The Museum of Hoaxes
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Sports Hoaxes
The False Heroics of Josh Shaw, August 2014
Star USC football player Josh Shaw was hailed as a hero when he explained that he injured both his ankles after leaping from a second-story balcony to save his young nephew from drowning in a pool. USC was so impressed that it issued a press release detailing his heroics. For a moment Shaw was a national hero. But his tale quickly soured when a police report from the night of his accident placed him at his girlfriend's apartment where neighbors reported hearing screaming as well as seeing a man that looked like Shaw jumping from her balcony. Shaw confessed that his heroism tale was a lie. But exactly what he was doing that night remains unknown. More…
Hunting for Bambi, 2003
A news report by Las Vegas station KLAS-TV about a company selling "Bambi Hunts" sparked nationwide outrage. Bambi Hunts were supposedly games in which men with paintball guns hunted naked women in the Nevada desert. Numerous critics denounced the hunts, demanding to know how such a thing could be legal. Only after a week did it become apparent that the company wasn't really conducting such hunts. It had only claimed to do so as a way to promote a soft-porn video about a fictional Bambi Hunt. Although their stunt almost got them run out of Las Vegas, the company did sell thousands of copies of the video. More…
Monkey Fishing
Jay Forman wrote an occasional "Vice" column for the online magazine Slate.com. In it he often described various bizarre activities he had engaged in or witnessed over the years. For instance, one column probed the synergies between guns and liquor. Another discussed his short career in the pornography trade. In his 8 June 2001 column, he described his participation in the extreme sport of monkey fishing. Monkey fishing, in Forman's usage of the term, was not a slang expression for some untraditional method of fishing for fish. Forman meant exactly what he said. He went fishing for monkeys. More…
The Great Potato Play, 1987
During a game between the double-A Williamsport Bills and the Reading Phillies, everyone thought they saw catcher Dave Bresnahan throw the ball wild past third base. So how was it that when the man on third came running toward home, Bresnahan still had the ball and tagged him out? It was because Bresnahan had actually thrown a peeled potato into left field, and not a ball. The stunt cost Bresnahan his job with the Bills, but it also earned him an immortal place in baseball history. A year after the event, fans paid one dollar and one potato as admission to celebrate Dave Bresnahan Day. More…
Sidd Finch, 1985
Sports Illustrated revealed that the New York Mets’s were hiring a new rookie pitcher, Sidd Finch (short for Siddhartha Finch), who could throw a ball with startling, pinpoint accuracy at 168 mph. Sidd Finch had never played baseball before but had mastered the “art of the pitch” in a Tibetan monastery under the guidance of the “great poet-saint Lama Milaraspa.“ Mets fans celebrated their teams good luck and flooded Sports Illustrated with requests for more information. They were crestfallen to learn that Sidd Finch was nothing but an April Fool's Day hoax who sprang from the imagination of author George Plimpton. More…
Rosie Ruiz Wins the Boston Marathon, 1980
Not only was 23-year-old Rosie Ruiz the first woman to cross the finish line in the 1980 Boston Marathon, but she also achieved the third fastest time ever recorded for a female runner. However, she looked remarkably sweat-free and relaxed as she climbed the winner's podium, and race officials almost immediately began to question her victory. The problem was that no one could remember having seen her during the race. An investigation soon revealed that she had simply jumped into the race during its final half-mile and had then sprinted to the finish line. Officials stripped her of her victory and awarded the title to the real winner, Jackie Gareau. More…

The Virginia City Camel Race
In 1959 Bob Richards, editor of the Nevada-based Territorial Enterprise, announced that a camel race would be held that year down the main street of Virginia City. He challenged other local papers to race their camels in the event. More…
The Olympic Underwear Relay, 1956
Route of the 1956 Olympic torch relay, from Cairns to Melbourne. In 1956 runners bore the Olympic flame across Australia, on a path from Cairns to Melbourne, where the summer games were to be held. But before the flame even got as far as Sydney, it had to endure a series of setbacks. Torrential rains soaked it. Burning heat almost overwhelmed the runners. The flame even went out a few times. Then in Sydney itself it encountered a situation unique in Olympic history. Cross-country champion Harry Dillon was scheduled to bear the flame into Sydney, where he would present it to the mayor, Pat Hills. After making a short speech, Hills would pass... More…
The Plainfield Teachers, 1941
On a Saturday in October 1941, Morris Newburger, a Wall Street stockbroker, phoned the sports desks of major New York City papers and reported a football score for a fictional New Jersey college team, the Plainfield Teachers. To his great amusement, the score was faithfully recorded the next day in the papers. He decided that Plainfield needed to complete its football season. So for the next few weeks, he kept calling the papers, and scores for "Plainfield T." kept appearing. Plainfield was always victorious, crushing its opponents in lopsided wins. Newburger's deception was exposed within a month, but because of its gentle humor it's remembered as a classic sports hoax. More…
The Channel Swim Hoax, 1927
On October 10, 1927, Dorothy Cochrane Logan entered the water at Cape Gris Nez, France. Her goal was to swim across the English Channel. Thirteen hours later she reappeared at Folkestone, England. Her time had set a new world record, for which a newspaper awarded her a prize of 1000 pounds. But a few days later Logan confessed her crossing had been a hoax. She had only spent four hours in the water. The rest of the time she had traveled on board a boat. She said that she perpetrated the hoax in order to demonstrate how simply the world could be fooled, and thus to underscore the necessity of supervising such swims. However, a member of her... More…
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.