game, .727 field goal percentage
Wilt Chamberlain was an unstoppable scorer and rebounder in his prime, so his final season averages of 13.2 points and 18.6 rebounds per game may not seem that impressive in comparison to his previous work. What made his 14th season impressive was his efficiency. Chamberlain hit 72.7% of his shots in his last season — the highest percentage of anyone with significant playing time in NBA history. Though it was his lowest full season average, Chamberlain’s 18.6 rebounds per game led the NBA that season. He also played in all 82 games.
13. Jean Beliveau
> League: NHL
> Position, team: Center, Montreal Canadiens
> Final season: 1970-1971, age 39
> Key stats and accomplishments: 76 points, Stanley Cup
Jean Beliveau played 20 seasons for the Montreal Canadiens. He won 10 Stanley Cups, with the final one coming in his last season. Beliveau turned back the clock at age 39, when he had one of his best statistical seasons with 76 points. He left it all on the ice, scoring 22 points in the playoffs and leading the NHL that season in playoff assists with 16.
12. Michael Strahan
> League: NFL
> Position, team: Defensive end, New York Giants
> Final season: 2007, age 36
> Key stats and accomplishments: 9 sacks, Super Bowl
By his final NFL season, Michael Strahan had accomplished everything a defensive end could. He was named a Pro Bowler, All-pro, and 2001’s Defensive Player of the Year when he set the NFL’s single-season sack record. All that was missing was a Super Bowl. Strahan recorded two sacks, two forced fumbles, and three tackles for loss in the playoffs, helping the Giants upset the undefeated New England Patriots and go out a champion.
11. Roberto Clemente
> Position, team: Outfield, Pittsburgh Pirates
> Final season: 1972, age 37
> Key stats and accomplishments: .312 batting average, Gold Glove, All-star
Roberto Clemente was remarkably consistent throughout his career. He hit over .300, won 12 straight gold gloves, and made the All-Star team in 12 of his final 13 seasons. Even in his final season, at age 37, he maintained his high level of play. Clemente hit .312, won a Gold Glove, and made the All-Star team. He also won 12 straight Gold Gloves to round out his career. Though he played until age 38, his career ended too soon. Clemente was tragically killed in a plane crash while on his way to assist in earthquake relief efforts in Nicaragua.